Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ladies Alpine Ski World Cup continues in Austria

Ladies Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in Austria. Semmering hosts two races, a Giant Slalom on December 28 and a Slalom on December 29. Making its World Cup in 1995, the compact Austrian Spa Resort is the preserve of the queens of the snow, having never held a men's event. The world-renowned Hirschenkogel course on the Zauberbeg (Magic Mountain) is home to both the Giant Slalom and Slalom races, and as Europe's largest night skiing area the events are given a further magical aura under flood lights.
The Semmering ski resort is located in the Eastern Northern Limestone Alps at the pass connecting Lower Austria and Styria and extends on to the Hirschenkogel mountain. It is mainly used by skiers from Vienna, from where it can be reached within one hour, but increasingly also by people from Hungary and Slovakia. The Semmering-Hirschenkogel ski resort offers 24 kilometres of ski slopes of varying degrees of difficulties.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Alpine Ski World Cup continues in Bormio with the Downhill

Men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in Bormio with the Downhill taking place next Sunday. The skiing area of Bormio, with more than 50 kilometres of slopes and 14 skilifts with a capacity of 14.000 persons/hour come up to most skiers expectations. The slope "Stelvio" is the perfect venue for the annual men's downhill race. By unanimous opinion, alongside Kitzbuhel, this is absolutely the most spectacular and technically difficult course. The "Stelvio", which is almost 3,230 metres long with a 986-metre difference in altitude and a maximum gradient of 60%, is a notoriously unforgiving track and is the only one where the finish area can clearly be seen from the starting gate. Bormio hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1985 and 2005, as well as the World Cup Finals in 1995 and 2000.Skipasses are available for the skiarea "4 Valli" –free bus service-, which are valid for the area Bormio, S. Colombano (Oga and Valdidentro) and Santa Caterina. The skiing-mountain San Colombano hosts the slopes of the Valdidentro, which are in a very sunny position and connect to the Valdisotto (Oga). Offering a great panoramic alpine view, these sunny slopes invite to enjoy and ski. San Colombano offers 30 kilometres of slopes and 10 skilifts. Santa Caterina's slopes are exposed to the north, thanks to that fact skiers will find ideal snow conditions the whole winter season. 40 kilometres of slopes are to be reached by 7 skilifts.Bormio lies at the top of the Valtellina Valley formed by the Adda River. The Valtellina ski area is a component of five large skiing areas with 400 kilometres of pistes and 140 ski lifts: Alta Valtellina, Tirano, Sondrio and Valmalenco, Morbegno and Valchiavenna.Bormio with nearly two thousand years of history, has well established itself as tourist resort for more than a century. It is situated at an altitude of 1225 metres, right in the heart of the Italian Alps in the region Lombardy and has 4100 inhabitants. At the feet of the Stelvio Pass and the Ortler-Cevedale mountain range, Bormio is close to the Swiss border. It is surrounded by a limestone mountain-range with the main peak "Reit", which is 3075 metres high. The historical centre of Bormio is one of the most important of the whole province as well as one of the best preserved ones in the Alps.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Excalibur Gondola Fully Re-Open

The BC Safety Authority has reinstated the operating permit for the lower line of Blackcomb Mountain's Excalibur Gondola following inspections Tuesday. Repair work on tower 4 was completed Monday and testing took place throughout Tuesday in accordance with BC Safety Authority and Doppelmayr test protocol. The Excalibur Gondola was in full operation yesterday December 24.
"We are extremely pleased with the efficiency in which we have been able to return this lift to operation", says Wayne Wiltse, Whistler Blackcomb's lift maintenance manager. "The tower has been rebuilt, and the cable has been inspected. They have both been non-destructively tested to ensure they meet all code requirements. A thorough inspection, as outlined in Whistler Blackcomb's Safety Management Plan, and following procedures recommended by the lift manufacturer, has been undertaken to ensure the safety of our guests. In addition, the BC Safety Authority has been on-site Tuesday doing its own inspection before reinstating our operating certificate".
In accordance with the lift manufacturer's test protocol, Whistler Blackcomb lift maintenance crews perform a "sounding" test on the towers to check for the presence of water. This test was considered an effective way to check for the presence of water in towers. Following the failure of tower 4, all Doppelmayr lift towers across Whistler Blackcomb were checked for water build-up. This was done first by Whistler Blackcomb lift maintenance crews on Tuesday night after the incident. A secondary inspection was undertaken by Whistler Blackcomb in conjunction with the BC Safety Authority the next morning before operations commenced for the day. Since then, BC Safety Authority has issued a Safety Order requiring all BC ski resorts to inspect all lift towers for water, regardless of manufacturer. In light of the Excalibur incident, Doppelmayr has revised its test protocol to now include concrete filled towers.
The investigation into last week's tower failure remains ongoing. The cause of the tower failure was confirmed by early the next morning, December 17, and was due to an unusual situation called "ice-jacking". Water had accumulated within the tower, then transformed to ice to a point whereby the pressure from the ice created a rupture that separated the two sections of the tower. The force of the ice expansion and the subsequent rupture has been estimated at 800 tonnes of pressure. Prior testing had not revealed this ice build-up due to the tower being concrete-filled.
"Our commitment to safety at Whistler Blackcomb is uncompromised", says Doug Forseth, Whistler Blackcomb's senior vice president of operations. "We have been working around the clock with the authorities and independent experts to understand what happened here last week. Through these efforts, a new Safety Order from the BC Safety Authority, and a safety bulletin from the lift manufacturer has been distributed to ski resort operators in BC and to the industry, in the wake of this incident".

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Lifts Change Face of Leading Ski Resorts

What a difference a week makes, as five new or reopened lifts in Europe and North America have meant some big changes to some of the world’s leading ski areas, at a combined price tag of more than 100 million Euros.
In the US, Jackson Hole has finally unveiled its larger and faster replacement to its iconic red cable car (or ‘tram’ as this type of lift is called in North America), the 100 passenger lift (tramformation) began what will no doubt be many more decades of service, two years after the original lift was closed.
To the north the Peak2Peak gondola at Whistler finally opened after months of hype, connecting the resorts two mountains at altitude for the first time at a cost of more than $50m. The new gondola goes higher above a valley floor and travels further between support towers than any lift of its type before and has two cabins with glass floors sop that you can get the full effect if you wish.
In Europe the new gondola connecting Westendorf to the SkiWelt region, and thus the Skiwelt to Kitzbuhel’s ski area, is now in service opening up more than 400km (250 miles) of more-r-less lift-linked skiing, arguable making it one of the five largest lift-linked ski areas in the world, and certainly one of the ten largest.
In France the famous double-decker Vanoise Express recommenced operations with new haul ropes a year after closing when a routine safety checked highlighted potential problems. To celebrate the giant Paradiski ski area that joins La Plagne and Les Arcs, another world top five contender, offered free upgrades to holders of La Plagne and Les Arcs only tickets to allow them to use the famous lift without needing to pay the usual Paradiski premium.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker for Pitztal tested

Following the successful operation of the snowmaker in Zermatt in November, IDE's engineers moved to Pitztal and successfully operated the Pitztal snowmaker last week. As in Zermatt, Pitztal has already been covered by heavy snow for the last few weeks, therefore snowmaking will commence during spring 2009. The Snowmaker was assembled and testing in Israel during July 2008. The Snowmakers were shipped from Israel to Slovenia, loaded on a truck convoy and transported to the base stations of the ski resorts. The crews worked hard to transport the heavy equipment up to the mountains.
Following Zermatt’s footsteps, Pitztal Gletscherbahnen was the second ski resort to order a new kind of artificial snow system: the IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker. IDE Technologies is a world leader and pioneer in water desalination, wastewater concentrators and purifiers. The snowmaking technology comes from the mining industry where it is used to cool the goldmines.
The All Weather Snowmaker is a unique, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient solution that produces large quantities of high quality snow using vacuum conditions to generate it. Unlike the conventional snow gun, the All Weather Snowmaker is capable of operating at all ambient temperatures, thus ensuring full operation during warm spells as well as supplementing natural snowfall accumulation."This 1.5 million Euro investment will complement existing snow making systems by covering slopes that so far had to rely exclusively on natural snowfall", says Hans Rubatscher, Pitztal Glacier Resort Chairman. "This will enable us to offer European ski teams, who start their training season already in autumn, a wide racing area. Furthermore, regular skiers will enjoy a proper ski season right from the very beginning".
Pitztal is Austria’s highest glacier ski area (the Pitz Panoramabahn brings skiers 3,440m above sea level) and one of the five Tyrolean glaciers among which you can enjoy skiing all year round. The glacier ski area offers 28 kilometres of pistes (6 blue, 17 red and 5 black) served by 7 lifts (1 funicular, 1 cable car of 16 gondolas connected together into 4 groups, 1 gondola, 1 chair lift and 4 drag lifts).

Monday, December 22, 2008

The FIS Ski Cross Country World Cup starts the season in Düsseldorf

Last weekend the FIS Ski Cross Country World Cup started in Düsseldorf at the banks of the river Rhine. The snow specialists from ski dome Jever Skihalle Neuss are in charge to prepare a perfect track for FIS World Cup Cross Country and for the athletes from all over the world. The technicians need over 3000 cubic metres of snow made from 1500 cubic metres of water (the amount to fill a 50m swimming pool) to build the World Cup track. The snow is made in the ski hall. Twelve snow cannons installed under the ceiling of the snow dome produce finest fog by spraying pure drinking-water without any chemical additives through a high-pressure injector. Ice-cold air and pre–cooled water add up to superfine fog. As the air inside the ski dome has -4 degrees the fog crystallizes to finest snow on its way from the ceiling down to the ground. When the slope in the ski dome is prepared the snow has a temperature of -17 degrees. This temperature guarantees the ideal consistency of powder snow.The snow transport to Düsseldorf’s Old Town is the most challenging organisational part to build the World Cup track. The snow, at a temperature of -10 to -14 degrees, is brought outside to be loaded on trucks. Five trucks shuttle from Thursday 18th December on the short route between Düsseldorf’s banks of the river Rhine and snow dome Neuss. The snow is delivered to snow-depots, at the lower waterfront. Covers protect the snow against rain or solar irradiation and keep in the cold. Starting on Friday the snow crawlers spread the snow equally over the whole area of the World Cup track. The completion of the slope is hand-made by slope technicians. A drainage system was developed by the technicians to avoid puddles on the World Cup track when the weather conditions are unfavourable. The underground beneath the snow is a layer of punched mats. The holes in the mats make sure that melting water drains off in case of high temperatures. Overnight from Saturday to Sunday a layer of fresh snow ensures that the track endures the extraordinary charges of the World Cup weekend.
How about the ecological aspects of the Ski World Cup on the Rhine? The most important ecological aspect and main cause of an environmental impact at large events, is usually the traffic around the event. Over 90 % of the total energy consumption is caused by traffic. The entire energy consumption for carrying out the FIS World Cup Cross Country in Düsseldorf is approximately 165,000 kilowatt-hours. The current consumption for the whole event lies in the usual range of large events. In relation to the number of visitors, the energy consumption per visitor corresponds for example to the current consumption per visitor at a large Rock concert in a (Football) stadium. Also the energy consumption per visitor with a soccer federal league play might be comparable.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Alta Badia hosts the Men´s Giant Slalom and Slalom Events

Today the Men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup moves to Alta Badia in the Südtirol. The Giant Slalom along the Gran Risa slope in La Villa/Alta Badia is according to the ski world cup insiders among the most challenging of the whole ski world cup circuit (448 metres of altitude difference, 1,255 metres of length and 53% of maximum inclination). The Slalom race takes place tomorrow morning on the “Gran Risa” course (replaces Val d'Isere race. Last week, the FIS along with the local Organizing Committee in Val d’Isère were forced to cancel the World Cup slalom scheduled for Sunday, December 14th, 2008 following adverse weather conditions).
La Villa is the most central of the villages in the Alta Badia, located at the foot of the Gardenazza and the Piz La Villa, dominated by “Ciastel Colz”. Alta Badia offers 130 kilometres of pistes served by 51 lifts and a modern well-planned artificial snow system. Due to its central position in the Dolomites' skiing area Alta Badia is the ideal starting point for some of the best ski tours in the alpine area.You can find a wide offer of Mountain Restaurants in alpine Tyrolean-style. Regular visitors to the valley especially enjoy ladin dishes such as canederli (bread and speck dumplings), barley soup or "Kaiserschmarren" (a sweet pancake eaten with cranberries).The resort is lift linked to the Sella Ronda sector of the Dolomiti Superski pass. The Sella Ronda is probably the world’s third largest lift-linked ski area with over 500km of lift linked ski runs. The Dolomiti Superski pass is one of the world’s largest lift pass areas with over 1200km of maintained piste served by nearly 500 lifts on one ticket.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Val Gardena-Gröden and St. Moritz hosts the Alpine Ski World Cup

Since yesterday Val Gardena-Gröden hosted the Men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. On Friday 19, the World Cup Super-G race took place in the northern Italian resort. Werner Heel ripped the course and won by .43 of a second over Swiss Didier Defago. It was the first Italian home victory at Italy's premiere World Cup site in seven seasons. Today the Downhill will take place on the legendary Saslong slope. The Val Gardena and the magnificent three villages of Ortisei, S. Cristina and Selva Gardena, surrounded by the scenario of the Dolomites, offer a paradise of opportunities for ski with 175 km of pistes, 85% of which has snowmaking cover, accessible by 83 lifts.The resort is lift linked to the Sella Ronda sector of the Dolomiti Superski pass. The Sella Ronda is probably the world’s third largest lift-linked ski area with over 500km of lift linked ski runs. The Dolomiti Superski pass is one of the world’s largest lift pass areas with over 1200km of maintained piste served by nearly 500 lifts on one ticket.
Also, since yesterday, St. Moritz hosted the Ladies Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. Anja Paerson (Swe) dominated the course once again at St. Moritz on Friday, winning the World Cup Super Combined. During the weekend two speed events take place in the Swiss Resort: Downhill and Super G. St. Moritz lies on the south side of the Alps, in the Engadine Valley. St Moritz is Switzerland's most famous exclusive winter resort: glitzy, expensive, and fashionable. The Engadine Ski Paradise: St. Moritz-Corviglia, Corvatsch, Diavolezza are synonymous with breathtaking and unforgettable skiing experiences. 60 modern transportation facilities open up on 350 km of snow covered runs at altitudes from 1,800 to 3,300 metres above sea level of slopes in nine different skiing areas with 37 mountain restaurants.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still More Heavy Snow In Europe, Fresh Snow In North America

It’s now ten weeks since the first heavy snowfalls were reported in the Alps and the snow is continuing to come down by the bucket load in many areas. http://www.skiinfo.com/ reports that apart from the duration of the snowfall obviously setting ski resorts up for a memorable season, what’s also unusual is that almost all of the world’s major ski regions have received well above average pre-season snowfall, usually one area will do better than another. However this time almost everywhere has above average snow.
France continues to receive heavy snowfalls in the Alps and Pyrenees with Skiinfo issuing powder alarms of up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow at some areas. Montgenèvre got another 40cm (16 inches) and Val d'Isère 20cm (eight inches) more on Tuesday alone. But all the snow means there is a high risk of avalanche everywhere. The greatest snow depths are reported at Valberg 260cm (8.7 feet) and Isola 2000 250cm (8.3 feet), but many resorts have base depths of more than two metres (6.7 feet), including Meribel, where the Freestyle World Cup is being staged today.
In Austria snow falls and snow depth are if anything, even greater than France. The Mölltal Glacier reports 310cm (over 10 feet) and Obergurgl 255cm (8.6 feet). Fresh snowfalls totaling up to 1.2m (four feet) have been reported at some Austrian resorts over the past week with Nassfeld Hermagor reporting 120cm of new snow, Bad Gastein 95cm (over three feet).
Snowfalls in Germany to the north have been more modest with Balderschwang receiving 20cm (eight inches) more last Friday, taking base depths to 100cm (40 inches) on upper slopes, one of the deepest in the country.
Switzerland has once again received big snowfalls in the past week with Zermatt, once again, one of the leading beneficiaries receiving yet another 85cm (nearly three feet) over the past seven days. Nearby Saas Fee got 65cm (26 inches) and St Moritz 50cm (20 inches) ahead of hosting the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Ladies Super Combined tomorrow 19 December, Downhill on Saturday 20 December, and Super G on Sunday 21 December. Disentis has the most snow with 350cm (nearly 12 feet) ion upper slopes. Saas Fee has 288cm (nearly 190 feet) and Zermatt 250cm (over eight feet).
To the south the snowfall that has brought parts of Italy to a standstill has not let up with the country’s north east getting the heaviest falls in the past week which has partially cut off some ski towns like La Thuile and Sauze d’Oulx. As a result Alagna in Monterosa has some of the greatest snow depths in the world at present with 420cm (14 feet) on upper slopes although Arabba in the dolomites leads the way with 480cm (16 feet). Many other resorts now have three metres plus (over ten feet) bases.
The huge snowfalls in the Pyrenees have perhaps been the biggest snow story of the past month, because conditions have been rather lackluster there in recent seasons. In Andorra virtually all runs are open and snow depths have reached 170cm (nearly six feet) in VallNord, with similar conditions in GrandValira, which reported another 15cm (six inches) of snow on Monday. It’s much the same on both the Spanish and French side of the chain with Spain’s Baqueria Beret reporting that the more than four metres of snow it has received in the past month is the most it has ever received this early in the season. It currently has 225cm (7.5 feet) on upper slopes. Many Spanish resorts have reached two metres (seven feet) of fresh powder snow depth.
In Norway there will be 50 ski resorts open this weekend and Skiinfo.no reports eight of them are expecting over 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow over the next four days. XC skiing is fantastic too.
In North America the one area that had been having serious problems with lack of snow – the West Coast to the rest of the Rockies, has at last had some healthy falls in many areas with most resorts finally opening or able to open more terrain,
"A strong cold North Pacific winter storm brought snow at a rate of 1 inch (2.5cm) per hour, with snow fall totals ranging between 22 and 36 inches", Squaw Valley USA in California reported on Monday. "The US National Weather Service is calling for another 18-30 inches and continued snow showers are in the forecast through to Tuesday December 23rd".
Other parts of North America have been having more good snowfalls too. In Colorado Jen Brill of Silverton sent a picture of the ski area shuttle bus buried in snow (attached) and reported, "The total from the last seven days is 55 inches (nearly 1.4 metres) of new snow. It continues to snow hard today so we have not been able to get a depth from the upper mountain but it likely exceeds two feet (60cm) of new snow".
There’s been more snow in Canada too. Marmot Basin which was one of the first on the continent to open last month and has had consistently good snow since we received 55cm (22 inches) of new snow over the past week and a half and 20cm 9eight inches) of new snow last Friday alone.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Doppelmayr engineers now on site to investigate cause of Excalibur Gondola Tower collapse

Whistler Blackcomb, the BC Safety Authority and Doppelmayr directors are working around the clock to move forward on the investigation into Tuesday’s tower collapse on the Excalibur Gondola, and to restore public confidence in one of the world’s most sophisticated resort lift systems.
The cause of the tower failure was confirmed by early Wednesday morning, and was due to an extremely unusual situation called "ice-jacking". The structure of the tower is such that two parts are spliced together. Water had seeped into the lower section of the tower and turned to ice with the recent extreme cold temperatures. While extremely cold temperatures are not uncommon at a ski resort, the water had accumulated to a point whereby the pressure from the ice created a rupture that separated the two sections of the tower. The force of the ice expansion and the subsequent rupture has been estimated at 800 tonnes of pressure.
According to Doppelmayr and the BC Safety Authority, there is only one other known incident involving lift tower structural failure and ice-jacking. This incident took place at a USA ski resort in 2006.
"The towers are not normally designed to allow for any water penetration and so this failure is a very unusual situation", says Warren Sparks, senior vice president of Doppelmayr Canada. "Our attention now has shifted to understanding how this water penetration has happened and we have independent structural engineers reviewing the tower from Vancouver-based CWMM Consulting Engineers Ltd. The evidence found so far indicates a sudden rupture rather than a fatigue failure over an extended period".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blackcomb Mountain's Excalibur Gondola Tower collapse (2)

Early this morning, the British Columbia Safety Authority (BCSA), in conjunction with Whistler Blackcomb, will complete a secondary inspection of mountain lifts currently in operation. A preliminary inspection across Whistler and Blackcomb was undertaken throughout the night by a team of 20 lift maintenance staff. After determining the cause of yesterday's tower failure on Blackcomb Mountain's Excalibur Gondola, and reviewing all similar tower structures to confirm that no similar issues exist, the BCSA is expected to confirm Whistler Blackcomb's findings that the integrity of other towers have not been compromised.
Tuesday afternoon at approximately 2:30pm, a structural failure on tower 4 of the Excalibur Gondola caused the gondola to cease operation. All gondola cabins remained on the line; however a number of the cabins dropped approximately 30 feet with the sagging span, and two cabins hit the ground, injuring several people. Twelve guests were treated at the Whistler Medical Clinic and all walked out on their own accord later that evening. A total of 53 people were evacuated off the affected lower line of the gondola. The evacuation was completed by 5:51pm.
Several factors converged to cause the tower failure. The structure of the tower is such that two parts are spliced together. Water had seeped into the tower which had turned to ice with the recent extreme cold temperatures. The ice build-up caused the tower splice to rupture, an extremely unusual situation referred to as "ice-jacking".
The Excalibur Gondola is a Doppelmayr lift, and was installed in 1994. A world-leader in lift design and manufacturing, Doppelmayr lifts are in operation throughout the world and their safety record is excellent.

Blackcomb Mountain's Excalibur Gondola Tower collapse

At approximately 2:30pm PST on Tuesday, December 16, a structural failure on tower 4 on Blackcomb Mountain's Excalibur Gondola caused the gondola to cease operation. No gondola cabins came off the line. The Excalibur Gondola evacuation was completed at 5:51 pm. Fifty-three guests were safely evacuated from the lower line of the Excalibur Gondola. The failed tower 4 on the lower section was secured by a crane and Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol and the Whistler Fire Department immediately implemented an emergency lift evacuation procedure. The upper section of the gondola, independent of the lower section, was unaffected by the incident and was cleared immediately of guests by normal procedure.
The Excalibur Gondola was built in 1994 and undergoes an extensive safety check every year by the BC Safety Authority. The last check took place within the past six months. Each gondola cabin holds eight people. The gondola section where the incident took place is approximate 30 feet above the ground.
A full investigation is underway by Whistler Blackcomb and the BC Safety Authority. Whistler Blackcomb will release further information as it becomes available.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The first Parallel Giant Slalom in the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup was staged in Limone Piemonte.

Last Sunday, December 14th, the first Parallel Giant Slalom of the 2009 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup took place in Limone Piemonte. After 2007, it was the second time that the italian ski resort staged a World Cup competition.
Doris Guenther (AUT) and Matthew Morison (CAN) were the winners of the FIS races. The Austrian succeeded in the strong international field and dominated the thrilling final in Limone Piemonte against Kimiko Zakreski (CAN). Anke Carstens from Germany came in third ahead of her teammate Selina Joerg. On the men's side Matthew Morison relegated Sylvain Dufour (FRA) to the second place. Morisons teammate Jasey Jay Anderson captured the third spot on the podium ahead of Austrian Manuel Veith.
Limone Piemonte, one of the oldest Alpine villages in Italy, is a municipality in the Province of Cuneo in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 100 km south of Turin and about 20 km south of Cuneo, on the border with France. The ski area (Riserva Bianca), located in the so called "Regione delle Alpi del Mare" offers 80 km of runs (Beg: 20% Int: 70% Adv: 10%), 16 ropeways, a wonderful conch which links the 3 valleys and offers both beginners and experts the chance to choose their level of difficulty.
L.I.F.T. S.p.A , the society which controlls the entire ski area of Limone, is making a radical remodernising of the ski lifts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Innsbruck to host 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games

Innsbruck will host the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012. The result was unveiled last Friday by IOC President Jacques Rogge at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne. Innsbruck (Austria) beat Kuopio (Finland) in the final by 84 votes to 15. Following the 1st Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, Innsbruck will be responsible for staging the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games, with approximately 1,000 athletes, aged 14 to 18.
As a next step, a Coordination Commission will be designated by the IOC President to accompany Innsbruck throughout the three years of preparation. "We are fully aware that this is a very short period, but we are extremely confident that Innsbruck can match the expectations of both the IOC and the athletes, including an attractive Culture and Education Programme, which is an integral part of the Youth Olympic Games experience", underlined Jacques Rogge.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games will be a 10-day multi-sport, cultural and educational event. The age groups participating in a sport or discipline will vary between 14 and 18 years. The programme of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will be established on the basis of the seven sports included in the Vancouver 2010 programme (Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating and Skiing). The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) will highlight the different sports and provide an efficient platform to motivate young people to “get active” and adhere to the Olympic spirit. Each edition of the YOG will leave a consistent legacy for the young people of the host country, and the host city will have also a great opportunity to present itself to the world during the Games as the Olympic Youth Capital, therefore shaping its image as a youth-friendly city that offers a multitude of attractive places and events. "By creating the Youth Olympic Games on 5 July 2007, the IOC played its role as a catalyst for the sports movement. It showed that its commitment to the youth of today and tomorrow is about action, not just words, by offering them an event of their own in the spirit of the Olympic Games" (Jacques Rogge, IOC President).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Leona Lewis Learns To Board In Ischgl

Patrick Thorne published in Skiinfo an interesting article about Leona Lewis' impressions after her first contact with the snow sports:

In the week her latest single Run became the fastest-selling digital release ever, Leona was to be found on the slopes of the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl having private snowboard lessons along with her boyfriend Lou Al-Chamaa. She starred in a weekend concert at the Tirolean village in front of a 20,000 crowd - her first trip to the Alps."I thought the mountain scenery, covered in snow, was just stunning", said 23-year-old Leona. "I've never seen anything so beautiful - so much so that I asked if I could stay on in Ischgl and have some snowboarding lessons. It's something I've never tried before". In the days following the concert, held to celebrate the resort's winter opening, she and Lou took lessons with Ischgl snowboard instructor Michael Zangerl. "It's been great", said Leona. "The surroundings are wonderful. And the snowboarding has gone really well, I think - well, I haven't hurt myself and the snow is really soft when you do have a fall". "It's the first time I've ever snowboarded - in fact, it's the first time I've really been in the mountains. And I absolutely love it". The couple got on so well that by the second day they were taking a long T-bar lift up the slopes at over 2,600m - with Leona, in hood and goggles, going unrecognised by other skiers and boarders. Leona - the 2006 winner of TV talent show The X Factor - was top of the bill at Ischgl's season opening concert. Also appearing were Australian star Gabriella Cilmi and Jenniffer Kae, from Germany.

Vail Targets Front Range Skiers

With the current economic climate spurring a sharp downturn in destination visitors that's looming over the current ski and snowboard season, the town of Vail and its ski resort, local merchants and hoteliers have banded together to target Front Range visitors from the metropolitan Denver area this winter.
The town of Vail’s $550,000 plan to draw visitors to Vail, Colorado has several parts. A "Ski free, stay free" deal was launched in early November that advertised buying two days of lodging and skiing and getting the third day free. Vail Economic Development Manager Kelli McDonald said Vail Mountain has already reported a 7 percent increase in bookings since the deal began. Another part uses e-mail, Internet and print and broadcast ads to target current and former buyers of Vail ski passes on the Front Range and East Coast. Vail Resorts is sending "e-mail blasts" to potential skiers and heavily marketing the upcoming Vail Snow Daze events as part of the promotion. The third part, a new Web site launched last Wednesday http://www.vailallthelove.com/ showcases a variety of lodging, restaurant and shopping deals from local businesses who have agreed to be part of the campaign.
The new Vail All The Love campaign provides substantial savings on lodging from more than 50 lodging properties, as well as savings on Vail Snowsports School lessons, mountain dining venues, and Adventure Ridge activities. More that 65 participating restaurants, bars, shops, spas and services throughout the Town of Vail are also providing exclusive offers to consumers carrying the Vail All the Love card. Guests who did not receive the mailing with the Vail All the Love card can obtain the card from their lodging property once they book an overnight stay.
"The Vail community has worked hard to understand the needs of the Front Range audience, particularly given the current challenges of the economy", said Kelli McDonald, Vail Economic Development Manager. "With the Vail All the Love promotion, we are reaching out to the Front Range with flexible promotions that are easy to take advantage of and make getting to Vail and enjoying our world class facilities appreciably easier".
Participating businesses can be clearly identified through a unique Vail All The Love decal in their store front.
The promotion is launching during what Billy Suarez, owner and manager of Billy’s Island Grill in Lionshead, called one of the slowest post-Thanksgiving weeks he’s seen. "We wanted to make sure we participated in this campaign", he said to Vail Daily. "And we want to let people know we’re willing to give a little to get people to come out". Many lodges are reporting slow bookings, and some hope the discounted rates combined with good snow will get the phones ringing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in Spain

The Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues this weekend in La Molina (Spain). The catalan ski resort hosts two FIS Ladies races, a Giant Slalom on December 13 and a Slalom on December 14.
La Molina is located in the Pyrenees in the province Girona. La Molina is at an altitude of 1700 m with lifts going up to 2445 m. There are 16 lifts (1 Gondola, 8 Chairlifts, 5 Surface lifts and 2 Magic Carpets) and 46 pistes (12 green, 13 blue, 15 red, 6 black) with a combined skiing area of 53 km. La Molina also offers 3 Ski Routes, 1 Snowpark and activities such as Snowshoes, Dog-sledges, Ski-Doos and a Sledge Area. La Molina is part of the Alp 2500 Ski Domain together with Masella. The Alp 2500 combined skiing area is 121 km and 31 lifts with a lift capacity of 36260 skiers/hour. The ski season lasts from December to April.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup goes to Val d'Isere

Two months before Val d'Isere will celebrate the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the International french resort hosts the men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Super Combined, Super G (replaces the Beaver Creek cancelled races), Giant Slalom and Slalom races on December, 12, 13 and 14, 2008. The slopes to be used at these events are exactly the same as what will be raced in the 2009 World Championships, including the legendary Bellevarde Olympic “Face”, which hasn't been used as a race slope since the 1992 Olympic Winter Games.Val d'Isère is a megaresort located in the Savoie, recognisable by its charming Chalet architecture. People come to Val d'Isere with precisely one purpose in mind: to Ski. Val d'Isere offers to the skiers one of the most incredible Ski Paradises in the Alps: the Espace Killy, the Val d'Isere and Tignes combined skiing area, named in honour Jean-Claude Killy a magic skier, racing for Val d'Isere who won 3 gold medals in the 1968 Olympic games. 300 kilometres of slopes are served by 89 modern lifts. A playground for every skier with two glaciers (Pissaillas Glacier in Val d'Isere and the Grande Motte in Tignes) and 154 runs classified 22 green, 61 blue, 46 red and 25 black.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There’s Fresh Powder Everywhere (Nearly)

The unprecedented snowfalls in the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees over the past few weeks have eased slightly but http://www.skiinfo.com/ reports that the snow is still falling across most of Europe and most of the continent’s resorts are now open and boasting superb powder snow conditions.
France has been one of the main beneficiaries this week with Meribel posting the greatest accumulation over the past seven days of up to 1.5m (five feet). Skiinfo issued five powder alarms on Saturday for Les Gets ( 60cm/2 feet), Avoriaz and Morzine both 50 cm (20 inches), Val Thorens 35 cm (14 inches) and Le Grand Bornand (30 cm/12 inches). More snow is forecast and French resorts opening this weekend include Flaine, Les Arcs, Pra Loup and Valloire and Vars.
Italy, which saw the biggest falls last week, is continuing to see more snow with Skiinfo.com’s Turin office reporting snow continuing to fall at present. As a result the country has now notched up the biggest current snow depths in the wall with Passo Tonale’s glacier topping the charts with a 370cm (over 12 foot) base. Over on the West of the country Alagna is not far behind with 315cm (10.5 feet). Skiinfo is issuing new powder alarms to subscribers today for numerous Italian resorts, including Cervinia which has just received another 40cm (16 inches) and Skiinfos Snowfinder service is predicting a further 100 - 120cm of fresh snow in the Dolomites in the next 48 hours, bringing the falls over the past two weeks to more than three metres (ten feet). The down side to all the snow is traffic problems and power lines being brought down as well as a serious risk of avalanche in the mountains. In the past 48 hours three people have died on Italy’s mountains with off piste and ski mountaineering especially dangerous.
Many of Switzerland’s leading resorts have been open for a month now having enjoyed great snow conditions through November. Bases are approaching three metres (ten feet) in many higher resorts. Saas Fee will offer free skiing in Kreuzboden-Hohsaas this weekend December 13th-14th. It has 80km (50 miles) of piste open from top to bottom. Zermatt has more than 100km (63 miles) of piste open including the Italian link to Cervinia/Valtournenche and up to 250cm (over eight feet) snow depth. Elsewhere Laax has 170cm (Nearly six feet) of snow on the glacier and St. Moritz 180cm (Six feet) of powder with still more snowfall expected at the weekend.
In Austria the big resort opening this weekend is at Söll on the Skiwelt which will celebrate with a special winter opening package including two nights, ski pass for two days for Wilder Kaiser – Brixental and entrance to party area with live music from €129 per person. The country’s glacier ski areas have the most accumulated snow depth with 195cm (6.5 feet) on the Pitztal Glacier and the same at Sölden. Snowfall has eased in the past week with areas typically reporting 20-40cm (8 – 16 inches) of fresh snow in total.
Germany also has good snow cover with 140cm (nearly five feet) of snow at the Zugspitz, by Garmisch, which has had another 45cm (18 inches) of snow this week.
In Scandinavia more than 40 resorts will be open in Norway this weekend. Skiinfo.no recommends that if you’re planning a Christmas trip to the country’s capital, Oslo, you bring your skis. The local ski hills of Tryvann, Kirkerud, Varingskollen and Oslo Skisenter are all open and currently have 30-50cm (12 – 20 inches) of snow on their slopes. Across Norway most major resorts have 560-70cm of snow with Tryil currently top with 73cm (2.5 feet).
In the Pyrenees, which saw unprecedented huge snowfalls in late November, powder conditions are the norm in French, Spanish and Andorran ski resorts with snow depth peaking at around 190cm (over six feet) in resorts like Formigal and Cerler in Spain.
In Eastern Europe it’s a mixed picture with limited terrain open in Bulgaria where the weather has been rather warm. To the north things are better in the Czech Republic, where more than 30 resorts are open and in Slovakia where Park snow Štrbské Pleso has 150cm (Five feet) of snow on upper slopes. Jasná is offering special low-priced lift tickets this weekend with a day pass costing just 15 Euros per adult, the resort is also operating a new snow fun area for children and new dining options.
Scotland has three ski areas open on the Eastern side of the country at Glenshee, the Lecht and Cairngorm, all have limited terrain open.
In North America the picture has improved in some regions but remains challenging along the West Coast with unseasonably warm weather only allowing for limited opening on usually machine made snow.It’s a better picture in Colorado where up to two feet of snow has fallen in the past week at resorts like Breckenridge and Vail. Steamboat was the latest to open at the weekend. East coast ski areas have also received more snow continuing their healthy start to 2008-9 – Vermont is doing particularly well with snow depths passing 90cm (three feet) at leading resorts such as Killington and very low temperatures helping to maintain snowfall and provide ideal snow making conditions. In Canada ski areas in Alberta and British Columbia have also received more snow bringing depths typically up to 60-90cm (2 – 3 feet).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Do you have the ‘Powder Attitude’ ?

Millet, in partnership with Fischer, Polartec, Skiinfo and Ski Magazine, are organising a special game running from now through to 4th January 2009. To take part simply log on to the competition website (http://www.millet.fr/gameimg-srcmillet-intgif-border0.html) and take a quick test on your attitude to powder.


The prizes:
  • A one week stay in the resort of Les Sybelles for 2 people (value 790 €, outside school holidays),
  • One pair of Fisher Watea skis (value 649 €),
  • Subscriptions to Ski Magazine (value 26,80 €),
  • Powderalarm T-shirts (value 20 €).

The winners will be chosen at random on 7th January 2009. The list of winners will be published on the website http://www.millet.fr/.
Millet is the official sponsor of the famous Skiinfo Powderalarm service.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Grenoble's Big Air

Last weekend the third Big Air of the 2009 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup took place in Grenoble. At the first ever LG Snowboard FIS World Cup big air event in France, Mathieu Crepel as representative of the Equipe Tricolore was victorious in Grenoble's Park Paul Mistral. He won in front of 15,000 spectator relegating Stefan Gimpl (AUT) and Jaakko Ruha (FIN) to the second and third ranks, respectively.
The snowboard show on December 6th, 2008, took place within the "Jeux de Neige" in the park Paul Mistral of the bidder for the 2018 Olympics. The programme of sporting activities also includes a Masters Series cross-country sprint, a jibbing demonstration and a Team Ski Battle. Other features of the event include the projection of skiing films, a tobogganing run, introductory cross-country skiing sessions, shows and special snow areas for kids and a grand parade with a pyrotechnic "ballet" for all the family.
Henri Serandour, president of the French National Olympic and Sporting Committee (CNOSF), announced last September 24th France will compete to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The cities of Grenoble, Annecy and Nice have already stated their intention to bid to host the Games. Grenoble looks in a good position though it is rare for the same city to organise the games twice. The mayor of Grenoble Michel Destot said the town would emphasize its strong Olympic history with the hope of being nominated as hosts next year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Whistler Blackcomb PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola to Launch Friday, December 12

Whistler Blackcomb's PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola will officially open to the public December 12, 2008. The official ceremony will get underway at 10:30am on both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains at the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola terminals. A great view is guaranteed for everyone as screens on both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains will broadcast what's taking place on the opposite mountain. The official speeches will take place on Whistler Mountain; the Ride of Their Life winners will be present on Blackcomb and will take part in the opening ceremonies there. Emcees on both sides, as well as a tightly choreographed show that will unfold on the screens, will ensure the launch event is exciting and historic for both sides.
At 11am the official ribbon cutting will take place, and the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola will depart both terminals with its first guests on board. And get ready for the ultimate thrill, as Red Bull drops in and gives wings to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola Launch. The Gondola will run throughout the afternoon on its first day of operations, open to all guests – skiers, snowboarders, and sightseers – until 3pm.
Inside the Roundhouse Lodge from 11:30am to 1:30pm, guests can check out the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola Open House. Guests can view the artwork from the Commemorative Poster Competition, check out the Technology Zone illustrating the mechanics of the Gondola construction, or just grab a slice of the celebration cake. Kids and families can make some new friends as animated characters revel in the fun, can get their faces painted, or join in the PEAK 2 PEAK coloring competition.
After an historic day on the mountain, the fun continues into the evening too. There'll be 'Grand Après' festivities in Skiers Plaza from 3pm to 5:30pm including a DJ and video screens courtesy of Red Bull, a live art showcase, plus a kid-friendly performance by well known entertainer Norman Foote from 3:15pm to 4:15pm. Launch celebrations will also continue in all three of the Whistler Blackcomb après locations – Merlins, Dusty's and the Garibaldi Lift Company.
Limited edition PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola commemorative posters, by local artist Vanessa Stark, will be available during après hours for guests, absolutely free, while supplies last. The poster will be distributed in Skiers Plaza throughout the Grand Après, at Creekside in Guest Relations from 3pm to 5pm, and then Dusty's after 5pm; and at the Blackcomb Daylodge in Guest Relations from 3pm to 5pm and then Merlin's after 5pm.
Those who can't make the launch can still check out all the action as a live webcast will broadcast the launch ceremony. The live webcast will launch at whistlerblackcomb.com/webcast at 10:30am PST.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ski Paradise kicks off the winter season in Ischgl

Ischgl (1377m) is a truly Ski Paradise in Tirol (Austria). The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover (natural snow conditions are helped by 575 snow-machines with a total max. performance of 1050 l/sec). 31 snow cats groom the Ischgl runs every night offering perfect conditions in the morning. You can count on the best conditions throughout the winter months: Cruise through loose powder, carve down hard-packed slopes and race through corn snow in spring.In Ischgl you can find ultramodern lift and cable-car system (3 cable cars, 2 aerial cableways, 23 chairlifts and 12 draglifts) with a transport capacity of 78,500 persons per hour ensure skiing without queues (€120 million have been invested over the last years). The new lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the Fimbabahn cable car built for the 2007/08 season. A variety of slopes 38 kilometres of blue/easy runs, 132 kilometres of red/intermediate runs, 45 kilometres of black/difficult runs, and 20 kilometres of ski routes offer a opportunity for everyone, from beginners to experts looking for challenging pistes. Eleven is the name of the longest piste with approximately 11 kilometres from the top of the ski resort in Greitspitz (2,872 metres) to Ischgl village (1,400 metres).
From Ischgl you can access to the Silvretta Arena Ski Paradise, thanks to an alliance between two Companies (Silvretta Seilbahn AG and Bergbahnen Sammaun AG) and two ski resorts (Ischgl-Sammaun) from two different countries (Switzerland-Austria).
The Tyrolean skiing area’s motto is: "Relax. If you can …" meaning you can choose between a great number of winter activities (cross-country skiing, ice skating, tobogganing, winter hiking, horse-drawn sleigh rides, guided mountain tours and indoor sports) apart from the main attractions of skiing, boarding and night life.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in North America

The Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in North America at Beaver Creek and Lake Louise. Since Today, December 4, Beaver Creek hosts the Super Combined, Downhill, Super G and Giant Slalom Men events. During the weekend the Ladies’ World Cup Tour continues in Canada. Lake Louise Village, Alberta, will host the Downhill and Super G FIS races on Saturday-Sunday.
Located in Colorado, USA, Beaver Creek is owned and operated by Vail Resorts Management Company, one of the leading resort operators in North America. The Company owns and operates five ski resorts: Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek, located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and Heavenly, which is located on the Lake Tahoe area of California/Nevada. With abundant natural snow (average snowfall 790 cm), backed up by a modern snowmaking system (36 % of the marked runs), Beaver Creek guarantees skiing from early November to mid April. 148 trails (19% Beginner, 43% Intermediate, 38% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 1,233 metres. Reminiscent of a secluded European alpine village, Beaver Creek combines the luxury and refinement of a five-star resort with a relaxed, family atmosphere.
The Lake Louise Ski Area hosts, since last week, the 2008 Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup. Located in Alberta, Canada, Lake Louise is one of the largest ski areas in North America. With abundant natural snow (average snowfall 454 cm), backed up by Canada's largest snowmaking system (40% of the marked runs), Louise guarantees skiing from early November to mid May. 139 runs (25% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 30% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 991 metres, Lake Louise offer a wide opportunities for skiers from perfectly groomed beginner runs to double black diamonds rated "the best super steeps in the country" (Ski Canada Magazine). The Canadian Ski resort is one of the best options to enjoy magnificent scenery and stunning panoramas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Early Snowfalls In Europe Hit ‘Historic Levels’

http://www.skiinfo.com/ is following still more heavy snowfalls across Europe over the past 48 hours, with much more snow in other parts of Europe and many areas of North America too.
One of the greatest beneficiaries are the Italian Dolomites where 150cm (five feet) has fallen at Cortina in a 48 hour period up to Monday, with snow still falling. Alessandro Fregni of Skiinfo.com’s Italian office commented, "In three days ski areas have seen almost as much snowfall as for the whole winter last year".
Most other Swiss resorts have great cover and more new snow. Skiinfo issued powder alarms in the past week for Skiinfo with 70cm (28 inches) and Davos 53cm (17 inches) of fresh snow each. Many major resorts now have snow depths of 2-3 metres (7 – 10 feet).
In Austria the snow cover is also superb with Heiligenblut the biggest recipient of the week’s latest dump, receiving a metre (40 inches) of powder in the past seven days.
Many of the open French ski areas have reported at least a foot of new snow in the past week. Several have much more including Les Arcs, with 80cm (32 inches). New openings this weekend include Les Orres, Chamrousse, L e Grand Bornand, Isola 2000 and Montgenevre. Alpe D'Huez and Courchevel will be fully open and Megève partly open. It looks like the ski areas in the Pyrenees and elsewhere in Spain which dominated snowfall news in November with record pre-season accumulations leading top early openings of ski areas in the region will continue in to December, as the snow keeps falling.
A new cold front has brought still more fresh powder to Spain (Formigal and Sierra Nevada -picture attached- have both received 70 cm/28 inches more powder in the past week) all the ski resorts in Spain will open for a three day holiday weekend. For Spanish skiers and boarders the Purísima Feast on December 8 is a must every year and represents the official opening of the winter season.
On the French side of the range Cauterets opened last weekend with 80% of runs available on opening day and up to 150cm (five feet) of snow.
Elsewhere in Europe conditions continue to be very good in Scandinavian countries too. Norway’s Hemsedal currently has 65cm (over two feet) of snow on its slopes, with Bjorli registering the greatest snow depth at present with 100 cm (40 inches).
In North America the picture has improved dramatically in Colorado, just as it did this time last year before a meteoric snowfall season in which several resorts set record snowfall figures after a warm November 2007. One of the best reports is from Vail which has had 63cm (25 inches) of snow in the past week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Vail Resorts Purchase Colorado Mountain Express

Last November Vail Resorts announced that it closed its transaction to acquire the resort ground transportation business, Colorado Mountain Express (CME), for a total consideration of $38.3 million, which amount will be adjusted for the final balances of certain working capital related accounts as well as the obligation of Vail Resorts to reimburse the seller for certain new capital expenditures.
"We are pleased to be adding Colorado Mountain Express to the Vail Resorts portfolio, which represents the first touch point with many of our guests when they arrive by air to Colorado for a world-class ski, snowboard and mountain resort experience. As we mentioned when we first announced signing the agreement to purchase CME, we are confident that by combining the resources of Vail Resorts with the effort put forward by the CME team we will be able to further improve upon the entire experience for all of CME’s guests. The acquisition of Colorado Mountain Express is also closely aligned with our Company’s goals of improving access to the mountains and operating in a sustainable manner by providing guests the option of minimizing traffic on I-70 and reducing fuel usage through carpooled ground transportation", said Rob Katz, Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts. He added, "We welcome the entire CME team to the Vail Resorts family".
Vail Resorts like other American companies operate many businesses outside of ski lifts: ski-schools, lodging, restaurants, and real estate promotion. Vail Resorts summed up its approach to the business this way: "A key component of the Company’s business strategy has been to expand and enhance its core ski operations while at the same time increasing the scope, diversity and quality of the complementary activities and services offered to its skiing and non skiing guests throughout the year (…)The Company’s business strategy is not only to increase skier days but also to increase Resort Revenue per skier day by capturing a higher percentage of the total spending of its year round destination and day guest by continuing to expand the range and enhance the quality of activities and services offered by the Company" (Vail Resorts Inc. Annual Report, 1998: I).
Colorado Mountain Express offers year-round ground transportation from Denver International Airport and Eagle County Airport to Vail (locations in and around Vail, Beaver Creek, Avon and Edwards), Aspen (locations in and around Aspen and Snowmass) and Summit County (includes Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Frisco and Silverthorne) for ski and snowboard and other mountain resort experiences. The company offers four primary types of service, including door-to-door shuttle business, point-to-point shuttle business with centralized drop-off at transportation hubs, private chartered vans and premier luxury charter vehicles. The vehicle fleet consists of approximately 250 vans and luxury SUVs, and currently transports approximately 420,000 resort guests each year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

FIS and Doppelmayr/Garaventa extend partnership

The International Ski Federation (FIS) and the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group have agreed an extension of their partnership for further two seasons up to and including the 2009/2010 ski season. Through the agreement, Doppelmayr/Garaventa carries the label of the "Official FIS Product Partner" in the field of ropeway engineering. The agreement is effective immediately and includes the option for further two years after 2010. Through the partnership, FIS and Doppelmayr/Garaventa will work together to promote further development in the area of ropeways in order to ensure implementation of latest technologies, to meet the needs of FIS and its partners as well as to fulfill the changing legal requirements.
Reflecting on the cooperation, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper stated: "We look forward to the continuing partnership with the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group. For FIS, it is important to help our member National Ski Associations, their Local Organizing Committees and partnering ski resorts gain access to the latest know-how and technology in ropeway engineering. This partnership is of special importance for the developing ski nations which truly benefit from the expertise they obtain through interaction with Doppelmayr/Garaventa professionals".

During the past financial year 2007/2008, Doppelmayr Holding AG was able to consolidate its position as world leader in the ropeway market and increase sales volume yet again. With 144 ropeway projects realized from Portland in the west of the USA to Kamtschatka in the far east of Russia clearly demonstrate the Group’s performance. Sales revenues grew by 3.2 percent to EUR 680 million. The two leading ropeway engineering firms Doppelmayr and Garaventa merged in 2002 to become the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Herminator's Return

Hermann Maier, "Herminator", returns to the victory path in Lake Louise. The veteran, who celebrates his 36th birthday next week at Beaver Creek, finished with a clear lead at the Lake Louise Super-Giant Olympic run. Maier's last victory came in 2006 in Kitzbühel SG event.
But the last two seasons the four-time Overall World Cup Champion (1998, 2000, 2001, 2004)only reached a couple of podiums in SG. He also failed at Are 2007 where he made a remarkable statement after finishing a modest 21st in Giant Slalom: "I have enjoyed so much success in my career that I can also handle these sort of results, you also need to experience those less happy moments in a racing career to fully appreciate your past achievements (...) I can't be content but that's part of the deal I guess".
Hermann Maier represents the spirit of the true athletes, in the victory but also in the defeat, overcoming all kind of difficulties. Hermann Maier began entering ski races at the age of five. When he was fifteen, a growth disorder forced him to give up the sport temporarily, during which time he worked as a bricklayer. He began representing Austria internationally in 1996 and achieved immediate success. During the Downhill at the 1998 Nagano Olympics he lost control and took a spectacular fall. Incredibly three days later he raced in the SG and won the gold medal. Three days after that he earned a second gold medal in the Giant Slalom.
His racing career nearly ended following a near-fatal motorcycle accident in August 2001; he collided with a car on his way home from a summer training session in Austria. Doctors nearly amputated his lower leg, but instead Maier underwent massive reconstructive surgery. He returned to international competition in January 2003 in Adelboden. Just two weeks later, he shocked the skiing world with an amazing SG victory in Kitzbühel.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Host City Concept Transportation Plan for Vancouver 2010 Games

Understanding how to get around and help make transportation plans work during the 2010 Winter Games is critical to ensuring a successful and positive experience for everyone, and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) supports the upcoming transportation engagement stakeholder meetings and Games-time initiatives planned by the City of Vancouver to manage transportation in the downtown core.
The temporary Games-time changes to the City’s road network and promotion of walking, cycling and public transportation directly support the call to action to Vancouver business leaders issued last week by John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of VANOC.
Last Tuesday the City of Vancouver announced that its staff will be talking to business, transportation and community groups about temporary changes to the City’s road network leading up to and during the 2010 Winter Games.
"Effective transportation planning and engaging every citizen in making transport workable and even enjoyable is one of the great challenges of organizing the Games. The City of Vancouver is a key partner in this challenge and we commend them on being proactive in developing a transportation plan that will ensure a positive enjoyable experience for everyone in 2010", said Irene Kerr, Vice President, Services and Transportation of VANOC.
The Host City Concept Transportation plan is another step towards ensuring the citizens of Vancouver have the information they need in order to have a positive Games experience. It follows Game Plan 2008, a series of information sessions organized by VANOC designed to help those who live or work near a 2010 Winter Games venue begin to better understand the daily operations of the Games, as well as the City of Vancouver’s ongoing dialogue with business and transportation stakeholders. In the coming months, VANOC will be engaging those businesses and residents who will be directly impacted by the operations of the Games, and will roll out the next phases of Game Plan in the spring and fall of 2009, offering an increasing level of detail as operations plans are finalized.
For more information about the Host City Concept Transportation Plan, visit the City of Vancouver’s Getting Around section of the Host City website at vancouver.ca. Translink’s website is http://www.translink.bc.ca/.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The first Snowmaker successfully operated at Zermatt last week

Zermatt Bergbahnen was the first ski resort to order a new kind of artificial snow system: the IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker. Later Pitztal Gletscherbahnen was the second Company to order, following Zermatt’s footsteps, the snowmaker. IDE Technologies is a world leader and pioneer in water desalination, wastewater concentrators and purifiers. The snowmaking technology comes from the mining industry where it is used to cool the goldmines. Both ski resorts have launched a new era in snowmaking by choosing the IDE All Weather Snowmaker from Israel to deliver large amounts of snow at all ambient temperatures.
The first Snowmaker was assembled and testing in Israel during July 2008. The Snowmakers were shipped from Israel to Slovenia, loaded on a truck convoy and transported to the base stations of the ski resorts. The crews worked hard to transport the heavy equipment up to the mountains. The first unit was lifted to the installation site in Zermatt by cables. The installation was completed in mid November and the Snowmaker was successfully operated last week.
Since the installation site has already been covered by heavy snow for the last few weeks, Zermatt ski resort will commence snowmaking with the new Snowmaker during spring 2009.
The installation of the snowmaker in Pitztal will be completed next month.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in North America

This weekend Lake Louise and Aspen will host the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup .
The Ladies FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in North America at Aspen, Colorado. The historical ski village hosts the Super G and Slalom Races. Two years ago Aspen Mountain celebrated 60 years of skiing. Aspen has emerged into international fame as a glitzy playground of the wealthy and famous. Aspen Mountain abundant precipitations of snow (average snowfall 762 cm) guarantees skiing from early November to mid April. The historical Colorado Ski Resort offers 76 trails (48% Beginner, 26% Intermediate, 26% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 996 metres surrounded by some of the most stunning mountain scenery in the country. Aspen-Snowmass four great mountains (Aspen, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk) is one of the largest ski areas in North America and one of the world's premier alpine destinations. Ski Resorts offers unparalleled nightlife and off-slope activities as well (over 100 bars and restaurants). Aspen Skiing Company operates the four mountains in the Aspen/Snowmass area.
The Lake Louise Ski Area will kick off the 2008/2009 season with one of the most exciting events of the year, the 2008 Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup. The Race Events begins November 29th with the World’s Best Men competing in the World Cup Downhill, followed by the Men’s World Cup Super-G on November 30th. Located in Alberta, Canada, Lake Louise is one of the largest ski areas in North America. With abundant natural snow (average snowfall 454 cm), backed up by Canada's largest snowmaking system (40% of the marked runs), Louise guarantees skiing from early November to mid May. 139 runs (25% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 30% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 991 metres, Lake Louise offer a wide opportunities for skiers from perfectly groomed beginner runs to double black diamonds rated "the best super steeps in the country" (Ski Canada Magazine). The Canadian Ski resort is one of the best options to enjoy magnificent scenery and stunning panoramas.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

‘Snow-vember’ Ends With Huge Snowfalls Across Europe

Skiinfo reports that further huge snowfalls at the start of this week has brought fantastic early-season conditions to ski resorts across Europe.
Resorts in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and Switzerland have reported falls of up to a metre (3.4 feet) in the past five days and more than 200 ski areas across the continent expect to be open this weekend.The Pyrenees are having their best start to the season for many years with snow accumulations passing the two metres (6 feet, 8 inches) mark at several resorts - great news for Andorra as well as resorts on the French and Spanish sides of the range. There has been two days of continuous snowfall bringing from 30 to 80 cm (12 - 32 inches) of fresh powder in the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian mountains of Northern Spain.
Zermatt has more than 160km (100 miles) of piste open, probably the most in Europe at present, but the Espace Killy in France opens on Friday, which offers 300km (187 miles) of piste shared between Tignes and Val d'Isere. On opening day, 300 lucky winners of an online competition will have the areato themselves.

Leading Austrian ski area resorts are opening too including the Arlberg region (Lech picture attached), again with deep snow waiting. The best snow depths are on Austria's glaciers where Solden, Pitztal, Huntertux, Kaunertal and Molltal each have between 135cm (4 feety, 6 inches)and 150cm (5 feet) of snow on upper slopes.
In Scotland the Lecht ski area re-opened on Monday and more snow is expectedat the weekend. In North America, Alberta in Canada continues to have the best of the snow at present, although New England has had nearly a foot (30cm) of fresh snow in time for the important US Thanksgiving holidays. In the West however warm temperatures have limited resorts opening.
Still more snow is expected across Europe over the next week.

Visit http://www.skiinfo.com/ to sign up for powder alarms from your favourite resorts, check current snow conditions and projected snowfalls with snow finder as well as exchange news and views in the Skier’ Lounge. Skiinfo.com is the largest provider of ski resort snow reports across Europe, with snow information from more than 1,200 ski areas updated several times a day. Skiinfo.com is available in several languages including english, spanish, french, german, etc.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gabriella Cilmi and Leona Lewis to launch Ischgl's winter season

Teenage singing sensation Gabriella Cilmi is to launch the 2008-09 winter season at Ischgl, in a concert that will also feature a guest appearance by Leona Lewis. Gabriella, whose debut single Sweet About Me was a worldwide hit after its release last March, will perform in the Tirolean village on Saturday 29 November. Special guest at the concert will be Britain's Leona Lewis.The lead-off single from the album, Bleeding Love, claimed the Number One spot for seven weeks, and the album sold a million copies in the UK in just five weeks. Leona received four prestigious nominations at the last Brit Awards, the UK equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Leona first found stardom by winning British talent show The X Factor in 2006.
Concerts like this are primarily a marketing ploy for the ski resorts. Thirteen years ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year to open and close the winter season. Elton John was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous season closing concerts, back in 1995. Since then the resort has hosted Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Atomic Kitten, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, Lionel Richie, Pink, the Scissor Sisters, the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna and Elton John again last year. That kind of events is also part of a strategy for resorts to offer more than just skiing to attract a wider client base.
Entrance to the concert, which kicks off at 6pm, will be by valid lift-pass. A oneday lift ticket for 29 November will be 55euros (covering skiing and the concert). A two-day lift ticket will cost 74.50 euros.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

2008 Winter Season is Best on Record in New Zealand

Huge snow falls provided a solid white base for the best ever winter season in New Zealand. Ski Areas Association members sold 1,402,000 passes, up 116,000 from last year‘s 1,286,000.
The 2008 result surpasses by 1,000 the previous record of 1,401,000 ski area passes sold in 2006.
Skiers and snowboarders experienced fantastic snow conditions at all areas during the season. Ski areas were well underway with most lifts and terrain open for the July school holidays thanks to both natural and machine-made snow.
More snow than usual fell during the rest of the season. Skiers and riders had top quality conditions until October in the South Island and mid November in the North Island when the season ended.
"Providing quality conditions for skiers and riders is paramount especially at peak times such as holidays and weekends", says Ski Areas Association spokesperson Miles Davidson. "Everyone is more enthusiastic and wants to participate more often when conditions are right".
Snowmaking is making a huge difference to the industry. Areas can open slopes in June in time for the school holidays in early July. Snow bases can be built up when conditions allow, resulting in a longer season. It also provides the ability to improve snow quality throughout the season particularly in high traffic areas.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stockholm Big Air

Last weekend the second Big Air of the 2009 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup took place in a snowy Stockholm. Once again and for the third time in a row, the swedish capital hosted this major event in the Stockholm Stadion which was built for the Olympic Summer Games in 1912.
More than 70 riders from 14 nations made the event a highlight of the in-city-contests. Also in 2008, admission to the LG Winterjam was free and the event was shown live on TV. 20,000 fans gather at season's second city Big Air in the Swedish capital.
After Peetu Piiroinen victory in London about one month ago, another Finn, Janne Korpi, took home the Gold Medal in this second Big Air. The 22-year-old winner of the Saas-Fee half-pipe and 2005 Junior World Champion (HP) got back to business and celebrated his fifth World Cup triumph and second back-to-back win at the Olympic Stadion in Stockholm. Chris Soerman (SWE) and Seppe Smits (BEL) rounded up the podium.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay

The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay will begin its 106-day national journey towards the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games on October 30, 2009. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay route will be the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history, stretching over 45,000 kilometres within Canada. Upon its conclusion, the Olympic Flame will have been welcomed in over 1,000 communities and passed within a one-hour drive of more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
Designed to reach the greatest number of Canadians, the relay will begin the countdown to the XXI Olympic Winter Games, spanning Canada to engage and inspire through the power of the Olympic Flame. On February 12, 2010, the flame’s pan-Canadian journey will culminate as it arrives in Vancouver, lighting the Olympic Cauldron in a dramatic and moving Opening Ceremony before a global audience of billions.
The Olympic Torch Relay will begin in Victoria, British Columbia before heading to the Far North, becoming the first torch relay to bring the Olympic Flame within 900 kilometres of the North Pole through its stop in Alert, Nunavut, the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited community. The relay will then head to North America’s easternmost place, historic Cape Spear in St. John’s, Newfoundland before making a cross-Canada journey west to Vancouver.
"Mapping out this route, we wanted to include as many Canadians as possible", said John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). "It is our dream to unite this country and bring Canadians closer together to rediscover the many cultures and perspectives that make up our nation — to celebrate Canada. With Glowing Hearts we will share the Olympic Flame with young and old, northern and southern, eastern and western and everyone in between — no one left out. A truly unifying Canadian celebration".
Coca-Cola and RBC, the relay’s presenting partners, have made significant contributions that enable the torch relay to make its journey around Canada. Holding the exclusive rights for the public Olympic Torchbearer application programs, they have developed nation-building initiatives that give Canadians a chance to become a torchbearer. Canadians interested in becoming one of the lucky 12,000 torchbearers will have several opportunities to apply beginning today at rbc.com/carrythetorch and icoke.ca.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dynastar Lange launch web photo contest

Dynastar Lange have launched their first web photo contest called the Legend Days Photo Contest, the purpose of which is to promote the participants' amateur photographs on the Dynastar Web site at the same time as the Dynastar brand. The three 1st prizes (one first prize per category) are three days' dream skiing in the company of skiing legends in Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley accompanied by three athletes sponsored by Skis Dynastar (Aurélien Ducroz, Jean-Pierre Vidal and others ) all inclusive. Other prizes for runners-up include skis, ski boots and backpacks. To enter the competition, skiers are invited to upload their best pictures, in which they are the subject.
There are three categories: Action, Lifestyle and Unique. The photographs must be uploaded according to the following limits: maximum size of the photo file 250 Kb, pixel size: 820 x548 and pixels- file format accepted: .jpg
The competition will run from 13 October 2008 to 13 January 2009. Web users will vote for the best shot in each category. The best 20 pictures in each category will be selected and a jury made of Dynastar Lange team skiers and other experts will choose the winner in each category.
The result of the competition shall be announced to the public on 1st February 2009 on the Dynastar Web site and at the ISPO 2009 trade fair in Munich, Germany.

Video Portrait Aurélien Ducroz