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97th Ski Racing Varsity Match Report

10th December 2019

Val Thorens Stade, Val Thorens, France


Cambridge Men’s 1st — win

Cambridge Women’s 1st — win

Cambridge Men’s 2nd — win

Cambridge Women’s 2nd — win

Cambridge Men’s 3rd — loss

Cambridge Women’s 3rd — loss



The podiums at this year’s Varsity match were dominated by the Light Blues. There were some fantastic results, both individually and for the teams, most notably the Men’s Blues avenging last year’s defeat with a monster win.


So, to the race week itself: amid end of term antics the race squad travelled to Val Thorens for three days of race training before the Varsity Match. Despite delays due to French strikes, it was excellent to see that, once they hit the slopes, our racers attacked each and every gate with some serious gusto. Better, the weather gods shone kindly, treating us to blue skies and hard snow through the slalom and giant slalom training sessions.


On the day of trials a storm blew in, dumping quantities of powder better measured in feet than inches. Much to the chagrin of the team’s more intrepid skiers, the two runs of slalom which constitute trials went ahead as planned. Both men and women had strong showings, giving our Race Captain Egle Augustaityte, Men’s Captain Niels Van Fraassen and Women’s Captain Izzy Austin some pleasingly difficult selection decisions.


By race day the storm had cleared and we were once again gifted a peach of a bluebird, though the amount of snow forced a change of schedule; the two runs of slalom took place in the morning and only one run of giant slalom was possible before night fell. This last took place in front of cheering crowds waving foam fingers and urging their team across the finish line.


By the end of the day it was clear that the Women’s Blues had once again asserted their dominance over Oxford, winning by a frankly ridiculous 31 seconds. Race captain Egle Augustaityte showed her class, topping the podium for both slalom and giant slalom. There was also impressive skiing from the rest of the team, from veteran Sarah Hughes taking a magnificent 3rd overall all the way to fresher Lara Gueorguieva’s fantastic 3rd in the GS.


The trend continued with the Men’s Blues, who had a point to prove after last year. Spearheaded by the spectacular skiing of David Edwardes-Ker they made that point emphatically, amassing a huge winning margin of over 16 seconds. Oliver Gustafsson and Andrea Guidici were impressive throughout the day, beating most of Oxford’s other skiers. Strong skiing from fresher Cyffin Thomas also means that next year’s team is shaping up nicely.


Both the Men’s and Women’s Seconds teams also won. Natalie Edwardes-Ker and George Colville were the pick of the bunch, laying down some very quick times in both their slalom and giant slalom runs. Incidentally, Natalie is older sister to David and daughter of Michael Edwardes-Ker (Blues team 1965, 1966 and 1967); clearly ski racing runs in the family. In fact there was a bit of family flavour to this year’s races, with President Rupert Swallow (Blues team 2018 and 2019) lifting the trophy 31 years after his father and ex-President Richard (Blues team 1987 and 1988) did the same.


Unfortunately the thirds, Men and Women, couldn’t complete the clean sweep but nonetheless these were very pleasing results and meant there were lots of smiles, and plenty of silverware, making its way back to CB1 at the end of the week.


Many thanks to the Varsity Trip committee for their excellent work in promoting the Varsity Races this year and making them so spectacular for racers and non-racers alike.

Article Written by Rupert Swallow

Photo Credit: Chris Williamson