Holiday on the half-pipe this year
Influenced by skiing, surfing and skateboarding in equal measure, snowboarding's been around since the 1920's - and shows no signs of disappearing. An exhilarating and thrilling sport which facilitates some seriously stylish moves, it grows more popular by the year, with both skiers and non-skiers alike. But whether your talents lie in Alpine, Freestyle or Heli-Boarding (or have yet to be nurtured in a world-class snowboarding school) why not consider a specialised holiday, where you can perfect or practice your skills? You could head to a luxurious Swiss resort like the snow-laden Saas Fee, or opt for lively apres ski in one of Austria's pretty villages, like Zurs. You could fly over to North America and sample the challenging slopes of Canada, or simply pop across to France and enjoy a weekend in Meribel.
One thing's certain: whatever your level of expertise, you'll enjoy some seriously spectacular snowboarding. Of course, you want somewhere convenient and comfortable to stay, even somewhere you can ski in-and-out of. That's where HomeAway comes in, offering hundreds of lodges in North America and thousands of chalets in Europe, spanning luxury properties and traditional cottages, central apartments and rural retreats. Indeed, there's no budget, need or desire we can't meet, so all you have to do is choose your dream destination! Simply read on for our snowboarding suggestions, and start planning the holiday of a lifetime.
Top snowboarding destinations 2014
France is a winning destination no matter what your winter sport, but snowboarding is particularly excellent and gaining popularity. After all, a combination of first-class facilities with high-altitude boarding terrain means both novices and experts are well catered for. Families and first-time snowboarders should head for the slopes of Mongenevre and Courchevel, with easy, gentle terrain and highly-rated schools, whilst experts will enjoy the challenging slopes of Chamonix, where they can show off spins, turns and jumps in style. Val d'Isere is a good all-round destination, with a half-pipe, snowboard park and miles of off-piste terrain.
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Austria is well established for snowboarding and skiing alike, but its Tyrolean area on the Swiss border is particularly excellent. For expert snowboarders, St. Anton offers steep chutes, natural obstacles and deep bowls, whilst beginners will enjoy the quieter slopes of Zurs and Lech. Mayrhofen, however, is seemingly dedicated to snowboarding, with dozens of pipes, rails and jumps to enjoy. And after a day of showing off your skills on the slopes, you can enjoy the famously lively Austrian après ski: with plenty of local beer and schnapps on the menu, just make sure to take it easy so you're ready to hit the slopes the next day!
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With excellent snow conditions and an amazingly long season, Canada's a great choice for all manner of snowboarders. It houses a huge number of world-class resorts, like Whistler in British Columbia and Banff in beautiful Alberta, so there's plenty of choice when it comes to choosing a base. Whistler's the natural choice for advanced snowboarders, with over 200 trails serviced by a vast network of lifts, and North America's highest and longest runs. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, why not try heli-boarding? A great way to access the deep, untouched snow that lies off-piste, it's an exhilarating and exciting experience.
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The USA is a skier's paradise, but resorts like Breckenridge and Jackson Hole have also welcomed boarders for decades. Their massive mountain ranges make them particularly attractive to Brits, and their boarding après ski scene is thriving. Show off your freestyle skills on a range of challenging rails in California, or simply practice in the Colorado's snow parks, filled with quarter-pipes, half-pipes and super-pipes. Of the dozens of snow parks found throughout the USA, Heavenly is one of the best: here, you can enjoy miles of off-piste free-riding, no less than four snowboard parks, an excellent half-pipe and runs for all levels of ability.
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The likes of Verbier, Zermatt and Saas Fee are some of the world's best snowboarding destinations, so holidaying in Switzerland is always an excellent choice. There are seemingly endless peaks, spectacular landscapes and a range of well-equipped snow parks, so whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned boarder, you'll find everything you could possibly need. The Swiss Alps see boarders and skiers share the area each season, and it's no surprise: there are miles of unspoilt slopes. Verbier boasts over 400 kilometres of skiable terrain serviced by a network of 100 lifts, with its slopes of Mont Fore and Mont Gele famed as a snowboarder's haven.
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