From 8 to 13 March 2022The 30th anniversary of skwalin Valfréjus
© 1920x1080 Les30ans Du Skwal
From 8 to 13 March 2022

The 30th anniversary of skwal

Launched in 1992 in Valfréjus by Thias Balmain, skwal celebrates its 30th anniversary from 8 to 13 March in Haute Maurienne Vanoise, in the resort where it was born. Fans of this sport, which is practised with a single board on which the two feet are placed one in front of the other, in the direction of the glide, for an extreme carving practice, are expected for group rides, races, a derby… but also convivial evenings and a skwal film festival.

Wat is Skwal?

Skwal is een van skiën afgeleide sport. De naam “skwal” komt van de specifieke plank die voor deze sport wordt gebruikt. Skwal wordt beoefend op een enkele plank waarop de twee voeten voor elkaar worden geplaatst, in de richting van de glijbeweging. Met de schouders in de richting is het “gevoel” van de sneeuw vergelijkbaar met dat van skiën, en sommige skwalers gebruiken stokken. Anderen hebben liever hun handen vrij om de sneeuw in de bochten aan te raken.

Deze naar de richting gerichte positie maakt gemakkelijk carven en extreme hoeken in bochten mogelijk, wat een pure glide genereert. Het is niet ongewoon dat skiërs in bochten zo voorovergebogen zitten dat hun ellebogen (of handen) de sneeuw raken.

Met je skwal aan je voeten word je een “skwaleur” of “skwalinrijdster” (of zelfs een “skwalinette” als je een vrouwelijke skiër bent!). Een skiër of snowboarder heeft het vrij snel onder de knie: in slechts een paar afdalingen kun je een blauwe afdaling maken.

Skwal heeft over de hele wereld navolging gevonden, van Japan tot de VS, Zwitserland, de noordelijke landen en Duitsland. Een spectaculaire sport waarvan de liefhebbers regelmatig bijeenkomen voor bijeenkomsten. Het is dan ook logisch dat zij elkaar ontmoetten in Valfréjus, waar het 30 jaar geleden allemaal begon.


Wednesday 9th March

• Group ride day on the different slopes of Valfréjus

Thursday 10th March

• Day of riding in a group on the different slopes of Valfréjus

Friday 11th March

• Group ride day on the different slopes of Valfréjus and Orelle-Val Thorens

• Skwal round table evening. Exchanges between riders on the evolution of skwal


Several skwal manufacturers will be present throughout the event and will offer to lend boards for tests and initiations.

Skibrid will also be present for free tests of this new sport between skwal and mountain bike.

Saturday 12th March

• Morning, giant slalom race

• Late afternoon, skwal Derby du Jeu (2700m-1500m)

• Evening, skwal short film festival. Each skier is invited to create their own short film (between 90 and 120 seconds) and post it on the dedicated youtube page.

• During the evening, the films will be presented and the audience will be able to vote for the best film.

• The evening will continue with… “The Big Night”!

→ More info on facebook



Thias Balmain

Originally from Modane, Thias Balmain invented the skwal in the early 90s in Valfréjus.

Where does skwal come from?

Thias Balmain: In the 80s, I was a snowboard instructor in Valfréjus. At the time we tended to turn our shoulders forward in alpine snowboarding, which twisted the body.

Concerned about bio-mechanics and the respect of joint alignments, I said to myself that if we wanted to be in front, it would be better to have our feet in the direction of the slide. So I started to tinker with a board until I came out with a first prototype in April 92 with a single board like a monoski but with the feet one in front of the other for more stability. After the unexpected results of the tests, I went to see the manufacturer Lacroix who was immediately interested in this new way of sliding on the snow which was more efficient in competition than a classic alpine snowboard. The skwal was successfully welcomed a few months later at the Snowboard World Cup in Les 2 Alpes. A new sport was born.

How does the skwal feel?

Basically, it’s speed and extreme cornering for pure carving. It’s a bit like a biker leaning into the turns. In skwal, you do big curves and you can touch the snow with your elbow or your hand in the turns because of the angle you use. Besides, facing skwaleurs who attack turns, some skiers say that the practice must be difficult. But in fact it’s quite simple when you have a decent level of skiing. Since the first skwals, which were designed for speed and carving, the equipment has also evolved. We now have wider boards for a more powder-oriented free skwal, or others for tighter turns (with or without poles depending on your feeling). It’s a bit like skiing, the range has expanded: there are boards adapted to different practices and snow conditions.

Has the skwale community grown too?

It remains a community of enthusiasts and lovers of the sport. There are not so many of us but there are skwaleurs everywhere, forming afficionados groups.

Thanks to skwal I have been able to ride in the USA, heliski on Mount Cook in New Zealand, film in TV shows in Japan… Skwal has seduced skateboarding fans on all continents. We now meet regularly for group outings. This will be the case in March in Valfréjus for a return to the original resort. It was not possible to celebrate the 30th anniversary of skwal anywhere else but Valfréjus. For the skwaleurs it is simply mythical.

Nos suggestions