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The Momentum Ski Festival and 15th City Ski Championships took place in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana from Thursday 13th March to Sunday 16th, 2014. The top ski party in the Alps saw over 250 people take part in racing, debating – at the 3rd annual Alpine Business Forum – and a full compliment of après-ski events.
Competition kicked off on Friday under a glorious blue sky with the slopes in excellent condition for the hotly-contested Radar Trap event. One at a time, competitors pushed off from the start hut into their most streamlined tuck position with the sole aim of recording the fastest speed through the measuring equipment at the slope’s end.
Wolfgang Maier from TAO Capital was the eventual winner, clocking a speed of 98.54km/h despite the warm Spring conditions – twice as fast as the slowest competitors in the field. The fastest woman was Claire Yates of Accenture, with a speed of 90km/h, rounding off a furious start to the weekend.
A crack team of Montana Ski School instructors were on hand in the afternoon, offer racing tips before the start of the legendary Accenture Dual Slalom. Teams of four battled it out on the immaculately-prepared Nationale piste, normally a testing World Cup track for such champions as Didier Cuche and Lindsey Vonn.
The team from Accenture conquered all comers in the mixed event, whilst the four men from The Frankfurt Stock Exchange took the Open prize.
With plenty of thrills and spills taking place on the hill, the team from Physio Remedies were kept busy throughout, providing much-needed physiotherapy support to bruised racers. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the course spectators looked on whilst they enjoyed a superb lunch of raclette washed down with local Swiss Valais wines.
As Saturday arrived, so did the big one – the individual giant slalom sponsored by JEANRICHARD and Snow+Rock. BBC Ski Sunday presenter Graham Bell set the pace early on as the first few bibs ripped through the firm conditions on an icy course. However as the sun got to work and the morning wore on, the conditions softened up – making every start number count.
A full programme of après-ski started off on Thursday night at Monk’is with 14 Carat Grapefruit and The Elements getting everyone in the mood for a party.
29 Fingers gave a memorable performance at Zerodix on Friday, before Saxmaniax switched things up on Saturday, getting everyone dancing. On the decks was the legendary Verbier DJ Nico.
After a storming session in 2013, Rick Parfitt Jnr. – son of Status Quo’s legendary singer/guitarist – returned once again, his inexhaustible energy ensuring revelers stayed on the dance floor long into the night.
As the encores ended, it was finally the turn of DJ Ibba at the Centre Le Regent to carry proceedings though to the wee small hours of the morning.
Of course, it wasn’t all skiing and partying. Whilst the Momentum Ski Festival has long been know for the informal networking opportunities it presents, in recent years the Alpine Business Forum – run in association with the Financial Times – has provided the same in a more structured debate environment.
Hosted as it was last year by FT Weekend Magazine Deputy Editor, Ravi Mattu, 2014‘s discussion topic was ‘The New World Of Work (A Brave New World?)’, which placed a strong emphasis on teamwork.
On the panel was the Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams MBE, as well as acclaimed author Robyn Scott, author and researcher Marc de Rond, and Bruno Grande – COO of JEANRICHARD.
Over 70 delegates packed the conference room for the absorbing session at the Hotel de l’Etrier, and once again it developed into a fascinating session full of interesting insights.
The awards ceremony and gala dinner took place on Saturday evening at Centre Le Regent. After spending the previous two days of racing commentating live from the slopes, BBC broadcaster Matt Chilton returned to host the awards – keeping the crowds entertained with his unique brand of humour.
Momentum Ski founder Amin Momen celebrated another successful event, announcing his delight with the weekend’s total of more than £7000 raised in charitable donations for Borne.
Quentin Perchat made his way to the top of the podium for the first time, the Lombard Odier skier taking the JEANRICHARD Giant Slalom trophy from second-placed Steven Maillefer of Premium Assets by 0.66s – a healthy margin.
In the women’s race, the evergreen Annabel Fell-Clark of AXA Fine Art – Lloyds completed a unique double, claiming both the ladies trophy and the senior title.
The Super FIS/Instructor Champion and fastest overall skier in the giant slalom event was Juergen Blumberg of BlackRock Asset Management, who obliterated the rest of the field with a time of 46.88. Hetty Lowndes from Performance Verbier picked up the Ladies Super FIS/Instructor prize with a time of 53.80.
The best wipeout got one of the biggest cheers of the night as Filippo Guerrini-Maraldi – a City Ski champion in previous years – hobbled up to collect his (unwanted) prize, while the Zerodix award for a competitor who has skied for less than ten weeks went to Paul Pacifico.
The Financial Times , SWISS, Accenture, JEANRICHARD, Snow+Rock, Borne, Dare 2b, College Group, RKHarrison, Cavendish Ware, Crans-Montana, Valais Tourism, Switzerland Tourism, Valet Alpin and Taking The Piste.