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Cassocks and crosses on the ski slopes for a friendly competition

The 61st Delavay Challenge 2023

© Marie Tardy

Fr. Jean-Yves Urvoy, from the diocese of Aix et Arles

Anna Ashkova - published on 04/14/23

The 61st annual Alfred Delavay Challenge for clergy was held in Haute-Savoie in the French Alps

It was an unusual competition that took place in the resort of Les Gets, in Haute-Savoie in the French Alps, from March 19 to 22, 2023. The competitors were all wearing cassocks or Roman collars! Coming from France, Switzerland, and Italy, priests and deacons from the region of the Alps meet every year to compete in the Alfred Delavay Challenge. 

This European competition takes place annually in a different resort in Switzerland, Italy, or France.

“We’re happy to get together to share a common passion, skiing. This sporting event allows us to relax and get together outside of a religious setting,” Fr. Damien de Beaumont, parish priest for the Guisane-Serre-Chevalier parishes in the diocese of Gap, told Aleteia.

A competition to cultivate fraternity among religious

Although the atmosphere is good-natured, no one forgets it’s a competition. “If you want to win, you have to perform well,” says Fr. Damien de Beaumont.

But there are no sore losers, since the meaning of this competition is to cultivate fraternity between religious working in the Alps, according to Fr. Alfred Delavay, who was the parish priest of Les Gets and the creator of this event.

It was in 1962 that Fr. Delavay, a mountain man at heart and a skier from a very young age, launched the first edition of this competition between clergymen with a few priests from his diocese. After his tragic death in 1965 in a mountaineering accident in the Mont-Blanc massif, his family and the priests of the Alpine region were keen to perpetuate the friendly competition he had created, naming it the “Alfred Delavay Challenge” in his honor.

This year, his niece Isabelle Delavay is in charge of organization. Since its inception, dozens of priests have come every year to take part in this competition. Next year’s event will take place in Italy.

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