THE JUMPING GRAND PRIX OF SUMMER
For most, the month of July conjures up images of sun, beaches, and warm weather haunts around the globe. However, for alpine sport enthusiasts, the mark of the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, means that daylight will inevitably become shorter leading to the crisp frost of Autumn with Winter to follow closely at hand. And while the prelude of shortening days warms the hearts of skiers pining for winter activities, other events such as the unique Ski Jumping Grand Prix of Summer delivers skiing gratification by wrestling and wedging alpine sport into the heat and onto the heights of mountains in storied European locals such as Courchevel France, Hakuba Japan, Einsiedeln Switzerland, Wisla Poland, and Hinterzarten and Klingenthal Germany. The colorful and iconic coat of arms of each venue represent a series of old-world destinations where a 200-year-old sport takes on a contemporary and celebratory seasonal form during each summer of this modern 21st century.
Ski jumping, or ski flying to which it was sometimes referred, owes its tradition and origins to a Norwegian, Ole Rye, who made the first jump in 1808 and who was followed by his compatriot Sondre Norheim, whose modern technique won the world’s first true competitive event held at Ofte, Høydalsmo, Norway. The sport has been included at the Winter Olympics since the first games were held in Chamonix, Mont Blanc in 1924. A Nordic discipline, ski jumping’s most recognized setting is snow filled mountains but with some imagination, and advances in technology, jumpers may glide down porcelain man-made in-runs during summer months to fly through the air punctuated by landings on water-soaked grass.
In truth, as it is with the atmosphere of alpine sport whatever the season, the Ski Jumping Grand Prix is as much an upscale après ski environment as it is a properly sanctioned competition arranged by the International Ski Federation (FIS). With regular venues sprinkled throughout Europe and as far away as Japan, the Ski Jumping Grand Prix holds as many as 10 events per season between the months of July and October.
This posh festival of alpine sport commands a global cadre of competitors as well an international audience, many of whom follow the ski jumping tour from one destination to the next enjoying the summer and early autumn months much like a traveling band migrating from city to city and not dissimilar to those like-minded super fans of Formula 1 (F1). For these upper crust sport enthusiasts, if the city of Monaco is the crowned jewel of F1, then the village of Courchevel is the glitzy, well-to-do gem of the Ski Jumping Grand Prix
The most western resort of the famous Les Trois Vallées (The Three Valleys) ski area whose resort brethren are Val Thorens and Meribel, Courchevel is a famed destination with a rich and deep history of mountain recreation dating back hundreds of years. Consisting of four villages, all of which were at one time identified by their elevation with a reverence for the area’s mountainous terrain, Courchevel 1330, Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650, and Courchevel 1850 all represent first class tourist destinations attracting the ultra-wealthy and exuding enough exclusivity so as to cater to both royalty and business moguls alike.
Thus, in addition to the Ski Jumping Grand Prix, creating luxury sport gravity in Courchevel are no less than eleven 5-star luxury hotels, seven Michelin starred restaurants, and a variety of shopping destinations catering to luxury brand aficionados. Because of these jet-setters, during the Ski Jumping Grand Prix of Summer, Courchevel becomes a posh venue masquerading as a sport event.
The event caters to a crowd of global travelers who arrive to see the best ski jumpers in the world carrying on the tradition of their sport in 75 degree heat. Looking on at this event and others throughout the months of July - October, are well-dressed event goers with a brimming passion for all things skiing. And despite the non-winter setting, skiing revelry, incredible dining, and high street shopping, ensure that the Ski Jumping Grand Prix of Summer is a celebratory and posh alpine sporting form.