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Skiing, as nature intended


Skiing, as nature intended

Cross-country skiing and the biathlon are two different ways to enjoy winter skiing. Jérôme Pessey, director of the french ski school in La Clusaz, presents the best routes for improving your skills in safe conditions. read on to find out everything there is to know about all the nordic skiing disciplines. you can even play at being a champion and learn about the joys of the biathlon!

« I like leaving early in the morning for some cross-country skiing, completing a major ascent in skins, having a bite to eat on the way, and enjoying fantastic descents through the powder fields. This discipline enables me to explore the mountain far from the crowds. It requires more physical effort than downhill skiing, » says Jérôme Pessey, director of the ESF (École de Ski Français, the French Ski School). Once reserved for connoisseurs, cross-country skiing has become more popular over the years. This is why the resort of La Clusaz offers marked-out, safe routes for beginners and those looking to improve. Here is everything you need to know before getting started: 

  • Who is it for? Cross-country skiing is a sport for good skiers who have a reasonable knowledge of snow science. It is practiced off-piste, and so implies a certain amount of risk.
  • For beginners:Two marked-out slopes are available. The Piste de Beauregard, more than 3 miles long and with 2,000 ft. in elevation difference, is perfect for beginners. For more experienced skiers, the Piste de l’Étale offers 2.5 miles and 2,300 ft. in elevation difference, with challenging 30° sections. However, the reward of a magnificent view over Mont Blanc upon arriving at the viewing platform is well worth it.
« These routes allow skiers to practice this sport in total safety, without getting lost and with no risk of collidingwith other skiers. The route runs through narrow sections through the forest on paths usually used for hiking in the summer» says Jérôme Pessey. 

  • For experts: « You have to be a good skier. And as well as that, you need to learn a certain amount of technique. For example, you should ascend a steep slope in a zig-zag pattern. Turning on a descent also requires specific technique and putting on skins is not an easy task… The French Ski School is on hand to teach you practical techniques for difficult terrains. But you also have to be in shape, have a device for reaching rescue services (and know how to use it), and have a survival kit in your backpack,” », says Jérôme Pessey.
  • The most beautiful routes: The Aravis valleys  are some of the finest cross-country skiing spots in the region, including Le Trou de la Mouche, la Combe à Marion, l’Envers de l’Étale, le mont Charvin and la Pointe Percée
  • Before you leave: Check the weather and find out about snow quality. « You have to know when to turn back if the snow is no good. »
  • Equipments tips: « Before investing in light, high-quality, and therefore expensive equipment, rent out the suitable equipment for your first few days. If you regularly go cross-country skiing, I recommend buying light skis with light bindings, self-sticking skins, knives, light shoes, adjustable poles and an avalanche detector. The equipment is expensive, but it lasts! »
« The number of Nordic skiers has risen considerably since trail running emerged as a fashionable sport. There are now more and more trail runners who come to train on cross-country ski routes during the winter »

  • How old should you be?Anyone over three can ski on adapted slopes. « Children learn to balance and the concept of physical effort through games. There is no collision risk with other skiers,» says Jérôme Pessey.
  • Where?There are two plateaux that are part of the largest cross-country skiing areas in the Haute-Savoie region. Les Confins offers 37 miles of slopes, while Beauregard stretches across 22 miles with a stunning panorama over the Aravis Mountains and Mont Blanc.« I recommend the Plateau des Confins for children because it is easy and very accessible. You will also see pedestrians and people hiking in snowshoes. It is a popular spot. The Plateau de Beauregard, on the other hand, offers a more untouched setting.»
  • A new slope to try out: The Piste du Danay is almost 4 miles long. It offers a steep descent that requires a good skiing ability. The advantage is that skiers can complete a part of the slope and then return to the top.
  • Discovering the biathlon: The Plateau des Confins combines cross-country skiing and shooting with a laser rifle. « This is a very popular activity. People get to experience the difficulty of aiming at a target and firing just after completing a cross-country skiing stage when they are out of breath. Thanks to the great results achieved by the French national team, driven by Martin Fourcade, interest in this discipline is continuing to develop. » There is also a circuit on which skiers can combine cross-country skiing and shooting while racing against the clock. This activity can be enjoyed with friends, family, but also with colleagues during corporate seminar trips.
  • Who is it for? This activity can be enjoyed from the age of 7 or 8, and lasts at least an hour.

For further information, contact the French Ski School in La Clusaz
+33 (0)4 50 02 40 83 /