Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fresh Snow On Four Continents

Skiinfo reports that snow has been falling on almost every continent on earth over the past week.
In France the big news was the re-opening of the Grand Motte glacier at Tignes on Saturday, which is now due to stay open through to mid-May next year. There’s currently nearly 500m of skiable vertical open between 3000 and 3456m high with the slopes open open from 8.30am to 5.30pm and reached in 7 minutes by the resort’s underground funicular. A one day adult pass is €32, children from 5 to 13 years old pay €26. There’s 20cm (eight inches) of snow on the glacier.
In Switzerland it’s still a choice between Saas Fee and neighbouring Zermatt’s glacier slopes, with Engelberg, Diablerets and st Moritz glaciers due to open in the next few weeks.
Italy still has skiing at Passo Stelvio and Val Senales with Cervinia due to re-open for weekends from 10th October and full time from 1st November.
Austria continues to have the biggest choice of glacier ski areas open anywhere. With 6 centres open. The choice includes the Hintertux glacier (15km/9 miles of runs, 55cm/2 feet of snow, 9 lifts); the Stubai glacier near Innsbruck (5 lifts, 2 slopes, 10cm/4 inches of snow); Pitztal (3 lifts operating); the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Ksapruin has 26cm (10 inches) of snow and 7 lifts operating; the Miolltal glacier with 6km (4 miles) of runs to enjoy, and Solden where the "Schwarze Schneid" gondola and "Karleskogl" t-bar lift are in daily operation from 9am 1pm and the skiable terrain ending in the middle. As there are only two ski lifts in operation with three runs (total length 3km) and 6cm (3 inches) of snow, discounted ski passes are available.
The Kaunertal glacier currently has 7cm (3 inches) of snow and reports it will open as soon as there’s enough new snow and/or cold weather for snow making and the Dachstein glacier is currently closed.
Elsewhere in Europe, Are in Sweden and Hemsedal (picture attached) in Norway have both reported fresh snowfalls. Norway’s Bjorli was one of the best reporting 20cm (eight inches) of new snow yesterday.
Across the Atlantic it has been skiing in North America too, although unfortunately Timeberline ski area on Mt Hood in Oregon has been unable to re-open as planned last weekend due to a lack of snow.
Fresh snow was reported to be falling on the resort’s Palmer snowfield yesterday (September 29th) but not enough yet to re-open. "Pray for more snow", the area urges its fans.
With the ‘100 days to go’ mark to the Vancouver Olympics imminent however, excitement at Whistler has raised yet another notch with new snow on the mountains there. "Overnight Whistler Blackcomb received a dusting of the white stuff and there is more snow on the way with sub zero temperatures in the alpine over the next few days", Ryan Proctor told Skiinfo UK, noting snowfall predictions of up to 27cm (11 inches) by Saturday.
In South America there’s been fresh snow in Chile. Portillo has recorded 3cm (an inch) more in the past few days and still has over 1.8m (6 feet) lying on upper slopes but is scheduled to close at the weekend. There were bigger falls for the 3 Valley resorts nearer to capital Santiago.
There was also new snow at most of the major Argentinian ski areas, with Las Leñas still claiming the greatest snow deopths of 2.3m (nearly 8 feet) on upper slopes.
In Australia up to 58cm (nearly 2 feet) of new snow falling on the Victorian Alps was a bit galling for resorts that were already closing, but others decided to extend the season for another week. Mt Buller and Falls Creek resorts decided to extending their seasons due to the new snow but Hotham decided to close as scheduled last weekend, despite receiving 51cm (21 inches) of new snow over three days. Hotham reports it had a total of 317cm (10.5 feet) of snow between 6 June and 27 September, staged 60 events including international ski races, the Hotham Snowsports School taught more than 50,000 people in lessons. Mt Buller currently has a snow depth of 58cm with four lifts open. Bourke St and Baldy runs are currently recommended for beginners, Little Buller Spur and Wombat for the intermediates and the Wombat bowl is better than it has ever been this season for bumps and tree lined runs. Lift tickets are half price. In New South Wales, Australia’s biggest resort, Perisher, also plans to close this weekend after receiving a further 36cm (13 inches) of snow since last Saturday, 26th September. Perisher had a total of 321cm (10.6 feet) of snow fall between 6 June and 28 September. Perisher’s three-year $19 million energy efficient snowmaking expansion culminated in 2009 enabling the iconic Towers Run on Mt Perisher to open in the first week of the season on a great top to bottom cover.
There’s been fresh snow in New Zealand as the season has begun to wind down there. There’s currently good end-of-season conditions following snow top-ups this week, with spring skiing and riding conditions. Of the three areras operated by NZSki Ltd, Coronet Peak ski area is due to close this Sunday on October 4, with The Remarkables following a week later on October 11, and Mt Hutt on October 18. James Coddington, NZSki Ltd CEO, said it has been a fantastic season. "We started with the best openings in over a decade and since then a phenomenal number of people have visited our slopes. Mt Hutt opened two weeks early and both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables started the season with record snowfalls. It’s been a massive season and has shown us that recession means nothing to skiers and snowboarders when conditions are prime", he said. "We’ve seen some of the world’s top skiers and riders passing through our ski areas, not only for the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games but also for international race training as well as various events held at our ski areas. The world’s top competitors are happy to journey to our mountains for their off-season training. They know the facilities are world-class and they can rely on our experienced and willing Race & Events departments to supply what they need".
The ski season is expected to continue for longer still at Mt Ruapehu where the mountain’s twin ski areas of Whakapapa and Turoa received another 10cm (four inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours, topping up bases of 1.5 – 2.3m (5-7.5 feet) respectively. Monday October 26th is Labour Day in NZ and is the last day of the season for Whakapapa the resort’s Mike Smith told Skiinfo. "However we are looking at keeping Turoa open into 'Snovember' again for another 2 – 3 weeks. We can fly (via chopper) a section of our Sun Kid carpet lift up a bit higher to keep some beginner facilities operating as well".
Over 150 (around a third male) competitors took part in yesterdays Rip Curl and K2 Bikini Downhill held simultaneously at Whakapapa and Turoa at the weekend. This is the fourth year the event has been run and the first time at both Ski Areas. All proceeds from event entry fees and spectator donations go to the Breast Cancer Foundation and just on $3000 was raised.
Whakapapa definitely had the better conditions with blue skies and warm spring temperatures while a cool southerly and passing clouds meant Turoa competitors had to trust to the thermal insulatory properties of their swimwear.

Big Stars Sign For World Alpine Rockfest

American skiing superstars Bode Miller and Ted Ligety are among the first to sign up for the first "World Alpine Rockfest" which is being staged on December 22nd by the Paganella ski pass region in the Italian Dolomites with a prize purse of 100,000 Euros ($150,000 US) for the winner.
"I’ve been saying we need something new in the world of skiing, and this is just the kind of event I was looking for, so I signed up right away", said Miller.
The event will see 16 world-class skiers battling it out to win the Paganella Ski World Alpine Rockfest. Twelve ski stars will automatically take part, alongside four other athletes who will be selected before the competition.
Each of the stars has the chance to choose two friends-colleagues from their national team who will race against each other in a sort of afternoon pre-qualifier.
The real race will be held at night under the floodlights – and the finest four will make it to the final and rather than the head-to-head format that has been popular in recent years, each participant will race against the clock with the slowest four eliminated after each of the four runs,
The four finalists will be left to battle it out for the final victory and the 100.000 euro prize.
The twelve ski stars will be selected on the basis of their popularity, their success in sports events, their style, their fame, and their nationality. Each of them will have the chance to "invite" two other athletes. Davide Simoncelli - the local champ – will be able to choose four.
The 26 "selected" athletes will compete in one run, and the first four will make it to the select group of 16 finalists. The athletes who have already confirmed their participation include Bode Miller and Ted Ligety, USA, Felix Neureuther, Germany, Julian Lizeroux, France, John Kucera, Canada, Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein and Mattias Hargin, Sweden.
"The second big thing at the Paganella Ski World Alpine Rockfest is the combination of Great Music and Ski Champions. In fact, there will be a concert with an internationally renowned rock band at the end of the competition, a great chance for fans to dance with their favourite World Champion Skiers", said Sabina Fedrizzi of the organisers Consorzio Skipass Paganella Dolomiti.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce Program encourages each of us to ‘Make Your Peace’ at home, work and play

As the nations of the world prepare to send their top athletes to compete in Canada at the upcoming 2010 Winter Games in the spirit of peace and friendship, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) encourages everyone to make the Olympic Truce meaningful in their own way in the lead up to the Games.
A grassroots program created by VANOC aims to extend the Olympic values of friendship and respect through an open invitation to ‘Make Your Peace’. Initiatives will encourage individuals to create everyday peace at home, schools, work, and in the community, based on the belief that lasting peace starts at the local level.
Details of the program, which will promote dialogue, inclusion, mutual understanding, and peace through a number of initiatives, including a youth forum in Burnaby, BC on September 28, will be rolled out over the coming months.
"The ability to inspire peace is in the choices we each make. We can always choose a more peaceful route in this world if we take a moment to think about the impact of our actions on others", explained John Furlong, VANOC’s Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of the International Olympic Truce Foundation.
"The Vancouver 2010 Winter Games are an opportunity to highlight sport as a catalyst for peace among nations and among people", he continued. "Every athlete is held to account on the playing field where the values of respect, fair play and inclusion must prevail. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Truce is about harnessing the values of sport and the Olympic Games as instruments of peace in our everyday lives".
The philosophy of the Olympic Truce is simple: sport can inspire peace. In 2010, athletes will set aside their political, religious and social differences and compete on a level playing field in the pursuit of excellence. Their sportsmanship and behaviour are examples of how countries and individuals can find constructive ways to uphold the values of respect and friendship.
The 2010 Winter Games mark the first time Canada has been responsible for leading Olympic Truce efforts since the ancient tradition, dating back to 776 BC in Greece, was revitalized in 1992. For more information on the Olympic Truce, visit http://www.olympic.org/ and http://www.olympictruce.org/.
As part of commemorating the Olympic Truce, it is the tradition for the Host Country to present a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly calling for a truce during the Olympic Games. The truce encourages a peaceful environment and ensures safe passage to, and participation of, athletes at the Games and serves to mobilize the youth of the world to the cause of peace. The Government of Canada intends to present the resolution for the 2010 Winter Games at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in October.
VANOC is also working on a Canadian interpretation of a truce "wall" in the athletes’ villages. At past Games, these walls have largely been places for athletes and officials at the Games to sign declarations expressing their wish for a more peaceful world. The Vancouver 2010 version will be in the same spirit and details will remain under wraps until revealed closer to Games time.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Zurich Freestyle

The 15th annual freestyle.ch event is going to take place from September 25 – 27, 2009 in Zurich. Since 1995, freestyle.ch has been climbing the charts to become the largest freestyle event in Europe. Major league snowboarding, freeskiing, FMXing and skateboarding freestylers will gather at Zurich’s Landiwiese for showdown along the banks of Lake Zurich for the hotly contested freestyle.champ titles.
20 snowboarders and freeskiers, 8 FMXers and 12 skateboarders will go head-to-head in two equally rated qualifications on Friday and Saturday, followed by Sunday’s full program of finals. Let’s see whether snowboarder Stefan Gimpl (AUT), freeskier Jacob Wester (SWE), FMX pilot Thomas Pagès (FRA) and skateboarder Sandro Diaz (BRA) manage to hang on to their 2008 freestyle.champ titles. The Landiwiese is sure to be cooking Saturday evening as the best in the four freestyle sports disciplines flaunt their tricks in the "Ultimate Crossover Session", ensuring a bombastic display of daredevil feats in a tantalizing fight for the crossover.champ title. freestyle.ch can also be caught livestream via the internet and on TV in over 180 countries.
Label World, provides the ideal setting for industry and customers to enjoy a one-on-one exchange. The whole spectrum of trends and developments in the freestyle sports industry is laid out for visitors to effortlessly get informed and get into action at one of the activity stands of their favorite brands.
Plenty of party action is also in store on Friday and Saturday. Year after year, Nokia ensures the choicest bands at freestyle.ch Zurich. And this year’s no exception: while athletes are catching a quick breather between contests, the two current top acts in Switzerland will be rocking the freestyle.ch ‘09 crowds at the Landiwiese in Zurich. On Friday, the innovative and provocative hip-hop sounds of Stress will rouse audiences. And on Saturday, Phenomden is sure to stoke the masses with his pure reggae sounds. And when things start winding down at the Landiwiese Friday and Saturday, the party will move to downtown Zurich!.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fresh Snow In North America As Snowmaking Begins in Colorado

Skiinfo reports that the number of countries open for snow sports will grow by two this weekend when Tignes in France and Timberline in the US are due to re-open for winter 2009-10 just as autumn begins. There’s been fresh snow on both sides of the Atlantic this week to further build anticipation amongst the millions of skiers and boarders eagerly awaiting the start of winter 2009-10
In North America cold temperatures and natural snowfall have arrived earlier than expected in Colorado, USA allowing Loveland Ski Area, one of the world’s highest altitude resorts, to officially kick-off snowmaking for the 2009-2010 ski season. "Our Trail Maintenance department has been busy preparing the hill, and have started beautifully with all the necessary conditions to start blowing snow. The weather forecast for the next few days looks very favorable for snowmaking", said Eric Johnstone, Loveland’s Snowmaking and Trail Maintenance Manager. Loveland Ski Area has started making snow on the Catwalk, Mambo, and Homerun for Opening Day 2009. These trails form a top-to-bottom run of 1,000 vertical feet (330m). "Everyone at Loveland is just very excited to start the new ski season. The temperatures look good right now, the equipment is in place, and the crew is fired-up to make snow. We got together this morning and decided that today was the day", said Bob Magrino, Director of Mountain Operations. Loveland usually opens in the first half of October, but other resorts in the state which won’t open until closer to Thanksgiving in late November have also reported fresh snow for the start of autumn.
At Steamboat Ski Area the first snow of the season was reported just below the top of Christie Peak at about 8,000 feet with between a trace to half an inch as you moved up from the top of the gondola up to the summit of Mt. Werner. The Steamboat Ski Area opens for the 2009/10 season in two months on November 25, 2009.
North America’s only ‘near-year-round’ snowfield is scheduled to re-open at Timberline, Oregon this weekend after a few week’s annual maintenance closure, although some sources say that this may not happen as temperatures have been too warm. The area’s website currently reports lifts will re-open on Friday (September 25) however.
Excitement is also mounting in the Alps as half a dozen glacier ski areas prepare to open for the winter 2008-9 in the first weeks of October in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. Cervinia, Engelberg and Tignes are all on the list of areas expected to join the resorts that have already opened, such as Pitztal in Austria, or have been open all summer like Sass Free and Zermatt in Switzerland, Passo Stelvio and Val Senales in Italy and Hintertux in Austria.
Austria once again has the greatest choice of snow slopes, now back up to five for the first time since the spring with the Stubai glacier opening a month earlier than originally planned, Solden’s glacier opening two weeks later than planned and the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun, which had closed due to lack of snow on the glacier in August, reopening. They join Tux and the recently re-opened Pitztal glaciers. The Dachstein glacier is currently reported to be closed although it notes therte’s 20cm (8 inches) of snow on the pistes. Solden has only 3.1km (2miles) of piste open and three glacier lifts, with quite a thin covering of snow on the glacier pistes, but fresh snow has fallen giving a few centimetres of powder on top, so no one lucky enough to be there is complaining. The lifts are open from 9am to 1pm and reached by a bus service from the village.
Elsewhere in Europe Tignes in France will re-open this Saturday, September 26th for its long season through to next May, 2010.
In Switzerland Saas Fee and Zermatt are both still open with around 90cm (three feet) of snow each.
In Italy the choice is between Passo Stelvio and Val Senales, due to be joined shortly by Cervinia, opening weekends, through most of October before full opening in November.
The 2009 ski season in the southern hemisphere is beginning to wind down, in Australia at least, where most of the country’s still-open major resorts will run their lifts for snow operations for the last time this season on Sunday, September 27th. At Mt Hotham the Road Runner, Village, Summit Quad, Summit Trainer and the Big D lifts are all still turning and tickets will be half price for the final few days of the season this weekend.
In New Zealand most ski areas are open for some weeks yet and most that are still open are reporting healthy base depths. Whakapapa for example has just over 1.5m (five feet) lying, at neighbouring Turoa it’s still nearly 2.4m (eight feet) meaning a snowy October looks likely.
Construction has started and containers are in place to make way for the Speight’s Summit Methven Big Air this Saturday, with snow due to arrive from Mt Hutt today (Thursday 24 Sept). Fresh powder falling overnight at Mt Hutt has been a welcome gift for skiers and riders but has meant plans for bringing snow to Methven have changed and with more snow expected tomorrow, the pace will be stepped up to bring snow in today. Karyn Heald, Event Organiser told InTheSnow that excitement is building in town as construction gets underway. "The containers are in place, scaffolding is up, the dirt is in for the FMX, and all hands are on deck", she said. "Everything is looking good and Friday will be an exciting day when the snow is loaded onto the ramp and shaping begins with snow from Mt Hutt". The 17-metre high Big Air kicker will showcase a field of top athletes alongside an FMX spectacular, live music and a whole host of entertainment to make this one of the most epic days of the season.
It’s a more mixed picture for snow depths in South America with accumulations ranging from ‘not much’ to ‘still quite adequate’ and typical Spring snow conditions the norm with better skiing on upper slopes virtually everywhere. Las Leñas in Argentina reports some of the deepesat snow on the continent ranging from 90cm, (three feet) on lower slopes to 3.2m (nearly 11 feet) lying on summit slopes.
In Chile, Portillo hasn’t added much to the eight metre (26 feet) tally-to-date for seasonal snowfall it passed some weeks ago now, reporting only a centimetre (half inch) of new snow in the past week. However it still has a healthy base from top (210cm/7 feet) to bottom (137cm/4.5 feet) of the mountain.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Congress of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue

The Annual Congress of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (IKAR/CISA) is taking place in Zermatt from the 22nd to the 27th September. Around 300 participants from 31 different countries are expected to attend this event, with the goal of providing an intensive exchange of information about the various aspects of mountain rescue and about recent innovations. The congress demonstrates the high quality and the extraordinary conditions of mountain rescue to an international public. In addition, the congress also offers an exhibition of the latest technical devices from 20 exhibitors, which will take place in the Mont Cervin Palace. The most important representatives of international mountain rescue will be present, together with their partner organisations.
Zermatt has a long tradition in alpine rescue due to its alpinist history and its outstanding position as a world spa location surrounded by twenty-nine 4,000-metre mountains, and has played a pioneering role since the founding of Air Zermatt in 1968.
The IKAR was founded in 1948, with 11 member organisations from five Alpine countries. The first meeting took place in the "Wilden Kaiser" in Austria, and was organised by the Austrian Alpine Club. Today, the IKAR now has 60 member organisations from 31 countries. In today’s world, the IKAR not only ensures an exchange of experiences between mountain rescuers, but also pays very close attention to the currently increasing limitations that arise as a result of national and international standards. As a representation of interests, it is committed to ensure that no new directives and laws will be laid down without the participation of the IKAR.

Green Sprouts?

While destination resort business in August continued the recent pattern of steep year-to-year declines in visits, future reservations for the fall and early winter increased for only the third month of the past 12, signaling a possible turning point for destination travel, according to data compiled by the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP). Data in the next few months will provide more insight into how the travel industry, like the rest of the economy, is adjusting to a "new normal". Year-to-year comparisons are particularly difficult and perhaps misleading at the moment, said Ralf Garrison, president of MTRiP, which tracks destination visits at 216 properties in 15 resort markets in the Western U.S. and Canada. Last August, consumers were less affected by the financial crisis and "were shopping and spending in historically normal patterns", Garrison said. This year, though, in response to the recession and heightened concerns over the economy and job security, "shopping and spending patterns have changed, particularly on discretionary purchases such as leisure travel, including mountain resorts", he pointed out. August occupancy was down 21 percent compared to August 2008 and down 13.2 percent from July 2009. Lodging rates were down 12.6 percent compared to August 2008 and 11.1 percent from July. Overall, summer business (May through October) continued to show significant declines from last summer.On a more positive note, reservations taken in August for arrivals from August through January were up 2.1 percent—the first increase in year-to-year comparisons since May 2009, and only the third increase in the past 12 months. There were noticeable increases for September (28 percent), November (26 percent), and December (six percent); while actual numbers are small, these are the first indications that consumers may be returning to mountain vacations.
What fueled the uptick in advance bookings? During the reporting period, several economic indicators were trending up, led by the stock market and the Consumer Confidence Index, up to 54.1 compared to 25 back in February—and almost to the same level as last August, when it was 56.9. However, vacation travel appears to be a lagging indicator. Garrison noted that the reported rise took place at a time when the numbers are low to begin with. The percentage gains seem impressive, but the actual numbers remain small. "While national indicators continue to move in a direction that fosters cautious optimism for the coming season, these indicators point to a future that has yet to materialize in advanced bookings", Garrison warned. In addition, these monthly increases are in sharp contrast to recent trends for short-term bookings. Last-minute bookings were strong in July but down in August; they declined 11 percent compared to August 2008.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Freeride World Tour season 3

The Freeride World Tour announces its third season. The world's best skiers and snowboarders will yet again be battling it out in four of the world's most prestigious ski resorts. It will all start on the Russian slopes of Sochi in January followed closely by the next stage in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. The Tour will then journey to the United States to "ride" the mythical Tram Face, that has not yet officially been cleared for a freeriding competition. Finally, those riders with the top ratings will compete in the Tour's grand final in Verbier during the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch which celebrates its 15th year.
"It is with great satisfaction that we announce the Freeride World Tour's third season. This year the Tour will be staged in some of the world's most renowned ski resorts. Our partner, Nissan, co-founder of the Tour, continues its unwavering support. Swatch, among other partners is reinforcing its involvement by presenting two of the Freeride World Tour's stages this year. Ensured by the participation of the world's top freeriders, we are very keen for the FWT's third season to kick off", comments Nicolas Hale-Woods, founder of the Freeride World Tour.
Who is going to follow in the steps of Aurélien Ducroz (ski/men), Xavier de Le Rue (snowboard/men), Ane Enderud (ski/women) and Susan Mol (snowboard/women)? The pressure is already on. Most riders have already begun their physical and mental pre-season work outs.
"The level among the riders has increased constantly since the first edition of the Tour. It is no longer enough to be a great skier to take part of the Tour. Physical and mental preparation, thorough inspection of the competition face, and top gear, are all important elements that has helped develop freeriding to a professional sport, becomming more and more known by the broad public", says Freeride World Champion 2009 Aurélien Ducroz of France.
Jean-Pierre Diernaz, General Manager of Marketing and Communications, Nissan Europe: "Being a partner since the first day, Nissan confirms its involvement into the discipline and is pleased to contribute to the development of this sport. 2010 represents a major step ahead, making the Freeride World Tour a first class worldwide sport event".
Swiss watch maker Swatch is also supporting the Freeride World Tour. "Swatch has always been looking for exciting partnerships in the field of lifestyle sports. The Freeride World Tour and its new ways of defining modern snowboarding and skiing fits well to our brand's core values such as constant innovation. We are very happy to partner with the third edition of the Freeride World Tour", states Arlette-Elsa Emch, President of Swatch.

The 2010 Freeride World Tour's four stages:

  • Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch (Sochi, Russia). January 21st 2010.
  • Nissan Freeride of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (France). January 30th 2010.
  • Nissan Tram Face (Squaw Valley, USA). February 27th 2010.
  • Nissan Xtreme by Swatch (Verbier, Switzerland). March 20th 2010.

Monday, September 21, 2009

InTheSnow Magazine announces world’s first Ski News iPhone App

InTheSnow magazine has launched the world’s first and only Ski News iPhone application.
The InTheSnow application is available worldwide to download free from the Apple Store, perfect timing for the 2009/10 ski season. It contains ski and snowboard news from all over the world, and summaries of the best holiday offers, all updated daily.
"We saw a gap in the market", said Dominic Killinger, the publisher and entrepreneur behind the innovative idea. "The BBC, ITN and SKY each have their own World News Apps. The total number of App downloads since the launch of the Apple store in July 2007 has exceeded one billion, we just had to be a part of this phenomena. Skiers are huge internet users, for news, holiday offers and equipment reviews and up until now, there has been no iPhone application that delivers this kind of content. This is the first and it’s superb".
InTheSnow’s News App is edited by Patrick Thorne described by The Times as "One of 20 People to Know in Ski". He has been a full time, year round, professional ski writer for 25 years and is nicknamed "The Snow Hunter". Patrick has located 6,000 ski areas in 80 countries and for the past decade has published a year-round weekly bulletin of news from ski resorts worldwide, notching up more than 5,000 reports. InTheSnow would only settle for the best when they recruited Patrick as the News Editor.
The offers and savings are provided by Skitracer, the travel agency known for its Pricewatch service. Throughout the year, Skitracer’s Pricewatch features a summary of the best current offers and discounts drawn from the vast number of offers on the market. The travel agency offers hundreds of resorts worldwide and hundreds of thousands of beds in hotels, self-catering apartments and condominiums and catered chalets. "At any one time there are literally thousands of offers about. We sift through these and identify which are the very best savings. We do the legwork for you and our advice is independent and up to the minute. We are thrilled to be able to share our Pricewatch service with iPhone Users worldwide", said Simon McIntyre Sales Manager for Skitracer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run was resoundingly successful

Last Saturday, the 5th Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run wrapped up with as many participants having completed the whole distance of the race as never before. A total of 195 teams out of 250 who lined up at the start in Oberstdorf, Germany, mastered the 238.09 kilometres and about 15,422 metres of elevation gain. In addition, 35 individual finishers, whose partners were forced to withdraw, also made it to Latsch, Italy.
Thus, 425 Transalpine-Runners were allowed to put on their deserved finisher jerseys (picture attached) . Only 15 percent weren’t able to master the adventure of the 2009 Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run.
This year’s fastest racers represented the colours of Great Britain. And as if the victory wasn’t enough, Andrew Symonds and Tom Owens of "Saab Salomon Outdoor" also beat the previous record time as they spent 24:02:47.2 hours on the trails of the Western course through its eight
stages, only missing to stay within a day by the skin of one’s teeth. In contrary, "Team Schwarzwaldmädels" around Monika Jobst and Heidi Stöhr was three times longer under way being the last one to arrive with the time of 72:54:09.5 hours. At the uphill sprint race which only takes place on the Western course in Scoul, Switzerland, it was time for another mind-blogging time. Northern Italy’s Michael Fischer of "Telmekom Team Südtirol" conquered the peak of Motta Naluns and therefore 6.19 kilometres as well as 639 metres of elevation gain in the time of 39:55.9 minutes.
"Saab Salomon Outdoor" didn’t just provide the fastest Men’s team but also the victorious Mixed duo with Angela Mudge (GBR) and Ben Bardsley (GBR) stepping on the top podium spot (27:26:24.4). On the ladies’ side, Irene Senfter (ITA) cinched her third title after 2005 and 2006 (32:10:21.6) – this time with her new running partner of "Team Latsch" Petra Theiner (ITA). In the category of teams with an added age of 80+ years, the title was claimed by defending champion Dr. Thomas Miksch (GER) and his new team mate of "BLT Laufsport Saukel Haglöfs" Anton Philipp (GER) in the time of 26:45:58.5 hours.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Zealand Awarded 2010 FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Junior World Championships

Snow Sports New Zealand announced today that the International Ski Federation (FIS) has awarded the 2010 Snowboard and Freestyle Junior World Championships to New Zealand.
The event, spanning as many as 14 days in late August and early September, marks the first time a FIS World Championship will be staged in New Zealand, and also marks the first time that snowboarding and freestyle skiing will share the same stage in a World Championship.
"It’s a great honour to be chosen as the host for this prestigious event", said Ross Palmer, CEO of Snow Sports New Zealand, the national governing body for snow sports. "It’s a clear signal from the international sporting community that there is a high level of confidence in our ability to host major international winter sporting events".
Wednesday’s announcement by Snow Sports New Zealand comes on the heels of the recently concluded and highly successful 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games, the largest snow sports event ever held in the Southern hemisphere. "Hosting the FIS Junior World Championships next season will only add to the legacy that the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games helped establish", said Palmer. "The staff and volunteers of the Winter Games Trust who helped make that event so successful have laid the foundation for us to stage a spectacular Junior World Championships".
Event venues have yet to be determined, but Palmer said he expects that there will be significant interest from ski and snowboard resorts in both Wanaka and Queenstown, where FIS have indicated they would like to see the event staged. "As the current season winds down, we’ll have formal discussions with the ski area operators to gauge their interest in being a part of this event, and to ensure that we are able to fit comfortably into their schedules during a busy time of the season", said Palmer.
A full slate of snowboard disciplines will be showcased during the event for boys and girls ages 20-under, including halfpipe, snowboard-cross, parallel giant slalom, parallel slalom, big air and slopestyle. The inclusion of slopestyle in the snowboarding competition is one of the first steps in making it a full-fledged World Championship discipline at the 2011 World Championships in La Molina, Spain. New Zealand is one of at least three countries that have submitted proposals to FIS supporting slopestyle’s inclusion as a World Championship discipline. Snowboard slopestyle is confirmed for inclusion in the first winter Youth Olympics, scheduled for 2012 in Innsbruck. "It’s one of the more exciting and dynamic disciplines in snowboarding, and New Zealand has a good group of young riders who excel in slopestyle", said Palmer. It’s anticipated that halfpipe and skier-cross will comprise the freestyle disciplines organised for the 2010 FIS Junior World Championships, with slopestyle and big air also possibilities, pending approval from FIS.
Typically, FIS World Championships are staged during the Northern Hemisphere winter, but with New Zealand’s growing reputation as world-class snow sports destination, organisers are confident they’ll be able to attract full fields for the event.
A finalised schedule is expected to be announced in October, shortly after the annual fall FIS meetings in Zurich later this month, and at the conclusion of discussions with Otago-area ski and snowboard resorts.

SKI Magazine's annual "Top Resort Guide"

For a third straight year SKI Magazine annual "Top Resort Guide", the definitive ranking of North American ski resorts, names Deer Valley, Utah as the No. 1 ski resort in its September issue. Deer Valley's ratings has never dropped lower than third overall in the past nine years. It also ranked No. 1 in 2006.
More than 20,000 SKI Magazine readers responded to the "Top Resort Guide" survey, which was conducted by an independent research firm. It is the most comprehensive and longest-running ski resort survey in the winter sports industry. Resorts are ranked in 18 categories: Overall Satisfaction, Access, Après Ski, Dining, Family Programs, Grooming, Lifts, Lodging, Off-Hill Activities, On-Mountain Food, Scenery, Service, Snow, Terrain/Challenge, Terrain/Variety, Terrain Parks, Value and Weather by SKI subscribers who have skied the resorts for the past two seasons, skiing an average of 23 days a year. The Park City resort also won individual categories for grooming, mountain service, dining and lodging.
SKI Magazine is published by Mountain Sports Media, a Boulder-based division the Bonnier Corporation. The Bonnier Corporation is one of the largest consumer-publishing groups in America and the leading media company serving passionate, highly engaged audiences through more than 40 special-interest magazines and related multimedia projects and events.

The top 10 resorts according to SKI Magazine's readers:

1. Deer Valley, Utah
2. Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia
3. Vail, Colorado
4. Park City, Utah
5. Beaver Creek, Colorado
6. Snowmass, Colorado
7. Sun Valley, Idaho
8. Squaw Valley, California
9. Mammoth Mountain, California
10. Steamboat, Colorado

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cross-Canada countdown is on for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay

Skydivers parachuting in from above, top regional musical performers, giant puppets, a dazzling light show, foot stomping Acadian fiddlin’, towering snow and ice sculptures, a huge tepee, as well as a kazoo band: that is just a sampling of the unique local flavour almost 200 torch relay celebration communities plan on showcasing when they welcome the Olympic Flame and potentially the world to their part of the country.
Communities in all regions are readying themselves to become an "Olympic Town" for the day when the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, presented by Coca-Cola and RBC and supported by the Government of Canada, makes its historic 45,000 kilometre journey across Canada starting October 30. One of the most anticipated announcements in each community hosting a celebration will be the naming of the community torchbearer. They have been nominated by fellow members of their own city, town or village as the person who best exemplifies their civic pride and the Olympic Spirit.
The Olympic Flame will be lit by the power of the sun’s rays during a time-honoured ceremony in Olympia, site of the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Sheltered in a security lantern, similar to a miner’s lantern, the Olympic Flame will embark on a trans-Atlantic flight to Canada on board a Canadian Armed Forces’ aircraft. Less than 24 hours later, it will arrive in Victoria, BC. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay will visit more than 1,030 communities from coast to coast to coast across Canada before it finishes its 106-day journey in downtown Vancouver on February 12, 2010 when the Olympic Flame will light the Olympic Cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in front of a television audience of billions. During the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history, 12,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame and at various opportunities will feature nearly 100 alternative transportation modes, including dogsled, Haida canoe, chuckwagon, seaplane, ice resurfacer, and double-decker bus.

Fresh Snow In The Alps Leads To Resorts Re-opening

Skiinfo reports that there has been up to 10cm of fresh snow in the past 72 hours on mountain tops across the Alps including the glaciers that are already open or about to open for the start of the 2009-10 ski season.
In Austria the Tux glacier, one of the handful that endeavours to open year round, is one of the beneficiaries, with its snow depth topped back up to 55cm (just under 2 feet) after a long summer melt. There are 9 lifts operating there serving 15km (9 miles) of open piste. Fresh snow on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun means that it will re-open on Friday (September 18) with a 70cm (2.23 foot) base after having been closed for the past month or so due to the hot weather. A third Austrian choice, the Molltal glacier near Mallnitz is reporting the country’s biggest snow depth at present with 90cm (3 feet) of snow to enjoy. The Pitztal glacier is also opening for its long 2009-10 season this week, helped by a new plus-temperatures operational snowmaking system imported from Israel and the fresh snow. Solden, which had hoped to open on 5th September but has had to delay opening due to the weather conditions is now reviewing their planned opening after reporting another 8cm (3 inches) of snow today.
There was also snow at the four other glacier ski areas currently open in the Alps. Saas Fee in Switzerland reported on another 6cm (2.5 inches) of powder on Tuesday, taking its 7 day total to 10cm (4 inches) and glacier based depth to 65cm (over 2 feet). Its neighbour Zermatt, open 365 days a year for snow sports, has been similarly blessed.
There’s no outdoor skiing currently available in France, but the fresh snow is good news for Tignes which will re-open a week on Saturday (September 26th) for its long winter 2009-10, just four weeks after closing its summer ski season.
In Italy Passo Tonale and Val Senales are both open for glacier skiing and again benefited from the fresh snow.
There’s no skiing in North America at present but Timberline ski area in Oregon, USA is due to kick off the 2009-10 season there this Saturday, September 19, when its lifts should be running again.
With the ski season over in Africa, the bulk of world ski attention is currently focussed on South America, Australia and New Zealand where there has been little fresh snow in the past week and spring skiing conditions are dominant in most locations, with earlier snow accumulations in recent weeks packing down to create great on-piste conditions, especially from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
In Australia, Perisher has tipped the 2.8m (9.3 feet) mark of cumulative snowfalls since the start of the season, and it’s currently looking good out there for spring skiing and boarding. The resort has received 21cm (8.5 inches) of fresh flakes since 1 September and more is predicted with light snowfalls expected around next Sunday, 20 September. Perisher has 39 lifts currently in operation accessing 4 resort areas and 7 mountain peaks, plus there's four progressive terrain parks and the Superpipe so riders still have plenty of options on offer. After a week of snow showers and cloud at Hotham, the weather has cleared. The resort has had 16cm (7 inches) of snow in the last 7 days. The average natural snow depth is currently 65cm (2.2 feet), a drop of about 20cm (eight inches) on a week ago, with the snow depth in the snowmaking areas at 120cm (4 feet). The Black Snake run is currently recommended as a good pick for advanced skiers and boarders, Snake Gully for intermediates and Easy Street at the Big D for beginners.
The snow depth is down to 40cm (15 inches) at Mt Buller and with temperatures hitting 9 Celcius it’s getting warm there.
In New Zealand there are styill some big sanow deoths if no fresh snow at many areas. Turoa on Mt Ruapehu is reporting depths of 236cm (8 feet), the most in the country, although most other areas still have between 120cm and 180cm (4-6 feet) lying, giving much more than adequate snow cover. At The Remarkables (picture attached) under-16 year old shredders will bust out their latest tricks when the final K2 Parklife Mini Shred for the season this weekend when they battle it out in the resort’s Tararua Real Iced Coffee (TRIC) Beginner Terrain Park on September 20. Ross Lawrence, Ski Area Manager, said he’s excited about the second event following the success of the first event in July. "This is the chance for the kids to ski and ride with their buddies in a competition scenario and show how far they’ve progressed this season. In July we saw these girls and boys pushing themselves to their limits, this time around we’re sure to see them step it up to the next level in their riding and skiing", he said. "The TRIC Beginner Park is perfect for this kind of event, it’s been designed and built to help skiers and riders progress their skills in a relaxed environment".
In South America the leading resorts such as Valle Nevado and portillo in Chile and Cathedral and Las Leñas in Argentina are each reporting ther biggest bases – all a little over 2 metres (7 feet) on upper slopes, meaning the skiing should be good well in to October. However in some cases, notably Catedral, lower slopes have little or no cover.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Report Confirms 2008-2009 Winter Season is one of Best on Record in Switzerland

Geneva-based consultancy Laurent Vanat Consulting SARL has reported that Swiss ski resorts enjoyed one of their best seasons. For the sixth time, this exclusive survey, carried out in a completely independent way, made it possible to collect and analyze data representative of more than 80% of industry.
The season 2008/09 has been thus confirmed as the best of last 5 years, with a rise of the attendance in the Swiss resorts of 2.2% compared to the 2007/2008 season, and 7.3%compared to the average of the 4 last seasons. 29.3 million skier-days were recorded. The turnover also knew a rise of 1.9%, to CHF 862 million (transport receipts of the winter season).
Report shows the cantons of Valais and Graubünden have the greatest market share, with respectively 9.7 and 8.0 million skier-days. But due to the early and reliable snow conditions as well as the favourable weatherit it was primarily the medium altitude resorts which experienced the most marked progressions. The canton of Vaud saw its skier-days increase by 5.7% and the canton of Sankt-Gallen of 17.3%! The high-altitude resorts, which generally profit from the unfavourable snow conditions in lower altitudes with some customers transfers, saw their attendance stagnating, even very slightly regressing.
82% of the resorts increased their tariffs by CHF 1.47 on average for an adult daily ticket, for which the posted price reached CHF 54.10 in the major destinations. But at the end of the day, the operators only cash on average CHF 32.82 VAT included, for one skier-day, when one takes into account all the reductions applied (children, family, seniors, multi-days, season, other favours…). This last figure is in slight reduction, which would thus seem to indicate that in spite of the increase in the prices published, the customers do not end paying their day of ski more expensive than former years.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Red Bull Dolomitenmann

The Red Bull Dolomitenmann marathon event took place last Saturday, September 12th. Born in Europe, the Red Bull Dolomitenmann includes mountain-running, paragliding, whitewater-kayaking, and finished by a mountain bike ride. The marathon event, started in Lienz (Austria) was held for the 22nd time.
First of all the mountain-runners have to cover an 1700 meters in altitude track, starting in Lienz on the main-square. The track leads to the Dolomites, where very steep tracks have to be conquered. At an altitude of over 2400 metres they will hand over to the paragliders and scrip 200 metres downhill to the take off area. From there they'll pass some of the most breath taking peaks in the dolomites before negotiateing in intermediate landing. An another 500 meter run to the next take off station follows. After that they'll sore down into the town of Leisach, where they hand over to the kayakers, who have two selective segments to overcome:
Starting with a tight 1000 metre slalom course against the raging current in the river Drau. After that a short portage segment leaves them to the river Isel for a quick downwater run to the final changeover. Now it's all up to the mountainbikers. The final 12 kilometres and 1300 vertical metres lead them over a rollercoaster course. Through narrow woods and steep sections where they have to shoulder their bikes to blistering downhills on tight switchbacks. And over open fields and screeping alpine paths that break … speed. A delvy burndowny asphalt into Lienz again for the finish.



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ski Season Ends On Two Continents But 2009-10 Ski Season Kicks Off In Europe

Skiinfo reports that the official start of the 2009-10 ski season remains a subject for debate among snow nerds (...such as ourselves). On the one hand, several ski areas virtually never close – including Austria’s Hintertux glacier and Switzerland’s Zermatt, so for them the last winter season and the start of next winter is merged. Then there are resorts that are similar but close for a month or so in the Spring before re-opening in June or July and staying open right through to the following spring, so they might argue their next-winter-season actually begins in June or July. However after the summer heat has cooled a little and the summer ski glaciers that have a limited summer season have closed at the end of it, resorts do begin to open for winter 2009-10 that were not open before. On top of this skiing ended on two continents at the weekend, with the three still-open ski areas in Africa and North America finishing their seasons last Sunday (September 6th).
Solden in Austria was due to be the first last weekend but the summer heat melting away virtually all snow on the glaciers means this once year-round ski centre could not open as planned, despite fresh snow falls a few days before the planned opening date. So it appears that the Pitztal Glacier, Austria’s highest ski area, will be, "the-first-ski area to open for the-2009-10-season-that-wasn’t-already-open" when it opens this Saturday, September 12th. Unlike Solden (but like Zermatt), Pitztal has the ‘secret weapon’ of a new snowmaking system from Israeli company IDE which makes snow in high positive temperatures. But of course you don’t need to wait until the weekend to ski Austria. The Hintertux glacier is open with 15km (9 miles) of runs to enjoy and 165cm (5.5 feet) of snow to enjoy. The weather remains sunny. The Molltal Glacier is also open with 90cm (three feet) of snow.
Elsewhere in Europe the opportunities are equally limited with only four other resorts to choose from. Saas Fee and Zermatt are both open in Switzerland, both with around 90cm (three foot) snow depths.
In Italy Cervinia was another of the resorts closing at the weekend leaving only Passo Tonale and Passo Stelvio open.
All French ski areas are currently closed, with Tignes due to reopen the weekend after next.
In North America the last ski area that was still open from 2008, Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon finished its 50 week ski season last weekend, lifts will start operating again at the end of next week on the 18th of September.
In Africa the season has ended at Tiffindell, although night time temperatures are still dipping below freezing. The resort has launched bookings for 2010 already, offering 2009 prices for next season to early bookers. The other ski area in southern Africa, Afriski in Lesotho, has also called it a day for their winter 2009. These are believed to be the first southern hemisphere ski areas to complete their 2009 seasons.
South America has seen plenty of fresh snow in the past week, with Chile doing especially well again, and Portillo reporting nearly 120cm (four feet) of new snow in the past seven days, taking their total this season to date past the eight metre (27 feet) mark. Current snow depths are a few centimetres below three metres (ten feet) on upper slopes. Valle Nevado has also had a lot of fresh snow and now has 170cm (nearly six feet) lying on the upper slopes with just under five metres (17 feet) fallen this season to date. Conditions are described as "Fresh powder". Argentina’s resorts have also seen new snow. Catedral continues to report the deepest snow on upper slopes with 2.2m (over seven feet) lying, Las Lenas is close behind with 1.8m (six feet).
In Australia conditions remain good at most of the major centres, with Thredbo reporting the greatest snow depth in the country with 145cm (Nearly five feet) on upper slopes. At Perisher (picture attached) 8cm of fresh dry flakes settled across the mid to upper slopes overnight with 3cm in the village; adding to the good base, plus there is reported to be more on the way. Guests can make the most of these awesome spring conditions and join in the fun and frivolity of Perisher’s annual Spring Carnival, which will continue until the 20 September providing family entertainment for guests, live music, fireworks, plus much, much more. At Hotham sunshine and snowflakes have been the flavour so far and they expect it to continue with up to another 20cm (eight inches) predicted to fall by Thursday this week. The resort is staging a Stars on Snow Spectacular today with the resort’s Snowsports instructors showing off their on-slope tricks with big air fire jumps, a kids flare run, fire twirling and a big fireworks display to finish off the night.
Turoa on Mt Ruapehu has New Zealand’s deepest snow with a base depth in excess of 2.4m (eight feet) on upper slopes. Meanwhile Cardrona Alpine Resort has broken its accumulated snowfall record by over a metre, with 317cm of snowfall this season. The previous biggest year on record was 2004 (213cm). The record amount of snow has provided excellent on and off piste conditions and will ensure that the resort’s popular terrain park features stay in top shape as the mountain crew have ample snow to work with. Cardrona’s high base elevation (1670m) also means the snow stays in good condition down to the base buildings. Nadia Ellis, Cardrona marketing manager, said spring is a great time to visit Cardrona. "We have plenty of snow and the mountain is looking in excellent shape, the resort is traditionally quieter and we are looking forward to enjoying the sunnier climes of spring".

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pitztal & IDE All Weather Snowmaker Launching Event

Tomorrow September 10th Pitztal will host the launching event of the IDE All Weather Snowmaker.
The Snowmaker was assembled and testing in Israel during July 2008. Then the Snowmaker was shipped from Israel to Slovenia, loaded on a truck convoy and transported to the base station of the ski resort. The crews worked hard to transport the heavy equipment up to the mountains. IDE's engineers successfully tested the Pitztal snowmaker last December 2008.
Following Zermatt’s footsteps, Pitztal Gletscherbahnen was the second ski resort to order a new kind of artificial snow system: the IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker. IDE Technologies is a world leader and pioneer in water desalination, wastewater concentrators and purifiers. The snowmaking technology comes from the mining industry where it is used to cool the goldmines.The All Weather Snowmaker is a unique, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient solution that produces large quantities of high quality snow using vacuum conditions to generate it. Unlike the conventional snow gun, the All Weather Snowmaker is capable of operating at all ambient temperatures, thus ensuring full operation during warm spells as well as supplementing natural snowfall accumulation."This 1.5 million Euro investment will complement existing snow making systems by covering slopes that so far had to rely exclusively on natural snowfall", said Hans Rubatscher, Pitztal Glacier Resort Chairman.
Pitztal is Austria’s highest glacier ski area (the Pitz Panoramabahn brings skiers 3,440m above sea level) and one of the five Tyrolean glaciers among which you can enjoy skiing all year round. The glacier ski area offers 28 kilometres of pistes (6 blue, 17 red and 5 black) served by 7 lifts (1 funicular, 1 cable car of 16 gondolas connected together into 4 groups, 1 gondola, 1 chair lift and 4 drag lifts).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saas-Fee Nostalgic Gourmet Mile

The glacier village Saas-Fee is staging the Nostalgic Culinary Mile for the fourth time on 13 September 2009. From noon until 6 p.m. the main street in Saas-Fee will be transformed with the appearance of one long, inviting dining table where guests can celebrate and feast in style. You will have the pleasure of tasting numerous traditional culinary specialities from the Valais region, many of which have been virtually forgotten over the years. These delights will be on offer together with some good Valais wine at the many stands along the main street. The restaurateurs and hoteliers will be serving in the costumes and in the spirit of the good old days. You are surrounded by "smugglers", "mountaineers of the old school", "English noblemen from the 19th century", "genteel ladies" or "farmers' wives in the typical dress of the Valais region". And even the pioneer of tourism, the priest Johann Josef Imseng, will be commemorated as some people dress up in the clothes of 19th century priests. One of the many highlights of the day is definitely the prize-giving ceremony for the most original nostalgic costume. Throughout the day, a jury specially selected for this task will be looking for the most beautiful and unusual outfit.
The event which was planned to be a one-off affair to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Saas-Fee hotel business in 2006 has now become a permanent fixture on the village's calendar of events. The very first of these events three years ago was so successful for the organisers from the Saas-Fee Hoteliers' Association and enjoyed such positive feedback that it was decided without further ado to hold it on an annual basis. The Gourmet Mile has developed into a real crowd puller appealing to people of all ages, and the decision to stage this special event every year has definitely proved to be the right one.
This year the Nostalgic Gourmet Mile will be raising money for the "Tanja" Foundation in the village of Bitsch, which supports severely mentally and physically handicapped adults.

New UK Ski Tour Operator Launches

Despite the economic gloom and the demise of several tour operators in recent months, two industry heavyweights feel this is a good time to launch a new ski tour operation in the UK. Former First Choice, Thomson and Crystal Ski MD, Stuart McLeod and fellow TUI Travel colleague Katie Waddington, previously manager of Crystal’s Active division and Chamonix-based GM for TUI UK, have launched Zenith Holidays.
The new web-based venture features catered chalets, hotels and apartments in ski resorts in France and Austria and summer holidays in France, Austria, Jersey and the Czech Republic, with the emphasis on 'service excellence': "Taking the hassle out of travel" says McLeod.
Adept at contracting and creating ski holidays for some of the UK’s biggest winter sports brands the pair have already found their niche as the only UK tour operator in the resorts of Pitztal and Leogang in Austria, Isola 2000, Val d’Allos and St. Jean de Montclar in the French Alps.
Their new web-based ski holiday company is focussing on a "value-based product for the discerning holidaymaker", with pricing per room, not per person, a web-only presence "absorbing cost savings into the holiday price" and finding value through featuring less well known destinations. "There’s more to skiing than the well-worn Three Valleys" adds McLeod "and we’ll be adding more new resorts in at least two more countries over the coming months".
The travel-savvy two are also building added value into their programme with a 'flightwatch' service, texting clients with latest flight information, and by giving first hand knowledge of the resorts, as well as advising on additional in-resort activities and excursions.
Stuart McLeod continues "With a combined experience of over thirty years organising winter sports holidays Katie and I have taken on roles from Holiday Rep to Product Manager, Financial Analyst to Managing Director and we had the privilege of experiencing first hand how holiday companies should and should not be run. We’ve seen the pitfalls, we’ve experienced the hassles of travel and we’re now minimising their impact with a product that’s high on service and value".
A well as a clearly written, plain English overview of each resort and ski area, the Zenith Holidays website has an 'at a glance', 'what we like' and 'what we’d change' section for all destinations, pointing out useful information such as free skiing for kids, shorter transfer times, or a lack of English speaking TV and scarcity of ATMs.
Winter 2009/10 holidays are now on sale on an accommodation/transfer only basis, with separate flight booking. "This season more than ever before skiers will be looking for a ski holiday provider who can offer them the very best value for money and insider knowledge that can only be gleaned from the kind of in-depth tour operating and travel experience that Katie and I have", said Stuart McLeod.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Adam Minoprio (ETNZ/BlackMatch) wins St. Moritz Match Race 2009

The last day of St. Moritz Match Race proved to be a tricky one for both the organisers and the competitors. The Northerly breeze was blowing very inconsistently, forcing the Race Committee to cancel many start procedures during the final series between Adam Minoprio (NZL, ETNZ/BlackMatch) and Torvar Mirsky (AUS, Mirsky Racing Team).
The final race eventually took place in good conditions allowing the Kiwi sailor - number 1 in the ISAF world ranking and now once again leader of the Tour - to beat his Australian opponent and to grab the title of King of the Mountain 2009. The two previous races took place in a very light and shifty breeze.
The "counter-performer" of the day is Philippe Presti, who lost the "Petit" final to Ian Williams (GBR, Team Pindar). The French skipper was unsurprisingly quite disappointed by the outcome of the regatta. He was stalled at the start of the last race leaving Williams to sail away and never managed to get back into the race. Presti nevertheless left St. Moritz with a smile he seemed to have come to terms wth the disappointment of this last race.
Mathieu Richard (FRA, French Match Racing Team), King of the Mountain in 2008 wasn’t very happy either with his performance as he was eliminated before the quarter-finals.
Adam Minoprio, the winner of the title and new King of the Mountain joins a prestigious list of winners that includes Mark Mendelblatt (2003/2004), Ed Baird (2005), Paolo Cian (2006), Ian Williams (2007) and Mathieu Richard (2008). Minoprio becomes the sixth different winner in six years to claim the trophy. "It was very difficult to get back into winning mode after loosing the second race of the finals that could have brought us the title. The guys did a great job considering how hard and irregular the conditions were. We managed to consolidate our lead during the last run of the final race, we are obviously very happy with this victory", said Minoprio.
The kiwi sailor also takes back the lead of the Tour leapfrogging Mathieu Richard to a 12 point lead over Torvar Mirsky who moves up to second place and dropping frenchman Mathieu Richard to third. The next event on the Tour is the Danish Open starting on the 10th September.
"I am really pleased with this event, the weather was great and it was a real pleasure to organise it although I am looking forward to racing again, it’s sometimes less tiring… The seventh edition of St. Moritz Match Race is a real success and it couldn’t have happened without our partners and sponsors, I want to thank them with all my heart", said Christian Scherrer, President of the Organising Committee.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Vail Resorts announces a new Guided VIP Tours Program

Last Wednesday, Vail Resorts unveiled a new program for the 2009-2010 ski season tailored to give guests a whole new way to explore the mountain with an expert guide. Skiers and riders will gain insider’s knowledge of each resort and receive tips to improve their skiing and riding throughout the day. The program is geared towards intermediate and expert level skiers and riders who are looking for more adventure with the locals’ view of the mountain and less of an instruction and class setting of a standard ski school class. The cost will be comparable to a ski school group lesson.
Guests will be teamed in small groups(approximately five participants per guide) with other like-minded ski or ride enthusiasts who want to get the most out of their day. The group will receive special access to move to the front of the lift lines, go places they might not see on your own, enjoy the best terrain and conditions available, and pick up tips and technical information along the way from the Vail Resorts expert guides from its world class Ski & Ride Schools.
"Skiers and Riders are always looking for the inside information about our resorts and we wanted to create a program that provides our guests with an enhanced understanding of each of our resorts without a rigid ski school class structure", said, Rob Katz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts. "This program gives guests the best of both worlds. In the small groups, our guests will not only have the opportunity to become better skiers or riders, but they will also be able to experience parts of the mountain they may not have known about in the past".
The Guided VIP Tours Program is one of a handful initiatives announced by Vail Resorts on Wednesday to face difficult economic conditions adding value and enhancing visitor's experience at its five ski resorts. The Company has confirmed that it will again offer the Epic Season Pass for the 2009-2010 winter season. Furthermore Vail Resorts announced a broad array of new mountain dining initiatives designed to offer the highest quality food combined with some great values for skiers and riders at the ski resorts.
Vail Resorts is the leading of mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company owns and operates five ski resorts: Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek, located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and Heavenly, which is located on the Lake Tahoe area of California/Nevada. The Company's ski resorts had 6.2 million skier visits during the 2007/2008 ski season, or approximately 10.2% of United States skier visits, and an approximate 7.6% share of the North American market's skier visits.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Closing Interview with Arthur Klap Winter Games NZ CEO

Jungfrau Marathon

Tomorrow Interlaken, the holiday resort located in the heart of the Swiss Alps in the Jungfrau-Region, between the Lakes of Thun and Brienz and at the foot the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau, will host again a new edition of the Jungfrau Marathon. The Race was awarded the title of "The World's Most Beautiful Marathon" by the American magazine "The Ultimate Guide to International Marathons".
4000 runners from over 50 countries and from all five continents will take part in the Race.
Starting in Interlaken at 566 metres and finishing in the Kleine Scheidegg at 2,100 metres runners must deal with a positive drop of 1,829 metres. The breathtaking scenery and the superb challenge have made this event a cult race, the alpine equivalent of the New York event. You run in full view of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau completing no ordinary marathon but a panoramic version. Along the 42.195 kilometres the scenery keeps changing. The emerald Lake Brienz contrasts with the icy giants of the Bernese Oberland, the sheer rock faces in the Lauterbrunnen Valley with the bubbling waters of the Lütschine, the gnarled stone pines below the Wengernalp with the eternal ice of the majestic Silberhorn.
The Jungfrau Marathon is supported by almost 1000 volunteers from over forty clubs in the region.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Europe Resorts Gearing Up For 09-10 As Snow Still Falls In Southern Hemisphere

Skiinfo reports that there is some debate each year as to when the old ski season ends, and the new one begins. The problem is that a few resorts like Hintertux in Austria and Zermatt in Switzerland never really close. In September and October however ski resorts that have been closed for weeks or months open a fresh and aim to stay open right through to the following Spring, which feels rather like the start of the ski season. The first scheduled opening of 09-10 therefore could be this weekend, at Solden, although warm temperatures mean there is some doubt whether it will open this Saturday, September 5th as planned. However the resort has just reported 10cm (four inches) of fresh snow on its twin glaciers. After Solden, Pitztal is due to open slightly later in the month. It, (along with Zermatt), is one of two resorts offering the new Israeli IDE snow making system which can make abundant snow at almost any temperature. Then Tignes will be the first ski area to open in France, later in the month.
Whether these early openings constitute the ‘start of winter 2009-10’ remains open to debate. It’s in October that more resorts begin to open in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, most offering ‘ski test’ weekends and start-of-the-season parties. So the momentum gains pace as we move towards November.
However the continuing warm sunny weather in the Alps, coupled with the scheduled closure of both remaining French summer ski areas last weekend means the number of glacier ski areas has dropped to single figures this week for the first time this year, which doesn’t bode well for the imminent ‘start of winter 09-10 either.
Italy has three glaciers to ski on at Passo Stelvio, Cervinia and Val Senales, each reporting a metre (3.3 feet) of snow, but Cervinia will close for the summer this weekend (Sunday 6th September) as scheduled, re-opening in mid-October for weekends then permanently from the start of November.
It’s a similar picture in Switzerland where Zermatt and Saas Fee are both open, both still operating their terrain parks and both again with around a metre of snow depth. In Saas Fee’s case the precise figure is 80cm (2.7 feet) and the resort notes it has had no fresh snow since august 4th, almost a month ago. It describes the snow conditions as, "Hard, Spring-like".
In Austria only the Molltal; and Hintertux glaciers are open, with the Kitzsteinhorn at Kaprun closed due to lack of snow – reporting 8cm (three inches) on the slopes. Hintertux is claiming the deepest snow and the biggest ski area open anywhere in the northern hemisphere at present, with 165cm (5.5 feet) of snow and 15km (nine miles) of groomed piste.
The only other ski area open in Europe is in Norway where Folgefonn is open, but only to groups who reserve in advance (typically national teams).
Across the Atlantic we’re in to the last week of skiing in North America since winter 2008-9 began there 11 months ago. Timberline in Oregon, the country’s only near-year-round resort will shut down for the best part of a month after the coming weekend, re-opening on October 2nd. The resort’s two lifts are operating between 7.30am and 1.30pm until Sunday, serving easier terrain from Magic mile and expert only terrain on the Palmer Snowfield, the terrain park is still closed and snow depths are around three feet (90cm).
Back across the Atlantic and in to the southern hemisphere South Africa’s Tiffindell is still reporting itself open and still reporting temperatures below zero with a 1.2km piste open, 50cm (20 inches) deep. The webcam image makes it appear the resort is having difficulties maintaining the snow cover as the season winds up. Over in Lesotho, Afriski updated their snow report at the weekend and thus appears open. The resort notes snow depths of up to 1.2m (four feet), a one kilometre run and the terrain park open, and that access roads are clear.
In South America conditions have quietened down a lot after the big snowfalls a little over a week ago and there has been little or no fresh snow at any of the continent’s ski centres. Fortunately however the accumulated base at most areas, particularly those in Chile, means that a long snowy Spring is in prospect even without any fresh. Portillo, for example, is 100% open with a 220cm (over seven foot) base on upper slopes and 155cm (over five foot) at the base.
In Australia there has been fresh snow at several areas in recent days. Perisher has been a particular beneficiary receiving 13cm (five inches) of fresh flakes over the past 24 hours bringing the resort’s new snow total to 19cm (eight inches) since Sunday. Cover is still in very good condition across the open trails, with 48 lifts, 4 fusion terrain parks, a Rider X course and the Superpipe all open. The resort’s Spring Carnival is coming up next week from 7 to 20 September. There’ll be live music, family entertainment, fireworks spectacular, kid’s activities, special overnight deals, Flake Film Festival, night snow shoe tours and food and wine dinners, all at no extra cost to the lift pass.
In New Zealand resorts have been buffeted by extreme weather conditions in the past week, including low-visibility and strong winds, but there’s still a healthy snow base at most resorts – typically between one and two metres (3-7 feet). The strong winds did lead to temporary closures at most of the country’s ski areas last week. However the weather extreme has also brought plenty of fresh snow. 20 – 30 centimetres of new snow has landed at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski areas in the past few days taking the seven day total to 62cm (over two feet) at Coronet Peak and 69cm (2.3 feet) at The Remarkables. On Mt Ruapehu, Whakapapa reports packed powder on trails, variable off trail with pockets of wind blown snow. The resort received 10cm (four inches) of fresh snow overnight and has an upper mountain base of 179cm (six feet). Neighbouring Turoa received 5cm (two inches) of fresh but has a deeper 238cm (eight foot) base.
David Ovendale, General Manager Sales & Marketing for NZSki which owns Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and The Remarkables, said the latest snowfall has set the ski areas up perfectly for the southern hemisphere’s spring. "There could not be a better time to come for a quick ski fix – it’s affordable, the conditions are fantastic and we can offer something for everyone", he said.
As we enter September most of the major competitions the country’s ski areas have been staging are winding up and thoughts have moved on to Spring season events. However some of the top athletes in the world are still in the country and several will descend on Mt Hutt today and tomorrow (September 2-3) for the Red Bull Speed Camp (picture attached), offering visitors the chance to watch some of the fastest skiers pushing their speeds to their limits. In its 2nd year, the Red Bull International Race Training Arena has already been visited by World Cup racing superstars such as Overall World Champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and Marlies Schild of Austria.
Paul Marks, Head of Race and Events at Mt Hutt, said the action will be "fast and furious". "Conditions are top-notch and spectator viewing should be as good as it gets", he said. This year, New Zealand’s "Capital of Speed" will see the likes of the top Swiss, German and Canadian women and Swedish men take to the slopes alongside the German, Australian and Dutch Paralympic ski teams. As well as supporting the race training arena at Mt Hutt, Red Bull supports some of the world’s top downhill alpine skiers and the world’s fastest and scariest downhill course, the "Hahnenkamm" in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Thanks to a new start platform at the top of Mt Hutt, athletes will move from 0 to 80km/hr in just seconds. Further down the course athletes will hit the Red Bull launch pad at over 90km/hr sending them through the air up to 40m down the hill. Athletes will face camel bumps as well as a second jump before they reach the finish line in the base area in under a minute.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

St. Moritz Match Race

After yesterday's training day the seventh edition of St. Moritz Match Race 2009 started this morning with the first race. From September 2 to 6 Engadine will be the centre of the sailing world. The St. Moritz Match Race is one of nine events of the World Match Racing Tour and belongs as such to the official ISAF Match Racing World Championship. Match racing is certainly one of the most exciting competitions in sailing. Two teams compete directly against each other. The St. Moritz Match Race will be sailed with the blu26. This four-man sportboat (8 m. long and 2,2 m. wide) conceived by the Swiss Bluboats, is perfectly adapted to match racing.
On the sponsor side, contracts with the three existing partners – AFG Arbonia-Forster-Holding, UBS and Badrutt’s Palace Hotel – have been renewed. These companies will be supporting this top sailing event in Switzerland this year as main partners.
Once again the St. Moritz Match Race has attracted the world’s best Match Race skippers to the Engadin Valley. Twelve teams representing eight nations have been selected for this regatta. Mathieu Richard (FRA), the current leader of the world ranking will sail amongst others against his fellow competitor Sébastien Col (5), the helmsman of K-Challenge’s America’s Cup team. Ian Williams (UK, 2) of Team Pindar and Adam Minoprio (NZL, 3) and his BlackMatch crew are amongst the faourites. Surprise guest of the event, Peter Gilmour (AUS, 7) of YANMAR Racing is a veteran of five America’s Cups and quadruple winner of the world match racing title. Currently seventh of the world ranking, he is one of the event’s outsiders. He won the prestigious title in Marstrand last month, and is respected by all the competitors. A prize purse of approximately 100’000 Euros will be distributed to the best teams.
The races will take place on Lake St. Moritz, a natural amphitheater that provides a perfect and natural viewing platform from the shore. The local Maloja thermal breeze blows daily from 8 to 20 knots and with a little help from the sun the breeze picks up, guaranteeing a fantastic show to the numerous spectators who flock to see their sailing heroes in action.
St. Moritz is located on the mountain side of the Engadine facing south at 1856 metres above sea level. The spa resort originally gained its significance from its mineral springs, which had been known for their curative effects for some 3,000 years already. Nowadays is one of the most renowned holiday resorts of the world.

Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run

Next Saturday September 5th at 10:00 AM the starting signal for the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run will be fired off for the fifth consecutive time. The event consists in a stage race across the Alps (238 Kilometers, 15422 meters ascent, 14659 meters descent) for teams of two participants. Starting in Oberstdorf, Germany, the whole Transalpine circus is travelling though Austria to South Tyrol, Italy. In eight stages, all participating pairs will once again experience a scenically outstanding routing. The Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run will be challenge for body and soul again and like all the years before, this event is made for ambitious trail and triathlon runners, Nordic walkers as well as marathon and mountain runners. The different team categories are: Men, Women, Master Men (when a team is male and combined over 80 years old, Aug 28, 2008 is the cut off date) and Mixed.

Sep 5, Stage 1 Oberstdorf (GER) – Lech (AUT)
Sep 6, Stage 2 Lech (AUT) – St. Anton am Arlberg (AUT)
Sep 7, Stage 3 St. Anton am Arlberg (AUT) – Galtür (AUT)
Sep 8, Stage 4 Galtür (AUT) – Scuol (SUI)
Sep 9, Stage 5 Bergsprint Scuol (SUI)
Sep 10, Stage 6 Scuol (SUI) – Mals im Vinschgau (ITA)
Sep 11, Stage 7 Mals (ITA) – Schlanders im Vinschgau (ITA)
Sep 12, Stage 8 Schlanders (ITA) – Latsch im Vinschgau (ITA)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2009-10 Ski Season Kicks Off This Weekend Before Octosnow Fest!

Last autumn was a bumper snow period in the Alps with Skiinfo reporting heavy snow on Europe’s early-opening glacier ski slopes from the very start of October. This white abundance set up much of the continent for an epic 2008-9 snow season, helping many resorts ride the economic downturn.
Will history repeat itself in 2009? With the first resorts in Austria and France scheduled to open for Winter 2009-10 in the next few weeks, we don’t have long to wait to find out. Here’s the Skiinfo guide to which resorts are opening in Autumn 2009 and some of the season starting parties they’re laying on.

Austria
Solden’s glaciers will open on September 5th, conditions permitting. The official glacier opening party weekend is October 9 – 11 and the World Cup rolls in to town for its annual northern hemisphere, outdoor kick off from 23rd October. The Pitztal Glacier is always one of the first to open for its long winter season, which will continue to May 2010. This year the lifts, including a new six-seater chairlift, will start operating on 12th September. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun should also be open, with the centre offering freestyle workshops from 17th October for three weeks. Tux (picture attached) never really closes and by October is likely to have more terrain open than pretty well anywhere with a target 60km (Nearly 40 miles) of runs to enjoy, all easy to access with the area’s three Glacier Bus high capacity lifts. The resort stages its Octoberfest in September, unusually, on the 25th – 26th and then has a series of special season opening weekend festivals on 2nd – 34th and 9th – 11th October. Four more Austrian glaciers are likely to be opening in September and October – the Dachstein, Kaunertal, Molltal and Stubai.

Canada
Mt. Norquay looks likely to be the first resort in Canada to open for the country’s Winter Olympic ski season. The Alberta resort next to Banff town is planning to kick off with a Halloween party on October 31st and will then open at weekends only through to December 5th.

France
Tignes is the first and only French ski area open in September and October. The resort’s Grande Motte glacier re-opens four weeks after closing for summer skiing on September 25th. Les 2 Alpes opens for the October 24th – 25th for its new ‘Rock One Snowboard Tour’ which replaces the giant annual ‘Mondial’ ski and board test weekends after 19 years.

Italy
Italy’s Val Senales is the country’s main centre for autumn skiing, with special re-launch parties scheduled for mid-October when the resort re-opens its terrain park for the winter. Cervinia, linked to Zermatt, is open for skiing until next weekend (September 6), then opens again for October weekends (10/11 - 17/18 - 24/25), before re-opening full time for winter 2009-10 on Halloween.

Switzerland
Europe’s highest ski slopes at Zermatt are open all year, and it’s neighbour Saas Fee has a popular terrain park open all winter which will host European Cup events in late October, and World Cup races in Early November. Three other Swiss ski areas to look out for in October are Glacier 3000 above les Diabletets and Gstaad, Engelberg’s Titlis Glacier and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz – all open in October and the latter is offering special race training classes then too.

USA
Timberline in Oregon is expected to re-open it’s near year round operation as usual in late September after a few weeks annual closure. Then the annual battle for the ‘first to open in the US’ will kick off. Colorado resorts Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Loveland, amongst the 10 highest in the world, are the prime contenders and in a good year will be snowmaking by late September and have a run or two open by mid-October.

Southern Hemisphere
Of course you can still find Spring skiing in Autumn, if you’re just prepared to travel to the southern hemisphere. Chile in particular has had a bumper snow year with some resorts clocking up more than 8 metres (26 feet) of snow by the end of August, setting the country up for good skiing through the warmer months of September and October. Australia and New Zealand have also had above average seasons and most resorts look likely to stay open well in to October.

Indoors
If you can’t make it to a glacier or the southern hemisphere, you may be close to one of the world’s indoor snow centres. There are now about 60 in more than 20 countries. The world’s largest, SnowWorld in Holland, opens its new terrain park in September, the world’s largest indoors. World cup Races are there too in October, even before they reach Solden’s glacier.