Gigi Rüf - Arlberg. Photo: Matt Georges
Even though snowboarding is limited to places that are cold enough to have snow, our horizons are still seemingly endless. Destination is a collection of photo galleries focusing on one area of the world at a time, with advice from our chief snapper Matt Georges, as well as snippets of what went in to some of the shots from a few of the photographers involved. First up: Europe.
It was the Irish novelist George Moore who once said: “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it," a sentiment that perfectly describes a British snowboarder’s relationship with Europe. After all, it’s where most of us put in our first turns, did our first seasons and – even after decades of affordable global air travel – return year after year. Journals like the one you’re reading may spark a yearning for powder fields afar, but really you can find everything you need just the other side of the Channel.
From heliboarding in Italy to unrestricted off-piste in France; from Austrian parks to Swiss glaciers; and from the Iberian Peninsula all the way up to the freezing North of Scandi-land – where the world’s greatest snowboarders are forged in the same furnace as Mjölnir – the vast scale and infinite variations of this continent and its riders are what brings us back, time and time again.
“With infinite hiking possibilities right from the lifts, it’s a constant battle with the punters to score fresh powder. Head to the high mountains for steep lines, before ending up at a crazy après-ski party hammered on the local booze. Use the wide-angle for scenic shots of crazy mountains and endless Scandinavian sunsets, but pack a full bag – Europe isall about diversity and deploying a mix of photographic skills."
“Lady Miller (aka Vicci) and I we were cruising in the neighbourhood of a resort called Bormio in Italy, with two Frenchies answering to the names of Anouck Grau and Marion Haerty. Vicci was the olde... more experienced women there, so was opening most of the lines we could find, mostly thanks to our local guides.
“After this shot, she rode straight into the sunny face in front of us, which was so steep that you couldn’t have a look at it from the top. She just memorised the line, walked to the top in 45 minutes, and got straight to it.You’re wrong if you think this sunny spray over the shadow is like some kind of George Michael ballad. Vicci sings heavy metal songs while she rides. This lady has big balls!"
“This crazy-ass roof drop to rail is way up north in Gallivare, Sweden. Hans Ahlund opened it ten years ago with a 5050, and it hadn’t been tried since. When Hans showed it to fellow Random Bastard youngblood Cees Wille, he felt like he could do it. He stepped up, grabbed his balls and went for a boardslide. He broke his board on the first try, got another one and had a few more tries, but the compression in the bottom was just too big to handle. When he broke his second board and scared himself half to death, he had to abandon it. The kid was so close, it was a pain to see him walk away. In my mind it feels like he deserves it just as much, because he committed fully to it."
“Usually Arlberg is “the place to be" in Tyrol for backcountry riding, but last season was different. It was one of the worst winters I’ve ever known, and Arlberg (like all of the Alps) was missing the snow. However, this made the resort look a little different to normal, and opened up some spots that weren’t there when there was more snow. This was taken at a super-secret zone famous for sunset shots, so when the time is right everything has to happen really quickly.
“On this special day, the cloud was doing all the work for us. Even if Mario [Kaepelli] had done a boring no-grab straight air, it would have still looked sick. But as he is a professional, he threw some bangers like this down for us. The biggest challenge for the crew always comes after the session: going down through the woods in the dark..."