Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It’s snowing all over the world

Skiinfo reports that although the number of ski areas around the world still open for skiing and boarding continues to diminish, heavy snow is still falling in the Alps and the Rockies, even though May is just days away. In the southern hemisphere Australian resorts have reported big pre-season snowfalls.
Despite the late date in the season, Skiinfo powder alarms were in double figures this week with many of the resorts that are still open in the Alps reporting falls of 30-60cm (12-24 inches).
France got the best of the snow yesterday with Tignes, Val d’Isere, Val Thorens, Argentiere and Chamonix all reporting heavy new snowfalls on Tuesday (28 April), La Grave had 20cm (eight inches) of new snow on Sunday (26 April). Marinoël Turc, manager of the Val Thorens Tourist office reviewed the snow coverage of 2008-9 for Skiinfo.fr: "Skiers were able to take complete advantage of good conditions from the very beginning of the season", he said, "because the snow was here from the middle of November, in quantity and in quality. Today still, we have winter conditions and enjoy the powder. At this end of season, the contrast is even more beautiful between Spring in the valley and the still very present snow covererage in Val Thorens".
It was Italy that issued powder alarms on Monday (27 April) with Cortina announcing another 20cm (eight inch) fall, which is half of it’s accumulation in the past seven days. Livigno added 30cm (a foot) and Pratonevoso - Mondolè ski 25cm (10 inches). There was even still more snow in the Monterosa region, which has been one of the world’s snowierst spots this winter, Alagna Valsesia reported another 10cm (four inches). The Presena glacier which will be open through May has some of the most snow in the country with five metres (17 feet) on upper slopes, Cervinia has 370cm (over 12 feet).
In Austria and Switzerland there was also fresh snow at the weekend. There are still a dozen ski areas open in Austria and half of those will remain open throughout all or most of May. However Hochar, Obertauern and Ischgl are scheduled to close this weekend (May 3rd) the latter following the famous annual Top of the mountain May concert, this year starring Kylie. The Dachstein and Molltal glaciers as well as Krippenstein ski are all have more than four metres (over 13 feet) of snow lying on upper slopes, the most in the country. In Switzerland Andermatt, Saas Fee and Zermatt have the greatest snow depths and added more fresh powder at the start of the week. Each has a snow depth of more than four metres (13 feet) on upper slopes. Most of the Swiss resorts that remain open close this weekend, but Engelberg and Zermatt remain open to mid-May, and in the latter’s case, year round. Saas Fee re-opens in mid-June.
There’s still skiing in the Pyrenees and other regions of Spain after their record-breaking snow season, now more than five months old. Andorra’s ski slopes received a light covering to top up base levels at the weekend. Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly ski resort, has some of the best conditions in Spain and has extended its season for nearly three more weeks, until May 15th. It is currently offering half price ski passes, sun, three metres (ten feet) of spring snow and more than 50km of slopes. "Without doubt this is a unique opportunity to enjoy the best spring snow of Europe", commented Skiinfo.com’s Spain manager, Raul Revuelta Carbajo Ph. D.
The ski season has ended in Scotland and Eastern Europe but in Scandinavia many areas arer still celebrating the long Spring daylight hours and warmer conditions. The coming May weekend is a big one for festival events and competitions at resorts like area in Sweden and Hemsedal in Norway. A dusting of snow adding a centimetre or two (half an inch) more snow in resorts like Voss and Beitostølen has helped to keep conditions fresh.
In North America, on the East Coast, Killington is the last ski area open and will remain so until this Saturday, May 2nd. The Superstar Express is open for spring skiing and riding with the K-1 Express Gondola open at the weekend, conditions permitting. Killington is offering Blue Square and Black Diamond terrain only with no Green Circle terrain available. New late-season hike-to terrain park is open on Lower Conclusion. Snowbird in Utah surpassed the season-to-date snowfall total of 600 inches (15 metres) for the second straight year thanks to a 15 inch (38cm) storm over the weekend. The resort is the only one in Utah still open for spring skiing and snowboarding. With a total snowfall of 612 inches (1,530cm) and a mid-mountain base of 137 inches (342cm), there should be ample snow to ride on through to the US Memorial Day holiday in late May. In addition a fast-moving storm has left over 6 inches (15cm) of fresh snow on Squaw Valley's upper mountain, ensuring continued excellent conditions this weekend and through Squaw's scheduled closing datein a little under a fortnight. After the unexpected boost to its already robust spring snowpack, the fast-moving spring storm soon cleared and skiers and riders enjoyed the new snow under clear blue Sierra skies. Squaw Valley's base snowpack on the upper mountain is still over three metres (ten feet), and with exceptional spring conditions, Squaw Valley is scheduled to stay open through to May 10th.
In Canada three resorts remain open, with Lake Louise closing this weekend (May 3rd) but Sunshine, also in Alberta, open to late May and Whistler beyond that on the glacier. All three have had fresh snow in the past few days and Marmot Basin by Jasper closed the season with fresh snow last weekend. Work is now starting there on a new fast quad for next season, one of the few new lifts to be built in North America this summer.
In the southern hemisphere over half-a-metre (20 inches) of snow has been falling on Australia’s ski slopes over the past 48 hours, with most still not expecting to open for nearly six weeks or more. Snow continues to fall at Perisher in New South Wales. From the peaks to the valleys, a thick layer of snow can be found, making the resort look more like July than April. Another 25cm (10 inches) of snow settled across the upper elevations on Monday night, April 27th. Overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius and it is currently 0 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the Forester Quad Express. Weather forecasters have predicted that overnight temperatures will stay nice and cool with more snow showers expected in early May. Cold temperatures will also allow Perisher to commence its snowmaking operations earlier as well.
Wind-drifts of over two metres (seven feet) can be found in places giving visitors an early taste of winter and the chance to have some cold play fun. Light falls are expected to continue throughout today. Mt Hotham has had a similar snowfall. From 11pm on Saturday night a snow blizzard has captured the resort leaving nothing uncovered. Although the start of the season is more than six weeks away locals hiked up to get the very first tracks of 2009 in the southern hemisphere.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Places to ski in Spring: Zugspitz Glacier (Garmisch-Partenkirchen)

The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany (2,962 m). It is located at the Austrian border (the border between both countries goes right through the mountain) in the town of Grainau of the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria.The Zugspitze belongs to the Wetterstein range in the northern Kalkalpen.
300 metres below the summit is the Zugspitz Glacier, the highest ski resort of Germany operated by the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG. The skiing area with its nine lifts (8 Ski Tows and the 6-seater Sonnenkar chairlift) is located between 2,000 and 2,700 metres above sea level. The cogwheel train and the Eibsee cable car take you straight to the Zugspitzplatt. From here the glacier cable car whisks you up to the summit of the Zugspitze where you can look forward to the most beautiful long distance views encompassing four countries and over 400 peaks. You also can enjoy a refreshing beer in the Deutschlands Hochster Biergarten.

St Anton To Replace Rendl Lift

St Anton’s Ski Area, Rendl, will be much more accessible next winter thanks to a brand new access lift from a much more convenient location.
The new lift containing 68, eight passenger, cabins will whisk up to 2,000 skiers per hour up to the under-used ski area.
It will be located more than 300m from the existing lift with the base near the roundabout and bus station at the western entrance to the resort, making it much easier to reach for skiers coming from the other areas of Galzig and Kapall.
Work on the new lift is due to begin next month and it will be operational in time for next winter.
There will also be a doubling of snowmaking capacity and the improvements follow on from recent upgrades to runs such as the removal of steep sections ion key blue runs last summer.
St. Anton is an internationally renowned touristic village in Tirol and a top ski resort. Located in the Stanzertal at 1,304 metres above sea level, the 2001 Alpine World Skiing Championships changed and renewed its image dramatically. In St. Anton you can find a cosmopolitan ambience with people from all nations, looking to follow the tracks of the ski pioneers. Together with the villages of St. Cristoph (1,800 m) and Stuben (1,407) offer a Ski Paradise integrated by four areas: St. Anton, Rendl, St. Cristoph and Stuben, served by a modern web of 38 ski lifts with 1 Funitel (the Galzigbahn I wrote about yesterday), 2 Cable Cars, 2 Gondolas, 17 Chairlifts and 16 T bar/Drag lifts. There is something for every skier and level of ability with 20 blue, 19 red, and 5 black pistes. Experts also can enjoy the challenge of 16 Ski Routes.
In Rendl you can find a sunny but less challenging terrain more suitable for intermediates, perfect in case of bad weather.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hannibal

Tomorrow, Friday April 24th, the historical spectacle of HANNIBAL will be performed again on the giant open-air stage at Sölden's Rettenbach Glacier. The performance of "HANNIBAL – The Crossing of the Alps" is all about the historical facts of the Second Punic War and its protagonist Hannibal, who is described in a biographical way with all modern theater settings on a really incomparable Nature Arena.
500 actors will take part in the new production of Carthage's epic attack on Rome by crossing the Alps. Snow cats as elephants. Instead of elephants the spectators will see snow-grooming machines. Skiers, climbers, parachutist act as modern-day warriors. Giant horsemen cross the endless glacier fields on their skidoos while flying acrobats try to hinder the attack. The ultimate showdown features plenty of music, light effects, video films and pyrotechnic shows.
A semicircle with a high-towered palace forms the center of the stage. Right in front of the spectators' area you find an antique site made of snow and ice. On the right you see Dido's Palace similar to a Maya Pyramid - the Castillo from Chichen Itza was its model.


Yes, It’s Still Snowing, A Lot...

Skiinfo reports that although most ski resorts have now finished their 08-09 season, the heavy snow that has been the main feature of this year’s winter is continuing to fall in abundance in many areas. The good news for skiers and boarders who want to enjoy fresh powder even now, is that there are still hundreds of ski areas open.
Italy has seen the most snow in Europe over the past seven days with the Monterosa Ski area in the Valle d'Aosta reporting up to 1.5m (five feet) of new snow in the past week. Gressoney-La-Trinité, one of the ski resorts in the area, reported the maximum fall with nearby Champoluc receiving 140cm. Italian ski resorts still claim the greatest snow depths in Europe with Sella Nevea reporting 590cm (Nearly 20 feet) on upper slopes and the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale in the Adamello ski area, which is open through May and probably in to June, having five metres (nearly 17 feet) on upper slopes.
French resorts have seen up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow in the past week with Les 2 Alpes, La Grave, Pra Loup and Isola 2000 all reporting between 30 and 60cm (1-2 feet) accumulating. There was 20cm (eight inches) of new snow in Isola 2000 on Monday (20 April) and 10cm (four inches) in Val Cenis yesterday, 21st April. Cauterets in the Pyrenees has the biggest snow depth with 480cm (16 feet) of snow on upper slopes. In the Alps Argentière and Chamonix Mont-Blanc have 370cm (over 12 feet) each. Chamonix and Tignes are open to May 10th, Val d’Isere, La Grave and Val Thorens to May 3rd.
In Switzerland, Andermatt, Saas Fee and Zermatt have all added 30cm (a foot) of snow or more to their totals in the past week. The same three resorts have the most snow in the country with 400 – 470cm (13 – 16 feet) on upper slopes.
Smaller falls have been reported in Austria but Solden has had another 10cm (four inches) of snow on its glaciers. The Dachstein and Molltal glaciers still have the greatest depths in the country with over four metres of snow on each.
Spain still continuers to be one of the big snow success stories of the 08-09 season with falls that begun six months ago continuing even now with Europe’s most southerly resort, Sierra Nevada, receiving another 30cm (foot) of snow on Sunday. Six ski areas have now extended their ski season in to May. San Isidro, Leitariegos and Alto Campoo are all open to May 3rd, Boí Taüll and Masella to May 10th and Sierra Nevada – which has the most snow in the country at present with three metres (ten feet) still on upper slopes.
In Andorra, where the lifts will run until May 3rd at GrandValira, there was another 6cm (three inches) of snow yesterday.
In Scandinavia the northerly latitude of resorts in Finland, Norway and Sweden mean that they’re well placed to take advantage of the best late season conditions. Major events are underway or coming soon at leading resorts such as Norway’s Hemsedal and Sweden’s Are. Many resorts have received a centimetre or two of fresh snow in recent days giving a fresh dusting on top of the established base, Beitostolen in Norway is the latest to report an extra centimetre of snow today (Wednesday, 22nd April).
Elsewhere in Europe most ski areas are now closed. Scotland’s last skilift operations for the season were on Sunday.
In the US, Colorado, where ironically many resorts closed last weekend if they had not already, received the kind of big snowfalls that would have been useful last November when they were opening for the season. Loveland, which is still open, had one of the best falls with two feet (60cm) of new snow. Arapahoe basin also scored big time and Echo Mountain and Aspen Highlands, which are open for the next few weekends, likewise. In California, Squaw Valley (picture attached) is once again offering the longest ski season in Lake Tahoe, as the resort plans to stay open for skiing and riding through to May 10th. Squaw Valley’s annual snowfall of 450 inches (1130cm) and mountain topography featuring acres upon acres of upper elevation North-facing terrain are among the natural attributes that enable the resort to remain open through the middle of May each ski season. Base depths currently measure 125-135 inches (325 – 355cm) on upper elevations. The US National Weather Service is calling for snow this weekend, April 24 through to April 26th.
In Canada the four West coast resorts still open are Jasper, Lake Louise and Sunshine in Canada and whistler in British Columbia. All but Jasper are open in to May and all have had more fresh snow in recent days with low temperatures helping to maintain snow integrity.
On the East Coast Killington in Vermont and Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec are both still open.
Although it’s May next week, more fresh snow is forecast for Western North America and for the Alps in the next few days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Free Head Ski/Snowboard Helmet with 2009/10 Bookings

British Ski tour operator Ski Dream is offering free Head helmets to anyone who books with them before May 31, 2009. Ski Dream is committed to highlight the necessity for helmets to be worn in resort and to back that up we have teamed together with Head to offer all Ski Dream customers a FREE Ski/Snowboard helmet when they book a package with Ski Dream or Made to Measure.
The helmets are being sourced through Head, one of the leading suppliers of quality ski equipment, and the process is simple – once you have made your booking through Ski Dream (All people receiving a free helmet must have flights, accommodation for a minimum of 7 nights and transfers/car hire booked through Ski Dream or Made to Measure), give the Ski Dream booking consultant your head measurements and Head will then get working on producing the perfect helmet for you. Ski Dream will then arrange for the helmet(s) to be delivered to you at home or in the office. Each person travelling will receive a free Head Helmet. There are three types of helmets available – men’s (Rebel); women’s (Cloe) and kids (Joker). These Head helmets provided by Ski Dream FOC would normally retail at £50.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Der Weisse Rausch. St. Anton am Arlberg

Next Saturday April 25th, St. Anton am Arlberg will host a new edition of Der Weisse Rausch. "The White Thrill" ski race is talked about all over the world by Wintersport fans. Whether as participants or observers, this sporty and speedy spectacle is a cult. Each year the race attracts hundreds of international piste freaks. Several hundred skiers, Snowboarders, Bigfooters and Telemarkers meet on the Valluga at 2650 meters for the mass start. Participants cover a 9 kilometres trail through Valfagehrjoch, Ulmerhütte, Steißbachtal, Moos and finally St. Anton. The race is named after Der Weisse Rausch Film (White Ecstasy, 1931) directed by Dr. Arnold Franck starring by Hannes Schneider and Leni Riefenstahl.
The fastest manage the distance in just over eight minutes but a time between eleven and eighteen minutes is a good average. Above all, the elation on reaching the end counts just as much as the great sporting achievement. For most the time plays a minor role – finishing and having fun is the target. This sporty and speedy spectacle also promises great fun for the spectators. In the evening the courageous racers celebrate with an award ceremony and a big party which also marks the exciting conclusion of the St. Anton Spring Festival Week.
Der Weisse Rausch is also the first stage of the alpine triathlon "Arlberg Eagle". The overall winner must be ahead of the field in the ski race, in the half marathon (July 25th) and in the mountain-bike marathon (August 22nd).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Aurélien Ducroz's winning line at the Nissan Xtreme Verbier 09

The Freeride World Tour (FWT) came to an end with an amazing fourth stage and grand finale: the Nissan Xtreme-Verbier. This is Aurelien Ducroz's competition run. The Frenchman was the winner of the event and the Freeride World Champion 2009.
The FWT 2009 brought together the world’s best skiers and snowboarders to compete around the globe: Sochi, Russia, Squaw Valley, USA, Tignes, France and Verbier, Switzerland. Thanks to the 10 Freeride World Qualifiers, certain young talented riders were qualified to participate in this season’s major events.

St Anton am Arlberg celebrates the Spring Festival Week

The "Spring Festival Week" from 18th to 25th April is a part of spring in St Anton am Arlberg as much as the sun in the sky and the snow on the mountains. During this time the Schneekristall tariffs apply and the best in the country demonstrate their ability at the "Intersport Spring Festival" from 21st to 25th April at the Austrian Ski Instructor and Demo Championships. Whether it’s the Big Air Contest for skiers and snowboarders, a Freeride competition, a giant slalom run or the Demo Championships, those who would like to witness the skills of the professional skiers and snowboarders in action should not miss the "Intersport Spring Festival". Time and again the performances of the professionals will astound and amaze - a true feast for the eyes.
Of course, apart from the sporting pleasures, the après ski fun in St Anton am Arlberg is just as important. Numerous snowbars and terraces are points of attraction for sun worshippers and meeting places for fun lovers. Particularly popular is the Chill-out on Rendl Beach. Especially for the Festival, an enormous living room with comfy sofas, tables and floor lamps provides a lounge atmosphere at the edge of the piste in the middle of the snow. Those who sit here, have the best view of the world championship performances. When the piste-fun is over the winter lounge in the snow is the location for the Sundowner Parties on Rendl Beach.
The finale of this Festival Week is the congregation of hundreds for the legendary mass-start race "Der Weiße Rausch/The White Thrill".
The ski season ends in St Anton am Arlberg on 26th April and ends one week later in St. Christoph on the 3rd May. The last days of the season fall within the Snow Crystal Week. During this time the lift pass costs 25% less than the already inexpensive low-season rates and many hotels and pensions also offer drastically reduced special deals.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Verbier High Five by Carlsberg

The 10th edition of the Verbier High Five by Carlsberg took place on Saturday, April 4. The event was another great celebration after a fantastic ski season. This year’s event saw amateur participants and top professionals fighting in a really spectacular way for overall victory. A total of 335 amateurs and 20 professional competitors attended this High Five which took place in bright, late season sunshine on the five courses set nearby the now popular Carlsberg chalet which situated in the middle of the fantastic Verbier ski pistes.
Switzerland’s Didier Défago, the winner of January’s Wengen and Kitzbuehel Downhill races, managed once again to clinch this coveted event thanks to his strong form and his victory in the Skier-cross leg, by beating Swiss team-mate and reigning Super-G World Champion Didier Cuche, who, on his side, excelled in the GS run. Sweden’s Mattias Hargin, one of the most promising young Slalom racers on the World Cup tour came in third - an excellent result for his first participation in this now well established end of season event.
The Verbier High Five by Carlsberg is composed of a series of competitons: Giant Slalom, Speed, Skier Cross, Triathlon and the Parallel Slalom. Interestingly enough, Switzerland’s retired former Downhill star William Besse was the fastest in the speed event in which he managed to beat the current specialists, such as World Championships silver medallist Didier Cuche. This same feat was achieved on the womens’ side by Frances’ Marie Marchand-Arvier, the Super Giant silver medallist in Val d’Isere 2009.
For the women, Slovenia’s Tina Maze, World Champs silver medallist in the Giant Slalom confirmed her strong season which includes podium finishes in three disciplines, with a win over reigning Olympic Giant Slalom Champion, Julia Mancuso from USA, whilst GB’s Chemmy Alcott, national Downhill champion on the previous day, came in third thanks to her success in the Skier Cross.
In the final Parallel Team Event where the best amateurs each partner a professional to contest a double run, Franzi Auftenblatten together with Aimee Oreiller, also enjoyed a great day with her victory over Germany’s slalom World Champion Maria Riesch, who was associated with Amanda Pirie. On the men’s side, Dider Défago was again unbeatable, winning the Parallel final, partnered by Bastien Darballay as they overcame Switzerland’s young, promising star, Sandro Viletta who was partnered by Colin Morrison.
In the Snowboarders’ Parallel Team Event, Switzerland’s Alex Coudray, racing with Christoph Vouilloz overcame Mike Aeschbach and Philippe Piccolet to win their finals.
All this action took place watched by several hundred fans and spectators who then came to the Chalet Carlsberg to congratulate their friends and the stars at the awards ceremony Chalet before everyone descended into Verbier for an after-ski party. One of the busiest athletes on the day was double world champion Lindsey Vonn, who took advantage of the event’s friendly and relaxing atmosphere by signing autographs and talking with the fans between her races. She enjoyed a special success as she beat by only a few 10ths of a second, her ex-US Olympic team mate and now husband, Thomas, in the giant slalom - even if Thomas did not like it quite so much. "It was a great way for me to end this very successful season prior to taking a well-earned holiday", said the 24 yr old American. "I am looking forward to coming back again next year".
"Over these 10 years our High Five event has seen some of the very greatest skiers ever. Names such as Hermann Maier, Luc Alphand, Antoine Déneriez, Aksel Lund Svindal, Pirmin Zurbriggen, Tanja Putiainen and Michaela Dorfmeister immediately come to mind. But this year’s line-up was really special. We had 5 Olympic or World Championships gold medallists, 6 silvers and 1 bronze as well as 63 world cup victors and 192 world cup podiums. I would like to thank all our friends in Verbier, our other partners Téléverbier, Helvetia, Craft Alpina and, of course, the professional athletes and amateurs who have supported us so well in this annual celebration of the end of the ski racing season", said Keld Strudahl, Carlsberg International Marketing Director

1000+ skiing videos on your phone

Zapiks announced last Wednesday that the mobile version of Zapiks has gone live, offering up to 2000 action sports videos right on your smartphone. Based in Europe, Zapiks is an action sports only video sharing website, with both pro and amateur videos. As dedicated skiers, and beeing based in the Alps, the ski and snowboard section is very strong. Zapiks is edited by skipass.com which happens to be the number 1 wintersports website in France (800 000 unique readers a month).

Mountain Riders Launches English Language Site


Mountain Riders, the French ‘green ski’ organisation which started out nine years ago when a group of friends cleaned up their local ski slopes after the winter season, has launched an English language version of their website.
The Mountain Riders association seeks to inform all the various local and national stakeholders and raise their awareness on environmental issues, so as to enable them to act together towards the common goal of a sustainable and responsible development of tourism in the world’s mountains.
The Mountain Rider’s website provides a range of information and videos linking our everyday actions and behaviour with their effect on the environment in terms of global warming.
The ‘every day acts of green’ pages offer concrete examples and practical advice on how to reduce the impact of our activities, and by so doing reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants in mountain regions.
Building on a unique blend of up-to-date environmental and sustainability tools, and the team’s hands-on experience, Mountain Riders has developed a reference framework for sustainable development in the ski industry, in the form of two ecological guides: "The Eco Guide to Ski Resorts" and "The Eco Guide to Mountain Gear". These guides are not about identifying the ‘number one’ in ecological ski resorts or the most environmentally responsible brand, but rather provide a ‘straight-forward evaluation of how the 110 French and world leading resorts and 20 brands featured take into account and integrate sustainability issues in their day-to-day management and business.
With the end of the winter season fast approaching, the Mountain Rider’s website also provides information on the organisation of upcoming ‘annual clean-up’ sessions. The site details clean ups taking place on the slopes of over 50 resorts, primarily in France, but also some of the hundreds of others taking place around the globe.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Guests Vote On Spring Lift Operations At Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf is offering its guests the opportunity to decide what lifts will run for the remainder of the year, through its online community and via Twitter. Starting on Monday, April 20, Sugarloaf will scale back its operations to two daily lifts through the remainder of the season, which is expected to run through May 3. One of the lifts will be the SuperQuad; the other, either the Spillway East or the Timberline chair. The voting takes place through Saturday, April 18 and will be tallied on Sunday to determine lift operations starting Tuesday. Twitter users can vote by messaging@sugarloafmaine. Guests without a Twitter account can vote through Sugarloaf’s online community.
Located in Carrabassett Valley (Maine), Sugarloaf due to its northern location and high elevation, has one of the longest ski seasons in the East and is recognized as the "King of Spring"resort. Last season the resort remained open until May 5, and plans to stay open into May again this year. Until Sunday Sugarloaf is celebrating the 21st Annual Bud Light Reggae Fest, the resort’s biggest annual event that typically draws upwards of 10,000 guests.
Sugarloaf is operated by Boyne Resorts, the third largest resort network in North America. Founded by Everett Kircher in 1947, Boyne Resorts is still a family owned, Michigan-based corporation. Boyne Resorts' portfolio currently includes Michigan's two premier mountain and golf resorts, Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain; The Inn at Bay Harbor - A Renaissance Golf Resort in Michigan; Big Sky Resort in Montana; Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah; Crystal Mountain near the Mt. Rainier National Park in Seattle and The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Sugarloaf and Sunday River resorts in Maine; Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, British Columbia--official freestyle skiing and snowboard venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games; and Gatlinburg Sky Lift near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Don’t Stop Skiing!: Thanks To Big Snow, The 08-09 Ski Season Continues In To May (and beyond) In A Dozen Countries...

Easter is over but you still want to keep skiing? Thanks to huge snowfalls and a big enough number of snow obsessed skiers to make it worth their while to keep the lifts running, there are plenty of places where you can stay on the snow for a month or two yet (by which time the southern hemisphere’s ski slopes will be open anyway).
While other snow sites are distinctly seasonal, the guys at Skiinfo remain snow obsessed year-round. Here’s the Skiinfo guide to where to ski and board for the next 4 – 8 weeks, and then some...
Andorra: After one of the snowiest winters for many years, with the big falls starting way back in November last year, Grandvalira has announced it will be open to May 3rd.
Austria: At least a dozen Austrian ski areas are open in to May, including St Christoph above St Anton and Ischgl, and half that number continue in to June and beyond. Skiinfo reports that the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun currently has 3.7m (over 12 feet) of snow, the Pitztal Glacier (picture attached) 326cm (almost 13 feet).
Canada: In Alberta, Lake Louise is open to May 3rd and fellow Banff resort Sunshine nearby right through to May 20th. Whistler has the longest ski season in Canada with glacier skiing continuing through to July.
China: China’s Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (now the world’s highest following the demise of the former highest, the Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia, due to global warming) offers skiing above 4500m, complete with altitude sickness pills and oxygen bags, until June.
France: In France five resorts are open in to May with Chamonix and Tignes lasting the longest – to the 10th. After a few weeks of closure, Val d’Isere and Les 2 Alpes join Tignes for summer skiing from June to August. Tignes has a 160cm (over five foot) base and Les 2 Alpes 190cm (over six feet) on upper slopes.
Italy: Italy has four Spring and Summer snow choices. Val Senales has 2.5m (over eight feet) of snow, it closes, live Cervinia, on 3rd May, but re-opens on June 13th. Passo Stelvio is currently closed but opens for summer skiing on May 30th through to August.
Japan: In Japan there are half a dozen ski areas open in to May. Gassan has the strangest ski season in all Japan running from April 1st to July 30th. A year round snow field atop a glacier it gets so much snow in the winter that nobody can reach it until April.
Norway: Norway’s three glacier ski areas of Folgefonn, Galdhøpiggen and Stryn begin opening next month and stay open right through the summer. The three are famed for their massive snow bases.
Spain: After peaking with a snow base of more than five metres (17 feet) in March, Spain’s Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly major ski area, has announced its season will continue two weeks longer than planned, to mid-May. The snow’s still more than three metres (ten feet) deep on the higher slopes.
Sweden: Sweden’s famous Riksgranen ski area is open in to June and thanks to its location in the Arctic Circle, sees 24 hour daylight with skiing under the midnight sun from late May.
Switzerland: Zermatt is one of the few resorts that can offer skiing all year round, thanks to operating the highest lifts and runs in Europe, touching 3,800m high. It will be re-joined on 13th June by neighbour Saas Fee which closes on May 3rd but once re-opened in June, stays open top May 2010. Half a dozen other Swiss resorts are open in to May including Engelberg to the middle of the month and the St Moritz Engadin region to the end of May.
USA: Many US resorts have now closed, despite having huge snow bases in some cases, as the delicate balance between the number of income generating customers and the costs of maintaining high service standards make perpetuating the ski season non-viable. However a number of resorts expect to offer skiing well in to May, and possibly beyond, as in previous years. Options include Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain in California, Mt Bachelor in Oregon and snowbird in Utah. Timberline in Oregon endeavours to stay open almost year round with skiing on the Palmer Glacier.

Friday, April 17, 2009

2009 SAMMY Winners Announced

SAM Magazine is proud to announce the recipients of the 12th annual 2009 SAMMY Leadership Awards and the third annual SAM Diversity Award. They are:

  1. Alan Henceroth, COO at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado. Alan first entered the ski industry working at Keystone Resort for five seasons and transitioned over to A-Basin in 1988. There he quickly worked his way up from ski patrol director to director of mountain operations and currently to vice president and COO.
  2. Jonathan Davis, IT Manager at Perfect North Slopes, Indiana. Jonathan started at Perfect North Slopes in 1992 working as a lift attendant and rental shop manager. In 1999 he filled his current position as IT Manager. Jonathan is now a key director at the resort, overseeing all network management, point-of-sales and "all things IT."
  3. Jesse Boyd, General Manager at Jack Frost/Big Boulder, Pennsylvania. Jesse grew up working in the ski industry and took his first GM position at Hidden Valley Ski Area in 2004. In 2005, Jesse became the GM of Jack Frost and Big Boulder Resorts and is currently a VP in Peak Resorts. He oversees operations of six resorts and has spearheaded the freestyle terrain evolution at Big Boulder PARK and Carinthia at Mount Snow.
  4. Diversity Award: Arn Menconi, founder and executive director of SOS Outreach. Arn began teaching snowboarding at Vail in 1991 and founded SOS Outreach in 1993. The program teaches more 3,600 kids each year at 36 ski resorts in the U.S. SOS Outreach is a not-for-profit organization, averaging 500 adult volunteers each season. The program's growth has seen a 16-percent increase from last season and 170-percent growth from 2006-07.

"It's always exciting to see the worthy pool of nominees each year and Jesse, Jonathan, Alan and Arn certainly stood out", says publisher Jennifer Rowan. "To see the industry get behind these awards through peer nomination is great".
These awards are made possible with the generous support of: Leitner-Poma, Wells Fargo Special Risk, RSN, Magic Carpet and Resort Technology Partners.


The Ski Area Management Sammy Awards from Dave Amirault on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ski Resorts Stay Open Longer As Fresh Snow Falls On Above Average Base...

Skiinfo reports that although ski resorts have been closing as the 08-09 season ends for many, hundreds of other North American and European resorts are still open in more than 20 countries. In some cases fresh snow has fallen and in most cases the accumulated snow base is deeper than the average. Many resorts have decided to stay open longer, in some cases well in to May, because of the great conditions.
The Pyrenees have had a spectacular snow season right from mid-November and it is still the place where snow is falling. Cauterets has reported the most snow on the French side of the southern European mountain chain right through the snow season including a huge fall of more than 1.5m in just a few days earlier in the winter. It’s still reporting the biggest falls in the country with another 40cm (16 inches) in the past week giving it the biggest snow depth in France at present with 485cm (16 feet) on its upper slopes.
In Spain the spectacular snow season continues with more snow in recent days and no major resorts closing so far, with mopst others opting to extend their season, most notably Sierra Nevada which still has a three metre (ten foot) base and will stay open an extra two weeks to 15th May. Baqueira Beret (picture attached), which does close this weekend, has the most snowe in the country at present with a 350cm (12 foot) covering on upper slopes. Boi Taull and Masella have both announced they’ll stay open another month – up to 10th May.
Over the Pyrenean border in Andorra, there has also been a dusting of snow on top of a healthy base. Grandvalira will be open to May third.
In the Alps there’s been less fresh snow, although parts of Switzerland have added a few inches in the past seven days. Top snowdepths: Saas Fee has had 25cm (10 inches) of fresh snow in the past week, Fiesch 10cm (four inches). Andermatt-Gotthard has the most snow in the country with 460cm; Zermatt has 408cm (13.5 feet) and Engelberg 390cm (13 feet) with Saas Fee less than an inch behind on 388cm.
No new snowfall has been reported in Austria or Germany in the past week. The Dachtein and Zugspitz glaciers in each are reporting the most snow respectively, with 430cm (just over 14 feet) and 380cm (just under 13 feet).
In Italy there’s also been no fresh snow in the past week, but conditions remain good as elsewhere because of the accumulated snow depth. The maintenance of this was helped by low temperatures in many northern resorts over the Easter weekened, including parts of the South Tyrol and Aosta Valley.
The snow is still good in Scandinavia, where Norway’s three summer-ski areas will soon be in action and where the 24 hour sun will soon shine of Riksgransen in the Swedish Arctic circle where it’s still full on winter. To the south it has been warmer with daytime temperatures of 5 to 13 Celcius diminishing the snow pack. Although a few ski areas such as Ramundberget did manage to add to their bases with 9cm (three inches) of new snow and 10 Swedish resorts still have at least an 80cm (32 inch) base.
In Eastern Europe Bulgaria’s ski resorts are now all closed for the season however the Czech and Slovak republics do still have about a dozen areas open between them with between 30cm (a foot) and 170cm (nearly six feet) of snow still lying.
In Scotland three ski areas continue to battle on with limited resources of the white stuff! Cairngorm above Aviemore is the only centre open daily still. Glencoe and Nevis Range on the West Coast are open at weekends.
In Canada there has been some fresh snow on both the East and West Coasts. Banff and Lake Louiser both received several inclhes of fresh snow at the weekend. Sunshine Village has had 490cm (over 18 feet) of snow this year, and currently has a snow pack of 174 centimetres (nearly six feet) – it remains open to late May, Lake Louise is open to May 3rd. Whistler has also had more fresh snow and in Quebec Mont Ste Anne claimed 33cm (13 inches) of new snow ahead off their Easter weekend celebrations.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Over 130,000 Ski insurance Claims Made Annually

Leading travel insurer InsureandGo has identified the top five skiing insurance claims and estimates that their value totalled some £66m. InsureandGo also estimates that UK travel insurers received over 130,000 skiing-related travel insurance claims last year.
By far the greatest estimated number of claims was for medical problems such as injury or illness, totalling nearly 89,000 – or over two-thirds of the total claims. The next biggest area was compensation for skiers’ “ski packs” – the cost of the ski school or instructor which comes with their holiday – which accounted for over 30,000 claims. “Ski pack” claims are typically due to skiers being unable to take advantage of the ski school or instructor because they were injured or ill.
In terms of the value of these claims, those linked to medical treatment were estimated to be around £61.3 million, followed by £3.1 million for ski pack compensation. The value of the average medical-related claim was around £690 compared to £491 for all claims. Average claims for some aspects of insurance appear to be less than the average cost of policies.
For ‘Ski pack’ claims – ie compensation for ski school or ski instructor which the person can’t use due to illness or injury there was an estimated 30,650 claims averaging £102.77with an estimated total of £3.1m paid.
Lost, stolen or delayed luggage claims totalled an estimated 10,350 with an average payment of £82.24 and a total of £851,200.
For ‘Ski hire’compensation for cost of hiring equipment to replace lost, stolen or delayed luggage there were an estimated 1,900 claims averaging only £23.45 with a total payment of £44,600.
There was an estimated 1,450 claims for flight cancellations averaging £292.82per claim with a total pay out of £424,600.
Most skiing claims to InsureandGo come from travellers in France, followed by Austria and Switzerland.
Gary Lockett, managing director of InsureandGo, commented: "Our list shows that medical problems are by far the biggest risk when it comes to skiing holidays. Many of these are due to injuries caused on the slopes which can be very expensive to put right, especially if you are unable to take yourself off the mountain, underlining again just how vital it is for skiers and snowboarders to have adequate travel insurance".

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vail Resorts Makes Helmets Mandatory for Employees and Children

Vail Resorts will require all employees to wear helmets when skiing or riding on the job at each of its five mountain resorts—Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly—for the 2009-10 season. Helmets will be provided to every employee next fall as part of their standard uniform for working on the mountain."At Vail Resorts, the safety of our employees and guests is a top priority, and we believe the time has come for us to take our commitment to safety to the next level. Our employees will set the example next year for all who enjoy skiing and riding our slopes", said John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort. Vail Resorts also announced that it will require all children, ages 12 and under, who participate in a group lesson through one of its five resorts’ ski and ride schools to wear a helmet. Furthermore, a helmet will become a required part of any child’s (ages 12 and under) ski and snowboard rental package offered at all of Vail Resorts’ retail and rental outlets, unless a parent or legal guardian signs a waiver to decline use of the equipment."We firmly believe when children are participating in our ski and ride school programs that we must provide them with the proper equipment that promotes enjoyment of the sport while also reducing the possibility of injury. Even though we will now require children in our ski and ride schools to wear helmets and make them a mandatory part of every child’s rental package, we strongly recommend the use of helmets for all of our guests, regardless of their age or ability level", said Blaise Carrig, co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Heavenly.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Woman in a Men's World

Lilly Bujas (38) is the only female ski patroller employed by Zermatt Bergbahnen AG in the Matterhorn ski paradise. It is the former bank clerk’s seventh winter on the mountain helping out skiers who have had accidents.
She shares her job with 26 male colleagues, who work in shifts and wait around the mountain for their assignments. She is "on call" so there’s lots of waiting around to be done; fortunately, it has to be said. On average, Lilly sets out three or four times a day into the Matterhorn glacier paradise to help out skiers who have had accidents. She receives a radio message, grabs the sledge – a stretcher on runners – and is at the accident site less than ten minutes later. "I make sure I don’t rush around. I make sure I’m always calm. I often tell people to slow down. People get so stressed. Yet they’re on holiday".
Leave stress behind. But how? Lilly knows. After working for 13 years as a bank clerk, Lilly, who comes from Zurich, had had enough. "I went to Goms, to Bellwald, for two years and worked there as a children’s ski instructor" Then she returned to her old job for three years, but the call of the mountains had become stronger. "I like being outside in the snow. I have always been fascinated by the rescue services". In order to become a ski patroller, she needed to do a course in first aid and emergency assistance. She hopes to do the job for as long as she is fit enough. And what’s it like working in a world of men? "I have never had any problems. Indeed the opposite is true”, says Lilly and laughs. “We get on well". Occasionally Lilly, who is 1.85 metres tall, helps with piste preparation. Ten percent of her job consists of transporting things using the snow groomer. Does she return to Zurich occasionally? "Yes, mostly to see my parents. But city life is too stressful". In her last holiday she went to Finland, "the colder the better". In her free time she enjoys telemark skiing. And when she gets home in the evening? "I make myself comfortable. I laze around, read. I think. Study. I don’t do anything. Is it really necessary to do something all the time?".
The Swiss Ski Patrol Championship will take place in Zermatt on 21 and 22 April. 160 participants are expected, twenty of whom are women. The Swiss National Ski Patrol Association (VRP/ACP) trains 70 new ski patrollers every year. On average, two or three of them are women.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

1st Snow & Music Weekend in Saas-Fee

The first Snow & Music Weekend will be taking place in the glacier village from 17 – 19 April 2009. Spring skiing, congenial atmosphere and music – that’s what a weekend in April looks like in Saas-Fee.
Visitors will be enticed by wonderful slopes bathed in the Spring sunshine, an attractive range of package offers including ski pass, a congenial atmosphere and thrilling music! The local Valais band Glen of Guinness will be kicking off the ski weekend on Friday, 17 April. With its sounds of Ireland the group will be setting the mood in the village square, starting promptly at the Aprés-Ski time of 5 p.m. Ensuring the right holiday atmosphere for this special weekend from the very outset. And the best thing about this musical start to the Spring skiing weekend: the concert is free!
With this musical and good-humoured start to the weekend, under the warm Spring sunshine skiers will then finally be enticed onto the wonderful slopes on Saturday and Sunday because high up on the slopes between 3’600 and 1'800 metres above sea level the snow conditions remain perfect well far into the Spring.
There’s something special about the performance in the glacier village: it is one of the last concerts to be staged by Glen of Guinness until November 2009. The group’s Ireland adventure will then be finally over. The last project of the legendary band: 17 years of music - 17 concerts. What this means precisely is that 17 selected venues are being specially chosen to once again hear the group perform its 30 greatest hits and best songs. Saas-Fee/Saastal is one of those specially selected locations.
Information on the concert as well as attractive package offers is available from the Saas-Fee/Saastal Tourist Office.

Friday, April 10, 2009

VANOC is ramping up the creative team behind the Vancouver 2010 Ceremonies

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) is ramping up the creative team behind the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Opening, Closing and nightly Victory Ceremonies by adding superlative Canadian and international stars to the mix. The team includes the Canadian brothers behind Dsquared2 who have created lavish, over-the-top costumes for Madonna and Britney Spears, a composer fit for the Queen and the sound designer who has mixed for both The King of Rock `n’ Roll and The Boss.
Under the direction of executive producer and co-artistic director David Atkins and Ignatius Jones, director, ceremonies strategy and co-artistic director, the creative team will deliver on the creative vision for the ceremonies, create mass choreography for the 4,500 volunteer performers, design lighting and audio systems, select composers and musical arrangements, design sets, costumes and props, and identify headline talent. The team will also be responsible for the nightly Victory Ceremonies happening at BC Place, where top Canadian musical acts will rev up athletes and spectators. Their work will build on the planning started in 2007 by the initial creative team.
"The expectations for David Atkins and the ceremonies’ creative team are monumental. They are tasked with creating life long memories — from the iconic Opening and Closing Ceremonies to those golden moments that celebrate the athletes’ achievements", said John Furlong, VANOC Chief Executive Officer. "Their work will be watched live by thousands at BC Place and billions worldwide on television — and this team has both the talent and experience to meet that challenge. They will embrace our country’s rich culture and innovative spirit, while revealing our incredible wealth of Canadian talent to the world".
David Atkins acknowledged the calibre of the creative team, saying, "This world-class team is filled with artists who know how to wow audiences at international events and are leaders in their fields, from creating magical scores to designing opulent costumes and intricate footwork. Ceremonies volunteers are going to be working with the best; this is a true opportunity of a lifetime".
The ceremonies’ creative team members announced on April 7, 2009 are:
Choreography Director: Jean Grand-Maître
Quebec-born Jean Grand-Maître has been artistic director of Alberta Ballet since 2002. He has collaborated with dance companies around the world, as well as acrobats and circus performers for musicals, operas, television, film and large outdoor events. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.
Design Director: Douglas Paraschuk
Over the last three decades, Douglas Paraschuk of Stratford, Ontario has designed over 100 regional theatre productions across Canada, including spending 21 seasons with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In 2006, Paraschuk was part of the ceremonies design team for the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.
Music Director: Dave Pierce
David Pierce’s extensive credits include musical theatre, sporting and cultural events, commercial recordings and live mega spectacles. A resident of Calgary, Alberta, Pierce has adapted scores for several hit Broadway national tours and was recently commissioned to compose a new work for Queen Elizabeth II.
Headline Talent Costume Designers: Dsquared2
Dean and Dan Caten, Canadian twin brothers originally from Toronto, Ontario, have worked in the high-end fashion industry since moving to Europe in 1991. They are known for their playful, sexy clothing for men and women and for staging theatrical runway shows. They were selected to design the official uniforms for football team Juventus, and their designs have been worn by Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Usher and most recently Britney Spears for her comeback Circus tour.
Designer: Leslie Frankish
Leslie Frankish of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, has designed over 130 Canadian theatrical productions for companies including the Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage Company and Citadel Theatre.
Designer: Anne-Séguin Poirier
A set and costume designer based in Saint-Lambert, Quebec, Anne-Séguin Poirier is currently working on set design and props for a new Cirque du Soleil production to open in Los Angeles in 2010.
Designer: Connie Watts
Connie Watts of West Vancouver, British Columbia, is an Aboriginal mixed media artist who has shown her artwork across North America. She is currently project manager of the Vancouver 2010 Venues’ Aboriginal Art Program for the 2010 Winter Games.
Design Coordinator: John Powell
A member of the Mamalilikulla band of the Kwak’wala-speaking Nation, John Powell is primarily a designer working in fashion, costume, and interior and graphic design. Some of his more recent projects include costumes for the Vancouver Opera’s The Magic Flute, Firehall Arts Centre’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe and the Chinese/Aboriginal drum video for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Designer: Kevin McAllister
Kevin McAllister of Vancouver, British Columbia, designs scenery, lighting and costumes for theatre and opera. His portfolio includes work with the Canadian Opera Company and Vancouver Opera.
Choreography Associate Director: Marlise McCormick
Marlise McCormick’s international career began at Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal and has taken her throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East. She has worked as a designer, director or choreographer for large-scale ceremonial events including the 1994 Commonwealth Games. Marlise splits her time between Vancouver and Europe.
Head of Audiovisual: Cyril Meusy
Cyril Meusy has worked on projects for Vivendi games as well as the media show for the British Columbia Canada Pavilion at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Meusy specializes in 3-D visualization, art direction and motion graphics. He lives in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Lighting Director: Bob Dickinson
Bob Dickinson has won 16 Emmy Awards in his three-decade career in lighting design and has more than 1,500 on-screen television credits including the 1996, 2002 and 2004 Olympic Games, the annual Academy Awards show and nine Super Bowl halftime shows.
Audio Director: Bruce Jackson
As sound designer and house sound engineer for Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and Barbara Streisand, Bruce Jackson has revolutionized stadium sound. The resident of Culver City, California founded leading audio companies such as JANDS Electronics in the 1960s as well as Apogee Electronics. He is currently a vice-president at Dolby Laboratories.
Headline Talent Producer: Samuel Leon Feldman
Through two different companies, Sam Feldman represents more than 175 musical artists such as Nelly Furtado, Rush, Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello. Feldman is also a partner in The Characters Talent Agency, representing Canadian actors such as Molly Parker and Ryan Reynolds.
Headline Talent Producer: Dan Fraser
Dan Fraser is the president and co-founder of Nettwerk Management, an international recording artist management company based in Vancouver. He manages the touring careers of artists such as Sarah McLachlan and the Barenaked Ladies.
Headline Talent Producer: Bruce Allen
For more than 35 years, Bruce Allen has guided the careers of musicians, producers and sports figures in the Canadian entertainment industry. His current roster of talent includes Bryan Adams, Martina McBride, Anne Murray and Michael Bublé.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nendaz Freeride

Nendaz hosted one of the 11 Freeride World Qualifier events (FWQ). The Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) are independent competitions, 11 this winter, that took place in Europe and in the United States, that are validated by the Pro Freeriders Board that represents the athletes. These qualifying stages completed the 4 Freeride World Tour (FWT) events for which the world’s best athletes are selected by their ranking (like in ATP tennis). The ‘Qualifiers’ allow riders from around the globe to be ranked in the Freeride World Ranking (FWR). With this point system, winning a FWQ is like placing 7th of a FWT event, so even riders qualified for the FWT come to earn points at FWQ events!. These events are a true opportunity for young talented riders to qualify for the Freeride World Tour thus competing against the world’s best!
After 2 years, the Nendaz Freeride, initially organized for amateur riders, has grown rapidly and welcomes riders from all around the world. The competition took place on March 14 and 15 in the Plan du Fou sector, easily accessible from Nendaz, Siviez or Verbier. The 100 selected riders meet, and then performed 2 qualifying runs. 40 lucky riders were qualified for the 1 run finale to win the competition and a spot for the Xtreme - Verbier.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sun Shines On Deep Snow Accumulations In Europe, Fresh Snow In North America

Skiinfo reports that whilst resorts begin to close en masse as the late Easter finally approaches, and sunshine dominates in parts of Europe and North America, heavy snowfalls are still being reported in some areas and accumulated snow depths at others that remain open mean conditions are still very good for the time of year in many resorts.
In Austria, Germany and Switzerland there’s been little fresh snow, but thanks to the large accumulations of snow over the past five months, it means for excellent spring skiing at most resorts.
The Dachstein glacier has the most snow in Austria with 460cm (over 15 feet) whilst in Germany 15 ski resorts in the Alps still have snow depths of two metres (Seven feet) or more, let by the Zugspitz glacier near Garmisch with 410cm (Nearly 14 feet).
In Switzerland snowfall of up to 18cm (seven inches) has been reported by some resorts. Andermatt has the deepest snow in the country with 480cm (16 feet) on upper slopes, Zermatt – which remains open for winter sports all year - has 408cm (more than 13 feet) on upper slopes and Engelberg four metres (Over 13 feet). Saas Fee received 10cm (four inches) of fresh snow in the past week and currently has a 370cm (over 12 foot) base. Laax got another 15cm (six inches).
In Italy Jean Pierre Fosson, secretary-general of Italy’s Safe Mountain Foundation has reported that snowfall in parts of the Aosta Valley region this winter is more than 50% above the 77 year average of 419cm (14 feet) of Val Gressoney, with 646cm (over 21 feet) falling.
However in Place Moulin above Bionaz the snowfall was slightly below the 40 year average (1965-2005) 392cm (13 feet) with only 334cm (11 feet) falling and it was a similar picture in Valgrisenche with a 378cm (just under 13 foot) seasonal accumulation compared to a 419cm (14 foot) 1972-2005 historical average. In the past seven days snow fell at the weekend in the north-west area of Italy, particularly in the Piedmont region where 2006 Olympic venue Bardonecchia reported a metre (3.3 feet) of fresh snow and resorts in the on the giant via Lattea (Milky Way) pass including San Sicario, Claviere, Sauze d'Oulx and Sestriere reporting 70cm (2.3 feet) each. Sella Nevea has the greatest snow depth, still above six metres, with 610cm (20.3 feet). The glacier at Marmolada has 480cm (16 feet) and at Cervinia 370cm (Over 12 feet) lying.
In France the Easter holiday period has begun and although smaller ski areas have closed, the larger resorts will be open to the end of the month and in to the first few days of May. Although there have been warm temperatures in recent days, the Southern Alps received significant snowfall last Thursday with 50cm (20 inches) in Isola 2000 and 40cm (16 inches) in Montgenèvre. Isola 2000 has the greatest accumulation in France of the past week with 80cm (nearly three feet) of snow in the past week. France’s greatest snow depths are still in the Pyrenees with Gourette on 470cm (nearly 16 feet) and Cauterets only 10cm behind. In the Alps Chamonix has 395cm (over 13 feet) of snow.
In the Pyrenees it has been sunny in most resorts for the past week and, as with the Alps, most resorts have large snow accumulations of two to four metres on upper slopes to rely on through the last weeks of the season in Andorra, France and Spain.
The French Pyrenees reported fresh snow yesterday however with Luz Ardiden adding 20cm (eight inches) and Cauterets, already the second snowiest resort in the country, another 10cm (four inches).
In Scandinavia conditions are great for Easter weekend at most Swedish resorts. The weather forecast predicts sun and more sun. There´s no new snow to talk about, although some resorts have received a couple more centimetres in the past few days. The past week brought warm temperatures in almost the whole country except for the resorts far up north so the snow cover has decreased, but is still looking good. Björkliden up north has the most snow right now on its pistes with 106cm (3.5 feet) followed by Kåbdalis 105cm (3.5 feet) and Lofsdalen 95cm (Just over three feet). For off piste skiing, Storlien has the most snow out in the back country with 150cm (five feet) lying followed by Ramundberget with 122cm (just over four feet) and Kittelfjäll with 110cm (3.7 feet).
Eastern Europe has also been seeing the sunshine of the Eastern Alps with snow depths at Bansko in Bulgaria, which has some of the best snow in the region, dropping below four metres (13 feet) on upper slopes .
In Scotland the same wonderful sunny weather and warm spring temperatures is worse news for ski resorts with a major melt down of the remaining snow cover, meaning there’s no repeat so far of the excellent April 2008. Cairngorm and Nevis Range are currently scraping along with very little snow left, Glencoe hopes to keep opening at weekends.
In North America there has been heavy snow in recent weeks on the West of the continent, now followed by warm temperatures in many areas, bringing great Spring skiing conditions to Colorado, Utah, Alberta and British Columbia. On the East of the continent it has been warmer but temperatures are dipping again at some resorts in time for Easter. There were sunny skies again today at Whistler today, which has had 24cm (ten inches) of fresh snow in the last week and still has months of skiing ahead. Also in British Columbia, Fernie, which is open anoither fortnight, has reported adding another 170cm (nearly six feet) of snow during March with 50cm (20 inches) in the seven days up to the weekend. The ultimate big mountain experience is back at Sunshine Village near Banff in Alberta, Canada. Thanks to new snow The Wild West, Sunshine’s second extreme skiing terrain opened on Tuesday, following Friday’s opening of the world-famous Delirium Dive. In Colorado to the south the snow was heavier still during the same period with Steamboat reporting 62 inches (155cm) in the week and Copper Mountain 45 inches (112cm).
In Japan Niseko ski area has announced it will stay open in to May. Looking back on the season to date the Annupuri ski centre reached a snow depth of 4.5m (15 feet) at its peak with January and February once again the country’s peak powder months with over 5.2m (17 feet) of snow falling through the two months.
In the southern hemisphere cold temperatures and light snowfalls overnight and on and off today (Wednesday April 8) has delivered early snow to New Zealand’s premier ski areas Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and The Remarkables. Canterbury’s Mt Hutt (picture attached) has received 20 cm of snow with some areas on the access road receiving over half a metre. Further south in Queenstown, The Remarkables has received 10 cm of snow. Ross Lawrence, The Remarkables Ski Area Manager, said the mountain had turned from green to white overnight with snow falling down to the 6km mark on the access road. "The mountain crew is buzzing with anticipation for the season ahead. It’s a fantastic early reminder for skiers and snowboarders to get their snow gear and passes sorted for when the season opens in early June", he said. Across the valley at Coronet Peak, 10 cm has fallen. Hamish McCrostie, Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager, echoed the sentiments expressed by Mr. Lawrence saying "that whilst snowfall at this time won’t stick around until winter it is certainly a timely reminder that winter is on its way. It also serves to reinforce the long range forecast of a longer, colder winter for the South Island this year".
Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are scheduled to open on Saturday 6 June and Saturday 20 June respectively. Mt Hutt is scheduled to open on Saturday 13 June.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

VANOC wins award for corporate report on sustainability performance

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC’s) annual corporate report tracking the performance of the 2010 Winter Games sustainability commitments won a special commendation in a North American competition for corporate sustainability reports. Produced by VANOC, the report documents the Organizing Committee’s efforts to manage the social, economic and environmental impacts and opportunities associated with convening an Olympic Games.
The Commendation for Innovative reporting by Ceres, an independent network of investors and public interest organizations, and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), has been awarded for VANOC’s second annual Sustainability Report released in March 2008 and covering the reporting period August 1, 2006 to July 31, 2007.
“In this time of economic uncertainty, it is of utmost importance for companies to both understand and mitigate financial risks, including environmental and social impacts,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres. “The Ceres-ACCA reporting awards recognize those companies, which not only document their performance, both positive and negative, but also set clear targets for future progress.”
Ninety-nine accountability reports from corporations in Canada and the US were submitted to the 2008 Ceres-ACCA North American Sustainability Reporting Awards competition. The VANOC report was the first report by a project-based entity to be judged as one of the top 19 sustainability reports in North America. The awards are presented today in Toronto and on April 16 in San Francisco.
“It is an honour to have our report recognized by an independent panel of North American experts on corporate responsibility,” said Linda Coady, VANOC vice president, sustainability, who accepted the award today in Toronto. “As an organization, this report helps us engage both internally and externally with stakeholders affected by our activities, as well as gain a better understanding of how we can improve our performance.”
The report measures VANOC’s activities in six key areas related to 2010 sustainability commitments and objectives under its direct control: corporate ethics and accountability, environmental stewardship and impact reduction, social inclusion and responsibility, Aboriginal participation and collaboration, economic benefits and sport for sustainable living. It also discusses VANOC’s challenges and future plans.
VANOC will issue two more sustainability reports — one next year before the start of the 2010 Winter Games and another following the Games.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Mountain Travel Symposium

From March 29 to April 4, Keystone (Colorado) hosted the 34th Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS). The event is the largest and longest-running annual gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America. The week-long event includes three major components: trade shows, a Forum, and social events to foster networking opportunities. There are two separate and distinct trade shows--one that is specifically geared for Tour Operators (the Trade Exchange) and another one for Ski Club/Council organizers (the Group Exchange). The Forum includes two full days of professional development and education featuring presentations from nationally-known speakers as well as individual breakout sessions on practical and topical issues. Finally, a variety of receptions, parties, and activities are scheduled throughout the week to maximize networking and relationship building. MTS attracts more than 1,000 participants each year from ski resorts, lodging properties, resort associations, domestic and international tour operators, airlines, ground transportation companies, travel insurance companies, and related service providers.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Delayed As More Snow Falls

Skiinfo reports that whilst Spring conditions have become the norm at some ski areas, winter is yet to release its grip on many parts of the Alps and Western Canada.
In Austria many ski resorts still have great snow depths right in time for the Easter holidays. Skiinfo issued more than 30 powder alarms in Austria on Monday alone with Nassfeld receiving another 50cm (20 inches) and Bad Gastein 40cm (16 inches) of fresh snow. "There’s up to 330cm (11 feet) of snow in the Kleinwalsertal", Rolf Köberle of Kleinwalsertal Tourismus told Skiinfo’s Pascal Bovée. "It’s almost Easter time and still there’s so much snow – I hope it will attract lots of people to have fun on the slopes!". The greatest snow depth in the country is at Hochkar 540cm (18 feet) while the Dachstein glacier has five metres (17 feet) and Ehrwald 470cm (Nearly 16 feet). The Fellhorn/Kanzelwand area on the German-Austrian border ( the top can be reached from both countries) received a metre of fresh snow in the past seven days, the most in the country although Lech Zürs am Arlberg got another 80cm (nearly three feet) – good news for St Christoph which is open in to May.
In Switzerland eight resorts including Laax received 100cm or more fresh snow during the last week. Andermatt has five metres (17 feet) of snow, Engelberg 410cm (14 feet) and Zermatt 408cm (14 feet). Meiringen-Hasliberg was one of those receiving a metre (3.3 feet) of fresh snow this week and now has 370cm (over 123 feet) on its upper slopes.
In Germany the Zugspitz has the most snow with 460cm (over 15 feet) lying.
In France snow coverage in many French resorts is very good for the start of April. Skiinfo France issued 13 powderalarms for heavy snow at the week-end. Big winners on Sunday included Serre Chevalier in the Southern Alps with 23 cms (nine inches) of snow and Avoriaz in the Northern Alps with 30cm (a foot). Cauterets in the Pyrénées continued its spectacular Spring with another 30cm of fresh powder taking its upper slopes bases to 4.6 metres (over 15 feet) – one of the deepest in the country.
Italy saw heavy snow at many Northern resorts, particularly around the Sella Ronda area of the Dolomites. Arabba Marmolada has received the most in the past week with 80cm (nearly three feet) of powder with the Monterosa Ski area including Alagna adding 60cm (two feet) and Bormio and Cortina d'Ampezzo 50cm (20 inches) each. The greatest snow depths in the country remain above six metres (20 feet) as we enter April with 650cm (22 feet) at Sella Nevea and 530cm (18 feet) on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale where skiing is likely to continue at least in to June.
In the Pyrenees the spectacular winter is still not over with at least a dusting of fresh powder in Andorra and at Spanish resorts where snow depths are typically still at least two metres (seven feet) on upper slopes. Another 10cm (four inches) of snow fell on Monday at Formigal (picture attached) in Spain on top of the base of 2.8m (nine feet). The weather is currently sunny but temperatures remain cool and more snow is predicted later in the week promising great conditions for Easter.
Formigal will be holding an Easter egg hunt where prizes will include a week’s holiday to the resort next winter. The resort is also offering free lift passes to all new bookings until the end of the season.
In Scandinavia where the summer skiing season begins in Norway next month there have been some small new snowfalls. In Sweden Kläppen got the most fresh snow in the past week with 18cm (Seven inches) more and Lindvallen 17cm (six inches). The past week has brought some warmer Spring temperatures but conditions are described as, "still really good for the upcoming Easter holidays next week", by Skiinfo Sweden’s country manager Christer Hillörn who notes that the weather looks kind of mixed in the coming week with possible snow showers forecast.
In Eastern Europe it has been a mix of sunshine and very cloudy days meaning sometimes poor visibility but good snow and on other days warm sunshine but rather sticky snow. There has been limited fresh snow but in Bulgaria snow depths are still as much as four metres (13.3 feet) in Bansko, although this is the exception with other areas reporting closer to 90cm (three feet).
Scotland’s ski areas have had a dusting of fresh snow although conditions are not yet as great as last April when snow cover was excellent but few people bothered turning out meaning those that did had the empty slopes under blue skies to themselves. However it has been enough for The Lecht to re-open joining Cairngorm (Aviemore), Nevis Range and Glencoe which had stayed open through the warmer weeks of latter March.
In North America Western Canada continues to perform well with fresh snow falling in Alberta in recent days at Sunshine, Mt Norquay, Lake Louise and Marmot Basin. It’s particularly good news for Sunshine which has some of the best snow of the season to date at present and is open for nearly two months more, while most other Canadian and US resorts closes in the next few weeks.
South of the border the weather has been warmer, especially on the East Coast, with snow cover suffering as a result. However North Westerly US states like Utah have performed better and of the resorts that are typically open in to June are, fortunately, the major beneficiaries of several feet of new snow (60cm+) – amongst them Snowbird in Utah and the near year-round operator Timberline in Oregon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Schneetreiben" - Skishow of the skischools: April 1st, 2009

Under the title "Schneetreiben - The Snow must go on" the Tourism Association and the Ski Schools Arlberg and St. Anton were christening a spectacular concept for the weekly demo show. In the World Cup stadium visitors will experience a multi-media time travel show through the history of skiing. The topic of the show is the development of skiing and technology over the course of the decades.The around 45-minute presentation effortlessly interweaves through historical developments of skiing from their beginnings to the present day with up-to-date dynamics. An accompanying film shot by a high-carat production team influences the choreography and completes the real event.
The show had been taking place every Wednesday at 9.00 pm (Admission is free).