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60 where [Snowboarding] Wo r d s by M at t h e w R ay Call Boarding 61 Photo: © PHOTOLIBARY The snow is falling, so check out top UK boarder Dan Wakeham’s…
60 where [Snowboarding] Wo r d s by M at t h e w R ay Call Boarding 61 Photo: © PHOTOLIBARY The snow is falling, so check out top UK boarder Dan Wakeham’s tips for the best resorts and how to pull the tricks that turn heads 62 where [Snowboarding] Dan Wakeham age: 27 profession: SNOWBOARDER It’s the thrill of strapping a plank of wood to your feet and sliding down the slopes that gets Olympian snowboarder Dan Wakeham out of bed in the morning. “Snowboarding feels a bit like riding a wave all the way down the mountain, except all you have to do to catch the wave is get on a chairlift,” he says. Here are his tips for getting started and picking the best parks and après-ski spots Prepare for fun Like any sport it pays to be ready beforehand. “General fitness and flexibility are important. If you’re going to be taking some knocks and bumps then being flexible can help you to avoid injury,” Dan says. “It’s good to have strong legs and healthy core stability, so do some bodyweight exercises. “Loosen your muscles by doing a warm-up before you go riding. If you jump onto a snowboard with a cold body, you’re likely to hurt yourself.” Carving down the pistes is exhilarating enough, but once you’re comfortable there, snowboarding branches out into off-piste freeriding and park and pipebased freestyle riding. You don’t have to trek into the wilderness to get a taste Achievements: ã 2008, Pipe 2nd, Tignes Airwaves ã 2008, Pipe 28th, World Cup ã 2006, Pipe 26th, Turino Olympics of off-piste, however. “When it snows heavily you can find off-piste conditions at the edge of the run that give you an idea of what riding in deep powder is like. In the powder your weight is on the back of your board to keep your nose up.” Learning freestyle tricks on kickers and pipes is a lot of fun, but hard-packed snow makes for an unforgiving crash mat. “Start small and don’t ride above your ability,” he warns. “A lot of people throw themselves into big park jumps when it’s safer to learn tricks off the side of cat tracks alongside the piste.” Once you’ve built up your confidence you can progress onto jumping kickers and experiencing the “pop” (the momentum to push off and land the trick) as lived by the kings and queens of the pipe and park. 64 where [Snowboarding] The best resorts for boarding RESORT TO THIS Cooler temperatures at the highaltitude Swiss resort of Laax keep its halfpipe and funpark solid. “It also hosts the European Open in January—it’s a prestigious event, so they build an impressive park and pipe that’s maintained throughout the season and guarantees good riding,” says Dan. Morzine has a good selection of terrain parks this season, and Avoriaz has an ungroomed slope featuring wooden and other natural obstacles called The Stash. “Avoriaz maintains a good park,” enthuses Dan. “And the pipe is ok so long as the weather stays cool.” The terrain around the Portes Du Soleil ski area also contains freeride zones. “There are places where you can go off through the trees and know that you’re going to come out on another piste—but carry transceivers and look at the piste maps so that you don’t get lost.” Portes du Soleil also has 650km of French and Swiss pistes, so there’s something for you whatever your ability and interests. This season is seeing more resorts offering night riding on pistes with snowmaking facilities. “Davos is unusual because it has a half-pipe up on the slopes and also one in the town. They floodlight it once a week so you can ride it at night, which is pretty cool,” ‹‹ Avoriaz has an ungroomed slope featuring wooden and other natural obstacles called The Stash ›› says Dan. This Swiss resort also has a boardercross circuit for aspiring racers. The Austrian resort of Mayrhofen in the Zillertal valley also has the world-class Vans Penken funpark and is becoming a hotspot for snowboarding. POST-RIDE PLEASURE Of course, partying after a day’s riding is high on the winter holiday agenda and the snowboarding scene has some top nightspots. “Morzine has a lot of bars and clubs,” says Dan. “And it’s a hotspot hang-out for pro riders and freeskiers— we usually head to The Cavern. In Laax you’ve got the Crap Bar for après-ski and then there’s the Rider’s Palace, which has a modern bar and a pretty serious nightclub underneath the hotel.” Visit for more about Dan Wakeham or read his internet blog at Resort: Morzine/Avoriaz Snowboard area: Portes du Soleil. 141 beginner pistes, 100 intermediate, 25 advanced. Highest lift: 2,277m ãFly to Geneva (70km) Resort: Mayrhofen Snowboard area: Zillertal Valley. 45 beginner pistes, 94 intermediate, 22 advanced. Highest lift: 2,500m ã Fly to Innsbruck (75km) Resort: Davos Snowboard area: Davos Klosters. 24 beginner pistes, 39 intermediate, 11 advanced. Highest lift: 2,844m ã Fly to Zurich (150km) Resort: Laax Snowboard area: Laax. 63km beginner pistes, 71km intermediate, 46km expert, 40km freeride. Highest lift: 3,018m ã Fly to Zurich (150km) 66 where [Snowboarding] Dan Wakeham explains How to… …do a backside 360 Å This trick is all in the rotation …do an ollie ÅÇ …ride the half-pipe Ç Popping ollies on the flat will help with later tricks and jumps The ultimate board buzz 1. Get low by bending at your knees rather than at your back. Start by lifting your front foot first, and then your back foot will follow. 2. Get ready for your board to spring off the tail. 3.As you come up into the air suck your knees towards your chest, keeping your torso upright. 4.As you start to come down, keep looking at where you’re going and straighten your legs out to land. 1. It’s a difficult discipline, so start at slow speeds. You can add more speed later on to get more height out of the pipe. 2.Remember to relax. If you stiffen up you’ll really throw your rhythm out because you need to keep flowing through the transitions. If your legs are stiff it will slow you down. 3. Concentrate on where you want to go. Don’t look down—look at the copping (the lip of the pipe) or the landing—or you’ll find that you over-rotate. 4.Once you’re in the air, turn your head and your shoulders—your whole body and board will follow. Photo: © GETTY IMAGES 1.As you come into the jump, start on the right hand side of the kicker (if you’re riding regular) and take an S-shaped line into the kicker. 2.At the top of the jump you should be on your toe edge and almost starting your rotation. 3.As you jump, spin your arms out, making sure to throw them flat—if you throw them at an angle you’ll end up going upside down—and look over your shoulder. 4.Bring your knees up to your chest and grab your board. Indy (front toe edge) is the easiest one to do. 5.Relax and follow through with the rotation. This part of the rotation is blind. As soon as you come around past 180 you can spot your landing and should focus on that. 6.Either pull your arms in or stretch them out to speed up or slow down the rotation respectively, so that you land correctly. Try to land on a flat base.
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