OnTheSnow celebrates the 2011-12 ski season with a look back at some of the best moments - the biggest snow dumps, gnarliest competitions and coolest end-of-season parties.
Just a couple of weeks before the start of the season, there wasn't a sniff of snow in sight. But on the week of Dec. 5 the snow clouds finally rolled in, bringing more than a metre of powder to the Alps. The majority of alpine resorts were able to open as scheduled and, by the time Christmas came around, excellent snow conditions could be found right across the Alps, particularly in France - Val Thorens, Val d'Isere, Tignes and La Plagne all had more than a metre of powder.
Val Thorens village became one giant ski slope. Picture taken Dec. 23, 2011.
But the biggest dumps of the season were yet to come. We saw a record-breaking start to 2012 in the Austrian Tyrol. Up to two metres of snow fell within a week (Jan. 5-12); the ski resorts of Nauders and Galtür hadn't seen so much snow for 60 years and all travel in and out of Ischgl was cut off after the huge snowfalls caused the closure of access roads. Nearly 1,000 British holidaymakers were forced to stay in Ischgl and the neighbouring village of Galtur. There weren't too many complaints though - being forced to extend your ski holiday due to too much powder isn't the worst thing in the world.
Huge snowfalls in Ischgl. Picture taken Jan. 9, 2012. Credit Paznaun-Ischgl
Tignes' Winter X Games saw Shaun White scoop two golds in the Men's Snowboard SuperPipe and Slopestyle. Wearing his lucky zebra pants, the ones with which he won every contest he entered this year, Shaun came out of the pipe higher than anyone else. His first run, that scored 98 points, was close to perfect, with a really fat backside air and a trick he invented: the front double cork 1260.
Shaun White's SuperPipe gold:
In true BRITS spirit, freeski newcomers and unknowns Lucas Hogland and Chloe Hardy exploded on to the scene in Laax to take medals in the Protest Freeski Slopestyle Championships, with Lucas going on to podium for the second time in the British Freeski Big Air, whilst Pamela Thorburn put pedal to the metal in the Trespass Skiercross Championships to take home gold. James Machon successfully defended his British crown and took home gold in the Dare 2b Halfpipe Championships for the fourth consecutive year.
Highlights from The BRITS 2012:
The final competition of the Swatch Freeride World Tour arrived in Verbier March 24. In front of more than 8,500 spectators, the top-level athletes put on their best game to tackle freeriding's most illustrious competition, the "Xtreme Verbier". On the infamous north face of the Bec des Rosses, at 3,222 metres, skiers and snowboarders were challenged by a 500-metre steep, rocky, and technical face, testing even the very best.
Swede Reine Barkered put on the most impressive run of the day, skiing faster and going bigger than his opponents who took similar lines. With zero hesitation, he charged down the now so-called "Barkered Line", to stomp numerous big cliffs on his way down. With his top result in Verbier, Barkered scored enough points to be crowned World Champion just in front of American Drew Tabke and French Aurélien Ducroz, both executing outstanding runs on the Bec des Rosses.
Best of Xtreme Verbier 2012:
Coolest end-of-season parties
The week-long concert of drum'n'bass, dubstep and house music played to a 5,000-strong crowd of adoring revellers in Mayrhofen Apri 9-l4. This year, Snoop Dogg was sadly forced to cancel his headlining spot and European tour due to legal reasons, but Dizzee Rascal was booked in to replace him.
Highlights of Snowbombing 2012:
The biggest end-of-season party is always found in Ischgl. This year Mariah Carey performed at Ischgl's season closing at the open-air mountaintop concert April 30 to an adoring crowd of 20,000 fans, skiers and snowboarders and sang ‘Happy Anniversary' in a duet with her husband Nick Cannon. She wowed the crowd with hits including Always Be My Baby, Without You, Hero, Emotions, I'll Be There and Butterfly.
Mariah said: "It's great to be in Ischgl. I have never seen anything like this in my life, it's just gorgeous. My family is with me and I am very excited to be celebrating my wedding anniversary and my babies' first birthday here in Ischgl. I do ski, but I'm not very good although I do try."
Superstar Mariah Carey sings out Ischgl's closing concert. Credit Ischgl.com