I’m a 39, wine drinking, female. I do not feature as part of a demographic in any of Red Bull’s marketing meetings. James, a slightly unhinged 35 year old male however features heavily on their spider diagrams of targets. They needn’t waste their budget – he’s in.
When I was sat in a meeting in Les Deux Alpes a few months ago whilst James turned his hand to skiing with his BFF Reuben and I was informed about an annual ‘thing’ that Red Bull stage in various resorts, nothing registered. And I mean nothing. That information went in the brain file labelled ‘stuff for the kids and plonkers to get involved in’.
For a start, it involved bibs. I’m not a bib sort of gal. Sporting some fresh Helly Hansen swag that I’m testing for work (crap job but someone’s got to give it a proper run in!)… I felt no need to cover my mint jacket (complete with life pocket) with some sort of park-rat style basketball shirt. No thanks.
It also involves a disclaimer (disguised as a registration form – you can’t trick me Red Bull know this game intimately), some sort of timing tag and what turned out to be a less than 2 minute race, turned into a 4 hour fart-about whilst organisers, organised inflatable stuff.
As you might have figured, I somehow ended up on the start line of the Les Orres round of this annual series – The Red Bull Tout Schuss. Completely against my will and under a heavy amount of sustained pressure dressed up as
if you don’t want to do it babe it’s fine – it’s completely up to you. It just seems a shame not to now that we’re here
Sat at the top (still totally convinced I can back out if I want to), I anxiously looked around, trying to decipher the very French instructions being barked from a loudhailer at the start line. I got a smug “well you look fairly committed” followed by a hugely encouraging “see you at the bottom then” from my beloved partner in crime whilst I witnessed the most vomit worthy smooch between a couple in front who “whooped” as the air horn blasted and then ran hand in hand to find their skis. This is on.
There is a very good reason I don’t participate in competitive sports anymore and something James is yet to witness. I have the competitive instinct of Diego Maradona and Michael Schumacher wrapped up in a Sir Chris Hoy exterior. You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I’d savage your 10 week old puppy to win a game of KerPlunk.
So my resistance wasn’t out of any kind or self-preservation or fear… just out of my deep rooted knowledge that I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t spike a stranger in the face to get a shoe in.
This is a stupid race. It wouldn’t be allowed at home.
Here’s how it went down:
- 300 idiots assemble at start line
- Get called out person by person to choose where you lay your skis (100m from start) – Note: if you’re sensible, hire your weapons – your own kit will never be the same again.
- Return to start line
- Realise that this is the mix of people you are surrounded by:
Drunk people, international Red Bull athletes, international downhill champions, people
with snowboards, people with skis, people pretending they aren’t taking it seriously but
are, girls pretending they aren’t competitive
- Air horn
- False start… everyone runs to their skis… but stops 30m before actually setting off… turns out this is a photo run
- Real start
- Total carnage
- Poke everyone you can in the eye
- Try to click into your bindings
- Get shoved in the butt just as you engage
- Forgive everyone because you’re all consumed with Red Bull rage
- Go – exactly 2 minutes later in my case, cross the line 1000m vertically down the hill.
- Cough up a lung
- Have a Red Bull and vodka… or ten