The little town of Bardonecchia is the venue for 2006 Olympic snowboarding and the best place to stay during the events. The town is the last stop on the interstate (A32) in northern Italy before hitting France en route to Paris. To get here from Turin, either take the train, which will drop you off in the middle of town, or make the hour-and-a-half drive from Torino. Be sure to pull over at one of the gas stations for a panini (hot grilled sandwich) and a cup of espresso-best gas-station food ever.

We hit up Bardonecchia during last year’s World Cup and hung out in town with the U.S. Snowboard team. The vibe in town is like if you were to try to throw a party at your grandparent’s house-they’re stoked you came to visit, but could you keep the noise to a minimum and leave soon. It’s a small town of people who are happily stuck in their ways and perfectly content.

This is the venue for all the shred events, but it doesn’t have much of a local shred scene-that’ll definitely change during the Olympics. Even while we were in town during the contest, there were parties at the bars, including pumping Euro DJ music and a bunch of dudes who looked like they’re there every night anyway. We got into some trouble regardless. There’s a walking street with shops, bakeries, pizzerias, and a few bars, and off the beaten path, we found a disco that was going off. Here’s some insider info for the discos: They hand you a card on the way in, and you’re supposed to get it punched every time you buy a drink. When you leave, you hand it to the bouncer, and if all the holes are punched, you get out for free. If not, you have to pay about twenty bucks. Kelly Clark and Lindsey Jacobellis had stories of sneaking out the back door and jumping over a fence to get out. We tried to argue our way out of it, but the bouncer dude was scary Mafioso, so we paid.

There’re three little snowboard mountains in Bardonecchia. The halfpipe is at Melezet in the base area, and the pipe looked amazing when we were there, but it’s not known for being maintained during the rest of the winter. The freeriding is fun on the upper mountain when there’s snow, but this area of Italy isn’t known for getting a lot of snow.

Bardonecchia will be overrun with snowboarders during the Olympics-it’ll definitely be a good time. Just make sure to check out some of the other areas in Italy and neighboring France for legit big-mountain riding. You definitely won’t find better food anywhere, though, so eat up!—Annie Fast

Buying Olympic Tickets

Getting tickets for the Olympics isn’t as easy as buying White Stripes tickets through Ticketmaster. There’re some hoops to figure out and then jump through. First of all, tickets are divided into Type I and Type II events by the International Olympic Committee. Along with figure skating and downhill skiing, snowboarding events are all Type I. That means that they’re in the highest demand-not bad for the new sport on the block. In order to buy a Type I ticket, you must also buy a Type II ticket, which will gain you access to exciting events such as curling and cross-country skiing. The Olympic committee does this to keep the stands full and, we’re guessing, to make money.

Log on to Cosport.com and start searching for snowboard tickets. On the Web site, you can buy individual tickets for snowboarding (but you still have to buy the Type II ticket, also), or you can search the set groups of tickets, which might have the snowboard event you’re looking for, if the individual tickets are sold out.

For the snowboarding events, there are also A tickets ($151), which are bleachers at the bottom of the pipe; and B tickets ($59), which are along the side of the pipe. The snowboard venue accoodates approximately 11,700 spectators, and there’ll be a large video board so everyone can see what’s going on.

Tickets are also available for the opening and closing ceremony where you get your first and last look at our shred athletes. Some of us TWS editors had luck poaching the ceremony in SLC, but the plan of no plan isn’t a very good plan, especially after traveling all the way to Italy. Ceremony tickets start at 420 bucks and go on up to 1,260 dollars. Where is all this money going, anyway?- Annie Fast

Cosport.com

1-877-457-4647

Tickets Sold Out?

Don’t freak out, you’ve still got options.

Torino: CoSport will have tickets available for sale in Torino at an as yet undisclosed location. E-mail CoSport at info@cosport.com to find out where you can buy tickets. CoSport reassured us that just because the Web site says that the Men’s Olympic Halfpipe is sold out, doesn’t mean the event is actually sold out, just its current inventory.

Ticket Brokers: Check Web sites for the ticket brokers who can get you prime tickets at an inflated rate. Use a broker who is affiliated with the National Association Of Ticket Brokers to make this transaction less sketchy.

Scalpers: Anyone who went to the Salt Lake Olympics knows that scalping is alive and well at the Olympics. Roll up to the event early with cash in hand, and see what you can find.

Halfpipe Judging Explained

To the untrained eye (and sometimes even contest veterans), the difference between halfpipe runs and scores can be a total mystery. Here are the basics of the criteria that will be used in Torino.

There are eight total judges; five of them actually score each rider’s run. Judges score based on an Overall Impression (OI) system, meaning that each judge considers all of the aspects of a run: amplitude, difficulty, variety, pipe use, and execution of tricks, and the overall flow or fluidity. Judges also consider the sequence of tricks-back-to-back 720s are more difficult than two sevens separated by simpler tricks.

We tracked down Ola Sundequist, one of the five scoring judges for Torino, and asked a few questions to break it down further.

Are there any differences between the way halfpipe was judged in Salt Lake and the way it will be judged in Torino?

For the 2006 Games, there will be five judges doing Overall Impression judging instead of the separation system that was used in Salt Lake City. Included in this is a requirement that riders must do at least one straight air during their a run.

Given the criteria, and to help television viewers understand what’s going on, what will the judges be looking for in simple terms?

As judges, we look at different aspects of the runs. You can’t win with good amplitude alone, but of course it’s one of the most important ingredients in a halfpipe run. A winning run needs to show: execution of tricks, variety of tricks, difficulty, pipe use, and amplitude.

How does a fall affect a rider’s score?

For 2006 we are using a deduction scale (see judging criteria at transworldsnowboarding.com). In Salt Lake, the maximum deduction for a fall was ten percent of the total score-in Torino it will be twenty percent of the total score.

Head Judge: Steve Brown, Australia

Assistant Head Judge: Remi Laliberte, Canada

Scoring Judges:

Marcello Centurione, Canada

Mattheiu Giraud, France

Sami Savela, Finland

Ola Sundequist, Sweden

Kyoji Yokoyama, Japan

Olympic Calendar

February 10-26, 2006, Bardonecchia, Italy

Friday, February 10:

Opening Ceremony, 8:00 p.m. in the Olympic Stadium, Torino, Italy

Sunday, February 12:

Men’s Halfpipe qualifiers 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Men’s Halfpipe finals 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

*followed by medal ceremony

Monday, February 13:

Women’s Halfpipe qualifiers 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Women’s Halfpipe finals 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

*followed by medal ceremony

Thursday, February 16:

Men’s Boardercross qualifiers 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Men’s Boardercross finals 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

*followed by medal ceremony

Friday, February 17:

Women’s Boardercross qualifiers 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Women’s Boardercross finals 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

*followed by medal ceremony

Wednesday, February 22:

Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom qualifiers 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom finals 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

*followed by medal ceremony

Thursday, February 23:

Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom qualifiers 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom finals 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

*followed by medal ceremony

The Halfpipe At Melezet

Halfpipes have progressed right alongside halfpipe riding. The Superpipe at the next Winter Olympics will be very similar to the one pictured above-that’s the exact hill and location, on the slopes of Melezet, one of three snowboard areas in Bardonecchia, Italy. Melezet is also known for it’s spring water that pours from fountains along the streets of town.

The other two Olympic snowboarding disciplines-parallel giant slalom and snowboardcross-will both go down on the slope next to the pipe (also pictured). The snowboardcross course will be slightly longer than the PGS course, and is expected to take riders about 60 seconds as opposed to the 40-seconds of the PGS. Here are the critical specs.

2006 Olympic Halfpipe

Length: 140 meters (actual wall length)

Width: 18 m

Wall Height: 5.6-5.9 m (almost one meter higher than at Salt Lake in 2002!)

Transitions: 5.7 m

Slope Angle: 16.5 degrees

Cutting machine that will be used: Zaugg Pipe Monster

Pipe Cutters: Roberto Moresi (Italy) and David Ny (Sweden)

PGS

Length: 550 meters

Slope Angle: Average 18 degrees

Vertical Drop: 150 m

Snowboardcross

Length: 1100 m

Slope Angle: Average 18 degrees

Vertical Drop: 190

Resorts Of The Piedmont (Northeastern Italy)

Where’re the best places to ride in Northern Italy, a.k.a. the Piedmont region? We asked a local to break it down for us. All of these resorts are within an hour-and-a-half to two hours from the Torino/Turin airport. Freeriding, pipe riding, riding with skiers, jibbing with shredders, big mountains and little mountains-get ready to explore.—Arturo Pavani

Sestriere

Web site: comune.sestriere.to.it

Number of lifts: 19

Park/pipe: no/no

Lift ticket: 28-31 euros

Summit elevation: 2,701 meters (8,861 feet)

Comments: A typical Piedmont resort with a strong ski tradition, it’s not one of the most open-minded resorts in the northwest, but it still offers some great freeriding spots, varying from big plateaus to serious pine woods. It can get pretty windy sometimes.

Sauze D’Oulx

Web site: comune.sauzedoulx.to.it

Number of lifts: 22

Park/pipe: yes/no

Lift ticket: 28-31 euros

Summit elevation: 2,800 meters (9,186 feet)

Comments: Another classic spot, which, even though it’s pretty much ski oriented, still manages to have a snowboard park-it’s just not always that well maintained. It’s still the only one in Val di Susa.

Bardonecchia

Web site: bardonecchiaski.com

Number of lifts: 51

Park/pipe: no/yes

Lift ticket: 28 euros

Summit elevation: 1,550 meters (5,085 feet)

Comments: Because it’s the site of the 2006 Olympics, the resort is in a state of constant growth. The freeriding here is renowned, but its freestyle side could be better, especially since the Superpipe was added for the Olympics. The lack of any maintenance of it demonstrates the resorts disinterest in pushing the local snowboard scene.

Courmayeur

Web site: courmayeur-montblanc.com

Number of lifts: 20

Park/pipe: no/no

Lift ticket:26-28 euros

Summit elevation: 2,755 meters (9,038 feet)

Comments: It’s Val d’Aosta at its purest state, the landscapes and the lines this spot offers are unending and fantastic. The slopes are pretty steep and the use of a guide is recommended when freeriding here.

La Thuile

Web site: lathuile.net

Number of lifts: 18

Park/pipe: no/no

Lift ticket: 32 euros

Summit elevation: 2,641 meters (8,664 feet)

Comments: This is a great resort in Val d’Aosta with some of the best freeriding in the area. Big plateaus and fresh powder link this resort with La Rosiere in France. It has great areas for building jumps and places to track some epic powder lines.

Prato Nevoso

Web site: pratonevoso.com

Number of lifts: 10

Park/pipe: yes/yes

Lift ticket: 26 euros

Summit elevation: 2,100 meters (6,889 feet)

Comments: One of the few resorts in Piedmont that is really pushing snowboarding, its park is one of the best in the area, even if it still hasn’t reached its full potential.

Limone Piemonte

Web site: infolimone.it

Number of lifts: 29

Park/pipe: yes/no

Lift ticket: n/a

Summit elevation: 2,050 meters (6,725 feet)

Comments: This is the home resort to some of the greatest local heroes in a setting that is the classic icon of the Piedmont mountain village-a classic “locals” spot that still offers serious riding to everyone.

Alagna

Web site: alagna.it

Number of lifts: 4

Park/pipe: no/no

Lift ticket: 22-32 euros

Summit elevation: 3,260 meters (10,695 feet)

Comments: One of the most famous freeriding resorts in Piedmont, Alagna presents so many possible lines that sometimes the whole mountain stays untracked. During such events, it’s possible for snowboarders to reach the valley of Gressoney without touching another single track.

Cervinia

Web site: cervinia.it

Number of lifts: 28

Park/pipe: yes/yes

Lift ticket: 32 euros (22 euros-park only)

Summit elevation: 3,899 meters (12,792 feet)

Comment: It’s the best resort in Piedmont and Val d’Aosta for freestyle and pipe riding. Cervinia has been pushing snowboarding seriously, and it’s now also open during the summer with a park and pipe. Being such a big resort, its freeriding side is obviously one of the best in the area-just be aware of the crevasses!

Macugnaga

Web site: funiviemacugnaga.com

Number of lifts: 10

Park/pipe: yes/yes

Lift ticket: 23 euros

Summit elevation: 1,932 meters (6,338 feet)

Comments: Even though it’s a small and locally managed resort, Macugnaga has been able to offer some great options to snowboarders with its summer camps and a park that has been important for the whole local scene.

* The prices of lift tickets may vary.