Following the success of Snowsport England’s national snowsports participation GO SKI GO BOARD campaign, the 2014/15 season has seen the launch of two new elements to the programme – GO FREESTYLE and GO RACE.
Boosted by the ‘Sochi effect’ and an increase in funding for the British Park and Pipe athletes, artificial and indoor snow facilities in England continue to be packed this season.
With 33 terrain parks to choose from, the Austrian Tirol – destination partner of Snowsport England’s GO SKI GO BOARD campaign – is the logical next step for those wanting to take their freeride skills to the real mountains.
Here are six of our favourite Tirol parks…
The Kaunertal Glacier, one of Tirol’s five glacier ski resorts, serves up consistently good conditions from October to June, an abundance of natural snowfall, stunning mountain views and one of the best terrain parks in the Alps. The Snowpark Kaunertal, at an altitude of 2990m, offers a great range of kicker and obstacle lines that are even suitable for beginners who have never been in a terrain park, right up to experts and athletes in training.
The Kaunertal glacier officially opened for the 2014-15 season on October 10 with its legendary opening festival weekend, now in its 29th year. It’s one of the earliest opening dates with snowboard contests, concerts and parties as well as the "Testival" which includes brand new material for the next season. At the end of the season the UK snowboard industry decamps to Kaunertal for the annual Spring Break Snowboard Test, now in its 20th year.
There is no specific resort base at the Kaunertal Glacier but it is easily accessible by ski bus. A 7-night holiday starts from €322 per person, including a 6-day lift pass and EasyJet flies daily to Innsbruck from December. For more holiday offers visit tirolergletscher.com
Ever since Kühtai hosted the Freestyle skiing and snowboarding events at the inaugural Youth Winter Olympic Games in 2012, the KPark Kühtai is the word on everyone lips. Since it came under the management of the Air & Style Company in 2013/14, the KPark is establishing itself as a freestyle hotspot for skiers and snowboarders. The K-park set up offers an easy, medium and proline with a selection of kickers, rails and boxes and Austria’s biggest superpipe at almost 7m high. Located within 30 minutes of Innsbruck airport, Kühtai is small and compact benefiting from the convenience of doorstep skiing and as one of Austria’s highest resorts at 2020m, Kühtai boasts a wonderful snow-sure record from December through to May.
Inghams (01483 79 11 14) offers a week’s catered accommodation at the Chalet Hotel Elisabeth in Kühtai from £459, including flights from Gatwick (as well as all major UK airports) to Innsbruck and resort transfers.
Vans Penken Park
Set in the mountainous heart of the Ziller Valley, Mayrhofen is one of Austria’s leading resorts and has long been a British favourite. It is also home to one of the best and largest terrain parks in the Alps. The Vans Penken Park on Penken is on the must-shred list for everyone, whether you are a beginner or a pro. The park has its own chairlift, the four–seater SunJet, to ensure that snowboarders and freeskiers can maximise their rides and when in the park can do all the showing off in the world to the audience passing overhead. There are six areas across the park; Medium Area, Fun Area, Advanced Area, Challenging Pro Area, Halfpipe and Kids Park with a total of 11 Kickers, 2 Hips and 34 Boxes & Rails. In the Zillertal there are seven parks to choose from, including the Better Park in Hintertux and the Actionpark Zillertal Arena in Zell am Ziller, which operates Snowboard and Freeski workshops every Tuesday during the season, with introductions to the park, bag jump sessions, ride with the pros and video coaching.
Ski Solutions offers a week at the 4* Hotel Strass in Mayrhofen from £764, including flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers. Regional flights are available at a supplement.
Playstation® Vita Ischgl Snowpark
High in the Paznaun valley in the heart of the stunning Silvretta mountains, Ischgl is as famous for its après-ski scene as it is for its skiing and snowboarding opportunities. The talented park designers carve their magic each season at the Playstation® Vita Ischgl Snowpark to create one of the big draws on the freestyle scene. Consisting of three different areas, beginners can practice on the easy boxes and small jumps in the Public and Beginner Parks and with a permanent airbag jump there’s margin for error too. Advanced riders can use the pro kickers and rails in the King Size Park, with one of the longest prolines in Europe with over 20 elements. Access to the freestyle action is served by three chairlifts and with two mountain restaurants close to the snow park, Idalp and the Alpenhaus, means you can get a real spectator’s view from the sun terrace too.
Ski Total (01483 791933) is offering the Chalet Zita from just £639 per person, based on two adults sharing, and including catered accommodation, return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck (Manchester available at a supplement), transfers, free wifi and free ski hosting.
Snow Park Stubai Zoo
The Moreboards Stubai Zoo is located at the Stubai Glacier, Austria’s largest glacier ski area, with a total of 110kms of piste and all less than 45 minutes away from Innsbruck. The snow park attracts snowboarders and freeskiers, from beginners to pros and serves as a training ground for many British athletes. Last November the GB freestyle team, Jenny Jones, Aimee Fuller, Jamie Nicholls and Rowan Coultas, were at the Stubai Glacier getting in some practice ahead of Sochi. It was also at Stubai in May that Katie Omerod smashed the record for landing the First Ever Female Backside Double Cork 1080. The snowpark season starts from 17th to 19th October with the Moreboards Stubai Premiere and from this autumn there will be a new park lift in the snow park.
A three-night holiday starts from €299 per person at the 4* Aktiv-& Vitalhotel Bergcristall on half board, including a 2.5 day lift pass. easyJet flies daily to Innsbruck from December. For more holiday offers visit tirolergletscher.com
SkiWelt Fun Parks
For newcomers to freestyle the Funslope & Snowpark SkiWelt in Söll is one of the best places to try out your first jumps and tricks, while those with more experience can venture on to the medium line. The SkiWelt is Austria’s largest integrated ski area with over 280km of pistes. A further highlight in the area is the Boarders Playground, located at the Gampenkogellift in Westendorf. It is THE meeting place of the local freestyle scene with three different lines (Easy, Medium and Hard) and countless kickers, boxes and rails of various shapes and sizes waiting for you to shred.
Crystal Ski Holidays (020 8939 0726) offers a week bed & breakfast at the three-star Pension Scherntanner in Söll from £408 per person based on two sharing, including flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers. Direct flights also available from Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh at additional cost.
For more information on the Tirol region visittirol.co.uk or keep updated on Facebook or @VisitTirol on twitter.