Are The Snowboard Parks In The USA And Canada Better Than Those In Europe?
Imagine a picture-perfect snowboard park, shaped to perfection. The park stretches out down the full lenght of a run, in fact, it is a run in its own right. Kickers, rails, boxes, jibs, a hip, and a pipe at the bottom. Then there’s a high-speed quad chair that takes you back to the top. The type of park you’ll see on YouTube when some pro-shred stomps every single feature and makes it look easy…
So where might you find a park like this?
I bet you didn’t think of Europe. Neither did I.
The heavy hitters of snowboard parks
So who are the major players when it comes to snowboard parks in the USA and Canada?
Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Terrain Parks
- Park City
- Bear Mountain
It’s not a complete list, but these parks all have impressive reputations, for sure. Most of them have featured in Transworld’s top snowboard parks at some point. They’ve got loads of features, loads of video coverage, always shaped, high speed chairs… There’s a good reason that the editor of this site believes Breck has the best parks on the planet.
Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Terrain Park
And what about the best from Europe?
Photo courtesy of Gavin Hope Avoriaz Chappelle Park
- Les Deux Alpes
Photo courtesy of Simen Berg
It’s a bit harder to make this list: with the U.S/Canadian list it was a case of which parks to chop out, for Europe, I’m looking for parks to include… That said, most of these European parks are well known, in Europe at least, but I don’t think they have the same reputation and notoriety as those in the U.S/Canada.
So what’s the deal? Is it that the parks in North America get more exposure than their counterparts in Europe? Is it the case that we just don’t hear about the killer parks in France, Switzerland, Austria, Scandinavia…
Or is it like that for a reason: the parks in the U.S and Canada are simply better?
Cultural differences at play?
There are some big differences in culture between Europe and the U.S & Canada – one of which is the service culture. I’ve visited the States twice and Canada once. People go out of their way to provide a good service. It’s almost like it’s programmed in. As a visitor, it shows: walk into a restaurant and the staff are so friendly and helpful. They want to provide a good service. The same is probably true with their snowboard resorts.
Europe on the other hand, can at times, be a little take it or leave it; you get what you’re given. Some might say that’s part of its charm – but hey, I’m not here to critique culture; I’m asking if the parks are better in the USA and Canada.
Take Chamonix for example. Chamonix is known world-wide as a mountain town that sits in the heart of some amazing peaks. Some really extreme terrain, great off-piste and backcountry opportunities, an excellent resort. And how long did it take for them to build a terrain park?
A lot of people will say that they didn’t need a park – the place is full of natural hits. Or perhaps that they didn’t want to detract from natural, rugged mountain experience – Chamonix is about freeriding. I don’t buy into either of those viewpoints. They didn’t want to build a park. Full stop. If they did, they would have done so ages ago! And from what I hear, the two-season-year-old park is pretty sucky…
There are exceptions, however. Avoriaz for example, is in my opinion a freestyle-friendly resort. It has 2, well shaped parks, to suit different ability levels, not to mention a park for absolute beginners, albeit very small. Then there’s the Burton Stash, and a fine half-pipe. That’s a lot! The park crew there are dedicated to providing varying and interesting freestyle features; the resort in general has welcomed snowboarders for a long time.
But still, even with a freestyle focused resort like Avoriaz, I’m not sure it competes with some of the U.S and Canadian parks? And whilst this may be a disservice to some of the park crews and snowboard organisations throughout Europe, perhaps the problem sits with the higher up resort-manager-types? It’s great having a park crew that’s dedicated and know what they’re doing; but if the overall resort (or region) doesn’t buy in to providing the best possible freestyle snowboard facilities, then they’re fighting an uphill battle.
Do the U.S and Canadian resorts place a larger emphasis on providing a top notch service to snowboarders?
The reality is, I haven’t been to enough parks to say for sure, so I’m asking:
Are the parks in the USA and Canada better than those in Europe?
About: Gavin Hope resides in a tiny little island that has a huge population of snow sliding enthusiasts. He’s been known to shred indoors in giant freezers as well as on plastic snow. Currently he is recovering from a game of chicken gone wrong and when not writing likes practicing his underwater basket weaving as well as making miniature civil war uniforms for cats. For more on Gavin check out his snowboard blog Afterbang.