For the past few decades, the late-season snowpark game in the Alps has remained relatively constant. Once the vast majority of ski areas close down sometime in April, a few stalwart ski resorts, most with glacier terrain, keep the lifts spinning for the diehards who aren’t ready to hang up their skis yet.
The most recent comer to the spring snowpark scene is Crans-Montana, Switzerland. In spring 2020, the resort built a late-season park as a private session for the Swiss freeski and snowboard teams. The test run was a success, so the spring park was opened to the public the following year. In 2022, the spring session at Crans-Montana is now in its third year of operation, and its first under the name of Alaïa Parks. More on that in a minute.
The top section of the park features several rail tiers. Simon Bartik gets low.
Below, a surfy lower section awaits.
And don't forget about the big jump. Guillaume Schutz didn't.
The spring park is built on the top of Crans-Montana at around 3000 meters of elevation, just below the top station of the Plaine Morte gondola. Accessible by a short t-bar lift, the snowpark isn’t actually built on the glacier. But at this elevation, there’s still plenty of snow on hand to keep things running until well into June.
The spring park isn’t huge, but it’s got everything a rider could want. There’s a big jump to one side of the t-bar if you’re looking to get sendy, but most of the action takes place on the other side of the slope, where a playful and diverse park setup winds its way down the slope. The park is open daily from 9am until 12:30pm, with an extra hour on the weekends.
Noah Viande backslide on the rainbow box.
The view's nice up here.
There are plenty of rails, of course—you can hit at least eight jibs in one run, easy. But the park layout is a lot more fun than just riding from one rail to the next. The good folks from Helvepark, the shape crew that builds and maintains the park, have blessed this setup with transition options galore. There’s a surf-like transition wall that waves back and forth down the slope, and the entire left side of the snowpark is trannied out with a pipe cutter, creating a prime location for slashes, handplants and cruisy surf laps.
Surf's up in the transition section as Dan and Simon throw some spray.
Classy hand drag by Simon.
Now, you might be thinking that there must be a catch here. In Switzerland, that catch is usually the price tag. However, the spring session at Crans-Montana is surprisingly affordable. For the price of 249 Swiss francs, you can buy an Alaïa Parks Spring Pass, which this year is valid from April 30th until the 6th of June. That’s over a month of prime-time spring shredding for a reasonable price.
Even better, the spring park isn’t the only thing that’s included with the pass. Your spring pass also gets you access to the Alaïa Chalet, a huge indoor-outdoor skatepark and action sports complex down in the village. After you’re done with with your daily shred on the mountain, you can head over the chalet and skate, trampoline or parkour to your heart’s content until 9pm daily. If the weather’s bad on the mountain, you can always hit up the indoor skate park or trampolines instead of sitting at home. What’s more, your spring pass also gets you a discount on surf sessions at the Alaïa Bay wave pool in nearby Sion.
Guillaume enjoys some apres-ski, Alaïa style.
Linus puts a hurting on the outdoor park at Alaïa Chalet.
Robin gets the stall.
At this point you might be wondering, “What exactly is Alaïa?” In a nutshell, Alaïa is an action-sports junkie’s wet dream. The Alaïa umbrella encompasses the wave pool in Sion (Alaïa Bay), the skate complex in Lens (Alaïa Chalet), a wakeboard operation on Lac Léman (Alaïa Wake), and a hotel in Crans-Montana (Alaïa Lodge). Oh, and since this past season, Alaïa has also taken over operation of the Crans-Montana snowpark—now known as Alaïa Parks.
The concept is simple: With one ticket from one company, you can run the full gamut of the action-sports experience. In one day (if you’ve got the energy for it) you can ski, skate and surf. So let’s just say, the experience at the Alaïa Parks Spring Session goes above and beyond what you might be expecting from your typical late-season snowpark.
The 2022 spring session will be closing its doors this coming weekend, but the skate, surf and wakeboard operations will be running throughout the summer. And if you’re looking for a spot next season to keep shredding until June, now you know—Alaïa Parks is the new place to be for slush season.