Saturday, February 28, 2009
The snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Susan Moll won the first day of competition with an excited crowd cheering on all the athletes and their amazing runs. Jeremy Jones, the emblematic rider from Squaw Valley, mastered the terrain with a fluid line and great jumps. Jonas Emery from Switzerland took second with one of the most original lines of the day coming down the center. Xavier de Le Rue from France, Freeride World Champion 2008, opened up the one of the toughest lines of the day with complete control in his jumps.
For the women, Susan Moll, winner of the Freeride World Qualifier in Crested Butte, won again today ahead of the favorite from Germany, Aline Bock, winner of the Nissan Russian Adventure – Sochi, and Charlotte Hagen from Norway. The women truly impressed the spectators present at the bottom of the face, especially the Freeride World Champion 2008, Elyse Saugstad. She won the women’s ski competition hands down with a fast run that could have competed with the men. Marja Persson from Sweden took second taking a similar line as Elyse. She was followed by Jen Ashton from Canada who went for the steepest area of the face taking third.
With the most original and risky line of the day topped off with an incredible jump, the Swede Reine Barkered surprised everyone taking first ahead of the favorites Henrik Windstedt also from Sweden, Freeride World Champion 2008, and Aurelien Ducroz from France, second at the Nissan Russian Adventure, who took the same line. Cody Townsend, the rider from Squaw Valley and favorite, took fourth with just a few points from the podium. Impatient to take on the Tram Face, Cody has already proclaimed "the Tram Face will separate the men from the boys!".
Friday, February 27, 2009
The Nissan Tram Face event is the second of four Freeride World Tour stops: Nissan Russian Adventure in Sochi (Russia, 20-25 Jan), Nissan Tram Face in Squaw Valley (USA, 26 Feb-5 Mar) and the Nissan Freeride in Tignes (France, 8-14 Mar). The final contest will take place in Switzerland with the mythical Nissan Xtreme 09 in Verbier (20-29 Mar).
Since the resort was opened in 1949, the steep rock face below Tower 1 of the Cable Car (known as the "Tram Face") has remained strictly off-limits. Its steep and seemingly un-skiable pitch, permanent closure, and tantalizing location in perfect view from Squaw Valley’s Village and base area, have made it a coveted descent among the freeride scene. History will be made this year when the world’s best get a chance to take a crack at it during the Nissan Tram Face – Squaw Valley USA."The Tram Face at Squaw Valley is legendary terrain that many have dreamed to ride but few have dared to.Having the first ever competition on Tram Face is like the first time Monaco was raced in Formula 1, Teahupoo was surfed and the Masters was played at Augusta. Opening up the off-limits terrain for the competition is a dream come true for any person that has ever driven into Squaw Valley and seen the amazing Face that dominates the mountain", said Cody Townsend, Squaw Valley USA skier and FWT rider.
Squaw Valley USA is one of Americas largest and high tech resorts attracting over 600,000 visitors every year.
Located between the Karavanke Mountains and the Julian Alps, Kranjska Gora is Slovenian best known ski center. The ski area of Kranjska, from the hill of Vitranc to the village of Podkoren and Planica, offers 6 chairlifts and 12 drag lifts serving 21 pistes for skiers of different skiing abililities (15 blue, 3 red and 3 black). The ski runs extend along the slopes of Vitranc at an altitude of 800 to 1215 metres.
Bansko is by far the most well-known ski resort in South Eastern Europe. Located just 160 kilometers away from Sofia, the contemporary town of Bansko is a unique mixture of old traditions and modern style, where new-built hotels and apartment houses are separated from more than 100 years old ethnographic houses by just a tiny, stone-paved street. The town centre is a listed World Heritage Site.
The ski pistes are located in two main ski centres: Chalin Valog (1100-1600 m) and Shiligarnika (1700-2500 m). They are approximately 10 km above the town on the northern slopes of Pirin Mountain, and are easily accessible for approximately 25 minutes ride on the new Gondola lift which starts from Bansko. The total length of the marked pistes is 70 kilometers. During the recent years a multi-million euros investment in a brand new skiing area has been made by Yulen, the management company of the resort. Bansko has the best snow record and the longest ski season (15 Dec - 15 May) of all Bulgarian ski resorts. During the last couple of years this resort is under a massive investment process with new hotels and resort facilities being under construction. A brand new resort area with super luxury hotels and holiday apartments is being developed just opposite the Gondola lift, which also makes Bansko the resort with the best hotels.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Nissan Tram Face event is the second of four Freeride World Tour stops (Nissan Russian Adventure in Sochi-Russia, Nissan Tram Face, Squaw Valley-USA, Nissan Freeride de Tignes-France and the grand finale at the Nissan Xtreme Verbier-Switzerland). Initially scheduled 27th Feb to 5th March, now will be comprised of two days of competition in order to provide the best conditions possible to the riders. The first day of competition is now scheduled for Friday, February 26th. There are two faces possible for this stage opening: Silverado and National Geographic Bowl. For now, the weather conditions are good in Squaw Valley USA, however, the predictions show a storm front coming through during the weekend. The organizers have decided to go ahead with a first day of competition leaving a window for a second day on the mythical Tram Face early in the week.
Located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA became world-famous in 1960 as host to the VIII Winter Olympics. As host to the Freeride World Tour’s North American stop, the mountain will truly live up to its reputation as the world’s best natural amphitheater when the Freeride World Tour athletes compete on the resort’s infamous Tram Face. In Squaw Valley’s 59 years of operation, the steep rock face below Tower 1 of the Cable Car (known as the "Tram Face") has remained strictly off-limits. Its steep and seemingly un-skiable pitch, permanent closure, and tantalizing location in perfect view from Squaw Valley’s Village and base area, have made it a coveted descent among the freeride scene. History will be made this year when the world’s best get a chance to take a crack at it during the Nissan Tram Face – Squaw Valley USA.
"The Tram Face at Squaw Valley is legendary terrain that many have dreamed to ride but few have dared to.Having the first ever competition on Tram Face is like the first time Monaco was raced in Formula 1, Teahupoo was surfed and the Masters was played at Augusta. Opening up the off-limits terrain for the competition is a dream come true for any person that has ever driven into Squaw Valley and seen the amazing Face that dominates the mountain", said Cody Townsend, Squaw ValleyUSA skier (5th of the 2008 World Freeride Tour).
Joining the 36 best skiers and snowboarders already qualified to take part in the event, 16 "Wild Cards" have been granted for the Nissan Tram Face in Squaw Valley USA.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The resulting heavy snow means that the avalanche situation is critical with the avalanche warning level at 5, the highest possible level, in the North Alps at present. Houses were evacuated and sections of important roads closed because of the avalanche risk. Some schools have closed and the Obersteiermark region has declared a state of emergency, the 750 inhabitants of Radmer are still marooned after 24 hours with the road to their village was cut off, several others have the same problem.
The Austrian military made their first helicopter flight to supply 500 people in the marooned ski resort of Planneralm near Schladming since the road into the ski resort was closed due to the avalanche danger. A second ski resort, Hochfügen in the Zillertal is also currently marooned because roads are blocked, about 700 tourists are reported to be in the village. In Lower Austria more than 1000 members of the volunteer fire brigade have been shovelling snow off rooftops in half a dozen villages to prevent them from breaking under the heavy snow. For skiers it’s great news for off-piste powder once the avalanche risk lowers, and even on the pistes there’s great snow, which now looks certain to last well beyond the scheduled end of the season. The Altaussee Loser-Sandling ski area received the most snow in the past week, a whopping 190cm (6.3 feet) and internationally better known resorts were not far behind with Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang adding 175cm (nearly six feet), Wilder Kaiser Brixental 165cm (5.5 feet) and Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn 137cm (4.5 feet). Altaussee Loser-Sandling now has the most snow in the country with 450cm (15 feet) lying on upper slopes and Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn not far behind with 407cm (13.5 feet).
Germany has also seen heavy snowfalls (averaging 70cm/2.3 feet in recent days). Snow depth on the Zugspitze at Garmisch has reached the four-metre (13.3 feet) mark. There are more than 20 resorts in Germany now with a snow base of two metres (66.3 feet) or more.
For Switzerland the picture is less dramatic but there has been some fresh snow, especially in the north Alps. Zermatt has the top snow depth as usual with 715cm (24 feet) on its glacier. Gibswil has received 210cm (seven feet) in the past week and Laax 75cm (2.5 feet) setting off a Skiinfo powder alarm yesterday (Tuesday 24 February) when 20cm (eight inches) fell.
It has been a quiet week in France, with the biggest snowfalls averaging 40cm (16 inches), primarily in the northern Alps. This is good news for the region which unusually has had less snow so far this winter than the Pyrenees and the South Alps. Avoriaz has had one of the biggest falls of the past seven days with 50 cm (20 inches) accumulated. The greatest snow depth is still in the Pyrenees though with 450cm (15 feet) at Cauterets.
Italy has also had a quieter week for snowfall than in recent weeks, with most of the new snow (up to a maximum of 30cm / 12 inches) falling on the middle and south of the country again rather than so much in the Alps and Dolomites which still have huge snow bases from earlier falls at most resorts. At least another 48 hours of cold weather with snow to low levels is expected in the southerly latitudes. The greatest snow depths remain in the north though with the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale at 550cm (18 feet), Alagna Valsesia at 490cm (16.3 feet) and Arabba Marmolada at 480cm (16 feet).
In the Pyrenees the three month snow deluge has slowed for a week at least although the base depths for most resorts remain at between 2.5 – 4.5m (8- 15 feet). In Spain Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth with more than four metres (13 feet) on their upper slopes there are now more than 100 kilometres of piste open here for the first time. This weekend the resort will host the FIS Freestyle European Cup and the Freestyle National Championships.
In Scandinavia conditions are continuing to improve in Sweden where many resorts now have more than a metre (over three feet) of snow lying. There have also been some healthy falls of fresh snow in the past seven days, with the leading resort of Are leading the way, reporting 36cm (14 inches) of new snow.
In Scotland the thaw which set in a week ago, a week after some of the best snowfalls in years has sadly continued leaving very little skiable terrain left at all five areas, though at time of compilation, each was managing to scrape together a few hundred metres of skiing on a narrowing run or two. However fresh snow is expected today.
Eastern Europe has had some much needed snow and the depths at Bansko have passed the two metre (Seven feet) mark on upper slopes. Coverage at Borovets has also improved and Pamporovo, which was suffering, has reached 90cm (three feet) on upper slopes too.
Canada has been seeing fresh snowfall on both sides of the country this week. On the East Mont Sutton in Quebec has had more than a metre (3.3 feet) of snow in the past seven days. On the west over 18 inches (45cm) of snow has fallen in the past 72 hours at Whistler, taking snow depths at mid-mountain past the five-feet-six-inches (165cm) mark.
In the US the heavy snow has continued on the West Coast with Squaw Valley receiving a few more feet to clock up a spectacular ten feet (three metres) in February to date. The snow is back in the east too with Sunday River in Maine reporting another foot (30cm). Killington in Vermont, which says it has had more visitors so far this season than last year, is running 15 inches (38cm) ahead of the total snowfall (215 inches/5.38m) at this point in the season last year, which was one of the best ever for snowfall.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
A destination for skiers from the Calgary area and Europe for years, the Powder Highway has mostly been an untapped resource for U.S. skiers and boarders. Extreme skiers know about the region — it is the birthplace of heli and cat skiing, after all — but the vacation crowd has stayed away, in part because it wasn't easy to reach. Unlike bigger resorts filled with high-end art galleries and trendy shops, the towns of the Powder Highway have remained relatively unchanged, funky little hamlets filled with laid-back residents who still use "eh" to punctuate sentences. "This is very grass roots, classic Canadian", says Ken Wilder, business manager for Panorama Mountain Village, to msnbc Travel. "It's not a sort of Gucci kind of experience. It's very real".
The snow along the Powder Highway is dry and fluffy, creating pristine champagne powder. There's a lot of it — most places average around 30 feet (over 9 meters) a year — so skiers can often find fresh powder three or four days after a big dump.
There's a wide variety of terrain, too, from the family-oriented groomers of Fairmont to the shoots, open pitches and tree skiing at Fernie. At Panorama, skiers can hit the backcountry from the resort's onsite heli-plex, then catch a couple black-diamond tree runs on the main mountain's Taynton Bowl in the afternoon.
And with so many options in close proximity, skiers and boarders can bounce from one resort to another and come back for 10 straight years with a different itinerary each time. "We're encouraging people to have another ski opportunity", says Laurie Reed of Kootenay Rockies Tourism to msnbc Travel. "It's another option, an opportunity to see where some of these great backcountry adventures were born".
Monday, February 23, 2009
Cypress Mountain is the Official Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding Venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Cypress Mt is one of the most popular skiing areas in British Columbia, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The 2010 Winter Games upgrades (improvements to Cypress Mountain are estimated at $16.7 million) will enhance the Cypress Mountain experience for both recreational and competitive users. For example, the new base lodge, which will be a very nice legacy of the Games and a great new spot to chill between runs, will be up and running since this season. Venue upgrades include modifications to existing runs, a new in-ground halfpipe, a snowmaking system and water reservoir, lighting, a new freestyle site for aerials and moguls, and a parallel giant slalom course.
Cypress has 51 downhill winter skiing and riding runs (Beginners 17%, Intermediate 27%, Advanced/Expert 55%) accessed by 7 chair lifts, including a magic carpet surface lift in the kids camp area, 2 parks and a Olympic Superpipe, 19 kms of track set Cross Country Skiing trails, a Snowtubing park with a tube tow lift, and amazingly popular snowshoeing tours around the historic Hollyburn Lodge built in 1926. Cypress Mt claims rights to the most vertical (2,010 ft/613 m) out of all the city mountains and the most terrain as well (1,482 acres/600 hectares). This is a great mountain big enough to spend te entire day or to hit for a quick fix of riding before or after (since this season there will be also more night riding available) on Vancouver.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Panoramic views of the city, ocean and mountains unfold as the Skyride, North America’s largest aerial tram system, whisks visitors to the mountaintop, 3,700 feet (1,128 m.) above the city.
Once you reach the Alpine station, you can choose from 26 ski runs for varying levels of experience (3 green / 15 blue / 6 black diamond / 2 double black diamond) served by 5 lifts (2 high-speed quad chairs / 2 quad chairs / 1 magic carpet). Skiers and snowboarders share these hills during the day and evening with select runs and times available for thrilling night skiing.
Grouse Mt Manager and former pro rider Dave Cashen, says the great thing about the resort is that you can have a good time, any time: "On pow days, you can enjoy Grouse's great fall line on the back runs, or on the days when it's hard-packed, you cruise over the rollers. And with our two terrain parks, there's always something for everyone".
One of the best experiences for Grouse Mt visitors could be dining in The Observatory, Grouse Mountain's finest restaurant (accessible via the Skyride). Chef Dino L. Gazzola offers his Italian based, west coast inspired cuisine using the finest and freshest regional ingredients available.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Mount Seymour is located just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, in the city's North Shore area. A short drive to the base village allows quick access to the winter park for family fun tobogganing and snow tubing, over 10km of marked and maintained snowshoe trails (the Snowshoe Adventure Centre offers a variety of snowshoe tours and programs, from beginner interpretive tours to chocolate fondue tours, fitness programs, full moon tours and much more), and instant access, via five lifts (3 double chairs, one double tow-rope, one magic carpet), to over 23 downhill ski and snowboard runs of varying lengths and levels of difficulty (Beginners 40% Intermediate 40% Advanced/Expert 20%). Mount Seymour is also home to its renowned three terrain parks, Northlands, Young Guns and Mushroom Terrain Parks, boasting over forty snow, rail and box features from small to x-large, as well as a half pipe.
With a reputation for receiving the most reliable and consistent snowfall of the three north shore mountains (Annual Average Snowfall: 1000cm), it's a favourite with a lot of local riders because of the big-mountain terrain, hikes into the backcountry, and a quieter scene. Over 60% of Mt Seymour are riders!. Many of Canada's best-known pros have come-up riding Mt Seymour, including Sandbox filmaker and former pro rider Kevin Sansalone, Snowboard Canada Women's Annual creative director and former pro rider Roberta Rodger, and Devun Walsh.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The major event this year will be the concert of the band Subsonica, that will perform on the stage of Sestriere Saturday, February 21st. It will be a gorgeous day, a unique event not to be missed: start supporting the World Cup big champions, take a stroll in the expo village, have a free polenta and sausage dish, have a dance in the snowpark, take a ride with the Abarth professional drivers, join the Subsonica in concert and finally go wild in the Tabata disco until dawn.
The ski resort is located in the Piemonte region at 2,035 metres on the Col of Sestriere at the foot of Mount Sises and is surrounded by Mount Banchetta and Mount Fraiteve. Sestriere is a popular skiing resort, together with the villages of Claviere, Sauze d'Oulx, Cesana Torinese, San Sicario, Pragelato and the French Montgenèvre, it makes up the Via Lattea skiing area. It offers more that 200 skiing connected courses, that is a linear extension equal to 400 Km, whose altitude ranges from 1350 metres in Cesana to 2800 metres on top of the Motta course. 60% of the skiing area is covered by the planned snowmaking system net.
Sestriere regularly hosts Alpine Ski World Cup events, and it hosted the World Championships in 1997; it was a main venue during the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, hosting the men's alpine skiing competitions and being the site of one of the three Olympic Villages.The history of Sestrire goes back to the 1930s when senator and FIAT's founder Giovanni Agnelli commissioned the building of two towers to use it as Hotels on the huge meadows of the village's hill. In this place were also set up the first two cableways directed to Banchetta and Sises mountains.
Today 61 athletes will be competing in the Super Combined, representing 13 countries (Austria, with 11 athletes is the most represented country).
Tarvisio is a mountain municipality located at a few kilometers from the Austrian and Slovenian borders, in between the massifs of the Giulian Alps to the south and the Carnic Alps to the north.
"It will be a great party for the whole Region", said Vice president of the Regional government, Luca Ciriani, focussing on the fact that great attention has been paid to the promotional aspect of an event which is worth over 1 million euros overall and, if wisely used, it can give great visibility and attract tourists. The event will be broadcast live on Rai 2, and over 20 countries will air the images of the entire event to be officially opened at 10.45 on Friday 20 with the flight of the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian acrobatic aircraft team.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
For seven days preceding the event (from Saturday February 14th to Friday February 20th, 6pm), as a prelude to this fantastic alpine show, the winter games will host 5 teams comprised of athletes, production companies, professional cameramen and photographers from all over Europe and North America. Their challenge: shooting and editing 20 pictures and a short film, which according to the rules, must be no longer than 5 minutes including a sequence of BASE jumping, paragliding, mountaineering, skiing and snowboarding.
A professional jury, comprised of professional movie makers, photographers and sports personalities, elects the winner of the Golden Peak' Award. On Saturday night, downtown Chamonix, the films and the photos are shown to the public on a giant screen. Together with the Golden Peak Trophy three other awards will be given: Jury's Special Award, Best Sports Sequence and Best Photographer.
Along with the official programme many other Activities will be offered: ice climbing initiation, mountain security clinics, games of balance (slackline), aerial shows (acrobatic paragliding and wingsuit flying) at the Aiguille du Midi (Saturday February 21st in the morning) and at the Grands-Montets (Saturday February 21st in the afternoon), live concerts in the Nissan Outdoor Games village, autograph signing sessions and partner stands. Many occasions to meet the athletes, get a rush of adrenaline and see amazing performances with the Mont Blanc as the breathtaking backdrop.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Elsewhere in the Pyrenees snowfalls have not been quite so massive in the past week, but the ski areas of Andorra and Spain are still sitting on 2-3m (7-10 feet) bases and are well placed to offer skiing top the scheduled end of the season in April and potentially beyond if they wish to extend their opening.
It has also been snowing a lot in recent days in the Northern Alps region of France and to a lesser extent in the Jura and Massif Central regions. It is also still snowing heavily in Austria, German and Switzerland with many resorts receiving more than a metre of new snow in the past week, and Skiinfo issuing numerous powder alarms to subscribers.
Switzerland had the largest falls of all with Sörenberg reporting an incredible 210cm (seven feet) of snow falling in the past seven days (the biggest fall of 60cm/two feet yesterday, February 17th). St-Cergue La Dôle came close with 200cm (6.6 feet), 50 cm of which also fell yesterday. Zermatt continues to have the biggest snow depth in Europe and probably the world with 7.12m (24 feet) on the glacier.
In Austria the greatest snowfall of the past week has accumulated at the Zugspitzplatt Ehrwald which reports 135cm (over four feet) of new snow. Salbach Hinterglemm Leogang added 80cm (nearly three feet); the SkiWelt (including Söll and Going) 70cm (over two feet) and St. Anton am Arlberg 55cm (nearly two feet). The Kleinwalsertal area on the boarder between Austria and Germany received 65cm (Over two feet) of new snow in the past week, which according to Ralf Köberle of Kleinwalsertal Tourismus is, "Natural snow of the best quality – so our snowmakers take a break". The resorts with the most snow in the country now have nearly four metre (13 feet) depths. However it’s imperative to stay on the piste for the time being rather than heading out in to the deep powder as the overall avalanche situation stays critical with a general risk level of 4 (high) on Wednesday and level 3 (considerable) on Thursday. Spontaneous avalanches are possible in areas with lots of fresh snow.
Germany had loads of fresh snow, too. The number of resorts that have a snow base of more than a metre doubled in the past week, with many adding at least 50cm in the seven days and several adding at least a metre. The Zugspitzplatt at Garmisch, which now looks forward to hosting the World Alpine Skiing Championships in two years time following the conclusion of the Val d’Isere Championships at the weekend, has the most snow in the country with a 330cm (11 foot) snow depth. Alpsee Bergwelt and Balderschwang were amongst the resorts reporting the most new snow in the past week, up by 140cm (4.6 feet) and 120cm (4 feet) respectively.
In Italy most of the snow in the past week has been in the centre and south of the country causing traffic disruption as far south as Sicily, which has several small ski areas.
Campo Felice-Rocca di Cambio in the Abruzzo region, one of Rome’s local ski areas, received 25cm (8 Inches) of new snow whilst Ussita / Frontignano in Marche region got the most in the country with 50cm (20 inches) more snow. It’s still snowing in the major ski areas to the north too though with La Thuile and Courmayeur in the NW of the country receiving 40cm/16 inches and 20cm/8 inches respectively. The Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale and Arabba on the Sella Ronda still have the most snow in the country with 550cm (18 feet) and 480cm (16 feet) respectively.
In Scandinavia there was a small amount of new snow at several resorts over the weekend and up to 30cm (a foot) more snow is expected this week.
In Eastern Europe there has also been some fresh snow wirth forecasts projecting more for Bulgaria, Slovenia and Romanie in the coming days.
It’s not such good news in Scotland where after last week’s spectacular snowfalls, temperatures shot up to 13 degrees Celcius at sea level in northern Scotland and were significantly above freezing on the ski slopes above too, leading to rapid thawing of the snow. Fortunately most ski areas have such deep bases, by Scottish standards, the snow is still providing good cover on upper slopes and temperatures are forecast to drop through the week, slowing and possibly stopping the thaw. However Cairngorm is reporting bare patches and more rocks showing through and Nevis Range say that lower runs back to the top of the gondola are getting narrow. Glenshee reports, "Most runs have good cover with soft snow on a firm base. Some high traffic areas are getting scraped thin and with thawing temperatures bare patches are appearing on some runs".
In North America it’s also all change with resorts in California on the West Coast reporting falls of up to six feet in the past week, whilst on the East Coast an unseasonable warm snap has led to daytime melting of snow accumulations in some New England resorts. So far this season New England had been having an above average snow season and the West Coast a below average one. "We had 15 trails that had snowmaking on Saturday morning, and by the afternoon we had about 11 trails with snowmaking, and we'll certainly continue throughout the week", said Bridget Hinman, marketing manager for Whiteface Mountain in New York state. After limited snowfall by Mammoth’s standards during the first three months of its long season, the world famous Californian resort has made up for it big time receiving more than half the season total in the first two weeks of February. That season total is now nearly eight metres (300 inches) but Mammoth has received 165cm (five-and-a-half feet) in the first half of February. The resort’s current base depth of 240-390cm (8-13 feet) means Mammoth will now stay open in to May with a possibility of remaining open into June or July if conditions permit.
In Colorado the new snow has been less dramatic but it is falling. Beaver Creek and Vail have reported aover 30cm (a foot) of new snow each in the past week with the former receiving 21cm (seven inches) of lucky new powder last Friday, 13th February.
Further afield, Japanese ski areas are also reporting "amazing snow falls" throughout January making for a solid three metre (ten feet) plus base at the leading resort of Niseko. The Kutchan Yukitopia Festival is held on the 21st and 22nd February and includes some unique events like the ‘Great Water Trial’ and the ‘Human Donkey Race’ – both not to be missed!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
An unexpected dump of snow hit Metro Vancouver when we visited the city. Vancouver was on the brink of setting a record for the snowiest December. We founded in Vancouver a dynamic, multicultural city set in a spectacular natural environment. Their landscape with majestic mountains and a sparkling ocean make Vancouver one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is without doubt the perfect spot for active people loving outdoors and adventure.
We visited the Vancouver 2010 venues: the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre, the Pacific Colyseum, the Canada Hockey Place and the UBC Thunderbird Arena, the BC Place Stadium (the site for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games), the Main Media Centre (located in the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre on Vancouver’s downtown waterfront and currently under works that will be completed in 2009 tripling the size of the existing convention centre), and the building works of the Vancouver's Olympic and Paralympic Village, located on the southeast side of False Creek.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
The Alpine World Ski Championships 40th edition, currently taking place in Val d'Isère is France's third World Cup event following Chamonix in 1937 and 1962. The very first World Championships took place in 1931 in the Swiss resort of Murren. Originally the International Skiing Federation (FIS) organized these championships on a yearly basis. The event was suspended in 1939 due to the Second World War and when it was reinstated in 1948 it took place every four years. However World Cup titles were awarded every two years based on the results of the Olympic Games until 1982. In 1985, the FIS decided to organize the event every odd-numbered year.
On the numbers' side, it is worth noticing that the UERB (European Union Radio-Broadcasting) broadcasts Val d'Isère's programs ( live, interviews...) to 34 televisions around Europe, North America and Asia. A total of 804 accredited people "Right possessors" were present in Val d'Isère, representing 22 countries and 57 medias (TV+Radio). Served by the Host Radio-Broadcaster, TVRS: 190 accredited people of 12 different countries. In the Press Centre, 600 journalists (written press, photographers, radios and web) followed the races in a room containing 420 work stations spread out in 2500m². In the basement, 200 lockers enabled the photographs to deposit skis and cameras with the luxury of ski-shoe electric heaters, in order to see the journalists working in optimum conditions. The television delegated 900 technicians and commentators during the two weeks. On Bellevarde, TVRS' (the service broadcasting the Championships) device spread 26 cameras along Bellevarde slope and 22 on Rhône Alp's slope. In the control room area, situated next to the arrival area, 48 lorries installed to broadcast the television images of the whole world linked to the commentator's cabin and to the mixed zone of the arrival area by 35 km of image transport cables. A novelty put in place in the occasion of the World Championships is the SMS alert service which permits 850 journalists to be informed instantly about the possible race postponements or other important information. The Web-Centre, specially created for the World Championships, can count 19 people of which 4 share the information in French, 4 for the English version and finally 9 for the videos. The success over passed all expectations as the high point of the first week was at 415 618 different visitors for a total of 1 592 878 consulted pages. In base of comparison, the high point for the last Are World Championships was situated around 140 000 visitors.
Finally we must say the Championships would never have been possible without the help of 1070 volunteers.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The almost one-metre-long torch, inspired by both the lines carved into the snow by skiers schushing down mountains and the undulating beauty of the snowy Canadian landscape, was designed by Bombardier's aerospace and transportation design teams in collaboration with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).
The torch’s large size (over 94 centimetres long) represents the vastness of the second largest country in the world and the limitless potential of its land and people. When lit, the brilliant orange glow of the Olympic Flame will unfurl like a flag fluttering in the wind from the torch’s unique 30-centimetre-long vertical flame outlet — unlike the more traditional cauldron-like shape encompassing a horizontal flame — and symbolically wrap around the country, bringing Canadians closer together. A red maple leaf air intake cut-out will feed the flame with enough oxygen to ensure it burns brightly for all to see and a dual burner system will ensure it never falters. Additionally, the winter white torch features an engraving of the Games motto With Glowing Hearts/Des plus brillants exploits into its design.
The torch (with fuel) weighs about 1.6 kilograms and contains stainless steel, aluminum and sheet-moulding compound. It will burn for at least 12 minutes using a blend of fuels such as propane and isobutane. Ninety-five per cent of the Olympic Torch is composed of materials and technology made or designed in Canada. Twelve-thousand torches will be manufactured — one for every torchbearer taking part in the relay.
Key to the torch’s curved, modern design is a robust technology created to weather the rugged and varied 45,000-kilometre journey of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay during the Canadian winter. From the mild climate of Vancouver Island to the bone-chilling Arctic cold of Canadian Forces Station Alert located less than 900 kilometres from the North Pole, the torch will be operational from -50°C to +40°C through rain, sleet, snow and wind.
The coast to coast to coast event (route) — will last 106 days, the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history — starts October 30 in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. It will end on February 12, 2010 when the Olympic Cauldron is lit in front of a live crowd of 60,000 at BC Place in downtown Vancouver and while billions more watch on television during the Opening Ceremony for the XXI Olympic Winter Games.
Canadians interested in becoming one of the lucky 12,000 torchbearers will have several opportunities to apply at rbc.com/carrythetorch and icoke.ca.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Freeride de Chamonix will take place on the Pentes de l'Hôtel. Situated in the Brévent ski area in the ‘Aiguilles Rouges’ facing the impressive Mont Blanc mountains, the Pentes de l’Hôtel’ are very popular among freeriders. This eastern facing slope is around 500 vertical meters, very technical thus allows skiers and snowboards to reveal their talent. An ideal spot for the public as well since you can see the competition form the Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc village set up at the base of the slope. Of course since there are many people on winter holiday, there will be lots of spectators to cheer on the riders.
Another option has of course been planned, according to weather and security conditions, in Flégère (still in the "Aiguilles Rouges") on the "Aiguille Pourrie": "We will decide which is the best option depending on the conditions at that time", explains Jerome Ruby, mountain guide and security manager for the event. "Both faces are really great and have lots of features for every riding style".
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Back on Europe’s conventional ski slopes, snowfalls have been continuing in France throughout the past week with accumulations of up to 110cm (44 inches) over the past seven days and both the Northern Alps and the Pyrenees doing well. Sunday February 8th was a particularly snowy day across the country with Skiinfo France issuing 30 powder alarms, in particular in Pyrénées and North Alps. Fresh snowfall yesterday (Tuesday February 10) included 15cm (six inches) at Montgenèvre and 10cm (Four inches) at Val Thorens. Val d'Allos 1800 la Foux currently claims the greatest snow depth in France with 360cm (12 feet) of snow lying on upper slopes.
Gilles Gravier manager of the local tourist office there told Skiinfo, "We have not seen a 360cm snow depth since the winter of 1975. On the night of Friday, February 6th alone we received another metre of snow. These very big snowfalls require a lot of work clearing the snow and through January we have spent 120,000 Euros just on snow clearing in the resort. This quantity of snow means the avalanche risk off-piste is very high at level 4 on a scale up to a maximum of 5".
The German speaking parts of the Alps have experienced great snowfalls in recent days with heavy falls in many areas at the weekend and more than 40 powder alarms issued today (Wednesday, February 11th) in Austria and Germany alone.
In Switzerland more than a metre of fresh snow fell in St.Moritz (120cm/four feet) and also in Zermatt (116 cm) and Saas Fee (90cm) in the past week. Zermatt is by far the snowiest place in Europe, the mountain top lies buried under more than seven metres (23 feet) of snow. Andermatt has reached the four metre (13 feet) mark. As a result the risk of avalanches is high and The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos says the danger for the whole Swiss Alps area is considerable (3) and that avalanches can be unleashed by just one person. They expect more snow in the north and west of the country tomorrow (Thursday 12 February).
In Austria many leading resorts got fresh snow over the past seven days and 11 resorts now have snow bases of two and a half metres (eight feet) or more on top now. Sölden has received 39cm (16 inches) in the past seven days with Seefeld adding 22cm (nine inches) and Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn 20 cm (eight inches).
In Germany there are a dozen resorts that have had 30cm (12 inches) or more of fresh snow in the past week and many more with 10-20cm (4-8 inches) more. Nebelhorn got 30cm (112 inches) and Kleinwalsertal – Fellhorn 20 cm (eight inches). The Zuspitzplatt ayt Garmisch has the most snow in the country with 230cm (nearly eight feet).
In Italy it has been the north of the country that has received the most snow this week with San Martino Di Castrozza reporting another 60cm (two feet of snow) and Courmayeur 20cm (eight inches). Several resorts have now moved above a total maximum snow depth of five metres (Nearly 17 feet) with Colere the first to claim six metres (20 feet) of snow on upper slopes. The Presena glacier above Passo Tonale is close with 550cm (over 18 feet). All the snow means the avalanche danger remains high in many parts of the country with the avalanche danger typically at level 3 on a scale of five. Two climbers died this week in an avalanche at Cogne in the Aosta Valley where five and a half metres of snow has fallen this season so far.
Scotland currently has some of the best conditions for years thanks to snow falls of up to 24 inches (60cm) of snow. Almost all lifts and runs are operational at the country’s five ski areas and at the weekend two of the ski areas had to turn-away skiers arriving at mid-morning as they reached operational capacity. There were about 12,000 people skiing each day.
After the snow temperatures dropped very low, down to a low point of -18 Celcius on Monday at Aviemore which has meant the snow has been maintained And in a light, powdery condition that is very rare on the Scottish mountains, more used to a heavier, wetter snow. Thus the resorts are describing the snow as "Alpine".
Elsewhere in Europe Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth in Spain and is now reporting more than four metres (over 13 feet) on their upper slopes. But also all Pyrenean ski resorts in France, Spain and Andorra have reached snow depths of more than two metres. Formigal has depths of up to 2.5 metres (over eight feet) and a minimum of a metre in the valley. The snow has been falling heavily since the weekend, with a whole metre falling in just 24 hours. Reports claim that it is the heaviest snowfall the area has received in 15 years (picture attached). Yolanda Julian, commercial manager at Formigal told Skiinfo, "The quality of the snow is exceptional both on and off-piste. It’s just fantastic! All the lifts are open to allow clients to enjoy Formigal’s 137km of slopes".
In Scandinavia the skiing remains good in Norway and Sweden. "This past weekend have been truly amazing with snow, snow and more snow", said Christer, Skiinfo Sweden manager. "The remarkable thing is that it has been really cold too, between - 12 and -20C, and still snowing. Now we are talking light powder - I got 40cm on my car that I had to wipe off before I went skiing on Saturday, and then got some really nice turns". 12 Swedish resorts have reported 20cm (eight inches) or more snow in the last seven days with Vemdalen in the lead with 44cm (18 inches). The upcoming week there is a "winter vacation" in Norway, and the ski resorts are doing their best to keep as many slopes as possible open, and to give the best possible ski conditions. The forecast is mostly sunny with not much new snow, but there is lot of snow right now, and it is steadily cold in most of the ski resorts. Some snow is expected in the western part of Norway, but not more than approximately 10-20cm (4-8 inches) in the next four days.
There’s been little new snow in Eastern Europe where skies have been clear and sunny. Some resorts such as Pamporovo in Bulgaria, badly need some fresh and snow is expected in the next few days. Bansko still has the most with a little over a metre of coverage.
In North America cover remains good on the east Coast with fresh powder on the west coast providing a much needed top up of increasingly scant cocverage at some areas there. In The Rockies its a mixed picture with Colorado resorts receiving a few inches of new snow, again very welcome after limited fresh snow in recent weeks. Similarly in Alberta to the north there’s been new snow at Banff.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort has entered into a long-term capital partnership with CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on lifestyle properties. Through a sale leaseback agreement, CNL Lifestyle Properties has acquired all of the resort’s fixed assets for a total of $27 Million and signed a 40-year operating lease with Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, LLC owned by Brian Fairbank, Tyler Fairbank and Joseph O’Donnell.
Jiminy Peak CEO Brian Fairbank stated, "I look at this as a financial arrangement, keeping Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort very solid going into the future. The 40-year lease agreement with CNL Lifestyle Properties enables Jiminy to continue advancing our vision and philosophy without any changes. The transition allows us to keep ‘business as usual’".
"As Jiminy Peak celebrates its 60th ski season this winter, we are pleased to add this family-favorite mountain to our portfolio", said Byron Carlock, president and CEO of CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. "In building this resort to its current prominence, Brian Fairbank has done an excellent job creating an award-winning destination. We are pleased to support Brian and Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in their ongoing role as resort operator".
Established in 1948, Jiminy Peak hosts more than 350,000 skiing, lodging, conference, wedding and mountain adventure park guests annually. In 2007, Ski Magazine ranked Jiminy Peak among the top five family resorts in North America. Jiminy Peak is a year round resort comprising the largest ski and snowboard resort in southern New England, year round lodging, dining, conference and wedding facilities as well as summer family attractions. It is the only mountain resort in North America to generate its own energy using alternative wind power.
CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc., formerly CNL Income Properties, Inc., is a real estate investment trust that owns a portfolio of 115 properties in the United States and Canada in the lifestyle and recreation sectors. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., CNL Lifestyle Properties specializes in the acquisition of ski and mountain lifestyle, attractions, golf and other lifestyle assets.
CNL Lifestyle Properties owns 23 ski and mountain lifestyle properties comprising 14 ski areas and eight village-centered retail developments, and has made four additional loans for ski-related assets and development parcels adjacent to ski-resorts. CNL Lifestyle Properties’ ski and mountain lifestyle portfolio also includes:
- Bretton Woods Mountain Resort (Bretton Woods, N.H.)
- Crested Butte Mountain Resort (Crested Butte, Colo.)
- Okemo Mountain Resort (Ludlow, Vt.)
- Cypress Mountain (West Vancouver, BC)
- Northstar-at-Tahoe™ Resort (Lake Tahoe, Calif.)
Friday, February 6, 2009
The Sierra Nevada College Ski Business & Resort Management (SBRM) program is a four-year bachelor’s degree focused on the mountain-resort industry.
SBRM courses include:
- Introduction to Ski Business
- Resort Marketing & Sales Management
- Resort General Management
- Mountain Operations
- Profit Center Management
- Real Estate Development
- Resort Master Planning
SBRM offers internship opportunities in several ski resort companies, all located a short distance from the spectacular Sierra Nevada College campus.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
In North America it is a more mixed picture with west coast resorts having little snow at the start of the season followed by huge downfalls, but then warm temperatures and a thaw in January. The east coast has had better conditions and good snowfalls with low temperatures for much of the winter to date. These conditions have extended further south than usual giving an above average season to date for borderline ski areas in southern states like Tennessee.
Most of the world’s snow fans have their eyes on TV screens where the camera are pointing at France this week for the World Alpine Skiing Championships underway at Val d'isere. There has been limited fresh snow in the country over the past week with a dusting in the Alps at the weekend, the most in the south with resorts Val d'Allos, Auron and Isola 2000 each reporting 20cm (eight inches) in the past week. Much larger falls of up to 60cm (two feet) are expected in the next week on the main Alpine resorts, most of which currently have upper slope depths of two-three metres (7 – 10 feet).
On Monday, February 2nd, unusually heavy snowfalls, typically 15cm (six Inches) affected the north half of France as well as crossing the channel to South Eastern England. The snow touched both London and Paris.
In Austria more than 20 ski areas are now reporting more than two metres of snow on their upper slopes. "Slope conditions in many of the big resorts are reported to be very good, with skiers lucky enough to be in the Arlberg, Axamer Lizum, Hochzillertal, Ischgl, Kitzbühel, Silvretta Nova, SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser (picture attached), Sillian and the Zillertal Arena amongst those benefiting. A drop of temperature and more fresh snow is expected for the weekend", says Pascal Bovée who reports on much of the German-speaking parts of the Alps for Skiinfo. Nassfeld received a huge fall of 60cm (two feet) yesterday taking the week’s total to 95cm (Over three feet). All 110km of slopes are open but skiers should stay on marked slopes because the avalanche risk has risen significantly.
In Germany to the north the greatest snow depth is on the Zugspitz glacier by Garmisch Partenkirchen with two metres (Nearly seven feet) of snow. The country’s Sauerland (central uplands) has had some of the best conditions of the past week with up to 20cm (eight inches) of fresh powder.
In Switzerland Zermatt continues to have probably the greatest snow depth of any ski resort in Europe and possibly the world with 671cm (over 22 feet) on its glacier. They must have a very long stick to measure it. However several other resorts have bases above three metres now including Andermatt and Saas Fee. There’s been less snow in the past week although Andermatt had 30cm (a foot) more and both Saas Fee and Engadin/St. Moritz reported another 12cm (four inches) in total.
Italy’s Bardonecchia is hosting the first ever Snowboard FIS World Cup Slopestyle competition today and tomorrow (February 4th and 5th) plus another Halfpipe contest on February 6th and 7th. The Slopestyle course offers six features. Starting with a rail another Butter Box offers some time to slide before a kicker series of four jumps leads straight in the finish and is located just a little bit above the 2006 Olympic Halfpipe in Melezet. Resorts in the north of the country posted the most PowderAlarms on Skiinfo in the past seven days. San Martino Di Castrozza saw one of the bigger falls of 30cm (12 inches) whilst Alagna Valsesia on the west and Arabba Marmolada in the Dolomites both lead Italy’s greatest snow deoth table with 480cm (16 feet) of snow each on upper slopes.
In Spain all of the country’s 20 or so Pyrenean ski resorts have reached snow depths of more than two metres, as the country’s sensational winter 2008-9 continues in to a third month of regular powder snow. The ongoing falls are causing a lot of problems at airports and on the roads. Baqueira Beret reports the most snow with 275cm (nine feet) on upper slopes although Sierra Nevada to the south of the country has the greatest snow depth in Spain with 350cm (12 feet). Conditions also continue to be superb in neighbouring Andorra and on the French side of the mountains.
In Sweden Skiinfo's country manager Christer Hillörn reports that there have been no major snowfalls but very cold temperatures as low as - 25-30C. "The cold weather will continue this week but the heavy snowfall that hit England is coming in today and a second front on Friday. The biggest snowfalls are expected in the northern parts of Sweden. So we are looking forward to a good weekend with powder skiing in the north, but also with good conditions due to the cold weather at resorts elsewhere in Sweden too".
It’s very similar over the border in Norway, where 64 ski resorts expect to receive snow today after a clear, very cold spell. Skiinfo's Snowfinder predicts about 20cm (eight inches) as the maxiumum total snowfall for the next four days at these resorts.
Bulgaria has had some new snow continuing itys rather average season. Bansko has the best cover with 120cm (Four feet) of snow. 110 resorts are operating in Slovakia and 70 in the Czech Republic with a maximum snowfall of 20cm (eight inches) in Slovakia in the past week in the Slovak paradise and Small Fatra resorts. Discolunts of up to 50% are offered on some lift tickets.
Elsewhere in the continent all five ski areas in Scotland remain open with fresh snow falling currently falling and expecting to continue for the rest of this week. In the Netherlands January 2009 is officially the coldest month in 12 year, according to the KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorological Instute) with the avarage temperature just 0.7 degrees against the avarage temperature for the month of 2.8 degrees Celsius. Unusually the south of the country was colder rather than the north and received the most snow.
North America. In Utah snow storms this week deposited another 120cm (four feet) at Snowbird lifting the resort’s January’s total to 2.6m (103 inches) giving a mid-mountain base of nearly two metres (95 inches). "This recent parade of storms has made for the best conditions of the season and prime powder skiing", said Snowbird President Bob Bonar. "As we head into the heavy snowfall months of February and March, the mountain is sure to only get better". In Canada Whistler has reported nearly 30cm (a foot) of new snow in the past 48 hours at mid-mountain (1650m) taking snowdepths there to nearly 150cm (five feet). On the east Mont Tremblant in Quebec received more than 20cm (eight inches) of new snow overnight, adding to the 3.3 metres (130) inches since the opening of the season.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Competitors from around the globe, including Canada, U.S.A., Japan and Australia will battle it out for the $10,000 cash purse, as well as the opportunity to bypass the qualifying rounds of the four FWT stops. The stacked field of approximately 70 men and 30 women includes contenders Andy Sabatier, Chuck Mumford, Nick Devore, Frank Shine, Lars Chickering-Ayers, Kira Kitchens, Erin Kerr and Ariana Stufano.
"The Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier at Telluride Ski Resort promises to be one of the most unique events of the season", said MSI Events Director Dak Williams. "There will be athletes looking to qualify for the Freeskiing World Tour, athletes looking to win a title and athletes looking to win some cash. Telluride Resort has again stepped up to make the event better than ever and if the weather cooperates we will be competing on terrain that we haven’t skied on before. Telluride Resort and MSI are both committed to making this tour opener set the precedence for the season".
2009Subaru US Extreme Freeskiing Championships, Crested Butte, Colorado. February 19-22
2009Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals, Snowbird, Utah. March 10-15
2009Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships, Kirkwood, California. March 19-23
2009Subaru Freeskiing World Championships, Alyeska, Alaska. April 8-12, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
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.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
This appealing group got to know Saas-Fee last November when they wanted to implement an apparently completely crazy idea. They had an unbelievable goal: they decided to do a 1:1 remake of the world-famous classic "Last Christmas" video by Wham (1984) in the original venues in and around Saas-Fee. No sooner said than done: the group travelled to the glacier village with 80s-style wigs and blouses with padded shoulders in their bags. And the impossible happened: a sensationally entertaining remake of the classic video was produced, perfectly staged and implemented. Even the weather was perfect for the band, providing precisely the right atmosphere for the shooting with snow, fog and a wintry white landscape. The video was broadcast during the Christmas season on the well-known music channels and the a cappella version of "Last Christmas" was admired on various radio programmes.
Christmas is over and BLISS is now turning up the heat with their new show entitled "SuperStern". Because the band liked Saas-Fee so much, they decided to return in spring and perform their new "SuperStern" show in the glacier village. Thus, guests can look forward to an entertaining musical evening and exciting show on February 6, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. at the gym in Saas-Fee, located directly on the village square. Admission is free!