For many snow lovers, wintertime is all about skiing and finding a new and challenging place to practice the sport. But if someone in your traveling party fits this demographic – 15 to 30, energetic, a bit of a daredevil, and into extreme winter sports – chances are that when you travel you’re also on the lookout for a great place for your snowboarding friends or family members to hone their skills and simply have a good time.
Demographics show that the average serious snowboarder is now somewhere around 27 years old, a little older than 10 years ago, when that number was closer to 23 or 24. That’s not to say, of course, that you won’t find plenty of teenagers on the slopes. As a matter of fact, many resorts – including those in Europe – are reaching out to younger visitors, attempting to entice them to try snowboarding, primarily because the “original” crew of snowboarders has matured now and has stopped participating in the sport, impacting the income that used to come in from avid boarders.
Today, that means if you visit one of the Europe’s many ski resorts with your high-school aged boarder, they are likely to be enticed by resorts who want them to check out the great terrain parks and extreme terrain, and you’ll find that they’re catering to those in their age range. Indeed, many resort owners are aiming to keep younger boarders engaged and interested so that they’ll come back again and again.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite places for snowboarding in Europe.
· Verbier, Switzerland – Many snowboarding experts believe that beautiful Verbier boasts the best extreme terrain in Switzerland and among the best in Europe. It’s especially attractive to freeriders, but does have a very good terrain park as well – La Chaux Park, right below the lift of the same name. The park has great rails, kickers, and more, but the coolest feature is their camera system that can record your run through the park, allowing you to then you can share it online! Expensive but worth it.
· Davos, Switzerland – Part of the appeal of Davos is that it’s really easy to reach via train, including via the wonderful Glacier Express. But once you get there, you’ll find there’s something for everyone, even those who don’t snowboard or ski. Truly, it’s an all-around resort. But for boarders, there’s really excellent freeriding, a terrific terrain park, and two fum halfpipes. It’s most attractive to beginners and intermediates, but everyone can have fun here. Great après ski scene, too!
· Les Arcs, France – This resort in the French Alps is especially attractive to young adults over 21 because of its vibrant club scene and après ski fun. But if you’re heading there simply to enjoy the powder, you won’t be disappointed either. This is a vast resort, so it never seems crowded, which is ideal for those not all that experienced in freeriding. This resort was actually one of the first to really promote the sport, so they are committed to enticing boarders and keeping them. But don’t let the name of the snowpark – Apocalypse – scare you. There’s plenty for the inexperienced there as well.
· Ischgl, Austria – Ischgl, with its top-notch terrain park, is kind of the renegade spot for snowboarders with an edge. It’s very expensive, boasts a lot of “gentlemen’s clubs”, and can be full of sketchy types. But if you can deal with that, you’ll be treated to one of the best terrain parks in the Alps and a very beautiful location as well. Best suited to intermediate snowboarders, the resort’s signature Playstation©Vita Snowpark is redesigned every year, so you’ll always have a different experience. There’s also a beginner’s park as well as a “king-sized” park that attracts pros from around the world.
· Flims, Switzerland – Flims, less well-known than many Swiss resorts, provides boarders with an overall excellent freeriding area with some real challenges, as well as two well-maintained terrain parks and two great halfpipes. Because Flims is often overlooked for nearby Laax, its crowds are smaller all year long, which is perfect for those who aren’t looking to show off but just want some space to practice their tricks, etc. One of the first resorts in Europe to truly embrace the sport of snowboarding, Flims has remained ultra snowboarder-friendly, so you’ll never feel like a second-class citizen there.