Since 1991, Nestle has sponsored The Nescafé Champs Snowboarding competition which brings together the best riders in the world. This is the longest running professional snowboarding competition in Europe. However, what is unique, is that through qualifying events,10 amateurs are allowed to compete with the word’s best. The top 3 men and the top 2 women qualify for the world championship, which this year will be held in Vermont. The five winners will split $50,000. So this is a huge event for Snowboarders.
The event was held from March 1st through March 4th. The weather has been awesome, so on Thursday, March 1st I took the train to Leysin to watch the first day. Leysin is about an hour training ride northeast of Vevey.
On Mar 1st the amateurs were scheduled to practice, Mar 2nd the professional riders and then Mar 3rd were the semi-finals and the finals were held on Mar 4th. I attended the Mar 1st session, so the following pictures are of the amateurs during their practice session.
At Aigle, I changed to a cog wheel train that took me to Leysin.
A little bit about cog wheel trains:
Conventional railroads use the friction of wheels upon the rails, called "adhesion", to provide locomotive power. A cog, or rack, railroad uses a gear, "cog wheel", meshing into a special rack rail (mounted in the middle between the outer rails) to climb much steeper grades than those possible with a standard adhesion railroad. An adhesion railroad can only climb grades of 4 to 6%, with very short sections of up to 9%. A "rack" railroad can climb grades of up to 48%.
Aigle sits at the base of the Alps. It is surrounded by terraced vineyards. What is amazing is that there are so many vineyards so close to the Alps.
I have arrived in Leysin. As I stated above, Nestle (Nescafe) is the major sponsor for this event.
I am riding the chair lift to the top of the mountain where the snowboarding activities will occur.
After a short hike, from the chair lift, I arrived at the snowboarding area. Again, Nestle's presence is evident with signs and tents set-up for the riders. Of course, the choice of drink with the tent dwellers, was Nescafe.
When I arrived they were still setting up the course that the snowboarders would be using. They had build a huge mound of snow. On top of it they build the take off ramp that the snowboarders used to generate momentum so they could do their acrobatics.
The following are some shots of the amateurs during their practice sessions. With my little Nikon camera it was difficult to get good action shots.
What is unique about the angle of this shot is that appears that the snowboarder is riding down the mountain side. In reality, the mountain is at least 150 feet in the background from the rider. He is soaring up in the air off the ramp and will land on the backside of the snow mound.
This is the jersey worn by the competitors.
Another mountain shot - I never get tired of seeing all the mountains.
I took a chair lift from the snowboarding area to the top of MountTour d’Ai. This restaurant is located at 6,700 feet and is made entirely out of glass.
It revolves 360° within an hour and a half. During this time, the Matterhorn, Mont-Blanc, Dents du Midi, Grand Colombin, Eiger and countless other peaks can be seen.