When it comes to snowboard parks in Europe, many are well below par in comparison to our friends across the pond. Rarely shaped kickers or a ditch resembling the hand shaped pipes of yesteryear are common and unfortunately the norm in countless resorts across the continent.
Laax and its premium parks and pipe blow the competition out of the water by not only building near perfect parks but embracing snowboarding and its culture to previously unseen levels. With 235 kilometres of pistes at their disposal, the parks of Laax are very much the main focus of the resort, rather than a quick afterthought.
At a glance, the resort boasts four snowparks, the best pipe in Europe, a mini pipe, a freestyle piste, Europe’s first indoor training hall in one resort and a full on snowboard-friendly hotel named the Riders Palace. It’s no wonder that riders flock to Laax like flies to you know what.
THE BURTON EUROPEAN OPEN
As the saying goes, build it and they will come. This has proven to be the case here, as a solid partnership was built between the resort and Burton Snowboards and their annual European Open contest.
2014 sees the 15th BEO, held for 10 consecutive years at Laax. Burton quickly saw that the resort had not only established itself as having the best park facilities around but also had the vision to embrace snowboarding but be willing to adapt the entire mountain to accommodate the contest. Today the event is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the calendar.
THE FREESTYLE ACADEMY
Away from the snow, but very much at the forefront of freestyle snowboarding is the Freestyle Academy. A purpose built training centre and the first of its kind in Europe, it has the aim of progressing freestyle snowboarding.
With built in kickers to foam pits and trampolinesfor learning new tricks, the freestyle academy offers training courses for all ages of rider to allow them to develop their style before they transfer them to the parks in the resort above.
With an original emphasis on snowboarding, the freestyle academy has branched out and now offers a sick skate wooden bowl, climbing wall and parkour area and offers skateboard, snowboard and climbing wall coaching and courses. Pros often make the most of the academy to get their more intimidating tricks on lock.
THE RIDERS PALACE
Often snowboarders will have the issue that hotels and guesthouses will turn their noses up at the thought of being overrun by a squad of riders looking for a room. Here though, Laax has its own dedicated snowboarders hotel called the Riders Palace.
The Riders Palace offers a snowboard-friendly experience with pimped out rooms, a club in the basement, (which has played host to a heap of well known artists) and a dorm option for those who are low on funds.
In a nutshell, what sets Laax apart from other resorts is that freestyle snowboarding is the main focus and pull of the area. The owners, who are all riders themselves, worked hard to create a utopian snowboard resort. The park areas keep improving and growing, with more areas and extensions popping up over the place. Showing no sign of slowing down, Laax remains the place that other resorts are trying to emulate with their park construction.
Laax is the home of the Burton European Open, which is happening all this week (13-19 January 2014).
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