Freeride or Freestyle?
Our reviews are broken down into two main snowboarding genres: freeride and freestyle.
Freeriding is exactly what it suggests, riding freely around the mountain, be it on the piste, through the trees or best of all descending virgin snow at mach 20 leaving a cloud of snow in your wake. If that's your thing this guide will tell you if a resort has trees, if there's easy access to off piste, what the lift systems like and most importantly what part of the resort to head for. Be warned never take on anything above your ability and if you do go off piste always wear a transceiver, carry a shovel and follow the resorts advice on avalanche risk.
Freestylers are the big air merchants. They love fun parks and half pipes. It's all about the moves - there's no point in going big if there's no style involved; a huge floating grabbed 360 looks far better than a rushed 540. If methods and misty flips are your tip then let WSG inform you of a resorts fun park and pipes. Many resorts claim to have fun parks but when you turn up its a few bumps on an icy piste. A resort with any snowboarding credibility will have got a pro rider or at least the local riders to help with the design and building of the park. Good parks will have a fulltime employee designated to the upkeep of the hits and pipe. If not you could ask for a shovel at the lift hut and do some pipe-shaping yourself, but only wield a shovel with permission and knowledge. If you don't know what you're doing and destroy a pipe wall, or spoil a hit's take-off you'll be liable to get a slap.
Carvers love wide well maintained piste so they can crank it over in their turns. Carvers mostly wear hard boots and use an asymmetric board. WSG will tell you of piste style and a resort's track record on slope maintenance.
Beginners should always look closely at the level of instruction a resort can offer. Look for a specialized snowboard school. Being taught to board by an Austrian with little English who normally teaches skiing just won't do. Don't think you won't need lessons. A good posture and stance leads to good balance which is everything in snowboarding. You may get away with leaning back and swinging your arms around on the nursery slopes but once you reach an intermediate level your progress will be hindered by your early bad habits; how can you ever expect to land a jump if you're unbalanced on the approach? Don't try to teach your spouse becuase its bound to end in a fight and there's nothing more annoying than wasting your holiday standing on a green run wishing you were somewhere else. Let someone who knows what they're doing deal with it. Intermediates will benefit from an advanced lesson and some schools offer freestyle and off piste classes. There are also great opportunities for summer freestyle camps where you're taught by professional riders.
Next: Lifts & Passes