This piece by Chris Moran first appeared in issue 70 of WL, but we've updated it somewhat to be a bit more current. Not everything's a timeless as a powder slash after all...
“I feel the need," said Tom Cruise in the ridiculously camp Top Gun, “the need for speeeeed!" And who can’t relate to that? Not us - we love going fast. Dead fast even. That’s why you’ll probably find us doing one of these five speed freak runs throughout the coming winter. In another Tom Cruise quote: “catch us if you can." Or was that Duncan Norvelle? I always get those two mixed up…
The Flying Kilometre, Les Arcs, France.
Where? Probably the world's most famous flying kilometre, Darren Powell still holds the world snowboard speed record that he set here in 1999, though that might possibly be because no one else has the courage to don the ridiculous speed suit ensemble.
When? The record was set in 1999, but you can still try your hand at it today.
What is it? A long, steep, icy death chute. POint yourself downhill and pray you don't crash.
Will I need a helmet? If you want to try and beat the record of 125mph, we’d suggest full body armour. And the silly suit.
Can I do it in fancy dress? It's mandatory.
What chance do I have of winning? Seeing as the current record has stood for fifteen years now, slim.
How fast am I likely to go? The course is completely closed off so all the racers have the chance to go as fast as they dare. If you’re comfortable with hitting 60kmph or faster, here’s your chance to do it. If not, hang back with the kids and the mums and dads, and cruise your way down.
Time Yourself On The Kitzbuhel Speed Course
Where? Kitzbuhel, Austria.
When? All season long.
What is it? Head up the Kitzbuheler Horn and witness the spectacle first hand: a closed-off straightline area with a radar speed check at the bottom. Straight-line the piste and your speed is immediately displayed by the read-out at the bottom.
Will I need a helmet? Nah.
Can I do it in fancy dress? You could, but the object here is to go as fast as you can so your best bet is to tuck everything in, strike the diving ‘’I'm going dead fast pose’, and give it your best shot.
What chance do I have of winning it? That depends on who you race against (your mates most likely) and how fast they can go. This is a good laugh though, it’s not dangerous and anyone who can straightline can do it.
How fast am I likely to go? We were there in February 2006 and James Thorne clocked the fastest time with a commendable 76kmph. He did 73 switch too.
Race In The Mt Baker Banked Slalom
Where? Mt Baker, Washington state, USA.
When? Annually around February
What is it? One of the oldest – and coolest – competitions in the snowboard calendar. This is little more than a race down a ditch. Flags show the turns if it's a white out – which if often is. But the heritage is second to none: Craig Kelly has won it before, Terje famously won it riding switch, and pretty much every super pro in the world has tested his or her mettle against the mighty course. As always, this year’s prize will be a roll of duct tape.
Will I need a helmet? Not really, but you can if you want to.
Can I do it in fancy dress? Again – if you want – definitely chose retro snowboard gear if you can – but underneath this event lies quite a serious competition, and entry places are seriously limited (enter the lottery at mtbakerskiarea.com), so you might be spunking your chance if you do.
What chance do I have of winning it? Pretty good if you’re a decent rider. Not much if Terje turns up. This is all about guts and technique.
How fast am I likely to go? Quite fast, but not much quicker than if you were simply racing your mates down to the apartment or something.
Val D’Isere Men’s Downhill
Where? Top of the FuniVal down to La Daille at the far end of Val d’Isère.
When? All season. In fact the only time you can’t do it is when the real ski race takes place, in January.
What is it? A top-to-bottom classic, with a vertical decent of over a Km. Exiting the funicular train at the summit, turn right and take the ‘OK’ run. It’s steep and (more often than not) smooth as hell. Then cut across and take the ‘Stade de Slalom’ piste, a fenced-in section through the trees that opens out into a whopper of a finishing straight. You can see the official finishing line from a mile off, it’s just a case of how early you dare point that nose straight down and absorb the bumps created by gutless skiers. By the time you fly out across the run-out there’ll be tears streaming behind your goggles.
Will I need a helmet? Depends. If you’re racing your mates after a pint in the Folly Deuce it could be advisable. If you’re just passing through then there’s no need really.
Can I do it in fancy dress? If you really wanna dress up, try donning one of those catsuits you see the downhill skiers wearing for minimum wind resistance. You’ll look a prat when you get back on the funicular though. Alternatively grab a jester hat – this is Val d’Isère so you’ll fit right in.
What chance do I have of winning it? Well they don’t allow snowboarders in the big January race, so chances are you won’t win that. The rest of the time it depends how quick your mates are, or whether you’re up against notorious local George ‘The Canonball’ Blomfield.
How fast am I likely to go? Fast enough to think, “Catch an edge now and I’m going to die."
Striaghtline The Hari Kari – Europe’s Steepest Piste
Where? Mayrehofen, Zillertal Valley, Austria.
When? All winter long, the piste isn’t going anywhere.
What is it? Mayrehofen bill it as being 78 degrees steep, which is clearly bollocks on stilts, but it’s still a pretty steep bit of piste. Head up the Hohbergbahn and when you get out at the top look to your left. The Hari Kari is right there.
Will I need a helmet? If you genuinely intend to striaghtline it, a helmet is beyond essential.
Can I do it in fancy dress? Why not? You’re probably going to die either way.
What chance do I have of eating it? It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll end up somersaulting down the piste should you genuinely intend to straightline it, but if you take it easy you’ll be sweet. Unless there’s someone else straightlining it…?
How fast am I likely to go? If the Kitzbuhel speed course is anything to go by, I’d say you’re likely to hit 100kmph pretty easily. Go on, get down it!