Fancy becoming a World Champion? Just invent your own discipline…

Becoming a World Champion in a vaguely ski-related event is easier than you think, because with a bit of imagination and tad of crazy, even the most batsh*t insane could wind up with a medal

The path to become World Champion is hard. Not only do you have to be highly skilled in your chosen sport, dedicated, resilient, able to deal with injury and come back stronger, but you also need to be a winner. Well, that’s partially true. I guess the guys at the World Cheese Rolling Championships do ‘some’ training, but I suspect they don’t spend all year at it; same goes for the  World Bog Snorkelling Champs. So, there are some World Championships with slightly lower standards. Are there snowsport World Champs that are a little easier to win? If not, can we start our own?

Former British Olympic Downhill skier Finlay Mickel’s highest placing in a FIS Ski World Champs was 11th in the Men’s Downhill in 2005, but arguably his finest hour was in monoskiing, taking bronze at the 2016 Monoski World Champs in Val d’Isère, and are his best days yet to come?

When I spoke to Finlay he was quite animated and excited about it, possibly under the influence of a couple of beers: “I arrived in Val d’Isère, ski toured the Face de Bellevarde with my friend Dougie Mills one day, and then competed in the Monoski World Champs the next!” He continued: “Andy Freshwater (another ex-GB skier) told me that to become a great monoskier you have to unlearn everything you have learned, and throw all your values in the bin. But I love the attitude of it. I was gutted to not make the two-man final and be World Champion, but my wife has given me the green light for next year. I want to be the winner and I’m going to train three to six days a year to be that man!”.

Make like Finlay and take on the Monoski | fotolia.com

Make like Finlay and take on the Monoski | fotolia.com

Now, this is looking a bit serious for me. Apparently around 50 skiers took part aged 20 to 65, almost all British with the level of skier being from very good to elite. Finlay’s looking to recruit some current and former big name athletes into the event (personally I’d keep it to myself if I wanted to win it). Apparently US Downhill skier Steve Nyman is interested and I asked Finlay the big question – whether Alain Baxter would be coming out of retirement – but he didn’t want to put his friend under pressure.

The big downside for me is that the event seems to involve a wearing a lot of Day-Glo pastels. I lived through it and have some appalling photos of me, never again!

Ski ballet (or acroski) was once a serious sport in the 1980s. In fact, film-maker Greg Stump (of Blizzard of Aahhh’s fame) is a former American champion in the discipline. Ski ballet was basically flat land tricks to music, with flips, spins and so on and, in Stump’s case, setting off fireworks and miming pulling a rope.

It largely died out in the early 90s but limped on in Britain until the early noughties. A brave handful of skiers used to compete at freestyle events we ran around the country and took it very seriously. Sometimes they’d drag in the rest of the freestyle skiers to participate and on one occasion at the Dry Slope British Champs I was coerced to compete, injuring my wrist trying to learn cartwheels the night before.

Nevertheless I put in a remarkably inept performance the following day to narrowly take the National Senior title against a guy who had broken his wrist that day, and was holding it against his chest to minimise the pain throughout his run.

Ski Ballet!Found this in the archives! Eddie Thelwell Tom Last Simon Ashton Alex Murphy Adrian Clarke Ben Hawker

Posted by Andy Bennett on Friday, 26 June 2015

No one competes in ski ballet now, perhaps unsurprisingly, and it’s no longer an official FIS discipline, so time for a relaunch. Run the dry slope World Championships this year on your local slope and you too can be a winner. All you need are some short skis, an old ghetto blaster and a recording of Ravel’s Boléro. To improve your chances make sure there are plenty of age groups and the probability is everyone who competes can go away as a World Champion. I’m sure BUSC could even run a Universities World Championships at one of their annual competitions – now there’s an idea…

Still got your snowblades? I used to have a pair and competed in a bladercross event in Scotland. It was what it says on the tin, like skiercross, but more unstable and slower.

In the start gate I asked what the rules were. “First to the bottom, keep inside the marked course, set off when the bar drops.”

“That’s it?” I asked, incredulously.

“Yup.”

So, as the starter counted us in I punched the guy next to me as hard as I could, knocking him into the two other skiers and away I went, laughing. Unfortunately I laughed myself off the course and we had to restart, with three very unhappy skiers. I didn’t make it out of the gate that time.

So, why am I wittering on about snowblading? Because of the Snowblade Extreme Championships that take place in Crested Butte, Colorado, every year of course! The event has been held for 11 years now and is a concoction of moustaches, Day-Glo and ludicrous costumes.

Runs take place on gnarly black terrain and the rules require you not to be wasted drunk and specifically practising is not allowed. Runs are judged on the difficulty of line, big air, crashes, moustache intensity (false or otherwise), costume and overall ‘bladeness’, and apparently rules are subject to change at the judges’ whim/state of sobriety. No different to any old freestyle competition then. With 37 competitors and no pre-entry requirements the chance of winning is fairly good.

If you don’t like the sound of any of these sports, simply make up one of your own and set yourself up as the governing body and then you can accredit your own World Championships. What about ski ball juggling – a parallel slalom event for jugglers? You could have different categories: skittle juggling, ball juggling and, of course, the great-for-TV-ratings, fire juggling.

I’m not sure, but I suspect the top alpine skiers have neglected their juggling skills over the years and hence any half-decent juggler in a racing snow plough has a good chance of winning, especially if the rules require you to complete the course with the requisite number of balls. Now, my juggling isn’t great but I reckon with a crash course at a decent circus school I could improve and have a shot at the big prize.

Yup, think I might organise a Ski Ball Juggling World Championship for next year. But only expect to hear about the event after the fact because I don’t want too many of you competing against me. World Champion – that would sound nice. I could live with that.

Fall-Line Skiing |
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