PHAT Challenge 2010 : Courmayeur Telemark Trials

While we are all super stoked by the sterling Scottish effort by Whiteburn-sponsored Andy Noble in the Winter Olympics Giant Slalom (36th place), here’s the reports of the third annual, tele-tastic, Whiteburn PHAT Challenge.

All the participants (almost) arrived at the Courmayeur télécabine bright and breezy at 0845hrs (a PHAT record), ready to try on their flexible boots and pick up their new telemark skis and bindings for the day.  Ed and Katie, instructors from Edski Therapy, led the way through Courmayeur to a fantastic little groomed “green” slope and the participants let rip, with a morning full of tuition and tele tips.

“FREE the heel: Free the soul” was Whiteburn’s version of the old telemark adage, fortified at elevenses with sparkling Italian wine, thick black coffee, gloopy Italian hot chocolate and Pizza Bianca (pizza base with garlic, olive oil, salt and rosemary).

The midday PHAT Challenge race was all about testing the new-found tele-skills in a medley of all mountain situations, from off-piste trekking and powder skiing, to slalom tele turns, limbo and, most complicatedly, simply putting your telemark-skis on quickly.  It was all a race for a coconut sitting on the roof of the Maison Vielle outbuilding, and the hairy prize was grabbed by Edinburgher, Peter Chambers, to much whooping, applause and serenading by two skiing guitarists.

The new converts to telemarking (plus a few reverted-back skiers) then took to the big mountains of Courmayeur, following Ed and Katie through some powdery tree-runs and fun lines…. Finally met by a guitarist, and a telemark cocktail waitress with a tray of limoncello shots, not to mention the snowboarding broad with a bottle of the lemony liqueur for top-ups.

Finally, the PHAT tele team made it back down to Maison Vielle, wound down in front of the freestyle musicians, Tim and Gary, before fuelling up again on a feast of speciality pastas, and giant bottles of Italian red wine. Prizes were awarded to every participant, and Gary Bigham’s entertaining renditions of Ring of Fire and “Imagine (there’s no telemarkers… wrecking all my snow-ow-owwww”) pushed the event into the remaining moments of twighlight… then we all raced down the hill in time for the après ski of Courmayeur town.

Watch this space for the 4th PHAT Challenge in 2011… A tele trek? Fondue in a high mountain refuge? Who knows… but it’s guaranteed to be fun and PHAT.

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