Kumi Yama 2012 – Les Deux Alpes Freestyling Event of the Year – July 6-8 2012

Getting out on the slopes in summer is an extra special treat. It’s nice to know that the ski season for Europe isn’t entirely over the moment you reach (end of) April. In some places not only can you ski through the summer but you can also visit excellent ski and snowboard contests.  Enter, then, Kumi Yama.

(c) Nico Lafay

Kumi Yama is a Japanese-themed free-styling event, held way up the Deux Alpes in their summer snowpark, which covers 18 hectares between 3300 and 3400m. In and of itself, the snowpark is already fantastic for summer skiing: Three zones of pipes, rails, tables, hips, not to mention the Olympics-scale Super Pipe which measures in at 6.5m high and 140m long. There is room for beginners, advanced skiers and boarders, and pros, and the entire length of the snowpark is available for shredding, if you tire of the freestyling.

So Les Deux Alpes snowpark, which is within Europe’s largest summer ski area, is great at any time of the summer. But if you happen to be able to time your visit with Kumi Yama (or, of course, happen to be competing yourself), then you’re in for a mind-boggling display of skill on the snow. Professionals come from all over the world to try out their skills, meet other snowheads and compete.

There are three different categories for contestants. The obvious one, and the one that will be most worth watching, is the pro category. Then there’s the amateur category, which is no slouch, and also the kids category, for children aged 9-14 (that’s right; if you’re 15 or over you’re competing as an adult.  Good luck!) to have a go.

The Friday is the wildcard day, and this is what makes the contest so great: you don’t have to have signed up months in advance to compete: anyone can have a go. You need to be in a team of three to compete – if you can’t find a team, let them know when you sign up, and they might be able to match you with other singletons – and then Friday is the knock-out round before the contest gets serious on Saturday. You have three runs on the slopestyle course to strut your stuff and try and get through to the Saturday contest. To sign up, if you’re up the slopes in advance you can do so in person at Smithy’s bar on June 30 between 3pm and 7pm. If not, you can email agency@like-that.fr.

Saturday, as we say, is the one to be there for. It’s officially dubbed the “Kamikaze Contest” and involves another three lots of runs per team before a final battle between the qualifiers. Awards ceremonies happen at 6pm in les Deux Alpes at  Place de l’OTm, and in the fine Japanese spirit there will be sake served (along with the usual array of drinks).

On Sunday it’s the kids’ turn – a similar set up to the previous days but with more of an emphasis on fun and prizes galore for the kids.
2011’s Kumi Yama saw the proceeds from the contest going to help the disaster victims in Japan, and as Japan continues to pick up the pieces of their country, this year’s proceeds will be going in the same direction.
For more info – lots of it! – check out Kumi Yama’s official site at www.kumi-yama.com.