The inaugural Whiteburn PHAT Challenge was a tremendous success: On 1st February 2008, the skiercross competition saw 30 intrepid contenders take on a course of bumps, berms and jumps on the icy peaks of Les Grands Montets, Chamonix, racing head to head in heats, semis and finals.
The “Brodies Bus” whisked 25 property professionals from Courmayeur, through the Mont Blanc tunnel to the “French side” and on up to Chamonix – as an alternative “preparation-day” for Saturday’s Lambert Smith Hampton Giant Slalom.
Reaching Les (spectaculaires) Grands Montets, delegates were greeted by pumping tunes, vin chauds, pizza slices, PHAT goody bags and race numbers… plus some of Whiteburn’s Chamonix-based friends, who also sneaked into the competition, including three young racers from The British Ski Academy…. (more on this later.)
Embarking on testing “warm-up runs” in the gusty, flat-light conditions, participants perhaps wished they’d joined their VIP Groupies who were busy quaffing Cointreau and apple juice and marvelling at the bravery of their compatriots.
But it soon got heated! Telemarkers, girl racers, property moguls, Ski Academy younglings and lawyers all threw themselves into the melting pot of tete-a-tete ski-racing frenzy. The innocent little jumps and rollers soon proved to offer monstrous air once taken at speed, and after three heats each, the choosers of discretion over valour were all-too-soon watching from the sidelines as the PHAT PHinalists PHought it out, PHroffing at the mouth for the star prize pair of DynastarLegend Skis (limited Chamonix edition) and various luscious items from The North Face and Buff.
(Meanwhile the sun decided to join the party… whether attracted by the dulcet tunes projected by Chamonix’s resident DJ Jimbo or the sassy chatter from novelist/MC, Jon Trigell, bigging up the PHAT racers, and out flocked the local park rats taking advantage of the fresh light for big air tricks nearby.)
But back to business… In the Telemarker category, victory was snapped up by Dave Kilgour as Kerr Blyth spent too long in the air at the last kicker. The ladies had already wreaked havoc throughout the competition with Betony Garner (from Ski Club of GB) narrowly missing out on the ”Grand PHinal”. But she still took first place in the Ladies’ Finals, with her friends Kate Mullins and Liz Russell coming 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The Grand PHinal got a little too hot to handle as young Justin Mesut wiped out on a roller, having stormed through the heats. While Justin still received the award of PHATtest Dresser in his plaid baggy ski gear, Dan Hall of the British Ski Academy cleaned up the Dynastar skis, Kerr Blyth came in 2nd and young Sam Rowley took 3rd place on the podium. The PHATtest Trick of the day went to Ski Academy’s Laurie Taylor.
The day’s remaining chairlift time was spent ripping up the slopes, followed by free-flowing beers and merriment at Marmottons bar. Everyone agreed to come next year… Even Dale Strachan, nursing a dislocated shoulder from one too many attempts at a PHAT backPHlip.
THANKS to the participants and all those who helped create the inaugural Whiteburn PHAT Challenge… and a special thank you to: Chamonix Mont Blanc Dynastar, The North Face, Brodies, Buff and Evolution2.
Enjoy the pics and the video clip … See you next year!