Today, Monday, was cloudy in the valley and looking rather dismal. But, ever the optimist, I decided to go to Brevent to ski! The Freeride competition was to take place there. It had been postponed from the weekend until today. So I thought if they managed to stage it, despite the clouds, that might be interesting. I took the train to Chamonix, then the bus to the Brevent lift. The weather was not promising throughout the journey. But suddenly, right near the top of the lift, we broke through the cloud. The competition was on. The snow was just about perfect. Fantastic! The only trouble was not all of the runs were out of the cloud; it sat at lower levels, as you can see.
Every now and again, as you reached a certain stage in a run, you had to ski through it and it was thick. As a result there were lots of fallers because it was a white-out; there were no distinguishing features at ground level at all and the piste was starting to grow moguls. But the top part of the runs, particularly Col Cornu, were really excellent.
I was able to watch a good deal of the Freeride competition from chair lifts but I also stopped for a while and watched snowboarders and skiers taking the most extraordinary jumps over jagged rocks, to land in deep powder snow and continue their descent. The idea of the competition seems to be to choose the most interesting and elegant descent line. So the different competitors were following different routes. I took a picture of the starting point and tried to draw on some of routes that I saw. (Sorry I do not think this worked very well.)
There was some kind of a tent at the starting point and, after the race, a helicopter came and lifted it away.
I did not know until early this morning that today is Chinese New Year. It is apparently the year of the Water Dragon, or is it the Black Water Dragon? I enclose the following, which might explain it, taken from http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2012.htm
The Year 2012 is the 4709th Chinese year. The Chinese believe that the first king of China was the Yellow King (he was not the first emperor of China). The Yellow King became king in 2697 B.C., therefore China will enter the 4709th year on January 23, 2012. Also, the Chinese Year uses the cycle of 60 Stem-Branch counting systems and the Black Water Dragon is the 28th Stem-Branch in the cycle. Since (60 *78) + 29 = 4709, therefore 2012 is the Water Dragon year, which is the 4709th Chinese Year.
Just to make matters worse some other websites say that this is now the 4710th Chinese year.