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 Val Thorens snowpark.
The Three Valleys has better parks than ever with the emphasis being put on giving these world-class resorts world-class freestyle facilities. As well as the natural gullies and half-pipes in the area, there are also a growing number of snowparks, boardercross and freestyle zones for you to try out and a handful of fun zones for children.
|Snowparks in Meribel & the 3 Valleys|
|Meribel||Plattières Park (known as DC Area 43) - Rollers, jumps, halfpipe and large features
Elements Park - boxes, rails, boardercross and jumps
|Courchevel||The Family Park - small, medium and large kickers and jumps, airbag|
|Val Thorens||Val Thorens Snowpark - small, medium and large tables, rails, boxes, Jump'Air, airbag|
Anyone with a 3 Valleys ski pass is allowed to ride in the parks and if you are new to freestyle you shouldn't be intimidated by the more experienced riders.
Val Thorens Snowparks
Val Thorens has a fantastic 70,000m² snowpark on the Plateaux Pistes. You can access it from the Moutière chairlift, and the Plateaux drag lift allows you to slide back up to the top once you've jumped and somersaulted (hopefully on purpose) your way through the course!
Like most slopes in Val Thorens it can be a little hard in the mornings so it's best to wait until the afternoon sun has warmed and softened the snow. This park does have some proper kickers and for years it was Val Thorens who had the biggest park in the Three Valleys. You can still find some fairly meaty wedges here and thanks to the parks high position they stay in good shape until late in the season.
All the runs are colour coded depending on their difficulty: green (easy), blue (medium), red (difficult) and black (very difficult). The snowpark has five zones; a boardercross (800m long), three freestyle zones which are classified according to their technical difficulty (beginners, intermediates and experts) and a Jump'Air (a jump with arrival on a "stunt man's" mattress, airbag). The snowpark contains Whoops (a succession of waves), a corner (raised bend), a jump table and big air, a wall ride (extended snow wall), a handrail and a half pipe.
The park in Val Thorens is also one of the 'freestyle park' locations so you can film yourself on the kickers here and try out the airbag. The airbag is situated next to the Le Roc drag lift at the Rond Point des Pistes and is open daily from 13:00 to 17:00.
The Family Park in Courchevel is getting bigger and better as every winter rolls by. Located alongside the Verdons piste just above the village at 1850, the park is sure to entertain all levels of freestyle rider. The novice freestylers can try their hand at the gentle snow cross course, the speed gun and an array of green kickers and boxes.
For those looking to push themselves, there is plenty to dig their teeth into (metaphorically, of course. Nobody wants to hit a box and ruin those pearly whites!) The red kickers in the "Big Air" section are closer to black grade than red. The blue boxes, quarter pipe and swimming pool give ample opportunity to get the legs popping and the skis and boards spinning.
Of course, there's the airbag to test out all those gnarly new tricks without the fear of injury. Starting at 3€ for one jump, five jumps of 10€ or hourly rates, there's plenty of time to master those backflips and 360's.
Meribel has two snowparks, the long-running favourite Elements Park and the Plattières Park. The Elements park used to be called the Moon Park and is now dedicated to freestylers of every level. Even novices will enjoy the boardercross, can whoop it up on the whoops, enjoy the Fun Cross and try their first tricks on the soft impact boxes, rails and jibs. The park is easy to get to and open to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. It is ideal for beginner to intermediate freestylers and is serviced by its own drag lift; Arpasson. With the usual collection of kickers and rails and its great location on the east-facing slopes above Meribel it makes for an ideal afternoon destination.
The Elements park also has the addition of video cameras. These are positioned throughout the park and will record your run for you. They are free to use and very simple. Activate the camera by swiping your lift pass over the camera's sensor which will start to beep. On the fourth beep begin your run. Swipe your card again at the stand at the bottom of the run and you can watch your run back on the screen there, or watch it online and download it to share your park runs!
The Plattieres Park is currently managed by DC Snowboarding (hence its name, DC Area 43). The park is new and extremely well looked after. It is 1200m long with 2 lifts allowing you to get access to the park and there are two half-pipes, one for intermediates and the other for experts only. The competition standard pipe is used for top-level freestyle events which are well worth watching. The video system within the park, like the Elements Park, means you can film and photograph yourself on the modules. Other improvements to this snowpark include free WiFi, a fun boardercross piste and entertainment every Tuesday and regular “DC parties” with contests.