Val d’Isère – skiing in best freestyle ski areas
Joe Harkess, freestyle coach, All Mountain Academy
Tricksters inspired by Jenny Jones’s Olympic bronze medal should ride the snowpark at Bellevarde (under the Mont Blanc chairlift). It has jumps of varying sizes, as well as boxes and rails – so it’s much like a slopestyle course. New this year is a giant airbag, great for people who want to practise spinning or going upside down: you land on a giant inflatable pillow. Check out the snowpark in Tignes, too (Jenny Jones honed her skills there, while working as a chalet maid). The park is home to one of the best halfpipes in Europe. While in Tignes, check out the natural terrain park run off the Palafour lift – it is packed with jumps and bowls.
Ben Langridge, co-founder, Tele Tracks
You’re spoilt for choice if you’re after powder. One of my favourite areas is accessed by the Grand Pré chair, which offers terrain for novices and aficionados alike. For gentle terrain and stunning surroundings, head into the Tour du Charvet; more competent skiers should follow a high traverse onto the Face du Charvet for a variety of routes; for experts, the narrow, 40-degree Pisteurs corridor is reached after a 30-minute hike. Anyone heading off piste should take a qualified instructor: we run various levels of off-piste telemark courses or, if you’re an alpine skier, check out Giles Lewis from The Development Centre: he has years of experience tracking down Val d’Isère’s best off-piste.
Fab Jolly, ski patroller/avalanche controller
Everyone makes a beeline for Bellevarde: it’s the largest ski area and the access point for all the runs over in Tignes, but if you like the idea of having the slopes all to yourself, go to Fornet instead. Take the free shuttle bus from town to the Fornet cable car, then hop on the Vallon cable car and the Cascade chairlift, which drops you off on the Glacier du Pissaillas. The glacier has several (usually empty) blue and red runs and, because it’s high, it often has lots of fresh snow. The 360-degree views are amazing – you can see all the way to Italy. To really get away from all the crowds, sign up for the new Fresh Tracks service (€15pp, book at the tourist office), where you get to ride the Olympique lift an hour before it opens, have a picnic breakfast of croissants and coffee at the top, before cruising down the freshly groomed Verte green run or Diebold blue run.