Snowboarding in Europe: What to expect

Snowboarding in Europe: What to expect

by Kristy Reilly
Stripes Europe

Looking up at the magnificent, snowcapped peaks of the Alps brings a thrilling rush of astonishment to even the most veteran of snowboarders. The long, vertical drops, fresh powder, and rugged, high reaching mountains are most certainly a boarder’s paradise. But before you rush out to carve up the terrain, there are some things to keep in mind. 

European ski resorts differ from those found in the United States and Canada. From the heights of the mountains to the way to get up a run, each site is certain to diverge, if only in slight ways, from the courses to which Americans have become accustomed. If you prepare and understand what lies ahead, though, a great experience is sure to follow. 

The high peaks, in mountain ranges like the Alps, provide for longer, steeper courses. While the experienced boarder may welcome this, the sight of these intimidating slopes could panic the novice and send them in search of a bunny hill. In Europe, though, few resorts cater to the adult beginner. The learning hills are, generally, flat runs in which you will find children under the age of five gliding down with ease. If you are an amateur snowboarder who wants just a bit more practice before tackling the steeper runs, try searching for a resort that offers gentler slopes. Feldberg, in the Black Forest, for example, provides excellent beginner to intermediate trails.

Ascending the mountain could be another challenge for the American boarder. In Europe, lift lines are a free-for-all of skiers and snowboarders rushing toward the same end-point. So act quickly! Often times, you will find yourself waiting, not for a gondola or chairlift, but for a tow rope. These rope systems, called surface lifts, consist of three types of tows: the basic tow, the J & T Bars, and the Poma lift. Each of these has the same general concept: holding on while being pulled up the mountain. Although relatively simple for the skier, the boarder may have a difficult time employing these devices. If you do not understand how to use these, you will most likely end up with your face in the snow. For boarders who have never attempted a tow rope, try a slow-moving one for practice before attempting the faster, more uphill lifts. 

Mountain layout can also present a problem for snowboarders. Many of the European resorts spread their runs out far apart from one another and snowboarders may have to remove their board in order to traverse the terrain from the end of one run to the beginning of another. To avoid this, look at the mountain layout before going to a resort and choose a place that provides wide open, close together slopes. 

If the sport of snowboarding appeals to you, try the exclusive and exciting runs throughout Europe. If you take the time to look at your options and are well prepared for your trip, you are sure to have an excellent time shredding down the mountain.

For more tips and information on snowboarding, check out: J2ski, ABC of Snowboarding and World Snowboarding Guide.


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