Crystal Ski, the UK’s largest skiing operator has run a successful ski racing week for nearly 10 years. Known as the Crystal Ski Fest, the event is designed to allow skiers of all abilities to try their hand at ski racing. After several winters based in Italy, the Ski Fest is moving to a new home for 2013.
What’s Ski Fest all about?
Focussing on the discipline of ski racing throughout the week, coaching is key as many participants have never raced on skis before. Coaching is provided by the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) and by the race specialists, the British Ski Academy. Disability Snowport UK also bring out a team of coaches and participants, making this a truly integrated and accessible event for everybody.
Over a week, participants get five days of group coaching, suited to their ability level. Racing wise, there’s a relay race, parallel slalom race, a speed race and the main event – the giant slalom race spaced throughout the week.
Salomon also attend throughout the week so skiers get a chance to test out next season’s skis before they hit the shops, as well as offering advice and servicing to much of the equipment.
This video shows some of the action on the slopes from the Ski Fest last year:
Never skied before?
For the first time, the Ski Fest is now open to beginners – the local ski school in La Plagne will provide ski tuition, with the beginners meeting up with the more experienced skiers for some apres ski action once the lifts close.
The emphasis for the week is most definitely fun – with people making great progress on their skiing and enjoying the social element of sharing in a sport you love at the same time.
One of last year’s Ski Fest-goers was Emily, who wrote this on the Crystal Ski Fest Facebook group when she got back:
“Thanks for an amazing week- I learnt so much thanks to the great instructors, and to everyone who organised it. Had fun competing in the grand slalom (although most of the time I fell flat on my bum :p) and definitely will come next year and have already recommended to my friends. I have the holiday blues and miss the snow!”
Team GB’s greatest Olympic rowers in attendance
For several years, Sir Steve Redgrave, along with fellow rowers Sir Matthew Pinsent and Ben Hunt Davis have been regular participants at the Ski Fest. There’s plenty of time to chat and ski with the guys, as well as hear more about their Olympic story in a question and answer session in the evening.
Although in retirement, their competitive streak still comes through in all the ex-athletes as they hit the slopes and race – with an annual speed race between Sir Steve and Ben one of the week’s hotly anticipated events. The gents usually bring along their old GBR lycra rowing gear to cut down on wind resistance…
In search of Terra Nova
After several successful years in the Olympic resort of Sestriere, Italy, including Ski Fest 2012 (which you can read more about here), the Ski Fest is moving across the border to La Plagne in France. This resort sits in the middle of the Paradiski ski area, with 425kms of skiing to explore (as if ski race training wasn’t enough).
Everybody involved with the Ski Fest will be based in the Hotel Terra Nova in Plagne Centre. This four star hotel ticks all the boxes, with a ski-in ski-out location, free WiFi, accessible facilities for disabled skiers and boarders and near to all the shops and bars to enjoy La Plagne’s nightlife.
What’s included on Crystal Ski Fest
This week-long event will be held in La Plagne, France from 16-23 March 2013. The package is just £995 and includes:
- Flights and transfers
- 7 nights in the Terra Nova, La Plagne
- 6-day lift pass
- 6-day equipment hire or ski carriage
- 5 days’ ski race coaching with BSA and ski training with BASI
- Competitive races, speed tests and giant slalom race
- Event entertainment programme