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Last night, Absinthe Films brought their latest film, Resonance, to the UK, kicking off the premiere with big name riders, Danny Kass and Sylvain Bourbousson. We were invited to the Coronet Cinema and Notting Hill Arts Club for an evening of snowboarding, beanie-wearing and beer drinking.
Snowsports' film premieres are always fun and everyone has their own way of doing things. Red Bull like a dramatic IMAX showcase, Warren Miller like to head to Leicester Square and Absinthe went for an arty corner of London — but made it feel like you were in a ski resort. Everywhere you looked it was tight jeans, baggy t-shirts & beanies and Danny Kass couldn't look more like a stereotypical (in skier's eyes) snowboarder if he tried.
This of course, set the scene perfectly for the film. Resonance follows a formula that Absinthe Films have perfected, which is to make snowboarding look fun. They might be doing super-human riding, insane lines and taking on 68-step rails, but it looks fun — completely unachievable, but fun.
Danny Kass (centre), with Laura and Nick from our ski team
Resonance hasn't attempted to boast an innovative approach, a Red Bull budget or far-out destinations, but it does capture your imagination. Absinthe favourites Romain de Marchi, Mikey LeBlanc and Travis Rice have been replaced with younger, equally impressive and outrageously good riders Bode Merrill and Cale Zima over recent years, which keeps the films feeling fresh. There are only so many times you can watch Mikey LeBlanc smashing up a snowboard after a bomb drop or attaching bindings to a sledge.
For me, the stand-out section of Resonance is all about the aforementioned Bode Merrill. It looks like you're watching a mate playing on his Playstation as Merrill goes off a huge back country booter, fully inverted and tweaking out his grab, only to realise he's doing the whole thing one footed — one footed, really! Bode Merrill has been playing the one-footed trick for a while, but the huge hits he now does and the styled-out tricks are taking it to a new level. It's almost as if he's taken a look at the double/triple-cork and 1440 scene, put two fingers up and said "yeah, but I bet you can't do this".
Cale Zima is fast becoming a favourite of mine and is giving Mikey LeBlanc a run for his money with his urban riding. There's one section where he does a bomb drop and slides his heel edge along a vertical grate — I'm not doing this justice here — which is both insane and cringeworthy as you wonder how he lands it. God only know how Zima still has all his teeth — his approach to urban snowboarding is terrifyingly on the edge of a painful face plant most of the time.
The film finished with a double section from Nico Müller, I don't care if you ski, snowboard or even snowblade, there isn't a snow-lover out there who won't enjoy watching this living legend tear-up the back country. Powder lines, rooster tales and styled-out tricks where you can actually see what he's attempting. I sometimes miss watching David Benedek, but watching Nicolas Müller soon fills that gap, and then some.
Resonance is another fantastic offering from Absinthe Films that makes you want to crack open a beer, sit back and chill out for an hour. Then you'll be planing your next trip on your board as soon as it finishes. Hats off to Patrick Armbruster and Justin Hostynek for making another Autumn bearable.
With the kids going back to school today winter is going to be here before we know. With the Freeze Festival less than seven weeks away and the ski season officially arriving in under 100 days, here are five awesome films that are getting us excited about the coming winter.
Jeremy Jones' Further
Jeremy Jones' Further is this year's epic and follows on from Deeper — which was released in 2010. Deeper took us, well, deeper into the mountains and Further promises to, you guessed it, take us further into the mountains. Whether you ski or snowboard you will be able to appreciate the incredible riding and ground-breaking destinations, that Jeremy Jones will take you to, in this film.
Warren Miller's Flow State
Winter officially starts when the Warren Miller tour begins, so it would be rude not to mention this year's offering, Flow State. Flow State will no doubt be filled with incredible lines, inspiring destinations and their renowned thematic approach — this years seem to be about the outer body experience skiing brings for many of us. Polar bears, powder, parks, world class pros and terrifyingly good groms are all in store for you.
Absinthe Films have been making some of the most fun-filled snowboard films for years and Resonance looks like it will follow suit. They balance freeride and freestyle riding seamlessly. Watching Absinthe's films reminds me of days on the mountain with friends and always gets me hyped for my holidays — even if the riding surpasses my wildest dreams and capabilities. You can pretty much guarantee this film will be playing in my chalet the day we arrive!
The Dream Factory
The Dream Factory is another offering from TGR, who made the above Further as well as cracking ski films such as Light The Wick. The Dream Factory promises an atmospheric experience of Alaska's world renowned, filled with incredible lines from this past winter along with a little bit of history and clips from a trip back in '91. Alaska is the reason fat skis were invented and the mountains there never fail to captivate an audience.
If it wasn't for Jake Burton snowboarding would be nowhere near where it is today. The godfather of the sport who backed the likes of Terje and White and whose snowboards, films and riders have inspired generations of snowboarders in the sports short history. With this is mind, 13 has to be on your 2012 hit list.
If this doesn't get you in the mood for winter, well, I don't know what will.
Val Thorens' newest property, Hotel Altapura, is not only the resort's first five star hotel, but it is also the sister hotel to one of the most sought after properties in the Alps — Les Fermes de Marie in Megeve.
Les Fermes de Marie is the premier hotel in the exclusive resort of Megeve, and finding a room here can often be near on impossible. To put this into context, it's easier to find a hotel that will take a booking in Lech over Christmas, then Les Fermes des Marie for the whole season — and you pretty much only get a room in Lech over Christmas if your family have been staying there for 20 years, or if you own a Formula 1 team!
Though Val Thorens may lack the exclusivity of Megeve, it does boast the world's largest ski area and one of, if not the, best ski areas around. Generally a luxury trip to the Three Valleys would mean a trip to Courchevel 1850, and with the hotel chain cutting their mustard in Megeve and St. Tropez, that's where you would have expected them to go. So, why Val Thorens?
Val Thorens may not be the prettiest or most exclusive resort in Europe, but it is the highest and offers door step skiing. Also being the five star hotel in resort gives added exclusivity. There is also another unspoken advantage of Val Thorens, it lacks the recent Russian influx of Courchevel and the Surrey-on-Ski feel of Meribel — which can't be a bad a thing!
So, back to the hotel. Hotel Altapura will be a five star property from this coming winter, described as "the highest Skipalace" by the hoteliers themselves. The Nordic-influenced property may lack the picturesque, Alpine charm of Les Fermes des Marie, but the '50s Scandinavian-influenced building is more fitting with the stark, rocky backdrop that is Val Thorens.
The five star hotel boasts the renowned Les Enfants Terrible restaurant — which features in Megeve as well as a stand alone restaurant in Paris — and a 10,000 ft spa, to ensure every need of the luxury-seeking guests will be pampered for. The hotel's interior is filled with a wonderful combination of wood, stone and marble throughout, with the sun terrace enjoying wonderful views of the Caron peak. The hotel is based at the bottom of the resort opposite the Plain Sud chairlift in a ski in/out location, with the main village a short walk away — not that anyone staying on the Altapura will take any notice of the rest of the resort.
The Altapura boasts a great choice of dining options, with the hotel's half-board option including a sumptuous six course evening meal. The aforementioned Les Enfants Terrible is a highlight of Les Fermes des Marie. In the hotel's glamorous restaurant you expect cuisine of the highest order, with six a la carte courses as standard, and signature dishes the from Megeve and Paris venues on the menu. If that doesn't take your fancy Le 2.Mille.3 offers a traditional menu, with stunning views of the Caron from the terrace during lunch, or La Laiterie offers fine wine and cheese, and of course, a choice of raclette and fondues.
Val Thorens has slowly been dipping its toes into the VIP market over the past few years. The lifts are being upgraded left, right and centre, the family-run four star hotels are impossible to book in peak season, and the arrival of the of Val d'Isere's most renowned après ski bar, the Folie Douce — with its champagne flowing VIP section — have all been welcome additions.
Les Fermes des Marie may be the epitome of luxury and exclusivity, and hopefully the Altapura can offer the impeccable standards, incredible cuisine, but in a more accessible hotel and, of course, in the world's number one ski area. In summary, it's hoorays all round for this stunning hotel.
Photos © www.altapura.fr
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