Image © Brian Finestone, courtesey of Whistler Blackcomb
Get those twin tip skis ready because it’s time to get steezy. As all good freeskiers and boarders will tell you, there is more to skiing than going downhill. You don’t get much more stylish than when you’re pulling off a gravity defying triple cork or switching up on the rails.
Since the emergence of freestyle skiing in the 1990s terrain parks have spread across the mountainside. Today it’s hard to find a major ski resort without a freestyle presence. But where are the best resorts to improve your slopestyle?
From epic terrain parks to year-round destinations, we handpick our favourites…
Image © Charlie Stealson
Best for: Pioneering freestyle
Avoriaz has an excellent reputation for freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The resort was the first in France to build a terrain park, and to this day, it continues to embrace the freestyle ethos. There are five parks in total, as well as a superpipe. It’s a park rat paradise!
The original snow park is the Arare, suitable for advanced riders and experienced intermediates. The park has a range of incredibly designed features, including high-level kickers and some decent rail lines. The Big Air Bag is one of the most popular features and great place to practice your best tricks.
However, the highlight of Avoriaz is ‘The Stash’. Suitable for a mix of abilities, this innovative park was the first of its kind in Europe. Based on a concept by snowboarding pioneer Jack Burton and parks in California, ‘The Stash’ offers a winding route through the forest where every module is built from 100% natural materials. It’s a great place to get back to nature when you ride.
Find out more about: Avoriaz >
Les Deux Alpes, France
Image © Stephanie Blakeley
Best for: One of the most comprehensive parks in the Alps
One of the biggest freestyle destinations with one of the best terrain parks in Europe. Les Deux Alpes’ huge park has an epic slopestyle course featuring large kickers and rails, two half pipes, a boardercross and a Big Air zone. The urban style Park Avenue provides advanced freeskiers with a range of urban themed box and rail features, and a wall-ride.
The resort happily caters for beginner and improver freestylers too, with an Easy Park underneath the iconic, Hollywood-style Les Deux Alpes sign. And you’ll find intermediate lines and kickers throughout the resort’s ‘Freestyle Land’.
Les Deux Alpes is a year-round freestyle destination. In the summer the renowned shapers move the park from its winter location near the Toura chair, high onto the glacier at 3600m, meaning you can comfortably practice your mute grab in a t-shirt.
Find out more about: Les Deux Alpes >
Best for: Celeb-spotting
Check any list of the best terrain parks and we practically guarantee it will mention the Vans Penken Park in Mayrhofen. One of the most respected parks in the world; it’s a home to elite freestyle pros and is especially popular with British freestyle athletes. It’s a great destination for watching some high quality slopestyle.
The park is also a popular setting for competitive freestyle events such as the Penken Battle and the Välley Rälley. If you’re not competing you can get some of the best spectator views from the Sun-Jet chairlift, which soars directly over and serves the park.
Don’t let the professionals put you off trying the park yourself. Surprisingly accessible, the Van Penken is a great place to learn freestyle techniques. There is even a separate kids park with its own lift. As a south-facing suntrap as well, this is a spectacular setting for spending an exciting afternoon learning to jump and slide.
Find out more about: Mayrhofen >
Image courtesy Saas-Fee Tourist Board
Best for: Year-round freestyle in a picture perfect setting
The pretty and demure village of Saas-Fee seems like an unlikely resort to welcome the extreme and often loud and lively sport of freeskiing. But don’t let appearances fool you – this is a premier freestyle destination with a world class reputation.
The resort’s Morenia snow park is the definition of good design, offering lines suitable for all abilities. The park’s shapers continually challenge advanced freeskiers and riders by creating new and exciting features. The nursery slope even has a mini park with kickers suitable for complete beginners.
In the summer the park moves onto the Allalin glacier, and the pro freestylers flock to Saas-Fee for the summer riding. The resort is also highly regarded for its freestyle training camps, which run throughout the year.
Find out more about: Saas-Fee >
Best for: Après freeski
Part of the Grandvalira ski region, Soldeu has ready access to one of the best terrain parks in southern Europe, the Snowpark El Tarter. At 1.3 km in length, this park is home to the longest line of modules in the Pyrenees.
Soldeu’s great freestyle reputation extends to competitions. The Snowpark El Tarter is home to the Total Fight freestyle championships, which attracts pro boarders and skiers from across the globe. The resort also caters for less experienced riders. The other terrain parks in the region, the Snowpark Xavi and the Sunset Park Peretol, are suitable for all abilities.
Andorra’s reputation for lively après ski is well documented. The local bars abound with live music and the atmosphere on the main street is electric. If you’re looking for a destination where you can spend all day in the park, followed by all night of lively entertainment, then Soldeu is for you.
Find out more about: Soldeu >
Image © Brian Finestone, courtesey of Whistler Blackcomb
Best for: Freestyle paradise
Whistler and Blackcomb is a freestyle paradise offering an impressive range of facilities. The numbers speak for themselves: 5 terrain parks, 99 acres of freestyle space, 40 plus jumps, 150 plus features and one Olympic standard halfpipe with 7m high walls.
The resort is ideal for mixed ability groups. Each individual park is specifically built for different abilities, offering level appropriate kickers, boxes and rails. Beginner freeskiers will feel just as comfortable in Whistler as the experts.
Those looking for a challenge will love Whistler’s fantastic backcountry where the naturally occurring features provide a wealth of freeskiing opportunities. If spectating is more your thing, then the spectacular, weekly Fire and Ice Show is an opportunity to watch talented freestyle skiers and boarders jumping through fiery hoops.
There’s something for everyone in this winter paradise.
Find out more about: Whistler >