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With this year’s Winter Olympics really raising awareness of disciplines such as Slopestyle and Halfpipe, many people are now wondering how they can try these styles out for themselves. The good news is you don’t have to travel far to give it a go, with countless dry slopes and snowdomes around the country offering freestyle lessons, one-on-one coaching and competitions for all ages and abilities. Stick with it and before you know it you could be smashing out those triple corks, backside rodeo 540’s and cab 180’s just like the pros!
The basic requirements for beginning to learn these tricks are that you can confidently perform linked turns on either your skis or your snowboard. You also need to be able to ride switch (backwards for skiers, riding with the opposite leg forward for snowboarders). This takes a lot of practice, but many beginner freestyle lessons focus on helping you to grasp riding switch before they begin to teach you the rest.
Wondering what all this stalefish-fakie-ally-ooping-lincoln-looping means? We’ve broke down some of the freestyle lingo to help you get your head around it all…
Kicker – Another name for either a man-made or natural jump.
Jib – Any obstacle that you can jump on or over eg. Rails, boxes, tree stumps, etc.
Grab – To grab either your board or your skis in the air, using either hand.
Air – Any kind of jump off the ground.
Switch/Fakie – On skis, this is riding backwards. On a snowboard this is riding with the opposite leg forward.
Stalefish Air – A jump in the air, using your rear hand to grab the heel edge of the board between the bindings.
Air-to-Fakie – enter the halfpipe forwards then come back down backwards, without any rotation.
Spin on – A spin before landing on the rail.
Spin out – A spin to exit the rail.
180, 360, 540, 720 – These numbers are the number of degrees in which the skier or boarder rotates. You can perform different moves with varying degrees of rotation, for example backside 180. 180 degrees is half a turn, 360 a full turn, 540 one and a half turns, 720 is two complete rotations, etc.
Lincoln Loop – A flip to the side, almost like a cartwheel with no hands, except the legs are tucked into the body.
A Lincoln Loop
Rodeo – A cross between a flip and a spin. This move is an off-angle backflip, where your feet come over your head at an angle rather than directly above.
Misty – The same as a Rodeo, except you flip forwards instead of back.
Cork – An off-axis spin, where the feet whip round to your side, rather than over your head as they would with a back flip.
In this video, the first move is a Backside Rodeo 540 and the second move is a Backside Corkscrew 540
Backside 180 – 180 degree rotation in the air, turning clockwise for regular and anti-clockwise for goofy.
Ally-Oop – For this trick, as you come up into the air you turn 360 degrees, grabbing your board or skis before landing to face the same way that you started.
How To Frontside Alley-Oop
In addition to all of these courses, you’ll also find that Maverix Snow, Definition Camps, Salomon Grom Ski Camps and Grounded Freestyle Coaching all offer day courses in freestyle at various snowdomes.
These are not all of the possible freestyle options that you can experience here in the UK – most dry ski slopes also offer freestyle coaching sessions. If you want to learn halfpipe, then you’ll have to venture a little further unfortunately as currently the only UK halfpipe is situated in Cairngorm, Scotland. However, most snowdomes offer quarterpipes which are a good starter to get you learning some of those halfpipe tricks.
Here's a video featuring the Team GB Freestyle athletes to get you feeling inspired. Enjoy!
What’s this? Club Med is launching a new resort?
Yes, Club Med are opening a brand new 4 Trident resort in the popular French ski area in Val Thorens in the 3 Vallées. The resort will be called Val Thorens Sensations and is due to open on the 14th December 2014. They’ve used crowdsourcing to help decide on certain aspects of the new build, starting a Facebook community where followers helped to make key decisions, such as whether there should be an indoor climbing wall (they voted yes!). Sensations is set to operate from November to May, promising optimal snow cover during that time due to the resort’s high altitude.
Who is the new resort aimed at?
The new resort will be aimed at groups of friends, singles, couples and families with teenage children. The resort is accessible to young children too (from 2 years up), however, there will no kids clubs or kids entertainment programmes running.
So what makes this newbie stand out from the other Club Med resorts then?
The resort will stand out from the rest due to its contemporary design, which features huge bay windows that will give guests a fantastic view of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. There are 3 sun-facing terraces and the majority of rooms promise to have breathtaking mountain views. Each of the rooms will be one of four different categories – there will be 361 Club Rooms, 12 Deluxe Rooms, 5 Junior Suites and 6 Suites.
We know that Club Med is all inclusive, so what dining options will this new resort provide me with?
There will be 2 onsite restaurants which will stay open from 7.30am till midnight, so whether you’re an early riser or a night owl then there will be something to suit you. One of the restaurants will provide a buffet set up and the other will be a concept restaurant, catering for the more gourmet tastes and offering a menu of local cuisine. For those dying to get out on the slopes, a self-service take-away corner will provide guests with a range of hot drinks and snacks, which can be taken out onto the slopes with them.
What about the après ski?
If you’re after a drink, then Sensations will have the choice of 2 bars and a packed schedule of evening entertainment. One bar will offer a more cosy and intimate setting, whereas the other will provide a more open and lively atmosphere. From 3.30pm each day, the Wine Cellar and Grocery Store will play host to a range of wine tasting sessions, after which guests can purchase goodies to take home with them.
Can I hire equipment direct from the resort?
Val Thorens Sensations have struck up a partnership with Rossignol and will also be supplying equipment by Lacroix and Dupraz, meaning that guests will be able to rent top quality boots, boards, skis and more. Once you’ve got your equipment sorted, you’ll also have the option to take ski and snowboard lessons, which are included in the price and aimed at all levels from beginner through to advanced. The resort is also in a ski-in ski-out position, making it super easy to get out on the slopes once you’ve got your equipment.
When I’m not on the slopes, what other activities can I do?
Sensations will put a special focus on health, fitness and wellbeing, offering a range of additional packages which include fitness training, nutritional advice and spa treatments. If you want a break from the slopes, or you just fancy working on your fitness a bit more, then a range of fitness classes are included in the price of your stay. Zumba, Body-Balance and Pilates are just some of the classes on offer. Alternatively, if you’re a little shy about training in a room full of others, you can choose to join in with a toning workout video, which will be available from the privacy of your room. For all those gym and weight fanatics out there, there is a fully equipped cardio and weight training zone. If you’re on the lookout for a bit more adrenaline then there is also a large 10 metre high climbing wall with 4 routes, mountain biking, sledging, snow mobiling and boardercross. If you fancy a swim, then you can head to a nearby pool, where you’ll receive free entry as a Val Thorens Sensations guest.
I’m too tired for more exercise, what can I do to relax here?
After a hard day on the slopes, why not relax with a Turkish Bath? All customers will have free access to the onsite Turkish Bath and will have the option to pay extra for spa treatments to wind down after an exhausting day.
Spa treatments aren’t really my thing, what else can I do?
If you’re still looking for more to do, then the resort will also house a tenpin bowling alley and a shopping boutique. Also on offer is a selection of ‘a la carte’ excursions, which will allow guests to pick and choose outings as they please. These will include a Baroque art guided tour, a traditional themed evening in a yurt and a snowscooter outing.
What else can you tell me about Sensations?
This new resort promises to be very digitally focused and wi-fi will even be available out on the slopes. High speed internet, ranging from free packages to high speed paid packages will be available in the hotel. The resort even has its own app so that users can look at the daily schedule of events, find ski buddies and share content such as images and music. In most public areas, digital screens will display information relating to daily activities and weather conditions. To top it all off, Sensations promises effective queue management to heighten guests overall experience, making it as stress free, fun and relaxed as possible.
Excitement for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics reached fever pitch this week with the long awaited announcement of Team GB.
We caught up with former Olympic sprinter, Craig Pickering, who has been selected for the Team GB bobsled team, to hear his thoughts on this huge achievement.
Craig, Congratulations on qualifying for Team GB for Sochi 2014. What did you do when you heard you made the Olympic Team?
I was just relieved to have made it! I knew that once our second 4-man sled had qualified for the Games that I was almost certainly going to be selected, and so that was the major hurdle to overcome. We qualified in the last possible race, so it was quite a stressful few weeks, but in the end it all turned out fine.
It's not your typical British Saturday morning sporting activity, how did you get into bobsledding?
I used to be a sprinter, and I needed a back operation in March 2012 which ruled me out of the 2012 Olympic Games. Due to this, I lost my lottery funding, and so I needed to either get a job or find a sport that would provide me with some funding. I wasn't at all keen on getting a job, so the best option seemed to be finding another sport. My athletics coach and one of my training partners were already involved in the bobsleigh set up, so they put me in contact with the Performance Director, who was keen to give me a try out. I went to a few testing days and did very well, so the next step was to do some racing, and I haven't looked back since.
How have you found the transition from summer to winter Olympics?
Physically it hasn't been too difficult, as I was already a high performance athlete. The hardest thing physically has been putting on weight - I'm currently 16kg heavier than when I ran my best 100m time. This requires eating a lot of food and spending time in the gym. It can be really hard to eat enough food, as you are always full and it becomes hard work. The most difficult aspect has been the technical transition. It’s quite difficult to learn a new skill quickly, especially when there are three different positions in bobsleigh that I could possibly race at, but I have tried my best to become proficient at all of these positions.
Tell us about the fundraising efforts made for the team?
I'm fortunate enough to be supported by UK Sport and Lottery funding, so I haven't had to do any fund-raising efforts this year.
Have you always had an interest in winter sports?
I've never really been into winter sports before. As a professional sports person it’s probably not a good idea to ski or snowboard as there is a pretty high risk of injury. My girlfriend likes to snowboard, so once I retire I expect I’ll do some of that with her.
Do you have a favourite ski resort?
St Moritz is excellent as it’s the only natural bobsleigh track in the world, so it’s quite a different experience.
What other Olympic events are you looking forward to seeing?
I enjoy watching ice hockey, so will try and watch a few of those games. I also know a few of the bob-skeleton athletes so will be following their progress closely too.
How many times a day are you faced with references to Cool Runnings?
It happens quite a lot! I guess as it’s the only thing Joe Public knows about bobsleigh it’s going to happen quite a bit.I just smile and nod.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Craig as he prepares for the first Winter Olympic experience. The Sochi 2014 kicks off 7 February 2014 with Craig and the rest of the bobsled team hitting the track 16 February. We wish the team the very best of luck and look forward to a month of gripping winter entertainment.
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