The runs that made us | Stian Hagen

Fall Line and friends on the slopes that shaped them

Stian dropping like a marble in Cham | © Max Draeger

Chamonix felt like my place as soon as I arrived, even when I was going back to Norway in the summer to earn money for the winters here.

At first, all that was on my mind was steeps. The steeper the better! And within two seasons I had skied most of the steepest lines in Chamonix that you can reach without touring. Back then we couldn’t afford ski touring equipment, and the touring gear at the time was pretty average anyway, so lift-accessed runs were the name of the game.

It all culminated with a descent of the Mallory (Chamonix’s most coveted line), on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi in late April 1995. But as I started living here full time, met my wife Andrea (Binning, former world extreme skiing champion) and had a family, my preference changed. And for the last 20 years, the Lavancher bowl on Les Grands Montets has been where I’ve had my very best runs.

The hardest thing as a pro athlete is stepping away. You can’t take that level of risk forever. Living here you see people who can’t gracefully stop, and it rarely turns out well. It’s a process; a long winding road, but I’m so happy that low-risk powder skiing is totally my cup of tea these days, and my kids seem to love it too.

Everyone has different names for the runs in Chamonix. Locals one thing, Swedes another, the international crew different again. And while this top of the Bochard lift to the bottom of the Retour pendant chair is officially called first Chamois, then Remuaz piste, our family simply call it the Marble Run. Because if you dropped a few, this is the line they’d take.

It’s a huge bowl, mostly below 30-degrees, so the potential risk is low, while even if there were an avalanche we’d be skiing so quickly (with both my kids in the race programme) we’d outrun it!

I also know d’Argentière will open first on a powder day. Sure, there’ll be people waiting at Le Midi or Brévent, but they’ll be later, with this always the banker. It’s also one of the longest powder runs you can get in Chamonix, a place that remains, in my view, the best place to ski on the planet.

Stian is sponsored by Arc’teryx, Völkl, Marker and Dalbello

Freeskier Stian Hagen | © Devan Francis