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Black ski runs are the most advanced pistes on the mountain, suited for experienced skiers and snowboarders that can tackle this tricky terrain. Some resorts even go beyond the black piste with double black diamond runs for experts only. 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 advanced 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:
With the winter season quickly approaching, the new ski and snowboard films are coming in thick and fast. Technologies are progressing as quickly as the riders making this year a very exciting time for ski films. From extreme and exotic locations to powder fuelled productions to discovering the stories behind our favourite athletes. Here are the 5 films we cannot wait to watch in full to get us inspired for winter. Take a look at all the ski and snowboard films coming this season and tell us your favourite 5.
The one we’ve been waiting for Higher is the highly anticipated final installment of Jeremy Jones’ Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy. After pushing boundaries and revolutionising backcountry snowboarding in his first 2 films, now Jones and Teton Gravity Research are back and taking their quest to the next level. From Jones’ playground in Jackson Hole to the incredible descents in the Eastern Alaska Range and the Himalaya of Nepal, Higher depicts Jones’ incredible snowboard journey which has made him one of the greatest mountain snowboarders of our time. Expect: Huge lines, untouched powder and exotic destinations Riders: Jeremy Jones, Bryan Iguchi, Luca Pandolfi, Ryland Bell
The one for the skiers When Red Bull Media House and Matchstick Productions team up you know something ground breaking is going to happen. The film took two years to make while shooting in locations all over the world including places never documented before. Using state of the art techniques including MSP’s new Cineflex Elite, the latest in aerial filming technology, they believe Days of My Youth will set a new standard for the entire ski industry. Days of My Youth takes a look into the minds of ten of the world’s best freeskiers and examines their lifelong affinity for the sport and the self-discovery every skier takes. Check out those views in the trailer at 0.30 in and you won’t be able to wait for the full version! Expect: Next level cinematography and extreme locations Riders: Richard Permin, Mark Abma, James Heim, Michelle Parker, Cody Townsend, Markus Eder, Bobby Brown, Sam Anthamatten, Russ Henshaw, Gus Kenworthy, PK Hunder
The one we wish we were in Absinthe films have been throwing down some of the best snowboard films season after season. From last year’s Dopamine to 2012’s Resonance to the rest of the amazing back catalogue, Absinthe consistently showcase the finest riders and push the boundaries of the sport. With 22 years of snowboarding video production, director Justin Hostynek still drops some of the most progressive riding out there. The trailer opens with an epic heli shot of Alaskan spines to the equally as epic sounds of Alt J’s Fitzpleasure. Heavy Mental spotlights a solid list of riders and watch out for the full parts from Bode Merrill and Victor De Le Rue.. Expect: An epic soundtrack and heavy riding Riders:Victor De Le Rue, Austen Sweetin, Bode Merrill, Jason Robinson, Mat Schaer, Wolfgang Nyvelt, Manuel Diaz, Victor Daviet, Johnnie Paxson, Romain De Marchi, Blair Habenicht, Scot Brown, Ozzy Henning, Rusty Ockenden, Nils Arvidsson, Mathieu Crepel, Sylvain Bourbousson, Helen Schettini, and Mike Basich
The Blockbuster As with any TGR production you can expect state of the art cinematography that provides a sensory overload. Combined with some of the most progressive skiing and immersive destinations, Almost Ablaze takes you beyond the boundaries. Awarded Film of the Year at the 2014 International Freeski Film Festival, Almost Ablaze follows the globetrotting lifestyle of these thrill-seeking athletes. From urban riding in the war-torn Olympic venues of Sarajevo to exploring new terrain in Sella Nevea to next level skiing in Revelstoke, this is extraordinary skiing in extraordinary locations. Expect: Next level skiing Riders: Angel Collinson, Chris laker, Colter Hinchliffe, Dana Flahr, Dane Tudor, Dash Longe, Dylan Hood, Griffin Post, Ian McIntosh, Jonny Collinson, Joss Christensen, Karl Fostvedt, Mark Carter, Max Hammer, Nick Mcnutt, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Tim Durtschi, Todd Ligare
The Ultimate Snowboard Film this Season Does Oakley have the finest snowboard team out there? With huge names like Shaun White and Nicolas Muller to new favourites like Torstein Horgmo and Mark McMorris, this world-class line up is guaranteed to bring one of the leading films of this season. Featuring riding from the streets of Finland to the backcountry of British Columbia, to Norway and Japan, each rider has his own story. Snowboarding: For Me focuses on the unique relationship between the members of the team with the sport and lifestyle they live every day. Expect: An all star line up Riders: JP Walker, Terje Håkonsen, Shaun White, Danny Kass, Torstein Horgmo, Ståle Sandbech, Mikkel Bang, Mark McMorris, Nicolas Müller, Jake Blauvelt, Heikki Sorsa, Eero Ettala and Kazu Kokubo.
View our video guide for all the ski & snowboard trailers coming this season
Following the success of Go Ski Go Board last year, Snowsport England’s latest initiative Go Race Go Freestyle aims to capitalise on Sochi buzz and give people more of a chance to mirror the skills of the Team GB skiers and snowboarders.
Go Ski Go Board In its first year of launch, 10,000 people participated in the Go Ski Go Board sessions across the country where new riders had the chance to try skiing or snowboarding. Snowsport England continues to get more people into ski and snowboard by offering value for money and convenient access to the sports. Read about last year’s GSGB launch
Go Race Go Freestyle Launch We met Tim from Snowsport England at the launch of Go Race Go Freestyle and spoke about advice for new skiers and snowboarders, keeping the momentum of the Sochi legacy as well as the GRGF launch and other events coming up. Watch our video with Tim here: The GRGF launch kicked off at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead this week with Go Ski Go Snowboard Ambassadors, and Team GB skiers, Katie Summerhayes and Darcie Mead. Nick and Krystelle were at the event to meet Katie and Darcie as well as having a taking part in a Go Race Go Freestyle session. Katie and Darcie talking about their involvement in the campaign, then on the slopes at the Snow Centre Get involved in Go Race Go Freestyle Events will be held Nationwide at indoor and artificial slopes and snowsports clubs nationwide. The Go Race Go Freestyle sessions will come in various forms:
Darcie and Nick taking part in Go Race
Tim Fawke, CEO of Snowsport England said: “Sochi 2014 brought snowsports to the attention of more people than ever before, particularly those inspired by the dynamism and excitement of ski racing or by the fantastic performances from Great Britain’s freestyle skiers and snowboarders. With GO RACE GO FREESTYLE sessions, we are giving people the opportunity to get a taste for another side of snowsports and for people who want to get even more involved, it becomes part of the pathway from grass roots to elite snowsports.”
GO SKI GO BOARD and GO RACE GO FREESTYLE sessions can be found on www.goskigoboard.org.uk
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