22/3/12 – Poor Tom Lynch, but today’s slopes aren’t built for high speeds

I was dismayed to read in the papers that Tom Lynch, the British skier who died in Val d’Isere on Tuesday after crashing into a snow cannon, may have been trying to break the 100kph barrier while using an iPhone app called Ski Tracks. Read the story in the Telegraph here.

Followers of this blog will know what I think about gadgets on the slopes – and elsewhere, for that matter. Read this post from last October to find out – and in the same post you can also find out what happened when I sampled the Ski Tracks app a couple of years ago.

I very much feel for Tom’s family and friends, and whether or not this or any gadget encourages people to ski beyond their capabilities and lose control I don’t know.

What I do hope is that, whatever the cause of his accident, others will take heed about speed.

Many of today’s slopes – especially the ones typically frequented by Brits, in over-rated places such as Val d’Isere – are so crowded that tearing around them at high speed is madness.

There are, however, ways to ski at pace without putting yourself and others in undue danger – and even to have your kph recorded (and not on a gadget you are carrying, which I think is safer).

The safest way to be a speed merchant - in this case, at the Inferno in Muerren

I’m not talking about the speed traps dotted about in some resorts but about the dozens of amateur races – downhills, giant slaloms, parallel slaloms – that take place all over the Alps. The Germans have been enjoying these alongside locals for years, but surprisingly few Brits join in with the Euro-organised ones.

A few weekends ago, for instance, you could choose between the Parsenn Derby in Davos and the Inter-Club Championships in Gstaad, for instance. Last weekend the City Ski Championships took place in Crans, and the weekend after next there’s the Gardenissima in Val Gardena as well as the Allalin in Saas Fee. Then on 4 April there’s a Ski Club of GB dual slalom in Tignes.

Read about some of Europe’s great amateur races here – and with a bit of planning, you too can be a speed merchant – but in a controlled environment (or semi-controlled, in the case of the Weisse Rausch in St Anton…), where your chances of colliding with an obstacle or another skier are pretty low and a helmet will be compulsory.

There are plenty of race-training courses for adults these days – with the likes of Amanda Pirie, Phil Smith and organisations such as Inspired to Ski – which should make you safer at speed.

My other tip for collision-free skiing is to steer clear of the busy resorts and go to ones with less kilometre-age but where you have those kilometres pretty much to yourself. Where are those? Now, that would be telling…

Addendum, 22/3/12: Here is an interesting thread on Snowheads.com relating to collisions.

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