Posted on: 2015-03-09 13:15:22 by davidof

Extreme skiing back in 1991

This video caught my eye. It is from the The World Extreme Skiing Championship (WESC) in 1992. The WESC was an extreme skiing competition held from 1991 to 2000 in Alaska. The first year had 37 contestants from an international field. What is impressive is just how well they skied on the long, thin skis of the day.

The footage at 6.30 is of Vallencant accompanied by Jean Marc Boivin, Anselm Baud and Michel Poencet (I've skied a bit with Michel, a serious man of few words it must be said). There is an account by Vallencant of the ascent they show, the South-West Face of Huascaran South here:

At 6750 meters and a first descent in sketchy snow having been climbed on foot in a minimalist high speed expedition it is not really comparable with the skiing of a competition. Vallencant was also filming with a large 16 mm camera. When you think that Vallencant and Baud's ArĂȘte de Peuterey descent has only been repeated once on modern gear they certainly had top technique.

Now you'd think that many of these extreme skiers would have gone to meet their maker. Doug Coombs, the 1991 champion, died in 2006 in la Grave skiing with friends Christina Blomquist, Chad Vanderham and Matt Farmer. He'd gone to help Chad Vanderham who'd fallen on icy in the Polichinelle couloir.

Amongst the competitors is Emily Gladstone Coombs shredding the gnar. Jim Conway is still guiding. Kristen Ulmer and only improved with age and is now doing Zen Ski camps. Jimmy Zell was paralyzed in 1996 in a paragliding accident and died in 2010. Jon Hunt, the winner in ྘ is guiding in Alaska. Scott Kennett, the "rock star" skier is still ripping it. Wendy Brookbank is guiding in Whistler with Extremely Canadian. Garret Bartelt is in Aspen and had a foray into running a restaurant with his wife in 2013. Alaskan Darren Mattingley is still competing, including a recent ski, bike, cross country event.

Thanks to meandrew on for the heads-up on this video.