Finlay Wild

Finlay Wild
Hill runner, mountaineer, skier
Supported by Norman Walsh Footwear and Mountain Equipment

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Skimo British Champs washout

The 2016 Skimo British Champs were set to take place at the Roc et Pic race at Thollon les Memises on the slopes above Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). I've done the Roc et Pic before, and remember some great sections with sunny slopes and expansive views down towards the shimmering lake with bluebird skies above. Unfortunately this weekend was not to follow suit.

Things started badly for me as I expertly procrastinated on getting packed, and then for one reason or another ended up spending a pretty uncomfortable time in Glasgow airport as far from ideal race prep. Arriving in Amsterdam airport I was totally disorientated as I woke up to being climbed over by the guy next to me who was rushing to catch his connection. I just made mine, despite being in a sleep deprived, caffeine-addled, dehydrated suboptimal state.

That done I was in Geneva. Or rather stuck at the outsized baggage area in Geneva airport. Eventually it transpired that my bag was delayed until the evening, so I abandoned it and got a lift with the patient Neil, Andy and Tim to Thollon. 
Impromptu lunch break in Thollon Les Memises (Pic: Bjorn Verduijn)

Getting there it was decidedly Scottish - mild, damp and windy. There wasn't an awful lot of snow to be seen either. The race organisers had worked tirelessly to try and put on a 'C' course despite the conditions, but the briefing was noticeably devoid of racers, with the Brits making up more than 10% of those assembled. This wasn't really a good sign. Adding to this my lack of any ski kit led to a general uncertain atmosphere. A message came to the hotel that my bag wound arrive at midnight - well we would see I suppose but I wasn't for staying up hanging around for it so set the alarm and had a much needed sleep. Waking early we were greeted by an apologetic message from the race committee - the poor guys had been out at four am checking the course, and had decided to pull the plug. Looking out the window this was entirely unsurprising as the wind had now increased and it was raining and mild in a way that even Skimo Scotland might struggle to race in. Feeling fairly deflated we met the other Brits and I found that my lost bag had indeed made it. Just in time for the 'annuler' message.

After some moping about, commiseration and general indecision we decided to go for a skin anyway and - not being as hardy as the GB girls who went for a skin up the icy wet race course in the soaking rain - we headed fairly en mass to Grand Montets at Argentiere and skinned up the marked track to the ski area and down the home run. This was still pretty soggy but at least the wind was lighter, we were in the trees, and there was even some reasonable snow. Thoroughly soaked through we hit one of the Chamonix cafes for many coffees and frites.

Neil and Anthony at Grand Montets

Next day I went skinning with Colin, Guillem, Naila, Ben B, John and Alasdair at Les Houches. It started cloudy and mild and we headed up to Le Prarion before skiing some heavy snow and then down the pistes. Some folk headed up for another lap but some of us had other business - namely getting the entries in for Glencoe and Tromso Skyline races, which both opened that day at noon. Turned out this was a good idea as they sold out in minutes! Then I headed back to Scotland and the wild gales blowing lorries off the road in Glencoe.

Lycra at Le Prarion summit

Cheers to Ben Bardsley for all his work setting up the British Champs - no one could have predicted just how unhelpful the weather was going to be. There's always next year...

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