On top of the world

Daniel Bauchervez
Winter 2020

David Beckham spent a few days in Verbier recently, getting to grips with backcountry snowboarding with the help of a Norwegian Olympic champion. Did the former footballer manage to rise to the challenge?

It’s four in the morning and Verbier is up and about.
Correction: It’s four in the morning and David Beckham is up and about, in Verbier.
Sporting a headtorch over his woolly hat, the British football icon slowly climbs his way up the mountainside in the dark, splitboard skis on his feet and a fine blanket of powder underneath. Before long, sunshine bathes the mountain in intense golden light, as day breaks on a cloudless, majestic and captivating landscape. “Amazing,” says the ex-midfielder, a world away from his usual stamping grounds. “It feels like you’re on top of the world. A fresh blanket of snow fell last night and the conditions are perfect for snowboarding.”

So here’s what it’s all about: Beckham has been invited to Switzerland by the watchmaker Tudor with the idea of trying his hand at snowboarding. Where exactly? In Verbier, of course, on the slopes of the Massif des Combins. Beckham is not one to shirk such a challenge and is a natural fit as the Swiss watchmaker’s new brand ambassador, a partnership that has taken #BorntoDare as its slogan. His childhood ambition to become a footballer at all costs, his success, his long career playing for Manchester United among others, his media profile and his role as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador all point to an iron will and an ability to test himself and take risks, qualities that reflect the brand’s DNA.

Tudor sent out a very special guide to accompany Beckham on his adventure: four-time Olympic champion and Norwegian snowboarding star Kjersti Buaas. Skiing instructors do not come much better than her. Stylish and full of enthusiasm and positive energy, the two have plenty in common.

No sooner had they peeled the ski skins from their splitboards, than the intrepid duo set off down the virgin slope. “I couldn’t try other sports when I was playing and it’s only since I retired that I’ve got into snowboarding with my children,” says Beckham. “I was a bit apprehensive to start with. I’d heard that the slopes of Verbier were a bit of a challenge. But it’s amazing to follow in the tracks of a world-class athlete. All I want to do now is just go back out there and do it again.”