In this weeks Interesting Snowboarding News we talk about the snowboarders that are suing the ski only resort of Alta. How Snow World Barcelona will bring winter sports to the Med. Which ski run a group of experts have decided is the best ever. Plus we talk about the British snowboarders that have made the Olympic team and we finish of with an ice castle.
Of course to as with every week we will start the snowboarding news with an update on snow conditions. The good news is most of Europe’s ski slopes are in good shape at present with more fresh snow further improving conditions in the last seven days.
Italy, Switzerland and more southerly French resorts have seen the most fresh snow – up to 70cm – falling in the last week, but most western European ski areas have had at least 10-20cm of new snow. There have also been falls of around 20cm in the Pyrenees, where conditions were already well above average thanks to the big falls there at the end of last year.
Lower elevation ski areas in Austria continue to be the most problematic for snowboarders seeking powder as although there’s been some snow, many only have cover at resort level thanks to snowmaking. Higher resorts like Obergurgl and Ischgl are now seeking to highlight that they’re in great shape with their slopes, 1000 or more vertical metres higher, covered in plenty of snow metres deep!
Eastern Europe also continues to suffer with a similar lack of natural snow. But Scandinavia and particularly Norway have had a very snowy week, the snowiest of the season so far in fact with a lot of the region’s big name resorts adding several feet to their base levels. It’s also looking good still in central and western Scotland.
Across the Atlantic conditions are good in most of north America with the Banff area of Alberta reporting one of the biggest accumulations of the last seven days – 90cm. But there’s powder too at many Colorado, BC and Utah areas – although Californian resorts could still do with more fresh cover.
Snowboarders sue ski (only) resort
A group of snowboarders are taking legal action against a Utah ski area that bans them from boarding on its slopes.
Wasatch Equality, a Utah nonprofit corporation, and four individual snowboarders filed a lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Utah against Alta Ski Area and the United States Forest Service. They are seeking to permanently enjoin Alta from enforcing its anti-snowboarder policy and snowboarding ban. The plaintiffs also seek a declaration from the Court that Alta’s snowboarding prohibition, as enforced by the Forest Service, violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and is therefore unlawful.
When snowboarding first became popular in the 1980s a sizable number of ski areas prohibited boarding or limited boarders to certain slopes. By the mid 1990s nearly all ski areas did permit snowboarding on all slopes (one of the notable exceptions was Park City Mountain resort in Utah which quickly changed its mind in time to host boarding events at the 2002 Utah Olympics) and now only three areas are known to still ban boarding, all in the USA.
“Alta is one of only three ski resorts in the United States that does not allow snowboarding, and Alta is the only one of these resorts that is operated on public land controlled by the Forest Service. Because of Alta’s relationship with the government, Alta’s actions must comply with the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause,” said Jonathan Schofield, attorney with Parr Brown Gee & Loveless, who represents Wasatch Equality.
According to Schofield Alta’s prohibition against snowboarders excludes a particular class of individuals from use and enjoyment of public land based on irrational discrimination against snowboarders, which denies them equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The Stash rated World’s N°1 run by experts
CNN asked some of the world’s top snowboarders and winter sports journalists to name their favourite ski run, and most popular was The Stash in Avoriaz, in the Portes do Soleil on the French / Swiss border.
Described as, “part-tree run and part-terrain park” by the resort, The Stash is an ungroomed area in the middle of the forest that caters for a mixture of freeride and freestyle skiers and boarders.
Wooden elements on the run, which was partially designed by Jake Burton, founder of the famed snowboard brand, include a wall for vertical sliding, logs and tree trunk obstacles, wooden tables for sliding on, jumps from paths and rocks, trees bent like rainbows, snow shock-absorbers, wooden toboggans, ramps and other natural obstacles. Along with providing a lot of fun the aim is to, “…provide messages of environmental protection.”
“My favourite run in the world is The Stash,” says Becky Menday, a member of Great Britain’s Freestyle Snowboard Team, “It takes you through the trees and has fantastic natural wooden features for you to session all the way through it.”
All in all The Stash contains around 80 natural obstacles with numerous routes through suited to different ability levels.
The panel chosen by CNN who opted for the Stash included Andrew Weibrecht, Olympic medalist and U.S. ski team member; John Stifter, editor at U.S. ski bible Powder magazine; Mike Douglas, the godfather of free-skiing and creator of the world’s first twin-tip ski and Nicola Iseard, editor of Fall Line magazine.
Record number of snowboarders selected for Team GB for Sochi 2014
The British Olympic Association (BOA) today announced that seven boarders are among the 19 strong team who have been officially selected for Team GB for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
• ZOE GILLINGS (born: Isle of Man, lives: Leeds) (Snowboard Cross)
• BILLY MORGAN (born: Southampton, lives: Southampton) (Snowboard Slopestyle)
• JAMIE NICHOLLS (born: Bradford, lives: Bradford) (Snowboard Slopestyle)
• JENNY JONES (born: Bristol, lives: Bristol) (Snowboard Slopestyle)
• AIMEE FULLER (born: Bromley, lives: Belfast) (Snowboard Slopestyle)
• BEN KILNER (born: Banchory, lives: Banchory) (Snowboard Halfpipe)
• DOM HARINGTON (born: Leeds, lives: London) (Snowboard Halfpipe)
The race to make the standard for Team GB nomination and subsequent selection went down to the wire for the British skiers and snowboarders, with Aimee Fuller securing her place on the team with a 5th place at the Snowboard Slopestyle World Cup in Stoneham last weekend.
Sochi 2014 sees the introduction of Snowboard Slopestyle into the Winter Olympics, where the United Kingdom hope to make an impact. Snowboard Parallel Slalom will also make its debut on the Olympic Programme, but will not feature any Team GB athletes.
In Snowboard Slopestyle, Billy Morgan, who came third in the 2013 World Cup finals and second in a 4* World Snowboard Tour event last year will lead the charge. He will be joined by team mate Jamie Nicholls, who has qualified for his first Winter Olympics. For the women, triple X Games winner Jenny Jones will compete in the Snowboard Slopestyle event on 9th February. She is joined by Kent born Aimee Fuller who secured her place on the team after coming 5th in last weekend’s Snowboard Slopestyle World Cup in Stoneham, Canada.
In Snowboard Halfpipe, Ben Kilner will go into his second Olympic Winter Games accompanied by team mate Dom Harington. Scottish athlete Kilner placed 18th in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and hopes to better that performance in Sochi. For London based Harington, this will be his first Winter Olympics after being a dominating force alongside Kilner on the British snowboard halfpipe scene for some time.
In Snowboard Cross, Zoe Gillings comes into her third Olympic Winter Games for Team GB. In Turin 2006 she finished 15th and in Vancouver 2010 8th in the Ladies Snowboard Cross event.
Snow World Barcelona moves closer
Plans to create a year round indoor snow park on the Mediterranean coast in Spain have moved closer with the announcement that Snow World Barcelona have commissioned architects to work on the design details of the project as it moves forward.
Snow World has run the successful indoor ski slopes of Landgraaf (the world’s largest by slope area) and Zoetermeer (home to a Vancouver Olympic boarding gold medallist) in The Netherlands for many years.
The plan for Snow World Barcelona includes a 300 metre ski slope, a nursery slope and a large fun park. Two ice-skating rinks are also planned. The complex will also include a variety of restaurants, meeting rooms, a fitness and wellness centre, a specialised winter sports shop and a hotel with 200 rooms.
“We are working diligently on our growth plans,” said Koos Hendriks , CEO of Snow World. “After years of searching we found in Barcelona a suitable location for the proposed indoor ski slope and now have Spanish architects under contract which will support the development of Snow World Barcelona.”
The first draft of the new indoor ski slope was already completed , the architects will now work on the project in more detail so that the building permit can be obtained during 2014.
Ice Castle Opens
The first Ice CastIe to be built on the east coast of the USA is now open to visitors.
Built next to Loon Mountain’s Adventure Centre using a latticework of icicles and a vast sprinkler system, Utah-based artist Brent Christensen has created a massive ice fortress for visitors to explore, with walls reaching 25 feet high. At night, multi-coloured lights transform the castle into a frozen, glowing Narnia.
The castle is open 14.00 to 22.00 on weekdays, and from 12.00 noon to 22.00 at weekends, entry tickets are valid all day long, so visitors can wander through the icy tunnels by day and return to see the night-time transformation in the evening.
That’s it for this weeks interesting snowboarding news we have gone from Snow World Barcelona to Narniaesque Ice Castles. Thats enough for one week.