When: Sat 29th of March 2008
Where: Chamrousse, France
There is still a misconception that lingers in our contemporary snowboard consciousness bubble that French riders are somewhat arrogant, or find that they stand above everyone else. What a load of non-sense!!! The second half of last week, I got to experience the complete opposite. Bruno Rivoire's Intercrew in Chamrousse had me experience French hospitality, charm and some of the best vibes on a mountain this season. Not to forget epic mountains that are to be found everywhere in our neighboring francophonic country. The vastness is really quite impressive to say the least. The view that I had from the balcony of the appartment I stayed in blew me away upon every glance I dared to give it. Beautiful forest's pinnacled by lovely mountain peaks covered by soft snow domes of white bliss.
Upon arrival in Grenoble on Thursday night, I was welcomed by Bruno's wife and his little boy, who were more than welcoming. Youri, our French/Senior editor, with whom I drove down with then continued to the town of Gap to unload some shit at his Mom's house. Soon after Bruno arrived with a friend from a whole day of relentless shaping of the park. Even though he had been shaping for the past 10 days tirelessly, he still managed to smile and show his stoke for his upcoming event. It was snowing almost everyday for the past week which further increased my admiration for Bruno. He had so much that he still had to organise and one could tell that he had a million thoughts swarming around in his head, but never lost his nerve.
The next day was early bird for him as he had to be up at the mountain at 8 am. Out of consideration for me, he organised for Gabi Bessy, a close friend and fellow rider, to pick me up at around 8 so we would be up on the mountain at a perfect time when all the lifts open and for me to get some shut-eye the night before. How nice is that?!?! After an adventurous car ride up the mountain in a tiny Peugout with no snowchains, and a semi blizzard raging outside, we finally arrived in Chamrousse at around 1700 meters above sea-level. I put my gear on and had the Thursday to explore the small and cozy resort, which welcomed me with a fair amount of fresh pow and a good snow base. Unfortunately, the weather was rather whiteout, so I didn't dare to go off out of bounds to far. I also managed to get a glimpse of the park, which is perfectly situated between two chair-lifts, so that the stiffs can witness what fun they are missing out on.
The park set up was compact and looked like nothing but pure fun. To begin with you had a twin table setup inviting you to channel gap them. Afterwards you had the option of taking a gap kicker off to the left inbetween some trees, or straight line it to the big motherf_____! A huge step over that measered a good 20 meters. It looked massive! After hopefully surviving those obstacles you had two jib lines ahead. The one to the left was a gap over a tiny skateboard micro ramp to a down box. The right jib line was longer and presented you with a snowbutter box to gap to rainbow rail, followed by a tiny up box. The final jibstacle was a 10 meter down rail. Think that's it? NO! The grande finale of the slopestyle course was a huuuge step up, built in such a way that you could also land on the sides, making it completely safe. It was more a conglomerate of a step up/step over/both sided hip jump. Awesome!
After a day of cruising around the resort and gaining first impressions it was time to organise and check out the appartment I would be staying in. After getting the keys and sorting out all the accredition issuesm, I was already being eagerly awaited by my roommates. You guessed it! All French riders, that barely spoke a word of english. That however made this whole experience that much cooler. They did their best to communicate with me and visa versa. The first thing they did: without even asking, they helped me with my luggage and welcomed me into a huge appartment with all utilities you can think of and a balcony that had a killer view. Killer is probably and understatement. I then recieved a phone call from Youri which brought bad tidings. He told me that the company car was a goner. The gear box was busted. What?!?!?!? Our masterplan was for Youri to continue on to Biarritz after the event (yes he's moved to Biarritz), and for me to drive with the company car back to Munich! Hmmmm....was I stranded? The other problem that this news brought with it was that I cannot speak French to save my life. How was I going to undertand what the contest MC was saying, or anyone else for that matter. Who's on course etc......I tried to stay positive and make the best of it.
The next day saw bluebird skies, a perfectly groomed park and time in the early morning for me to go check out all the little off-piste pockets I was reluctant to ride down during yesterdays whiteout. Amazing! Little tiny pillows, chutes, tree runs etc......Soon enough riders started slowly creeping up the mountain, and were conjugating at the parks entrance. You could see that they were stoked on giving the park a try. After some hours of testing the park, the weather turned a foggy grey bird forcing the riders to slow down a little. The flat light was really not presenting the best conditions to hit up the huge gap jump. Just when I thought that the day was over, it was announced that the globe gap to down box best trick session was going to start. After numerous misjudged speeds, slams and stuck tricks, it was Romuald Bouche (one of my roommates) that came out victorious with his Sw Bs 450 to Board. During that evening it was decided to give the gap jump a little bit more pop, since you had to haul ass to gap it and did not really have as much air time as was expected.
Saturday presented itself in a way that any shredhead imagines a perfect day. The pow was still fluffy and there was not a clowd to be seen in the sky. At around 11 am, the riders started slowly but surely making their way up the mountain. This day was not mellow at all! The revamped big gap kicker had more pop than a nitrous induced hot rod engine, and the riders were definitely feeling it. All the crews present unleashed everything they had to offer ride-wise. 9's, 7's, 5's, Rodeo's, even a 10 was busted out over the monster. It was so refreshing to see all of the action going down without a jest of nervousness or pressure on the riders part. It seemed as though all the crews were just riding for the sake of riding! It was just friends on a mountain pushing each other to try new tricks, motivating each other and sharing the communal stoke. Near the end of the day, the riding moved from the top of the destroyed slopestyle course to the step up at the very bottom, that played host for a pull-in best trick session. Here's where the last couple of rabbits were pulled out of the hat. Elias Elhardt busted out a Double Backflip, JJ Roux a a Frontflip, followed by Backflip Crossrocket and Alan Besse a One-foot Fs 3. However the riders that reeped the most props were my apartment companions Arnaud de Bluze and one of the Bouche twins. They had the fantastic idea of trying to clear the huge step up with a snow luge! It was hilarious to say the least. Imagine Arnaud mounted on a street luge getting towed in by the Bouche twin to gain more speed! Everyone is cheering, Arnaud manages to keep the luge straight and then Bamm! Off he goes sailing into the stratosphere! Long story short; he cleared it but was not really able to ride it out. Still, it sent a screaming roar through the crowd. The riding basically did not stop till the sun had set behind the mountain peak filled horizon.
I would've loved to stay another night and party it up with my frenchies, but due to the car bust two days ago, I was forced to find some form of transport back home to Munich. Not such an easy task, as most of the riders at the event came from the french alps! Luckily, I was able to count on the small german speaking contigent of Rossignol riders consisting of Heinz Löhle, Elias Elhardt and Marco Concin. Marco, the good soul from South Tirol was merciful, and was happy to give me a lift to his home in Brixen. From there I would have to see if I would be able to catch some kind of train or bus which would bring me back to Munich. After a night of high speed, pedal to the metal driving through France and Italy, we finally arrived in Brixen at around 5 am in the morning. I spent the morning crashing on the train station floor constantly being woken up by disco kids wanting to buy cigarettes from a dispenser that I was using as my backrest. I know, I'm retarded. Out of all places, I had to pick to sleep next to the cigarette machine. After catching two more trains and a couple of hours later I finally reached my final destination, Munich. A quick car-ride home, open the door and fall into bed was the series of events that followed. What an awesome trip!
1. Gap Crew (Brynild Vulin, JJ Roux, Gabi Bessy, Bruno Rivoire) 2. Moon Crew (David Livet, Thomas Guerin, Jerome Belluez) 3. Bouchkail Crew (Lucas Bennachio, Alex Doumergue)
Pull In Step Up Best Trick
JJ Roux-Cross Rocket Backflip Elias Elhardt-Double Backflip Allan Besse-One footed Frontside 3 Arnaud de Bluze-Snowluge Mayhem
Globe Gap Rail Best Trick
Romuald Bouch (Bouche Twins)-Sw Bs 450 to Board Cedric Drouet-Backflip to 50-50 Gabriel Bessy-Bs 270 to Board to 270 out
P.S. Sorry for not being able to give you more details about which rider did what tricks. But, you have to understand the circumstances regarding the language barrier that I faced and the Frenchies tendency to give everyone a nickname. Try and figure out what rider has the nickname 'Pepe' or 'Coin Coin' or 'Quignon'!!! Hope you forgive me.
A big shout out goes to the Rivoire Fam, Brynild Vulin, Gabi Bessy and Marco Concin for making it all happen!
Words: Marko Grgas Photos: Matt Georges