Stomping Grounds: The Global Pro Snowboarding Magnet

There’s a lot of speculation about what’s going on in the hallowed zone at the top of the cruiser chair at Thredbo this season. After announcing a new 22ft halfpipe a few weeks ago and confirming that The Stomping Grounds will return this season, talk now shifts to which of the world’s best riders will be descending on Thredbo to ride what has become one of the world’s premiere training facilities.

Australia and New Zealand are no strangers to northern hemisphere riders travelling down under in their summer-time to train. But which town reigns supreme to choose as a training/partying base seems to flip-flop between Jindabyne and Wanaka each year or two, as Perisher’s blue steel and Cardrona’s or Snowpark’s (RIP) halfpipes battle it out as the preferred location for national teams and crews with energy drink stickers on their boards.

Right now, anecdotally because of incredibly long and inefficient Whitestar quad lap at Cardona, the consensus is that the preferred training base for international teams is flipped firmly in Jindabyne’s favour – despite the lack of good places to eat.

Jindabyne in the Spring is a world snowboarding magnet, and with The Stomping Grounds training facility at Thredbo being the primary reason why, we spoke to the mastermind behind the concept, Charles Beckinsale, to hear more about what’s happening this year.

Austria’s Ambassdors to Australia, Clemens Millauer and Anna Gasser.

There are a lot of rumours about who’s coming out to Australia this year to ride the Stomping Grounds, can you confirm who will be training out here?  

Some of the bigger names are Mark McMorris, Scotty James, Valentino Guseli, Ayumu Hirano, Chaeun Lee, Red Gerard, Dusty Henricksen, Hailey Langland, Brock Crouch, Queralt Castellet, Gaon Choi just to name a few. This will be our second year hosting the Stomping Grounds sessions at Thredbo but our first with a 22ft pipe so we have the best riders from both Pipe and Slope converging on Thredbo.

So what’s the concept? Just a high level secret training facility?

Stomping Grounds is essentially crowd funding by those that can ride a full size pipe and big jumps to build a perfect set up. I wouldn’t say secret but definitely high level, we bring together the best crew to build a big air and a pipe with an airbag for riders to really push themselves on. No detail is overlooked to ensure the best environment for riders to progress. An XL jump and 22ft pipe are not for everyone, only a small percentage of riders can safely ride them. It’s the little things that can make a lot of difference that regular resort operations can’t always do.

We also offer high reps on the set ups that make the big difference in getting tricks dialed quickly.

Set up plans for Thredbo’s Stomping Grounds in the sacred ‘snow magnet’ above Cruiser Chair
Instagram will load in the frontend.

Do things change because we’re going into an Olympic year?

For sure. Things definitely ramp up as the Olympics approach. National teams start spending more on training and the riders start focusing in on what their ideal runs will look like. They tend to start going for the big scary tricks now in hopes of perfecting them and landing them consistently in time for the Olympics.

How under wraps do riders keep their tricks – for example, do Scotty and Ayumu know what each other are working on? 

They definitely watch what each other are doing and when the opportunity arises to get the pipe to themselves to work on something new, they keep it under wraps. The majority of the time the same crew of top tier competitors train together in sessions like ours so it is pretty hard to keep things completely secret.

What’s Scotty working on?
The man, the myth, the legend – Charles Beckinsale is ready to get to work

Why do you think riders love coming out to Australia?

It’s the weather and the culture from what I get told. The scene in Jindabyne is always a good time and mostly the weather is similar to southern California, so if the parks are on point it’s a hard place to beat in my opinion. Jindy also has the new skate park and the airbag jumps, so it’s a pretty unique place in the world.

What’s the new rope tow all about?

I bought the rope tow this year so we could service the Stomping Grounds Thredbo 22ft pipe. The area we build in is outside of the lifted area and with the amount of sign-ups we need to fund the pipe build and the operating costs, it’s not viable to use snowmobiles to lap. The portable rope tow is our only option and I’m pretty hyped on it! Our whole goal is to not take resources from Thredbo and to be self-sufficient.

Stomping Grounds’ brand-new rope tow

How does a private booking work?

We have a mailing list of all the national teams, energy drink TM’s and athletes that have attended our sessions in the past so we give them first pick at booking spots on any of our sessions to make sure the key players get in, then we post a bit about it on Instagram to fill any remaining spots. This year we filled out all spots in both Thredbo and Saas-Fee via our mailout. We vet all individual riders signing up to make sure they are up to the standard required to make sure the sessions flow well.

Build it, and they will come.

And what’s the set-up going to be like this year?

Dual take-off big air 55 and 65ft accessed by snowmobile laps, with a rope tow rail line on standby for the bad weather days. The 22ft pipe running 120m in length with an airbag at the bottom all accessed by the rope tow.

Will the general public be able to ride up there?

Unfortunately, Stomping Grounds is not for general admission as it’s a private facility.

Birds eye view of Australia’s most popular jump

Can people spectate at least?

The 22ft Pipe and the Big Air is accessible only for the riders signed up in the session as it’s all completely funded by their bookings, but spectators are more than welcome to come hike up and check out the action. Big Air is National team access only so as not to conflict with Thredbo’s Turn and Burn/Mountain Academy etc, but again everyone is welcome to watch.

Instagram will load in the frontend.

Do you think there’s scope to open it up to the general public?

I would love to see a public day or two when the session wraps up but that’s something we need to work on with Thredbo. Lots of stuff comes into play here with insurance too. 22ft pipes are like 60ft jumps, not for everyone but I would love to give a few of the local groms a taste especially as there might be a few that will be up to it with MOOKi’s mini pipe Thredbo is building for the public this season thanks to Scotty’s  James’ donation of the new 13ft Zaugg pipe cutter.

What do you say to people who might complain about it being private?

 I think the most important thing that people need to know is that this is entirely athlete-funded. If you look around the world hardly any resorts are still building a 22ft pipe and XL jumps. Because they simply aren’t rider-friendly for the majority. A pay-to-play situation ensures viability. It’s not taking anything from Thredbo or the season pass holders or those with day ticket’s or even skiable terrain. The funding is raised independently from the resort to ensure there is no financial burden. Thredbo are incredible hosts and working with us to provide something that would otherwise not be built. Our Aussie half pipe Athletes will finally have a pipe on home soil. Thredbo and The Stomping Grounds work really closely to be able to make this happen together. 


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