Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Powder Alarms Across The Alps As More Resorts Open Early

Skiinfo is issuing dozens of powder alarms as heavy snow is falling across the Alps. More than 25 alarms have been issued in the past 24 hours for top resorts in Switzerland, Austria, France and Italy. The falls in the Alps follow heavy snow in Scandinavia at the weekend with resorts like Beitostølen in Norway, which is already open, adding 46cm (18 inches) in the past seven days. Anyone can register their favourite resorts at Skiinfo to receive free email alerts when heavy snow falls there.
In Italy Val Gardena is one of the big winners at present reporting 80cm (nearly three feet) of new snow, 40cm (16 inches) of it in the past 24 hours, however it is not due to officially open until the end of the month. Bormio however has opened, for weekend skiing, joining the glacier ski areas of Cervinia (now open daily after weekend opening in October), Passo Stelvio and Val Senales. Many other ski resorts in the dolomites received up to 50cm (20 inches) of new snow, Cortina reported 45cm (18 inches).
The new snow has also reached France where it is especially welcome as the country’s glaciers did not receive so much snow as the central and eastern Alps in October. Tignes is the only area currently open in the country, as it has been since September, and it is reporting 25cm (10 inches) of new snow on the Grand Motte at present.
Austria, which currently has the most ski areas open in Europe but worldwide is about to be overtaken by the US for the first time since last winter (and possibly in Europe by Norway), is again doing well for fresh snow after being the biggest beneficiary of the heavy October snow a few weeks ago. "Yesterday we had 25 cm of powder on the Austrian glaciers in Hintertux and Pitztal and 20cm in Mölltal. The Stubaier glacier had 30 cm of fresh snow on Monday. In Austria Dachstein Gletscher (90cm), Hauser-Kaibling-Ski amade (50cm), Hintertuxer Gletscher (150cm), Kaunertaler Gletscher (124cm), Kitzsteinhorn - Kaprun (102cm), Mölltaler Gletscher (160cm), Pitztaler Gletscher and Stubaier Gletscher (100cm) are open", said Pascal Bovee of Skiinfo’s Austrian office.
There’s been fresh snow in Switzerland too with the Engadin region around St Moritz reporting about a foot of new snow. This may cause problems for the Snowboard World Cup events currently being staged on Saas Fee’s glacier, attracting competitors from 25 nations, where strong winds have closed the slopes today, after 40cm (15 inches) of new snow has fallen. The Engadin, Diablerets and Zermatt glaciers are also currently open (weather permitting) in Switzerland. Verbier has announced that it will probably open this weekend, a final decision is due at 5pm tomorrow (Thursday 5th November)
In Germany the Zugspitz glacier is now open for snowsports.
After the heavy snowfalls in Scandinavia at the weekend more snow is now being reported with 22cm of fresh just reported by Hemsedal in Norway in perfect timing for its opening day this weekend. There are now expected to be more than a dozen ski areas open in Norway and a good selection in Sweden and Finland too opening this weekend.
In Canada the large snowfalls at the end of last week added up to more than 70cm (28 inches) at Sun Peaks in British Columbia, and it has announced it will open a week early as a result. "This is the earliest we have seen conditions like this and so to take advantage of this gift, we are going to move the planned opening day up to November 14", said Jamie Tattersfield, Mountain Operations Manager at Sun Peaks. "We aim to open as many lifts and runs as possible". The Sun Peaks Slopes Department has been working diligently to pack all of the fresh snow down, and snow making efforts are continuing to build up the base on OSV, where the Austrian National Ski Team will be training next month. Mountain Operations says the snow making will likely move to the Terrain and Tube Parks in the next couple of weeks. The final decision on what lifts and runs will be open will made on Monday, November 9. In Alberta, Banff’s local slopes at Mount Norquay have already opened, last Saturday October 31st, the first in the west of the country, "It’s great to be skiing in October", said Dan Markham, of Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine. "It was a really fun way to celebrate Halloween. We’re excited to be open already, and there’ll be more terrain available this weekend". Lake Louise Ski Area aims to be the next to open, this Friday November 6, with preparations well underway to again host the first, and Canada’s only, stop on the World Cup circuit. The Men’s races will take place on November 28 to 29, and the Women’s races on December 4 to 6. Calgary’s closest ski area and the Olympic venue in 1988, Nakiska is due to open on Saturday, including its new quad. In preparation for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, Nakiska Ski Area will host race teams in-training from all over the world including the Canadian squad. The famous Mapmaker run at Nakiska will be the workout platform for Croatia's Men, France's, Switzerland’s and Monaco’s Men’s and Women’s teams, Germany's, Norway's, Italy’s, Croatia’s and Slovenia’s Men’s teams and Sweden's lonely Women’s team...
Sunshine Village will tentatively open on Wednesday next week, November 11, with the newly renovated Sunshine Mountain Lodge opening 30 new eco-luxurious rooms shortly after. The multimillion dollar wing replacement has not only added luxury to the Lodge, but also lowered the resort’s carbon footprint. Marmot Basin to the north also plans to open on Wednesday November 11th, the earliest opening date ever for the ski area located in Jasper National Park. Six lifts will be open on the first day of the season including the Eagle Express Quad Chair, Paradise Triple Chair, School House T-bar, Eagle Ridge Chairlift, the Magic Carpet and the new Canadian Rockies Express. A combination of natural and manmade snow has given the area a solid base with good snow coverage throughout the mountain. Marmot Basin will open with 38 runs on the 11th with more runs expected to open soon thereafter. The runs will include terrain in the lower area, upper mountain and the Eagle Ridge area. With above average snow coverage Marmot Basin will open the new Canadian Rockies Express, the longest high speed quad chairlift in the Canadian Rockies. From the ski area base, the Canadian Rockies Express travels 2.3 km (1.5 miles), whisking skiers and boarders 596 vertical metres (1,955 ft) up to the mountain top in less than eight minutes. The lift is the largest chairlift development in North America this season.
More resorts have opened or are about to open in Western USA thanks to heavy snow in some states including Colorado, and cold weather for snowmaking in places like California, where Mountain High has opened. Keystone Resort in Colorado announced it will open earlier than planned, on November 5, thanks to fresh snow on the mountain and a spate of cold temperatures that provided ideal conditions for Keystone's talented snowmaking team. The resort plans to open tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 5 with top-to-bottom skiing and ideal snow surface conditions. Keystone will also open with two jumps and more than 20 features from its A51 Terrain Park, the No. 2 ranked park in North America by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine. Copper Mountain (picture attached) is among others opening early joining Arapahoe basin and Loveland which have been open since November.
In the southern hemisphere only Mt Ruapehu’s Turoa ski area in New Zealand is still open, with a 225cm (7.5 foot) base.