Hold tight to your beanies, it’s here. It’s finally here. Winter 18/19 is officially on.
Its been a long old summer, ever since Snowboard Spring Break waved off winter 17/18, I, along with most of the snowboard community, have been counting down the days till the next shred.
There’s just something about winter, I mean summer’s fun and all if you actually get to enjoy it but nothing beats that crisp air, dark cosy nights and of course the first snow. Being in the mountains, now that’s a whole other level of stoke. Waking up to fresh now outside your window, those never ending peaks turned white, that snow line getting lower and lower, knowing its just days until the lifts open and when they finally do… Well, hello winter!
Well, that’s usually how the start of winter feels but this year is a little different for me, 10th December in the south of France and its 23 degrees… It’s not something I can deal with easily; I’ve spent the last couple of weeks (months) day dreaming of white-room turns. So obviously, the only thing to do was to book a spontaneous weekend shred trip. Luckily for me, my friends at Hideout Hostel in Morzine teamed up with REAL Snowboarding and ran an opening weekend snowboard camp, perfect for getting those snow legs back and some early season fun.
Friday 13th-16th December, Avoriaz opening weekend. I finish work in Nice on Thursday evening and head to the airport where it’s just a 45 minute flight to Geneva, from there Hideout have organised my transfers to resort. I cant keep the grin off my face as even in the black of night I recognise all the familiar sights on the drive up and finally as we pass the famous Morzine sign and head into town, I feel like I’m home again.
Friday is our first day of riding and after breakfast at Hideout we meet up with REAL coaches Dave and Barry and head up to Avoriaz. We get two hour coaching sessions with these guys each day and they make the two hours super fun and progressive, leaving you feeling confident and excited for the rest of the day. They strip things right back and go back to basics to ensure we’re all solid in our riding foundations. Me, thinking I’m pretty solid, soon find out there’s quite a few little tweaks I need to make in my riding style. We progress onto learning a few little jibs and butters and also get into some powder.
Day 1 of the season and the snow is dreamy, the light’s a little flat but hey, you can’t have everything right? Well turns out you can, just not every day. On Saturday, although it’s a little busier, it’s a freaking blue bird, a bit of fresh snow over night and not a cloud in sight! I sat on the chairlift questioning my life choices for only being here for the weekend rather than doing another season. Really, what am I thinking?
Sunday is a complete whiteout but it’s snowing all day, in one weekend we were treated to a whole seasons worth of weather. Parts of the mountain are obviously a little sketchy and icy, again, its opening weekend, what do you expect? I wasn’t expecting to be doing fresh lines, that’s for sure but I got plenty of those too.
In terms of weekends, this one was all time; three fun packed days on the hill, fresh snow, fresh lines, old friends, new friends and a healthy dose of après. Every person had the biggest smile on their face the entire weekend, spirits were high and hugs, high fives and fist bumps were in high supply at all times.
Every year I seem to forget how high the levels of stoke and love everyone has for the mountain and for snowboarding. It’s infectious and apart from the actual physical pleasures snowboarding brings, it’s what keeps me coming back for more year on year out – Harri Bennett