Valfréjusa pioneering speed riding resort
"Freeride in 3D".Franck Coupat, instructor at the Ataka school in Valfréjus
What is speed riding?
Franck Coupat: Speed riding is 3D freeriding, a "new generation" freeride. This combination of skiing, paragliding and skydiving allows you to alternate between gliding and flying, for maximum fun. Imagine, you are skiing off-piste, and then suddenly, you see a rocky bar a little lower. What if, instead of going around it, you decided to fly over it in complete safety? That's what speed riding is all about! Equipped with your skis and a small wing, you alternate between skiing and flying. The objective is not to fly high and long, but to play with the terrain by flying down the slopes. To learn, you will not be asked for any paragliding experience. To access this sport of pleasure between sky and snow, it is however advised to have a 3rd star level in skiing.
Was speed riding born at Valfréjus ?
Yes, this innovative sport was born at Valfréjus. In 2000, Valéry Montant, a pioneer of base jumping and paragliding, came up with the idea of flying with a smaller glider in order to fly faster and thus extend the flying range. In 2001, at Valfréjus, with Frédéric Fugen, now a member of Soul Flyers, we took off from a slope, skis on, with a small airplane jump wing. We flew and made "touches" on the snow with our skis... It was the beginning of paragliding. From 2003 onwards, a few paragliders picked up the ball, developed the equipment and began to organize and codify the practice.
How did speed riding develop?
With Fred Fugen, Antoine Montant and David Eyraud, the big names in paragliding, we came up with the name "speed riding": now we could ride... but ride faster! In 2006, the Fédération Française de Vol Libre recognized the sport, and the 1st speed riding school, Ataka, was born at Valfréjus. Today, speed riding is practiced in many resorts in the Alps. At Ataka, we have trained hundreds of speed riders, and can be seen all winter long at Valfréjus.
What makes the resort ideal for speed ridriding?
From the bottom of Valfréjus, just 2 lifts, 1 gondola and 1 chairlift are needed to quickly reach Punta Bagna, the summit of the ski area at an altitude of 2737 metres. From Punta Bagna, the slopes can be skied on all sides, and there's something for every level. As for off-piste, there are plenty of variations, with some really nice, challenging couloirs. From beginners to advanced skiers, there's a real dropzone on offer. Thanks to the ultra-fast chairlift and good conditions, you can make 40 rotations, i.e. 40 flights... All of which makes Valfréjus the best "3D" freeride spot in France!