Snowboarding: A Rude awakening

How do you find the perfect board? Go on a winter break where the chalet owners let you try as many of them as you like, says Matt Carroll

How do you know if the snowboard you're riding is right for you? Ashamed though I am to admit it, they all look pretty much the same to me. OK, so some are a tad wider than others – and I know the rule about how the tip should come up to your chin when you stand the thing upright – but that's as far as my technical knowledge goes. It's all a bit embarrassing really, especially as I've been snowboarding for the best part of a decade.

It can be difficult to build up experience of different equipment. Many of us simply end up having to rely on what the salesperson in the shop tells us before parting with our hard-earned cash. Of course, you could always try out some rental boards when you reach the resort, but stocks of the latest kit are often limited and in poor repair. If, like me, you're a bit on the tall side, then your choice is further restricted to whatever happens to fit.

However, as I found out last season, there is a way to get your hands on the newest boards. I booked a trip to the French resort of Morzine with the British company Rude Chalets, and looked forward to spending the week working my way through the Burton catalogue – a snowboard fan's dream come true.

Kicking the snow off my boots as I arrived at Chalet Christophe, my eyes lit up at the sight of a fully stocked rack of brand-new boards, waiting to be played with. "Whatever you're into – piste, park or powder – there's a board here to suit," said Helen Lavender, who runs Rude with her husband, Chris. They met in 2000 while doing a season in Meribel, and established the company in a bid to create the ultimate chalet holiday for boarders.

Part of that aim has resulted in a deal with Burton to become one of its official test centres, allowing guests to try out a huge range of hardware during their stay. Along with the boards, there are experts on hand to help you choose the most suitable one and a fully stocked workshop so you can experiment with set-ups and see what works best for you.

"Although they look similar, each board will behave slightly differently when you get it out on the mountain," said Helen, plucking a particularly flashy red and yellow one from the rack. "This T6, for example, is a lot wider than the average board, so it distributes your weight over a greater area – making it ideal for riding in powder. This Custom ICS, on the other hand, is a lot lighter and snappier, making it perfect for doing jumps in the terrain park."

I wasn't sure that aerials were high on my agenda. At 15 stone, I'm not renowned for my gymnastic prowess, but this seemed like as good a place as any to give it a whirl. Especially as there are several parks just up the road.

The chalet – one of three which the couple operates in Morzine, along with a further property in Chamonix – is located between Morzine village and Avoriaz, giving you a choice of more than 400 miles of skiable terrain, almost from your doorstep. The chalet operates a free shuttle to the lifts, so you can be on the slopes within 15 minutes of slurping your morning chocolat chaud. After sitting down with Chris to work out which board I should try first, I grabbed the Custom and headed for the hills. As someone who generally gives terrain parks a wide berth, I was a bit nervous about taking to the air. But at Avoriaz there's a "baby" park alongside the bigger jumps, allowing the lily-livered among us to build up confidence without committing to the really scary stuff.

After a few warm-up runs on the cruisy blues that lead straight from Les Prodains cable car, we headed to the park for the moment of truth. Already I could feel the difference between the handling of the Custom and my usual board, which was much longer, wider and slower, it was more like an extension of my feet.

With a suitably clear run, I dropped in to the park and pointed the board towards the first jump. Crouching low as I mounted the ramp, I slid off the end, achieving an impressive (for me) 12 inches of air. It was barely enough to raise a goggle-covered eyebrow from the assembled onlookers, but enough to give me the confidence to do it all again.

From there I headed off to try something different – in the form of The Stash. Built by Burton, its wooden jumps and slides blend in with the surroundings. Hidden among the trees, away from the intimidating gaze of all the cool kids, it's more peaceful than traditional parks – giving you the room to attempt things you'd normally avoid. Soon I was confidently landing jumps that I would have thought impossible before, spurred on by a board that felt precise and well set up for me.

Back at the chalet, I crashed out in my room, which was decked out with suitably snowboarder-friendly devices such as flat-screen television, an Xbox and an iPod dock. There are seven en-suite rooms here, each of which is decked out with edgy, action sports-inspired art. But the quirkiest decoration of all was the front section of an old Mini that I found poking out of the wall near the lounge, which doubles as a store cupboard for a stash of board games.

Hang on. Board games? Hardly a recipe for the adrenalin-fuelled après-ski antics I'd envisaged. "A lot of people like to spend their evenings chilling after wearing themselves out on the hill – whether it's playing Monopoly or watching a movie," said Helen. Fair enough. But after gorging myself on cheese fondue at Le Matafan restaurant down in Morzine, I gave the games a miss and headed straight to the hot tub to soak my aching thighs. And ponder which board I'd try next.

Travel essentials: Board testing

The Burton Snowboard Test Weekend (0870 068 7030; rudechalets.com) takes place at Rude Chalets' Joseph chalet from 11-14 December 2009. It costs £289 per person, which includes transfers, half-board accommodation and wine, as well as a three-day Avoriaz lift pass and access to the latest range of Burton boards. Flights are not included. The boards are available during the rest of the season at the Rude Chalets properties in Morzine, Avoriaz and Chamonix, for €75 per week.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits