Guest comment: 200 go crazy in Courmayeur

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While you were sitting at home worrying about the credit crunch, some were on the slopes sipping Champagne out of old ski boots.

Last weekend saw the tiny Italian resort of Courmayeur overrun by a gaggle of bankers, brokers and management consultants, intent on just two things: to ski to glory and to party till they dropped. eFinancialCareers was there to witness the achievement of both of these aims.

The spectacular backdrop of Mont Blanc was the setting for the 9th City Ski Championships, and the participants, renowned for their confidence and audacity in their professional lives, clipped into their skis and showed the same tenacity in their sport, battling it out for the championships.

Friday morning kicked off with a slalom clinic with veteran British Ski Champ Konrad Bartelski. Even the novices were initiated into the skill of tackling race gates. Over on another piste, skiers pointed their skis straight down the mountain in the Speed Trap Challenge, registering speeds of up to 85kmh.

After lunch, the real racing began, with the dual parallel slalom course hosting an individual race for snowboarders (woefully under-represented this year - City snowboarders: where are you all?), and the team relay event. Here, teams of four went head to head under a brilliant blue Italian sky. Accenture presented a slick team, clad in gun-metal lycra suits, and it was rumoured they had been in the mountains two days earlier just to train for this event, so hungry were they to scoop the prize.

Meanwhile they, and last year's winners - Lloyds of London - had their noses put out of joint by unlikely newcomers GFI. Some complained this team weren't taking things seriously enough, competing in clashing 1980s neon jackets and huge pompom hats, but they carried the win off in style, show-boating over the final incline to huge applause from the crowd.

Saturday brought the GS comp to the mountain. While many were still getting over their huge hangovers from the night before, British Ski Team racers Alain Baxter and Pam Thorburn showed us how it's done. Nearly 200 skiers and snowboarders from the City of London showed their mettle by tackling the tough Giant Slalom course, competing against sporting legends Colin Jackson and Damon Hill to boot.

Some novices recorded times of over five minutes, but overall the standard was incredibly high, with City boys and girls giving the British Team skiers a run for their money, registering times of well under a minute.

Despite so much risk being taken so gratuitously, injuries were minimal, with personal pride taking the biggest blows.

Team GFI again delighted the crowd by skiing the course in just their race bibs and underpants, to the delight of many.

Evening festivities kicked off with a champagne reception followed by the prize-giving gala dinner, presented by veteran BBC ski commentator Matt Chilton. The crowd were duly sprayed with champagne as skiers from Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs scooped the top prizes, and team GFI drank their bubbly out of an old ski boot.

If you weren't there this year, perhaps we'll see you on the slopes of Courmayeur next year, ready to go for the 10th City Ski Championships....

Sam Cowen is senior marketing manager at eFinancialCareers.

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