Freeride World Tour 2015 in Chamonix with Swatch

Last Friday (my birthday!) I travelled up to the French ski resort Chamonix at the invitation of Swatch to immerse myself in the milieu of the 2015 Freeride World Tour over the weekend. You can imagine how excited I was to be invited by what must have been my first watch brand and to discover a new whole world of professional skiing. This short trip also reminded me of two things: ski gear takes up helluva luggage space, and how I much I love (and miss) skiing.
On arrival in the late afternoon, we walked around the town and visited la Place Balmat where everything was set up for spectators to enjoy the event without being up at the peak. Dinner was later held at a lovely restaurant called “Télécabine”.
We woke up early on Saturday to wonderful weather to watch the freeriders hurl down what look like near-vertical drops. They must be both fearless and crazy, in equal measure. The atmosphere was electric. I followed the competition with binoculars and wish we could have been closer to the action. The skills of the competitors are truly to be admired. I take my words back – they are not crazy but are really in control of the risks they are taking. Before hearing the results back at the village, we were introduced to dog sledding! It is actually way harder to stay on the sleigh than one imagines. How I love these adorable dogs!
Later over dinner, we got to meet up with the Swatch pro-freeriders. I was seated with Xavier de le Rue and Samuel Anthamatten. I was much divided on the next day’s program between visiting the glacier or skiing down from “Le pique du Midi”. Xavier would persuade me to live and experience the second option. (Would you expect a different answer from a freerider!) He explained how this challenging 13km slope was a must-do. I should leave sightseeing to the tourists. Our discussion also broadened along with the dishes to other subjects such as self-branding, and web blogs vs the paper press.
On Sunday, we took it easy and simply soaked in the gorgeous panorama of the white peaks and glacier against the mostly blue skies.