Good Times for All at the 20th Derbe de la Meije

Situated high in the French Alps, La Grave ski area will host the 20th Derby de la Meije from 2 to 4 April 2008. La Grave has a well earned reputation for offering some of the most challenging lift-served snow skiing terrain in Europe, and on 4 April approximately 1,000 competitors will gather at the top of the ski area with a common objective – being the first to reach the finish line.

The Derby de la Meije was started by Sylvain Admirat, with 63 skiers competing in the first event on 17 March 1989. This proved to be so successful that it was decided to repeat the experience, which they did. The event has become so popular that the numbers expected to participate in the 2008 could well reach 1,000. The Derbe de la Meije is the highlight of three days of snow skiing, snowboarding, meeting new friends, renewing old acquaintances and enjoying music, art, parties and workshops.

The Derby de la Meije is unique, in that it is open to all experienced riders whether professional or amateur. Competitors can be skiers, snowboarders, telemarkers, monoskiers or daredevils using unconventional sliding objects – helmets are mandatory. The fastest racers will start the race from the summit, which is at a height of 3,550 meters, and they will race a distance of 1,800 vertical meters – some of them completing this in a time period of less than five minutes. Less competitive participants could take up to two hours to get down the mountain, as they enjoy the ride and the incredible scenery.

In the two days prior to the main event everyone is encouraged to participate in the planned workshops, which include crevasse rescue, waxing clinics, speed riding and freeriding in the La Grave ski area. Fireworks, street shows, DJs, concerts and extreme sports film shows will create a festive atmosphere throughout the village. Additionally, interesting displays will illustrate the support that the Derby de la Meije is lending in Tibet, as well as the 20-year history of the event. The poster competition to design the official image for the 20th Derby de la Meije was won by Claudine Vernay from France. The winning poster will be displayed together with the 189 other posters designed by contestants.

Previous events have been a resounding success, with a good time being had by all. The 20th Derbe de la Meije has every indication of being an event to remember and snow sport enthusiasts should make plans to be there.