Junior Anglo Scotts Championships Les Houches by Ed Brown
Last Monday we were lucky enough to take two regular Alpine Learning Curves clients to the Junior Anglo Scot Championships.
Unfortunately this season didn’t kick off to the best of starts. This meant for Soph and Matty their race would be harder. Why? No gate training! We only had three ski sessions prior to race day as it was the New Year week and with the busy pistes being in such a thin state we were not allowed to drill and set gates. This however doesn’t matter to Matty and Soph as they enjoy the whole ski experience, whether it be racing, powder or thin snow cover!!
Race day started at a reasonable 7.20am when we started the drive over to Les Houches, leaving a by now snowy Les Gets behind. Running a few minutes late because of the falling snow, on arrival we rushed to get our lift passes sorted. We jumped on the gondola and headed to the course – or so we thought. As we exited the lift I knew the run we were aiming for but it didn’t seem to be accessible! There was far too much snow (there’s something I never thought I’d say). Dad, Eric, hailed a passing pisteur and with this help we worked out how to access the course, now running quite behind time.
Arriving at the top of the course was intimidating, with teams lining up 15-20 pairs of skis and small tents pitched to keep the weather off the kit. No time to take this in though as Soph needed to do a course inspection. The Course Chief told us we had just missed inspection for the U14’s. This was a problem for Soph as I didn’t want her to ski the course blind. Luckily with a bit of pleading they allowed us to slip the side of the course and make a brief inspection.
After inspection we were ushered to make our way back to the top to start the racing. Not before trying to force some hot chocolate and cookies down Soph and Matty though. Food of champions!!
At the top of the course the delays started. With heavy snow comes lots of slipping the course. This is mainly to help smooth the ruts but it also helps to keep the course consistent and not a powder run.
Soph was starting to feel the cold – and the pressure. More chocolate needed and some little runs up and down the slope. As the numbers slowly grew Soph’s turn was up. A good cleaning of the goggles and a strapping of the boots – Soph was ready. Just enough time to talk through the course one last time and she was away!
Phew, safe at the bottom. Now Matty.
Luckily we were in a prime position to get a good inspection this time. Being able to talk Matty through the course as we slipped it made a real difference and the weather was beginning to improve a little. Straight back to the start for the U12’s and the next lot were off in a shot. Things were speeding up – less slipping and faster courses. (Thank goodness, I had missed out on brekky and it was getting late in the day.) I primed Matty with a bit of chocolate and we went through a warm up. Enough time to talk through the Banana gates (delay gates) again and he was off. Another one safely to the bottom! Thank goodness as the ruts were starting to get really big and mini kicks as they crossed from gate to gate.
At this point it was decided that the U16’s & U14’s would have their second runs but they would be blind (no course inspection). There were no real course changes but this meant poor Soph didn’t get to do a proper course inspection all day. Having raced the course once we kept our fingers crossed the ruts would be too big for the final run! Although the ruts were indeed big and people being spat out in all directions our Soph made it through another time safely. Big sigh of relief and we were done for the day.
ALC have been coaching Soph, Matty & their little sister Beanie for a number of winters now but their introduction to racing was relatively recent, last winter in fact. Compared to the other kids racing, who mostly had done up to 7 weeks in gates just to prep for this one race, their race day was a completely new experience for them (although awesome free skiers imo). So I think Eric & I can be excused for practically exploding with pride about how they handled everything! Well done Hughsons, you rock!