This content is not available in your region

Le Derby de la Meije — the ultimate off-piste race

Access to the comments Comments
By Vincent Coste & Rafael Cereceda
Le Derby de la Meije — the ultimate off-piste race

Welcome to La Grave in the French Alps for the 30th anniversary of the "Derby de la Meije", a legendary event for freeride enthusiasts daring to race off-piste.

A single cable car takes freeriders near the tip of mountain Meije, where they disembark onto an off-piste and unpatrolled area. It’s from here where everyone is free to choose their "line", to draw their "run"; there are no set courses.

La Meije - 3,984 m

Nearly 900 people from 27 different countries came to take on the valleys of the Meije under the bright sunshine and exceptional snow.

The objective of the racers — whether skiing, snowboarding or using makeshift items — is to hit the 1500 vertical meters as quickly as possible. The fastest freerider soared down in less than seven minutes, while the final finisher clocked nearly three hours.

The Derby, with a budget of only €120,000, is also a festive party, where some took to the slopes disguised as sheep, superheroes, the Eiffel Tower or candles.

In the race’s 30-year history, only one has been cancelled. This year, like the previous ones, the Derby has had its share of falls — but never a big accident.

As with every year, the Derby organisers were forced to wait until the last moment to greenlight the weather conditions, giving wild freeriders the all-clear to dive down the Meije.

Video editor • Nathalie Texier