BUSC trip to Risoul

‘Main Event’ – Risoul 2005 - British Universities Snowsports Council Trip

By Kaz Willmer – The University of Reading


What do you get if you cross 2000 students with one resort in one week? Mayhem, or the best week anyone could hope for? Well, the answer is both. Despite the distinct lack of snow and the influx of three days of rain, it was a week to remember – or not to remember, if the alcohol had anything to do with it. 20 hours on a non-air-conditioned coach with 40 other fairly drunk students isn’t the best idea, however someone should have reminded the coach drivers that London to France via Italy isn’t the quickest route.


The first two days on the snow were probably the best days riding of the week. The pure sunshine and crystal blue skies alongside semi-decent snow conditions kept the smiles on our faces, and the sunbathing on the deckchairs kept morale high. Being a small resort and Easter weekend, the slopes were surprisingly empty, and a trip to the next resort, Vars, gave us some more varied terrain and a lush board park.


Although slightly icy, the big kicker was great fun and the park attendants kept making sure the rails were usable. However the return journey from Vars along a flat path of rocks, puddles and mud set the scene for the next few days as the rain came down. The little snow that was left turned into deep streams and rock paths, and the diminishing number of riders on the slopes turned into a mass of dripping wetness. By this time many of the students had decided it was the British Universities Sleeping/ Drinking holiday and spent much of their days in the bars or in bed, however we stayed pretty hardcore and trekked up vertical mud cliffs to reach the half pipe. Although half the pipe was actually lined with rocks, we had fun playing around and just trying to learn what to do. We also helped turn a small block of ice between two of the only usable trails into a small kicker, which became the highlight for most of the students on the slopes.


The slalom course had to be moved further up the mountain after the first day considering there was actually no snow on it, so a great deal of respect went to those who actually tried it. When a friend and I decided to do a bit of hiking to drop off a steep rocky slope, our hesitation paid off when a skier cut in front of us and bailed, hitting every rock on the way down. Needless to say, we hiked to a different location where there was slightly more snow and slightly less rocks.

The final day provided us once again with some sunshine, and although the resort had to place pipes half way down the single open trail to collect the water, at least we could come back with a tan.

The main bars for the evening were the Yeti bars, which although were sponsored by Corona, were just typical students’ Union type areas. For us Le Cherin Bar kept our evenings moving with an amazing hip-hop night, a DnB night, a reggae night, plus entertainment from the Mash-Up Twins. On the 80s night we decided to just go for one drink, but ended up spending all night there, being able to dance as crazily as we wanted without looking so stupid… there was even a black Labrador cruising the dance-floor. We also found a cosy reggae cocktail bar in the resort which would be my choice for a hang-out on a season in this resort.


The Gendarmerie, otherwise known as John and Dom, alongside random BUSC helpers, kept the thousands of reckless students from slipping on sheets of ice and scaling rocky cliffs on their way home. However most of the mayhem was caused back at home through large numbers of students being crammed into ridiculously cramped rooms, all which were wrecked by the end of it. Our room deposits were literally scrapped by the first night after the curtains were used as blankets, a light bulb had exploded in the microwave, two lamps were broken, the toilet was unusable, at least 12 people were sleeping in two beds. Although this became known as the ‘bunk-bed challenge’, I unfortunately was on the bottom of it and managed to be smashed over the head with bed slats several times. The blood was worth the banter though.

So after a week’s hardcore snowboarding, sessioning rocks, ice, puddles, streams, the half pipe, kickers and jumps, I managed to gain my first major injury by scaling a flight of wooden chalet steps half an hour before leaving the resort. Although I’m spending the rest of my Easter on crutches after surviving 18 hours on a coach and ferry with cracked bones and a torn muscle.

Looking back it was an amazing week. We kept John and Dom busy, Spar were kept in business, and most of our boards were shredded. The Resort complained that a 10ft inflatable Corona bottle was stolen, and of disruption to the locals, but when 2000 British students are to descend upon a place, what do you expect.