Spot Check: First Resorts

Every year follows the same pattern: winter ends, we enjoy the sun, get naked, go surfing and skating, and those of us with cash head to the southern hemisphere to do a bit of the shred. But basically we are all struggling through the summer and waiting for winter. But fear not, there are resorts that are open in the Autumn. Here is an introduction to five European options.

Hintertux, Austria

Hinterhux

Hintertux is one of the few glaciers open all year around. It is amazing how much effort is put into the park and how open-minded the locals are to pushing snowboarding. For the Better Park, big investments have been made for the coming season, like investing in a new pipe dragon to build a superpipe and even launching a website to keep the shredders updated on events, plus much, much more. Definitely the place to be – the good old Chillertal.

Better Park: Open 365 days

Park Set-Up

Pro-Line: 2 kickers, 4 takeoffs

Beginner line: 2 kickers (8m distance), 2 kicker (5m distance), 2 jib-bumps

Superpipe: 5–5, 60m high, 80m long

Corner: 7m high, 12–15m long

Rails: diverse rails and boxes

Facts

Lift tickets per day: 35 Euros

Nearest airports: Innsbruck, Salzburg, Munich

www.betterparkhintertux.at

Events: park opening on the first weekend in October

Air & Style warm-up starting on 8 December

Quote: “The Hintertux snowpark is in top form, designed and shaped by Wille Kaufmann. Ready for a chilling, fine session.” – Beckna

Ruka, Finland

Ruka

This little resort is one of the best known in Finland. It’s very popular with the Finns as the park, now called the BatteryPark, is always in good shape and the dimension and variety of obstacles is wide. Riders of all shredability are likely to find something to play on. The resort opens mid-October for a bit of shredding, and from the beginning of December you can start rocking the park. Opening hours for the slopes are from 9.30am to 7pm. It will also soon be a hotspot for the girls, as the ladies’ Ticket to Ride – ’The Catfight’ – will have its first stop in Finland this coming April. Check out www.ruka.fi for more info.

Name: BatteryPark

Park Set-Up

Superpipe on top of Vuosseli

Various kickers, boxes, rails

Facts

Lift tickets per day: 31 Euros

Nearest airport: Kuusamo

www.ruka.fi

Quote: “Ruka’s park is one of my favourites. It is always perfectly groomed and fun to ride. It has all the basic park jumps and rails. One special feature would make it perfect.” – Risto Mattila

Saas-Fee, Switzerland

Saas-Fee

The Saas Fee park has been a breading ground of shredophiles for many years and its autumn sessions are renowned throughout the European scene both for their on and off-mountain antics.

It is open for 356 days a year. Cars are not allowed to drive in Saas-Fee, so you have to park your car in front of the village and either walk or use one of the electro-cabs. It is rated as one of the top parks by the likes of Fredi Kalbermatten and Nicolas Müller.

Summer Freestyle Park

Open: 1 July until mid-December

Park Set-Up

100m long halfpipe

3 kickers

several rails

Facts

Lift tickets per day: 38 Euros

Nearest airports: Basel, Bern, Geneva, Zurich, Milan

www.saas-fee.ch

Quote: “The Saas Fee snowpark is the perfect warm-up for the season in early winter. A good halfpipe and some decent jumps bring back the joy for the cold after a summer break. And if you spend a lot of time in SF you might find out why one of the best comes from there.” – Nicolas Müller

Tignes, France

Tignes

Tignes is a very snowboard-friendly resort with a lot of winter backcountry and the HUGE winter snowpark located on the Palafour Combe. It also runs an all-year park at the Grand Motte. During early season, the park runs from 7am until 1pm (yep you’ve gotta get up early). Overall, the vast area makes Tignes a great place to ride early season since you are not just limited to a snowpark as there is a lot more rideable terrain to be had. Best riding conditions are late morning, by which time the jumps are soft but not too slushy. Tignes is not the best resort for beginners but is a must for advanced riders.

Park Set-Up

Kickers of all sizes

2 flat, 1 double kink, 1 rainbow rail

Halfpipe

Quaterpipe

Facts

Lift tickets per day: 34 Euros

Nearest airports: Lyon, Geneva

www.tignes.net

Quote: “The Grande Motte glacier in Tignes opens around the end of September and can produce some great riding if the conditions allow. This year has greater snow volume on the glacier than previous years giving a higher chance of good conditions throughout the summer and autumn season. The park is the same as usual with a big kicker, triple medium and beginner lines, 2 pipes and a variety of rails for all levels.” Graham Mcvoy – GMC Parks

Dachstein, Austria

Dachstein

The Dachstein glacier, above the beautiful Austrian Ramsau village, is a good bet when it comes to finding good snow conditions in the early season. Here you will find the Burton Snowpark, which is always perfectly shaped by Bernd Mandlberger and offers loads of different obstacles to rip on. Later in the season the Schladming area will also get a second snowpark, the Hochwurzen Playground. So, why not stay all year round? Loads of pro-teams are training there and photo shoots are always taking place due to the amazing conditions and the wide terrain. Also take note that the park is shaped daily. For more infomation check out www.dachsteingletscher.at.

Dachstein Burton Superpark

Park Set-Up

Beginner line: 2 boxes, 1 small rail, 3 kickers

Jibline: 2 downrails, kinked box, kinked rail, flatrail, stump, rain barrel

Intermediate kicker line: 12m table, 15m table, funbox

Pro kicker line: 18m table

Special line: 11m table, transfer gap, corner with 2 take-offs

Open from 20 May to 10 December, daily from 8am to 5pm.

Facts

Lift tickets per day: 33 Euros

Nearest airport: Salzburg

www.dachsteingletscher.at


Quote:

“Riding Dachstein is a good option for snowboarding early season and all good because of the varied obstacles. Bernd Mandlberger and the Actionscouts are taking care of the good shape of a super Burton Superpark, where you will find a few small-to-medium kickers, one ’Riesenkicker’ and a good fun jib line. At least, after the annual Pleasure Jam, everything will be in perfect shape.” – Silli Mittermüller

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Christophe Schmidt