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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.
This year's Relentless Freeze Festival looked like it was ready to step up the UK's premier winter sports festival a notch and Friday's British themed day proved to be a great warm up to a superb weekend.
The main event of the day was the Battle of Britain competition on the huge ski-jump-esque set up. The crowd were treated to a great spectacle with the best of British taking part. Jenny Jones, Gary Greenshields, Jamie Nicholls and Andy Nudds were all throwing it down, and though it is only early in the season the UK riders were really pushing the limit of the jump. Due to warm weather the run in was a little slower than expected, though that didn't stop the guys throwing down some serious tricks.
With Olympian Dom Harington and X-Games winner Jenny Jones not making the final it looked like current Brits champion Jamie Nicholls would be among the favourites. His double-corked 1080 got the crowd going, though due to the hand drag on the landing he only made third place. Scott Penmann had joked with the competitions MC's, Tim Warwood & Christian Stevenson, earlier in the day that his only trick was the double front flip, which he styled out to claim second place. With the lack of speed making the double cork almost impossible Billy Morgan finished the afternoon with a perfectly executed double back flip, gaining both a huge cheer from the crowd and bagging him first place.
Once the snowboarding had taken place there was an hour or so to go until the premier of Jeremy Jones new film Deeper and the Battle of Britain ski competition. With 20,000 people expected over the weekend this was the biggest Freeze Festival yet and with Relentless on board the entertainment had stepped up a gear.
Over by the For Boarder By Boarders stand they had set up a small mini-ramp, and to the backdrop of some beatboxing in the Desperados tent, we were treated to a mini skate demo with Vans snowboarder Chris Chatt showing off his skills on four wheels. There was also a bike demonstration from a couple of guys in the Relentless team including a 1.2m bunny hop and a variety of super-mans, tail whips and back flips all on show.
Battle of Britain Snowboard
Battle of Britain Ski
Friday was an absolutely awesome experience, and though some of the biggest names in freestyle skiing, snowboarding and music were to follow it will take some beating.
Photo's © Paul Anthony Easton
For those of us who are feeling the pinch this winter but can’t do without our annual snow fix here are some hot tips for skiing on a shoe string, with prices (including flights) from just £223 per person!
Self-catered apartments are a good value option if you have the discipline to plan and prepare your meals in advance – if you end up eating out every meal time it is a false economy and you would be better off in a chalet:
La Plagne 22nd January 2011, £223 per person for 7 sharing or £335 for 4 sharing. Includes: flights, transfers, self catering accommodation
2. Try something new
Skiing in the Three Valleys is great but it does come at a premium and there are many other great ski areas out there that are not so hard on the wallet:
Arinsal 16th January 2011, £386 per person Aparthotel Crest. Includes: flights, transfers, hotel accommodation, breakfast and dinner.
3. Get away for Christmas
Christmas is an expensive time of year; pre-Christmas drinks and parties, presents, Christmas day itself – whether you are driving hundreds of miles to visit family or hosting lunch yourself – it all adds up. Escape from it all and enjoy a white Christmas:
Soldeu 19th December 2010, £426 per person Xalet Casale. Includes: flights, transfers, chalet accommodation, breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals with wine.
4. Short breaks
This year due to the fact the Christmas Day is on a Saturday the departure dates around Christmas and New Year have been altered and there are a lot of great value short breaks in the first week of January – not only is your holiday cheaper but your lift pass/ski hire costs will also be reduced. You will just need to make sure you make the most of your available time on the mountain (or a least give yourself an extra day to recover when you get home):
Les Deux Alpes 3rd January 2011, £441 per person + 2 for 1 lift passes. Chalet Chartreuse, 5 nights, includes: flights, transfers, chalet accommodation, breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals with wine.
5. Catered Chalets
A chalet holiday offers fantastic value as your meals and wine are included, if you speak to the right people (such as Igluski.com who work with all the ski operators and therefore have a great overview of the market and current deals) you can find yourself a bargain. This season there is already some great early snow, so you can be the envy of your mates with a cheeky pre-Christmas trip:
Alpe d'Huez 12th December 2010, £425 per person Chalet Hotel L'Escapade. Includes: flights, transfers, chalet accommodation, breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals with wine.
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