Ski special: Dan Wakeham: My Life In Ski Travel

'In the US, you can have your pass pulled for speeding'
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The Independent Travel

First snowboarding holiday?

Andorra, on a trip organised by a local shop when I was 14. My parents have never skied or been to the mountains, so it was hard for me to get on snow at a young age. I had to rely on older friends to be responsible enough to look after me, and by riding dry slopes.

Best winter sports holiday?

When I left school I went to France for six months to do a snowboard season. It was probably the best trip ever, because it was all still new and I would wake up every morning and be so stoked that I could go out and ride all day, whatever the weather.

Worst winter sports holiday?

I can't think of the worst holiday, but it always sucks when you get hurt near the start of the trip, that tends to ruin things.

Favourite place to snowboard?

For snowboard parks it has to be Mammoth, California: they put in so much money and effort in the US to make the jumps, rails and half pipes perfect. For free riding Europe beats the US (not including Alaska) because of the size of ski areas, and the steeps are better and longer. The overall best resort is the Portes du Soleil in Morzine-Avoriaz. You have everything there - world-class snowboard parks in Avoriaz and Les Crosets, and then powder that lasts for weeks in Morzine.

Ideal snowboarding companion?

Someone of a similar standard and style, so we ride the same places with no waiting around.

Favourite run?

The Dave Murray Downhill in Whistler. Most resorts in the States have speed limits; they seem to treat skiing and snowboarding as seriously as driving, and you can have your pass pulled for speeding. So, the Dave Murray Downhill is like going to the autobahn in Germany. I think I had my personal top speed record on there.

Favourite off-piste?

I can't tell you that: it's top secret!

Greatest snowboarding luxury?

Staying in nice hotels, all expenses paid. On one trip I went to Sweden on a photo shoot for the Nike ACG catalogue. We stayed in a plush resort hotel where they give you massages after riding. There were no chairlifts, just helicopters and snowmobiles instead - that's luxury!

Holiday reading?

I am not really into books much, but I have a laptop which is perfect for wasting time in airports. I keep all of my snowboard photos and video footage, and I spend a lot of time editing little videos and doing stuff on Photoshop.

Best apres-ski?

It's funny to go to the good old Austrian resorts where you can watch them all stomping about drunk, singing while still in their ski boots. Personally, I like to go home, have a shower, get changed and go out to the British bars like the ones in Morzine or Chamonix.

Dream snowboarding trip?

A tour across the best American resorts - Tahoe, Mammoth, Utah and Colorado - riding the best parks, then finishing off in Alaska buzzing around in helicopters to find the good powder to ride.

What next in 2006?

I will follow the World Cup tour around the world with a stop off at the Olympics in February, then on to the British Championships in Laxx, Switzerland and then I'll see what happens after that.

Dan Wakeham is the 2005 Europa Cup halfpipe champion. He has qualified for the Turin Olympics snowboard halfpipe discipline, for Team GB.

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