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march 2006 articles

Thursday 2nd March


At last we have had the long-awaited snowfall, badly needed to rejuvenate the slopes after the half-term influx.

The weather has brought with it some glorious sunsets, although the cold and ice on the roads early morning has caused hair-raising driving escapades.

The snow has brought with it a renewed enthusiasm for kicker-building, as the soft landings means pushing the limits and learning new moves with less risk. We have been riding 2 spots in particular, both over beyond Avoriaz.

I spied a natural step-up - a jump where the landing is higher than the take-off point - in Chatel between 2 lifts, a concrete block at an angle leading to a windlip on an adjoining hill, with a 6 foot gap between. Ian and some of the other local lads joined me in sessioning this for a few days, so we got some footage down.

The other was a kicker on the side of a small hillock, under the Brocheaux chair leading back to Avoriaz. I saw some guys riding it, so cruised over and joined them.

CJ hit this kicker, and started consistantly landing her jumps. She is progressing fast now, gaining confidence on a daily basis.

Returned another day with Colin Horan, and started to warm up, but then Colin snapped his board - the 2nd Rome board he has broken in as many months!

He's gonna have to go back to the company this time for a replacement, as the shop have refused to replace it again...

Kenji, CJ and I went to Les Gets boardpark and had a great day on the box-rail. CJ cracked 50-50s down the box, Kenji got his BS boardslides down, and I spun consistant 540s along the box-rail.

We all nailed ourselves though; CJ hurt her knee and I came away with this beauty..!

Just a few days later my brother Jules and his girlfriend Sally arrived in Chamonix for a short break, so we met up with them twice, once in Morzine and once in Chamonix. My dad and Pip came over with them - great to see them, and good to ride with Jules again, the first time in about 8 years!

The weather has closed in again and looks set to stay snowing for the next few days; limited visibility, but heaps of powder - up to 2m in some places!

Gonna be kickers galore... so expect more photos and movies to be appearing soon.

Tremble in anticipation of the next informative report...

thursday 30th march

We have experienced changing weather patterns during March. The first 2½ weeks it snowed continuously - locals said the last time it snowed like this was in 1984..!

The visibility has been poor, so we have kept to the trees - clearer vision, and trees give your eyes something to focus on, making judgement easier than a sea of white piste.

On a typical morning, we would wake to find 15cm on cars (although mine was somewhat sheltered by the building), with up to 60cm fallen on the slopes. Avoriaz has probably seen 3 or 4 cumulative metres of snow - although much of it would be compacted down in the day - and I have been determined to make good use of the snow, and have boarded virtually every day.

In flat light, when low light levels limit reflection off surfaces and on-piste definition is non-existant, it is easier to session a non-white object like a rail which will stand out against the snow making it easy to see.

We built a quarterpipe up a tree in Lindarets over 2 days with Kenji and Damo - got a little footage but it wasn't very successful overall, scuppered by a poor run-in, and so we moved on to other things.

I started hiking the Burton wood park - a series of about 5 wooden rails of varying descriptions, located within the trees at the side of the piste on Lindarets. The longest of these rails had been over 6ft off the piste when I first arrived, but now was a more manageable 3ft - giving some indication of the amount of snow that had fallen.

Hiking this rail over the course of 3 days, i got the technique and slid the whole kinked 30ft many times, getting some footage down in the process. This renewed my enthusiasm for getting some park-based rail footage again at the Mont Cherie snowpark in Les Gets.

Colin Horan gave me a shout a few days later, so I met up in Les Gets with Colin and his friend Chantel in order to ride the rails.

I had been hoping to get lots good footage throughout the park, but the lower half and the boxrail were under snow, so we stuck to the upper half, and the kinked rail in particular. We got some good footage down, Colin pulling some stylish noseslides and tailslides out the bag, and I stomped some noseslides and 5050-to-FS-boardslide combinations.

We then moved onto the park C-rail in order to introduce a little variation. Constructed from scaffolding poles rather than being a boxrail, on his 2nd attempt, Colin put his weight too far forward, his board "bit" - and he fell straight on his chest and face, opening his chin up.

We tried to patch him up with butterfly strips, but it kept bleeding, so his manager Dan took him to medical center - where they gave him 7 stitches!

The snow stopped falling and the sun came out, so I rebuilt Brocheaux kicker with Matt Griffiths - one of the lads from up the road - the other boys arriving just after we finished. Everyone spent the day doing new tricks, going as big as possible, as it was a deep powder landing. We got some footage down, but the day was more about idiocy and good times rather than image hunting.

CJ returned from a 10 day trip away - It is fantastic to have her back, I have missed her very much while she has been away and its great to see her again! :o)

I returned to Les Gets for more footage, this time with the lads from down the road, as Colin had been temporarily transferred to Saas Fee.

Spent the day on the boxrail, notable tricks included: Kenji boardslides, Rory's air over the boxrail, and Nick getting the rail down for the first time. Its a nice boxrail for learning new tricks on - quite short, with a little launch gap, making it a perfect learning rail. I pulled 2 boxrail 540s out the bag, got them down on camera, which made the day for me. Easily pleased...

A few days later my family came over - lovely to see them, and spent most of the week in their company, enjoying some great meals in the process ;o)

We calculated its the first time I have skied with Jules and mum in 8 years, and the first time ever skiing with Eddie and Sally. Crazy - what have I been doing?

Jane & Pips over from Chamonix on Wednesday;it was good to see them and ski with Jane again, as we got no time in Chamonix due to poor weather.

Pippa is a fearless skier, keeping up with the adults, snow-ploughing everywhere at top speed. She would come down anything, and followed CJ all over the slopes!

They spent a week in a chalet over the ravine in Montriond. We all had a really good time, it was fantastic to see them and ski with them again for the first time in years.

On a different note - I have had problems with my Spy goggles recently - 3 pairs of replacement lenses have turned out to be substandard, with water trapped between the lenses. 3 trips to chamonix @ 15/trip has put me in a sour mood with them - poor quality control. The last set of lenses have now gone back for testing at Spy, i will post events as they happen...

The weather has been slightly too warm; the powder has melted and chilled repetitively, and the snow has gone a bit heavy - getting the board caught or "submarining" is all too easy. The snow is a nightmare for the skiers, the heavy snow "grabbing" at skis and making turning difficult.

Martin Pope returned on Saturday with half his family: Leyla, James and his girlfriend Tabs. Driving a V8 Mercedes G-wagon maxed out with bodykit, massive wheels, and privacy glass - Martin really is the pimps pimp. It has been some time since I have seen Leyla and James - it was great to see them and we had a good day despite the dodgy snow conditions.

Finally - our friend Nick from along the road has had to leave for England early. A great shame you couldn't stay for the last month mate - hope it all goes well at home.

Find selected movies from the last month in the "latest sk8 movies..." shortcut box down the right margin, along with other collected images in the "latest sk8 images" shortcut box.

Heres hoping the weather turns sunny...