Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big Snowfall in South America, Big Events in New Zealand

Skiinfo reports that all of Europe’s glaciers have been reporting very sunny weather conditions over the past week, which in most cases has led to a diminishing snowpack and difficult conditions for snow sports – hard packed first thing and sticky by 11am.
There’s currently a choice of two resorts in Norway (Galdhoppigen and Folgefonn), four in Austria (Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun, the Dachstein glacier, Molltal and Tux); three in Italy (Passo Stelvio, Cervinia and Passo Tonale) and two in Switzerland (Saas Fee and year-round Zermatt).
In France Les 2 Alpes and Tignes are in to their last few weeks of operations, scheduled to close on August 29th and 31st respectively, although Tignes, which is still reporting a 1.8m (six foot) snow base on the Grande Motte ghlacier despite the melting temperatures, will re-open a few weeks later in mid-September, with other glaciers in nearby Austria (such as Pitztal) and Switzerland (such as Engelberg) beginning to re-open for the start of the 2009-10 season around then too. Tux is currently reporting the biggest snow area open in Europe with 23km (14 miles) of runs to enjoy, as well as its Better park terrain park, on a 165cm (5.5 ft) base. Although temperatures on the glacier there are, typical of Europe’s open ski slopes at present, peaking at 6C, cloudier weather that should cool things down a bit and hopefully bring a dusting of fresh snow is expected in the next few days.
In North America, Timberline in Oregon remains the only choice at present, although it will close for its annual maintenance in a few weeks’ time. The centre has already closed its terrain park and superpipe in the past week but the chairlifts are still running.
Temperatures have dipped back below zero at South Africa’s Cape where skiers at Tiffindell will find snowdepths holding at 50cm (20 inches) and 1.2km of runs still available. Afriski in Lesotho is also reporting it is still operational as the usual southern African ski season nears its close.
South America has had the best of the world’s fresh snowfalls in the past seven days with leading resorts in both Argentina and Chile benefitting from heavy falls. Portillo is reporting some of the biggest snowfalls, that are ongoing, taking season-to-date falls past 6.5m (22 feet). The resort reports 240cm (eight feet) of new snow in the past seven days, including 70cm (2.3 feet) of powder in the past 24 hours alone. Top slope base depths have reached 330cm (11 feet) meaning snow-surety for the rest of the season at least. Other resorts in Chile are also reporting big falls, as are those in Argentina, which were particularly needing a top-up. Catedral and Las Lenas, the two biggest resorts, are both reporting more than 1.8m (six feet) of snow on upper slopes.
New Zealand has some of the biggest excitement in world skiing on their local slopes at present with the Burton NZ Open just finished and the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games, starting in Queenstown tomorrow (Friday, August 21st). Kids and adults alike were wowed by some of the world’s top ski champions on Sunday (August 16) as the skiers signed posters and posed for photographs at a poster signing event at Coronet Peak (picture attached: USA ski stars Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn, Resi Stiegler, Julia Mancuso, and Canadian Britt Janyk, sign posters at Coronet Peak). Members of the USA Men’s and Women’s ski teams and the Canadian Women’s ski teams were overwhelmed by supporters as they spent an hour meeting and greeting their fans in the sunshine at Coronet Peak. The women’s team included alpine skiing overall winner and double world champion from 2009, Lindsey Vonn who was joined by Olympic Gold Medalist from Torino, Julia Mancuso. The USA Men was led by combined Olympic Gold Medalist in Torino Ted Ligety, alongside Jimmy Cochran, Scott Macartney and Marco Sullivan from the Tech and Speed Teams. "We had some of the best male and female alpine ski racers on the planet signing autographs for everyone here yesterday. We will be watching closely and wish them well for the Vancouver Olympics", said Richard Murphy, Head of Race and Events at Coronet Peak where the teams are currently training in preparation for the coming competition. Elsewhere in New Zealand, Mt Ruapehu is reporting strong winds and heavy snowfall at present, with snow base last mentioned at 223cm at (7.5m) at Turoa but no measure of fresh accumulations yet available.
Over in Australia the skies have been largely sunny with little fresh snow reported anywhere for the past week. However the larger resorts have built up healthy snow bases, in the case of Perisher 122cm (Just over 4 feet) at best, so the sunny slopes are still in reasonably good shape. Other resorts like Mt Buller and Falls Creek are reporting slightly less, though still plenty, with about 90cm (three feet) on upper slopes.