The first shivers of winter are synonymous with excitement in the resorts and the preparations for the new season.  With the arrival of the seasonal workers, the reopening of the lifts and the training of the teams, we await only the first snowfall; the snow grooming vehicles are ready.  In general, the resorts open between November 27th and December 18th, and the first month of the winter season is packed with athletic and cultural activities.  Here are a few extracts.

The Ski Force Winter Tour
Watching is fun, riding and testing the equipment is even better! The Ski Force Winter Tour 2010, which allows you to try out new items from 14 international brands for the 2010-2011 season, will be held on November 20th and 21st  at Val Thorens, November 27th and 28th at Val d’Isère, December 4th and 5th at Grand Bomand, and December 11th and 12th at Chamrousse.  Village at the foot of the slopes, activities, and access to downhill, all mountain, competition, freestyle and freeride skis are on the agenda.

The Trophée Andros
The famous Trophée Andros, in which cars and motorcycles face off on an icy slope, is not to be missed.  December 4th and 5th at Val Thorens and December 17th and 18th at l’Alpe d’Huez. 

Le Critérium de la première neige
It’s a tradition.  Every year, the Critérium de la première neige (Rally of the first snowfall) of Val d’Isère marks the opening of the alpine ski season. The 2010-2011edition will take place on December 11th and 12th for women, and December 18th and 19th for men.  Two weekends of competition at the summit with free access for all, and the descent of the legendary Bellevard face.  Attention, it’s going to be fast!

Les Etoiles du sport
Les étoiles du sport(Stars of Sport)will take place this year from December 12th to 17th at the La Plagne resort.  Every year, this event brings together the hottest selection of high-ranking French athletes, with the objective of promoting the values of sportsmanship based on the idea that “Today’s champions sponsor tomorrow’s champions.” An event not to be missed at any cost!

Boarderweek
An event dedicated to freestylers from December 12th – 19th at Val Thorens. The programme: Ski and boardercross competitions, a freestyle show, big air, free trials and materials for everyone.  To celebrate, outdoor concerts on the slopes and parties in the resort are also on the agenda.

Coupe du monde de ski de bosses
Amateur mogul skiers will meet on December 15th at Méribel for a competition of the world cup circuit.  This parallel slalom trial will bring together the best riders in the field for an impressive show of speed and aerial manoeuvres.

Coupe du monde de ski de fond
The cross-country world cup circuit at La Clusaz on December 18th and 19th.  Four competitions are on the programme: the women’s 15km, the men’s 30km in “mass start”, the women’s 4 x 5km  relay and the men’s 4 x 10 km relay.  Amateurs welcome.

The Rossignol Demo Tour
Rossignol kicks off a season of demonstrations, trials and events centred around its new range of products.  Find it on December 20th at Val Thorens, December 22nd at Méribel, December 27th at Grand Bomard and December 29th at La Clusaz.

Coupe de la Ligue Finals
The League Cup hockey finals will be held on December 29th at the Patinoire Olympique de Méribel.

Two cultural events not to be missed in December:

Le Festival international du film de montagne d’Autranswill be held at Vercors from December 1st – 5th. Documentaries, fictional films, and first films by new directors will be on the list.  On the side, les Bobines de l’extrême will present short films depicting high intensity extreme sports.

From December 9th – 11th at Saint-Lary Soulan, in the Pyrénées, le Festival international du film de freeride will be held.  An international jury will take on the challenge of selecting the best extreme ski and snowboard films of the year.

But December is, above all, the month of celebration.  In all our resorts, Christmas fairies, torchlight runs, and Santa Claus with and his reindeer will delight all ages.  New Year’s Eve is also full of promises, with events on all the mountains.  There will be something for everyone: gourmets, those who prefer to ring in the New Year in the calm and quiet, and those who live for the dance floor.  

Check out all the events on our site www.france-montagnes.com

Text: Philippe Collignon
Photos: Jean-Pierre Noisillier