Vars, in the French southern Alps, has a permanent speed stadium for expert thrill-seeking skiers.
The Chabrières piste measures 1220 metres with an average gradient of 52.5 percent. In the steepest parts the gradient runs as high as 98 percent. Obviously, this run isn't for everybody. To access it, you must first be able to ski black pistes.
Skiers start by aiming for 110 kilometres per hour and build up to 200 kilometres per hour. Philippe Billy, certified ski instructor and speed trainer, holds the speed record for the piste at 243.902 kilometres per hour.
There are five levels of runs, each a pre-requisite for the next:
The Initiation Run costs €20 per person: skiers are clocked at 90 to 110 km/h. You must know how to ski black pistes before doing the initiation run.
The Objective 130 km/h run costs €40 for two runs. Skiers are clocked at 120 to 130 km/h. You must have completed the initiation run before doing this second step.
The Objective 140 km/h run costs €40 for two runs. Skiers are clocked at 130 to 140 km/h. You must have been clocked at 120 km/h before doing this third step.
The Objective 150 km/h+ run costs €30 for minimum two runs. Skiers can be clocked at up to 180 km/h. You must have been clocked at 130 km/h before doing this fourth step.
For steps one to four, plan to spend at least two hours on the piste.
The Elite Training, the final level of Vars' speed stadium, is for skiers having been clocked at 150 km/h. Training lasts all day and costs €100, with four to six runs according to conditions. Skiers can run up to 200 km/h.