Welcome to a new edition of Interesting Snowboarding News 2014 where this week we bring you news of snowboard speed records and how to build your own snowboard. As always, we also bring you news of all the snow conditions around the world, which is a great place to start.
Winter 2014 is looking ever better in many parts of the world thanks to fresh snow this week that’s been particularly abundant in the southern Alps, Dolomites and across the Atlantic in the Rockies.
While resorts in these areas have reported anything from 30-90cm (1-3 feet) of fresh snow in the past week (in most cases much of it in the last 72 hours), most other areas including the northern Alps, Scandinavia and the Pyrenees have had some fresh snow too – if not quite so much. Scotland is also looking good, especially on the West.
It’s not great everywhere,however. California has oddly limited cover due to a drought and Eastern European resorts are badly in need of new snow having had very little for over a month. Austrian areas have had 10-15cm of new snow but could ideally do with much more, especially on lower lying areas.
Unusually, Italy has the most snow in the world at the moment with Passo Tonale the only area on the planet claiming more than a 4m base depth (4.2m in fact) and Madesimo with 3.8m the second in the world for snow depth, and the highest for a non-glacier resort.
Windlip snowboards (www.windlipsnowboards.com) who have been custom building snowboards since 2006, have launched a new website which walks users through the design process to build your own snowboard.
You can now go to the website, fill in your measurements on the ‘Contact – custom snowboard enquiry form’ and the company will then build your dream board.
‘It’s a bit like buying a tailor made suit but with lots of graphical choices and if you want to do your own artwork just ask for a template to get you started,’ said the company’s Lisa Robinson. Windlip has many stock shapes on file if you’re not sure of what you want and offer a wealth of advice as required.
The company make snowkite boards, boarder X boards, powder and freestyle boards and also use hi-tech reinforcements such as carbon, flax, aramid and H glass, along with bamboo cores and wooden veneer top sheets to make the boards really perform. Prices start from 635 euros, which is really not bad to build your own snowboard.
Some of the first new lift projects for next winter, 2014-15, are starting to be announced with Taos in New Mexico announcing an expansion that will see the area’s Kachina Peak area with a summit at 3,795m (12,450 feet), lift-accessed for the first time. The new lift, a fixed-grip triple chair, will be one of the highest chairlifts in North America and one of the ten highest accessing ski slopes in the world. The lift will increase the mountain’s advanced and expert lift-service terrain by 50%, previously only accessible by hiking up, as well as providing superb scenic views.
‘In many ways this lift is a tribute to Ernie and his legacy,’ said Mickey Blake, son of Ernie Blake, who founded the resort and is reported to have originally envisioned the lift nearly 50 years ago. Mickey Blake is the current President of Taos Ski Valley but has recently announced the sale of Taos Ski Valley to conservationist Louis Bacon.
21-year-old British snowboarder Jamie Barrow, who last year set the world indoor speed snowboarding record of 69.4km/h at the SnowWorld Landgraaf indoor centre in The Netherlands as well as the British snowboard speed record at 151.60km/h in Verbier, Switzerland, will travel to St Moritz this month to try to set a new world record for snowboarding speed.
The current world record is held by an Australian called Darren Powell who was clocked at 201.90km/h in 1999. He did this on a special snowboard where both feet point forward which Jamie believes doesn’t count as a snowboard. This time Jamie will be travelling horizontally across the resort’s frozen lake propelled by hand-held electric jet engines.
The former Olympic snowboarder cross hopeful, who had his dreams of competing at Sochi shattered by a life-changing snowboarding accident, says he is permanently in a lot of pain and would prefer to endure that pain on a snowboard. Barrow says he does not know how fast he will go, but the prototype engines are designed to push out a wind force of 250mph.
It’s winter here in Europe, but in the summer heat on the other side of the world Australian ski areas are spending their summer preparing for the 2014 ski season. The country’s largest resort, Perisher, announced a $4m (Aus) spend on a new chairlift and a superpipe which will see Australia’s and the world’s best athletes visit the resort to train and compete but will also be open to the general skiing and boarding public.
‘It’s a fantastic project for Perisher and one that will offer a truly world class facility for our athletes to train and develop their skills to showcase on the international stage,’ said the CEO of Perisher, Peter Brulisauer. ‘It’s been a long time in the planning and is nice to see this dream start to become a reality,’ he added.
Perisher riders Torah Bright and Nate Johnston have already claimed Superpipe medals at X Games and Word Championship events over the past four years with Torah Bright also the current Olympic Gold Medallist.
The superpipe is planned to be located in Centre Valley with access via Lawson and Leichhardt T-bars. The project will include new automated snowmaking and summer earthworks so that the superpipe can be built with less snow than would otherwise be required, allowing for the superpipe to operate for as long as possible each winter season. Perisher has arranged to purchase a ZAUGG 22ft superpipe cutter and it’s already been shipped to the resort.
Ice driving circuits have long been popular in the Alps, with the French apparently particularly keen on them. This season there’s a new greener twist to ice driving as La Clusaz has tackled the apparent incongruity between petrol heads and pristine snow with the launch of a new ice track that is home to a fleet of electric cars run up by Xavier Pompidou, World Endurance Driving Campion.
Sessions cost from £25 for an individual session and the circuit is open from 10am – 8pm (www.circuit-glace-laclusaz.fr).
That’s it from us this week. See you again soon, by which time you might have learned how to build your own snowboard.