Graveyard Call


Graveyard Call

Argonay, France

Nestled in the foothills of the French Alps sits Lake Annecy, with the Venice of the Alps on its shores. On the outskirts of Annecy is the small town of Argonay, most of which is situated on a hill side. Above Argonay lies a small forest. The course starts in the forest and ends just before the church in Argonay.

The start of the course is the road to be closed on a regular basis for gravity sports. The road starts out fairly flat, winds its way through some easy chicanes as speeds pick up heading to the first hairpin. This left hand hairpin is one of the sharpest turns I’ve ever seen, with speeds approaching 50 MPH as you enter the hairpin that requires speeds of about 20 MPH. Another short chicane leads to perhaps the widest turn on the course, a right hand double apex hairpin. The road continues around to another left hand hairpin that is almost as tight as the first one. From here the pavement changes as you enter the village of Argonay. A short left turn makes it difficult to set up for the right hand hairpin, that many people had a problem with. Passing a couple of cows takes you a series of hairpins. The first is a left hairpin, with just enough time to set up for the right. Coming out of the right barely leaves enough time to set up for the last hairpin on the course, a left. As you exit the left there is a 90 degree right turn, making the last hairpin more of a chicane. There is a short straight before you hit a 90 degree left turn, and turn onto another street to finish the race.

Wednesday, July 22

We got in last night, with enough time to check in to our hotel and hang out with some of the early arrivals at the campsite. This year the campsite was across the street from the gym. We weren’t sure when things would get started, but breakfast was supposed to be from 7 – 9, so our plan was to get there about 8:30 to have some breakfast.

Turns out things are supposed to get started at 9:00 every morning, except today. Today it was supposed to start about 9:00.Breakfast was included with our entry fee. The breakfast was baguettes with some jam and corn flakes, with tea or coffee.

Registration and tech got underway at 9:00.

About 11:00, while some people were still getting registered the buses started up the hill. The entire course was uphill from the campsite.

The bus dropped us off at the top of the course.

As soon as the bus got to the bottom, we would jump on and head back to the top. Because the course was always closed, we would be heading down the course just minutes after getting off the bus. Occasionally we had to wait, if there was a large wreck.

We were doing a run about every 30 minutes. Mainly because it took so long for the bus to drive back up the hill. When we broke for lunch, most of us just rode our boards down the hill back to the gym. Lunch was a baguette sandwich.

Lunch break was about an hour and a half.

After lunch, we started the process all over. We sat at the top [[1125]] just long enough to get organized, and sat the bottom for just a few minutes waiting for the bus.

We rode until almost 7:00 PM. I lost track of the number of runs we got in, something like 13 or 14 for the day! Dinner was also provided with the registration.

The weather forecast wouldn’t be good for Friday. The original plan was to do all of luge qualifying on Thursday, and all of standup qualifying on Friday. I was looking forward to taking a day off, and going down to the lake. But the weather forecast for Friday was rain. They decided to give everyone one qualifying run on Thursday, and weather permitting one on Friday. After dinner a few of us were still hungry, so we went looking for a place to get dessert, but nothing was open.

Thursday, July 22

Things were a little slow getting started this morning. The buses were supposed to leave about 9:00AM. It’s a good thing they didn’t, because we might have missed breakfast. We got to the top of the hill a little after 10:00.

We started qualifying after lunch.

After last night’s meal, we decided to go to a real restaurant for dinner. There is a hotel at the finish line that had a nice restaurant, that several of us went to. We sat there and had a leisurely dinner. Marcus was also staying at the hotel, and we saw us sitting there, after we were finished eating. He told us that we had missed the riders meeting, but mentioned that the plan was to try to qualify tomorrow. Unless it rains, and if it rains we will finish the standup qualifying on Saturday, and pea pick for positions for luge. The weather forecast for Saturday was good weather. I went back to the gym to hang out for a while and listen to the DJ.

Friday, July 23

The plan was to start off with finishing the first round of standup qualifying in the morning, if it wasn’t raining. When I woke up, I looked outside, and the ground was still dry. So we got up and headed to the gym. It was a little damp on the way back to the gym, I couldn’t tell if it was raining, or if we were just walking through a cloud.

While we were eating breakfast someone mentioned things were delayed an hour and there would be a riders meeting at 10, and we noticed it was raining out.

Most of us hung out in the gym, and eventually noticed that the riders meeting was pushed back to 11.

and basically they said everything was postponed till 2:00 PM.

I went back to the hotel for a nap, and return about 1:00 or so for some lunch. And 2:00 we had our riders meeting.

We took our warmup run and discovered the course through the forest was still mostly wet, except the turns were dry.

We started our luge qualifying,

It rained long enough to wet the course.

We went back up to do classic luge. The course was much wetter when we headed out. Turns out the lower part of the course was still fairly dry, and the corners in the forest were mostly dry. The second turn was still a bit wet, and I almost spun out, so I took the whole course fairly conservatively. As I was one of the first ones down, I got a chance to watch at the finish line for a bit.

The course was relatively dry for our second luge run.

Although it was deemed too wet to allow standup to go. I had a decent run, not quite as good as my first, but I did make it around the last corner. I shaved about 8 seconds off my time.

As we got back to the top for our second classic run, it started to rain.

Despite all the rain we got, and a forecast that called for rain in the evening, it looked like it was clearing up.

We decided to get some pizza for dinner, and skip the free dinner lottery. We drove by one pizza place and discovered it was closed. So we went to the pizza place near the finish line. Unfortunately they had a very small oven and could only cook two pizzas at a time.

After dinner we went back to the gym, and noticed that the times were posted.

About 11:00 PM the organizers came out for a short riders meeting to announce the schedule. There would be a warmup run, for everyone at 9:00 AM. This would push the entire schedule back about a half hour.

Saturday, July 25

We had decided to skip the warmup run. Seemed pointless to take a warmup run, then wait about five hours before racing. So we slept in, and ate a decent breakfast at the hotel. My plan was to go to the camp and see how to get my stuff to the finish line. Some of the Brits were around. So we hung out for a while before heading off to a McDonald’s for lunch. Street luge wouldn’t start racing till about 2:00. While we were eating lunch we were informed that we should be ready about 1:00.

The Brits had a car to take our equipment to the top. By the time we got there standup qualifying was done, but the inline race was underway. The inline race consisted of just the time trials. As soon as the inline race was finished, the girls started.

It was finally time for luge to race.

With 30 lugers, both Labarthe and Stephenson had byes. I got underway in my first heat, and outpushed the other rider. I think his plan was to try and draft me going down the straight. I didn’t hear him, so I sat up, braked, and dove into the corner. Right when I was in the apex, in my most vulnerable position, he t boned me and knocked us both off the road. I don’t think he even slowed down, he hit me so hard. There is no way he could have stayed on the course. He managed to get back on his board before I did. But I tracked him down, and caught him a few turns later. Then as I was passing him, he slammed into me at least three times before turning the corner. I had lost my moment, and again had to chase him down. I almost caught him as we approached the finished, but it meant shooting the finish hard, and I ended up in the hay.

I watched at the finish line the next few rounds.

Last year classic was ran as a four man, but this year we ran it as a dual. I was up against home town Schmidt, and I didn’t race very well. Although I out pushed her, she kept up with me, and I couldn’t get out in front before the first turn. I didn’t want to go through the turn two wide, and dropped back. And she out turned me at each turn. Each turn I can see her pull away from me! She raced Serek in the next round and barely lost to him!

Serek and Labarthe made it to the finals, and they were fairly close coming into the last turn. But Serek had a slight lead and went to take the last turn wide. Labarthe was slightly behind and tried to take an unorthodox line, I think it was his only shot in overtaking Serek.

In the junior’s division Spencer Smith was up against Evren Ozan (the top qualifier!) for the junior’s final. But Ozan had raced ever heat in the open division, and was tired out. Ozan wrecked, giving Smith an easy victory.

We finished up right at 8:00 PM. I was hungry, and knew it was going to be a late finished. So I had put a pizza order in at Chez Sab

Which was probably good, but I didn’t want to take a chance. After eating we headed over to the gym for the awards ceremony.



Smith, Ozan, Guneriussen

Classic Luge:

Serek, Labarthe, Bouaich

Women’s Standup:

Davies, Bougourd, Vukorep

Street Luge:

Labarthe, Bouaich, Stephenson


Reimer, Switzer, Pilloni


Gesta, Salley, Labarre

Women’s Street Luge:

Schmidt, Mordon, Quemener

Women’s Classic Luge:

Schmidt, Quemener, Bougourd

And the end of the race, there was a long discussion and it was decided that Gerber would be disqualified. The rule is the overtaking rider has to do it cleanly. This was an unpopular decision and Stephenson was wildly booed as he got on stage.

After the prizes were given out it was time to party.




but most of us thought the idea was pretty stupid. The majority of the riders hung out outside and chatted until the wee hours of the morning. I don’t think there were ever more than a dozen people in the gym.

The Graveyard Call was another find event put on by D173. We got bibs

(although I hate bibs) and nametags with our names printed on them. Breakfast and dinner were provided for free, and we got a lot of runs in. The weather played some havoc on the schedule, but we got the race done. There were no major accidents, although there were plenty of wrecks.