The world's largest gathering of amateur skiers batlle it out in the world's largest ski area. PlanetSKI is among them.
Last Sunday saw the 15th edition of Les3Vallees Enduro race.
For the past 15 years 1,500 amateur skiers have been coming to discover and ski Les3Vallées through some special races ... The aim of the day is for as many skiers as possible to see Les3Vallees in an original and fun way.
The day includes fun and challenging races that are open to everyoneand teams of three enter under three categories: Professional, Sports Amateur and Family.
367 teams entered across Les3Vallées this year, with 100 registered in Courchevel.
The five departure resorts are Courchevel, Meribel, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Orelle, and participants compete against those registered in their resort.
The youngest entrant this year was 5-years old.
The 2017 edition included eight events - two were cancelled - and of course the skiing to ends of three valleys to take part in the races.
The events: Freeride, Géant Freestyle, Big Air Bag, Boardercross, Les Menuires Liberty Schuss, Triplette des Belleville, Skicross, Family Schuss.
Yours Truly in Team 64
Check out the video below as PlanetSKI took part in Enduro and documented the race:
Freeride - Courchevel 1850
The freeride competition happened on Vizelle run as the snow off piste wasn't up to it.
Fresh snow overnight meant a little powder on top to make the event more like freeriding.
Many teams were doing synchronised turns to impress the judges who sat high up and across from the freeride slope.
Fluidity and big turns with some speed was what they were looking for, as we found out later repeating our first run at the end of the day to get a lost score...
Géant Freestyle (Family Park) - Courchevel 1850
Family Park my arse!
It was a full-on, fast skicross of roller after roller and - timing and snow relevant - the best event of Enduro.
Biathlon - La Tania
The location of this event at the summit of Col de la Loze was either planned well or very lucky regarding visibility.
One team member takes part in the biathlon, which actually consisted of just shooting - as well as some press ups - but I suppose skiing to the event counts.
In fact on a normal day skiing the resorts of Les3Vallées is quite a feat and covers a lot of ground. Yet the hardcore events that bring you across the valleys take this attention to the backseat.
After a few practice shots, biathletes are timed from standing to drop to do 10 press-ups, followed by shooting down five targets 15m away with small metal pellets.
The biathlon was a new event this year.
Big Air - Meribel Mottaret
An event to love or hate: Two kickers, two enormous air bags to land on, three wusses in Team 64.
A group of judges beetween the jumps rated freestylers on their air, ambition and daring.
The two lunch stops for racers were in Mottaret and Val Thorens. Live music, hot food, cold meats, churros and cookies for pudding, beer pumps, wine and countless soft & energy drinks were on offer with a fantastic atmosphere.
An early or late lunch would be tactical, with, not to be forgotten, a huge area to ski, snow conditions to consider and queues to avoid.
French lunch time
3Vallées Enduro Courchevel participants
Boardercross - Meribel Mottaret
An incredibly fast, deeply rutted course that no doubt witnessed lots of tumbles throughout the day.
And for this reason, it was one of the most difficult.
A great thing about Enduro is the quality and quantity of events. Designed for both professionals and children to race, the courses were challenging enough to compete properly but of course had the option of taking at a team's own pace and leisure. Mostly, that is, until weathering played a part...
Family team on lunch break in VT
Fight Ski Club - Val Thorens
An elusive event by name, but in fact another boardercross - a popular feature in this year's competition.
With big distance to cover and the amount of events, even with two cancelled, having boardercrosses throughout Les3Vallées make it easy for all teams to reach one - being a fun event that can be followed at any pace and style.
Being sixth on Team 64's route, the cloud had come in, visibility was appalling, and the course was completely rutted.
Staying up and making it around the flags was the main challenge.
Fight Ski Club
Family Schuss - Val Thorens
A SuperG/GS race on part of the Stade slalom run.
One 64 team member finished on one ski, first down the course on our team and tripped up from thick fog and sketchy snow on the second-to-last set of flags.
But retreiving the nearest of two flung skis and clipping in within seconds, the first-now-third member crossed the line with three pieces of equipment, all you need, in a time of 1.20.
Défi Ski - Les Menuires
Last on the decided route was down into Les Menuires - perhaps not the best idea on a snowy, slushy day.
The area had less racers than others, not quite as busy on piste as Val Thorens but lots of skiers struggling with the heavy end-of-day snow, en route home.
This was the most family-orientated of the races, and so well placed in the popular family resort of Les Menuires.
A three-turn parallel slalom followed by picking up x2 ping pong balls to race down and drop the balls in a bucket with a final skate over the finish line made up Défi Ski.
And to leg it back to your starting resort before the lifts close...
Enduro last leg
Teams do, with the exception of the biathlon, the race together, one after another on the tails of eachothers skis.
Our day required route planning, leg strength, balls and a sense of adventure.
The day costs €20pp (incl. €3 for charity) and covers the race entry, lunch, drinks, on-mountain snacks and a Salomon backback for all competitors.
A 3 Valleys day ski pass costs €40 (instead of usual €60).
Another fantastic feature is that if you want to compete and aren't quite confident enough in map reading or travelling the huge ski area in your team, you can do the competition with a ski instructor and at a reduced rate.
The majority of participants were French but any holidayers, family or group of friends would guaranteed enjoy the day even just for the fun of taking part in one or two events, especially at such great value for money.
It is cool thing to be able to base a day's skiing around a competition or route, and not just lunch or apres.
One can start anywhere in Les3Vallées and you pick your own route, take part in whatever comps you want at whatever level you feel comfortable and the comraderie among competitors on the mountain is pretty special to be part of.
Results and rankings are done by valley - Team 64 came 12th in Courchevel's amateur competition.
The big prize draw across all valleys: a trip to Japan for the winning team.