The first edition of the Nissan Outdoor Games by Columbia delivered impressive para-gliding, ice-climbing, free-skiing, snowboarding, climbing and BASE-jumping acrobatics last week, with all the action captured on camera and complimented with some high altitude entertainment in Chamonix.
After an exhausting week with invited athletes delivering jaw-dropping tricks and videographers racing around Mont-Blanc to film the action, the seven competing teams showcased their films in front of the jury on Saturday night. After a sundown screening of all the films and photos, Pat Janet (FRA) and his Ride the Planets team took the coveted 'Aiguille D’or' trophy for the best film. Tero Repo (FIN) from team Radical Films took the prize for best photographer.
We sent lucky Cooler competition winner Neeta Scrivener out to Chamonix to experience the Games first hand, here's what she thought...
The Outdoor Games in Chamonix - A View from the Edge (from someone who dare go no further and can only stand and gape in awe!)
I've always liked watching winter sports - very tamely, on tv - but I had no idea that a very different sort of sport was going to be played out right in front of me. Yes, I'm talking about the Nissan Outdoor Games. I've just been there. You'll have heard the experts technical views, but now here are mine.
I'd entered this competition on the Cooler website because the prize sounded too good to be true - a long weekend in Chamonix to watch the Nissan Outdoor Games, including transport, hotel, VIP access to all the events, lift passes. And just to make sure that I would be warm enough to enjoy everything, the wonderful people at Columbia Sportswear gave me a beautiful pink jacket and black pants.
Once I arrived in Chamonix and recovered from the breathtaking scenery, I was shown more generosity, as the Outdoor Games people presented me with more goodies - including the wonderful Press Pass, which got me into everything of importance in the Games.
The absolute highlight of the whole experience was travelling, by scary cable car, to the top of the high Aiguille du Midi. That was when the real fun began.To the strains of U2's Vertigo - appropriately enough - people started throwing themselves off the mountain or out of helicopters. The base jumpers zoomed overhead at incredible speeds, with coloured smoke attached to their heels (not that we could have missed them!). The hang gliding/skiing competitors spun acrobatically, gracefully and dangerously overhead, giving us our own wonderful private show. Adrenaline was a potent presence and I felt quite moved to see people putting on amazing performances in such risky conditions. It was a breathtaking and beautiful experience and I felt privileged to have had the luck to have witnessed it at such close quarters. I even travelled back down to Chamonix, crushed next to some of the 'stars' of the show. I didn't mind a bit!
That evening, standing in the main square, watching the films of the day's performances, I felt thrilled, remembering the excitement of the 'real thing'. I did have a few minutes of wanting to be a hard-core, extreme sports daredevil, but it soon passed. In reality, I know that I will never perform any of those amazing feats (I would never have the nerve, besides not being built for them!), but to have had a taste of what it must be like to be a highly skilled thrill seeker makes me feel profoundly fortunate and left me with a flutter of 'wind in the hair, somersault in the stomach' feeling that I can recall as I sit here writing.
Many, many thanks to all the people involved in giving me my wonderful experience - Columbia Sportswear, Nissan Outdoor Games, Cooler Magazine. You've all been so kind, helpful and generous and nobody could have enjoyed this trip more than I did!
To check out all the entries, log on to the Outdoor Games website.