At a time when the FTSE is in freefall it may seem strange for Europe’s financial finest to abandon Bank and head for the hills. But, hell, it’s only money and we all know that skiing is priceless.
This winter and for the next two, the 17th Momentum City Ski Championships have relocated in Switzerland from clinical Crans Montana to vibrant Verbier. Hedge fund hero or just plain prosperous, they had to be there.
This altogether unusual and essentially competitive weekend of skiing and networking took place in glorious sunshine and perfect snow conditions at Savoleyres.
Where? You ask. Each morning some 85% of Verbier’s international visitors head for the Medran gondola and lifts up towards the highest pistes on Mont Fort.
But Savoleyres, the resort’s second ski area at the other end of town, is home to some of the most enjoyable (and much less crowded) terrain in the whole resort, as well as runs down to little La Tzoumaz.
Ok, we were here to watch the racing, but still managed to sneak off to revel in the best piste conditions of our winter so far.
First up was a speed trap, followed by dual slalom. The finale on Day Two was a 41-gate GS. The 150 competitors came in all shapes and sizes – Lycra cat suits don’t lie – and age was no barrier.
Amin Momen of Momentum Ski, founder of the event, fancied his chances this year against his friend and long-term rival Damon Hill. Amin has worked in the ski industry all of his adult life and lived for many years in Courmayeur. But Damon knows a thing or two about championships as a former Formula One World Champion.
Damon was by no means the only world class competitor taking part. Sports commentator and former Olympic 110m hurdler, Colin Jackson – he won silver at Seoul in 1988 and was twice World Champion and two times Commonwealth Champion – was fastest out of the blocks…sorry, gate.
Marcus Brigstocke provided an evening of off-slope entertainment with fellow funny man Sean Meo. Verbier’s Warren Smith of Warren Smith Ski Academy, on hand with a few tips for competitors, was here with partner Melinda Messenger who only took up skiing for the first series of The Jump.
The BBC’s security correspondent, Frank Gardner, joined the panel of the Alpine Forum, sponsored by the FT, along with Damon Hill, Marcus Brigstocke, and Accenture’s Peter Beardshaw. Frank, who was left paralysed when shot six times by Islamist terrorists in 2004, found time to show his skills on a sit-ski.
Race commentator Matt Chilton of Ski Sunday awarded prizes galore at a gala dinner in mountain restaurant Mouton Noir on the final night. But our awards for the weekend go to:
Competitor Niall Crowley who completed all 41 gates of the GS course…on his third day on skis.
Rob Machon, one of Warren Smith’s instructors, who skied the course in a time considerably faster than many of the racers…and he skied it switch (backwards).