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The evening entertainment at the Freeze Festival offered me the chance to be among the first to see the ground breaking film from O'Neill and Teton Gravity Research.
The new film from Jeremy Jones may not have had the budget of Travis Rice's hit - That's It, That's All - but has to be the biggest film since. With most films these days centred on a variety of perfectly executed tricks, whether in the back-country, the park or using urban rails, a film based deep into the mountains had the feel of an '80s film with 2010 technology.
The film takes you back to the bare bones of snowboarding and opposed to the using helicopters and snowmobiles the riders hike deep into the mountains, whether in Alaska, Antarctica or Chamonix. The line-up is also incredible with Travis Rice, Josh Dirksen, Xavier De La Rue, Jonaven Moore and Johan Olofsson.
The most incredible section of the film involves them 60 miles into some of Alaska's most daunting mountains and being stuck in a snow storm for 12 days. The team have ten days of food with them, their tents are under a foot of fresh powder and all they have for entertainment is building snow caves, playing cards and sleeping. British photographer, Dan Milner, adds some good humour to the situation with some choice comments. Ten days in the guys are on rations and on day 12 the sun comes out. Now most people after 12 days of sun, minimal food and being stuck in a tent miles from civilisation would go home, but not these guys, new supplies are flown out to them and the next few days the team hike and ride some of the most incredible lines you have ever seen.
Another stand out section is where Jeremy heads to Xavier De LA Rue's home resort of Chamonix and they take out a local guide to some of the craziest terrain I've ever seen. Having hiked deep into the Mount Blanc's surrounding mountains the team have to camp overnight and find themselves in a mountain hut that is literally hanging precariously on the side of a massive cliff face. The following day the team are hiking into their line and are underneath some of the scariest looking avalanche conditions ever seen on film. After a few loose pieces of snow the guys are spooked and head back, once off the mountain Jones points out the biggest goal of back country riding is 'to make it home alive'.
Whether a skier, snowboarder or surfer you can appreciate the incredible snowboarding in this film.
After the film we were treated to a few drinks by the sponsors and had time to chat to one of snowboarding's legends Josh Dirksen and one of the UK's stalwarts and the weekend's MC, Tim Warwood. Dirksen, as he usually known, is a very welcoming guy who is still excited about snowboarding for a living after nearly two decades of professional snowboarding. After a few drinks we had a great conversation about how crazy the film was to make and how Travis Rice is the future of snowboarding. I was also given a few tips on how to convince my girlfriend a week's off-piste snowboarding in Chamonix will be good for me. Dirksen may by 34 (which in professional snowboarding years is usually well into retirement) but he still has a huge passion for snowboarding and snowboarders, he happily chatted to everyone at the show and showed how real passion for snow doesn't die.
Wednesday afternoon at the ski show is always a great way to kick start the season and yesterday was no exception to the rule. We had a fantastic afternoon with many of our good friends from within the world of skiing and very much enjoyed the surprise performance from former Meribel pop-band, The Feeling.
The afternoon got off to a good start over at the Thunder stand where the guys insisted their toffee vodka was better than that of the Morris Bar in Val d'Isere. Of course it would have been rude not to sample their product, and I have to say it is the best toffee vodka I've had outside of the Skilodge.
A walk around the show took us to some pretty cool products and some friendly stands. The guys over at Cool Board were demonstrating their great ways of developing core strength and Grannies inc were showing off their design your own beanies and had one of their grannies knitting away in the background. My favourite new product at this year's ski show has to be the retro, almost ironic, '80s-style one piece suits over at Willyfinder - I'll let you guess where the name comes from. Their über bright attire is bound to find its way into Europe's snowparks and student holiday trips this year, and to be honest for the sheer fun of it I would have bought one had I not forget my credit card!
Later in the afternoon we were treated to wine and canapés from our friends at Skiworld, one of our chalet operators, followed by more of the same by our friends from Inghams. It's always nice to meet up with our biggest suppliers face-to-face opposed to over the phone, plus there's always some good gossip on the go.
The highlight of the afternoon has to be the après ski-esque set that The Feeling did over at the Trois Valley bar. They played a few of their hits and Sophie Ellis Bexter joined them for an acoustic version of 'Murder on the Dance Floor'. They were promoting The Little Word Festival which will be on in Meribel in March, and the band have quite a following in the ski industry after a few seasons playing as cover band Superfly in Meribel. As always the music was great and they gave the show a little bit of a Ronnie-après-ski feel.
After a quick hello over at Natives, Aragon (Formigal) and Ski Big Three it was time to jump on the bus to the Ski Club of Great Britain party. The Ski Club party was fun and started with Pimms on the bus and a champagne reception as they showed off their rebranding (more to follow on this shortly) and their new website. A fun evening entailed and as usual we were joined by the guys from Vail Resorts and Ski Big Three for a quiet drink to discuss what had been a great day.
The ski show has some great entertainment on this year with the Trois Valley Cook-off, the Big Air competition and the Land Rover Fashion shows. If you have time head down there this week and enjoy the hospitality of everyone there.
Thanks to Inghams for inviting us down to the show and to the Ski Club of Great Britain for the evening presentation and entertainment. We'll be heading down again on Friday and then it's the unfortunate 12 month wait until next year's show.
The winter is now well and truly over for most of us. If you're not fortunate enough to have planned some summer skiing to the Southern Hemisphere the next six months will be all about next winter. Where to go, who to go with, and how many times can I get my snow fix in during to 2010/2011. Some of us addicted to waste deep powder, others prefer spending their days inverted in the half pipe and some people are all about the apres ski and party scene.
To aid my fellow snow addicts through another British summer I will be pre-viewing and updating information on the big events, festivals and parties to hit the slopes next winter.
For now I have compiled a list of what we can expect this winter with dates, line-ups and news to follow.
To kick off the winter the London Freeze has been announced for the weekend of the 29th-31st October 2010. The Freeze will play host to both FIS Ski and Snowboard competitions where big names such as Stefan Gimpl and Danny Kass have competed recently and line ups that have included Cypress Hill and Eagle's of Death Metal.
The early season snow and parties usually starts at the Ischgl Opening Party. Last year the conditions were great and Katie Perry headlined the piste side stage.
New Year is a huge party across the Alps, Tignes has a huge stage by the Aeroski and Courchevel 1850 has a massive party by the Crozets. Every bar is packed and the atmosphere from Morzine to Meribel is rocking.
January offers up a few competitions where the skiing and riding will be awesome and the celebration parties, no doubt, will be big. Laax plays home to the Burton European Open, where Brit Jenny Jones has shown success the last couple of seasons. Aspen usually hosts the Winter X-games, one of the biggest competitions in snowsports, expect to see everyone from Shaun White and Tanner Hall to Torah Bright and Jenny Jones fighting for the podium. The party atmosphere is huge with flood-lit competitions, big crowds and DJ sets to keep you warm.
February, being the school holidays and peak holiday season, is a little more chilled. If you need an adrenaline rush though head to Innsbruck, Austria and the Bergisel Stadium for the Billabong Air & Style. This event is home to Dave Benedict's original double cork and Travis Rice's double rodeo. Expect large crowds following the huge dare-devil stunts in the snow filled stadium.
March is a major month for parties, festivals and competitions There is something here for everyone. You can check out everything from the Avoriaz Jazz Festival or Meribel's Altitude Festival to the hedonistic Snowbombing in Mayrhofen. For some serious freestyle skiing and boarding we are hoping to see a return of last years European X-Games held in Tignes as well the Burton US Open in Stratton Mountain, Vermont. There is also The Brits in Laax and BUSC (British Uni champs) in Alpe d'Huez for a more home from home vibe. The Big Snow Festival in Arinsal brings Ibiza to the slopes. For the seasonaires and locals there is the inter-resort competition held in Chamonix, Boss de Bosses.
Finally we head back to Ischgl for the Closing Party in May where you can expect another big name act, spring snow and champagne in every direction.
With all this and plenty more to be announced and confirmed, the slopes are not just for skiing. There are some world class parties and must be seen to be believed events to come this winter. So get yourself out there and enjoy everything the mountains have to offer. If we have missed out any festivals or events that are worth a mention tweet us the info for the next update.
Written by Stephen Adam
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