Snowboarding is still the coolest winter sport, and going abroad for top quality powdery
fun needn’t break the bank. Words: Fiona Brownlee
started snowboarding after seeing a yideo of myself on
skis and realising that I wasn‘t the sexy Bond girl I had
imagined. It is much easier to look cool on a board — for one thing your legs are manacled into position and for another if you fall you simply roll oyer and stand up and pretend you were performing an extreme trick.
The first few days are torture though. It‘s not only the strain on knees and thighs. but the fact that bits of your body whose existence you‘d forgotten about. suddenly become fayourite new locations for bright purple bruises. The best time to learn is undoubtedly when there has been some fresh powder. In powder there is no pain: it slows you down and you begin to understand what Aled Jones was talking about when he sang ‘l’m walking in the air". After years of bumps and bruises. of mastering drag lifts and trying out jumps. I now consider myself a pretty good snowlmarder so imagine my horror when l yisited (‘ourcheyel a few weeks ago and discoyered that the next big thing is the snow skate. Snowbtnirding has always been compared to skateboarding but this really is skateboarding on snow. You aren’t strapped to the board and as far as I can tell you really do risk death at eyery turn. Suddenly I had a grim View of the future. Snmyboarders are going to become what mono skiers were in the 90s: a sad bunch of losers trapped in time. laughed at because their skills and clothes went out of fashion the preyious decade. l‘ortunately we‘re not at that stage yet. Snowboarding is still without a doubt
the best way to look hip on snow and as a result continues to attract new conyerts to the Alps. But it is an expensive business and you need some insider knowledge to get out there at a price you can afford.
(‘ourcheyel is a multi—leyel Alpine ski resort in the heart of the Sziy'oie region. its different levels known by the eleyations. in metres. at which they are located. Based in a traditional Village of Le Praz (now known as (‘ourcheyel I300). the newer parts of the resort are stacked up above this ancient yillage. and together they represent one of the best gateways to great skiing in liurope. In fact. (‘ourcheyel l85(). which also boasts glitzy boutiques and Michelin- .s'tarred restaurants. happens to be synonymous with some of the best skiing anywhere in the world. It is also gobsmackingly expensiye. ln ski resorts prices usually escalate with height but in the case of (‘ourcheyeL the little known yillage of 1550. though technically lower than its neighbours. is so accessible to the main resort that you have all the adyantages of staying in 1850 without the budget- busting prices. A couple of hours drive from Geneva. Lyon or (‘hambery airports. (‘ourcheyel is easy to get to. There is nothing more exciting than driying out of the dark wet yalley and turning a hairpin bend to see the rain transformed into soft fluffy snowflakes. It is a different world up there. In the midst of winter a blanket of cloud often lies below you with perfect blue sky and sunshine aboye.
Snow business: head for Courchevel 1550 tor the best-value Alpine snowboarding hoﬁday
1E) Ebb-«4 Mar .9004 THE LIST 1 15