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I’ve done my fair share of black pistes in the Alps, but as a snowboarder my favourites may differ to a skiers, so with help from our expert ski team: Sales Director, Adam Johnson, Head of Ski Product, James Box and Ski Team Leaders, Nick and Scotty, we’ve put together the ultimate top 5 black runs in Europe. From beginner blacks to harakiri-extreme pistes, you’ll feel like a ski champion after executing these slopes.
5. Aiguille Rouge, Les Arcs, France A Black/Red run for starters If your ski legs aren’t warmed up yet, they will be after this. From the top of Aiguille Rouge at 3226m you can take the epic 7 km Aiguille Rouge run down 2000 vertical metres to the village of Villaroger. It’s a mix of terrain starting as a black run for the first half, then a red piste through the trees for the remainder of the run. The steepest section is at the top, after that it feels more like a red run (a blackish red?)
4. Saslong, Selva, Italy
A world class thrill The World Cup Saslong run from Selva down into St Christina ‘is awesome’ says James. It’s not a difficult black run, as there a steeps followed by flats, followed by steeps, etc. So if you are flying down the piste you can get lots of air just as the downhill racers do when the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup comes to Val Gardena. Extreme fun paired with the beautiful scenery and the stunning mountain range backdrop.
3. La Sache, Espace Killy, France Not for the faint hearted AJ: My favourite black run in the Espace Killy is La Sache. There is a big caveat on this though. It must be done before lunch or maybe at lunchtime when the pistes are emptier. Some of the narrower and steeper sections get very crowded with skiers negotiating the monster moguls that form during the day that makes it a nightmare later in the day. Just before lunch is ideal because there is a great little Savoyard restaurant in Tignes-Les-Brévières called La Sachette that you can stop at after. At 1550m, this is the lowest point in the whole Espace Killy and therefore the warmest and best for dining outdoors. Scotty: The first time you do La Sache you just wonder where the hell you are going to end up, it’s steep, bendy but awesome. 2. Grand Couloir, Courchevel, France
Terror at the top
At the top of Saulire at 2700m there is just one of the famous Courchevel couloirs marked on a piste map as a run, the Grand Couloir. This famous piste is often high on the list for the scariest black run in the world and can get extremely mogully if it hasn’t snowed in a while. To get to the Grand Couloir there is a narrow ridge that gets icy and grooved so you can’t turn your skis to slow down. As you pick up speed the ridge gets steeper and bumpier. I’ve seen quite a few skiers lose their nerve and bail out at this stage but if you hold your nerve there is a small space to stop at the end of the track. The GC is steep to start but it quickly widens, it is steeper if you keep to skier’s right and stay in the shadow to get the best snow.
1. Chassoure – Tortin, Verbier, Switzerland
The possibilities are endless
From the Chassoure peak there are a few options to make your descent, depending on the snow fall and conditions these slopes can change daily. From the top you can drop straight in and face the moguls of ‘the wall’ or traverse along and ski down when you see a preferred route. The 700m track takes you down to Tortin where you can head up toward Mont Fort, or tackle the Chassoure-Tortin run again. This was described as a ‘skiers dream’ by one of the team, but beware as this is world renowned as an extreme ski run.
If you're looking to tantalise your extreme taste buds further, here is a quick rundown of more brilliant black pistes in Europe: For Starters: Piste 21 (under Chairlift 1), Kitzbühel, wide black run with flatter sections For Excitement: Through the tunnel in Alpe D’Huez …… stop… out the door…. ARRRHH. Beware, it’s steep. For Fear Factor: Anything down Mont Gele in Verbier. For Endurance: Point de Vue at Grand Montets in Chamonix, the run goes on forever. For Mogul Mania: Top of the Valluga in St Anton, it’s about half a mile of moguls! Gulp factor: Pan du Fou, Nendaz. If you’re a chicken then you turn right:
In the middle of the hustle and bustle of day 1 at the London Ski and Snowboard Show, we met up with cheeky chappie and Team GB snowboarder Jamie Nicholls. After a stunning performance at Sochi and achieving sixth place in the first ever snowboard slopestyle final in a Winter Games, the Olympics has thrown Jamie into the spotlight and he is now recognised as one of the country’s best snowboarders. Nicholls scored a huge 85.5 from the judges on his first run, but the standard of the male snowboarders was so high and Jamie was knocked out the running for a medal. We caught up with Jamie about his Sochi experience, what he’s been up to over the summer and his plans for the this winter, including a pretty big exciting secret project that’s happening in London (watch the video below for more info)
The Yorkshire lad is well known for lapping Halifax dryslope since a tender age, so he is an ideal example to inspire a generation to have a go and try skiing or snowboarding at their local ski centre. Since Sochi, Snowsport England have recorded a 12% increase in participation at domestic slopes and centres year on year, which is fantastic news for the British ski and snowboard industry. As the latest ambassador for Snowsport England’s national participation campaign, Go Ski Go Board, Jamie tells us that he is ‘trying to help build good camps for kids’ with the governing body and help fly the flag for winter sports. He is a regular to The Snow Centre Hemel Hempstead which always creates a buzz at the dome and inspires more people to give it a go themselves.
Read more about Team GB's involvement with Go Ski Go Board He has a very light hearted approach to getting in to the sport, and when asked for advice for anyone wanting to learn: Drop in to your closest snowdome, snow centre or dry slope and give it a good go. If you like it, stick at it, if you don’t like it, try it again and again till you do (laughs)… we agree too!
Hayley and I meeting Jamie at the Ski & Snowboard Show
The British snowboarder has a busy winter ahead of him. Last week he narrowly missed out on a podium spot on his first competition of the season and came in 4th at the Burton Rail Days in Tokyo. Some people will see fourth as a good result in Japan but I was going out there to try and win it. Next up will be the Dew Tour Mountain Championships in Breckenridge from 11 -14 December. After some training and down time in Austria he has high hopes for the competition in Colorado. Snowboarding has taken Jamie all over the globe and the 21 year old is now recognised as one of the World’s best snowboarders. But when he’s not in the park he does enjoy the backcountry; Last winter Jamie went on his first splitboard adventure in Austria, and that must have given him the bug as when we asked him if could snowboard somewhere in the world he’s not been before, Jamie told us that he desires a trekking trip to Nepal, Argentina or some weird places that I’ve never been and never get a chance to go. We are very interested to see what Jamie gets up to this season.
Jamie in Stubai, Austria.
Join in the celebrations for the 10th year of winter fun at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Warm up to winter in style at one of the most beautiful and iconic settings in the Capital, the Natural History Museum Ice Rink is now open throughout the festive season. If there is one place in the city to kick start your festive spirit and to start counting down to winter, here it is. The ice rink is set in the foreground of the stunning Museum and will be open to skaters through till Sunday 4th January.
Want to win the chance to go to ice skating at the Natural History Museum for free? See the bottom of the blog for more info.
Many ski area’s aren't open till mid-December, so if you are as ski crazy as us and cannot wait another few weeks to satisfy that snow urge this is one activity that will delight your winter lust. Set in a winter wonderland, surrounded by nearly 80,000 twinkling fairy lights and a huge glittering 40 ft Christmas tree, beginners and advanced skaters alike can enjoy the 1,000 square meter rink. As we can’t enjoy the slopes just yet, we have spent the build up to ski season trying and testing all the exciting winter and ski themed activities you can do in London. We were lucky enough to visit this festive haven in its first week of opening, and what a wonderful evening out we had! From exiting the underground, you are dazzled by the exquisite fairy lights and then stunned by the extraordinary architecture of the Natural History Museum before you stop and take it the atmosphere of this beautiful setting. There is something very special about being able to ice skate outside in the middle of London on a winter’s evening.
It is the perfect activity for friends and family alike, all ages were out on the ice and if there is someone in your group that isn't ice-ready, they can stand around the outside and take photos or enjoy a mulled wine from the café bar.
The marketing girls looking festive at ice skating
Here’s what we had to say on our adventure on the ice:
Chloe: "Ice skating at the Natural History museum was a magical evening out that helped throw me in to the Christmas spirit. I was mesmerised by all the lights, the decadent Christmas tree, and music. I was also impressed that the ice wasn’t too overcrowded. Followed by a mulled wine and festive nibbles at the bar, this is certainly an experience I would recommend anyone to share with your friends and family."
Laura C: "A fantastic location just outside of the Natural History Museum, the setting couldn’t have been better. The ice rink was the perfect size, and the big Christmas tree in the middle added the perfect wintery touch. I had great fun skating around (and trying not to fall over), and it’s safe to say that I’m definitely feeling festive and in the Christmas spirit now."
Iglu Ski on ice & the view of the ice rink from the balcony at the cafe bar
Where? Natural History Museum. Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD. Nearest tube – South Kensington
When? Thursday 30 October 2014 – Sunday 4 January 2014. Check the website for daily session times. How? Online: http://www.nhmskating.com. In Person: at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink Box Office. Phone: 0844 847 1576 Extra sessions The Ice Rink will also be offering ‘SK8’ sessions where all can take to the ice for extended skating periods. On weekdays in November, the Ice Rink will hold special sessions for parents and toddlers, and for students who present their NUS card at the box office. Parents with pre-school children can enjoy special rate skating sessions with complimentary drinks for both adult and child in the cafe afterwards. Students will also benefit from an exclusive special rate and complimentary drink. Visit the website for more details on sessions and offers www.nhmskating.com
Celebrate the festive season at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink, London’s most spectacular winter attraction. Whether you’re a novice or an expert skater, it’s a wonderful day out with family, friends or someone special. This Christmas one lucky reader will win two tickets to London’s most enchanting ice rink for an unforgettable Christmas experience in the capital. To win – Head to Facebook to like and comment on the image telling us who you would take with you, or go to Twitter and retweet this tweet. Terms and Conditions: Promotion closes at 23:59 on 30 November 2014. Winners will be notified on 01 December 2014. The prize must be redeemed by 12 December 2014 and is non-transferable and has no cash alternative. There is one prize of two ice skating tickets at The Natural History Museum Ice Rink. Advance booking is essential, and prize is subject to availability. Blackout dates may apply. The winner will be the first entrant selected at random after the closing date. Over-18’s only. Promoter: IMG (UK) Ltd. By Krystelle
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