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 snow bros 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

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 mSnowboardcross

Length: 1100 m
Slope Angle: Average 18 degrees
Vertical Drop: 190