I spent last week in Les Arcs at the B&E Invitational and it was crazy. I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the videos and perhaps even watched the full coverage which I’ve included at the end of this article. But I wanted to talk a little more about what the experience was like and what events like this mean for skiing.
From the moment I landed, 2 hours later than expected (sorry everyone), just in time for an hour long search of Geneva Airport for Rory Silva, to watching Sammy Carlson playing tetris with ski bags in an attempt to get 8 people’s luggage + 8 people in a van that would comfortably seat 5, it was an eventful trip.
Pretty sure this is how everyone remembers most of the event
The course, as you no doubt have seen, was unlike anything ever seen before in skiing. What you may or may not have seen on the online stream, was that it was really difficult to ride. First few runs through of practice… I’m pretty sure nobody has seen as many of the top riders in the world flailing. Chatting to Duncan Adams and Antti Ollila after the first day was done, the general consensus was that after a few runs through, they were worried about whether they’d be able to ski it decently at all. But after a full 4 hour practice, it started to click. I got a handful of runs through myself on the practice days and it was insanely fun and technical/terrifying in equal measure. One hit straight to the next, no time to think. Pop when you should have absorbed or vice versa and you’re going to get bucked. I survived but I wouldn’t say I achieved any more than that.
Chilling at the top of Aigulle Rouge mid-pre practice shred. Photo: Sean Logan
By comp day everyone had it dialed and it went off with a bang. It’s a pity that the best style and best trick sessions were held at night because the slushy course had refrozen to ice and that held the level of riding back to a degree but the Les Arcs shapers did a great job and the riders found ways to use the newly icy features to their advantage. I spent the last few runs down in the crowd with locals trying to explain to me they saw the riders as ‘picassos on snow’ a description I found amazingly fitting. I was sceptical as to whether the crowd would really get what was going on, but that scepticism was misplaced. They loved it almost as much as Henrik loved Masta Killa’s halftime show.
Seriously, I'm not sure anyone has ever been this stoked on life...
To round it all off there was a long night of after parties and after after parties, which to me perfectly captured the feel of the whole event. Noah, the overall winner, was crowd surfed in to the final club of the night. Inside a bucket chain formed between the bar and riders area, with monster dollars flowing in one direction and beers in the other. Everyone was there to have fun being themselves, and for me that was the theme of the week.
Sammy Carlson killed it from the moment he showed up, to the end of the event. Pretty much any of the riders could have won any of the titles.
There was a lot of talk in the media room after the event about how this event should be a new standard and every park should have bowl in etc. But while bowls are incredibly fun and the event was an unqualified success, I think the real message to take from this is that events should be different. If every event was like B&E people would get just as bored as they do with today’s regular comps, but if everyone organizing an event thought outside the box as Phil, Henrik and everyone behind the B&E Invitational has done, skiing would be a much more interesting place.
End of event train time
I’d like to say a massive thanks to Raf, Herve, Julie and everyone else involved. I saw how much work the weekend was for you guys, but I’m sure you all know that the work was well worth it, because it was probably the best ‘contest’ of all time. I’m sure everyone who was present would drink a(nother) Génépi to that!
All photos by David Malacrida unless otherwise stated
Daytime Jam Session - Full Video
Best Style, Best Trick and Halftime Show