Party with the pros in Laax

12th January 2009, by Chris Gill

Even if terrain parks and snowboarding aren’t your idea of fun on the slopes, the free acrobatics and party atmosphere on offer in Laax this week can’t fail to grab your attention if you’re on the piste in the Swiss resort.

The 10th Burton European championships is taking place from 9 to 16 January and promises to bring all the thrills and (quite often) spills of park and pipe competition, showcasing many of the world’s top riders. Over 400 men and women will battle it out for BGOS Ranking Points and TTR World Ranking Points in Europe’s only open snowboarding event.

The action takes place in Laax’s top competition terrain parks, at the top of Crap Sogn Gion - the ski area’s main mountain. Grab a deckchair, beer and watch others fling themselves over the enormous kickers, or ride the slick super-pipe. Or simply take in the ‘vibe’ while cruising the runs around Flims-Laax-Falera.

The juniors kicked off the opening events and today (Monday 12 January) the men and women’s half-pipe qualifying rounds have been taking place under perfect blue sky conditions - with the UK’s own Lesley McKenna currently leading the way in the women’s competition.

Laax and its neighbour Flims share 220km of largely intermediate slopes, still relatively undiscovered by British skiers but excellent for long leisurely cruising, and increasingly popular with families - facilities for children and beginners are good. [And the resort has some good mountain restaurants - don’t miss the Alpenrose (Startgels).]

Laax is also developing its village base, with the opening of the very un-Swiss style Rocksresort complex this season.

But the hub of après-ski events during the Burton championships is the Rider’s Palace - where the bars will be jumping and live gigs organised.

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