The cross-country World Cup was held in the Les Confins area of La Clusaz last weekend, so I went up to check it out on Saturday afternoon. Of course, as soon as I arrived, the competition ended for the day, but I was surprised at just how many people were there to watch a sport which I find, well, completely boring. Don’t get me wrong: I participated in a mini World Cup for cross-country skiing once (okay, it was inter-varsity ski week, where I was given a pair of cross-country skis from the 70s and told to learn during the competition: my university needed some extra points; I learnt quickly but was happy to get those quasi-skis off my feet).
Clearly, some people do enjoy both participating and watching, and La Clusaz had gone all out, putting up this lovely hot air balloon, and even a big screen so the people at the back of the crowd could see the action. I got there just in time to see that a Norwegian won the women’s competition. The French bell ringers decided to stand next to me, and as you can see from the photo of them, the snow was still hurtling down from the sky after days of snowfall. The weather was sunny on Sunday, but I was too busy going down a hill in La Clusaz on a snowboard to bother checking out the people going around in circles on funny skis at Les Confins.
A friend of mine was talking about the World Cup, which he had also had a quick look at. It inspired him to try it out on Monday, when the crowds had left Les Confins — along with the big screen and the La Clusaz balloon. He had access to all the equipment he needed, so he headed over to a flat area and strapped in. Top marks for trying, but his verdict? “It’s boring,” he said with a shrug. That’s good enough for me. I’ll stick to going down hills and will no doubt marvel at mini-extravaganza of next year’s World Cup when it comes back to this part of France.