Val Thorens, altitude 2300 metres, and the setting for the highest Varsity match in the Oxbridge sporting calendar.
The Varsity Ski Races are the oldest team ski race in the world and have taken place in their current format since 1929. The skiers each do two runs of Giant Slalom and Slalom with their times contributing to their individual rankings and their team total as well.
The early races of the day could not have gone better for the men’s Blues, with strong performances from Josh Deru, who took the men’s overall in the Giant Slalom and a precise first run on the slalom, giving them a 23-second lead over Cambridge going into the last run of the day.
The women were always playing catch-up against a strong Cambridge opposition led by superwomen Benedetta Pacella, who was looking to continue her dominating form from 2013 and 2014. The stage was set for the final race of the day, held under floodlights in front of a baying crowd vehemently supporting their respective universities.
In a situation where it would have been easy to lose their nerve, and crashes were aplenty, the Oxford men held strong and won the day. Despite a strong push by the Oxford women the Cambridge lead proved unassailable.
In the lower competitions, it was near total Oxford domination with the Men’s 3rds, Women’s 2nds and Women’s 3rds ‘shoe-ing’ their respective tabs. A successful day for Oxford’s skiers who can now relax and enjoy the sunny slopes of the French Alps before returning victorious to England.