Above and Below

Joe Troman reports on the first few days of the annual pilgrimage UK universities make to the Alps for a week of competition and partying - we can’t help but be a little jealous!

Fishing confetti out of a hard earned pint of beer péche is not an easy task. It sticks to the side of the glass and requires fingers like a gecko to grip on to the rapidly dissolving tissue paper like material. These are the kinds of trials and tribulations that the 1800 attendees of Above and Below have to deal with on a daily basis. 

Alpe d’Huez delivering on sunny spring weather!

Alpe d’Huez delivering on sunny spring weather!

Driving up the infamous 21 turns of Tour de France fame our excitement built as we gained altitude. As we scaled the mountain up to Alpe d’Huez, the rain we had been hammered with in the valley slowly turned to snow. 30cm was forecast that evening and it certainly seemed as though the forecasters had got it right!

We settled into our apartment, before heading out for an explore. After enjoying a romantic birthday meal with Ski Club’s videographer, Jonny, in the cosy Pizza Pinnochio, we opted to sample some of the town’s nightlife with the 1800 students that were in resort for the week. 

After many, many pints of water the morning after – stay hydrated kids – we hit the slopes. Alpe d’Huez was looking glorious under clear blue skies and the snowfall of the previous night was a welcome top up to the pistes. Unfortunately you can’t always have it all and the powder had turned from fluffy to slushy by 1pm. 

This gave us a great excuse to head to the Folie Douce – or as Jonny called it, the Folie Loose. The opening après session of a week is always a big one and this one was no different; think confetti cannons and smoke grenades. After a brief boogie on a table we headed down the hill. 

Hey, do you remember where I put my skis?

Hey, do you remember where I put my skis?

With burning legs from the powder, slush and silly dancing, we grabbed an early night in preparation for the next day’s racing.

Monday morning came round, and it’s fair to say that it wasn’t a bad day in the office. The 8am start was necessary as the spring sun was turning the lovingly prepared GS course into a boardercross. Despite the slushy conditions the slope held up and we got the chance to witness some of the best racers in the uk tearing down the course. The standard was impressive, with the top positions being hotly contested and changing hands between the first and second runs. 

The winners of the Women’s Slalom

The winners of the Women’s Slalom

The winners were crowned at the bottom of the slopes that afternoon. All of the major disciplines are fiercely fought over in the space of a week. In addition to the ski and snowboard Giant Slalom, there are races in Slalom and Boarder/Skier Cross, as well as freestyle competitions in Big Air and Slopestyle.

After a gruelling day of top-flight competition, racers unwound at the first arena night of the week. TCTS provided the backing track for 1300 revellers throwing out some questionable dance moves through to the early hours. We can only hope that those competing the next day took it easy!

Catch part two of Joe’s Above and Below round up next week.

Above and Below is run each year by BUSC Events and supported by Wasteland. The competitions are coordinated by BUCS.