It’s a few days since I got back from Laax and I’ve now had just about enough sleep to feel human again.
The Animal Rock Night on Friday was an absolute epic. There were fluro spandex trousers, lycra swimsuits, fur coats and oodles of eyeliner – and that was just the men. There was a monster moshpit, people dangling from the ceiling and more home-made tattoos than you’d see in your average top security prison. A legendary night.
The next day – a powder day – we were all suffering from minor whiplash and lunging injuries from the night before but still made it out for some powder fun on the glacier.
The final event of the week was the Red Bull Homerun which sees competitors (ie anyone) race from the Crap Sogn Gion roundhouse to the base of the mountain. All 200 skiers and riders stood behind a line and then raced to get to their equipment and belt it to the bottom of the mountain.
To get a true sense of the madness of the race, check out the brilliant video filmed by James Rowden of the Ski Club of GB, wearing a camera as he took part in the race.
The first skier home was local instructor and former Swiss skiercross champion Christain Corey. The first female skier home was 14-year-old Katie Summerhayes. The first female snowboarder home was Silke Voithoter whilst Sam Turnbull and Jesse Smith has a virtual photofinish to be the first male snowboarder through the finishing gate. Jesse won the prize (beer tokens!) in the end.
I mentioned at the start of the week that I would blog about the changes in the resort.
In previous years Laax hasn’t really felt much like a resort. It’s been more like a mountain with a couple of hotels, some apartments and a couple of bars and shops – no real sense of community. That’s because the Laax/Flims areas is spread across a few towns/villages and we stay in the smallest, newest part. However the addition of the Rocks Resort has really changed this. The accommodation is right on the slope and a range of new restaurants, bars and cafes has been added. While it may look pretty cold and minimal from the outside, the slightly mirrored windows reflect the amazing scenery and when the sky is blue, it’s like looking at a gallery of gorgeous mountain watercolours.
We had a fantastic meal at Nooba – an style Asian restaurant serving great noodle and curry dishes. Laax used to be a nightmare for vegetarians (unless you wanted a mushroom pizza every night) so Nooba is a very welcome addition. There’s also a bakery/patisserie, burger bar, swanky wine bar/restaurant and a lovely coffee shop serving posh coffee, smoothies and breakfast deals. It’s all very slick, very modern but still has a very warm and cosy feel.
Underneath the rebuilt Crap Bar, a room full of lockers has been added where you stash your boards and skis at the end of the day. I usually hate using lockers but these were cool, easy to use and had benches and loos too.
However I’ve got to point out that Laax is as expensive as it is stylish. Even trying to cook your own meal using the pitiful Volg supermarket can be a costly business. The bars ain’t cheap either. Switzerland is not somewhere to come for a cheap snowboarding holiday – but then again neither is France with the current Euro exchange rate.
To make your CHFs (Swiss Francs) go further, I’d highly recommend stocking up on duty-free booze and bringing some dried food with you (especially if you’re a vegetarian or have any other special dietary requirements). I don’t mean all your food for the week – just a few bits and pieces to give you a couple of cheaper nights of home cooking. One snowboard team, who were driving out to the Brits and two apartments of hungry boys to feed, did a massive shop at Morrisons on their way over to stock up on food and just bought fresh stuff locally. When you’re on a budget, these things can all help.
But the whole experience of staying in the lush apartments, with the brilliant après area, slope, lifts and nightlife so close to home made for an amazing week.
The number of competitors was slightly down this year – understandable with finances being tight in some households. However it was fantastic to see so many younger riders showing real progression and earning themselves some Brits medals.
The location of next year’s Brits has yet to be announced so who knows if we’ll be spending another week in the grey cubes, Café No Name and the Crap Bar. What we will be sure of is some more great riding from the next generation of British snowboarding talent.
I’ll be there – wherever we end up!