Varsity Trip Review

Desipite logistical nightmares, Varsity Trip 2009 was simply too big to fail. Four out of Five.

skiing tignes varsity trip

There are some things in life we can’t fuck up, no matter how many idiotic corporations get involved. Football World Cups, the stock markets, May Week. They’re all too big to fail. And so it was with the Varsity Ski Trip. Despite the organising committee facing a seemingly endless list of logistical nightmares, VT 09 was an inevitable success.

Problems began early. 180 beds were cancelled by the travel agency on the day of the trip’s beginning. Several coaches missed their ferries, and one driver overshot his destination by 250km. We may very well bemoan Sat Nav as a sign of “the machines taking over”, but based on this evidence, it’s hard not to look forward to an age where drivers can actually read a map. After 24 hours of travelling, shoe-horned into rooms they didn’t book, some students were understandably ticked off. They must have been fit to burst when confronted with the list of drinks ‘deals’ in clubs packed full of aggressive Portuguese holidaymakers. If Malaysia was Val Thorens’ answer to Cindies in 2008, then Tignes clubs Melting Pot and Blue Girl were international night: sweaty, overpriced and full of people who weren’t students. There was plenty to moan about.

And yet Varsity Trip 2009, the biggest yet, was also the best. I always found skiing holidays hard to enjoy when I was younger: early mornings, ski school and endless fucking baggage to carry. But remove your parents and your teenage ego from the equation; throw in 2500 horny 20-somethings and suddenly you're walking around happier than a teletubby on mephedrone, talking bollocks about ‘carving’ and ‘glaciers.’ If, like me, you don’t spend your weekend taking breaks from Ski Sunday to look at ‘snowboard fail’ videos on YouTube then Varsity Trip really offers the best skiing experience you can have. The trip boasted a plethora of pistes, ski partners who won’t drive you insane, and crucially: nightlife.

Let’s get one thing straight: the nightclubs were shite clubs. Tignes’ clubs were a regression from Val Thorens in 2008, not least because there were two of them. Ultimately though, at 1am when all you want is some loud music, they did the job. VarCity was a welcome venue for the après-ski experience, if a little over-priced. But the real successes on the entertainment front were the opening and final night parties. Gone were the school discos and tiny plastic cups of 2008, replaced by a huge marquee serving drinks larger than 250ml. It’s hard to think of a more predictable DJ line-up than Kissy Sell Out, Chase & Status and Pendulum, but then it’s hard to think of a more solid one (with the possible exception of the increasingly tedious Pendulum). Chase & Status were a particularly good choice: their blend of drum n’ bass, dubstep and genuine pop music always goes down well.

The only real disappointment from a tabloid perspective was the new squeaky-clean Valley Rally. Last year’s treasure hunt featured students drinking each other’s vomit, sucking chocolate off penises, and in the case of the winners: eating sandwiches filled with each other’s shit (hilariously, the company providing the prize – a holiday to Canada – went bust, so the winners received nothing for a mouthful of poo). This year, perhaps because the prize had been reduced to 4 tickets to a polo tournament (I’d rather eat shit), was remarkably tame.

Varsity skiing was won by Cambridge Men and Oxford Women, who then apparently went on a swap with each other to celebrate. Reports that there was a losers’ swap are unconfirmed. Cuppers was won by a Trinity side stacked with Blues for the second year running. Reports that they celebrated by attending a polo tournament are unconfirmed. Other competitions were probably more entertaining, particularly the freestyle competition outside VarCity on the final day, where tricks and wipe-outs were greeted with equal glee from a crowd secretly baying for blood. Injuries were thankfully limited during the week, although the poor girl who fractured her neck after someone skied over her face deserves a special mention.

Short of introducing prohibition, it’s hard to ruin a ski holiday. Logistical nightmares, high drink prices and angry Portuguese men did their best to derail VT ’09 but with 2500 students in attendance, there was far too much weight behind the trip for it to be a failure. The credit must go to the organizing committee, not for their micromanagement of the trip (though its failures were seldom their fault), but for covering enough bases to ensure that Varsity Trip could never full short of damn good fun. Well phew for that.

Rating: Four out of Five

Photos from Varsity Trip 2009 will be available on The Tab soon.