So it’s time to dig your equipment out of the attic and get ready for the winter with some pre-season skiing or snowboarding. I certainly will be.
The winter of 2017/18 is set to be a big one for the entire British Ski and Snowboard team. My sights are firmly set on the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next February and after a summer of working on epic projects like Sky Sports’ Mission Mudder series, I’m ready to get back on my board and get my head in the game – and so should you.
Before you head to the airport, though, don’t miss the chance to find your feet again at your local indoor slope. For me, it’s The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead – just a 20-minute train journey from London Euston station. The indoor facilities help me keep my shred legs on all year round, and it’s possible to ride more laps and more rails here in one hour than anywhere else I know.
This is one of my favourite times of the year to go snowboarding. Here are my favourite places for some early-season shredding before the season gets into full swing.
The seasons may only just be starting to turn colder, but the glaciers are already open and Hintertux has one of my favourites. The Tirol region in Austria is affordable, too, and offers the variety most skiers and snowboarders are looking for.
Fly into Innsbruck or Munich and you have a choice of three of my favourite resorts to ride. Even better, why not combine them all on a mega shred road trip? From Stubai, just 40 minutes from Innsbruck, you can ride on the Stubai, Kaunertal and Hintertux glaciers.
Pre-season riding in these resorts is mega – you still get some warm spring-like conditions and the occasional sneaky powder day. But be careful up on the glaciers when riding powder off-piste. Stick to the slopes, and head up on the first lift to avoid any unwanted crevasses later in the day when it gets warmer.
In my opinion, Absolut Park in Flachauwinkl is the best terrain park in Europe. It has a long lap, with an option of three different jump lines, and two rail parks, which then flow into the mini park. The option of multiple jumps and features of all different sizes has a huge appeal to me for finding my flow and getting my groove going around early December.
The five-jump line is insane. I don’t know anywhere else with five good jumps in a row, all progressing in size as you make your way down. They also have a superpipe and a minipipe, which are great fun for getting upside down and trying new inversions. The options are endless in terms of creativity and different lines to take, and the lap is fast too, which means more runs.
Mammoth Mountain, California, USA
This is the mecca of the Californian snowboarding scene, with the fastest park lap, and a choice of a number of different parks of all sizes to ride. Mammoth has it going on!
Catch a 10-hour direct flight to Los Angeles and spend two days at Venice Beach – it’s my favourite spot to catch some sun, check in at the beach and eat some good food before making the epic five-hour road trip up into the mountains. Mammoth Mountain opens its slopes from mid-November, and by early December they have a park running. As for the weather, the resort either gets hit with (literally) a mammoth amount of snow, or it’s blue skies and sun. Either way, you’re winning.
Home to the European Open, also known as the Laax Open, and the British Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Championships (the BRITS), Laax is home to the biggest superpipe in the world, which is huge to ride, as well as a park with large features and a mini park with a hot lap and tons of fun jib obstacles.
Laax is amazing for its modern approach to progression. There’s an indoor freestyle centre with a foam pit, which is the perfect spot to try new tricks and keep the mind and body in action on a bad weather day. Cafe No Name at the top of the mountain has the most amazing view of the park – great for a hot chocolate or coffee pit-stop with the rest of the team.
This one is a little different and a bit further afield – but when I need to keep my riding legs going through the summer, it means going to find winter elsewhere. The park at Perisher in New South Wales has a fast lap time, and local kangaroos are a casual feature on the morning drive up the hill.
Perisher really is at the forefront of freestyle snow sports in the southern hemisphere. The jumps are on point, and you can get some sunny Aussie park sessions under your belt before winter starts in the Alps and North America.
Now I’ve shared my secrets with you, there really is no excuse. See you on the hill.
Aimee Fuller will be appearing at The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Show in Battersea Park, London, along with other athletes from the British Ski and Snowboard team. The Show runs from October 26 to 29. Click here for more information or book tickets.