The third edition of this good-vibed summer session created by local boys Arthur Longo and Olivier Gittler hit the French glacier hostspot of Les Deux Alpes the other weekend. Check the side-hip and side hit sending!
Three summers ago, Deux Alpes natives Arthur Longo and Olivier Gittler decided it was time to sprinkle some of their own special spice on the resort's glacier, pulling together a conglomeration of hand-shaped hits and snake runs on a little-used slope of this French glacier followed up with an afternoon of music, food and drinks in the valley. The Muzelle Festival was born.
Due to other commitments, the 2018 edition focussed solely on the snowboarding side of things - organising bands, stages and food ratchets up the organisational requirements several levels and both Longo and Gittler had a couple of other pans on the stove at the tail end of last winter. But, though this was our first Muzelle experience, from a snowboarding perspective it was a most excellent way to spend a day up this epic mountain located an hour's drive from Grenoble.
The setup the boys had pulled together in the fog the day before was all-time. Constructed purely to be conducive to a day of lapping for all levels - thankfully Deux Alpes had agreed to keep the chairlift running until 3pm! - the upper part of the Signal 2 run had been transformed, DIY-style, into a veritable playground loaded with hips, trannies and side hits that any rider could session.
"The setup the boys had pulled together in the fog the day before was all-time."
Up top there were two bigger hips - the first with an imposing, moto-style gap that only Longo and a few others would step to - followed by a smaller hip, a whippy step-over, and a couple of hand-dug side hits, the likes of which you'll no doubt have seen Arthur going bonkers off on the Gram.
With the extended running time of the lift there was no mad rush or fighting with Lycra-clad ski racers to get to the spot. Everyone met up at the Jandri lift at 10 - a most respectable time to go up a summer glacier - and cruised over to the slope. And after a couple of thigh-warmers to feel out the trannies, the session began.
Though there were awards dished out later, this was no 'competition'. It was simply a mass mob-shred jam session and an honour to be part of. Aside from pros like Longo, Gittler and their homies, we were pumped to see the swarms of groms blasting off the hits. Say what you want about monster park builds with 25-metre gaps and fire pits filled with sharks, but you don't see seven-year-olds getting involved in such sessions, while with something like what was built for the Muzelle Festival - much like with banked slaloms - there's a much more inclusive vibe, with everyone able to apply their own levels of riding to a course.
But while kids and the less talented riders had a blast, it was - again, much the same as at banked slaloms - insane to see what bonafide pros are able to do on a setup you can ride. Sami Luhtanen - arguably the session's MVP along with a certain long-haired Frenchman - was boosting alley-oop front 3s and huge shifty no-grabs, while dudes like Victor Daviet, Gittler, Valerian Ducourtil, Boris Mouton and Sebi Springeth were going big and oozing style.
And then there was Arthur Longo. Though he was in part responsible for the shaping and thus had a certain home field advantage, the fact remains that when it comes to going ballistic off trannies - large or small - few can compare. From poking out transfers on the moto gap to no-grab Rippey flipping and finding transitions where they shouldn't exist, he was - predictably - riding like a man possessed the whole day.
"It was insane to see what bonafide pros are able to do on a setup you can ride."
Aside from the trannie lapping, there was a mountain of food, beer and good tunes blaring to keep the stoke levels high until the pisteurs reminded everyone that there was a last lift to catch. As we rode the Jandri back to the town we had time to hoot and holler at the clips that were logged, before sinking coldies and sharing high fives at the prize giving.
Merci bien Arthur, Olivier, the Muzelle crew and Les Deux Alpes. Looking forward to the next one already...