SNOW conditions could hardly have been better at Glencoe this weekend, as the Coe Cup - Scotland’s premier freeride ski and snowboard event - made its debut on the world stage.
On Friday night, the ski forecasting service snowforecast.com reported that almost a foot of snow had fallen in the area in just 24 hours, and on Saturday morning competitors were able to enjoy knee-deep powder under clear skies on the Flypaper, Glencoe’s super-steep signature run. The weather closed in later, and the clag only just lifted in time for the competition to reach a satisfactory conclusion on Sunday afternoon, but the point had been made: Glencoe may not have the highest mountains in the world, but on its day it can compare favourably with anything in the Alps or the Rockies as a venue for extreme, state-of-the-art snow-sliding.
This year, for the first time, the Coe Cup was an official qualifying event for the glamorous Freeride World Tour, and as a result it drew international competitors looking to build up enough points to gain entry to their sport’s premier league. Sergi Diaz of Spain helped his campaign with a fourth place finish in the men’s snowboard, and Danko Puskaric from Croatia also did well, finishing eighth.
It was the locals, however, who really impressed head judge Laurent Besse from France. The men’s skiing category was won by Dave Biggin of Fort William, with fellow Scot Gavin Carruthers in second, while in the men’s snowboard Calum MacIntyre pipped Kevin Cowie for the win. In the ladies combined ski and snowboard category, Ailsa Clark finished first, with Wendy Dalgliesh second and Lesley Strachan third.
“On the Saturday we had absolutely stunning conditions,” said event organiser and Glencoe owner Andy Meldrum. “There was sunshine, knee-deep powder... it looked like Alaska.”
Freeride competitions differ from traditional downhill skiing in that there is no fixed course. There is a start line at the top of the hill and a finish line at the bottom, but how competitors choose to ride the mountain between those two points is up to them. It’s not a race – instead, riders are scored on the difficulty of the line they attempt and the fluidity and style with which they ride it.
On Saturday the competition was held on the Flypaper, but on Sunday it had to be moved to section of the mountain underneath the Cliffhanger chairlift due to high avalanche risk, after another 20cm of snow fell overnight.
“There had been too much snow on the Flypaper and it had been deemed dangerous,” Meldrum added. “[Ski] Patrol reckoned it was going to be sketchy.
“All the guys competing have to wear [avalanche] transceivers and they accept that there’s a risk on a slope that steep that it might slide. They’re prepared and they’re set up for it.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west