It's bastard cold, the resorts are getting ready to open, and even the rainbows are turning white. Brace yourselves - the Scottish winter is well and truly upon us.
While the conditions can be a bit touch-and-go, and the snow can thaw just as quickly as it falls, that hasn’t stopped Scotland’s five ski resorts from filling up the calendar with some cracking events.
"Weather-permitting, there’ll be something going on almost every weekend of the winter"
They can mostly be filed under freestyle or freeride, but there are a couple of other formats in the mix too. For the backcountry fiends the Scottish Freedom Series returns for 2017, with a new final event planned. We’ll also see the culmination of the Scottish Park & Pipe Triple Crown, as well as the first banked slalom in a while.
While you won't see the kinds of budgets and surrounding media circuses that the elite-level snowboard events generate, the ones on this list can give any of them a run for their money in terms of sheer passion, energy and enjoyment.
Weather-permitting, there’ll be something going on almost every weekend of the winter, and you don't need to be an uber-pro to get involved. Events will be added/updated as details emerge, so be sure to check back.
Events are listed in chronological order - click a link to skip:
NOVEMBER 2016: Backcountry Gathering
Warren Miller's 'Here, There & Everywhere will be screened at the GatheringVenue: Nevis Range
Date: Saturday 26th December 2016
You can leave your board at home for this one; the Backcountry Gathering is a chance to get prepped for the coming season.
With mountain safety talks, transceiver workshops and much, much more, there’s no better opportunity to get clued up.
Stay on for the evening to see Warren Miller’s new film, Here There & Everywhere.
ROME RAIL JAM
Date: Saturday 14th January 2017
Format: Rail Jam
**RESCHEDULED** - New date Saturday 28th January
Despite being Scotland’s smallest resort, the Lecht is usually the first to get their park in good working order. Last year their January jam was a smash, with Jamie Trinder and Claire Frost taking the wins.
Even if the only snow available has to be scraped from the inside of every fridge-freezer in Tominoul, there will still be a setup worth hitting - and now that Rome Snowboards are sponsoring the park, it's all but guaranteed.
GLENCOE RAIL JAM
Date: Saturday 21st January 2017
Format: Rail jam
The following weekend sees a similar event going down at Glencoe.
Entry is free, and with any luck this video maestro will make another appearance.
BRITISH FREERIDE JUNIOR WEEKEND
Date: Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th January 2017
British Freeride do more than most to encourage young 'uns to explore the mountain, and at the end of January they're hosting a two-day comp.
They'll also be running the junior version of the Coe Cup on 11th March, so there's plenty of opportunity to get the next generation hooked on freeriding.
SFS: LAWERS OF GRAVITY
Date: Saturday 4th February 2017
Appropriately enough, The Scottish Freedom Series kicks off about as far from the resorts' lifts as you can get. The face lies in the shadow of Ben Lawers, a Munro to the north of Loch Tay.
The only way in is on foot or by skinning up, which may take up to two hours, but the terrain on offer at the other end is well worth the effort.
The Freedom series is now fully subscribed, but you can add your name to the waiting list for a chance to get involved.
ROME AIR & STYLE
Date: Saturday 25th February 2017
Format: Big Air
Last year everything went down on one of the finest, bluebirdiest days of the season – fingers crossed for more of the same in February.
SFS: CORRIE CHALLENGEVenue: Nevis Range
Date: Saturday 25th February 2017
Round two of the Scottish Freedom Series takes place at Nevis’ famous Back Corries.
Confirmation of the exact location will have to wait until the day itself, but as it’s arguably the best-loved freeride terrain in the country, there’s plenty of good lines to be had.
SCOTTISH BOARDERCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Date: Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th March 2017
It's a bit of a shame that this clashes with the banked slalom at Glencoe, as we can imagine there'll be a lot of berm fans keen to do both.
If you're more into the aerospace-waxing, elbow-sharpening side of things, then this is event for you. The course is always epic, and the sight of grizzled silverbacks locked in battle is all but guaranteed.
SCOTTISH TRIPLE CROWN FINAL
Date: Saturday 11th March 2017
From the much-missed Dawn Of The Shred to the resort’s own Ptarmigan Jam, springtime slopestyle events at Cairngorm have always been a hit. This year they’re hosting the real-snow leg of the Scottish Park & Pipe Triple Crown series.
The overall winners of the series will be crowned once points gained at the indoor and dryslope legs have been taken into account.
Date: Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th March 2017
Format: Splitboard race
Splitboarding in Scotland is more popular than ever, and the Upbattle adds a rare competitive element. It’s not exactly the Olympics, of course, so all are welcome to enter.
The event begins with a Le Mans-style start at the base station, which will see riders race to get their gear set for the ascent. First to skin up the course and ride back down again wins.
As well as the comp there’ll be split kit available for demo, and G2 Outdoors will be hosting avalanche safety courses too.
SFS: COE CUPVenue: Glencoe
Date: Saturday 18th March 2017
For those more interested in the down part, on the same weekend the famous Coe Cup returns for a 5th year.
It all takes place on the formidable Flypaper and Radio Gully, and Scottish Freedom Series points are up for grabs.
Once the dust settles there’ll be an end-of-series party, but the top-ranking riders may want to stick to soft drinks and get a good night's sleep...
SCOTTISH FREEDOM SERIES FINALVenue: Glencoe
Date: Sunday 19th March 2017
Anyone still with a shot at the podium will be back up the hill again on the Sunday.
The SFS final will take place over the back of Glencoe, on Clach Leathad.
END OF SEASON SLUSH FEST
Date: Saturday 25th March 2017
The Lecht doesn’t usually have the luxury of a late season, so they’ll be throwing their end-of-winter bash in March.
No word on the format yet, but expect it to be fun on a bun (with luck, in the sun).
TSA BANKED SLALOM
Date: Saturday 1st April 2017
Format: Banked Slalom
As the only real-snow leg of the series (and the biggest banked slalom race in Scotland for some time), this one looks set to be a winner. Who needs Mt. Baker?
Date: Saturday 15th April 2017
Details on this one are thin on the ground, which is understandable – it’s still a long way off, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what the snow will be like at that time.
It’s safe to expect a slushy showdown in the park, though. The event kicks off in the afternoon, and is free to enter.