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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

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Courchevel's Brand New Black Piste - Eclipse

Posted on
March 26, 2021

Hi everybody and welcome to another post from your favourite blogging Méribel Ski Instructor. Leading up to this winter there was great fanfare about Courchevel's new black piste, 'Eclipse'. It will be used as the men's downhill course during the 2023 World Alpine Ski Championships, which Courchevel will co-host with Méribel. Any new piste is good news for a ski resort. I believe that 'Eclipse' is really quite special and deserves the current fanfare. Let me explain further, in particular why I think this is a very good addition to the 3 Valleys ski area.

The start mound of the 2023 World Championship downhill course

A few days ago I skinned up (with Ian my friend and colleague from the ski school) to the start of the 'Eclipse' piste to see (and ski down it) in person. For those of you familiar with the Courchevel ski area, I shall refer to various pistes, lifts and mountain restaurants to help you visualise its route. The start of the actual downhill course is just left of the top of the Bouc Blanc chairlift above Courchevel La Tania. It heads in the general direction towards, but not directly to, the fabulous Soucoupe mountain restaurant before swinging left towards what was the Lanches red piste.

Looking up towards the first main pitch of the downhill course/piste.

At this point the route of the piste has changed, to more of a slightly sweeping curving piste. I'm guessing this will enable subtle turns to be put in the downhill course, in order to make sure the racers won't be going at Mach 9 straight down the piste! Notice how many snow cannons there are in the above photo. There has been a huge investment in the snow making infrastructure; remember that there is a new large water reservoir close by up at the Col de la Loze. Ian and I noticed a few interesting things about the snow cannons. They are much closer together than we are used to seeing on other pistes. Plus we noticed that many of them are double cannons, increasing their output further.

From left to right - the Bouc Blanc mountain restaurant, the top of the La Tania bubble, the new huge tunnel

As the piste descends towards the La Tania bubble, more landscaping has taken place, altering the run of the piste. As many of you will know, the Lanches red piste is steep, even for a red. And often it became icy due to the amount of skier traffic, which made speed control challenging for some users. Although it has now been landscaped, I don't see the snow conditions changing! From the photo above, you can see a few new things. Firstly, there's a new beginner area between the Bouc Blanc mountain restaurant and the La Tania bubble. Secondly, notice there are a few red safety netting structures. Plenty of these from now on go all the way to the bottom. And thirdly, a substantial new tunnel has been constructed to enable the 'Eclipse' to cross over the current piste. See below.

Ian on his ski touring kit, emulating Graham Bell's Ski Sunday race course report!

This tunnel means that when competitions are taking place, the normal flow of skier traffic won't be affected.

The 'Eclipse' black piste has replaced the previous black called Jockeys. Again, much landscaping has taken place to make it safe for the racers. It has also been made much wider. Notice the continuation of the snow cannons all the way down, and the installation of further red safety netting for the races. We couldn't help but notice how steep a course this will be for the downhillers, I dread to think what speeds they will reach. It will definitely be spectacular to watch on TV.

At one point it runs parallel to the start of the lovely Murettes red piste, before heading off skiers right through the forest.

Courchevel Le Praz in the background.

The 'Eclipse' just keeps giving, and going and going and...... For the racers on the course, there is absolutely nowhere to relax; there are no flat sections where they can catch their breath. As recreational skiers, we generally look to control our speed, and constantly search to see how we can slow ourselves down. For the racers, it's the complete opposite, they are always trying to find ways of going faster and faster. Having skied down this piste, I've decided that without doubt you need a few loose screws to race down here, bearing in mind the snow will be solid sheet ice. In February 2023 an epic race will take place, and on a course that no-one as of yet has even raced on.

As for us recreational skiers, what an opportunity to ski down a World Championship downhill race piste. However, it's not for the faint hearted! Don't forget that the 'Eclipse' is categorised as a black, which means it has some steep sections. But the 'Eclipse' is different in that it is consistently steep, with a high average percentage. Plus, and this is also what we need to appreciate, it is a very long piste from top to bottom. There are quite a few black pistes in the 3 Valleys, however this is one of the longest, if not the longest.

If you are up to the challenge of skiing down the 'Eclipse', then go for it. But I would recommend trying other blacks beforehand to get a feel for them, instead of diving down this one for your first attempt. One piece of advice I will give if that's ok - I beg you, please please for the love of God, sharpen your edges the night before you ski this piste. It is an amazing long piste to ski down, but it is consistently steep, and I can guarantee that it will be icy at times.

It was an absolute privilege to ski the 'Eclipse' this week, especially in a groomed state. I saw on social media that an inspection by an international technical team took place a couple of days beforehand, hence it was in an awesome groomed condition. Granted, it took a while for us to walk up the mountain to get to the top. But the ski down, on a deserted brand new black piste, was rather special. Only a handful of people get to have that pleasure, and we were both very grateful and appreciative of the experience.

What's next? As ever with this season, and because of stupid stupid Covid, I have absolutely no idea. Especially as the Covid figures are deteriorating quickly at the moment in France. Don't forget to follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more stuff if you don't already. I'll sign off again with my pandemic credo...... Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Stay Fabulous. Martin.

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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Courchevel's Brand New Black Piste - Eclipse

Hi everybody and welcome to another post from your favourite blogging Méribel Ski Instructor. Leading up to this winter there was great fanfare about Courchevel's new black piste, 'Eclipse'. It will be used as the men's downhill course during the 2023 World Alpine Ski Championships, which Courchevel will co-host with Méribel.

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

Ski lessons & guiding>