Friday, May 30, 2008

Organizers for the 2012 & 2013 FIS World Championships elected

At its meeting in the 46th International Ski Congress (Cape Town, South Africa), the FIS Council elected the organizers of the FIS Ski Flying World Championships 2012 and of the 2013 FIS Alpine, Nordic, Snowboard and Freestyle World Championships. The appointed organizers are:

For the first time in FIS's history, the announcement of the elected organizers for the 2012/2013 FIS World Championships was available through live web streaming (live TV on the Internet) on several sites including the FIS website http://www.fis-ski.com/.
The ski season is starting now in Tiffindell, South Africa's only Ski Resort.

Vail Resorts withdrawing from Colorado Ski Country USA

Vail Resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone) says it is withdrawing from the trade group Colorado Ski Country USA (CSC), the 26-member trade association that has been plugging the Centennial State as a snow sports mecca for 45 years, because of "philosophical differences with other members over the future direction of the association".
The fissure centers on the trade group's future role and Vail Resorts' desire that the association behave more like NSAA, California Ski Industries Association, and others that concentrate their mission on public policy, advocacy, and government affairs, not marketing and public relations. Vail Resorts President Rob Katz said "the change in Colorado resort ownership in the past several years, coupled with a rapidly changing economy and competitive market place, has necessitated a review of the right future for Colorado Ski Country". He said the Company feels the marketing function should be handled by "working collaboratively with the Colorado Tourism Office".
CSC a not-for-profit trade association describes itself as a marketing, communications and public policy arm for Colorado ski resorts. CSC spokesman Nick Bohnenkamp said CSC's Gold Pass program, its Gems of the Rockies marketing effort on behalf of its smaller, not-necessarily-destination members, and other programs will survive the hit.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Honouring Edmund Hillary

This post is a tribute to the legendary mountaineer, adventurer and philanthropist Sir Edmund Hillary on the day he reached, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the summit of Mount Everest. Sir Edmund's greatest project was his Himalayan Trust, set up in the 1960s, to help improve the lives of the Sherpas and hill people of Nepal. Even more than Everest, this will remain a perpetual memorial to his life and achievements. From 1966 Hillary raised funds and made numerous visits to the Himalayas to build built schools, hospitals and other facilities in the mountains.
Sir Edmund Hillary died on 11 January 2008, after a heart attack in Auckland City Hospital, aged 88. He was farewelled at a state funeral – an unprecedented honour for a private citizen – on 22 January.
All we love the mountains and adventure need to remember Sir Edmund words: "The explorers of the past were great men and we should honour them. But let us not forget that their spirit lives on. It is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, not for what he may find".

Radio New Zealand: Documentaries about the Life of Sir Edmund and audio from the State Funeral.

ONE News. Sir Edmund Hillary obituary:


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ultratravel best ski resorts

Recently Ultravel, a travel magazine by the Telegraph Media Group, announced the results of the second Ultratravel readers poll, in which readers chose the best 100 airlines, hotels, travel companies, countries, cruise companies, spas and ski resorts in the world of luxury travel.
The Award Ceremony was held last May 13 at the InterContinental London Park Lane.

The results in the Ski Resort category were:

Winner: Zermatt, Switzerland
Runners-up:

Last year the winner was Whistler followed by Chamonix, Courchevel, Val d'Isère and Zermatt.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Montenvers Train Celebrates its 100 Anniversary

The Chemin de fer du Montenvers, a mountain cog railway in Chamonix celebrates its hundredth anniversary. The line (5.1 km long) runs from the centre of Chamonix at 1,035 m, to the Hotel de Montenvers station, at the Mer de Glace, at an altitude of 1913 m. The Mer de Glace, located on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc Massif, is the longest glacier in France (14 km and 200 metres deep). Trains run at 14 to 20 kilometers per hour and the journey last 20 minutes. The line opened in 1909 and was worked by steam locomotives until it was electrified in 1953. With over a million passengers each year it is one of the Valley's great attractions.
For the Centenary, a nice programme -Montenvers Soirées- are being organized twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays in July, August and September. The high spot will be the celebration of the anniversary itself on August 9th, 10th and 11th with the Opera Perfomances Opéra en Fête.

Montenvers Railway Video. The train is operated by the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc.
Rhône-Alpes TV: Chamonix Mont-Blanc et les glaciers:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Venice-St. Moritz Tour

The new Venice-St. Moritz-Tour connects the Adriatic laguna city with St. Moritz / Engadin in the Swiss Alps. The Tour lasts around 8 hours on a daily and environmentally friendly rail and PostBus journey across beautiful landscapes. A world-class cultural, educational and panoramic route visiting: Venice and its Lagoon (UNESCO World Heritage Site); Padua (The Botanical garden, UNESCO World Heritage Site); Vicenza (The city and the Palladian villas of the Veneto, UNESCO World Heritage Sites); Verona (The historic center, UNESCO World Heritage Site); Bozen, Meran and Glurns in South Tyrol; Val Müstair (The Benedictine Convent of St John UNESCO World Heritage Site); the Swiss National Park situated in the Engadine and Müstair valleys of the canton of Graubünden (UNESCO Biosphere candidate 2008); St. Moritz / Engadin Switzerland’s only Olympic venue (1928 and 1948), the cradle of international winter tourism and mountain sports and finally Albula – St. Moritz – Bernina (The Rhaetian Railway RhB, UNESCO candidate 2008).

Two Guided Tour packages (June 18 – 22 and September 24 – 28, 2008) will be available with the following programme:
Day 1: Venice (individual arrival), overnight in Venice
Day 2: Vicenza and Verona, overnight in Bozen
Day 3: Bozen, Vinschgau and Münstertal (overnight)
Day 4: Convent of St. John, Swiss National Park, St. Moritz (overnight)
Day 5: Individual journey home

The new Tour is the ideal complement to the established railway classics of the Glacier (I posted about it in March), and Bernina Express routes. The Bernina Express allows you to cross the Alps from North to South from Chur/Davos to Tirano/Lugano through St. Moritz, the Bernina Pass and Poschiavo .




Saturday, May 17, 2008

Upgrades to BC Place Stadium

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the nightly Victory Ceremonies presentations and the Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games will be held in the 60,000-seat BC Place Stadium. The Olympic venue is located on the north side of False Creek in the heart of Vancouver. This will be the first time in Olympic Games history that the Olympic Ceremonies will be staged in the comfort of an indoor venue. The enclosed venue offers many advantages in addition to protection from winter weather, including an unprecedented opportunity to stretch the boundaries of ceremonies’ spectacle using state-of-the-art lighting, projection, sound and special effects technology (in addition to the in-stadium spectators, an estimated three billion television viewers are expected to watch the Opening Ceremony on February 12).
Upgrades to BC Place Stadium will occur in two phases. Renovations to suites, seating, washrooms and concession stands, and enhancement of the existing roof liner will occur before the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. A new retractable roof will be put in place after the 2010 Games.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) welcomed the Province of British Columbia’s decision to upgrade BC Place Stadium facilities before the 2010 Winter Games, and to move ahead with a retractable roof, in the facility’s life beyond the Games. The announced pre-Games upgrades will ensure the facility is in top form in time for the 2010 Winter Games. VANOC’s financial contribution towards the stadium upgrades will be used in large part to upgrade access for people with disabilities.
John Furlong, VANOC's Chief Executive Officer said: "We're fine with it and I think that the decision is the right one (...) We will have the stadium in the best form it can be in. It will be more comfortable, it will be more accessible. I think everything will be upgraded".
BC Place Stadium is owned and operated by PavCo (BC Pavilion Corporation), a Crown Corporation of the government in the Province of British Columbia.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ski Helmets

Helmet is an essential protection measure. I started using it years ago and now I never ski without it. Dr. Stewart Levy and Dr. John Nichols of the InterMountain Neurosurgery and Neuroscience in Denver (Colorado) conclude that helmets reduce the risk of sustaining a brain injury of any kind by about 60 percent to 65 percent and mean an 80 percent reduction in fatalities. Helmets seem to help the most in these cases because they turn what could be a direct impact into more of a glancing blow and instead of the energy being focused in one point, it’s spread out more over the head.
Findings from studies conducted in Canada and Norway, as well as the most recently conducted study in the U.S., "have all found evidence that ski helmets reduce the risk of head injury," Professor Peter Cummings of the University of Washington in Seattle told Reuters Health. In the U.S. study, investigators compared injured helmeted and non-helmeted skiers and snowboarders treated by ski patrols at 3 western U.S. ski resorts during the 2000 to 2005 seasons. A total of 4,224 had head, face, or neck injuries, while 17,674 received treatment for injuries below the neck. Overall, 21, 25, and 24 percent of those who sustained head, face, and neck injuries, respectfully, wore helmets, as did 22 percent of those sustaining injuries to other body areas.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Targeting Families II

Continuing with the topic I posted about yesterday, I found and summarized an interesting article in Forbes.com wrote by Rebecca Ruiz.
She noticed "It's not uncommon for kids to be jet-setters nowadays. Unlike the family vacations their grandparents took, likely by car to the countryside or a national park, today's young travelers tag along with their parents on cross-country or international flights to isolated destinations, metropolitan cities and theme parks. With more flights to more destinations today, family vacations can easily involve globe-trotting (...) Since parents have become more adventurous, aided by the standardization of travel to once-remote locales, destinations that were once off-limits for youngsters are now popular for family travelers". A recent poll conducted by Travelocity.com surveyed 853 travelers of varying ages and found that today's grandparents took a plane 4% of the time to reach a vacation destination; families now travel by air 63% of the time. But the poll also found that destinations and activities are noticeably different. While more than one-third of families once vacationed at a campground or national park, only one-quarter of families do so now. "Families are not doing any one thing universally" says Amy Ziff, an editor-at-large at Travelocity.com, who devised the poll.
Samantha McClure, owner of Austin, Texas-based travel agency Small World Travel, who specializes in custom family vacations, says her clients are looking for quality time with their children instead of a "kid's club" experience where young ones are separated from mom and dad most of the time. "They're looking for memories they're going to take away".
Despite the belt-tightening, families are still seeking "really cool and unique vacation spots", says Mary-Jo Lipman, a spokeswoman for Orbitz.com and member of the Web site's advice-giving Parent Panel. Lipman says that parents should make the distinction between destinations that are kid-friendly and those that are kid-focused. Neither is superior, but services and programs for children will vary. Theme parks, for example, cater to kids non-stop, which Lipman sees as kid-friendly. More hotels and resorts, on the other hand, are offering nanny services and creative, age-appropriate activities, which Lipman considers kid-focused.
Regardless of the destination, Lipman says parents should use the valuable vacation time to unwind. "We have such a wired, connected, hectic society and work schedule", she says, "that vacation is all about reconnecting with yourself and your family".

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Targeting Families

Families are a main market for Ski Resorts. I found this video in Fox News.com Travel Section about an interesting book by Emily Kaufman: The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel. It can be usefull to understand what families need for a Family Friendly Vacation.

This are her Tips:

1.- Pick something that offers something for everyone
2.- Define the Vacation Experience
3.- Define your budget ahead of time
4.- Plan ahead of time (Use Internet)

Familiy Travel DOs & DON'Ts:

  • Don't Overschedule
  • Don't Overpack
  • Don't be unrealistic about what you are going to accomplish in a day

Family Travel Road Trip Rules:

  • Be Prepared: Pack & Load Car the night before/Bring a "Boredom Bag" to keep kids busy/Make Technology your friend
  • Be Realistic: Start Trip at a reasonable time/Make "Getting there" part of the trip/Take frequent breaks during the drive
  • Be Flexible: Remember you set the tone for the pace of the vacation/Don't get stressed out


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Open Skies and Global Skiers

The Open Skies Agreement was signed in Washington D.C. on April 30, 2007 and went into effect last March 30, 2008. For the first time, European airlines can fly without restrictions from any point in the European Union to any point in the United States and viceversa. Open Skies stimulates full competition and is expected to result in better choices and cheaper airfares.
As skiers we can expect new opportunities and affordable tickets to visit the US ski resorts. One year ago Antonio López de Ávila Director of the Executive Master in Tourism Management (IE Business School) remarked "many US States, as well as Europe, have remained isolated to some extent for the other continent. New economic, social and cultural relationships -in services, tourism and various products exchanged by the two regions- will now open and grow". Increased competition will result in lower fares, but not inmediately. Demand continues to be incredibly strong on transatlantic routes and it will take a while for supply to catch up. That, and record prices for oil, will keep fares up, but added capacity should help to lower fares in the future. "We don't even begin to get a glimmer of the possibilities of open-market competition yet", said Jerry Chandler, who writes Cheapflights.com's travel blog and has been tracking the new open-skies flights. "There could be a lot of flourishing of routes in markets that currently don't exist, especially from smaller US cities to European hubs".
The new air travel scenario links with the actual trend of the "Go Anywhere" Global Skier. Skiers are looking to try something new and different (hit the best powder and the challenging slopes) although that means to travel thousand miles away: "Ski resorts all over the world now can be reached by skiers all over the world. All who can click a mouse can find information on any resort in the world and probably be booked on a plane to be there within the day. It also means that resorts are slowly losing their regional characteristics and all striving to reach the best international standards in all respects. There will, of course, always be local markets, loyal markets, but still, there is the growing trend of the "go anywhere" global skier".

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Raid Millet Chamonix Mont Blanc

From today to Sunday 11th and for the 5th consecutive year in May, the Raid Millet Chamonix Mont Blanc attracts sportsmen who wants to test their endurance. This 4 day race is not for the faint-hearted: combining trail running, mountain biking, orienteering, snowshoeing, rope work and a surprise trial it is guaranteed to put even the fittest of athletes through their paces. Each team consists of 2 competitors and 1 support member and the race passes through Aiguilles Rouges, Servoz, St Gervais, Bionnassay, Les Houches, Vallorcine, Switzerland and of course Chamonix (150 kilometres and 9,000 metres drop).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Elton John's concert in Ischgl

The Elton John's concert in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl was a complete success. Concerts like this are primarily a marketing ploy for the ski resorts, and they appear to be successful. "It was a bit of a gamble to begin with and a large investment for the resort but it has really paid off", says Lynsey Devon, a spokeswoman for tour operator Inghams. "It has really put the resort on the map and brought an increasing number of skiers in". Getting performers like Elton John is a expensive bet. It is thought Sir Elton John commanded a fee of around £500,000 for his set. They also had to meet a 60-page list of "personal requirements". Elton John specified that he must have Persian rugs and large non-leather sofas to relax on before and after the show. He wanted palm trees over two metres tall as well as a range of flowers, specifying there should not be a lily in sight .
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, and the ploy appears to be paying off. 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 and Rihanna.
That kind of events is also part of a strategy for resorts to offer more than just skiing to attract a wider client base. For the 25,000 skiers at the afternoon concert Sir Elton was a bonus to the spring skiing. And thousands of fans put their skis on and went to hit the slopes, making the last few runs before Ischgl closed for the winter.
"The resort pronounced Sir Elton's concert a huge triumph and that another major international act would play next year. Judging by its success, more resorts may follow suit and concerts on ski slopes could become more common" (James Cove, BBC News).

Friday, May 2, 2008

Elton John closes the winter season in Ischgl

Tomorrow Sir Elton John will perform the season closing Top Of The Mountain concert in Ischgl. It will be Sir Elton's second appearance at Ischgl. He was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous season closing concerts, back in 1995. The concert will be at Idalp, at the top station of the main gondola from the village. Concert-goers just need a liftpass to get up to the venue at 2320m. The concert is on the last weekend of the ski season at Ischgl, with the slopes open for the last day on Sunday 4 May.
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 five 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 new Fimbabahn cable car. The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover.