Where can I do a 360 Mute?
Any alpine bar worth its salt will have a range of extreme freestyle ski movies showing on their TV’s. These generally feature riders hurling themselves off massive jumps, and twisting into seemingly impossible shapes.
Have you ever thought (maybe after one too many jaeger-bombs): “I could do that; no sweat! Just which resorts have the best terrain parks, so I can have a go?”
Before you venture into a park, here’s a quick crash course on what you can expect to find there. First up there is usually a small group of moody but skilful locals often with one standout rider, the local legend, who claims to be friends with Candide Thovex or Shaun White. There will also be a sprinkle of “posers”, the guys who just seem to stand at the top of the park in baggy pants, with hip-hop blaring out of massive headphones. You will more than likely hear tales of a time they ALMOST stuck a double backflip, and receive some good advice because, although they may not have plucked up the courage to attempt much, they’ve studied freestyle skiing more than most.
You will often find there is one guy who is actually a very good rider but with no real interest in the technical side of freestyle, just happy to go HUGE off the kickers (I used to know a guy who only knew one trick, a backflip!). You also have the kids who are just starting up and spend the whole day training and trying new stuff. Granted; you will see a few gnarly crashes, but these guys just get up, dust themselves off, and head right back to the top of the park for another lap. Every park is different so these are merely a few examples, and you will obviously have the tourists, the jokers, even the odd actual pro, but most people are there to have fun, enjoying new things on the mountain. So never be afraid to get involved!
Traditionally the best parks in the world have been in the United States. The biggest and arguably the best is at Mammoth Mountain in California. The ‘Unbound Terrain Parks’ is actually five parks, with more than 75 features. These include jumps, rails and jibs (metal or plastic objects to tap and slide). While no areas can be described as easy, there is enough here to satisfy most people who are serious about freestyle.
If you’d rather stay this side of the pond, you do have many good options. Of these we suggest you check out Snowboard manufacturer Burton’s own branded park in Mayrhofen, Austria. As well as some massive challenging jumps, the park has numerous other features catering for all levels of snowboarder and skier.
A few parks now also cater to a trend in newschool freestyle: urban. This, as the name suggests, is skiing and snowboarding in the city using stairs, hand-rails, walls, lampposts, anything! More and more of these parks are developing radical new features and there are even a few whole dedicated ‘urban parks’. The rise of urban is highlighted as more and more urban features pop-up in the big slopestyle competitions.
If you are not feeling that brave or maybe just prefer to watch, you can always go and witness the Winter X-Games live. These are an annual extreme sports competition and have been held in Aspen, Colorado since 2002. The European version of Winter X returns to Oslo for the second time in 2017. Or check out the more traditional Winter Olympics freestyle moguls and aerials events next time the games come around.
Many resorts have parks and jumps for you to try your hand at these days. But as the name suggests, freestyle is open for interpretation and creativity, so go nuts! Just have fun and remember - any jump or roller can be the scene of your first 360 mute!