Snowboarding in Austria

Five of the best Austrian resorts for boarders

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Sophie Gackowski

Sophie Gackowski
HomeAway travel expert


Kaunertal Snowboarders

Ski passes in Austria don’t come cheap, but there’s a reason its resorts are full to the brim with boarders: Germans, Brits, Russians, the Dutch—this is a land of seriously great piste. But it’s also a country seemingly made for skitouring: many a boarder’s happy to hike up an untracked hill, bomb down, and hike up again! And, from Tyrol to Vorarlberg, Salzburg to Kärnten, there’s a huge selection of suitable regions to choose from, each with its own distinct winter tourism culture.

Some hold World Championships, and others have nailed après ski (in fact, some of Austria’s major resorts are best avoided by the shy and retiring); others again have dreamworthy snowparks, and more still boast beautiful backcountry. But where’s best if you’re only beginning, travelling with mates, or out to tame Austria’s most difficult boarding terrain?

Well, before you check out HomeAway’s range of Austrian chalets, glance over my guide to snowboarding in Austria.

 

Sophie's fast facts

 Kreischberg, in Styria, is all set to host the Snowboard World Championship in January 2015; which, for the first time ever in history, will be a combined event, being held alongside the Freestyle Ski World Championship at the same time.

 And it’s coming home: the first ever Snowboard World Cup was held in Zürs, Austria back in in 1985.

 Mayrhofen boasts the steepest (but all too short!) groomed slope in Austria, the Harakiri (run number 18) which has a gradient up to 78%. Its rather un-Austrian name is actually Japanese, a term used for seppuku, or a samurai’s suicide!

 Snowpark Kitzsteinhorn in Kaprun has Austria’s biggest super-pipe. At 160 metres long and 6.3 metres high, it’s a monster.

 Snowbombing, a week-long festival of winter sports and music, is held in Mayrhofen every spring. The biggest of its kind in Europe, the resort has seen acts like Pendulum and Fatboy Slim since 2005, and the The Prodigy are all set for April 2014.
 
 

Guide to snowboarding in Austria


   

Kaunertal: best for freestylers Kaunertal: best for freestylers

Think of everything you could ever dream of in a terrain park. Freshly shaped every day? Reliable powder? Whatever you want as a freestyler, Kaunertal’s known to be Europe’s best resort for your breed. The resort itself is small and out of the way (you’ll need to buy your lift passes as Feichten, a 40-minute scenic drive away), but when you arrive, you’ll be welcomed with two half pipes (one of which is 100m long) and an array of rails and kickers in its world-class fun park, open long before and after others have closed. There are also excellent opportunities for touring in the backcountry.

View chalets in Kaunertal

 
   
 

   

Schlick 2000: best for freeriders Schlick 2000: best for freeriders

Head here for piste or parks, and you might be disappointed: there are chutes, rails and a half pipe, but Schlick 2000 is all about the off-piste. I have it on good authority (a friend of mine’s lucky enough to live there!) that this is a local favourite, usually overlooked by Brits. But just a short trip from Innsbruck—a great base for any stay—and you’ll be faced with the Stubai Glacier, next to which is a dizzying array of snow-laden hillsides for off-piste boarding. Because they’re protected, they’ll stay covered weeks after the last snowfall: check out Kreuzjoch when you want to head for the wild.

View Stubai Valley chalets

 
   
 

   

Mayrhofen: beginners Mayrhofen: best for beginners

It’s not that Mayrhofen is only suited to beginners: it offers excellent freeriding and its park is outstanding. It’s just the ‘Big M’ is also home to a haven for those new to the sport, with easy runs at the top of the Ahorn. Reached via a cable car, its wide, gentle and uncrowded pistes are perfect for those dipping their toes in. There are also some easy runs to try on the Penken when you’re ready, and there’s always Burton Park if you fancy some freestyle: it has two jumps and a rail strictly for beginners. Mayrhofen’s also popular with families, so it’s great if you have little ones to teach.

View Mayrhofen chalets

 
   
 

   

St Anton: best for experts St Anton: best for experts

It doesn’t come cheap, but boarding in St Anton is a must for the advanced. You’ll have access to 280km of piste and 180km of marked off-piste when you ride the entire linked area, which includes Stuben and St Christoph, as well as Lech and Zurs via public transport, with your Arlberg ski pass. There are big drop offs, great natural hits in Kapall, and even the summit of Valluga to tackle (only permitted with a guide). Of course, there’s always heli-boarding to consider too (after all, this is the only place you can do so); just don’t go too hard on the legendary St Anton après ski beforehand!

View chalets in St Anton

 
   
 

   

Ischgl: best for groups Ischgl: best for groups

It’s got Austria’s best intermediate slopes, but plenty of off-piste; an amazing terrain park, and the country’s most state-of-the-art lift system. Throw in that Ischgl’s après ski scene is not for the faint of heart, (it’s earned the nickname ‘Ibiza on Ice’) and it’s guaranteed your group of mates won’t forget this trip in a hurry. You’ll have access to a range of other resorts located within a 15-minute drive, pistes located no lower than 2,000 metres, and a car-free centre. Experts, wind your way through the trees of Pardatschgrat; newbies, you can count on wide, manicured runs at Alp Trida.

View Ischgl chalets

 
 
 
Images

Image 1 Ronan Konigshofer
Image 2 Tourismusverband Stubai Tirol
Image 3 Chris Isherwood
Image 4 Christopher Eden
Image 5 Arentas

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