About Snowparks in the Portes du Soleil
Freestyle skiing and snowboarding has been growing in popularity since the likes of Glenn Plake and Scott Schmidt brought it to the world in the "Blizzard of Aahhhs". Since then we've seen the birth of snowboarding, the evolution of twin tip skis and snowboards, and the inclusion of freestyle in the winter Olympics.
If you are new to the slopes it's a good chance that you'll be wanting to try your first kicker or rail soon. Freestyle is great fun and if you want to learn there is no better place to head than the Avoriaz snowpark.
Avoriaz and the wider Portes du Soleil is a favourite for freestyle skiers and snowboarders.
With a permanent halfpipe, Europe's first Burton Stash and parks in Avoriaz, Les Gets, Crosets, Nyon and Chatel it's no wonder it is so popular. There are around 30 snowparks across the whole of the Portes du Soleil ski area. Here are our favourites.
Snowparks in Avoriaz
Avoriaz was one of Europe's first resorts to welcome snowboarders with open arms and a legacy of this is that the freestyle scene is still strong to this day.
There are six freestyle areas in Avoriaz; Snowpark de la Chappelle, Snowpark Arare, The Stash, L'il Stash, Burton Kids Parkway and the Superpipe, which all come under the collective name of the Avoriaz SnowZone.
The Stash is a 100% natural snow playground. Created in conjunction with Burton, the Avoriaz Stash is one of its kind in Europe and it comprises 3 routes of varying difficulty through the Lindarets trees.
The features in The Stash are either shaped by the natural terrain or built using wood and the challenge is to link a flowing run through the trees and over the various modules.The 3 slopes join up halfway down at a hidden cabin in the Lindarets forest and then separate again to continue snaking through the pine trees. It is definitely best when the snow is falling; the trees help with visibility and the landings are softer and the modules in better condition. Although it's open to everyone it should be treated as a park and not a piste so be aware of where you stop as it might be on a take off or landing.
This area, is as its name suggests the baby brother of The Stash. Winding down the edge of the Procolou run it has a wall ride and some wooden modules like you'll find in Lindarets.
The Burton Kids Parkway
This beginner area is tucked away in the shelter of the lower buildings of Avoriaz in the Falaise Sector. The park officially opened in 2012 and is designed specifically for absolute beginners. A short 400m, very gentle piste is serviced by the "Trashers" drag tow and kickers and boxes here are small and wide. Perfect for kids and first-time jibbers.
Snowpark de la Chappelle
This snowpark is located under the top of the Express Proclou and Lindarets Express. Locally known as the "Baby Park" this is a perfect area for beginners to advanced-intermediates.Three lines of kickers, graded like pistes, offer green, blue and red jumps and the rail line has flat boxes, kinked boxes and a large pipe rail as well as a C-rail, S-rail and an 18m long hand rail.
The park is very popular and in peak season the queues here do get long and slow as the park is serviced by one drag tow but it is a natural sun trap and there are spectacular sunsets that can be enjoyed from the "Baby Park".
This snowpark sits above Avoriaz and is accessed via the Express Lac Intrets lift. This is locally known as "The Big Park" and although the size of the kickers tends to depend on the season's snowfall it is home to much larger and more technical features than the "Baby Park". The kickers here are again graded like pistes, red and black, and they do require more skill and a lot more bravery. The layout of the park changes from year to year and it is often better later in the season - its north facing aspect means it keeps its shape better than its sun-baked little brother.
Don't be intimidated by the "Big Park" though, although the kickers are best left alone unless you are comfortable on all the features in the "Baby Park" the airbag here is perfect for anyone wanting to try a new trick or, as is often the case, anyone whose bravery and enthusiasm outweighs their skill. It's free to use and it's the perfect place to practice in a consequence free environment. There is also the snowcross course here which is free to use and open to everyone.
This has been a feature in Avoriaz for over two decades and is located just below the Prodains bubble, above the Stade Chairlift. It isn't as big as the Superpipes in competitions like the X-Games but it can still be a daunting sight to beginners. It has its own button lift and is best ridden in the morning or cold winter months. In Spring time one wall softens quicker than the other. Watch this video of the superpipe.
Please note that helmets and back protectors are recommended whilst in the snowpark and obligatory on the Superpipe and Arare.
If you’re looking for speed on skis and a bit of a technical challenge, head to the Pointe de Voriaz and attempt the Skicross run which runs parallel to the Choucas lift in the Chavanette area. It has a mixture of difficulties but allows you to really test your skills advanced or intermediate.
Snowpark in Les Crosets
The Chatel Park sits on the side of the Chaterelle piste in the Super Chatel Sector. It is accessed by its own drag lift - Les Bossons and is a great snowpark to head to.
The park has some of the best rail set ups in the area and the rails are varied making this a perfect place for beginners through to advanced riders to work on their jibbing skills. The kickers are a little more advanced and are better suited for more accomplished riders. However, even more timid and beginner skiers and snowboarders will enjoy the airbag at the bottom of the park. A helmet is needed to use it.
Les Crosets offers a big snowpark similar to the Snowpark Arare in Avoriaz, offering more advanced features. The park lies under Les Crosets II chairlift which you can find in the centre of Les Crosets and is well worth the visit for more advanced riders. There are intermediate kickers and rails in this park too although nothing really suitable for beginners.
To return to Avoriaz simply get on the TS des Mossettes (chairlift) and you are back in the Linderets valley with only one more lift home to get to Avoriaz.
Snowparks in Morzine & Les Gets
The Nyon snowpark is one of the smaller parks in the Portes du Soleil. The kickers here are usually quite narrow and have quite short landings that necessitate being quite precise. It's a fun little park to pass through but nowhere near as big as the ones in Avoriaz - more on those below.
The Les Gets Snowpark is at the top of Mont Chery and has one of the best views in the whole Portes du Soleil ski area. The park is accessed by the Grand Ourse Chairlift which almost never has a queue. The kickers and rails here are usually suitable for beginner to intermediate riders and as it's a south facing slope it is best enjoyed in the colder months before it becomes to slushy in the Spring. There is an airbag here too for practising any new tricks.
Find your way around with Piste Maps for Avoriaz.