The Snow Parks and Terrain Parks of Austria and France
by Annelies Van de Velde, for SnowboardSecrets.com
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Snow Park Heaven
Whether you’re a rubber-bodied gnarly kicker-god or a trembling-at-the-knees snow park rookie with a keen spirit; if you’re planning a ski holiday in Austria or fancy a bit of snowboarding in France and are looking to hurl yourself off silly obstacles, we’ve highlighted a couple of snow park gems to meet all your freestyle needs.
Mayrhofen - Austria’s best playground in the snow
Voted by snowparks.com as one of Europe’s best snow parks, the Vans Penken Park in Mayrhofen is simply sublime and is regularly home to Austrian and international pros who like to strut their stuff on its huge amount of obstacles. Newly opened in 2008, the park is now bigger, better and still fresh from new ideas and improvements. This includes the newly named Funjet lift which runs the whole length of the park and is the ideal place to sit back and watch all the fun. See what they did there?
Four separate lines neatly divide the boys from the men, so everyone can go their own pace. The easiest Fun line contains some cute mini-kickers, wall rides, boxes and banks, while the Public line steps it up a notch adding longer rails and bigger kickers. The Pro line does what it says on the tin, boasting some big air opportunities in the form of tables a quarter pipe and massive jumps including a 19m biggie.
With a half pipe and a Jib line containing a 12m rainbow box and 7m wall ride as the cherries on top of this snowy cake, the Vans Penken Park is a freestylers dream!
Snow Park Event: Snowbombing, 29th March – 4th April 2009
Avoriaz - A French freestyle bonanza!
World renowned for being the first French resort to embrace snowboarding, Avoriaz is a haven for those looking to shred some snow and widely known as the French hub of freestyle. No less than four snow parks plus a competition-worthy half pipe nestle amongst its snowy banks, with more freestyle fun on offer in the surrounding Portes Du Soleil area.
Newest addition to this already inspired playground is The Stash: Europe’s first ecological snow park designed by Jake Burton. This park makes use of the natural terrain to create a mixture of freestyle and freeride, with a great mix of log jibs, road gaps and hidden powder slashes in un-groomed snow, with something to please all levels.
Another new area suited to the more advanced rider is Biotop. This jib-tastic space is home to the 30m long jib-monster that is the Golden Gate and the whole area has been designed with the environment in mind using only snow and wood.
For those who really want to step up the adrenaline, the ever changing Arare is Avoriaz’ advanced park with 800x80 meters of rails, kickers and corner jumps. You’ll often find quarters, step-ups or spines there too, as well as the daily maintained, super smooth Superpipe half pipe. Its huge vertical walls stretch 120m long and 5.6 wide and have serviced many pro riders in some awesome competitions.
And finally, if you’re feeling a bit knock-kneed after reading all this, La Chapelle is the perfect place to gently easy you into the bigger jumps, with forgiving jumps rails and boxes for the budding freestyler.
Snow Park Event: Burton AM, 21st-22nd March
Has this got you itching to shred some snow? Crystal Ski provides some great package deals to Avoriaz and Mayrhofen, so you don’t need to worry about food shopping and can get on with the more important things like shredding! Let’s hope it just carries on dumping till the end of the season …