French Ski Resort La Grave Smashes Crowdfunding Target In A Bid To Stay Independent

“It’s a mecca amongst skiers and snowboarders. A place so well respected it is rarely mentioned in case it gets ruined…”

La Grave in the southern French Alps is the kind of resort skiers and snowboarders get misty-eyed over. It has just one lift and no pistes. Instead you can pretty much ride wherever you want, at your own peril of course. When the avalanche risk is above average they don’t even blast the snow with dynamite, as is common practice in other resorts, instead a team of guides check the slopes for safety and send a message to the Major who then decides whether to open the mountain that day.

La Grave and its old atmospheric village are about far removed from a modern swanky ski resort as you can get. There are no five star hotels with spas or Michelin-starred restaurants, no heated pavements or shops selling luxury handbags or diamond crusted skis. It radiates remote and down to earth vibes.

“It’s a mecca amongst skiers and snowboarders. A place so well respected it is rarely mentioned by pilgrims in case it gets ruined…”

As local snowboarder and photographer Vanessa Beucher says: “It’s a real–life Valhalla. Few names resonate with so much power in the collective unconscious of all mountain lovers.” Or as my friend Woody puts it: “It’s a mecca amongst skiers and snowboarders. A place so well respected it is rarely mentioned by pilgrims in case it gets ruined by the Fat Face Val d’Isere *****.”

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Yet this March the 40-year lease on the resort’s lift is set to expire leaving a big question mark over La Grave’s future. Will it be taken over by one of the grand neighbouring ski resorts such as Alpe d’Huez and turned into red and black runs? Will it be closed for good? Or is another future possible, whereby it retains its unique charm and essence amid of sea of other identikit ski resorts?

Joost Van Zundeert, a La Grave long time resident who originally hails from Belgium, is gunning for the latter and has set up a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign with the aim: “Let’s Keep It Wild.” With two days left to run the Indiegogo campaign is already 10k over their original 45,000-euro target.

 

Van Zundeert tells me: “We are at a crossroads. I believe we have to go in this direction. We have a special place. Let’s keep it unique and people will come.” He says he has no problem with big ski resorts but there should be something for everyone, including people who want a more natural, authentic experience and who don’t care about how many miles of piste a ski resort can offer.

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What La Grave offers is slopes which are constantly changing. Skiing or snowboarding here where the mountain is ungroomed is more like surfing in the ocean in that it changes according to the weather, it’s more natural and untamed by humans. You can also ski or snowboard in relative solitude (the lift takes just 25 people) and even with necessary improvements to the lifts Van Zundeert doesn’t plan to make the resort busier. He sees the growth coming from summer visitors, including mountain bikers. He also plans to make the resort a world-leader in environmental management.

Vanessa Beucher tells me: “Mountain villages are unique and fragile ecosystems. La Grave, with less than a thousand inhabitants, shelters an incredible community of more than fifteen different nationalities, united by the same deep love for this place, its surroundings and its unique vibes. The threat is that an investor who does not share the same vision disrupts this subtle balance by implementing detrimental changes to the environment, to the economy and to the community as a whole.”

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“Grass-roots initiatives are budding everywhere as more and more people realise that it is possible by joining forces to take their destiny into their hands to move collectively in the right direction.”

Van Zundeert is confident their campaign, which has the backing of many local businesses who have offered gifts ranging from local honey and goat’s cheese to nights in hotels or days with ski or mountain bike guides to backers, will make it through to the second phase. And a final decision on the lift is expected in March.

To find out more and donate visit La Grave’s Indiegogo page or find them on Facebook

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The post French Ski Resort La Grave Smashes Crowdfunding Target In A Bid To Stay Independent appeared first on Mpora.

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Lianhua Mountain Ski Resort In China Hosts Underwear Festival To Boost Visitor Numbers

When it comes to marketing a ski resort, this publicity stunt is definitely straight out of left field.

Undwear Ski Festival China

Picture – via ChinaNews.com

You’d think promoting a ski resort to the masses would be easy business. “Look at these hills. Look at the snow. Look at these chairlifts. Look at these ski runs. Look at this mad après-ski scene.” Yada. Yada. Talk up all of your resort’s strong points, and don’t say anything about your resort’s weak points; ski town marketing 101. Entry level education.

The Lianhua Mountain Ski Resort in Northeast China, however, have completely ripped up the rulebook when it comes to advertising their destination. Rather than promoting their ski resort using traditional methods, they’ve decided that a better way of encouraging people to visit would be to get some other people to take off their clothes as part of a 90s lad mag style event called the “Undie Ski Festival.”

Now, we don’t want to sound too cynical about all this but we’re going to hazard a guess and say that this event was designed by committee; a committee made up entirely of blokes, geezers, and pervy bastards. One of the main events at the festival (the headline act, if you will) was a slope side bikini contest where the contestants inexplicably held up cans of Chinese grain alcohol. Yes, really.

Undwear Ski Festival China

Picture – via ChinaNews.com

The resort, located in Changchun – Jilin Province, was clearly keen to promote some sense of gender equality with all this because they also encouraged the dudes to strip off to their bare minimums. One guy, as you can see in the surreal image above, went snowboarding in his underpants with a cuddly turtle adorned to his backside. Our favourite thing about the picture above, FYI, is the guy just behind the turtle-bum-man holding his DSLR all like: “Yeah, bro. I need to get a picture of this for my portfolio.”

What do you reckon then? Would a festival that celebrates being in your “undies” be enough to tempt you to visit this ski resort? To be honest, our underpants have definitely seen better days so we’ll probably give the festival a miss thanks. But yeah, if you’re up for it…you be our guests.

Undwear Ski Festival China

Picture – via ChinaNews.com

Undwear Ski Festival China

Picture – via ChinaNews.com

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The post Lianhua Mountain Ski Resort In China Hosts Underwear Festival To Boost Visitor Numbers appeared first on Mpora.

Tricks Don’t Come Easy | Watch Kriss Kyle, Drew Bezanson and More Get Wild at Woodward West

“You could literally ride that thing for days and days and not hit every ramp there…”

raditudes woodward west 3

All photos: Red Bull Media House / Raditudes S3 E4

The new episode of Raditudes, Red Bull Bike’s BMX YouTube series has just dropped online, and the episode shows off an awesome new kind of video contest at Woodward West in the Stallion Springs, California, a venue described as “paradise for people who ride a bike”.

The new format gives riders five days to lay out their best tricks on film rather than the standard format which sees contestants required to do their thing in just a few minutes.

Woodward West certainly did look like a damn fine venue.

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“You could literally ride that thing for days and days and not hit every ramp there,” said Kriss Kyle. “It’s got so much to offer. Everything you could ever need.

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“Riding a contest is great but you need to cram everything into that one minute run and to be honest you’re not going to do your best things in that one minute because it doesn’t work like that.

“I prefer to try something for like two and a half hours – blood and sweat and everything.”

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It’s definitely make for a damn good video anyway – from the behind-the-scenes stuff to the actual footage which comes closer to the end. There’s some insane riding from Kriss, Drew Bezanson, Ben Wallace, Jason Watts and a whole bunch more.

raditudes woodward west 4

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