Olympic feelings in Jura

Biathlon © T. Joly
Fancy trying out some new winter sports? …in the department of Doubs you can do just that, with spectacular disciplines like ski jumping and biathlon on offer. These moderately priced activities are open to everyone, children included.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
470 km from Paris on autoroute A6 till Beaune then on autoroutes A31, A36, A39 and A391 till exit 7, then on N83 till Poligny, then on D471, D107, D47 and D9 till Métabief.
Chaux Neuve is 22 km away from Métabief on D9, D45 and D437.
- By train
TGV Lyria from Paris Gare de Lyon to Frasnes. The journey takes 2 h 50.
Bus from Frasnes to Métabief.
- Hotels
Etoile des Neiges in Métabief
La Couronne in Jougne
Le Lac in Malbuisson
Le Bon Accueil in Malbuisson
Auberge du Grand Gif in Chaux Neuve
- Bed and Breakfast
Les 4 Monts in Jougne
Le Bon Accueil in Maubuisson
Restaurant du Fromage in Maubuisson
Étoiles des Neiges in Métabief
Auberge La Grangette in Métabief
Getting around
Ii is more convenient to have a car.
Ski jumping
- Jérôme Pagnier, at Chaux Neuve
Individual introductory session : €40 per hour for 1 to 3 persons.
One and half hour collective introductory session : €15 per person.
Tel : 0681534647
- Natur'Odyssée Jura
Tel : 0381692975
- ESF Metabief
Tel : 0381490421
- Doubs tourist office
Tel : 0381212999
- Mont d’Or et 2 lacs tourist office
Tel : 0381491381
During the winter Olympic games, the most impressive event to watch is without any doubt the ski jumping, with competitors flying through the air for over 100 meters. So it’s difficult to imagine doing the same thing. However, young and old alike can learn how to practice this sport in only two hours, without any risk and for a moderate fee. All you need to do is make your way to the department of Doubs, in Chaux Neuve, near the Métabief ski resort, currently the only place in France that offers this activity to tourists.

Ski jumping © Pays Nature
 Simple exercises
Of course, you won’t be jumping off the 90m and 57m ramps used by champions to glide in the air for tens of metres. Nonetheless, with some simple advice and exercises, short jumps of a few meters long are possible and with it, a small shot of adrenaline. What’s more, you don’t need any special equipment. A regular pair of skis and a helmet supplied by the instructor and you are ready to go.
To start off, the trainee jumpers practice on a slope and an earth mound where they learn the series of movements needed to make a successful take off. To gain speed, you just let yourself glide by resting firmly on the sole of the feet and legs slightly bent. Then, when the top of the ski reaches the end of the earth mound or jump ramp, you need to add energy by leaning back, throwing up your hands and raising up the top of your feet.

Ski jumping © T.Joly
 4 to 8m jumps
Once in the air, you must keep your feet in the same position and your legs stretched out, with your hips slightly forward. Lastly, to land you must try to have your feet flat and parallel and set your arms at right angles to reinforce your balance. “The success of a jump is determined in the last metre and a half before the end of the ramp and it’s essential to execute all the right movements smoothly one after another”, explains Jérôme Pagnier, the instructor. “And it’s not difficult - kids as young as 8 years old can do it”. In fact, after about one hour, the participants manage 4-8m jumps, 50 centimetres above the ground. This means they get to the top of the earth mound at a speed of about 10-12 km per hour. These figures are not so impressive, but they are enough to have the feeling of flying, losing the touch with the ground and the shot of adrenaline that goes with it.

Ski jumping © T.Joly
 Further and higher
Once they’ve mastered the earth mound jumps, the best and most adventurous can try the 10m jumping hill. Here the speed at the end of the run reaches between 15 and 20 km per hour and the jumps 6 to 15 meters with an average height of 1,20 meters. “The most impressive and greatest difference between the earth mound and the jumping hill is that on the hill, because of the slope on the ground, you can’t see the landing area when you start your run”, adds Jérôme Pagnier.
During the two-hour introductory session, this is generally the only jumping hill the participants get a chance to try out. However, on some occasions, particularly gifted beginners are allowed to try the 28m jumping hill normally reserved for people who have had more training. Here, the speed at the end of the jumping hills reaches 30 to 40 km per hour and the jumps 13 to 28 meters at a height of 1,50 meters or more.

Biathlon © T.Joly
 Cross-country skiing and shooting
Once you know how to jump, you can also try the Nordic combined. This event is a blend of ski jumping and cross-country ski that is perfect for fun competitions between friends. The participants must first make a series of ski jumps and the one with the best performance heads off first on the cross-country ski track. Then, the others start with a time handicap depending on the length of their best jump and the winner is of course the one who finishes the race first.
If you are not really keen on trying ski jumping, there is also another Olympic discipline in the Doubs that has recently become available to everyone and this one too is perfectly suited for a friendly competition between friends: the biathlon.
For those of you who don’t know what that is, it consists of a cross-country ski race where the distance is broken up by several shooting rounds in a prone or standing position and each missed target incurs a penalty - an extra distance to run.

Biathlon © T.Joly
 Laser guns
The only difference with the way this sport is practiced by athletes is that the tourists don’t ski carrying the rifle on their back. It’s left for them at the shooting area. This is for obvious safety reasons as well as to prevent the rifles from getting damaged during falls. And to make this activity accessible to everyone, there’s the choice between several kinds of rifles. For children, only laser guns are used and targets are set up ten meters away. However, to make it more difficult, the diameter of the targets can be reduced. For teenagers, it’s possible to shoot with air rifles and targets are set up ten meters away. One plus here is the noise of the metallic projectile hitting the target and making it tip over, adding to the competition atmosphere. This is the same as when 22 long rifles are used and targets are set up 50 meters away. An option reserved for adults and only available on specific shooting areas where there is a mound behind the targets to stop the bullets.

Biathlon © T.Joly
 Competition between friends
In contrast, the two other options can be organized almost everywhere as long as there is a cross-country ski track. Usually the lap is slightly hilly and no longer than 500m long. A short distance, but enough to leave you slightly out of breath when you arrive at the shooting area, which makes aiming more difficult, especially in a standing position. “Each session also includes a little competition in order to add stress and speed like in a real event”, explains Jackie Laurence, an instructor from the Olympic Mont Dore ski Club, who shows the participants how to handle the rifle, squeeze the trigger and adopt the appropriate body position. Available in La Chaux Neuve and in Métabief, these introductory sessions last between one and three hours depending on the number of participants, which is limited to a maximum of twelve. However, competitions for groups of friends can also be organised on request. “Individual races with up to six people or relay races with teams of two or three depending on the number of participants”.

November 03, 2017
Thierry Joly