Ask Axel: Axel Pauporté Responds To Your Questions

Corey Stecker wrote: Hey Axel, how do you do that levitating credit card trick? Do you really ride step ins?

Axel: The trick takes a while to learn and I’m never going to give it away. You can watch it as many times as you want but you’re never going to get it and I’ll never tell! And yes I do really ride step-ins and I’m stoked on it. I ride my pro model Vans boots and was riding the N Type binding that had an internal highback. Now I’m riding the X type, it has an external highback.

Johnathan Epstien asked: How do you keep yourself from getting rattled when the terrain you ride is really steep and technical? I have seen you ride at Verbier and the lines you take are crazy. Do you always check your runs before you attempt them?

Axel responds: Definitely do a lot of checking before runs. Never ever do anything before checking your line. Things look different from the top so try to pick a few specific areas and imagine what they’ll look like from the top. Look for anything you might recognize from the top—trees, a rock, a windlip, variations in the snow are all good things to look for. It’s best to try to control as much as you can so always have your equipment perfectly tuned, new batteries in your Pieps [avalanche transceiver], bindings adjusted, etc. Check the snow and your line. If you know for sure where you’re going you can be confident and get going fast. I prefer to check the line from across the valley with binoculars.

At Verbier for example, the runs will take like two minutes, but you could check your line for hours. Memorize the whole face, the whole run and your line. Verbier can be very complicated and we spend a lot of time checking it.

Oliver Mathieu wrote:
Salut Axel, Quel est a ton avis le meilleur bar d’Hossegor? Je penche pour le bar basque. Longue Vie au King

Axel: He is asking “What do you think is the best bar in Hossegor France, the Bar Basque? Long live the king.” I like Seaside better but that’s all right too. Hope to see you there sometime.

Mark Precious asked: What pointers would you give for riding short radius turns in narrow chutes? The kind of chute that doesn’t require jump turns or side slips to negotiate? I see other riders using short radius turns in these where I am jumping or slipping …

Axel: It depends on the snow. You only have to jump turn if it’s really steep. If you know your line and your exit, where you can get out of there, than you can use those short radius turns. The only thing is you’re going to get a lot of speed. Steeps don’t usually last that long and there’s usually an area down lower that opens up and is a little wider. Be ready for more speed. And you have to get a rhythm going to do those turns, they’re very tiring. Use them if you’re not going to jump turn and can afford to gain a lot of speed and go straighter.

David T. wrote: I’ve always had trouble controlling my speed on the steeps without putting my board perpendicular to the fall line every two or three turns to just edge it out. I noticed that you don’t do that much, but are still changing your speed. Is there a technique to changing speeds while still linking turns and pointing it downhill?

Axel says: If you can afford to have more speed and if you know where you’re going, try using tighter turns and crank them more. The board will want to go straight. You have to push more into every turn. Crank them and make them tighter. You can afford do these if you know where you’re going and can slow down later. If you stay on top of the snow turning won’t slow you down. You have to push harder into the turn and the snow. It won’t stay steep for very long, so if you can handle the speed then this will work.

Josh Fisher says: I am wondering if there is any legitimate riding near a University in Germany, Switzerland, or Austria. If you have any suggestions for getting studies done abroad in any of the countries listed (given in order of preference, although I understand Germany is by no means the best riding) I would greatly appreciate your advice.

Axel answers: Go to Geneva Switzerland. It’s a cool town, on of the bigger cities, and there’s at least one really well known university there. You can ride in France or Switzerland, and the studies are probably better. Plus the resorts there are insane. Only one or two hours drive and you’re in the best resorts in the Alps.

Eric Whitehead wrote: I was wondering if you have any advice for two Americans who want to go riding in the Alps for the first time. We’ve ridden resorts all over the U.S. so we have some good “big mountain” experience. I’ve been able to ride some fairly difficult terrain in Jackson Hole and Snowbird and was wondering how I would be able to handle the amazing terrain of Chamonix or Verbier. Basically I thought you could suggest a good resort or region to visit for ten days or so. I really appreciate any advice.

Axel says: Chamonix and Verbier are two good options for both riding and partying. Verbier is more expensive, Chamonix might be cheaper. My advice is to use a guide. Take a day or two to ride around the resort and check it our, but if you go anywhere out in the backcountry definitely get a guide. There are lots of accidents every year. In France you can go to Les Archs, that’s where I go the most. It’s a big resort. If you stay in the valley stay in Bourg St. Maruice, it’s a cool town and from there you can access Les Archs, Tygnes, Val De Isere. When you fly over, land in Geneva, which is one hour from Chamonix. At every resort there are steeps, pow fields, trees, groomers, etc. But if you want to get gnarly go with a guide. Compared to Jackson Hole you’ll find some similar terrain, but the runs are a lot longer. And there’s more steeps.

Eric Knut asks: What do you think is so amazing about snowboarding? Have you ever been to Norway?

Axel responds: Everything! The mountain, you can share it with friends and it’s not competitive all the time. And yes I’ve been to Norway and it’s all right.

Ken Hill wrote: With all the filming that is done in Alaska, particularly in Juneau, why don’t we see more Juneau riders in the videos? I know you have ridden with many of the locals here, and you will agree that they rip. I would like to know what can be done to help promote the guys and girls that are up here riding that stuff everyday. I’m glad you’re enjoying our backyard.

Axel responds: The main reason is all the trips to Alaska are organized. It’s very expensive and filmers don’t just go there and fly around. There’s a specific amount of seats in the heli and any group that goes up there will fill the seats before they go. There are never extra seats. Because it’s expensive the trips are planned way in advance and paid for by sponsors or the magazines or whoever. People who film want to have time to work with someone for a while to get a decent segment. So they’ll work with their group and shoot as much as they can of those people. Maybe the riders up there need to ride in the U.S. and work with some photographers. Filmers go to Alaska if they know it’s paid fore. It’s too expensive to just to there and film. I know there are lots of riders up there that are definitely good enough, but the filmers always come with a full group. Those riders in Alaska need to promote themselves more, get sponsors, or do whatever to get noticed.

Keenan asks: I’m 16 and I’ve been snowboarding for five seasons, but I’m in the mid-Atlantic of the U.S. and get maybe ten days of good riding a year. It may not be much to brag about but I feel I can freeride any trail at my local resorts with confidence. What level of riding in comparison to resort riding is needed to do some beginner, or even advanced backcountry riding, and what safety training do you recommend?

Axel responds: It doesn’t matter where you’re riding, you should always be concerned with avalanches because they can happen. You should start riding with a guide. Some resorts have ski or snowboard instructors that are also guides. They can take you to some new places, even on your home mountain, that you may not know of. I highly recommend avalanche courses too. You never know. Even guides get caught in avalanches. Just ride with people who know better than you.

Mtnboy3111 wrote: I wanna know is it as bad ass as it looks? F—K Yeah, I think so! It’s scary because sometimes after you do a run and you look up at it you can’t believe what you just did.

Chris B asks: What is it like to freeride in such unforgiving but awesome mountains? What kind of experience does it take? What is it really like? Lots of planning, narrow weather conditions? Have you been caught in an avalanche before? What did you do if you did?

Axel answers: It’s great but scary. You can never have enough experience. Always keep learning more. Riding the gnarly stuff is the best feeling in the world, but really scary. In the morning I’m really excited and can’t wait, and then at night I’m just glad it’s over. In Alaska there are a lot of down days so you learn to be patient. Have I been caught in an Avalanche? Yes, a bunch. It depends, sometimes you try to point it, but only if you know you can, if you know what’s coming up. In the new OnBoard video a road on one and it blew me out and I road away. Some people say you should swim and stay on top of it. I say try to avoid it at all costs. If you know you’re going to get caught, protect your head and try to make a little pocket of air. There’s not much you can do, there’s these new air bag thing in backpacks, that might help. But my advice is to try to outrun it or avoid it.