The Momentum Ski Festival and 14th City Ski Championships took over traditional Crans Montana from Thursday to Sunday, March 14-17, 2013. After the move from Italy to Switzerland in 2012, the top ski party in the Alps settled into its new de luxe home, with music, comedy and adrenaline on and off the slopes.
Let them rip
In bracing sunshine, the immaculately prepared National piste, normally a testing World Cup track for such champions as Didier Cuche and Lindsay Vonn, was slick, steep and true for the blue riband giant slalom on Saturday morning.
Momentum’s own hero, Tommy Moe, Olympic downhill gold medallist in 1994, showed how it should be done, but France’s Jan Zajackowski proved that a snappy dresser can swap a onesie for a racing suit and beat the very best.
On Friday, the showcase was the Accenture dual parallel slalom. After a morning’s intensive race training with instructors from the Montana Ski School, teams lined up for the head to head knockout. As favoured rivals tumbled, Lloyd’s of London emerged as champions, with the Paris Stock Exchange taking the mixed competition.
On both days, spectators gathered in the paddock at the bottom of the course to enjoy generous refreshments sponsored by Savill’s Alpine Homes. Any takers? Roger Moore’s blue shuttered chalet beside the piste suggested the answer should be yes.
Let them rock
Momentum supremo and music man, Amin Momen, picked the dazzling RPJ Band to headline an unforgettable last night party. With inexhaustible energy, Rick Parfitt Jnr., the son of Status Quo’s legendry singer guitarist, kept the revellers on the dance floor far into the night. At the base of the Cry d’Er gondola, Zerodix hosted vibrant après ski action liberally fuelled by toffee vodka.
On Friday afternoon, These Reigning Days, indies from Devon described as ‘Coldplay with balls and a stiff drink instead of world peace and green tea’, took centre stage. On Saturday, it was The Feeling, Brit-nominated pop rockers from Sussex, who pulled in the crowds.
And Alice Cooper was there too, filling the 6000 seat Moon stadium as part of Crans Montana’s showpiece Caprices Festival which also took place last week.
Let them think
Flux is the New Normal was the topic under discussion at the Alpine Business Forum run in association with the Financial Times and hosted by their Business Life editor, Ravi Mattu. Panellists Frank Gardner, the BBC’s incisive security correspondent, Marcus Brigstocke, a comedian with political attitude, and Jean-Claude Biver, a high flying Swiss watchmaker who brought the Hublot brand back from oblivion between 2004 and 2012, provided diverse and intriguing views on world domination in an era in which nothing can be taken for granted.
Let them laugh
After a festive dinner in the Hotel Etrier, Brigstocke traded stand up routines with Dubliner Andrew Maxwell, his fellow snowboarder and co-founder of the Altitude comedy and music festival, relocated from Meribel to Mayerhofen for 2013. Brigstocke, a national favourite for his contributions to Radio 4 comedy and Have I Got News for You, went first, leaving the late late Friday night slot to his feisty Irish friend.
Let them win
On Saturday night, the Valais tourist office hosted drinks and a gala dinner in the Centre Le Regent. Then it was time to hand out the glittering prizes. First up, Marcus Brigstocke, now in auctioneer’s mode to raise big bucks for Help for Heroes. Then over to Matt Chilton, introduced by Amin Momen as the ‘the voice of Olympic beach volleyball’ for his witty television coverage during the 2012 London Games.
In the morning, spectators enjoyed his brilliantly sardonic commentary on the mountain. At night, he hosted the awards ceremony, summoning celebrities headed by Heston Blumenthal, Tommy Moe, Colin Jackson and Konrad Bartelski, and sponsors – among them Swiss Air, Cavendish Ware, Tag Heuer and Crans Montana, to present medals and silver trophies in many categories.
And the big winners are…
Kent Berglund, a City Ski Championships virgin from Savill’s Alpine Homes, shaded the TAG Heuer supreme men’s championship by .19 of a second from the evergreen over 40s champion, Filippo Guerrini Maraldi, racing for Lloyd’s of London. Alex Hendy, from Bright Sparks Val Heliski, had an equally tight margin over Sophie Grant, from Swiss International Airlines, for the Tag Heuer Ladies prize. With both Alex and Kent winning TAG Heuer watches for their efforts, it’s no wonder the competition was so fierce.
All was not lost for Filippo Guerrini Maraldi though, who – as the fastest skier from London’s financial community – was named champion of the Swiss London Cup, winning two business class tickets to Singapore with Swiss International Airlines in the process.
Jan Zajackowski, now wearing head to toe plumage in colours more usually associated with parrots, stepped up for his TAG Heuer FIS award, with the Barbican’s Alastair Lauder and the Stock Exchange Ski Club’s Audrey Faveevuw topping the fastest snowboarder categories.
The BRGFI team, Oliver and Nick Robinson, Jamie Bell and Jonathan Penrose, the only quartet to record an aggregate time of less four minutes, were worthy victors in the Financial Times Open Championship. Accenture scooped up the ladies, mixed and closed team prizes.
And the best wipe out? Johnny Creagh Coen. The good news is that he too will be back next year.