Welcome to week 1 of Interesting Snowboarding News 2014, our weekly look at all things snowboard around the world during the 2014 season. It looks set to be a magnificent season, so there will be plenty to talk about….
We’re going to bring you all the latest from the major resorts, snow conditions, the best après ski news and everything else you need to know about the snowboarding world. This week the latest snow news plus we talk about World Snow Day and World Snowboard Day, the ‘coolski’ lift pass in La Plagne, marijuana in Colorado, and one of the best snowboarding festivals this season.
The powder has been falling in abundance in recent weeks setting us up for a great start to winter 20213-14. Those who love their freeriding can already find lots of soft stuff to bounce through in the Alps, the Rockies and the Pyrenees. In fact, it’s the best start of the season in years and a great way to kick off issue one of Interesting Snowboarding News 2014.
Lots of resorts have already opened with big names including Aspen, Courchevel, Kitzbuhel and Whistler able to open weeks earlier than expected because of the great autumn snow conditions. Some have even claimed them to be the best in up to 20 years (though six years is probably more accurate).
The worldwide wave of powder snow began in the Alps, with huge falls from mid-November, bringing superb conditions to glacier resorts, like Tignes and Cervinia, that were already open. The Pyrenees reported the snow was already nearly six feet deep and Spain’s top resort, Baqueira Beret, opened early. This was followed by Andorra’s ski areas where the snow was already as deep as it gets in an average winter season.
Then, in the past week, a fresh wave of snow storms across western North America has accumulated light fluffy stuff of up to a foot in just 24 hours, and as much as two feet in 48 hours in many resorts in California, Colorado, Utah, Alberta and British Columbia.
World Snow Day returns
World Snow Day (world-snow-day.com) will be back for the third time next month. Organised by governing body the International Ski Federation (FIS) with the aim of the day is to get as many people on the snow around the world as possible, with a special focus on getting kids involved.
Last year events were organised and discounts given at ski areas around the world, from Canada and the US, to Scotland, Russia, Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy and Japan. In Norway 120,000 people skied for free at 99 of the country’s resorts.
Overall 430,000 people enjoyed World Snow Day celebrations last year and this year the target is even bigger. ‘We have set a goal of 500,000 by the third year of World Snow Day’, said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. ‘We are confident that with the support of the continued outstanding work by the Organisers and the enthusiasm of parents and children around the world, we will reach this goal on the third World Snow Day, 19th January 2014.’
And World Snowboard Day too
And what’s snow without a board to ride? World Snowboard Day (world-snowboard-day.com) is also back, for its eighth edition, and is just a few weeks off. This year’s day, which celebrates boarding and boarders the world over, is led by ‘snowboarding ambassador’ (and global superstar) Xavier de le Rue and will see more than 100 events in over 30 countries taking place on the 30th of December.
‘Coolski’ on your board at La Plagne
La Plagne is officially the world’s most visited ski area, clocking up more than 2.5 million ski pass day sales each winter. This year they have announced a ‘cooler’ form of boarding with their new ‘Coolski’ pass.
‘The keynote for the new season is definitely “Made-to-Measure”. Our Coolski Day Pass is a good example’, said Yann Clavillier, Director of La Plagne Public Relations. ‘Rather than paying for access to the entire resort, it’s designed to provide a more chilled-out experience. Learners are given access to a safe, enclosed zone near their accommodation and a choice of routes at progressive levels.’
There’s also a half-price toboggan pass that’s new this season. When you buy a six-day lift pass for La Plagne or Paradiski (from €257), you can get a toboggan pass for €25 which is valid in Plagne Centre for the Colorado Park run and the new, floodlit, Arpette night run, which offers 2.9km of thrills over a 500m vertical drop.
Confusion over legalised marijuana law in Colorado
The legalisation of marijuana in Colorado – following a referendum in the state – is causing some confusion in the first weeks of the new season.
Firstly, there’s been a mixed reaction from the ski areas themselves. Where some remain fairly ‘relaxed’ about the changes, others with a strong ‘family-friendly’ ethos are banning the establishment of legalised shops to sell dope in their towns.
Most US ski areas are also located on forestry land that falls under national federal law – and possessing marijuana on federal land remains illegal, so there’s some uncertainty how that might ‘play out’ until there’s a test case.
The bottom line is that ski areas are stressing that they won’t tolerate skiers and boarders who are ‘high’ on their slopes, although some skiers and boarders have pointed out this is unlikely to be worse than being drunk on the piste. We’re making no comment either way here at Interesting Snowboarding News 2014.
Rock The Pistes 2014 – a bit more British
There’s a PR war underway between the various music festivals heading for the alps this spring. Very conscious of their core UK market, the Portes du Soleil say they’re planning to see more British acts performing at their fourth ‘Rock the Pistes’ festival, which will be staged from 26 to 30 March 2014.
The event features daytime concerts at venues on the slopes around the huge ski area that straddles the French/Swiss border linking a dozen ski resorts with over 650km of piste. The concerts are free – you just need a lift pass to be able to board to them, and there’s also a fringe festival each evening in a different resort, and a workshop for emerging talent.
In previous years the acts have been very French, but a statement from the organisers said: ‘We’re making room for UK groups, and, naturally, plenty of big names from the French pop-rock scene.’ So far the announced acts include Horace Andy, the voice of Massive Attack and London-based group The Skints who fuse punk, reggae and dub rhythms.
That’s it for this instalment of Interesting Snowboarding News 2014. Be sure to join us again next week for the latest from the slopes around the world.