Avoriaz targets youngsters
It is perhaps the most worrying long-term problem facing the snowsports industry - a lack of youngsters taking up the sport or having a holiday. One resort has had an idea.
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Cost is one factor but some say skiing and snowboarding is not as attractive as it once was.
For teenagers and young adults there are plenty of other adrenalin fixes out there - from biking and bunjee jumping to triathlons and treadmills.
It is a concern facing the industry. If children do not ski and snowboard now, and get hooked on the sport, they may not take it up at a later date.
Repeat business from childhood experience is an important long-term reason for adults taking to the slopes.
Some resorts have recognised this and are going the extra mile.
Avoriaz in the Portes du Soleil is targeting youngsters with a special 'Learn To Snowboard' scheme. It is copying an idea from the USA using a teaching method adapted to young children.
The snowboard manufacturer, Burton, and the resort's "Village des Enfants" have joined forces with a new initiative. It is not a startlingly original but it does apparently work.
From 15th December in the centre of the resort Burton is opening a "Riglet Park": a snowy play zone designed to introduce children from three years old to snowboarding.
The concept saw significant success in major American resorts last winter including Smuggler's Notch and Mountain Creek in Vermont, Canyons Resort in Utah and the Californian resort of Sierra at Tahoe.
Here is a video of the Riglet Park from the Canyons resort.
It aims to make snowboarding fun in a safe environment.
There is a raised platform with ramps for children to slide down.
The platform is equipped with a "stay-steady" area to give children their first taste of balancing.
Riglet Park is designed for riding small gradients, mini rails, pyramids and mini half-pipes so children can develop their reflexes and find their balance on turns and steeper terrain.
On the snow, children are equipped with specialised Burton equipment, featuring a retractable strap attached to the snowboard that allows the instructor to guide the child easily.
This makes for rapid progress through the various modules.
This new concept strikes a chord with everything that Annie Famose has been doing for 35 years at the Village des Enfants says the resort: making sure children have fun while they learn in a 5-hectare snow garden, with special mini-pistes with bumps, slides, coloured tracks, jumps, a rope-tow and beginners' drag-lift.
Parents and older children can watch and admire - or go skiing and snowboarding themselves in the huge Portes du Soleil ski area.
Avoriaz is one of the best resorts in the Alps for families and recently it won the award for the best family resort in the World Snow Awards - we reported on the awards ceremony here on PlanetSKI.
Avoriaz has a huge €200m programme of improvements for this winter that we will be reporting on later on PlanetSKI as the season gets underway.
We visited last year and were impressed with what was going on.
For a look at that PlanetSKI stories with videos then see here.
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