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Contributors

Editor Zack Wragg zack@darksummer.co.uk 07815 888 157 Creative Director Daniel Crawford daniel@naughtyrobot.co.uk 07986 669 244 Marketing Manager Andrea Conneely andrea@darksummer.co.uk 07968 479 503 Senior Photographer Ross Woodhall / Kumara Images ross@islide.co.uk Director Adrian Swift adrian@darksummer.co.uk

������������� To say Julian Topham loves skiing would be an understatement. Not only has Julian been an avid skier from his early childhood, but he also worked hard to secure the funding for Armada Skis. As one of the current directors of Armada, Julian helps to promote freeskiing around Europe and the US. Having spent 9 years working in all types of action sports, he is also currently a Director of Sports Vision, the management consultancy behind the Rip Curl Boardmasters (Europe’s biggest action sports and music event), as well as numerous surf, snowboard, ski and other action sports events. Last season Julian was our resident movie reviewer but here he gives us his insight to the X Games 2006.

Photographic Contributors David Baird Melody Sky Chris O’Connell Yves Garneau Tash Armitage Pally Learmond Dan Carr Vicci Miller ESPN Images Flip McCririck Bakke Tomas Zuccareno Tony Donaldson Matt Morning Weisse Arena / Swiss Images Henry Meredith-Hardy Baz Roberts Camilla Stoddart Published by Dark Summer Ltd 143 Walkley Crescent Road Sheffield S6 5BA United Kingdom www.darksummer.co.uk Printed by Williams Press Ltd T 01628 622 345 www.williamspress.co.uk THIS MAGAZINE IS PRINTED ON PAPER THAT IS SOURCED FROM SUSTAINABLE FORESTS. PLEASE RECYCLE IT BY PASSING IT ON TO A FRIEND (OR YOUR DOCTORS/DENTISTS SURGERY) WHEN YOUʼRE DONE. UNLESS, OF COURSE, YOU ARE PROUDLY KEEPING THEM ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE! PLEASE RESPECT OUR BEAUTIFUL PLANET. ✌

Baz runs All Terrain Ski (www.allterrainski.com) in Chamonix and Wilderness Medical Training (www.wilder nessmedicaltraining.co.uk). He lectures internationally about his adventures through his leadership company, Corporate Interventions (www.corporateinterventions. com). He’s also a BASI ski instructor, a sky diver, scuba diver and a very recently a father (to Sophie). In this issue Baz talks us through his lightweight trek along the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.

Editorial Assistants Ruth Martin Amy McGuire Editorial Contributors Baz Roberts Warren Smith Pat Sharples Jon White Julian Topham Julian Thorpe Camilla Stoddart

����������� Baz Roberts has been sponsored by The North Face (UK) for three years and Sky Paragliders for one. In that time he’s been on 5 expeditions, including two to Greenland, one to Shishapangma in 2003 and one to the summit of Everest in May 2004, bringing his total number of expeditions to 22. He has led diving research in Belize, built a hut on Mt. Kenya and been a glacier scientist in Nepal and Pakistan.

������������ As anyone who has met him will know, Warren Smith eats, sleeps and breathes freeskiing. Warren is one of Britain’s leading professional freeskiers riding for Oakley and Volkl and an Internationally Certified Performance Coach. He has spent many years teaching professional skiers, developing ski instructors and coaching members of the British freestyle team. Somehow, Warren also finds time to build Freeski Britain and organising the Ride series of events (Verbier Ride, London Ride, Saas Fee Ride, Davos Klosters Ride, and the Big Mountain Heli Ride), which are world renowned. He can also be seen starring in, filming and editing instructional ski DVDs and some of the UK’s finest freeski movies, including the Snow’s in the House trilogy, Coefficient Drag, and Winter Requiem. In this issue, Warren gives us some tips on skiing deep powder, and the low-down on the London Ride 2006.

���������������� Based in Verbier for the 2006/07 season, Camilla is a graduate of Central St Martins Art School. Not being overly fond of art school she decided to take off to the slopes of the Alps and try her hand at photography. She’s gotten pretty damned good at it and now does back-to-back seasons in Europe and New Zealand capturing images of some of the world’s best skiers. Camilla recently had her work appear in an international Salomon advertising campaign and was also the official photographer at the NZ Freeski Open. We’ve always been a fan of Camilla’s photography, and you can see some of it for yourself alongside her review of the NZ Freeski Open 2006.

Editorial Every New Year I get an overwhelming desire to reach out to people I haven’t contacted for a while and this year was no exception. As soon as the hangover had cleared I was on my computer typing out emails to all the people I met during my seasons in resorts. This got me reminiscing over the people I have met over the years. We naturally form strong bonds with those people in our lives with whom we have a shared passion. I think this comes from a mutual respect of each other based around that shared passion which leads us to hold these people as kindred spirits. If you are reading this then I think it is safe to say that you probably hold skiing as a passion in your life, and I’m sure that you will, as I have, made many good friends through skiing. I’d also bet on you having lost touch with a fair few of them. It may be days, months or years since you contacted some of them. Friends from seasons, friends you used to ride with, people you met on a ski trip but never really stayed in touch with. The friends I’ve made through skiing are some of the best people I’ve met, yet my typical slackness when it comes to keeping in contact with people has left us out of touch. This week I emailed everyone I met whilst doing my seasons, and for the past few days my eyes have lit up each time my computer pings with its ‘New Mail’ alert. I’m back in touch with the people that I spent some of the best years of my life with, and as we catch up on old times, it seems as if we’ve never parted. So, as the ball has dropped in Times Square and the New Year has dawned, type an email, pick up your phone, or go old school and write a letter. Get in touch with the friends you have lost contact with and put a smile on their face. Then get busy out on the slopes making more friends through our shared passion of skiing. – Zack ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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Contributors

Editor Zack Wragg zack@darksummer.co.uk 07815 888 157 Creative Director Daniel Crawford daniel@naughtyrobot.co.uk 07986 669 244 Marketing Manager Andrea Conneely andrea@darksummer.co.uk 07968 479 503 Senior Photographer Ross Woodhall / Kumara Images ross@islide.co.uk Director Adrian Swift adrian@darksummer.co.uk

������������� To say Julian Topham loves skiing would be an understatement. Not only has Julian been an avid skier from his early childhood, but he also worked hard to secure the funding for Armada Skis. As one of the current directors of Armada, Julian helps to promote freeskiing around Europe and the US. Having spent 9 years working in all types of action sports, he is also currently a Director of Sports Vision, the management consultancy behind the Rip Curl Boardmasters (Europe’s biggest action sports and music event), as well as numerous surf, snowboard, ski and other action sports events. Last season Julian was our resident movie reviewer but here he gives us his insight to the X Games 2006.

Photographic Contributors David Baird Melody Sky Chris O’Connell Yves Garneau Tash Armitage Pally Learmond Dan Carr Vicci Miller ESPN Images Flip McCririck Bakke Tomas Zuccareno Tony Donaldson Matt Morning Weisse Arena / Swiss Images Henry Meredith-Hardy Baz Roberts Camilla Stoddart Published by Dark Summer Ltd 143 Walkley Crescent Road Sheffield S6 5BA United Kingdom www.darksummer.co.uk Printed by Williams Press Ltd T 01628 622 345 www.williamspress.co.uk THIS MAGAZINE IS PRINTED ON PAPER THAT IS SOURCED FROM SUSTAINABLE FORESTS. PLEASE RECYCLE IT BY PASSING IT ON TO A FRIEND (OR YOUR DOCTORS/DENTISTS SURGERY) WHEN YOUʼRE DONE. UNLESS, OF COURSE, YOU ARE PROUDLY KEEPING THEM ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE! PLEASE RESPECT OUR BEAUTIFUL PLANET. ✌

Baz runs All Terrain Ski (www.allterrainski.com) in Chamonix and Wilderness Medical Training (www.wilder nessmedicaltraining.co.uk). He lectures internationally about his adventures through his leadership company, Corporate Interventions (www.corporateinterventions. com). He’s also a BASI ski instructor, a sky diver, scuba diver and a very recently a father (to Sophie). In this issue Baz talks us through his lightweight trek along the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.

Editorial Assistants Ruth Martin Amy McGuire Editorial Contributors Baz Roberts Warren Smith Pat Sharples Jon White Julian Topham Julian Thorpe Camilla Stoddart

����������� Baz Roberts has been sponsored by The North Face (UK) for three years and Sky Paragliders for one. In that time he’s been on 5 expeditions, including two to Greenland, one to Shishapangma in 2003 and one to the summit of Everest in May 2004, bringing his total number of expeditions to 22. He has led diving research in Belize, built a hut on Mt. Kenya and been a glacier scientist in Nepal and Pakistan.

������������ As anyone who has met him will know, Warren Smith eats, sleeps and breathes freeskiing. Warren is one of Britain’s leading professional freeskiers riding for Oakley and Volkl and an Internationally Certified Performance Coach. He has spent many years teaching professional skiers, developing ski instructors and coaching members of the British freestyle team. Somehow, Warren also finds time to build Freeski Britain and organising the Ride series of events (Verbier Ride, London Ride, Saas Fee Ride, Davos Klosters Ride, and the Big Mountain Heli Ride), which are world renowned. He can also be seen starring in, filming and editing instructional ski DVDs and some of the UK’s finest freeski movies, including the Snow’s in the House trilogy, Coefficient Drag, and Winter Requiem. In this issue, Warren gives us some tips on skiing deep powder, and the low-down on the London Ride 2006.

���������������� Based in Verbier for the 2006/07 season, Camilla is a graduate of Central St Martins Art School. Not being overly fond of art school she decided to take off to the slopes of the Alps and try her hand at photography. She’s gotten pretty damned good at it and now does back-to-back seasons in Europe and New Zealand capturing images of some of the world’s best skiers. Camilla recently had her work appear in an international Salomon advertising campaign and was also the official photographer at the NZ Freeski Open. We’ve always been a fan of Camilla’s photography, and you can see some of it for yourself alongside her review of the NZ Freeski Open 2006.

Editorial Every New Year I get an overwhelming desire to reach out to people I haven’t contacted for a while and this year was no exception. As soon as the hangover had cleared I was on my computer typing out emails to all the people I met during my seasons in resorts. This got me reminiscing over the people I have met over the years. We naturally form strong bonds with those people in our lives with whom we have a shared passion. I think this comes from a mutual respect of each other based around that shared passion which leads us to hold these people as kindred spirits. If you are reading this then I think it is safe to say that you probably hold skiing as a passion in your life, and I’m sure that you will, as I have, made many good friends through skiing. I’d also bet on you having lost touch with a fair few of them. It may be days, months or years since you contacted some of them. Friends from seasons, friends you used to ride with, people you met on a ski trip but never really stayed in touch with. The friends I’ve made through skiing are some of the best people I’ve met, yet my typical slackness when it comes to keeping in contact with people has left us out of touch. This week I emailed everyone I met whilst doing my seasons, and for the past few days my eyes have lit up each time my computer pings with its ‘New Mail’ alert. I’m back in touch with the people that I spent some of the best years of my life with, and as we catch up on old times, it seems as if we’ve never parted. So, as the ball has dropped in Times Square and the New Year has dawned, type an email, pick up your phone, or go old school and write a letter. Get in touch with the friends you have lost contact with and put a smile on their face. Then get busy out on the slopes making more friends through our shared passion of skiing. – Zack ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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Apologies to the lovely Chloe Crewe-Read whose photos we credited in previous issues as plain ol’ Chloe Crew.

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DAVOS KLOSTERS RIDE

The first ever British Big Mountain Championships will be held in the world-renowned Davos Klosters mountains during the 19th – 22nd March 2007. The event, titled the Davos Klosters Ride, will be a World Tour Qualifier with the top three male and top two female skiers gaining entrance to the qualifiers of the World Tour event, the Big Mountain Heli Ride 2008. Event directors Warren Smith, Chris Southwell and Nick Southwell believe this will be a huge opportunity for UK freeskiers and snowboarders to be judged with IFSA sanctioning as well as gain TV exposure and to eventually take their level to that of a European and World athlete. The Davos Klosters Ride will incorporate a new judging system that includes a freestyle aspect. Each athlete’s descent will be judged on: • Line Difficulty • Control • Fluidity • Form & Technique • Freestyle As with the other Ride events, the Davos Klosters Ride will be covered by a 26-minute television programme and shown on YOZ and the Extreme sports channel. If you want to be part of the event, the organisers have put together an amazing package. Event director, Chris Southwell said “We will offer a package for British snowsports enthusiasts to fly out to Davos and be part of the event. An attractive side programme during day and night will keep the crowd entertained throughout the week.” The package includes flights, transfers, accommodation, lift passes, freeskiing classes, access to all official parties and more. Information about the package will be available on www.stc.co.uk soon. For more info visit www.davosklostersride.com

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ARMADA ARG “LA GORDA”

Once again, we’ve another exclusive for you. Presenting the uniquely shaped Armada ARG ‘La Gorda’ (right). With a heart of Armada’s Ultra Light Wood Core and a capped construction, the ARG comes in a 185cm and a reverse camber in the tip and tail (the dimensions are 125-135-133-134-120). Armada are hailing the ARG design as a breakthrough in powder ski technology. It will naturally float in deep snow; keep the ski from hooking in top layer crust, and provide unmatched deep snow stability, while the minimal sidecut gives the ski manoeuvrability on the hardpack. We can’t wait to get our hands on a pair to test.

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WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ISSUE 11

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ORAGE EUROPEAN FREESKI OPEN

THE RIP CURL HIMALAYA SEARCH PRESENTED BY SPRITE

After a successful first event, the Orage European Freeski Open will be returning to the slopes of Laax, Switzerland from 21st–25th March 2007. With $50,000 up for grabs the field of skiers will include some of the top in the World. The event will once again comprise of halfpipe and slopestlye competitions, and last years champions will be making an attempt to defend their crowns. Registration for the Orage European Freeski Open takes place between 1st February and 1st March 2007 on the events website. For more information visit www.laax.com/ freeskiopen

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SNOW-CAMP LONDON

Youth charity Snow-Camp has teamed up with Snowsport England to launch Snow-Camp London, a project which will use dry ski slopes and snowdomes to teach 500 disadvantaged inner city young people from across London to ski or snowboard. Snowsport England will provide access to dry ski slopes, snow-domes and instructors for the new project, whilst Snow-Camp will provide the youth workers and the Lifeskills training, which enables young people to reflect on the key issues in their lives. Snow-Camp director, Dan Charlish said, “This is an exciting new direction for the charity. Over the past three years we have been focused on taking young people to the French Alps to learn to ski, snowboard and develop as individuals through a Life-skills course. This project will enable us to take the Snow-Camp idea and replicate it in this country, reaching many more young people.’ Trish Chalk, Chief Executive at Snowsport England said, “We are very keen to see access to Snowsports widened to those who would not normally have the opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard. Snowsports can have so many positive impacts on young people and we are looking forward to the first Snow-Camp London courses starting in summer 2007”. For more info, contact Snow-Camp director Dan Charlish on 07930 695 384, or Press Officer Anna Carey on 07903 806 979 or visit www.snow-camp.co.uk

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DARK SUMMER FREESTYLE SKI TEST

On Saturday 25 November we held the first Dark Summer Freestyle Ski Test in association with Ellis Brigham at Tamwroth Snowdome. We had a great night with almost every freestyle demo ski available in the UK. Everyone who turned out seemed to have a great night on the terrain park that was kindly laid on. We’d like to thank the guys at Tamworth Snowdome for letting us use the slope, all the skiers who turned out to test the skis, and to Steve Wells at Ellis Brigham for organising the night.

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After a World Record rail slide attempt at Milton Keynes, and endless photos of skiers throwing huge airs, where, you may ask, can skiing go next? Well, the answer is up, and up, and up. Try 5,000m up, in fact. From 10th–26th February 2007, four Rip Curl riders (two snowboarders and 2 skiers) will be making their way up the slopes of Annapurna in an attempt to build and jump off the highest kicker on Earth. The team will consist of Andy Finch (USA), Chris Booth (AUS), Per Loken (NOR) and Baptiste Collomb-Patton (FRA). To keep up to date with their progress visit www.ripcurl.com/himalaya

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COLUMBIA FREERIDE WEEK

You may have read about last year’s Columbia Rideweek in issue 10 of Dark Summer. Well, after its successful inaugural event, the second edition is ready to take place in Courcheval from 11th–16th March 2007. Ten teams from around the world will be competing and try to steal the crown from the Japanese team, winners in 2006. Teams consist of 2 riders and a cameraman. Their task; to create a 5 minute movie highlighting both freeride images and technical performance. The 5th day is set aside for editing with a jury of international athletes and journalists judging. For more information visit www.courchevel.com/rideweek

NEW INJURY BLOW FOR MIKE WAKEFIELD

Mike Wakefield’s run of bad luck continued when he recently broke his back whilst skiing. One of the UK’s best freestyle skiers, Mike is a former British Halfpipe Champion and always a contender in the Big Air and Slopestyle events. Injuries last season (two broken collar bones) prevented him from entering most events and comps. Things were looking up when Mike competed in the Best Of British event at London’s Daily Mail Ski & Snowboard Show during October, but the seriousness of this latest injury will be a big set back for Mike. In a recent email, Mike said “I have broken my C6 vertebra which is just at the bottom of my neck. I got away really, really lucky too... I hit a rock with my skis just at the side of the piste, riding a little bit of powder which flipped me over onto another rock (with my head breaking all the way through my helmet). If I severed the spinal cord of the bone I broke, I wouldnt be able to move from the neck down. If I broke a vertebra higher I would be dead, and if I didnt have my helmet on I would be dead for sure. I can still walk and move everything as usual, I just need to get lots of rest and recover... The specialist hasn’t given me a date when I’ll be able to ski again yet as it’s so early on but he said that I should make a full recovery.” I’m sure we speak for everyone when we wish Mike a speedy and healthy recovery.

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JUNKIGEAR

Icelantic AT Boards, winner of ispo “Best Brand New Hardgood of the Year” for 2006, has just announced that their foray into the UK will be taken care of by their new distributor, JunkiGear UK. Icelantic is a young, revolutionary ski company based in Colorado that makes All Terrain skis based on surface area rather than length.

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RIDER NEWS

Avalaan have added Joonas Kuoksa (below) to their pro team. 20 year-old Joonas hails from Finland. Avalaan have also hooked up young Norweigan ripper, Gaute Haaker. Check him out in the European flick, Three For Flinching (www.regimechangeproductions.com) UK rider Ben ‘Bungle’ Hawker has just signed up with Smith eyewear. You can see Ben on the slopes of Mayrhofen parading around in his shiny new Smith Prodigy goggles.

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JunkiGear is a new company that focuses on the exciting, fresh brands that you don’t find in every ski and snowboard store. They have a passionate curiosity for seeking out new up and coming brands, and are also environmentally conscious through their alliance with ‘1% for the Planet’. Icelantic is currently on the hunt for team riders and would love to see your smiling face huckin’ it for the camera. For more information visit www.icelanticboards.com/sponsorship.htm or contact andrewphyn@junkigear.com.

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NAOMI EDMONDSON ROCKS THE US!

Having recently graced our pages, British Big Air and Slopestyle Champion, Naomi Edmondson has been busy fufilling her potential with some spiffing displays at various events in Europe and New Zealand. However, all results so far have been eclipsed by her incredible performance at January’s US Open in Copper Mountain, Colorado. Naomi was the first British skier – male or female – to be invited to compete in the US Open, and in what is becoming typical of her understated confidence, she walked away with a top ten finish in the Womens Slopestyle. The US Open attracts only the cream of the world’s freeskiing talent and is second only to the Winter X Games in terms of media exposure, which makes Naomi’s result all the more worthy. To underline her achievement, Naomi finished ahead of established US skier Sarah Burke, whilst Anna Segal, Michelle Parker and Kristi Leskinen filled the top 3 spots respectively. WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ISSUE 11

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Apologies to the lovely Chloe Crewe-Read whose photos we credited in previous issues as plain ol’ Chloe Crew.

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DAVOS KLOSTERS RIDE

The first ever British Big Mountain Championships will be held in the world-renowned Davos Klosters mountains during the 19th – 22nd March 2007. The event, titled the Davos Klosters Ride, will be a World Tour Qualifier with the top three male and top two female skiers gaining entrance to the qualifiers of the World Tour event, the Big Mountain Heli Ride 2008. Event directors Warren Smith, Chris Southwell and Nick Southwell believe this will be a huge opportunity for UK freeskiers and snowboarders to be judged with IFSA sanctioning as well as gain TV exposure and to eventually take their level to that of a European and World athlete. The Davos Klosters Ride will incorporate a new judging system that includes a freestyle aspect. Each athlete’s descent will be judged on: • Line Difficulty • Control • Fluidity • Form & Technique • Freestyle As with the other Ride events, the Davos Klosters Ride will be covered by a 26-minute television programme and shown on YOZ and the Extreme sports channel. If you want to be part of the event, the organisers have put together an amazing package. Event director, Chris Southwell said “We will offer a package for British snowsports enthusiasts to fly out to Davos and be part of the event. An attractive side programme during day and night will keep the crowd entertained throughout the week.” The package includes flights, transfers, accommodation, lift passes, freeskiing classes, access to all official parties and more. Information about the package will be available on www.stc.co.uk soon. For more info visit www.davosklostersride.com

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ARMADA ARG “LA GORDA”

Once again, we’ve another exclusive for you. Presenting the uniquely shaped Armada ARG ‘La Gorda’ (right). With a heart of Armada’s Ultra Light Wood Core and a capped construction, the ARG comes in a 185cm and a reverse camber in the tip and tail (the dimensions are 125-135-133-134-120). Armada are hailing the ARG design as a breakthrough in powder ski technology. It will naturally float in deep snow; keep the ski from hooking in top layer crust, and provide unmatched deep snow stability, while the minimal sidecut gives the ski manoeuvrability on the hardpack. We can’t wait to get our hands on a pair to test.

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ORAGE EUROPEAN FREESKI OPEN

THE RIP CURL HIMALAYA SEARCH PRESENTED BY SPRITE

After a successful first event, the Orage European Freeski Open will be returning to the slopes of Laax, Switzerland from 21st–25th March 2007. With $50,000 up for grabs the field of skiers will include some of the top in the World. The event will once again comprise of halfpipe and slopestlye competitions, and last years champions will be making an attempt to defend their crowns. Registration for the Orage European Freeski Open takes place between 1st February and 1st March 2007 on the events website. For more information visit www.laax.com/ freeskiopen

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SNOW-CAMP LONDON

Youth charity Snow-Camp has teamed up with Snowsport England to launch Snow-Camp London, a project which will use dry ski slopes and snowdomes to teach 500 disadvantaged inner city young people from across London to ski or snowboard. Snowsport England will provide access to dry ski slopes, snow-domes and instructors for the new project, whilst Snow-Camp will provide the youth workers and the Lifeskills training, which enables young people to reflect on the key issues in their lives. Snow-Camp director, Dan Charlish said, “This is an exciting new direction for the charity. Over the past three years we have been focused on taking young people to the French Alps to learn to ski, snowboard and develop as individuals through a Life-skills course. This project will enable us to take the Snow-Camp idea and replicate it in this country, reaching many more young people.’ Trish Chalk, Chief Executive at Snowsport England said, “We are very keen to see access to Snowsports widened to those who would not normally have the opportunity to learn to ski or snowboard. Snowsports can have so many positive impacts on young people and we are looking forward to the first Snow-Camp London courses starting in summer 2007”. For more info, contact Snow-Camp director Dan Charlish on 07930 695 384, or Press Officer Anna Carey on 07903 806 979 or visit www.snow-camp.co.uk

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DARK SUMMER FREESTYLE SKI TEST

On Saturday 25 November we held the first Dark Summer Freestyle Ski Test in association with Ellis Brigham at Tamwroth Snowdome. We had a great night with almost every freestyle demo ski available in the UK. Everyone who turned out seemed to have a great night on the terrain park that was kindly laid on. We’d like to thank the guys at Tamworth Snowdome for letting us use the slope, all the skiers who turned out to test the skis, and to Steve Wells at Ellis Brigham for organising the night.

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After a World Record rail slide attempt at Milton Keynes, and endless photos of skiers throwing huge airs, where, you may ask, can skiing go next? Well, the answer is up, and up, and up. Try 5,000m up, in fact. From 10th–26th February 2007, four Rip Curl riders (two snowboarders and 2 skiers) will be making their way up the slopes of Annapurna in an attempt to build and jump off the highest kicker on Earth. The team will consist of Andy Finch (USA), Chris Booth (AUS), Per Loken (NOR) and Baptiste Collomb-Patton (FRA). To keep up to date with their progress visit www.ripcurl.com/himalaya

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COLUMBIA FREERIDE WEEK

You may have read about last year’s Columbia Rideweek in issue 10 of Dark Summer. Well, after its successful inaugural event, the second edition is ready to take place in Courcheval from 11th–16th March 2007. Ten teams from around the world will be competing and try to steal the crown from the Japanese team, winners in 2006. Teams consist of 2 riders and a cameraman. Their task; to create a 5 minute movie highlighting both freeride images and technical performance. The 5th day is set aside for editing with a jury of international athletes and journalists judging. For more information visit www.courchevel.com/rideweek

NEW INJURY BLOW FOR MIKE WAKEFIELD

Mike Wakefield’s run of bad luck continued when he recently broke his back whilst skiing. One of the UK’s best freestyle skiers, Mike is a former British Halfpipe Champion and always a contender in the Big Air and Slopestyle events. Injuries last season (two broken collar bones) prevented him from entering most events and comps. Things were looking up when Mike competed in the Best Of British event at London’s Daily Mail Ski & Snowboard Show during October, but the seriousness of this latest injury will be a big set back for Mike. In a recent email, Mike said “I have broken my C6 vertebra which is just at the bottom of my neck. I got away really, really lucky too... I hit a rock with my skis just at the side of the piste, riding a little bit of powder which flipped me over onto another rock (with my head breaking all the way through my helmet). If I severed the spinal cord of the bone I broke, I wouldnt be able to move from the neck down. If I broke a vertebra higher I would be dead, and if I didnt have my helmet on I would be dead for sure. I can still walk and move everything as usual, I just need to get lots of rest and recover... The specialist hasn’t given me a date when I’ll be able to ski again yet as it’s so early on but he said that I should make a full recovery.” I’m sure we speak for everyone when we wish Mike a speedy and healthy recovery.

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JUNKIGEAR

Icelantic AT Boards, winner of ispo “Best Brand New Hardgood of the Year” for 2006, has just announced that their foray into the UK will be taken care of by their new distributor, JunkiGear UK. Icelantic is a young, revolutionary ski company based in Colorado that makes All Terrain skis based on surface area rather than length.

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RIDER NEWS

Avalaan have added Joonas Kuoksa (below) to their pro team. 20 year-old Joonas hails from Finland. Avalaan have also hooked up young Norweigan ripper, Gaute Haaker. Check him out in the European flick, Three For Flinching (www.regimechangeproductions.com) UK rider Ben ‘Bungle’ Hawker has just signed up with Smith eyewear. You can see Ben on the slopes of Mayrhofen parading around in his shiny new Smith Prodigy goggles.

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JunkiGear is a new company that focuses on the exciting, fresh brands that you don’t find in every ski and snowboard store. They have a passionate curiosity for seeking out new up and coming brands, and are also environmentally conscious through their alliance with ‘1% for the Planet’. Icelantic is currently on the hunt for team riders and would love to see your smiling face huckin’ it for the camera. For more information visit www.icelanticboards.com/sponsorship.htm or contact andrewphyn@junkigear.com.

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NAOMI EDMONDSON ROCKS THE US!

Having recently graced our pages, British Big Air and Slopestyle Champion, Naomi Edmondson has been busy fufilling her potential with some spiffing displays at various events in Europe and New Zealand. However, all results so far have been eclipsed by her incredible performance at January’s US Open in Copper Mountain, Colorado. Naomi was the first British skier – male or female – to be invited to compete in the US Open, and in what is becoming typical of her understated confidence, she walked away with a top ten finish in the Womens Slopestyle. The US Open attracts only the cream of the world’s freeskiing talent and is second only to the Winter X Games in terms of media exposure, which makes Naomi’s result all the more worthy. To underline her achievement, Naomi finished ahead of established US skier Sarah Burke, whilst Anna Segal, Michelle Parker and Kristi Leskinen filled the top 3 spots respectively. WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ISSUE 11

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OVERHEARD IN THE FORUM...

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The London Ride was delivered to a record breaking 10,000 person crowd at the Metro Ski Show. The British riders, on home turf, took to advantage of the artificial surface which they regularly train on make it an all British rider final. Unsurprisingly, the podium positions were contested by the current top four UK riders. Andy Bennett opted for the safer Flare in his final run. His style and technical timing may have made the trick look a little too easy... He nailed it, but only managed fourth place on the day. Murray Buchan had been charging as usual, his focus on going big impressed the judges and his 720 Truck Driver double Nose Grab took him to a well deserved third place. Paddy Graham may be the styliest dresser in UK freeskiing, but he’s also the styliest rider. He just makes tricks look graceful, appearing to have more time in the air than gravity should reasonably allow. He also concentrated on pulling Flares, but the amplitude he got and the quality of execution made his a cut above the rest. In the end nobody could argue with his second place on the day.

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The London Ride was delivered to a record breaking 10,000 person crowd at the Metro Ski Show. The British riders, on home turf, took to advantage of the artificial surface which they regularly train on make it an all British rider final. Unsurprisingly, the podium positions were contested by the current top four UK riders. Andy Bennett opted for the safer Flare in his final run. His style and technical timing may have made the trick look a little too easy... He nailed it, but only managed fourth place on the day. Murray Buchan had been charging as usual, his focus on going big impressed the judges and his 720 Truck Driver double Nose Grab took him to a well deserved third place. Paddy Graham may be the styliest dresser in UK freeskiing, but he’s also the styliest rider. He just makes tricks look graceful, appearing to have more time in the air than gravity should reasonably allow. He also concentrated on pulling Flares, but the amplitude he got and the quality of execution made his a cut above the rest. In the end nobody could argue with his second place on the day.

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Mike Wakefield cooks up his Wake ‘n Bake. During his final run, Mike went for a massive D-Spin and very nearly nailed it but just couldn’t quite hold on. However, it really didn’t matter as it was clear to all those watching (most importantly the judges) that Mike was already the London Ride 2006 champion.

Mike Wakefield cooks up his Wake ‘n Bake. During his final run, Mike went for a massive D-Spin and very nearly nailed it but just couldn’t quite hold on. However, it really didn’t matter as it was clear to all those watching (most importantly the judges) that Mike was already the London Ride 2006 champion.

Before the new year, it is estimated that over a million people worldwide will have watched the London Ride through TV, Internet and Podcasts, offering further exposure for the incredible skills of today’s freestyle skiing athletes.

Before the new year, it is estimated that over a million people worldwide will have watched the London Ride through TV, Internet and Podcasts, offering further exposure for the incredible skills of today’s freestyle skiing athletes.

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Mike Wakefield cooks up his Wake ‘n Bake. During his final run, Mike went for a massive D-Spin and very nearly nailed it but just couldn’t quite hold on. However, it really didn’t matter as it was clear to all those watching (most importantly the judges) that Mike was already the London Ride 2006 champion.

Mike Wakefield cooks up his Wake ‘n Bake. During his final run, Mike went for a massive D-Spin and very nearly nailed it but just couldn’t quite hold on. However, it really didn’t matter as it was clear to all those watching (most importantly the judges) that Mike was already the London Ride 2006 champion.

Before the new year, it is estimated that over a million people worldwide will have watched the London Ride through TV, Internet and Podcasts, offering further exposure for the incredible skills of today’s freestyle skiing athletes.

Before the new year, it is estimated that over a million people worldwide will have watched the London Ride through TV, Internet and Podcasts, offering further exposure for the incredible skills of today’s freestyle skiing athletes.

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MISS

AMBER CONNORS

WORDS AND PHOTOS_ZACK WRAGG How did you get into skiing? My brother started working at the SnoZone in Milton Keynes. He got me a space on some ski lessons just after my 13th birthday and I loved it. As soon as I was good enough to ski on my own I started hitting rails and it all went from there. What is your favourite trick at the moment? Skiing at Milton Keynes means I do a lot of rails, so any rail trick with a 270 in it somewhere is a lot of fun, or a well landed 5. In fact, I like any trick where I land OK. What new tricks are you trying to add to your bag at the moment? I am trying to learn 720s on the kickers, and I want to figure out how to 450 onto a rail too. I’m also trying to work on my freeriding as I haven’t had the chance to do much. That’s a good point. We remember that you were in the final of the It’s a Girl Thing competition last year and that was your first time on snow. You did amazingly well. What did you think of it? It was awesome; you couldn’t see any walls and there was so much space to mess around. There were hardly any drag lifts which seemed strange after the SnoZone. Gondolas still freak me out a little bit, but it’s worth it. You learnt most of your skills in the park, but since you had a taste of what is out there in the backcountry, which do you prefer? I still haven’t had much chance to ride backcountry, but the little bit of powder I have ridden has been amazing. Having said that, I don’t think I will ever forget my park roots. Can I say both? What are your plans for this season? So far my plan is to head out for the Verbier Ride Slopestyle (not quite ready for the free ride yet), and the Brits in Laax. I am hoping to get a few trips in between to brush up on my skills, but I am not sure where yet. I am waiting to see what happens to the snow conditions before I decide. Who is your favourite person to ski with? My brother when he’s not injured, Katie Fields, Jake Terry, Mason Ferbee, Franklin Bruno, Carrie Higgins and all the regulars at Milton Keynes. We have a good group of people who ski there and they are all very supportive.

HAILED AS A LOCAL HERO BY THE MILTON KEYNES CREW ALMOST AS SOON AS SHE SET FOOT ON SKIS, AMBER CONNORS IS FAST MAKING HER MARK IN THE UK. SINCE STEPPING ON REAL SNOW SHE’S BEEN GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

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What is your best skiing memory? That would have to be entering and winning my first competition. I was so nervous at first but then I just settled in and had fun. It was such a buzz to win. Any shout outs? I would like to say a massive thank you to my sponsors, K2, Protest, Ellis Brigham and SnoZone; Dark Summer for all their help and support, Steve Wells at Ellis Brigham, Meena Rajput at Protest, Simon Smith at K2, my Brother Brad, Katie Fields, the Terry’s, The Ferebee’s, all my mates, my coaches, Marky Mark Hikinson, all the SnoZone staff especially the medics, and anyone I missed out. The biggest thanks have to go to my mum for giving me a lift everywhere. ✪ WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ISSUE 11

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MISS

AMBER CONNORS

WORDS AND PHOTOS_ZACK WRAGG How did you get into skiing? My brother started working at the SnoZone in Milton Keynes. He got me a space on some ski lessons just after my 13th birthday and I loved it. As soon as I was good enough to ski on my own I started hitting rails and it all went from there. What is your favourite trick at the moment? Skiing at Milton Keynes means I do a lot of rails, so any rail trick with a 270 in it somewhere is a lot of fun, or a well landed 5. In fact, I like any trick where I land OK. What new tricks are you trying to add to your bag at the moment? I am trying to learn 720s on the kickers, and I want to figure out how to 450 onto a rail too. I’m also trying to work on my freeriding as I haven’t had the chance to do much. That’s a good point. We remember that you were in the final of the It’s a Girl Thing competition last year and that was your first time on snow. You did amazingly well. What did you think of it? It was awesome; you couldn’t see any walls and there was so much space to mess around. There were hardly any drag lifts which seemed strange after the SnoZone. Gondolas still freak me out a little bit, but it’s worth it. You learnt most of your skills in the park, but since you had a taste of what is out there in the backcountry, which do you prefer? I still haven’t had much chance to ride backcountry, but the little bit of powder I have ridden has been amazing. Having said that, I don’t think I will ever forget my park roots. Can I say both? What are your plans for this season? So far my plan is to head out for the Verbier Ride Slopestyle (not quite ready for the free ride yet), and the Brits in Laax. I am hoping to get a few trips in between to brush up on my skills, but I am not sure where yet. I am waiting to see what happens to the snow conditions before I decide. Who is your favourite person to ski with? My brother when he’s not injured, Katie Fields, Jake Terry, Mason Ferbee, Franklin Bruno, Carrie Higgins and all the regulars at Milton Keynes. We have a good group of people who ski there and they are all very supportive.

HAILED AS A LOCAL HERO BY THE MILTON KEYNES CREW ALMOST AS SOON AS SHE SET FOOT ON SKIS, AMBER CONNORS IS FAST MAKING HER MARK IN THE UK. SINCE STEPPING ON REAL SNOW SHE’S BEEN GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

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WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ISSUE 11

What is your best skiing memory? That would have to be entering and winning my first competition. I was so nervous at first but then I just settled in and had fun. It was such a buzz to win. Any shout outs? I would like to say a massive thank you to my sponsors, K2, Protest, Ellis Brigham and SnoZone; Dark Summer for all their help and support, Steve Wells at Ellis Brigham, Meena Rajput at Protest, Simon Smith at K2, my Brother Brad, Katie Fields, the Terry’s, The Ferebee’s, all my mates, my coaches, Marky Mark Hikinson, all the SnoZone staff especially the medics, and anyone I missed out. The biggest thanks have to go to my mum for giving me a lift everywhere. ✪ WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ISSUE 11

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Useful Web Sites www.PisteHors.com

Focussed solely on French off-piste skiing, PisteHors.com is run by Englishman David George. You will find it packed full of up-to-date news, avalanche safety information, gear reviews, resort guides (including some off-piste routes) and much more. Quite simply, it is the most definitive guide to French off-piste skiing we have seen. One of the more macabre elements of the site is the avalanche and off-piste accident statistics tables. This is a summary of the accidents recorded by PisteHors.com and while it may not be complete, it acts as a stark reminder that skiing is a dangerous sport.

www.NewSchoolers.com

Started back in 1999, NewSchoolers.com was the brainchild of a very bored Matt Harvey. It has since grown to be the biggest single freeskiing community website, boasting just shy of 95,000 members. If you want freestyle ski news then this is the place for you. Not only do they have competition reports and results, they also have team blogs and snow park updates. While it does have a heavy North American bias, there is information on NewSchoolers.com for everyone. You can find allsorts of pictures and videos in their member’s profiles, as well as ski games, a forum and the ever amusing NS Radio. We are on there pretty much every day.

www.Freeskiers.org

This is the official webpage of the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA). The IFSA was established in 1996 in an effort to organise the sport of competitive freeskiing with the insight and oversight of the athletes that participate in the sport. The IFSA World Tour is the defining Big Mountain circuit and this website provide all the information about this and other freeski events events.

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With the new Millennium on the horizon and snowboarding ever more popular, skiing was losing out. The mountain was there to be discovered but only if you were a Jedi Master on your super long skis. Then Salomon gave birth to the future of skiing: the 1080. I was working as a night porter in Val d’Isere and when the Salomon rep stayed in the hotel I’d go down to the ski room each night and look at them. I knew I had to have a pair. Once I got my hands on my own set, my skiing improved exponentially and it was a turning point in my life. Soon after I was sponsored. By Salomon. The 1080s were on my feet when I launched my first 50ft cliff, when I did my first 540 and when I luckily survived two avalanches in one day. I couldn’t bear to throw them away as just the slightest glimpse still releases memories of the best skiing moments in my life. – Jim Adlington (Sponsors: Oakley & Planks Clothing)

The ��� ������� campaign is an initiative by Dark Summer magazine with the aim of highlighting the benefits of purchasing outdoor products within the UK – especially prior to an overseas trip. Most staff in UK specialist outdoor stores receive training in the fitting, comfort and performance of outdoor equipment. In many cases, the staff themselves are enthusiasts and competing athletes with a wealth of knowledge and experience to call upon when assisting you. Purchasing equipment such as ski, snowboard and hiking boots a couple of weeks prior to your trip menas you are able to ‘wear them in’ at home and importantly (should there be any problems) allows time for adjustment back at the store before your holiday. After sales service is a lot harder to pursue once you’ve returned to the UK if you have purchased your equipment abroad. In addition you are supporting the UK snowsports industry. The Snowsports Industry of Great Britain (SIGB) research and test relentlessly throughout the year to select the best range of equipment for you to select from. Choose wisely. ��� �������


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Useful Web Sites www.PisteHors.com

Focussed solely on French off-piste skiing, PisteHors.com is run by Englishman David George. You will find it packed full of up-to-date news, avalanche safety information, gear reviews, resort guides (including some off-piste routes) and much more. Quite simply, it is the most definitive guide to French off-piste skiing we have seen. One of the more macabre elements of the site is the avalanche and off-piste accident statistics tables. This is a summary of the accidents recorded by PisteHors.com and while it may not be complete, it acts as a stark reminder that skiing is a dangerous sport.

www.NewSchoolers.com

Started back in 1999, NewSchoolers.com was the brainchild of a very bored Matt Harvey. It has since grown to be the biggest single freeskiing community website, boasting just shy of 95,000 members. If you want freestyle ski news then this is the place for you. Not only do they have competition reports and results, they also have team blogs and snow park updates. While it does have a heavy North American bias, there is information on NewSchoolers.com for everyone. You can find allsorts of pictures and videos in their member’s profiles, as well as ski games, a forum and the ever amusing NS Radio. We are on there pretty much every day.

www.Freeskiers.org

This is the official webpage of the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA). The IFSA was established in 1996 in an effort to organise the sport of competitive freeskiing with the insight and oversight of the athletes that participate in the sport. The IFSA World Tour is the defining Big Mountain circuit and this website provide all the information about this and other freeski events events.

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With the new Millennium on the horizon and snowboarding ever more popular, skiing was losing out. The mountain was there to be discovered but only if you were a Jedi Master on your super long skis. Then Salomon gave birth to the future of skiing: the 1080. I was working as a night porter in Val d’Isere and when the Salomon rep stayed in the hotel I’d go down to the ski room each night and look at them. I knew I had to have a pair. Once I got my hands on my own set, my skiing improved exponentially and it was a turning point in my life. Soon after I was sponsored. By Salomon. The 1080s were on my feet when I launched my first 50ft cliff, when I did my first 540 and when I luckily survived two avalanches in one day. I couldn’t bear to throw them away as just the slightest glimpse still releases memories of the best skiing moments in my life. – Jim Adlington (Sponsors: Oakley & Planks Clothing)

The ��� ������� campaign is an initiative by Dark Summer magazine with the aim of highlighting the benefits of purchasing outdoor products within the UK – especially prior to an overseas trip. Most staff in UK specialist outdoor stores receive training in the fitting, comfort and performance of outdoor equipment. In many cases, the staff themselves are enthusiasts and competing athletes with a wealth of knowledge and experience to call upon when assisting you. Purchasing equipment such as ski, snowboard and hiking boots a couple of weeks prior to your trip menas you are able to ‘wear them in’ at home and importantly (should there be any problems) allows time for adjustment back at the store before your holiday. After sales service is a lot harder to pursue once you’ve returned to the UK if you have purchased your equipment abroad. In addition you are supporting the UK snowsports industry. The Snowsports Industry of Great Britain (SIGB) research and test relentlessly throughout the year to select the best range of equipment for you to select from. Choose wisely. ��� �������


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Throughout November and December 2006, the Saab/Salomon SPK Team Tour rolled around the UK to promote freestyle skiing and their revolutionary new SPK boot. At each stop, skiers could try out some of the latest Salomon gear, as well as ride with the Salomon UK Team and win some prizes.

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When I turned up at the Castleford leg of the tour, the slopes were already packed full of people. Everyone I looked at seemed to have a pair of the Salomon demo skis on. After a quick stop at the demo tent, I was soon heading up the lift with a pair of TenEighty Foils firmly strapped to my feet. At the top of the slope I ran into Pat Sharples, Salomon’s UK Team Manager. “With the release of our new SPK (Superpark) ski boot and the SPK skis we wanted to celebrate the fact that Salomon are 100% behind the movement of new school freestyle and are always inventing new products that the riders will like,” said Pat. “The reason for the Tour was so that everyone in the UK got a chance to try and test all the new Salomon equipment, as well as giving them access free coaching and loads of freebies at the mini-comps that we held at each venue.” As I looked around the slopes there was a variety of people trying out the demo skis, not just the freestyle kids that you may expect. A by-product of the immense amount of research and development taking place in the freeski market is that the skis being developed are being the weapon of choice for many people who want to ski all over the mountain. The skis are increasingly able to perform at higher levels in the varied conditions the mountain throws at you. Each of the tour stops (Bearsden, Castleford, Sheffield, Gloucester and Christchurch) was a resounding success with the slopes filled with skiers. All the young skiers were stoked to be skiing with the Saab/Salomon Team. The team were lucky enough to be chauffeured around to all the venues in the latest Saab 9-3 TiDs, plastered with Saab, Salomon and Dark Summer logos. While their kids were out enjoying the skiing, parents were also able to test drive some of the Saab range. Pat said, “We are super happy how the tour went and the response we got back from all the riders at each venue. It’s great to see how popular the new school freestyle ski industry is becoming and so proud to be a part of it!” The guys at Salomon UK would like to thank all the retailers and sponsors who supported the Saab/Salomon SPK Tour and helped to make it the success that it was, Dark Summer, Snow & Rock, Severn Sports, Greaves Sports, Snowtrax. ✪

2006 Saab/Salomon SPK Tour ������ZACK WRAGG

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Throughout November and December 2006, the Saab/Salomon SPK Team Tour rolled around the UK to promote freestyle skiing and their revolutionary new SPK boot. At each stop, skiers could try out some of the latest Salomon gear, as well as ride with the Salomon UK Team and win some prizes.

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When I turned up at the Castleford leg of the tour, the slopes were already packed full of people. Everyone I looked at seemed to have a pair of the Salomon demo skis on. After a quick stop at the demo tent, I was soon heading up the lift with a pair of TenEighty Foils firmly strapped to my feet. At the top of the slope I ran into Pat Sharples, Salomon’s UK Team Manager. “With the release of our new SPK (Superpark) ski boot and the SPK skis we wanted to celebrate the fact that Salomon are 100% behind the movement of new school freestyle and are always inventing new products that the riders will like,” said Pat. “The reason for the Tour was so that everyone in the UK got a chance to try and test all the new Salomon equipment, as well as giving them access free coaching and loads of freebies at the mini-comps that we held at each venue.” As I looked around the slopes there was a variety of people trying out the demo skis, not just the freestyle kids that you may expect. A by-product of the immense amount of research and development taking place in the freeski market is that the skis being developed are being the weapon of choice for many people who want to ski all over the mountain. The skis are increasingly able to perform at higher levels in the varied conditions the mountain throws at you. Each of the tour stops (Bearsden, Castleford, Sheffield, Gloucester and Christchurch) was a resounding success with the slopes filled with skiers. All the young skiers were stoked to be skiing with the Saab/Salomon Team. The team were lucky enough to be chauffeured around to all the venues in the latest Saab 9-3 TiDs, plastered with Saab, Salomon and Dark Summer logos. While their kids were out enjoying the skiing, parents were also able to test drive some of the Saab range. Pat said, “We are super happy how the tour went and the response we got back from all the riders at each venue. It’s great to see how popular the new school freestyle ski industry is becoming and so proud to be a part of it!” The guys at Salomon UK would like to thank all the retailers and sponsors who supported the Saab/Salomon SPK Tour and helped to make it the success that it was, Dark Summer, Snow & Rock, Severn Sports, Greaves Sports, Snowtrax. ✪

2006 Saab/Salomon SPK Tour ������ZACK WRAGG

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Emily Sarsfield

ittee (IOC) At the end of November 2006, the International Olympic Comm d in include ly official be would oss Skiercr that Executive Board decided years after six 2003, In . Games Winter ic Olymp 2010 the of me program the ised by the its birth at the X Games in the USA, Skiercross was recogn le category. freesty its into ted integra and (FIS) ion Federat International Ski r with popula ingly increas Over the course of its life, Skiercross has become action. e renalin high-ad ed, spectators due to its fast-pac the Winter The IOC is hoping that Skiercross will help to “modernise to stand able be and people Games, arouse great interest among young ions.” dimens titive compe and cular out thanks to its specta there is one Despite the lack of training facilities for Skiercross in the UK, Emily scene. tional interna the young lady who is making her mark on she and team oss Skiercr UK the in skiers two Sarsfield is one of only . looks set to break into the world’s top ten this coming season and her We caught up with Emily to find out a bit more about her ics. Olymp the in oss Skiercr of on reaction to the inclusi

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How did you start skiing? My parents. I used to ride in a pack on my Dad’s back, so I’ve never had a fear of speed. I then first skied myself at the age of 3. I’m glad I started so young as you have no fear at that age and you learn a lot more quickly. You used to be a ski racer. Tell us a bit about that. I represented Great Britain in Alpine racing from the age of 13 and won many English titles. I had some great experiences and learnt a lot, travelling all over Europe with the English team and my biggest rival Victoria (elder sister). My last international competition was to be the World University Games 2005. The plan was to enjoy my final race then hang up my racing boots and, after graduating, get a real job, but then along came Skiercross! What turned you on to Skiercross? I hadn’t really heard of Skiercross, but a coach back in 2003 thought I would be good at it. I didn’t really know what it was and didn’t think much of it so carried on with Alpine racing. Then at the 2005 World Uni Games, Duncan (team coach) suggested I give it a shot. I looked at the course and said “No chance”. The jumps were huge, but I’m not one to hold back so I found myself at the start gates. The next thing I knew, I’d qualified for the finals and was stood head to head with 3 other girls. The race went well and I managed to finish 6th. I was delighted and I was hooked. I did my first full season focusing on Skiercross last year based in Meribel. I travelled all over Europe in my little Peugeot 106 competing on the World Cup circuit and the Saab Salomon Series. The season went really well, I slashed my World Ranking to 25 and maintained my British title. What is it about Skiercross that attracts you? Skiercross is crazy. It’s hard to describe what the courses are like which I race down; they are totally unpredictable. You have to negotiate jumps, bumps and berms whilst travelling at speed racing against others. The extreme uncertainty of the event is addictive and the adrenaline rush is unbelievable. Getting to the bottom in one piece is a challenge in itself never mind battling it out with 3 other riders on the way down! What successes have you enjoyed in Skiercross so far? My Skiercross career started well with my 6th place debut in the World Uni Games and since then it’s just got better. I finished 15th in my second World Cup, qualifying for the finals, placed 4th in a Europa Cup, 5th in the French Champs and have maintained my British Indoor and Outdoor titles since 2005. What was your reaction when you heard about Skiercross being accepted into the Olympics? I was ecstatic, there had been talk about it for a while and it really needed this status to get the recognition it deserves. Boardercross had its debut in Turin and Skiercross is such an exciting spectator sport, people deserve to see as an Olympic event. What are your goals now in the run up to the 2010 Olympics? I’ve just started my second season, so it’s still very new. I’m planning on competing in the World Cup circuit in Europe, with the World Championships at the end of January in Italy. I am also hoping to get to some commercial events and the Brits in Laax towards the end of the season to gain more experience so I’m on top form for the 2010 Olympics. The season has started slowly because of the lack of snow, so training has been limited and the first World Cup event of the season was cancelled. Weather permitting, my competition schedule will kick off on the 8th Jan in Flaine. Doing all of this isn’t cheap so I’m having to fund myself by doing some coaching for Alpine racers. I’m also looking for sponsorship to help me compete and train, to improve on last years results and break in to the World top ten. I’m also planning some Skiercross camps over the summer in the UK to help young aspiring athletes progress in the sport.

The desire for Olympic success is great for some, but for others it’s just another competition. How do you feel about it and will you still value the other competitions as much? Every athlete would love to be an Olympic champion, but whilst every competition is great, the most important thing in life is to enjoy it and live it to the max. Without wanting to jinx it, if the Olympic gold were to land in your lap, what would be your next big challenge? Making my way through a magnum of Champagne [laughs]. Then, I guess it would be passing the skills and techniques I’ve learnt onto younger British riders, so they too would get the opportunity to achieve the Olympic gold. Which would you prefer: the bumps and berms of a Skiercross course or a big, wide, open powder field? That’s a tricky one. It would depend on my mood. If I’m chilled out then a peaceful powder field; if I want an adrenaline rush then the bumps and berms! Up at 6am for training or on the dancefloor ‘til 2am? On the dance floor ‘til 6am then a nice jog home! Full English or continental breakfast? Full English! Do you have any shout-outs? To my family for funding me over the past years and my sponsors Animal, Less Bounce, Futur-3 and Atomic. ✪

For more details about Emily’s Skiercross career, check out her website: www.emilysarsfield.com WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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Emily Sarsfield

ittee (IOC) At the end of November 2006, the International Olympic Comm d in include ly official be would oss Skiercr that Executive Board decided years after six 2003, In . Games Winter ic Olymp 2010 the of me program the ised by the its birth at the X Games in the USA, Skiercross was recogn le category. freesty its into ted integra and (FIS) ion Federat International Ski r with popula ingly increas Over the course of its life, Skiercross has become action. e renalin high-ad ed, spectators due to its fast-pac the Winter The IOC is hoping that Skiercross will help to “modernise to stand able be and people Games, arouse great interest among young ions.” dimens titive compe and cular out thanks to its specta there is one Despite the lack of training facilities for Skiercross in the UK, Emily scene. tional interna the young lady who is making her mark on she and team oss Skiercr UK the in skiers two Sarsfield is one of only . looks set to break into the world’s top ten this coming season and her We caught up with Emily to find out a bit more about her ics. Olymp the in oss Skiercr of on reaction to the inclusi

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How did you start skiing? My parents. I used to ride in a pack on my Dad’s back, so I’ve never had a fear of speed. I then first skied myself at the age of 3. I’m glad I started so young as you have no fear at that age and you learn a lot more quickly. You used to be a ski racer. Tell us a bit about that. I represented Great Britain in Alpine racing from the age of 13 and won many English titles. I had some great experiences and learnt a lot, travelling all over Europe with the English team and my biggest rival Victoria (elder sister). My last international competition was to be the World University Games 2005. The plan was to enjoy my final race then hang up my racing boots and, after graduating, get a real job, but then along came Skiercross! What turned you on to Skiercross? I hadn’t really heard of Skiercross, but a coach back in 2003 thought I would be good at it. I didn’t really know what it was and didn’t think much of it so carried on with Alpine racing. Then at the 2005 World Uni Games, Duncan (team coach) suggested I give it a shot. I looked at the course and said “No chance”. The jumps were huge, but I’m not one to hold back so I found myself at the start gates. The next thing I knew, I’d qualified for the finals and was stood head to head with 3 other girls. The race went well and I managed to finish 6th. I was delighted and I was hooked. I did my first full season focusing on Skiercross last year based in Meribel. I travelled all over Europe in my little Peugeot 106 competing on the World Cup circuit and the Saab Salomon Series. The season went really well, I slashed my World Ranking to 25 and maintained my British title. What is it about Skiercross that attracts you? Skiercross is crazy. It’s hard to describe what the courses are like which I race down; they are totally unpredictable. You have to negotiate jumps, bumps and berms whilst travelling at speed racing against others. The extreme uncertainty of the event is addictive and the adrenaline rush is unbelievable. Getting to the bottom in one piece is a challenge in itself never mind battling it out with 3 other riders on the way down! What successes have you enjoyed in Skiercross so far? My Skiercross career started well with my 6th place debut in the World Uni Games and since then it’s just got better. I finished 15th in my second World Cup, qualifying for the finals, placed 4th in a Europa Cup, 5th in the French Champs and have maintained my British Indoor and Outdoor titles since 2005. What was your reaction when you heard about Skiercross being accepted into the Olympics? I was ecstatic, there had been talk about it for a while and it really needed this status to get the recognition it deserves. Boardercross had its debut in Turin and Skiercross is such an exciting spectator sport, people deserve to see as an Olympic event. What are your goals now in the run up to the 2010 Olympics? I’ve just started my second season, so it’s still very new. I’m planning on competing in the World Cup circuit in Europe, with the World Championships at the end of January in Italy. I am also hoping to get to some commercial events and the Brits in Laax towards the end of the season to gain more experience so I’m on top form for the 2010 Olympics. The season has started slowly because of the lack of snow, so training has been limited and the first World Cup event of the season was cancelled. Weather permitting, my competition schedule will kick off on the 8th Jan in Flaine. Doing all of this isn’t cheap so I’m having to fund myself by doing some coaching for Alpine racers. I’m also looking for sponsorship to help me compete and train, to improve on last years results and break in to the World top ten. I’m also planning some Skiercross camps over the summer in the UK to help young aspiring athletes progress in the sport.

The desire for Olympic success is great for some, but for others it’s just another competition. How do you feel about it and will you still value the other competitions as much? Every athlete would love to be an Olympic champion, but whilst every competition is great, the most important thing in life is to enjoy it and live it to the max. Without wanting to jinx it, if the Olympic gold were to land in your lap, what would be your next big challenge? Making my way through a magnum of Champagne [laughs]. Then, I guess it would be passing the skills and techniques I’ve learnt onto younger British riders, so they too would get the opportunity to achieve the Olympic gold. Which would you prefer: the bumps and berms of a Skiercross course or a big, wide, open powder field? That’s a tricky one. It would depend on my mood. If I’m chilled out then a peaceful powder field; if I want an adrenaline rush then the bumps and berms! Up at 6am for training or on the dancefloor ‘til 2am? On the dance floor ‘til 6am then a nice jog home! Full English or continental breakfast? Full English! Do you have any shout-outs? To my family for funding me over the past years and my sponsors Animal, Less Bounce, Futur-3 and Atomic. ✪

For more details about Emily’s Skiercross career, check out her website: www.emilysarsfield.com WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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Armada Clean Sweeps the X Games ������������������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������������������ This is action sports at its prime and for one week of the year Aspen is host to the powerbrokers of the US media and alpine companies. With each brand trying to out do one another, status is marked by the size of the Aspen properties they rent – and they are huge! With rapidly growing interest in freestyle skiing the stakes are high, and the ski companies are putting everything they have behind getting their athletes on the podium. The organisers raised the bar once again delivering a bigger and more impressive course than has ever been seen by man. The pipe had so much vert that there was no doubt that we were about to experience the best skiing spectacle ever. With a much talked about bunch of young guns joining the ranks of qualified athletes, the hype was building… and then the weather closed in.

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The Slopestyle qualifying began in less than perfect conditions but still the competitors started to wind up their tricks and float effortlessly from jump to jump. By the time qualifying began, the storms dumping fresh powder across the Rockies were playing havoc with the course, and by the fourth run the judges had called for a postponement. However, due to the millions of dollars that had been invested into the Games’ live television broadcast throughout North America, there was no scope in the schedule for delays and, after a 2 hour wait, the course was still dangerously slow. The judges then decided to play out the event as a single hit Big Air. And so the Switch 10 showdown commenced with TJ Schiller’s US Open-winning Switch 14 still in the back of everyone’s minds. As the excitement started to build, the Switch 10’s rained down, only punctuated by Rory Bushfield’s ballsy, if not insane, monstrous Switch double back flip. TJ, fourth from last, took the lead from Andreas Hatveit with a score of 91.00. Tensions rose as Charles Gagnier, last years slopestyle gold medalist, remained jumping last – he’d stomped the hell out of the 24th Switch 1080 of the day on his last jump. His score came in at 89.33 – not enough to take first but enough for second place. Gagnier almost stole another miracle win on the last run but came up just short. TJ Schiller’s effortless style meant that he walked away as the winner of the 2006 X Games Best Trick – well deserved.

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Armada Clean Sweeps the X Games ������������������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������������������ This is action sports at its prime and for one week of the year Aspen is host to the powerbrokers of the US media and alpine companies. With each brand trying to out do one another, status is marked by the size of the Aspen properties they rent – and they are huge! With rapidly growing interest in freestyle skiing the stakes are high, and the ski companies are putting everything they have behind getting their athletes on the podium. The organisers raised the bar once again delivering a bigger and more impressive course than has ever been seen by man. The pipe had so much vert that there was no doubt that we were about to experience the best skiing spectacle ever. With a much talked about bunch of young guns joining the ranks of qualified athletes, the hype was building… and then the weather closed in.

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The Slopestyle qualifying began in less than perfect conditions but still the competitors started to wind up their tricks and float effortlessly from jump to jump. By the time qualifying began, the storms dumping fresh powder across the Rockies were playing havoc with the course, and by the fourth run the judges had called for a postponement. However, due to the millions of dollars that had been invested into the Games’ live television broadcast throughout North America, there was no scope in the schedule for delays and, after a 2 hour wait, the course was still dangerously slow. The judges then decided to play out the event as a single hit Big Air. And so the Switch 10 showdown commenced with TJ Schiller’s US Open-winning Switch 14 still in the back of everyone’s minds. As the excitement started to build, the Switch 10’s rained down, only punctuated by Rory Bushfield’s ballsy, if not insane, monstrous Switch double back flip. TJ, fourth from last, took the lead from Andreas Hatveit with a score of 91.00. Tensions rose as Charles Gagnier, last years slopestyle gold medalist, remained jumping last – he’d stomped the hell out of the 24th Switch 1080 of the day on his last jump. His score came in at 89.33 – not enough to take first but enough for second place. Gagnier almost stole another miracle win on the last run but came up just short. TJ Schiller’s effortless style meant that he walked away as the winner of the 2006 X Games Best Trick – well deserved.

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The Womens Superpipe was next and was competed as a jam session with the girls being allowed to take as many run as they could over the 45 minute period. In the poor conditions and flat light, the girls struggled to maintain their speed and spot their landings. “It was a junk show out there and maybe I needed better wax or something.” said Sarah Burke who had won the US Freeskiing Open’s pipe contest the week before in Vail. “It was tough to put down the run I was looking for. I saw a couple of Grete Eliassen’s runs, and she looked so nice and solid.” Whilst Sarah unsuccessfully attempted 900’s on each of her runs, Grete tried and succeeded, despite chronic shin splinters. Her consistent runs and amplitude carried her all the way to the top of the podium for the second year in a row. The second gold of the event went to the Armada camp. The Men’s Superpipe was promoted to a prime time spot with live broadcast on the US sports channel ESPN. The contest started at 7pm with the pipe, so perfect that it sent shivers down your spine, lit up like a football pitch under a clear Colorado sky. Simon Dumont, aiming to three-peat with this year’s event, was competing with a tweaked nerve in his back. The injury had occurred during qualifiers and set him off to a slow start, boosting barely out of the pipe on his first run. The pain seemed to vanish by his last run and he rocked a 540 Truck Driver that only Dumont is capable of executing. He continued to boost but this time it only earned him the bronze.

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Laurent Favre threw down one of the most impressive complete pipe runs ever seen. His first hit was the biggest of the entire night – a Corked 5 Nose into to a Straight Air. Then he stomped a massive Corked 7 and finished the run with back-to-back Switch 9’s, securing his first silver medal. This young Frenchman is one to watch. Andreas Hatveit spent the whole evening dropping in Switch from the top, and on his final run he did what must be one of the biggest Switch airs in the history of pipe hits – a perfect 7! But it was Tanner Hall who put down the golden run. Having dropped out of the Slopestyle contest to focus on the pipe, he won his three-year battle with Dumont for first. “It couldn’t be any better... I’m so stoked.” he said. Tanner’s run was, as expected, massive. He put down a Corked 5 off the first hit, Flare off the second, then into a Corked 9, then a flat 5 and ended with a massive 10, stomped. Tanner’s amplitude and near-perfect style have set a new benchmark for pipe riding. Tanner has always claimed that a true great must be a master of all disciplines and his medal chest says it all. Tanner took the Armada team’s medal count in the contest to three. And so it was… a weekend when Armada Skis, a young independent ski company, stole three gold medals from the biggest ski brands in the world – just goes to show money can’t buy everything! Winter X Games XI start on the 25th January 2007. To find out more go to expn.com ✪

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The Womens Superpipe was next and was competed as a jam session with the girls being allowed to take as many run as they could over the 45 minute period. In the poor conditions and flat light, the girls struggled to maintain their speed and spot their landings. “It was a junk show out there and maybe I needed better wax or something.” said Sarah Burke who had won the US Freeskiing Open’s pipe contest the week before in Vail. “It was tough to put down the run I was looking for. I saw a couple of Grete Eliassen’s runs, and she looked so nice and solid.” Whilst Sarah unsuccessfully attempted 900’s on each of her runs, Grete tried and succeeded, despite chronic shin splinters. Her consistent runs and amplitude carried her all the way to the top of the podium for the second year in a row. The second gold of the event went to the Armada camp. The Men’s Superpipe was promoted to a prime time spot with live broadcast on the US sports channel ESPN. The contest started at 7pm with the pipe, so perfect that it sent shivers down your spine, lit up like a football pitch under a clear Colorado sky. Simon Dumont, aiming to three-peat with this year’s event, was competing with a tweaked nerve in his back. The injury had occurred during qualifiers and set him off to a slow start, boosting barely out of the pipe on his first run. The pain seemed to vanish by his last run and he rocked a 540 Truck Driver that only Dumont is capable of executing. He continued to boost but this time it only earned him the bronze.

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WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

Laurent Favre threw down one of the most impressive complete pipe runs ever seen. His first hit was the biggest of the entire night – a Corked 5 Nose into to a Straight Air. Then he stomped a massive Corked 7 and finished the run with back-to-back Switch 9’s, securing his first silver medal. This young Frenchman is one to watch. Andreas Hatveit spent the whole evening dropping in Switch from the top, and on his final run he did what must be one of the biggest Switch airs in the history of pipe hits – a perfect 7! But it was Tanner Hall who put down the golden run. Having dropped out of the Slopestyle contest to focus on the pipe, he won his three-year battle with Dumont for first. “It couldn’t be any better... I’m so stoked.” he said. Tanner’s run was, as expected, massive. He put down a Corked 5 off the first hit, Flare off the second, then into a Corked 9, then a flat 5 and ended with a massive 10, stomped. Tanner’s amplitude and near-perfect style have set a new benchmark for pipe riding. Tanner has always claimed that a true great must be a master of all disciplines and his medal chest says it all. Tanner took the Armada team’s medal count in the contest to three. And so it was… a weekend when Armada Skis, a young independent ski company, stole three gold medals from the biggest ski brands in the world – just goes to show money can’t buy everything! Winter X Games XI start on the 25th January 2007. To find out more go to expn.com ✪

WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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w e i v r e t n The I

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What’s your take on the culture that surrounds pipe and park skiers? I think it’s cool. It’s growing, it’s getting crazy. Kids have more opportunities now instead of just moguls and racing. You can make a name for yourself and make a living doing it. The sport is opening more doors for kids around the world and I am stoked on all the kids participating. It’s getting huge in Europe finally, which is a traditionally race influenced. It’s fun, new, exciting and it’s here to stay. Kids should enjoy the park, learn their tricks and then broaden their horizons in skiing, like I’m starting to do right now as far as powder and backcountry skiing. What about the competition scene? Contests for me right now are a little different than they used to be. This year I didn’t really care too much about them. You didn’t care too much about them, but you still won the three biggest halfpipe competitions in the world hands down (X Games, US Open, World Halfpipe Championships)! [Laughs] I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did, but after the US Open I got a little more stoked. I went into the X Games with a lot of drive and momentum. The weird thing about the contest thing is that it is kind of like a circus tour… all the same kids, same tricks, different parks. The level is increasing every year, but for me right now, that’s not what it’s all about. I prefer to expand my horizons in different places. What goes through your head when you’re sitting at the top of the X Games pipe, with 10,000 people watching, a 100 million more on TV and you are getting ready to drop? I don’t feel any pressure, I just block everything out and zone into what I have to do. I’ll take one look at the crowd and the pipe before I drop and then just do my thing. When you’re standing there, you can hear the roar of the crowd, the people at the start gate talking to you, but once you drop, you don’t hear anything at all. I’m so zoned in that it is hard to screw up. I don’t feel any pressure at that point, I’m just having fun.

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What d’you think is the next progressive step for freeskiing? Going to the big mountain and shredding sick stuff. Go scare yourself a little bit – hit a cliff or a steep rollover, put a little kicker on it and do a 40ft cab 900 off it. I’ve spoken with Jon (Olsson) about it and he feels that progression is in the park – big huge park kickers and new tricks. He doesn’t want to ski a lot of powder, he wants to do double flips and hit big park jumps. That’s really cool, but it’s not where I want to take my skiing, I want to progress outside of the park, be able to shred big lines and be one with the mountain. What one technological advancement would you like to see in skiing? I’d love to see ski boots redesigned and way more comfortable. What are your thoughts on halfpipe in the Olympics? There is no reason why Halfpipe skiing shouldn’t be in the Olympics. It will be, but it may be tough for 2010. There are a lot of people working on it right now and I hope it happens. They don’t have to build any extra arenas and it would be great for the sport of skiing, it would breathe new life into a sport that is viewed by the masses as traditional. You injured yourself badly in 2004, talk us through the sequence of events that lead up to the accident. Jon Olsson and I built Chad’s Gap and wanted to hit it switch so we spent about three days getting the runway perfect. The first day we hit it I got some switch 5’s and a switch 9. The next day, I did a switch 180, a switch 5 and a switch 9. The switch 9 was the best one I did. Then I went back up because the helicopter was coming in to film. There was some hold time and the runway got slow because it heated up a little. I was just a little too slow and landed about 5ft short, smacked the wall and blew up my feet. [Tanner shattered the bones in both ankles.] The footage was painful to watch. How does something like that affect you and how do you bounce back from it? Yeah, that wasn’t much fun and the audio on the footage is proof of that. As far as bouncing back, it’s all about keeping a positive mind frame. Mind over matter is legit. As long as I believed I was going to get back to where I was before the accident nothing was going to stop me. I’ve got to thank my brother and mom for hanging with me after surgery and taking care of me. Having a good doctor, surgeon, and physical therapist was key as well. WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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What’s your take on the culture that surrounds pipe and park skiers? I think it’s cool. It’s growing, it’s getting crazy. Kids have more opportunities now instead of just moguls and racing. You can make a name for yourself and make a living doing it. The sport is opening more doors for kids around the world and I am stoked on all the kids participating. It’s getting huge in Europe finally, which is a traditionally race influenced. It’s fun, new, exciting and it’s here to stay. Kids should enjoy the park, learn their tricks and then broaden their horizons in skiing, like I’m starting to do right now as far as powder and backcountry skiing. What about the competition scene? Contests for me right now are a little different than they used to be. This year I didn’t really care too much about them. You didn’t care too much about them, but you still won the three biggest halfpipe competitions in the world hands down (X Games, US Open, World Halfpipe Championships)! [Laughs] I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did, but after the US Open I got a little more stoked. I went into the X Games with a lot of drive and momentum. The weird thing about the contest thing is that it is kind of like a circus tour… all the same kids, same tricks, different parks. The level is increasing every year, but for me right now, that’s not what it’s all about. I prefer to expand my horizons in different places. What goes through your head when you’re sitting at the top of the X Games pipe, with 10,000 people watching, a 100 million more on TV and you are getting ready to drop? I don’t feel any pressure, I just block everything out and zone into what I have to do. I’ll take one look at the crowd and the pipe before I drop and then just do my thing. When you’re standing there, you can hear the roar of the crowd, the people at the start gate talking to you, but once you drop, you don’t hear anything at all. I’m so zoned in that it is hard to screw up. I don’t feel any pressure at that point, I’m just having fun.

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WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

What d’you think is the next progressive step for freeskiing? Going to the big mountain and shredding sick stuff. Go scare yourself a little bit – hit a cliff or a steep rollover, put a little kicker on it and do a 40ft cab 900 off it. I’ve spoken with Jon (Olsson) about it and he feels that progression is in the park – big huge park kickers and new tricks. He doesn’t want to ski a lot of powder, he wants to do double flips and hit big park jumps. That’s really cool, but it’s not where I want to take my skiing, I want to progress outside of the park, be able to shred big lines and be one with the mountain. What one technological advancement would you like to see in skiing? I’d love to see ski boots redesigned and way more comfortable. What are your thoughts on halfpipe in the Olympics? There is no reason why Halfpipe skiing shouldn’t be in the Olympics. It will be, but it may be tough for 2010. There are a lot of people working on it right now and I hope it happens. They don’t have to build any extra arenas and it would be great for the sport of skiing, it would breathe new life into a sport that is viewed by the masses as traditional. You injured yourself badly in 2004, talk us through the sequence of events that lead up to the accident. Jon Olsson and I built Chad’s Gap and wanted to hit it switch so we spent about three days getting the runway perfect. The first day we hit it I got some switch 5’s and a switch 9. The next day, I did a switch 180, a switch 5 and a switch 9. The switch 9 was the best one I did. Then I went back up because the helicopter was coming in to film. There was some hold time and the runway got slow because it heated up a little. I was just a little too slow and landed about 5ft short, smacked the wall and blew up my feet. [Tanner shattered the bones in both ankles.] The footage was painful to watch. How does something like that affect you and how do you bounce back from it? Yeah, that wasn’t much fun and the audio on the footage is proof of that. As far as bouncing back, it’s all about keeping a positive mind frame. Mind over matter is legit. As long as I believed I was going to get back to where I was before the accident nothing was going to stop me. I’ve got to thank my brother and mom for hanging with me after surgery and taking care of me. Having a good doctor, surgeon, and physical therapist was key as well. WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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How has CRs accident affected you? You’ve said before that the skiing you have done this year has been for him, but do you think it will lead to you being more cautious in the future? CR’s injury had a big impact on me and put things in perspective. I mean, he is one of my best friends and it definitely knocked the wind out of my sails for bit, but I used it as motivation. I don’t think I’ll be more ‘cautious’ in the future though as I feel that I take very calculated risks in skiing. I can’t sketch myself out about what I’m doing or I might lose a step in terms of my skiing. I’m 100% focused on my skiing.

Tell us about about what happened to CR. He had an accident at Brighton ski resort in December whilst filming for Show and Prove. CR tried to do a trick over a knoll and caught an edge and fell. Kye (Peterson) was following right behind, had no idea he’d fallen and clipped CR’s noggin. CR kinda’ went to bed for a few weeks. CR is doing good now though. He continues to make strides everyday and most importantly he’s back on his skis. In fact we just got back from shredding Mt. Baker and now we’re off to Breckenridge to ski some pipe.

There has been mixed reactions to Show and Prove in the UK. Some people have said there’s too much talking and not enough skiing, whilst others have literally had tears in their eyes due to the emotion that runs through the film. What was your motivation for making the movie in its unique way? Going into the process of making Show and Prove we wanted to document our year and segment the movie based on the trips and events we did. After CR’s injury the movie transformed into what it is. Basically we didn’t want to make a movie the same way every other ski film is done these days which is basically segment/song, segment/song, segment/song, etc. Movies done that way are too cut up for me. We wanted to tell a story from the beginning of the season to the end.

It seems that every pro rider wants to make ski flicks now, is there more money in that for you guys? Definitely not! I lose money every year, but the cool thing is we compile the footage and we have full control over it. It comes out how we want it. It is our film, not someone else’s. I’m particularly proud of our project this year; it’s called Show and Prove.


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How has CRs accident affected you? You’ve said before that the skiing you have done this year has been for him, but do you think it will lead to you being more cautious in the future? CR’s injury had a big impact on me and put things in perspective. I mean, he is one of my best friends and it definitely knocked the wind out of my sails for bit, but I used it as motivation. I don’t think I’ll be more ‘cautious’ in the future though as I feel that I take very calculated risks in skiing. I can’t sketch myself out about what I’m doing or I might lose a step in terms of my skiing. I’m 100% focused on my skiing.

Tell us about about what happened to CR. He had an accident at Brighton ski resort in December whilst filming for Show and Prove. CR tried to do a trick over a knoll and caught an edge and fell. Kye (Peterson) was following right behind, had no idea he’d fallen and clipped CR’s noggin. CR kinda’ went to bed for a few weeks. CR is doing good now though. He continues to make strides everyday and most importantly he’s back on his skis. In fact we just got back from shredding Mt. Baker and now we’re off to Breckenridge to ski some pipe.

There has been mixed reactions to Show and Prove in the UK. Some people have said there’s too much talking and not enough skiing, whilst others have literally had tears in their eyes due to the emotion that runs through the film. What was your motivation for making the movie in its unique way? Going into the process of making Show and Prove we wanted to document our year and segment the movie based on the trips and events we did. After CR’s injury the movie transformed into what it is. Basically we didn’t want to make a movie the same way every other ski film is done these days which is basically segment/song, segment/song, segment/song, etc. Movies done that way are too cut up for me. We wanted to tell a story from the beginning of the season to the end.

It seems that every pro rider wants to make ski flicks now, is there more money in that for you guys? Definitely not! I lose money every year, but the cool thing is we compile the footage and we have full control over it. It comes out how we want it. It is our film, not someone else’s. I’m particularly proud of our project this year; it’s called Show and Prove.


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There has been a fair bit of discussion lately about the gangster image that is running rife in skiing. From the outside it seems as though you foster the image, yet people who’ve met you all say how nice and mellow you are and that it’s almost as though you have two sides to your personality – attitude for the media but a nice guy in real life… I do? Really? That’s weird... Look I’m not a gangst‘er’ or a gangst‘a’. I’m from Montana, live in Park City and I am who I am. I listen to reggae and hip-hop music and have been listening to it since I can remember. I dress the way I do because it’s comfortable for me. If you’re into punk rock style I’m cool with that. If you want to rock a cowboy hat, boots, and some wranglers I’m cool with that too. You are undoubtedly one of the best freeskiers in the world at the moment, and as such, are a role model to many out there. As we’ve mentioned, the gangster image in general has been widely criticised for its links to the rise of gun culture. Do you see your image being misinterpreted by the younger generation? I’ve never owned a gun and I grew up in Montana. I don’t pretend to own a gun or carry one around. If you’re running around with a gun you’d better be in the military or hunting some sort of wildlife, if you’re into that stuff. I enjoy being a role model. It challenges me and I understand that more and more. I know I have made some mistakes in the past that probably caught the attention of the younger crowd and obviously I’m not proud of those mistakes. But we all live and learn and I do my best to grow as a person in my position as a professional skier. What would you call your autobiography and what would be the most shocking thing in it? ‘Righteousness’ [Laughs]. I don’t have many shocking things that people don’t already know. I guess when I was little I used to chase my brother and his bros around with a baseball bat because they made me be all time hitter and wouldn’t let me play the infield. Any shout-outs? My family, my bro, C-Crew and everyone else who is close to me. Do you have any questions you would like to ask us? No, you guys sound pretty smart already. On second thoughts, why does a cricket game have to last 6 days? I thought baseball took forever and that’s done in a matter of hours. ✪

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There has been a fair bit of discussion lately about the gangster image that is running rife in skiing. From the outside it seems as though you foster the image, yet people who’ve met you all say how nice and mellow you are and that it’s almost as though you have two sides to your personality – attitude for the media but a nice guy in real life… I do? Really? That’s weird... Look I’m not a gangst‘er’ or a gangst‘a’. I’m from Montana, live in Park City and I am who I am. I listen to reggae and hip-hop music and have been listening to it since I can remember. I dress the way I do because it’s comfortable for me. If you’re into punk rock style I’m cool with that. If you want to rock a cowboy hat, boots, and some wranglers I’m cool with that too. You are undoubtedly one of the best freeskiers in the world at the moment, and as such, are a role model to many out there. As we’ve mentioned, the gangster image in general has been widely criticised for its links to the rise of gun culture. Do you see your image being misinterpreted by the younger generation? I’ve never owned a gun and I grew up in Montana. I don’t pretend to own a gun or carry one around. If you’re running around with a gun you’d better be in the military or hunting some sort of wildlife, if you’re into that stuff. I enjoy being a role model. It challenges me and I understand that more and more. I know I have made some mistakes in the past that probably caught the attention of the younger crowd and obviously I’m not proud of those mistakes. But we all live and learn and I do my best to grow as a person in my position as a professional skier. What would you call your autobiography and what would be the most shocking thing in it? ‘Righteousness’ [Laughs]. I don’t have many shocking things that people don’t already know. I guess when I was little I used to chase my brother and his bros around with a baseball bat because they made me be all time hitter and wouldn’t let me play the infield. Any shout-outs? My family, my bro, C-Crew and everyone else who is close to me. Do you have any questions you would like to ask us? No, you guys sound pretty smart already. On second thoughts, why does a cricket game have to last 6 days? I thought baseball took forever and that’s done in a matter of hours. ✪

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WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������


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NICOLA ������KNIT VISOR���� BONFIRE���� FALL LINE �������� ���THE NORTH FACE MORTEN ����� BAR CODE ������� ���������TIONIC SERIES ���BILLABONG HUMA ����� TRUE 06 ����������PROTEST

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�����������������BARRY ROBERTS

������������� ������� ����������� IN LATE SPRING 2006 THE ALPS HAD A DEEP COVER OF SNOW, SO I MADE LAST MINUTE APPLICATION TO MY (PREGNANT) WIFE EADAOIN FOR PERMISSION TO TAKE HER IRISH BROTHER BRIAN ON THE HAUTE ROUTE IN MAY. BRIAN SWAYED HIS WIFE TO LET HIM GO TO KEEP ME COMPANY. THE RUSE WORKED AND A PLAN WAS HATCHED. WITH TWO WEEKS NOTICE, WE BEASTED OURSELVES WITH SOME LAST MINUTE TRAINING, JETTED BACK TO LIVERPOOL AND DUBLIN TO TIE UP SOME BUSINESS COMMITMENTS AND RENDEZVOUSED BACK IN CHAM TO PACK OUR BAGS. THIS WAS GOING TO BE A LIGHT AND FAST EXPEDITION. WELL, LIGHT FOR SURE. It’s extraordinary that this stunning ski mountaineering route from Chamonix to Zermatt was first pioneered as a summer walking route in 1861, and not skied until 1903. There are several variations to the route; the shorter and easiest being the five day so called Haute Route Express via Verbier. This route is broken up by a lengthy taxi ride between Champex to the Verbier lifts in Switzerland. Our route, arguably the more natural and elegant way, though longer and more technically demanding, takes seven days and goes via the fantastic Great St. Bernard Monastery. This route crosses a few roads which gives the option to stay in hotels for two of the six nights on the trail. Hotels allow you to eat well, stock up on lunch food, rest better at lower elevations, shower and shave and to wash socks and underpants. After all, this was supposed to be a holiday, right Brian?

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WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

Admittedly a team of two is sub-optimal for this adventure from a self-rescue and gear sharing point of view. A minimum of three or four is better. To succeed (and enjoy ourselves) our style was to travel light, and with nothing more than I’d take for a technical, committing day tour (aside from more maps). I used The North Face Off Chute 22 litre sack and Brian’s bag was 25 litres. Even when stripped down to a single base layer, I could squeeze my jackets into my bag. An axe, shovel handle and 30m 8mm ski rope were neatly cinched to the outside. I hate looking like a Christmas tree. I had no changes of clothing, socks or undies. Though short on creature comforts, there was no compromising safety and we carried a two-man survival shelter, spare eyewear and gloves, GPS, all the relevant 1:25,000 scale maps, cameras, mobiles phones and The North Face Redpoint Optimus hooded Primaloft jackets for an emergency bivy layer. My Paclite Gore-tex shell from The North

Face Flight Series range was all I’d need for a wind shell. The Flight Series motto is “Further, faster” and we aimed to test that. You can tell other skier’s nationalities from the size of their rucksacks and certain pieces of kit. Germans, Kiwis and Brits have the largest sacks, stuffed with fresh clothes and massive flasks. Don’t they realise they are out skiing, not hiking? The French have the smallest sacks but the worst dress sense. The Scandinavians have the most impractically long ice axes. The trick is to start with a small rucksack. If you have a large volume ‘sack you will fill it up with things you “might need”. Remember, even if you get caught out and have to bivy, the aim is to survive, not to be comfortable. Yvon Chouinard wrote “if you carry bivouac gear, you will bivouac! Touché Yvon!

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Last night we fussed with kit to shave more weight, packed and got to bed at 2 am. We still managed to rock up at the Grands Montets car park in good time to catch the first lift to the top station (3280m). The day’s main climb – the Col du Chardonnet (3323m) is directly across the valley and above the Argentiere Glacier. It looks steep because it is and it’s an 800m climb from the glacier to the col. Many parties start out from the Argentiere Refuge (2771m) but that adds cost, another day and another sleepless night. Guides like to start here because if they don’t

know their clients already, they get to see them ski down from the Grands Montets, and can send them back to Chamonix the next morning if they’ve overrated their ability. There’s good reason to dread the first big ski descent on day one of a week long ski tour, especially if you’ve never trained as much as you intended (and if you’ve just arrived on Easyjet you’re not ski fit or acclimatised in any case). And if you’re British, you’re carrying a 60 litre sack, with a week’s worth of food, long thick ropes (x 2), a full rock rack, an iPod and a good book. It’s also early in the day and the off piste snow is normally chopped up frozen crud. We watched another pair of wannabe Haute Routers studying their map as they looked across the valley. Finally, they asked us to point out the Col du Chardonnet! We never saw them again. We dipped under the rope and took a high traverse line right, through foot-deep fresh snow and past house sized ice towers that collapsed and killed someone a few days before. Oh, the luck of the Irish. The descent over the Col du Chardonnet is the most technical on the route and involves a steep, icy abseil. From here, it’s a further hour up and over the Col Fenetre de Salena and a long cruise to the hut. That night we shared the refuge with only four noisy bag rustling Germans. WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

���


�����������������BARRY ROBERTS

������������� ������� ����������� IN LATE SPRING 2006 THE ALPS HAD A DEEP COVER OF SNOW, SO I MADE LAST MINUTE APPLICATION TO MY (PREGNANT) WIFE EADAOIN FOR PERMISSION TO TAKE HER IRISH BROTHER BRIAN ON THE HAUTE ROUTE IN MAY. BRIAN SWAYED HIS WIFE TO LET HIM GO TO KEEP ME COMPANY. THE RUSE WORKED AND A PLAN WAS HATCHED. WITH TWO WEEKS NOTICE, WE BEASTED OURSELVES WITH SOME LAST MINUTE TRAINING, JETTED BACK TO LIVERPOOL AND DUBLIN TO TIE UP SOME BUSINESS COMMITMENTS AND RENDEZVOUSED BACK IN CHAM TO PACK OUR BAGS. THIS WAS GOING TO BE A LIGHT AND FAST EXPEDITION. WELL, LIGHT FOR SURE. It’s extraordinary that this stunning ski mountaineering route from Chamonix to Zermatt was first pioneered as a summer walking route in 1861, and not skied until 1903. There are several variations to the route; the shorter and easiest being the five day so called Haute Route Express via Verbier. This route is broken up by a lengthy taxi ride between Champex to the Verbier lifts in Switzerland. Our route, arguably the more natural and elegant way, though longer and more technically demanding, takes seven days and goes via the fantastic Great St. Bernard Monastery. This route crosses a few roads which gives the option to stay in hotels for two of the six nights on the trail. Hotels allow you to eat well, stock up on lunch food, rest better at lower elevations, shower and shave and to wash socks and underpants. After all, this was supposed to be a holiday, right Brian?

���

WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

Admittedly a team of two is sub-optimal for this adventure from a self-rescue and gear sharing point of view. A minimum of three or four is better. To succeed (and enjoy ourselves) our style was to travel light, and with nothing more than I’d take for a technical, committing day tour (aside from more maps). I used The North Face Off Chute 22 litre sack and Brian’s bag was 25 litres. Even when stripped down to a single base layer, I could squeeze my jackets into my bag. An axe, shovel handle and 30m 8mm ski rope were neatly cinched to the outside. I hate looking like a Christmas tree. I had no changes of clothing, socks or undies. Though short on creature comforts, there was no compromising safety and we carried a two-man survival shelter, spare eyewear and gloves, GPS, all the relevant 1:25,000 scale maps, cameras, mobiles phones and The North Face Redpoint Optimus hooded Primaloft jackets for an emergency bivy layer. My Paclite Gore-tex shell from The North

Face Flight Series range was all I’d need for a wind shell. The Flight Series motto is “Further, faster” and we aimed to test that. You can tell other skier’s nationalities from the size of their rucksacks and certain pieces of kit. Germans, Kiwis and Brits have the largest sacks, stuffed with fresh clothes and massive flasks. Don’t they realise they are out skiing, not hiking? The French have the smallest sacks but the worst dress sense. The Scandinavians have the most impractically long ice axes. The trick is to start with a small rucksack. If you have a large volume ‘sack you will fill it up with things you “might need”. Remember, even if you get caught out and have to bivy, the aim is to survive, not to be comfortable. Yvon Chouinard wrote “if you carry bivouac gear, you will bivouac! Touché Yvon!

�������������������������������������

Last night we fussed with kit to shave more weight, packed and got to bed at 2 am. We still managed to rock up at the Grands Montets car park in good time to catch the first lift to the top station (3280m). The day’s main climb – the Col du Chardonnet (3323m) is directly across the valley and above the Argentiere Glacier. It looks steep because it is and it’s an 800m climb from the glacier to the col. Many parties start out from the Argentiere Refuge (2771m) but that adds cost, another day and another sleepless night. Guides like to start here because if they don’t

know their clients already, they get to see them ski down from the Grands Montets, and can send them back to Chamonix the next morning if they’ve overrated their ability. There’s good reason to dread the first big ski descent on day one of a week long ski tour, especially if you’ve never trained as much as you intended (and if you’ve just arrived on Easyjet you’re not ski fit or acclimatised in any case). And if you’re British, you’re carrying a 60 litre sack, with a week’s worth of food, long thick ropes (x 2), a full rock rack, an iPod and a good book. It’s also early in the day and the off piste snow is normally chopped up frozen crud. We watched another pair of wannabe Haute Routers studying their map as they looked across the valley. Finally, they asked us to point out the Col du Chardonnet! We never saw them again. We dipped under the rope and took a high traverse line right, through foot-deep fresh snow and past house sized ice towers that collapsed and killed someone a few days before. Oh, the luck of the Irish. The descent over the Col du Chardonnet is the most technical on the route and involves a steep, icy abseil. From here, it’s a further hour up and over the Col Fenetre de Salena and a long cruise to the hut. That night we shared the refuge with only four noisy bag rustling Germans. WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

���


Between us we carried: • Survival shelter • GPS – spare batteries • Compass • 1:25,000 maps / short pencil • 30m 8mm rope • 3 mobile phones! • Spare sun glasses • First aid kit / blister kit • Food (minimal) • Repair kit: ski wax, emergency skin glue, duct tape, wire, binding screws, skin silicone We each carried: • Crevasse rescue hardware / ice screws • Head torch (one tiny Black Diamond model only good enough for finding the loo at night and one powerful Petzel for night navigation) • Whistle • Digital cameras and spare batteries • Ice axe • Leatherman • Petzl Moser Vasak 10 point crampons & ski crampons • Skins • 2 pairs of gloves • Woolly hat / sun hat • Goggles • Shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver • Sun cream

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A short climb due south of the refuge brings you to the Col de Pline and the most beautiful 100m long wind scoop. An initial steep, narrow descent broadens into a wide basin that sweeps down to rejoin the main glacier below the Col du Chardonnet. There’s no need to backtrack over the Fenetre de Salena to get here (as O’Connor suggests - see References below). The descent is fast, cold and lonely, with no one else on the route. The surface was solid, smooth wind pack. We quickly transitioned to skins for the final steep climb to the Col de la Grand Lui (3690m). We didn’t stop once and by 10.30 we were perched on the bergschrund. The final climb on crampons is 100m long and 35-40 degrees steep. It’s often icy but today the snow was deep and the boot pack was secure. I thought we’d easily be in la Fouly by midday. The monster 2100m descent starts well in good conditions but already it’s sunny and hot and the lower we dropped, the faster the snow deteriorated into thick, knee twisting slush. We have time on our side so we take care and pick our way down the last 1000m to the village and Andre Bernard Gross’s hotel by 2pm. Andre is a legend, not necessarily because of his record as a Swiss guide and ski instructor but because he, err, wears make up, women’s blouses and high heels. Notably too, Andre is the son of a member of the Swiss 1952 Everest expedition that nearly made it up first ahead of Tenzing and Hillary. A year ago, in Lukla, Nepal I had met

���

WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

Raymond Lambert Jnr., son of Raymond Lambert on that same ’52 team. Amazing! Brian played the Everest card for me and Andre rolled out the red carpet; free beers and the promise of a 5 km ride up the road the next day to save us the walk to the snow line!

�����������������������������������

Andre dropped us off where the road ended and the fog began. Twice now I’ve made the 1100m climb to the Col Fenetre de Ferret in the clouds. We followed a vague track on instinct and made one check of our position by GPS to be sure. We climbed out of the cloud just as we reached the col and 400m below could make out the para-avalanche tunnel and road leading to the 10th century Great St. Bernard Hospice. It’s possible to overnight here (early reservations essential especially on weekends and Easter) but that makes it a short day. Unfortunately the dogs are only kept here in summer but otherwise, not surprisingly, this is a serene place to stop for a bit of culture, a chant if you’re so inclined and a complimentary jug of sweet tea, before skiing down the long and winding road to the car park at Bourg St. Bernard and hitching a lift to the Hotel Vieux Moulin in Bourg St. Pierre. Bourg was once overrun by Napoleon’s army who camped up and demanded to be fed and watered by the village. They did a runner and didn’t settle their bill. Recently, the French government have installed a plaque acknowledging Bourg’s “hospitality”.

���������������������������������������

This day involves lots of walking initially, then skinning but not one bit of downhill skiing to reach the hut 1400m above! It’s best to get an early start whilst it’s cool and just get your head down and crack on.

����������������������������������

The Valsorey hut (3030m) lies 600m below the intimidating Plateau de Couloir (3664m), which in icy conditions, is best climbed in crampons from the outset. Brian, he later told me, had a restless night, worrying about the day ahead. He even tried to put someone else’s boots on in the morning by mistake. Brian confessed that he did manage to get over the psychological barrier of the climb after he’d climbed it! After the relentless uphill slog the previous day, today’s treat is the 1400m long, moderately angled sweeping descent down the Glacier Mt. Durand, before the final short skin up to the Chanrion hut. We caught up with our new pals Tim and Caroline from the Valsorey hut on the col and teamed up for the descent. The conditions were excellent; a soft smooth layer of snow on solid crust. Once over the plateau and Col Sonadon, it’s tempting to feel that you’ve broken the back of the Haute Route, but far from it. These first five days have been a mere warm up; two long committing days still lie ahead.

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There are two options from the Chanrion hut (3462m) to get to the Vignettes hut (3160m). The faster, easier and shorter route is via the Glacier d’Otemma. This is a sensible option in marginal weather but it misses out the summit of Pigne d’Arrola (3796m) so we went the other way; via the Glacier du Brenay, parallel to the Otemma. There’s a nasty icefall halfway up which is bypassed by taking a very high traverse line right, over a col. From here you can drop down right to rejoin the Otemma glacier, but we snuck around to the left to climb a vague rocky col which brought us back, high above the Brenay icefall. Brian had his first rock climbing lesson on the broken rocks of the Col de Portons in ski boots with skis strapped to his back! From the summit of “the Pigne”, reached on skins (or if you have the cash by heli drop), the end game is in sight – the Matterhorn, which looms over Zermatt. Some 600m below, the massive Vignettes hut straddles a rock ridge, but the scale is so vast that the building blends in with its surroundings and is only visible from up close. The hut is rammed with skiers who have converged on this refuge from all directions with one thing in mind – to reach Zermatt and tick the box.

WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

���


Between us we carried: • Survival shelter • GPS – spare batteries • Compass • 1:25,000 maps / short pencil • 30m 8mm rope • 3 mobile phones! • Spare sun glasses • First aid kit / blister kit • Food (minimal) • Repair kit: ski wax, emergency skin glue, duct tape, wire, binding screws, skin silicone We each carried: • Crevasse rescue hardware / ice screws • Head torch (one tiny Black Diamond model only good enough for finding the loo at night and one powerful Petzel for night navigation) • Whistle • Digital cameras and spare batteries • Ice axe • Leatherman • Petzl Moser Vasak 10 point crampons & ski crampons • Skins • 2 pairs of gloves • Woolly hat / sun hat • Goggles • Shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver • Sun cream

��������������������������������

A short climb due south of the refuge brings you to the Col de Pline and the most beautiful 100m long wind scoop. An initial steep, narrow descent broadens into a wide basin that sweeps down to rejoin the main glacier below the Col du Chardonnet. There’s no need to backtrack over the Fenetre de Salena to get here (as O’Connor suggests - see References below). The descent is fast, cold and lonely, with no one else on the route. The surface was solid, smooth wind pack. We quickly transitioned to skins for the final steep climb to the Col de la Grand Lui (3690m). We didn’t stop once and by 10.30 we were perched on the bergschrund. The final climb on crampons is 100m long and 35-40 degrees steep. It’s often icy but today the snow was deep and the boot pack was secure. I thought we’d easily be in la Fouly by midday. The monster 2100m descent starts well in good conditions but already it’s sunny and hot and the lower we dropped, the faster the snow deteriorated into thick, knee twisting slush. We have time on our side so we take care and pick our way down the last 1000m to the village and Andre Bernard Gross’s hotel by 2pm. Andre is a legend, not necessarily because of his record as a Swiss guide and ski instructor but because he, err, wears make up, women’s blouses and high heels. Notably too, Andre is the son of a member of the Swiss 1952 Everest expedition that nearly made it up first ahead of Tenzing and Hillary. A year ago, in Lukla, Nepal I had met

���

WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

Raymond Lambert Jnr., son of Raymond Lambert on that same ’52 team. Amazing! Brian played the Everest card for me and Andre rolled out the red carpet; free beers and the promise of a 5 km ride up the road the next day to save us the walk to the snow line!

�����������������������������������

Andre dropped us off where the road ended and the fog began. Twice now I’ve made the 1100m climb to the Col Fenetre de Ferret in the clouds. We followed a vague track on instinct and made one check of our position by GPS to be sure. We climbed out of the cloud just as we reached the col and 400m below could make out the para-avalanche tunnel and road leading to the 10th century Great St. Bernard Hospice. It’s possible to overnight here (early reservations essential especially on weekends and Easter) but that makes it a short day. Unfortunately the dogs are only kept here in summer but otherwise, not surprisingly, this is a serene place to stop for a bit of culture, a chant if you’re so inclined and a complimentary jug of sweet tea, before skiing down the long and winding road to the car park at Bourg St. Bernard and hitching a lift to the Hotel Vieux Moulin in Bourg St. Pierre. Bourg was once overrun by Napoleon’s army who camped up and demanded to be fed and watered by the village. They did a runner and didn’t settle their bill. Recently, the French government have installed a plaque acknowledging Bourg’s “hospitality”.

���������������������������������������

This day involves lots of walking initially, then skinning but not one bit of downhill skiing to reach the hut 1400m above! It’s best to get an early start whilst it’s cool and just get your head down and crack on.

����������������������������������

The Valsorey hut (3030m) lies 600m below the intimidating Plateau de Couloir (3664m), which in icy conditions, is best climbed in crampons from the outset. Brian, he later told me, had a restless night, worrying about the day ahead. He even tried to put someone else’s boots on in the morning by mistake. Brian confessed that he did manage to get over the psychological barrier of the climb after he’d climbed it! After the relentless uphill slog the previous day, today’s treat is the 1400m long, moderately angled sweeping descent down the Glacier Mt. Durand, before the final short skin up to the Chanrion hut. We caught up with our new pals Tim and Caroline from the Valsorey hut on the col and teamed up for the descent. The conditions were excellent; a soft smooth layer of snow on solid crust. Once over the plateau and Col Sonadon, it’s tempting to feel that you’ve broken the back of the Haute Route, but far from it. These first five days have been a mere warm up; two long committing days still lie ahead.

�����������������������������������

There are two options from the Chanrion hut (3462m) to get to the Vignettes hut (3160m). The faster, easier and shorter route is via the Glacier d’Otemma. This is a sensible option in marginal weather but it misses out the summit of Pigne d’Arrola (3796m) so we went the other way; via the Glacier du Brenay, parallel to the Otemma. There’s a nasty icefall halfway up which is bypassed by taking a very high traverse line right, over a col. From here you can drop down right to rejoin the Otemma glacier, but we snuck around to the left to climb a vague rocky col which brought us back, high above the Brenay icefall. Brian had his first rock climbing lesson on the broken rocks of the Col de Portons in ski boots with skis strapped to his back! From the summit of “the Pigne”, reached on skins (or if you have the cash by heli drop), the end game is in sight – the Matterhorn, which looms over Zermatt. Some 600m below, the massive Vignettes hut straddles a rock ridge, but the scale is so vast that the building blends in with its surroundings and is only visible from up close. The hut is rammed with skiers who have converged on this refuge from all directions with one thing in mind – to reach Zermatt and tick the box.

WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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This ranks as one of the best ski mountaineering days ever devised. It extends more than the entire width of the Swiss 1:25,000 Matterhorn map, crosses three cols over seven glaciers and stretches 24km in length. Combined with 750m of ascent and 2400 of descent, this is a day of Ironman proportions and is justifiably given a guide book time of 8 -11 hours. We were first out the hut at 6.15, now officially a team of four for added security. Several guides warned us of very soft snow bridges on the final descent below the Col de Valpelline and I wanted to be off the glacier and singing the Sound of Music in the sunny meadows above Zermatt in good time. We reached the col at 11.03 and picked our way safely down in good snow conditions and I relaxed enough to give Caroline a ski lesson. The snow ran out below the north face of the Matterhorn where we demolished every last morsel of remaining food. I have skied all the way to the bus stop in central Zermatt in early April but in May we weren’t so lucky. During the 5 km hike down a tarmac road to the nearest lift, Brian and I both picked up the first blisters of the trip. What a pair of lightweights. ✪

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WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

Author’s final note The Haute Route is a serious ski mountaineering undertaking. You need to be properly equipped, a decent off piste skier and know how to negotiate crevassed, glaciated terrain, in bad weather. There are a few opportunities to bail out if the weather deteriorates but each daily leg is challenging enough, let alone seven big mountain days linked together. Many do not complete the route on their first attempt due to bad weather, poor conditions, lack of stamina, ability or a combination thereof. I have friends who’ve snowboarded the route but it’s very, very hard work and you’ll need to carry snowshoes. The route is done in reverse and I shall be petitioning for permission to do that some day. You can carry on from Zermatt to Saas Fee along the Italian High Level Route crossing Monte Rosa. It’s a higher route mainly above 4000m with more technical mountaineering along the way and is equally fantastic. References: Bill O’Connor’s excellent Cicerone Guide Alpine Ski Mountaineering Vol. 1: Western Alps is all you need for a detailed route description, hut phone numbers etc. but you’ll still need to spend a load of cash on all the maps. For guided trips check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk or www.chamex.com. The Eagle Ski Club also runs trips for members (www.eagleskiclub.org.uk).

Hydration: Water is heavy and carrying lots of it slows you down. Think like a camel and drink loads in the morning and only carry half a litre on short days, especially if it’s cloudy and no more than one litre on bigger days or if the sun is blazing. Leave early when it’s cool, move efficiently and get to your destination in good time without any long rest stops. Aim to drink most of your supply before you finish any ascent and all of it before reaching the day’s destination. I carried two 50cl plastic Coke bottles for versatility. They are indestructible, weigh nothing and can be squeezed into the corner of your sack, unlike water bladders which I loath for ski touring. They always leak and don’t allow you to really squish everything into your sack without splitting the bladder. Crampons, axes, skis and boots: For a while I used aluminium tools (even to the summit of Everest!) but they are useless if you really need them in anger when it’s steep and icy. I now favour a 53cm Grivel Air Tech Evolution axe which has a slightly curved lightweight shaft but a forged head and Charlet Moser crampons. This trip was a good excuse to retire my much loved Rossignol B2s and to buy Ski-Trab Free Randos. They are light and deliver very good off piste performance. You need proper ski mountaineering boots with a Vibram sole for this trip. Normal ski boots don’t cut it if there’s any amount of walking involved. The new ski crampons that stayed attached to Fritschi Diamir bindings and flick down when needed are worth considering.

Skin care: Look after both your body skin and your ski skins. High altitude, reflected sun will fry and dehydrate you very quickly. Dry your ski skins slowly at night. Never put them on freshly waxed skis. Throughout the day, if you’re using your skins again, keep them warm in your jacket. Top Tips • Get acclimatised and be ski fit so you can travel fast • Pack light – just one person in your party who is carrying too much will slow everyone down! • For emergencies, think survival, not comfort. The Alps are not Scotland – nobody ventures out in foul weather! Leave yourself a day or two spare for contingencies. • Don’t carry gallons of water • Be out the hut early and keep moving – the mountains get more dangerous in the afternoon sun • Don’t lose height unless you’re totally sure you need to • Not everyone you will meet knows what they are doing or where they are going! Be careful who you follow. • Nap in the afternoons to catch up on sleep lost at night when the bunk rooms are full and noisy. In any case, carry ear plugs. • Be nice to everyone you meet, especially professional guides and the hut guardians. You never know when you’ll need their help or advice.

Baz Roberts, a UK sponsored athlete with The North Face, has ski toured extensively in the Greater Ranges, Greenland and Europe. He is a BASI Ski Instructor and runs All Terrain Ski in Chamonix (www.allterrainski.com) and is co-author of www.stayingaliveoffpiste.com. In May 2004 he climbed Everest and in March 2006 he made the first winter ascent and paraglide descent of Greenland’s Gunnbjorns Fjeld, the highest peak in the Arctic circle. He is a nonexecutive director of www.yamgo.com, the extreme sports mobile phone TV company. Visit his YouTube channel BazzaRoberts1 and www.bazroberts.com WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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This ranks as one of the best ski mountaineering days ever devised. It extends more than the entire width of the Swiss 1:25,000 Matterhorn map, crosses three cols over seven glaciers and stretches 24km in length. Combined with 750m of ascent and 2400 of descent, this is a day of Ironman proportions and is justifiably given a guide book time of 8 -11 hours. We were first out the hut at 6.15, now officially a team of four for added security. Several guides warned us of very soft snow bridges on the final descent below the Col de Valpelline and I wanted to be off the glacier and singing the Sound of Music in the sunny meadows above Zermatt in good time. We reached the col at 11.03 and picked our way safely down in good snow conditions and I relaxed enough to give Caroline a ski lesson. The snow ran out below the north face of the Matterhorn where we demolished every last morsel of remaining food. I have skied all the way to the bus stop in central Zermatt in early April but in May we weren’t so lucky. During the 5 km hike down a tarmac road to the nearest lift, Brian and I both picked up the first blisters of the trip. What a pair of lightweights. ✪

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Author’s final note The Haute Route is a serious ski mountaineering undertaking. You need to be properly equipped, a decent off piste skier and know how to negotiate crevassed, glaciated terrain, in bad weather. There are a few opportunities to bail out if the weather deteriorates but each daily leg is challenging enough, let alone seven big mountain days linked together. Many do not complete the route on their first attempt due to bad weather, poor conditions, lack of stamina, ability or a combination thereof. I have friends who’ve snowboarded the route but it’s very, very hard work and you’ll need to carry snowshoes. The route is done in reverse and I shall be petitioning for permission to do that some day. You can carry on from Zermatt to Saas Fee along the Italian High Level Route crossing Monte Rosa. It’s a higher route mainly above 4000m with more technical mountaineering along the way and is equally fantastic. References: Bill O’Connor’s excellent Cicerone Guide Alpine Ski Mountaineering Vol. 1: Western Alps is all you need for a detailed route description, hut phone numbers etc. but you’ll still need to spend a load of cash on all the maps. For guided trips check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk or www.chamex.com. The Eagle Ski Club also runs trips for members (www.eagleskiclub.org.uk).

Hydration: Water is heavy and carrying lots of it slows you down. Think like a camel and drink loads in the morning and only carry half a litre on short days, especially if it’s cloudy and no more than one litre on bigger days or if the sun is blazing. Leave early when it’s cool, move efficiently and get to your destination in good time without any long rest stops. Aim to drink most of your supply before you finish any ascent and all of it before reaching the day’s destination. I carried two 50cl plastic Coke bottles for versatility. They are indestructible, weigh nothing and can be squeezed into the corner of your sack, unlike water bladders which I loath for ski touring. They always leak and don’t allow you to really squish everything into your sack without splitting the bladder. Crampons, axes, skis and boots: For a while I used aluminium tools (even to the summit of Everest!) but they are useless if you really need them in anger when it’s steep and icy. I now favour a 53cm Grivel Air Tech Evolution axe which has a slightly curved lightweight shaft but a forged head and Charlet Moser crampons. This trip was a good excuse to retire my much loved Rossignol B2s and to buy Ski-Trab Free Randos. They are light and deliver very good off piste performance. You need proper ski mountaineering boots with a Vibram sole for this trip. Normal ski boots don’t cut it if there’s any amount of walking involved. The new ski crampons that stayed attached to Fritschi Diamir bindings and flick down when needed are worth considering.

Skin care: Look after both your body skin and your ski skins. High altitude, reflected sun will fry and dehydrate you very quickly. Dry your ski skins slowly at night. Never put them on freshly waxed skis. Throughout the day, if you’re using your skins again, keep them warm in your jacket. Top Tips • Get acclimatised and be ski fit so you can travel fast • Pack light – just one person in your party who is carrying too much will slow everyone down! • For emergencies, think survival, not comfort. The Alps are not Scotland – nobody ventures out in foul weather! Leave yourself a day or two spare for contingencies. • Don’t carry gallons of water • Be out the hut early and keep moving – the mountains get more dangerous in the afternoon sun • Don’t lose height unless you’re totally sure you need to • Not everyone you will meet knows what they are doing or where they are going! Be careful who you follow. • Nap in the afternoons to catch up on sleep lost at night when the bunk rooms are full and noisy. In any case, carry ear plugs. • Be nice to everyone you meet, especially professional guides and the hut guardians. You never know when you’ll need their help or advice.

Baz Roberts, a UK sponsored athlete with The North Face, has ski toured extensively in the Greater Ranges, Greenland and Europe. He is a BASI Ski Instructor and runs All Terrain Ski in Chamonix (www.allterrainski.com) and is co-author of www.stayingaliveoffpiste.com. In May 2004 he climbed Everest and in March 2006 he made the first winter ascent and paraglide descent of Greenland’s Gunnbjorns Fjeld, the highest peak in the Arctic circle. He is a nonexecutive director of www.yamgo.com, the extreme sports mobile phone TV company. Visit his YouTube channel BazzaRoberts1 and www.bazroberts.com WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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and a faithful rendition of the filthy riffs of Whole Lotta’ and his ultra tight band of session players embarked upon Love ensured an enthusiastic climax to the first night of the a two hour jam of anything but songs from his back 2006 festival. catalogue… until the encore of Sweet Jane. As well as spending much of the evening with his back to the The area consists of two towns, Crans and Montana. Both audience, he really didn’t seem to give a damn what they are graced with beautiful wooden alpine chalets and the wanted to hear. However, he was caught smiling enthusdesigner boutiques would rival Cannes’ La Croisette. The iastically throughout, apparently enjoying the evening views across the valley rival any alpine corner. Pine trees rocking out with his musical cronies. In true Rock‘n’Roll line the quiet, lower intermediate slopes, and provided fashion, Reed insisted on doing it his way, like it or not. scant protection from the persistent snowfall. I can honestly say I really did. Saturday saw more snow, no sun and yet more snow. The evening was drawn to a close by Skye, fresh from her As Saturday evening approached, I was beginning to feel days in Morcheeba. She performed a super mellow set genuinely excited. For rather than Led Zeppelin, my earlier with a beautifully smooth voice that incorporated a snippet musical taste was much more intrigued by the early punk of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day when the amps briefly packed rock sounds eminating from New York – the era which in. A very relaxing end to a perfect weekend. Check press spawned the Ramones, New York Dolls, the Stooges and for the Caprice festival 2007 line-up. spilled over into London with the Clash and the Sex Pistols. For a truly unique mix of great music and beautiful scenery, Arguably the forerunner, and another of the most influential not to mention the fabulously varied ski area, head out to bands in modern music, were the Velvet underground. Crans Montana this season for a truly special experience. No longer singing about the dubious virtues of Sand M, For more info, visit: www.capricesfestival.ch ✪ transsexuals and heroin, Lou Reed’s backstage activities are now firmly restricted to practising Tai Chi. And so he WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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Heavy snow persisted throughout the night and there was no sign of it clearing the next morning. We headed up the mountain to explore the extensive ski area – what we were able to see of it! Visibility was proving to be a problem, so a pit stop in a mountain hideaway proved most welcome. After indulging in fine regional hospitality, and in no rush to get out and face the elements, we headed back to our hotel, the art deco ‘Linder Golfhotel Rhodania’, to prepare for the opening evening of the festival. Slipping and sliding our way to the town hall, we entered the huge blue marquee erected to house the several thousand music fans. Still the snow fell heavily, making for epic conditions should the sun ever reappear. Amadou et Mariam, the opening duo of world music aficionados from Mali brought an eclectic mix of colour, sound, energy and atmosphere to the huge temporary arena. Enjoying a rock‘n’roll rebirth and much critical acclaim for his most recent studio album, Robert Plant and his Strange Sensation took to the stage at 10pm to feverish applause. The set mixed new numbers from his recent album, Mighty Rearranger with several from Led Zeppelin’s saucey back catalogue. No Quarter a revised Black Dog

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and a faithful rendition of the filthy riffs of Whole Lotta’ and his ultra tight band of session players embarked upon Love ensured an enthusiastic climax to the first night of the a two hour jam of anything but songs from his back 2006 festival. catalogue… until the encore of Sweet Jane. As well as spending much of the evening with his back to the The area consists of two towns, Crans and Montana. Both audience, he really didn’t seem to give a damn what they are graced with beautiful wooden alpine chalets and the wanted to hear. However, he was caught smiling enthusdesigner boutiques would rival Cannes’ La Croisette. The iastically throughout, apparently enjoying the evening views across the valley rival any alpine corner. Pine trees rocking out with his musical cronies. In true Rock‘n’Roll line the quiet, lower intermediate slopes, and provided fashion, Reed insisted on doing it his way, like it or not. scant protection from the persistent snowfall. I can honestly say I really did. Saturday saw more snow, no sun and yet more snow. The evening was drawn to a close by Skye, fresh from her As Saturday evening approached, I was beginning to feel days in Morcheeba. She performed a super mellow set genuinely excited. For rather than Led Zeppelin, my earlier with a beautifully smooth voice that incorporated a snippet musical taste was much more intrigued by the early punk of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day when the amps briefly packed rock sounds eminating from New York – the era which in. A very relaxing end to a perfect weekend. Check press spawned the Ramones, New York Dolls, the Stooges and for the Caprice festival 2007 line-up. spilled over into London with the Clash and the Sex Pistols. For a truly unique mix of great music and beautiful scenery, Arguably the forerunner, and another of the most influential not to mention the fabulously varied ski area, head out to bands in modern music, were the Velvet underground. Crans Montana this season for a truly special experience. No longer singing about the dubious virtues of Sand M, For more info, visit: www.capricesfestival.ch ✪ transsexuals and heroin, Lou Reed’s backstage activities are now firmly restricted to practising Tai Chi. And so he WWW.DARKSUMMER.CO.UK ��������

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FREERIDE

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• Keeping Composure: It’s pretty hard keeping your head when you’re getting face shots in the powder. However, the euphoria of being shoulder deep in powder quite often makes you forget the basics. Keep your head and keep focused on your skiing to get the most out of the powder. Rushing your turns with a hot head will often see you going face first into the snow and ending your ride. • Don’t Hit the Snow Wall: A snow wall is the bank of snow you compact together when you make a turn in deep powder. The deeper the snow, the bigger the snow wall you have to steer through. If you steer too suddenly in really deep powder you can sometimes find yourself hitting straight into the snow wall and stopping dead in your tracks. The result is your skis jamming to a halt and your upper body falling forwards. To avoid hitting the snow wall try to remember that the deeper snow actually helps to slow you down so you don’t have to turn so hard against it. Smooth, rhythmic, progressive steering will keep you riding without the snow wall stopping you. • Shoulders Up, Core On: In the deeper snow you can really feel the changes in pressure under your feet. This sometimes feels like it throws you forwards. In the really deep powder you need to lift your shoulders up slightly. If they are shrugged forwards as they would usually be it can make you prone to going over the handlebars. You may also find that you are prone to breaking at the waist and having your upper body going forwards too much. To avoid this activate your core muscles at all times when riding in the deep powder.

www.britishfreeskicamps.com

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FREERIDE

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• Keeping Composure: It’s pretty hard keeping your head when you’re getting face shots in the powder. However, the euphoria of being shoulder deep in powder quite often makes you forget the basics. Keep your head and keep focused on your skiing to get the most out of the powder. Rushing your turns with a hot head will often see you going face first into the snow and ending your ride. • Don’t Hit the Snow Wall: A snow wall is the bank of snow you compact together when you make a turn in deep powder. The deeper the snow, the bigger the snow wall you have to steer through. If you steer too suddenly in really deep powder you can sometimes find yourself hitting straight into the snow wall and stopping dead in your tracks. The result is your skis jamming to a halt and your upper body falling forwards. To avoid hitting the snow wall try to remember that the deeper snow actually helps to slow you down so you don’t have to turn so hard against it. Smooth, rhythmic, progressive steering will keep you riding without the snow wall stopping you. • Shoulders Up, Core On: In the deeper snow you can really feel the changes in pressure under your feet. This sometimes feels like it throws you forwards. In the really deep powder you need to lift your shoulders up slightly. If they are shrugged forwards as they would usually be it can make you prone to going over the handlebars. You may also find that you are prone to breaking at the waist and having your upper body going forwards too much. To avoid this activate your core muscles at all times when riding in the deep powder.

www.britishfreeskicamps.com

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FREESTYLE

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• As you approach the lip of the jump you should be nice and relaxed. This is going to help with the take off and pop so you get that extra height. • As you pop you should start rotating at the same time. • Then lift your knees towards your upper body and reach for your inside ski. • Once you’ve made the grab, you should hold this position throughout the rotation. • As you approach the 360 degree mark, start looking for your landing spot and then complete the extra 180. • As you land, ensure you have a wide stance so that you maintain your balance. • Stomped! With your wide stance you can land solidly and ski away smoothly, relishing the props from your friends.

www.britishfreeskicamps.com

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FREESTYLE

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• As you approach the lip of the jump you should be nice and relaxed. This is going to help with the take off and pop so you get that extra height. • As you pop you should start rotating at the same time. • Then lift your knees towards your upper body and reach for your inside ski. • Once you’ve made the grab, you should hold this position throughout the rotation. • As you approach the 360 degree mark, start looking for your landing spot and then complete the extra 180. • As you land, ensure you have a wide stance so that you maintain your balance. • Stomped! With your wide stance you can land solidly and ski away smoothly, relishing the props from your friends.

www.britishfreeskicamps.com

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���� ���� Set at 1,100m above sea level, Laax Murschetg began its life as little more than a car park for weekend skiers. The vast ski area attracted Swiss skiers for miles around, but seemed to have an even greater appeal for the local snowboarders. Laax built on this baggytrousered attention and began improving the freestyle facilities in the resort. With the increase of freestyle skiing, this has also become and important part of the resorts remit. A great deal of the resort development was to capture this freestyle market, and this can be seen in the development of some of the coolest bars, clubs and hotels the Alps has to offer. The award winning Riders Palace hotel is one of the first buildings you see on your way into Laax. The vision of the Riders Palace was to provide accommodation that suited the snowboarders and freeskiers who started to frequent the resort. While the “Back to Basics” rooms are simple 5-man bunk rooms, the Multimedia Rooms and Multimedia Suites offer a range of technological goodies, including X-Boxes, DVD players and projector screens. The bar and lounge area

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has won both national and international design awards and are a general hang-out for residents of the Riders Palace and other people in resort. To top it off, below the hotel is the Riders Palace club which plays host to international acts including Saïan Supa Crew, M.O.P., Ugly Duckling, and Busta Rhymes. The slightly more budget friendly Capri Lounge, located about 5 minutes walk down the road from the Riders Palace, is a simple but comfortable backpackers style hotel. Rooms are basic but provide you with everything you need, and the cheap all-you-can-eat dinner helps you to keep your wallet intact during your stay in Laax. The ski area in Laax is amazing, covering 220km of pistes and peaking at 3,018m on the Vorab Glacier. The fun parks are located conveniently at the Crap Sogn Gion station which can be reached on the main cable car from the centre of Laax Murschetg. This cable car can often develop a queue so it can often be quicker to catch the gondola lift across the street and then the chairlift, which takes you to the same place.

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���� ���� Set at 1,100m above sea level, Laax Murschetg began its life as little more than a car park for weekend skiers. The vast ski area attracted Swiss skiers for miles around, but seemed to have an even greater appeal for the local snowboarders. Laax built on this baggytrousered attention and began improving the freestyle facilities in the resort. With the increase of freestyle skiing, this has also become and important part of the resorts remit. A great deal of the resort development was to capture this freestyle market, and this can be seen in the development of some of the coolest bars, clubs and hotels the Alps has to offer. The award winning Riders Palace hotel is one of the first buildings you see on your way into Laax. The vision of the Riders Palace was to provide accommodation that suited the snowboarders and freeskiers who started to frequent the resort. While the “Back to Basics” rooms are simple 5-man bunk rooms, the Multimedia Rooms and Multimedia Suites offer a range of technological goodies, including X-Boxes, DVD players and projector screens. The bar and lounge area

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has won both national and international design awards and are a general hang-out for residents of the Riders Palace and other people in resort. To top it off, below the hotel is the Riders Palace club which plays host to international acts including Saïan Supa Crew, M.O.P., Ugly Duckling, and Busta Rhymes. The slightly more budget friendly Capri Lounge, located about 5 minutes walk down the road from the Riders Palace, is a simple but comfortable backpackers style hotel. Rooms are basic but provide you with everything you need, and the cheap all-you-can-eat dinner helps you to keep your wallet intact during your stay in Laax. The ski area in Laax is amazing, covering 220km of pistes and peaking at 3,018m on the Vorab Glacier. The fun parks are located conveniently at the Crap Sogn Gion station which can be reached on the main cable car from the centre of Laax Murschetg. This cable car can often develop a queue so it can often be quicker to catch the gondola lift across the street and then the chairlift, which takes you to the same place.

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���� a smile to your face, but the word crap means rock in Swiss German). With a nice atmosphere and friendly bar staff, the Crap Bar is a great place to soothe those aching muscles after a day on the hill with an après-ski beer, and a nice place for a relaxed beer in the evenings. Be aware that if it gets busy, the Crap Bar can end up giving you quite a heavy night if you aren’t careful.

that very reason that they have managed to secure themselves as the location for the Burton European Open, the Orage European Freeski Open and the Orange British Championships. This is a testament to the amazing terrain and the awesome freestyle facilities they provide. It has come a long way since its days as a weekend ski stop, and the future for Laax only looks set to get brighter. ✪

A single day lift pass in Laax will set you back CHF 63 (approx £26.50), but recognising its freestyle visitors, they provide a special Park and Pipe pass for a mere CHF 39 (approx £16.50). This pass gives you access to the lifts you will use to ski the fun park and the slopestyle course.

If you plan to party the night away you have a few choices. The Crap Bar and the Riders Palace have already been mentioned, and these are your main two options in Laax Murschetg. However, if you are willing to venture down to Flims Waldhaus, the Flem Massiv will provide you with some hip hop, reggae, ragga and dance to party the night away. The taxis queue up outside to take you back up to Laax, but by the time the club closes they will all probably be gone and you will be faced with an hour long walk up the road to get back.

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As you ski back into Laax Murschetg you are immediately faced with the Crap Bar (the name may bring

Laax has pushed itself to stand out among the many European resorts as the best freestyle resort. It is for

At the top of the fun park is the Café No Name, which provides music, food, drink and a place to put your bag (although they won’t be held responsible if anything goes missing) while you are out playing in the park. Most days they have a barbeque out front of the café if you want some BBQ chicken or burgers. While Laax is heavily catered towards freestyle, there is also some great freeride terrain there. There is some great tree skiing there below the slopestyle course (take a left off piste 66) and also under the Plaun gondola. Higher up the mountain are some great faces and some awesome rock bands to play about with.

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���� a smile to your face, but the word crap means rock in Swiss German). With a nice atmosphere and friendly bar staff, the Crap Bar is a great place to soothe those aching muscles after a day on the hill with an après-ski beer, and a nice place for a relaxed beer in the evenings. Be aware that if it gets busy, the Crap Bar can end up giving you quite a heavy night if you aren’t careful.

that very reason that they have managed to secure themselves as the location for the Burton European Open, the Orage European Freeski Open and the Orange British Championships. This is a testament to the amazing terrain and the awesome freestyle facilities they provide. It has come a long way since its days as a weekend ski stop, and the future for Laax only looks set to get brighter. ✪

A single day lift pass in Laax will set you back CHF 63 (approx £26.50), but recognising its freestyle visitors, they provide a special Park and Pipe pass for a mere CHF 39 (approx £16.50). This pass gives you access to the lifts you will use to ski the fun park and the slopestyle course.

If you plan to party the night away you have a few choices. The Crap Bar and the Riders Palace have already been mentioned, and these are your main two options in Laax Murschetg. However, if you are willing to venture down to Flims Waldhaus, the Flem Massiv will provide you with some hip hop, reggae, ragga and dance to party the night away. The taxis queue up outside to take you back up to Laax, but by the time the club closes they will all probably be gone and you will be faced with an hour long walk up the road to get back.

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As you ski back into Laax Murschetg you are immediately faced with the Crap Bar (the name may bring

Laax has pushed itself to stand out among the many European resorts as the best freestyle resort. It is for

At the top of the fun park is the Café No Name, which provides music, food, drink and a place to put your bag (although they won’t be held responsible if anything goes missing) while you are out playing in the park. Most days they have a barbeque out front of the café if you want some BBQ chicken or burgers. While Laax is heavily catered towards freestyle, there is also some great freeride terrain there. There is some great tree skiing there below the slopestyle course (take a left off piste 66) and also under the Plaun gondola. Higher up the mountain are some great faces and some awesome rock bands to play about with.

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�������� ZACK WRAGG

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As we seem to be saying year after year, Chris Asquith and Regime Change Productions are going from strength to strength. Chris is quickly becoming the best European freeski movie maker. Three for Flinching has everything you would expect from a Regime Change movie: a collection of Europe’s and the World’s best riders, amazing footage, some stunning graphics and a pumping soundtrack. The movie opens up with the UK’s own Paddy Graham who has also been improving by a staggering amount this past season. Paddy shows why he won his UK Freeski Award as he hits some nice street rails and floats effortlessly through the air with all manner of spins. Other stars include the young Kiwi, Jossi Wells who throws some smooth truck driver 5s, Gaute Haker with what looks like an extremely painful rail attempt in Laax, and Murray Buchan showing why he ends up on the podium so often. Our favourite section has to be Henrik Harlaut’s. This guy is just going off at the moment and was going so huge at the Jon Olsson Invitational last year. Good work, Chris. We can’t wait for next year’s movie.

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As soon as Aggressive Alpine Skiing started playing at the Dark Summer party in October, we knew we were in for a treat. A veritable feast of British riders is provided by Ellis Brigham and the movies producers, Dave Young and Andy Bennett. The movie opens up with Andy Collin’s amazing rail tricks, including a few of his trademark node and tail slides. Then it is straight into the action with Ted Foster’s truck drivers, Jamie Cameron’s rodeos and Pat Sharples’ powder lines. James Vernon will have you on the edge of the seat, not only with his choice of lines, but with the scary moment when a cornice drops out from underneath him. Paddy Graham once again showcases what he learnt last season, with some great street rails and some amazing NZ footage. As if all this wasn’t enough, a quick trip to the extras section lets you watch some KSM vs Refrigerator and NZ Freeski Footage along with last seasons Jib Vids. You can’t really complain for a freebie, now can you?

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������������������������� This year’s offering from the TGR stable mixes rider sections with trip sections. All the usual riders are there that you would expect, including Seth Morrison, Candide Thovex, Kye Peterson (son of the late Trevor Peterson), Jamie Pierre and Marc Andre Belliveau. It is once again a joint ski and snowboard film, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that there is any compromise in it at all. Peter Olenick and Dylan Hood rock the Aspen park with some nice corks, but the highlight of the movie has to be Jamie Pierre’s crazy 245ft cliff huck. OK, so he doesn’t really land it at all, but it takes some cajones to ski off something like that. Check out that monster of a bomb hole! To wrap the whole package up nicely there is some amazingly inspirational powder skiing from Japan, and some surprisingly good terrain from Corsica.

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�������� ZACK WRAGG

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As we seem to be saying year after year, Chris Asquith and Regime Change Productions are going from strength to strength. Chris is quickly becoming the best European freeski movie maker. Three for Flinching has everything you would expect from a Regime Change movie: a collection of Europe’s and the World’s best riders, amazing footage, some stunning graphics and a pumping soundtrack. The movie opens up with the UK’s own Paddy Graham who has also been improving by a staggering amount this past season. Paddy shows why he won his UK Freeski Award as he hits some nice street rails and floats effortlessly through the air with all manner of spins. Other stars include the young Kiwi, Jossi Wells who throws some smooth truck driver 5s, Gaute Haker with what looks like an extremely painful rail attempt in Laax, and Murray Buchan showing why he ends up on the podium so often. Our favourite section has to be Henrik Harlaut’s. This guy is just going off at the moment and was going so huge at the Jon Olsson Invitational last year. Good work, Chris. We can’t wait for next year’s movie.

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As soon as Aggressive Alpine Skiing started playing at the Dark Summer party in October, we knew we were in for a treat. A veritable feast of British riders is provided by Ellis Brigham and the movies producers, Dave Young and Andy Bennett. The movie opens up with Andy Collin’s amazing rail tricks, including a few of his trademark node and tail slides. Then it is straight into the action with Ted Foster’s truck drivers, Jamie Cameron’s rodeos and Pat Sharples’ powder lines. James Vernon will have you on the edge of the seat, not only with his choice of lines, but with the scary moment when a cornice drops out from underneath him. Paddy Graham once again showcases what he learnt last season, with some great street rails and some amazing NZ footage. As if all this wasn’t enough, a quick trip to the extras section lets you watch some KSM vs Refrigerator and NZ Freeski Footage along with last seasons Jib Vids. You can’t really complain for a freebie, now can you?

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������������������������� This year’s offering from the TGR stable mixes rider sections with trip sections. All the usual riders are there that you would expect, including Seth Morrison, Candide Thovex, Kye Peterson (son of the late Trevor Peterson), Jamie Pierre and Marc Andre Belliveau. It is once again a joint ski and snowboard film, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that there is any compromise in it at all. Peter Olenick and Dylan Hood rock the Aspen park with some nice corks, but the highlight of the movie has to be Jamie Pierre’s crazy 245ft cliff huck. OK, so he doesn’t really land it at all, but it takes some cajones to ski off something like that. Check out that monster of a bomb hole! To wrap the whole package up nicely there is some amazingly inspirational powder skiing from Japan, and some surprisingly good terrain from Corsica.

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�����������������CAMILLA STODDART Though sipping on a jug of Speights (local Kiwi tipple), I would occasionally forget that I was actually in New Zealand, as I sat at the bar surrounded by a horde of British freeskiers, pumped up and ready to remind the world that Brits can ski (even with our lack of mountains and fortnight long Scottish seasons). Taking place in Treble Cone, the New Zealand Freeski Open is the biggest freeskiing competition in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting the world’s best riders; from X Games gold medallist Simon Dumont to the local Kiwi big shots Jossi Wells and Hamish Acland. The Halfpipe competition was first up; held at the world-renowned Snow Park NZ. The freshly polished pipe, gleaming in the fantastic weather, was certainly not for the faint-hearted. As the boys and girls warmed up, and I snapped away in the early morning sun, I was proud to witness British riders giving it large amongst the world’s best; young Paddy Graham, Beanie Milne-Home and Becky Hammond sailed majestically past my perched position on the side of the halfpipe. Ultimately it was the French hero Loic Collomb-Patton who cleaned up (with an impeccable switch 1080), closely followed by local boy Jossi Wells, then Simon Dumont in third. Paddy Graham came in an honourable 9th. The ladies pulled their fingers out too, with Beanie coming 9th and Becky 12th.

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The second day was the Slopestyle and the sun was out once again. Snow Park laid on an aweinspiring course that made your heart race just looking at it. From the start, everybody was talking about the battle between the notorious antipodean youngsters, Kiwi Jossi Wells and Aussie legend, Russ Henshaw. Meanwhile, the British skiers were representing our fair nation with Paddy Graham and Lorna Carmichael throwing down their tricks. The competition was stiff with Simon Dumont impressing the crowds no end, but finally it was Aotearoa’s own Jossi who took the crown just ahead of Aussie rival, Russ. Not intimidated by the big guns, Paddy came in 13th. Lorna demonstrated that British girls too have busts of steel, bringing in 4th place and impressing the judges with her clean 5’s over the rather large kickers. After a jovial sunset prizegiving on Snow Park’s flash new decking, the festivities continued in the town, benefiting from the New Zealand Freeski Open’s beer-rich sponsorship deal with Export Gold! The Kiwis never fail to throw a good party. Last up was the Big Mountain competition, held at Treble Cone. This event was also an IFSA World Tour Qualifier so tensions were high as the riders scoped out the ever-changing and highly exposed Motutapu chutes. We couldn’t wait to see the crazy lines that the (mostly local) guys had in store. In the line-up was Aoetearoa’s Tom Dunbar who had already rocked the 2006 Verbier Ride with a record-breaking 9 point line score, alongside Hamish Acland, Sam Smoothy and the notorious billy-goat mountain man Geoff Small. Brits Darryl Ball and Luke Potts were also fully prepared for the big stuff, having been scoping lines all season. The female line-up proved equally hardcore, with a couple of girls flying the Scottish flag. Beanie Milne-Home was set to impress having already tucked away a place on the world tour, and Claire Hughes looked strong. So, everything was good to go and there was even a day in between the events to clear the hangover... and then another five weather days while the snow kept falling and the wind kept blowing. Nonetheless (and despite the “to-party-or-not-to-party” dilemma each night), most of the competitors relished the new snow and sessioned the lowlight, blustery powder days throughout the competition’s delay. Finally a chink in the storm made way for the only clear spell and the Big Mountain riding began. And a hell of a huck fest it was. From their start-point above the carefully controlled and freshly loaded Motutapu chutes, the guys and gals certainly gave the crowd and cameras some eye-candy. Since the weather was soon closing in again the final for the next day was cancelled, meaning that scores were based on one run only; the pressure was on! Hamish and Geoff gave it their all on two spectacular lines, with Hamish taking 1st and Geoff’s original (and rather nerve wracking) line pulled in 2nd. Unfazed by the Kiwi home-turf, Darryl skied strongly and fluidly bringing him in 19th. Beanie lived up to her promise and came in 3rd, loving every minute of her powder turns down the chutes; Claire was hot on her heels in 5th place. Poor Luke Potts misjudged a cliff, attempting a superman off something he probably didn’t mean to, resulting in a nasty crash. Four patrollers, a sled, a nurse and a chopper later he reached the hospital with a blown ACL.

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The final prize giving festively ended another riveting and unique New Zealand Freeski Open that yet again hit all the right spots. Oh and, hang on… did I mention the outrageous partying that went on that last night? Best not. ✪

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New Zealand open 2006 the

�����������������CAMILLA STODDART Though sipping on a jug of Speights (local Kiwi tipple), I would occasionally forget that I was actually in New Zealand, as I sat at the bar surrounded by a horde of British freeskiers, pumped up and ready to remind the world that Brits can ski (even with our lack of mountains and fortnight long Scottish seasons). Taking place in Treble Cone, the New Zealand Freeski Open is the biggest freeskiing competition in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting the world’s best riders; from X Games gold medallist Simon Dumont to the local Kiwi big shots Jossi Wells and Hamish Acland. The Halfpipe competition was first up; held at the world-renowned Snow Park NZ. The freshly polished pipe, gleaming in the fantastic weather, was certainly not for the faint-hearted. As the boys and girls warmed up, and I snapped away in the early morning sun, I was proud to witness British riders giving it large amongst the world’s best; young Paddy Graham, Beanie Milne-Home and Becky Hammond sailed majestically past my perched position on the side of the halfpipe. Ultimately it was the French hero Loic Collomb-Patton who cleaned up (with an impeccable switch 1080), closely followed by local boy Jossi Wells, then Simon Dumont in third. Paddy Graham came in an honourable 9th. The ladies pulled their fingers out too, with Beanie coming 9th and Becky 12th.

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The second day was the Slopestyle and the sun was out once again. Snow Park laid on an aweinspiring course that made your heart race just looking at it. From the start, everybody was talking about the battle between the notorious antipodean youngsters, Kiwi Jossi Wells and Aussie legend, Russ Henshaw. Meanwhile, the British skiers were representing our fair nation with Paddy Graham and Lorna Carmichael throwing down their tricks. The competition was stiff with Simon Dumont impressing the crowds no end, but finally it was Aotearoa’s own Jossi who took the crown just ahead of Aussie rival, Russ. Not intimidated by the big guns, Paddy came in 13th. Lorna demonstrated that British girls too have busts of steel, bringing in 4th place and impressing the judges with her clean 5’s over the rather large kickers. After a jovial sunset prizegiving on Snow Park’s flash new decking, the festivities continued in the town, benefiting from the New Zealand Freeski Open’s beer-rich sponsorship deal with Export Gold! The Kiwis never fail to throw a good party. Last up was the Big Mountain competition, held at Treble Cone. This event was also an IFSA World Tour Qualifier so tensions were high as the riders scoped out the ever-changing and highly exposed Motutapu chutes. We couldn’t wait to see the crazy lines that the (mostly local) guys had in store. In the line-up was Aoetearoa’s Tom Dunbar who had already rocked the 2006 Verbier Ride with a record-breaking 9 point line score, alongside Hamish Acland, Sam Smoothy and the notorious billy-goat mountain man Geoff Small. Brits Darryl Ball and Luke Potts were also fully prepared for the big stuff, having been scoping lines all season. The female line-up proved equally hardcore, with a couple of girls flying the Scottish flag. Beanie Milne-Home was set to impress having already tucked away a place on the world tour, and Claire Hughes looked strong. So, everything was good to go and there was even a day in between the events to clear the hangover... and then another five weather days while the snow kept falling and the wind kept blowing. Nonetheless (and despite the “to-party-or-not-to-party” dilemma each night), most of the competitors relished the new snow and sessioned the lowlight, blustery powder days throughout the competition’s delay. Finally a chink in the storm made way for the only clear spell and the Big Mountain riding began. And a hell of a huck fest it was. From their start-point above the carefully controlled and freshly loaded Motutapu chutes, the guys and gals certainly gave the crowd and cameras some eye-candy. Since the weather was soon closing in again the final for the next day was cancelled, meaning that scores were based on one run only; the pressure was on! Hamish and Geoff gave it their all on two spectacular lines, with Hamish taking 1st and Geoff’s original (and rather nerve wracking) line pulled in 2nd. Unfazed by the Kiwi home-turf, Darryl skied strongly and fluidly bringing him in 19th. Beanie lived up to her promise and came in 3rd, loving every minute of her powder turns down the chutes; Claire was hot on her heels in 5th place. Poor Luke Potts misjudged a cliff, attempting a superman off something he probably didn’t mean to, resulting in a nasty crash. Four patrollers, a sled, a nurse and a chopper later he reached the hospital with a blown ACL.

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The final prize giving festively ended another riveting and unique New Zealand Freeski Open that yet again hit all the right spots. Oh and, hang on… did I mention the outrageous partying that went on that last night? Best not. ✪

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