Mountainwatch | Reggae Elliss
The Stomping Grounds Project had two successful pre-season sessions in Saas Fee, Switzerland last month, with some of the biggest names in international snowboarding and skiing locking in for pre-season training and again pushing the limits of progression. As the only location in the northern hemisphere that offers competition-sized halfpipe, slopestyle jumps and parks, the Stomping Grounds attracted 26 of 30 medallists from the freestyle disciplines from last year’s Olympics in PyongChang.
Now in its fourth year, regular attendees including snowboarders Mark McMorris, Scotty James, Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard and Torgeir Bergrem, and skiers Alex Hall, Andri Ragettli and Olympic gold medalist Oystein Bratten.
Founded and directed by Australian terrain park builder Charles Beckinsale from Jindabyne, the Stomping Grounds facilities are regarded as the best in the world, Saas Fee having the deepest snow pack of any ski resort glacier in the pre-season. Saas Fee receives consistent snowfalls from September which means the park and pipe builders have real winter snow to work with, allowing them to build winter-like training facilities.
Charles also travelled to Saas Fee in early June to assist the Saas-Fee park building team with their summer park preparations. It also gave Charles the opportunity to ensure that the foundations for the Stomping Ground session were built perfectly from the ground up. As it turns out the glacier is moving downhill at approximately 25 metres per year which means the park and pipe are slowly descending down the hill, which means a major overhaul and rebuild and positioning of the jumps and pipe is required every four years.
Of course, the unpredictable nature of the European Alps can make things difficult at times with heavy snowfalls leading to full re-builds of the jumps, pipe and rail lines. While powder turns are always nice, the work required to re-build can be massive, one storm dropping a metre of snow towards the tail-end of the first session.
“After that storm I spent 17 hours in the one cat and went through three tanks of diesel,” Charles told Mountainwatch. “It was a big job and we had three cats running on the same schedule that day to get the pipe and park back up and running.”
The fact the world’s best keep coming back is a significant endorsement and Charles and his crew work hard to maintain the high level set over the past few years and as a result the project is growing. As well as the high-performance training sessions in Saas Fee, the Stomping Grounds Projects is expanding into events, custom build projects, content creation and production. Stay tuned at the Stomping Grounds website for details on the next high-performance session, slated for Calgary in Canada next April and check out Instagram for updates.
The Stomping Grounds Project Crew: Charles Beckinsale, Brandon Dodds (Slopestyle builders), Jeremy Carpenter (Pipe builder), Fin Pringle-Booth (lead park shaper), Finn Laver media manager, Boen Ferguson and Marcus Skinn media crew.
Above: The Stomping Grounds – Saas Fee, Mark McMorris.
Featuring: Mark McMorris, Darcy Sharpe, Danny Davis, Mikey Ciccarelli, Seb Toots, Stale Sandbech and Brock Crouch Film/Edit: Russell Chai