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Shaun White, love him or hate him, is possibly the greatest competition snowboarder of all time. The snowboarding community are often split over his skill and drive in the sport but one thing you can't doubt is how he has helped shaped competition riding over the past decade.
Before picking up his first Winter X-Games Gold in 2002 Shaun was also making a noise in the world of skateboarding and was often seen as a prodigy of Tony Hawk. Over the summer months Shaun still skates as often as possible, though his fierce competitiveness and the fact skating is seen as his second sport has often led to a similar reaction with skateboarding to that from the snowboarding community.
Not one to let these opinions affect him Shaun has spent the second half of this summer killing it on the Dew Tour, already racking up back-to-back gold medals. In the last event he was evidently the best competitor, and though the like of Bob Burnquist & Sandro Dias were there, the amplitude of his tricks blew the competition away.
Roll back to the Vancouver Olympics, with an awkward build up to the competition - Kevin Pearce, Shaun's main competition, suffered what could yet be a career ending head injury - the 'Flying Tomato' again wow'd the crowds. After Pearce's injury practicing the now well documented double-cork, there were calls from the organisers to ban the extremely technical, dangerous and awe-inspiring trick. Many of the world elite including Peetu Piiroinen and Scotty Lago were throwing down huge variations from their repertoire along with the famous double-cork, though White pulled his incredible variation of the trick - the Tomahawk - out of the bag.
Some argue that he lacks the spirit of riders such as Travis Rice or Britain's Scott McMorris, yet none of us can under-rate his undoubted skills and drive to succeed. For many snowboarders the way his riding centres around competition doesn't represent what snowboarding is all about. His movie parts are limited compared with most big name riders and most snowboarders relate to their favourite riders by their style. The kids at the indoor slopes love to watch Mikey Le Blanc or JP Walker hitting rails and powder fans love to see Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice hiking ridiculous lines in Alaska & Japan. Though his parks runs are often immense and any freestyle fan loves to see his skills, his lack of riding natural terrain causes many to wonder if his skills are too calculated and not 'impromptu' reactions to the mountain around him.
Over the past few years Shaun White has bought snowboarding into the limelight. Along with his back-to-back Olympic Gold medals and his endless snowboarding and skateboarding X-Games wins he has taken on the world of media in a whirlwind of success.
How many snowboarders can boast a private half pipe? Well Red Bull built him one at Silverton Mountain prior to the Olympics. His attitude has landed him on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and he even graced the pages of the US publication of Playboy (he did an interview as opposed to getting naked!). How many athletes can say they've been interview by David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey? His success in the media and his ability to promote the sport globally is a skill that comes second only to his riding.
The world's most famous snowboarder may not always be the world's most popular, but you have to say has become one of the most influential guys in the sport and comparable to Jake Burton, Terje Haakonsen, Shawn Palmer, Jamie Lynn and Travis Rice. To some he may be irksome, but he's also a legend.
Now the summer solstice has passed, the longest day of the year was three weeks ago, we now have the shorter days of winter to look forward to. The peak time of year to organise, plan and book ski holidays is now upon us.
With that in mind I took to thinking what can I do this winter to make sure I'm fit enough to make the most of a week in the mountains? My pre-season trip last December finished early with a damaged ACL in my right knee, so this year I want to make sure everything is in full working order before I go.
As I'm not a gym bunny, and many of us aren't, I decided to go down the doughnut-friendly and non-scientific route. After a few conversations with the Igluski experts and the help of Iglu's friends and fans from Facebook and Twitter, I have come up with a few helpful tips on getting ready for your skiing holiday. Some of these activities need months of practice, others can be taken up a few weeks before you leave.
Now skiing holidays don't merely involve skiing, there is also the three course meals, carb cravings and the odd après ski drink to prepare yourself for. Not all of us have the ability to eat Christmas dinner proportions of food, followed by skiing the next day for a whole week.
So it may only be July, and the only skiing or boarding I'm likely to do over the next five months will be at one of the fridges in Milton Keynes or Hemel Hempsted, but it's seems as good a time as any to let the training begin.
So where to start?
Bend it like Beckham One of the first suggestions we had was to try Yoga or Pilates, as they are good for core strength and flexibility. And according the Brad Friedel, yoga is the reason he is still a top goalkeeper at 39. Ok so football isn't exactly skiing, but 'keepers spend a lot of time either in the air or throwing themselves onto the floor, and that I can relate to!
Head to your local dry slope Instead of handing over £20 to ride the carpet like slopes, another suggestion we had involves both exercise and a real commitment to skiing. Help relay the slope's dendex, this way you experience manual labour, to burn off the summer's ice-creams, and the added benefit of getting in a few turns afterwards.
On you bike One of the most popular suggestions is among the most cost efficient and easiest. Either jump on your bike or get your trainers on and go for a run.
Don't take the lift Burn off a few more calories and stretch those leg muscles by taking the stairs instead of lifts or escalators, another free exercise for most office workers or commuters on London's Underground.
Work those hands My personal favourite. Our in-house ski instructor, August, suggested a great way to improve your ski pole grip is to... squeeze limes. Yes that's right squeezing citrus fruit is good for skiing!
Get your drinking jacket on According to our sales manager AJ drinking two shots of Jaegermeister a day after work will improve your après ski fitness.
Another colleague in the Iglu team mentioned the biggest mistake he ever made was having two weeks without drinking before a holiday. During which his ESF instructor plied him with a little too much Genepy one lunch, writing off his afternoon on the slopes.
So there you have it. Take a yoga class, use the stairs, go for a run and squeeze some lime into your pre-holiday drink. Now there's a training plan even I could handle.
Written by Stephen Adam
One of the ever present arguments of how to get the Alps is the train vs plane debate. With the demise of the infamous snow-train, its all night party culture and its two extra days on the slopes, can the direct Eurostar service hold its own compared to short haul flights?
There are a variety of arguments over why one mode of transport is preferred to another: the resorts you can access, cost, travel time, luggage allowance, comfort, and access to stations and airports. All of these different aspects have to be considered to give a fair opinion on what works for you.
One of the reasons the old snow-train was so popular was the fact that you could be in the resort by 9am Saturday morning and didn't have to get the return train until after 7pm the following week, giving you eight days on the mountain. Everyone from snow addicts, to the one holiday a year crowd, would happily jump on the train, crawl into their couchette and enjoy those extra two days of skiing.
The second factor was the legendary disco-carriage. Many a hangover and even a few pre-skiing injuries were a result of the all night disco from Paris.
The current ski-train, as it has become known, is a direct daytime Eurostar service. But how does it fare without the extra days' skiing and ability to party the night away? Well there are some definite advantages over flying in my opinion. The train departs London St. Pancras at 10am and arrives in Moutiers around 5pm and Bourg around 6pm (this season's times are yet top be published). So you are looking at around an 8-9 hour journey.
Flying, from London Gatwick for example, to comparable resorts, takes around an hour and a half to Geneva and around two hours to Chambery. Chambery transfers range from an hour and a half to two and a half hours, whereas from Geneva you are looking at between three and four hours to the Tarantaise resorts. Add into the mix travelling to the airport two hours before the flight, and the fact that a vast amount of ski holiday flights depart between 6am and 8am and you are looking at a very early start. Once you combine this with a flight to Geneva, collecting your bags and sitting on a four hour transfer to Val d'Isere, you can easily be looking at a 8/9 hour day.
Cost is a funny one, if you are looking at your standard package holiday the price includes flights, usually from a London airport, therefore to go by train often adds a premium. Flights tend to be cheaper than the train, but for someone who can jump on the tube to St. Pancras, getting to the Eurostar is much cheaper than using the Gatwick Express, and much quicker. Therefore depending on the cost of the supplement, and where you live, the price can balance out.
Luggage allowance, on most charter flights you are looking at 20kg and if you're taking your skis an additional £30. If you are travelling by train as long as it fits in your suitcase, and you can carry it, then your baggage is fine, also your ski carriage has been included in previous years. The last time I travelled by train I had a 32kg suitcase and a huge boardbag with two snowboards, boots, bindings, helmet and all my snowboard clothing, the extra charge? Nothing. Lets hope this remains the same for this season.
Resorts; this is where the train does fall down. You can get to three of the five largest ski areas in France, including the largest linked ski area in the world, the Three Valleys. Other resorts include the Espace Killy, Paradiski, La Rosiere and St. Foy. Offering you a fantastic choice of skiing that will suit every ability and preference. By flying you have access to every resort in the world, from Klosters to Borovets and from Whistler to Niseko The choice is incomparable.
For my yearly trip out to Morzine I'll be jumping on a plane to Geneva as it's only an hour transfer, and if I decide go to Austria or Italy this year, the only choice is to fly. Though I have to say if my planned trip to Tignes or Meribel goes ahead I will take the Eurostar. For me its 20 minutes to the station, I don't have to worry about my girlfriend overloading her suitcase and then filling half of mine and I can take one boardbag with all our kit in it. Add in an M&S picnic on the train, a couple of bottles of wine and maybe a film on the lap top and you've got a relaxing journey to the Alps.
The great thing about travel is that there an option that suits everyone.
Written by Stephen Adam.
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