Welcome to the latest edition of Interesting Snowboard News 2014 where we aim to keep you up to date with everything that’s happening in the world of snowboarding. From snow conditions to major festivals, events and snowboarding with Robbie Williams, if it’s happening somewhere on the slopes, you can read all about it here.
The first bit of news to bring you is that there’s snow forecast this weekend, which is very good news as there’s been precious little so far in December. Fortunately that’s not as big a problem as it has been in previous autumns when we’ve had a dry start to the season, largely because the resorts had huge snowfalls in November so have lots of stockpiled snow to build their bases. But, in the Alps at least, it does mean that until the next decent snowfall, we are limited to the pistes and the parks – there’s not much freeriding to speak of just yet.
If it’s big snow you’re after, you need to head over to North America. They’ve got some lovely deep powder, and unusually for over there, you’ll find more of it on the east coast than the west. Resorts clocked up 40cm (over a foot) in 24 hours last weekend and 60cm (two foot) in 48 hours resulting in some of the best conditions in years. We just need it to pop over the Atlantic now and if it does, Interesting Snowboarding News 2014 will be the first to let you know.
Top British snowboarder Jenny Jones has suffered a concussion following a fall whilst training in Austria and has told her Facebook followers that she’ll be heading home for Christmas on doctor’s orders. Jones aims to win a medal at the Sochi Olympics in February when slopestyle makes its Olympic début as an official sport.
Bristol-born Jones, who took X Games gold in 2010 and more recently a World Cup silver at a southern hemisphere contest in August. She will be missing a contest in Colorado this weekend, but will return to training and competing in the new year. She will be enjoying an enforced Christmas at home with the family – don’t eat too much turkey Jenny!
The countdown is on to a swathe of spring festivals in the Alps, and if you want a good chance of sunny days and an hour more daylight than up north, then head to the Pyrenees (where the season is off to an exceptionally snowy start).
Snowboxx (snowbox.com), which launched in Andorra last season, will run from 23rd-30th March 2014 and will offer double the capacity of last year’s event. We’re also promised a more ambitious line-up and more exciting fringe events.
Created by the pioneers of music holidays, Mainstage Travel, already famed for its summer events in Spain and Ibiza, Snowboxx partners up with local bars, offering discounts at local shops and day trips to Andorra’s ‘other’ ski area, Grandvalira.
The festival also offers lift passes, equipment hire, transfers, lessons and a huge range of accommodation options through their website. Prices, excluding travel, start from £199.99 for an all-areas-and-events-access wristband, lift pass and accommodation.
With the opening of Ischgl’s 30 million Euro new Piz Val Gronda due on 22nd December the Tirolean resort has also announced that you may be able to go snowboarding with Robbie Williams! The long sought superstar performer Robbie Williams will play at their famous season-closing top-of-the-mountain concert in early May, complete with his full big band following in the footsteps of Kylie, Rihanna and many more.
You probably won’t actually be snowboarding with Robbie Williams but you can certainly go snowboarding and watch him perform. While there be sure to check out the new 100 hectare area of freeride snowboardingthat has been added thanks to the new lift. Ischgl have also revealed plans for a further €40m of investment next summer to be spent on new lifts for the 2014-15 season.
The new lifts for the winter after next will see the existing Pardatschgratbahn small gondola cabins replaced with luxurious, super-stable, queue-gobbling tri-cable gondola system. This tri-cable gondola will climb a 1,251m height difference from the base station in the village up to the Pardatschgrat peak at 2,624m in just over nine minutes.
Ski Republic has created freeride departments in six of its shops this winter, including in two new shops in Verbier and Les Arcs 1950. Other locations are Val d’Isère, Tignes Platières, La Plagne Centre and Val Thorens.
The Freeride sections make it easier to obtain freeride gear, with options for boarders including a choice of four board models from the French brand Furlan. Packs including boots and a helmet are available from €20 a day.
You can also hire essential off piste safety equipment from Ortovox including ABS packs, shovel, probe and ARVA from a further €20 a day.
Arabba, one of the resorts on the famous Sella Ronda circuit in the Dolomites, has added a new six seater chairlift this winter. The “Alpenrose” is a high-speed, detachable lift in the area of Pont de Vauz that climbs 1.2km over a vertical distance of 131m and has an hourly capacity of 2,600 people. The modest vertical helps boarders avoid the fairly flat ski run down in the valley and gives quicker access to more exciting terrain towards Arabba.
Arabba, one of the few resorts in Europe to report fresh snow this week, has also created a new red run “Rutort” which descends from “Bec de Roces” and the Campolongo Pass. The 970m long run has a 228m vertical and a 24% average gradient.
That’s it for Interesting Snowboard News 2014. We end the year hoping for more snow and telling you about a chance to go snowboarding with Robbie Williams soundtracking your holiday. Have a happy Christmas and join us again in the new year (when it will actually be 2014) for some more news from the slopes.