Sunday, 24 January 2016

Savoie, Alps, La Plagne

With all these mountain roads to ride in the summer, massive and beautiful ski areas, penchant for tight handling hatchbacks, and Land Rover Defenders everywhere, I get this feeling that perhaps I was born in the wrong place!

Minds were blown today, both mine and others. First, I know this week will have ups and downs.  So let's start with an up. I'm an amazing skier when compared to some/most/all?? British vacationers.  Sorry Brits. I get they don't have a lot of vertical to work with, and they are here to enjoy themselves regardless.  One guy stopped to chat when I was enjoying a view and said that without my heels connected he was surprised I didn't just fall down the whole hill. I guess that was a backwards compliment? We departed for a ski but both stopped on the next pitch.  He said he didn't know telemark could be skied that well. I told him to watch in a few days time when the guys better than me are racing!

Second, I'm really calm, quiet and really sober compared to the average British vacationer.  It's funny actually. Or not. Guess it depends if you're within ear shot generally, or a French waitress.  Old and young are similar. 

On one of my early telecabine rides a guy gets in and says "you're Erik right"?  Uhh, yeah. But I'm not too famous so what's going on?  He saw the Canada jacket and the skis, and turns out his wife is the organizer of the event and works the tourism office so he knew the one Canadian was me.  Nice to make a connection, and I have to find his wife this afternoon to pay and get race package. 

Erik's mind is officially blown. The size of ski area is hard to comprehend.  I may have actually covered more ski terrain today than cumulatively in my life.  This greater valley is home to some of the most expansive ski areas on earth.  Meribel and the whole Trois Vallees thing are down the road, then this Paradiski thing is amazing. I'm not on the event program till tomorrow, but a lady gave me a ticket today for "only" la Plagne. I can't even guess how many kilometres away I got from where I started, but every time you take a lift to the top of some spectacular ridge, you see into the next valley and it's nothing but more lifts and more runs as far as the eye can see, complete with entire villages.  

I think that's either the Bellecote or Roche de Mio in the back.  Every time you take a lift it seems to expose the view of another bowl or valley. 
This is toward the Plagne Bellecote valley.  I didn't get one of the Plagne Centre valley, but I found the Stade Jean-Luc Cretier which is where the parallel sprint will be.  I'm a bit confused looking at the map but I think to get to the bottom of that run takes me 7 lifts and two valleys. 

I think this is toward "secteur Champagny" which my ticket didn't go to. 

So a bit on the not so good side is my heels hurt.  Shoot. It's getting a bit chronic this ski season.  I hope they don't get worse. I seem to need time out of ski boots, no pressure on them, and Advil. 

I signed in, everyone is so nice. Got my little race kit and such, they said I was first one to sign in (I guess I'm here a day early, glad I could scope out the hill) and I wanted to nap a bit today too so went early. They said 80 entries, I'm only one from across the pond, no Americans registered, and no Austrians either, she just threw that comment in too.  Next year wold championships are here so they told me to bring the family next time.  I'd like to, we'll see. 

I saw the parallel course, Sprint course and training courses all by chance today so that was worth it. Actually did a run in the training course that was set up, they were either set for public or just everyone was going as I saw it from the lift them ahead of me were 6 definite non racers trying it and a couple kids. When I got to the bottom there were a few racers standing around (alpine, not Tele) and they gave a thumbs up which I took as either "you're ok to keep using the course" or "you can actually ski it compared to all the people who just took a try at it".  Good either way. 

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