I stared down the lip of the world’s largest half pipe in awe of all those who had the courage to dip off it down into the steep icy bowl that awaits them.

But this is Laax, and many a beginner, improver and family has come here to step out of their comfort zone, see some of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders in action, and soak up Laax’s unique lifestyle.

This season the LAAX open (the key event on the European snowboarding calendar) takes place from January 16-19 2019, with competitions in slope style and half pipe, music and parties.

Keen to get ready (yes, I am joking) I’d checked out Laax’s Freestyle Academy, Europe’s first indoor arena to offer introductory freestyle courses…in a safe padded environment.

With ‘safe’ in mind I’d plunged face first (should have been back first) forward to a thankfully soft landing.

My coach showed me how to reach height on the trampolines, and find my feet mid air, and I felt a million dollars ‘til I saw the local children perfecting their latest freestyle, snowboard and bike tricks!

Where are we?

Laax lies in the heart of the Swiss Alps with the Sardone tectonic arena (a UNECO World Heritage site) in its centre.

Just two hours from Zurich Airport, it’s linked to Flims and Falera to offer 224kms of broad blue to black slopes, four snow parks, 62 kms of cross-country trails, sledging (three runs) and 100kms of winter hiking trails.

And it’s a dead cert’ for snow between December and April.

Ahead of my ‘moment ‘at the half pipe, I’d had a great morning cruising the red and blue runs and seeing the tricksters in the snow parks before joining them for a tasty panini at Café NoName – where many freestylers hang out.

There’s no shortage of good food on and off the slopes. Restaurant Tegia Larnags serves regional and Swiss specialties, in a rustic cosy setting … but you have to hike up to it!

You can also enjoy this cuisine at Restaurant Capalari, with Graubünden cuisine such as Capuns or Pizokels.

The Asian cuisine at Nooba is great, and Ristorante Camino ideal for super fresh pizzas from the wood-fired oven.

Greenstyle

Laax has pledged to become the first self-sufficient Alpine destination between 2023 and 2030, through its Greenstyle scheme, which is based on simple principles – reduce, re-use, recycle.

The scheme started in 2010, and includes ambitious plans to use renewable, local energy, wind power, solar and hydropower. It’s already reduced its energy consumption by 15%.

It’s an impressively optimistic place, with a strong sense of forward planning to protect the nature and environment that inspires hope that future generations will be able to enjoy all that we have on the slopes.

Quirky thinking

There’s also a great sense of ‘thinking out the box’ and bringing an urban edge to nature with the redesigned Crap Sogn Gion mountain station, bar and restaurant, Galaxy, which looks like a space ship!

This trendy space is at the resort’s hub and has its own radio station, and an infectious upbeat energy – whether you’re eating in the 360 degree restaurant, sipping drinks at the juice bar, or taking the office to the Alps at The Bridge – a new space for corporate clients.

Laax won the award for Switzerland’s Best Ski Resort at The World Ski Awards for the fifth time in 2017, and is also nominated for 2018 award.

It also won the World’s Best Freestyle resort 2017, and is again nominated for the 2018 award (results in November).

Freestyle meets green style in this eco-friendly, funky, fun setting. Long may it last!

Fact box

Briony stayed at The Riders Hotel Laax

Laax 

Freestyle academy 

Ski rental

Skischool Laax

Airport shuttle

Switzerland Tourism 

Swiss Travel System 

Swiss International Air Lines

Accommodation, instruction, lift tickets and entertainment can also be booked via the INSIDE LAAX app.