Speed riding, also known as speed flying, is one of the most recent winter extreme sports to emerge on the scene. The sport was devised in France by paragliders and skydivers who wanted to combine the thrill of gliding on skis with the adrenaline rush of soaring through the air. Initially, participants used modified kites and parachutes to bring the sport alive. However in its more modern form, the essence of speed riding is to transition from land to air and back again while on skis using a specially crafted glider system. When it comes to attempting the sport in the best atmosphere possible, speed riding in France is your best bet.
The Basics of Speed Riding
Depending on how invested you are in speed riding, you may either purchase the appropriate equipment or rent from a speed riding outlet. Such equipment includes a snow helmet, ski suit, back protection, skis and a set of glider wings among other things. Approved flying zones will be outlined prior to any launch at most courses: an individual practice area is laid out and isolated from the competition zones. Throughout a course there are gates that indicate changes in the path of the course; each gate should be visible from the preceding gate and there are typically six to eight gates on an average course. Touch zones exist throughout the course where speed riders can touch down and cross the finish line.
Where to Speed Ride
Speed riding in France is a rather common occurrence at ski resorts when compared to other countries. In fact, in France, there are more than 55 major ski schools that offer instruction in speed riding. The premier location for speed riding in France is Les Arcs, a ski resort nestled in the far east fringes of Savoie. Billed as the “dream place to learn riding”, extreme sports junkies will find the best training schools situated directly around Les Arcs, the unofficial capital of speed riding. Prices for tutorials from on-site instructors cost anywhere from 85 euros ($110) for one lesson to 475 euros ($625) for an entire week of instruction.
More About Les Arcs
Among the vast complex that is Les Arcs, there are several resorts that offer direct access to different types of extreme sports. For speed riding, Arc 2000 is the home base as many on-site as well as independent tutors operate from this area. Arc 2000 is the highest lodge in Les Arcs and has some of the best snow pack in the area. Gondolas offer easy, fast access from Arc 2000 to the top of the resort as do chairlifts. This area also hosts many from the speed skiing community, further increasing its notoriety among extreme sports thrill-seekers.
The thrill of speed riding may be new, but no one should underestimate the lasting impression it is making on winter sports lovers across Europe and beyond. If you find yourself yearning to be at one with the snow, the air and your skis, consider heading to the eastern parts of France and beginning your journey in the exhilarating sport of speed riding.