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Shitty conditions for the start of the philippeR family season in Val d’Isère :
Poor snow cover, no fresh snow for 2 weeks = mostly man made hard pack, groomed to death, on piste. Rocks and grass off piste : We mostly stayed within the piquets.
The Val’s Service des Pistes did an outstanding job with the very thin cover, thus rocks where rare on the marked runs. A good part of the domain was open.
Though the La Face run down Bellevarde was closed (too icey I supposed), it was skiable and thus one could ski down to the main resort from both sides.

I did start the week with my son, the women of the family joining us the following friday.
To have your 10 years old son as your ski buddy for a few days makes even the poorest snow a feast.
Mr philippeR Jr eventualy got bored with skiing all day long and wanted to give snowboarding a try. What he did with a great success. A few mornings of lessons and he’s coming down with an acceptable competence almost every piste avalaible. Crap.

That was Mrs philippeR Jr first real experience on skis, at 4, and she proved as enthuastic as her brother at the same age. So the future is not so bleak after all.

I did manage to blow an edge and smash a sidewall on my Dynastars and, so had the opportunity to « demo » a few rental skis for the time of the (2 consecutive) repairs :

Salomon Crossmax V8 (178cm) : Very soft, very nimble, very easy to carve in short turns.. Do not push it too hard ! But a surprinsingly good edge hold within its moderate speed limits. I’d like to try the W12.

Volkl Allstar (182) : I’ve loved last year’s allstar. A perfect blend of performance and tolerance IMO. I’ve found this one stiffer and lacking the great ability to smoothly skid or pivot a turn the former version offered when needed. Still a great groomer ripper, stable as a freight train. But more aimed at strong skiers than the ’05, which I’ve found adequate for a good intermediate too.
Problem is, the Allstar has not changed since last year, AFAIK.
Aaah, I guess I’m not getting any younger…

Lacroix Premier Ultralite (180 cm) : Skied in 01/01 snow storm, all I can say is that it got me down the mountain without getting in the way. I wish I could elaborate on this uncommon ski, but the conditions did not allowed it. I was more concentrated on finding my way down than on my gear.

I left on january 2nd, after a 2 days storm that left 2 or 3 feet of fresh snow on the ground, trusting the bad weather predictions for the 3rd. My wife, who’s still there until the end of the week with our kids, informed me that the 3rd was actualy bluebird.

Well, I did ski anyway, and that was good.