Start the Season Right: 5 Reasons to Go to Rock On Snow

For the past decade, the start of the French winter season has meant one thing for true winter sports enthusiasts: Rock On Snow.

This touring festival of all things ski and snowboard-related lets you test the new season’s kit, giving you a better idea of what you might want to buy, but it’s also a gathering of like-minded individuals and a celebration of the fact that (as they like to say in Game of Thrones) winter is coming.

For the 2019-20 season, the organisers have shaken things up a bit. Rather than running a whole tour, they’re condensing things into just two events. Rock on Snow Pro (External link) is a professional “tradeshow on snow”, which will showcase the first winter 2021 prototypes. Aimed primarily at industry buyers and shop staff, it will take place in La Clusaz from 12th-14th January. But the main event, and the one that marks the season kick-off, will take place in Avoriaz from 13th-15th December 2019 (External link) , and because it’s now a single event rather than a tour, the organisers are promising that it will be “intense”.

If you can’t make it to either of those, there are several similar alternatives. Val Thorens, one of the first resorts to open in the Alps because of its altitude, is hosting its own testing event called La Grande Premiere (External link) on the weekend of 23rd-24th November. Alpe d’Huez are hosting a testing weekend called Ski Force (External link) on 7th-8th December, and the same event will move to Méribel from 19th-22nd January, allowing people to test skis that are due out in 2021. If you’re after the original however, then Rock On Snow is still a great bet. Here are five very good reasons to get involved.

Test Your Next Setup

If you like drooling over new skis and snowboards (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then Rock On Snow is the best place to do it. Mostly because it’s not just about looking, you can touch too. From skis and snowboards to bindings and boots, helmets, gloves and goggles, you can give everything a go here. Pistes will be perfectly groomed, edges will be perfectly sharpened, and with more than 70 different brands showcasing their latest kit, this is the ultimate chance to ‘try before you buy’.

Get the Whole Family Involved

While Rock On Snow, by tradition, involves a big old party, it’s also an event that the whole family can get involved in. This year, the Kids on Snow section of the event has teamed up with snowboard brand Burton to offer free snowboard lessons for under 10s.

Make the Most of the Event Extras

It’s not just kids who get special treatment either; the weekend promises a whole load of extras for adults too. As well as the test village up on the mountain, there’s an “experiences area” offering an airbag, a giant slalom course and a moguls piste to test your skills on. You’ll even be able to try out a monoski, courtesy of Snow Gunz. The on-snow action doesn’t stop at night either. Ski brand Dynastar are giving guests a unique chance to try night touring on the Saturday evening. Just make sure you haven’t got too stuck into the après first!

Go Back to the Future in the Mini-pipe Contest

On Saturday afternoon, French crew Ugh Ugh Ugh (yes, that’s their name) will be organising a mini-pipe contest, with a 1980s theme. The idea is to channel some of the original spirit of snowboarding. It’s open to all, and while there may well be some big names dropping in, there’ll be no preferential treatment. Prizes are promised for the most stylish (and/or most throwback) moves, including an electric guitar to the owner of the best backside air. Rock on!

Sink a Few Beers with Your Buddies

It’s not a weekend in the mountains unless there’s a bit of après involved, and Rock on Snow have teamed up with local craft brewery Brasseurs Savoyards to ensure that the beer they serve is top-notch. After après there are ski and snowboard film screenings, and of course there will be parties taking place throughout Avoriaz. The “Off” part of Rock on Snow, as it’s known, is famous for a reason.