Sunday, November 29, 2009

Katy Perry opens the winter season in Ischgl

With perfect snow conditions, Ischgl's Top of the Mountain Concert with Katy Perry brought again the perfect start for the winter season 2009/10. Katy Perry (Santa Barbara, October 25, 1984) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Perry rose to fame in 2007 with her internet hit "Ur So Gay", and later scored in 2008 her breakthrough single "I Kissed a Girl". Booking this top act for Ischgl was a stroke of genius that was set to make guests flock in from Austria, Germany and beyond. Ischgl held her only concert in Europe - and right in the middle of recording her new album!.
American Superstar Katy Perry just-ended concert was paid back in full for the 20,000 fans with her perfect, sexy and glamorous performance. Katy Perry captured the hearts of countless Ischgls party-seekers, with songs like "I kissed a girl" and "Cold Hot'n have". Perry's Sexy Santa Clause costume delighted the eye. After the concert guests enjoyed a long night of partying.
"The impressive live performance by Katy Perry was a rip-roaring start to the season - perfect slope conditions included. While other regions are shaking because the lack of snow, we enforce our reputation as an excellent snow skiing Mecca of the Alps in several aspects", said Andreas Steibl, Managing Director of the Paznaun-Ischgl tourist board. "The whole place is now enjoying partytime as is meant for THE Skiing, event and party location in the Alps", Steibl added.
In the days following the concert Katy Perry and her band plans to enjoy Ischgl's slopes.
The Ischgl-Samnaun skiing area, the Silvretta Arena, is regularly voted one of the top European skiing areas. With the presence of renowned international artists the tirolean resort wants to place themself in the list of essential winter resorts. In Ischgl you can find ultramodern lift and cable-car system (3 cable cars, 2 aerial cableways, 23 chairlifts and 12 draglifts) with a transport capacity of 78,500 persons per hour ensure skiing without queues (€120 million have been invested over the last years). The new lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the Fimbabahn cable car. The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in North America

This weekend Lake Louise and Aspen will host the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.
The Ladies FIS Alpine Ski World Cup continues in North America at Aspen, Colorado. The historical ski village hosts the Giant Slalom and Slalom Races. The Aspen Winternational is a town-wide celebration of the best women's racers in the world. "Aspen is one of America's premier venues for alpine ski racing, providing an outstanding spectacle for both fans on the slope and watching from home", said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Vice President Events Calum Clark. "Live European coverage in key times for our alpine World Cups is a critical element to the ongoing success of the events here in the U.S. and the World Cup tour as a whole". Three years ago Aspen Mountain celebrated 60 years of skiing. Aspen has emerged into international fame as a glitzy playground of the wealthy and famous. Aspen Mountain abundant precipitations of snow (average snowfall 762 cm) guarantees skiing from early November to mid April. The historical Colorado Ski Resort offers 76 trails (48% Beginner, 26% Intermediate, 26% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 996 metres surrounded by some of the most stunning mountain scenery in the country. Aspen-Snowmass four great mountains (Aspen, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk) is one of the largest ski areas in North America and one of the world's premier alpine destinations. Ski Resorts offers unparalleled nightlife and off-slope activities as well (over 100 bars and restaurants). Aspen Skiing Company operates the four mountains in the Aspen/Snowmass area.
The Lake Louise Ski Area will kick off the 2009/2010 season with one of the most exciting events of the year, the 2009 Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup. With the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics fast approaching, the World's top male Alpine Skiers will be fine tuning their skills at Lake Louise. The Race Events begins November 28th with the World’s Best Men competing in the World Cup Downhill, followed by the Men’s World Cup Super-G on November 29th. Located in Alberta, Canada, Lake Louise is one of the largest ski areas in North America. With abundant natural snow (average snowfall 454 cm), backed up by Canada's largest snowmaking system (40% of the marked runs), Louise guarantees skiing from early November to mid May. 139 runs (25% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 30% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 991 metres, Lake Louise offer a wide opportunities for skiers from perfectly groomed beginner runs to double black diamonds rated "the best super steeps in the country" (Ski Canada Magazine). The Canadian Ski resort is one of the best options to enjoy magnificent scenery and stunning panoramas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mixed Snowfall Messages With Record Snowfall Here, Delayed Opening There

Skiinfo reports a mixed picture for snow cover across the northern hemisphere as the main start of the ski season approaches. Hundreds of ski resorts are now open, but while some continue to open earlier than planned because of big snowfalls, others have had to delay opening, despite having sizable snowfalls in late October or early November, as subsequent warm weather has melted snow and thwarted snow making efforts. Warm weather is always a problem for those areas that invest in snowmaking as a ‘snow guarantee’.
Western Canada – and particularly the Pacific coast of British Columbia - continues to report the most remarkable snowfall, in fact an ‘extreme weather event’ in November, with Mount Washington and Whistler both reporting all-time record levels of snowfall for the month, in Whistler’s case now more than five metres (17 feet). The snowfall has not just broken decades-old records, it has smashed them, and passed the old record levels more than a week before the end of the month with snow still falling. The snow has created great conditions for snow sports but challenges for operations and in some cases high avalanche danger to be be wary of if heading off piste. The big snowfalls have been less dramatic but still spectacular further inland, where many Albertan and British Columbian resorts opened early and continue to do so, with Fernie the latest to announce it will do so for a preview weekend on November 28th and 29th.
But it’s not all good news, on the East Coast ski areas are struggling to open with temperatures too warm .
The snowfall window seems quite narrow too, Alyeska, the largest resort in Alaska, to the north of British Columbia is opening today but is having to rely on machine made snow to open a few runs. In the main US states to the south it’s a similar West/East split to Canada with most resorts in the West that intended to open, now open ready for Thanksgiving and reporting fresh snow if not at the dramatic levels to the north. Vail is one of the latest to open with fresh snow there. Last week snow fell on several consecutive nights in Mammoth and on Friday 20 November a powerful storm hit Tahoe, dumping between 10 and 12 inches of new snow in the upper elevations. The following day when Tahoe’s major resorts opened - Heavenly, Squaw Valley and Northstar - the storm had blown over and skiers and snowboarders were greeted with fresh powder and blue, sunny skies.
In Europe the picture is also mixed, no more so than around Western Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, where Chamonix reported 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow at mid-mountain yesterday on the French side, while Courmayeur on the Italian side announced it was postponing its planned opening this weekend due to lack of snow. Lech and St Anton have also delayed opening.
The problem has been limited fresh snow and/or warm temperatures in parts of the Alps over recent weeks after the big snowfalls that many areas received earlier in the month, although Skiinfo continues to issue powder alarms for big snowfalls in some places, with resorts in Italy and Switzerland reporting 20cm (8 inch) plus falls in the past 24 hours. Monterosa is another western Italian area that has announced it will postpone its opening planned for this weekend however. Yesterday 15 cm (six inches) of fresh snow fell on the glacier near Laax in Switzerland, bringing it to a snow depth of 90cm (three feet) on top (3018 metres). Saas Fee has had 10cm of fresh snow so far this morning .
There have been reports of more fresh snow in France with Val d’Isere receiving a foot or so and an editor from website WeLove2Ski.com reporting skiing 1,500m of vertical at Tignes yesterday.

Elsewhere in Italy the snow is still falling, with the giant dolomite superski area scheduled to starty opening this weekend. It’s Alta Badia sector around Corvara is one of the biggest beneficiaries of recent falls adding 45cm (18 inches) in the past few days. Cervinia has had a foot, much of it yesterday, generating a Skiinfo.co.uk powder alarm. The Presena glacier above Passo Tonale has some of the greatest snow depths in Europe at present with 130cm (4.3 feet) of snow.

It’s a mixed picture, once again, in Austria where some resorts are reporting fresh snow and on-schedule openings while some big names, notably Lech and St Anton in the Arlberg, have postponed their openings – Lech by a week to December 5th, St Anton as yet undecided for how long. However Sölden has had another 10cm (4 inches) in the past 24 hoursand there’s nearly 90cm (three feet) lying on the glacier now. There's also great skiing and boarding on offer this week at one of Austria's highest ski areas - in the country's southernmost province of Carinthia, known as the sunny side of the Alps. The Mölltal glacier has nine lifts and skiing up to 3,122m, with a great range of superbly-groomed pistes for every level of skier. Skiinfo reports it currently has the deepest snow on the continent with 170cm (5.7 feet) lying. Mölltal is near the lovely Carinthian ski village of Heiligenblut, which is open this weekend (Nov 28/29) and has fabulous skiing and boarding against the stunning backdrop of the Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain at 3,798m. Ischgl says it will open this weekend. "There are perfect snow conditions for our opening! All lifts will be open on November 27th" said Andrea Gintsberger, Marketing Manager of the Paznaun – Ischgl Tourism association. "With a valid ski pass there is free entrance to the Kate Perry concert this Saturday November 28th at 6pm. We expect about 20 000 guests to come that day!". The annual Santa Claus World Championships are again taking place at Samnaun over the mountain in Switzerland.
In Germany the best place to ski remains the Zugspitz glacier with 105cm (3.5 feet) of snow.
Scandinavian ski areas are having a similarly mixed picture, but most of the major resorts are now open.
In Sweden mild weather during last week delayed the openings of more ski resorts but the resort of Ramundberget opened a week earlier than planned on Saturday with a snow depth of 50cm (20 inches) thanks to some healthy snowfalls during the weekend, (without any artificial snow). The region’s largest ski area, Åre, which opened up one slope, Hamrebacken in the Duved area got 10cm (4 inches) of fresh snow on Monday. The resort will hosts the Ladies World Cup (Slalom and Giant Slalom) on December 11-13th and... "There's plenty of manmade snow already on the World Cup slopes, that together with forecasts of colder temperatures, looks promising", said Nalle Hansson and Anders Aspholm, managers at Åre.
It’s snowing at the moment in Norway where leading resorts Geilo and Hemsedal; have had some of the best snow of recent days and weeks.
Elsewhere in Europe there’s been heavy rain but no snow in Scotland and most of Eastern Europe continues to wait for snow. In Spain and the Pyrenees the good conditions and heavy snow earlier this month have also lapsed and planned openings this weekend at some resorts in that area are currently rather doubtful.
On the other side of the planet (Japan) heavy snowfalls the past couple of days primed Niseko's powdery slopes for the much-anticipated season opening today (picture attached), Powderlife Niseko has reported. The Grand Hirafu lifts were switched on at the weekend with hundreds of skiers and boarders turning out and hitting the mountain throughout the day to get their first taste of the 09-10 powder. Those keen enough were up waiting in line for the familiar opening bells and sirens to sound, and a steady stream of people continued to flow through the gates all day to sample the upper half of Hirafu. A solid one metre base up top allowed plenty of powder for all to share. And although there was only one official run open for business, everyone had a smile on their dial, happy to be up there on Day 1. At around mid-morning, many were treated to a brief bluebird moment which beautifully lit up the piste, trees and surrounding mountain ranges. The 'official' upper runs off the Ace #3 chair were pretty well tracked out by around 10am, but some skiers and boarders may have accidentally missed their download lift, sampling the goods all the way from top to bottom. Meanwhile, a group of Japanese and a handful of 'gaijin' (foreign) locals gathered outside the Welcome Centre on Saturday morning for the official resort opening ceremony. The cultural opening saw local identities, business owners and resort staff pay their respects, laying wreaths and blessing the area in anticipation of another great season. Niseko, on the island of Hokkaido, is Japan’s most famous ski resort and is becoming known for having some of the lightest, driest powder snow in the world.
India’s 2009-10 ski season has also started according to Gulmargski on Twitter, "The ski and snowboard season has started in Gulmarg, 70cm of fresh snow in this freeriding resort in the Himalaya!".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Freeride World Tour Kick Off

The third season of the Freeride World Tour kicks off in the famous alpine resort of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. On November 19th, the FWT Kick Off Party took place downtown Chamonix, with great events such as the FWT’09 Photo book release by the FWT official photographers, Christophe Margot and Dom Daher, and a dazzling new film featuring the "best of" images of the FWT09. The 2010 Freeride World Tour will start on the Russian slopes of Sochi (January 21) followed closely by the next stage in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France (January 30). The Tour will then journey to the United States to the mythical Tram Face in Squaw Valley (February 27), 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 (March 20) during the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch which celebrates its 15th year.

During the Kick Off Event many journalists joined several riders to get the inside scoop on the upcoming dates and check out the competition venue at Brevent.



Later in the afternoon the journalists and riders kicked off the season with a few drinks at the Chambre Neuf while watching the official video from last season and the official Freeride World Tour photo book by Christoph Margot and Dom Daher.


Katy Perry to launch Ischgl's winter season next Saturday

On 28 November 2009 Katy Perry is to launch the 2008-09 winter season at Ischgl (picture attached taken Nov. 23, current conditions: 40 cm of snow). Katy Perry (Santa Barbara, October 25, 1984) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Perry rose to fame in 2007 with her internet hit "Ur So Gay", and later scored in 2008 her breakthrough single "I Kissed a Girl". Booking this top act for Ischgl was a stroke of genius that is set to make guests flock in from Austria and beyond. The rocking pop princess is to give her only concert in Europe right in the centre of Ischgl - and right in the middle of recording her new album! Around 20,000 fans are expected to attend, and will get to hear not only Top Ten hits such as "I kissed a girl", "Thinking of you" and "Waking up in Vegas" but also an exclusive taster of the songs from her new album.
The Ischgl-Samnaun skiing area, the Silvretta Arena, is regularly voted one of the top European skiing areas. With the presence of renowned international artists the tirolean resort wants to place themself in the list of essential winter resorts. In Ischgl you can find ultramodern lift and cable-car system (3 cable cars, 2 aerial cableways, 23 chairlifts and 12 draglifts) with a transport capacity of 78,500 persons per hour ensure skiing without queues (€120 million have been invested over the last years). The new lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the Fimbabahn cable car. The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover. The ski lifts are set to open on 27 November 2009. A one-day ski pass for 28 November is also available for 55 euros, and a two-day pass for 86 euros. Entry to the concert is free with a valid ski pass.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stockholm Big Air

On Saturday, November 21st, the third Big Air of the 2010 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup took place in Stockholm. Once again and for the the fourth time in a row, the swedish capital hosted this major FIS event in the Stockholm Stadion which was built for the Olympic Summer Games in 1912.
The experienced snowboarder Stefan Gimpl from Austria won the LG Winter Jam 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden. Over 60 snowboarders from around the world challenged the monster jump. Stefan Gimpl who has won the past two World Cup competitions in London and Barcelona did an awesome "frontside 900" in the third run which made him finish as number one. The crowd was huge and cheered on the world elite in snowboarding when they jumped 25 meters in length and 6 meters above the kicker, meaning 17 meters above the ground. All the riders agreed this was probably the best city jump (a huge jump – the start was 33 meters above the ground) they have ever experienced. Marko Grilc from Slovenia was second with Gjermund Braaten from Norway in the third place.
International riders made the event a highlight of the in-city-contests. Also in 2009, admission to the LG Winterjam was free and the event was shown live on TV. LG Winter Jam 2009 was a big success with over 25.000 thousand visitors and as promised world-class ski and snowboard show, it could’ have been better. The atmosphere was amazing with great music and entertainment from DJ Hakim.

Moscow Parallel Slalom

The FIS Alpine Ski Champions Cup in Parallel Slalom took place Saturday night in Moscow (RUS). For the second consecutive year, the Russian Ski Association hosted an Alpine Ski competition in the city of Moscow. The promotional event was staged as a knock-out event on the grounds of the Moscow City Palace of Children's and Youth Creativity. Located not far from the last event's venue (Moscow State University Square), the new ramp area offers a wider range of facilities for all participants, from athletes, FIS officials, to guests and spectators. The new venue will be known as the Moscow Grand Ramp Arena. This year's ramp was 60 meters high and 35 meters wide, with the total length of the slope about 200 meters. The race course had 20 gates, and was 205 m long with an altitude drop of 70 m. Run-time ca 20 sec. There were estimated 30'000 spectators at the venue.
The victory in the ladies' event, making its premiere in Moscow, went to 24-year-old Therese Borssen of Sweden who narrowly beat Germany's Maria Riesch in the Big Final. In the Small Final, Sweden's Frida Hansdotter beat Sandrine Aubert of France.
In the men's race, 20-year-old Marcel Hirscher followed in the footsteps of Germany's Felix Neureuther who took the victory in the first edition of this event held on 2nd January 2009. Hirscher beat France's Steve Missilier in the men's Big Final. In the Small Final, Michael Janyk of Canada, the bronze medalist in the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, beat the reigning slalom world champion Manfred Pranger (AUT).
Both of the winners netted USD 30'000. Each racer also received USD 10'000 as start money.
Heavy rain and unseasonably warm temperatures of up to 12°C have challenged the preparations in Moscow. The distribution of the snow on the ramp was delayed until a few days ago to avoid the snow melting away. The snow used for the ramp is brought in from the modern Snow Dome Krasnogorsk, Moscow's new indoor ski facility as well as snow produced on site and trucked in.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Snowiest November ever for Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb has officially surpassed the previous record of snow in the month of November with 418cm (165 inches) of snow falling as of Thursday, November 19. The previous record, set in 2006, was 416cm (164 inches). The snowfall record dates back to 1979.
"This is an unprecedented start to the season", says Anton Horvath, Whistler Mountain weather forecaster. "The excitement of locals and guests alike is palpable, and the timing of this record breaking event happening this year as we prepare to be a host venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, is just icing on the cake. Whistler Blackcomb is well known for the copious amount of snow it receives on an annual basis. The fact that we’re only 87cm (34 inches) from reaching the half way point of our annual average snowfall, shows how incredible the start of this season really is". The annual average snowfall at Whistler Blackcomb is just over 10 metres or 33 feet.
With 11 days left in November, there is plenty more snow on the way. The Environment Canada Alpine Forecast is calling for 50- 75cm (20-30 inches) of snow in the next 24 hours and the long-range outlook is also calling for more snow throughout the weekend, with a possible 65-95cm (26-37 inches) by Monday.

Video: Opening Day - November, 14, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fischer's "White Crests"

Fischer Alpine will start out in the new freeski season with a new and individual programme. Fischer has been known for innovative and high-quality products for years. The Austrian company is taking the initiative in this growing segment and, besides the existing unique Watea series, is now also set to launch the "White Crests". The focus here is on sheer enjoyment and pure adventure.
In addition to the line itself, the formation of the Fischer Adventure Team "White Crest" shows that the accent is also on communication. The marketing launch for Fischer Freeride will take place on 4 December. Both the team and the activities will be presented at a press conference in the very fitting surroundings of Hangar-7 in Salzburg.
The contents are far-reaching: new subpage with GPS tracking, photos and moving pictures content, weblogging and the creation of a genuine community in the scene. Equipped with a Red Bull Mobile package, the "White Crests" will be primarily responsible for the contents of the website. In winter they will be on the road in their two adventure cars – Tiguan Offroads provided by VW – to track down the hottest rides and the shoot the coolest pics. These will then be available in map form as one of the first online "off piste" guides.
Additionally the "most active user" will be nominated every month. The prize: he or she can look forward to an exclusive photo shoot with professional photographers. On snow with the "White Crests", of course.
And before the truly adventurous off-piste winter season comes to an end, Fischer Freeride will reach its climax early in 2010 with the Adventure Camp.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Avalanche Alert in British Columbia As Whistler Base Heads For Two Metres

Skiinfo reports heavy snow in Western Canada has led to November avalanche warnings at Whistler, where the snow depth is rapidly heading towards two metres only a few days after the resort’s early opening.
However the news isn’t all good, the first delayed-openings have been announced. With little snow in Eastern Europe, Bansko, which had planned to open last weekend, has delayed opening; while Mont St Anne in Quebec, Canada, which had planned to open this weekend has also decided to delay with weather too warm for much snow making. Alta in Utah may open this weekend as planned, but that relies on heavy snowfall on Friday in a projected storm. Elsewhere, apart from western North America and Scandinavia where it’s still dumping, the big snowfalls of early in November have eased and there’s not been much new snow in the Alps this week. However there has been some snowfall in Switzerland (6cm in Gstaad, 4 cm in Davos) and Austria (4cm in Sölden) this morning.
In France Val Thorens has joined Tignes and become the second resort in the country to open.
In Austria there’s plenty of snow on the glaciers already. One of the largest areas is Hintertux which has a 170cm (nearly 6 foot) base and 16 of 22 lifts are open. The Mölltal glacier also has a 170cm base and the Kaunertal 135cm (4.5 feet). The Stubai and Dachstein glaciers have just over a metre (3.3 feet) each. Sölden has snow 77cm deep with 16 of its 34 lifts open. Kitzbuhel, Schladming and Obergurgl are already open and Obertauern will open on November 19th, it has 30cm (a foot) of snow in the valley and 50cm (20 inches) at the top of the slopes.
In Switzerland Zermatt currently claims the greatest snow depth of any ski resort in the world with a 4 metre (13.3 foot) base. Davos and Laax opened limited terrain at the weekend and Saas Fee’s glacier is still open, while Verbier continues to open at weekends through November.
In Germany the Zugspitze (Garmisch) has a 105cm (3.5 foot) base and 6 lifts open. Other ski resorts in the Allgäu (such as Oberstdorf and Fellhorn) have 20cm (8 inches) of snow.
The Presena glacier in Italy is reporting snow falls have passed the three metre mark following recent snowfalls. The glacier has received 3.2m (nearly 11 feet) of snow and currently has two runs open and has snow depths of up to 1.2m (four feet). Several of Italy’s other major ski resorts are now open at weekends thanks to the early-season snow in October and early November . these include Cervinia (that has three lifts open), Bormio (that first opened slopes over 2,560m some weeks ago) and Cortina (with 5km of slopes open). Livigno made a surprise opened last Friday with one run open and is offering free skiing this week – no lift pass required. In the Piedmont region, the province’s minister for tourism told the La Stampa newspaper, "Our mountains are already covered with snow and all ski resorts are awaiting the first tourists of winter with many new features. In Piedmont all ski resorts have enhanced their safety rules to the new national standards and the region is increasing its international appeal, thanks to the development of air links with important partners such as Alitalia and Ryanair". Last year Piedmont had more than 1.5 million skier visits and this year the area will launch a new promotional campaign with tailor-made packages for families, young people and tourists with disabilities or special needs.
In Scandinavia, this weekend Norways biggest ski area with a shared lift ticket has all their ski resorts open -the Lillehammer Ski Region. "Each of our ski areas has it’s own unique range of skiing opportunities to offer, and our co-operation with each other guarantees you the opportunity to experience every one of them. Buy your ski lift pass in any of the five centres and this will give you access to 92 slopes, a total of 116 kilometres in all, 44 lifts and 6 cross country courses", says Eskil Solberg in Kvitfjell ski resort. More than 25 ski areas are due to be open in Norway this weekend.
Two areas of Europe haven’t had much snow so far are the Eastern ski resorts of Bulgaria where Bansko, had hoped to open last weekend but has had to postpone its opening. There’s also been no repeat of last year’s November opening in Scotland as despite low temperatures, snowfall has been limited.
In North America dozens of resorts opened last weekend and many more plan to open this weekend or in the days following, ahead of the big Thanksgiving holiday weekend of the 26th-29th November. British Columbia (Canada), and especially Whistler (picture attached), has had big snowfalls in the past week meaning resorts there have had great opening weekends. Alongside Whitler, BC resorts Big White, Sun Peaks and Cypress Mountain all opened. Sun Peaks opened with top-to-bottom skiing on Saturday, thanks to excellent summer grooming and brush removal, early snow fall and snow making, the opening day was a week earlier than originally scheduled. The Sunburst Chairlift from the village started turning at 14 minutes to 9am on Saturday as the resort celebrated the number 14 and one of the earliest openings ever at Sun Peaks. The Austrian National Ski Team arrived in Sun Peaks on November 17 to begin training, so visitors can watch for these elite athletes on the slopes of the Nancy Greene International Race Centre this week. However the heavy snowfalls aren’t all good news, by Monday (November 16), Whistler already had to announce that their avalanche warning level was at its highest warning level because of the heavy snow build up and it now reports it snow base is approaching two metres.
Dozens of ski area have opened across the US, although one resort at least, Salta in Utah, may delay its planned opening this weekend is a promised Friday storm does not deliver enough snow. Although already sitting on a 60cm (25 inch) base at mid-mountain, the resort has limited snowmaking And is concerned cover isn’t adequate for a sustained opening.
Meanwhile over in Asia, heavy snow in China at the start of this month has led to resorts around capital Beijing and in the country’s main ski region in the North East of the country opening about a month ahead of their expected opening dates in December. The country’s best known resort of Yabuli opened beginner terrain last week and other ski areas in the region plan to open in the next few days. Wanlong resort is also open and in contrast has opened terrain at the top of the mountain. Nanshan Ski Resort near Beijing are reported to have extended and widened their mogul field and added a jump to the end of one of the advanced trails on the back of the mountain. The centre has also added an ice climbing wall.
Things are happening in Japan too. Niseko United resorts opening days are staggered over late November to early December. Grand Hirafu and Annupuri Ski Resort are usually the first resorts to open and this year it is planned for this Saturday, 21 November. Niseko Village follows closely behind on 28 November. Hanazono is the last of the resorts to open and they will open from 5 December.

Intrawest and Powdr Corp Announce a definitive purchase agreement for Cooper Mountain

Intrawest and Powdr Corp today announced they have entered into a definitive purchase agreement to sell Intrawest’s interests in Copper Mountain to Powdr Corp. The transaction is anticipated to close in December 2009 and the agreement is subject to regulatory approvals including the issuance of a U.S. Forest Service special-use permit to Powdr Corp.
This winter season it is business as usual at Copper Mountain. Once the transaction is finalized Intrawest and Powdr Corp have committed to work together to ensure that all of the multi-mountain season pass products, vacation reservations and joint marketing initiatives will be honored for the 2009-2010 winter season. This includes the Rocky Mountain Super Pass suite of products that provide skiers and riders with access to Copper Mountain, Steamboat Resort and Winter Park Resort. In addition, vacation packages, season passes and lift tickets for all three mountains will continue to be available online at www.skicolorado.com
Powdr Corp is one of the leading mountain resort owners and operators in the United States. Headquartered in Park City, Utah, Powdr Corp currently owns and operates seven ski and snowboard resorts including Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah, Killington Resort and Pico Resort in Killington, Vermont, Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon, Boreal Resort and Soda Springs Resort, both in Donner Summit, California, and Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Powdr Corp also operates Gorgoza Park, a lift-served tubing park, in Park City, Utah.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

World Winter Masters Games 2010

The World Winter Masters Games will be held for the first time in history between January 25 and January 31, 2010. The Games will take place in Slovenia’s stunning tourist town Bled. The town and its neighbouring cities are already known for hosting numerous major sport events.
Alpine skiing competitions will be held at Kranjska Gora, the ski resort which hosts the annual men ski World Cup competition. Ski jumping will take place in Planica – the famous ski jumping venue where the final World Cup competition of the season is traditionally held and where new world records have always been set. The current world record stands at 239 metres, set by Norwegian Bjorn Einar Romöeren. Cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions will be organized at Pokljuka, the venue of the annual World Cup biathlon competition, and hockey games will be organized at Jesenice, Bled, and Kranj.
World Winter Masters Games are for all athletes older then 25 or 30 years regardless the results, especially for those who appreciate sport spirit and sport activity as well as socializing with other athletes. Master is an expression for recreational athlete, veteran, senior, old-timer, sport lovers or unprofessional sportsmen.
More than 2,000 athletes from 42 countries have already registered to participate in the World Winter Masters Games. As of now, more than 500 alpine skiers, 400 cross-country skiers, 200 ski jumpers, 100 biathletes and over 30 ice hockey teams have registered to have an ‘Olympic' style experience, tailored for recreational athletes. Because so many athletes still want to compete, the deadline for registration has been extended until 25th December 2009.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2010 Freeride World Tour: JT Holmes Interview

JT Holmes, Squaw Valley local and world class skier/BASE jumper, talks about the past season of the Freeride World Tour, his crash during the competition in Squaw Valley, and his redemption a few weeks later on the legendary Bec des Rosses for the Nissan Xtreme Verbier 2009. JT seems to have very strong ambitions for next season!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freeride Elite United for the Freeride World Tour

A unique mix of the world’s foremost freeride skiers and snowboarders have all confirmed their participation in the Freeride World Tour 2010, with the prize purse of no less than $206 200.
Professional athletes with a serious commitment to the sport and with different backgrounds such as freestyle, alpine skiing, boarder cross, or filming for important film productions, is pushing the sport of freeriding to even higher levels, promising an eventful season for the Freeride World Tour 2010. A good example is snowboarder Xavier de Le Rue (FRA) – two-time Freeride World Champion (2009, 2008), and four time World Champion in boarder cross (2001-2003, 2007), competing for France at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, parallel to defending his World Champion title in freeride: "Freeride and boarder cross are really complementary; boarder cross develops technicality, speed and stability, which has meant a lot for my freeriding career, and in freeriding the depth of one’s mental capacity is probably one of the most exceptional aspects, the mind’s total focus when riding a difficult face".
The athletes will see a new event on the 2010 Tour calendar, the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, with scheduled competition day on January 30. "The fluidity in the choice of lines, the perfection of technical jumps combined with speed, has pushed freeriding into a new era. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc hosted one of the first European freeride contests in 1994, and we have decided to continue our involvement in freeriding with the second stage of the Freeride World Tour 2010", stated Éric Fournier, Mayor of the mythical freeride mecca of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.
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.

For the 2010 ranking, there are 17 independently organised Freeride World Qualifier events (FWQ) around the globe, all certified by the Pro Freeriders Board, using the same judging and points system as the Freeride World Tour events. The FWQ events allow younger talent and new nationalities to progress in the sport and eventually earn one of the desired slots of the World Tour. "The Freeride World Qualifier events are great for the development of the sport. Younger talented riders with new style see their chance to advance to the World Tour, pushing the sport to new dimensions", said skier Ane Enderud (NOR), Freeride World Champion 2009, who had a steep progression curve last season, advancing from winner of the FWQ 2008 to winner of the FWT 2009.

The third season of the Freeride World Tour kicks off already in November in the famous alpine resort of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. On November 19th, the FWT Kick Off Party takes place downtown Chamonix, with great events such as the FWT’09 Photo book release by the FWT official photographers, Christophe Margot and Dom Daher, and a dazzling new film featuring the "best of" images of the FWT09.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Levi hosts the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Slalom

This weekend Levi (FIN) will host the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Slalom competitions. Levi, located about 150 km north of the Polar Circle (Levi World Cup is the northmost Alpine World Cup), is one of the largest ski resorts in Finnish Lapland. Levi Fell village is actually a small holiday town, which offers a wide range of first-rate services to its guests.
There are 44 slopes (longest slope 2500 m), 15 of which are lit, and 28 lifts including the only gondola lift in Finland. The Vertical drop is 325 m and the lift capacity is 27,600 skiers/hour. This year's events are the fourth time that the resort serves as a FIS World Cup host since February 2004.
More than 20,000 spectators are expected at the two races on the weekend, when the Ladies compete on Saturday November 14th and the Men on Sunday November 15th and the organizers have put great emphasis on involving local schools and youngsters to bring them to the events. The World Cup opening in Slalom once again fills the Levi ski resort with athletes from 21 teams around the world.
The Levi Black competition course vertical drop is 180 meters and the steepest part of the race course has the steepness of 52 %.
Levi is Father Christmas's official fell and ski centre. Since last year a new attraction for audience is a Christmas market. The market is organized by a local tourism project. Near ZeroPoint in the center of Levi about 20 small cottages with different colors have been built. They will be lit and decorated in the Christmas style. Local companies will be selling their products, with traditional Lapland and Finnish Christmas themes. German style Glühwein and warm cider as well tasting samples of the products are offered.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Too Good To Be True? There’s Been Heavy Snowfall Pretty Much Everywhere...

Skiinfo has been firing off powder alarms at an unprecedented rate for this early in the season. The company, which receives snowfall updates loaded directly in by ski resorts all over the world, has emailed more than 60 powder alarms in recent days to registered subscribers who take advantage of the free service. An alarm is automatically triggered each time a resort reports snowfall of more than 20cm in 24 hours, but recent alarms have been set off for falls five times that size.
It’s a dream start to the 2009-10 ski season for virtually every major ski region in the northern hemisphere, and although ski industry businesses are wary of tempting fate by even daring to hope of last year’s great snowfalls, especially in Europe, it’s hard not to be happy by all the new snow, even though it is of course too early to e sure we are set up for winter 09-10.
One of the big beneficiaries of the past week has been Italy where resorts already open like Cortina have reported another big snowfall taking their season to date fall already past 1.5m, and it’s not even mid-November. Other parts of the country including Monterosa in the west are also doing well.
Austria still has the widest choice of ski areas open for a single country in the Alps, with the resort’s glacier ski areas plus already open Kitzbuhel and Schladming taking the numbers in to double figures. They’re due to be joined this weekend by Obergurgl, the continent’s highest traditional village and always an early opener. Obertauern, venue for the ski scenes in the Beatles Movie Help 45 years ago, is also due to open shortly.
Near neighbour Germany has one ski area open still, on the Zugspitz glacier near Garmisch, with a 1.2m (four foot) base.
There’s been healthy snowfalls on Switzerland’s ski slopes too although so far it’s still the glacier ski areas of Zermatt, Saas Fee and Les Diablerets (Glacier 3000) that are reported open.
In France there’s been big snowfalls in the Alps and the Pyrenees. With only Tignes open still it’s difficult to find any official figures on snowfall, however the Pyrenees seem to be doing especially well in the past 72 hours with Cauterets, which received huge snowfalls last winter, reporting 1.3m (over four feet) of new snow. It will open on November 28th. In the Alps there are many unofficial guesstimates of several feet (50-100cm) of new snow at resorts like Chamonix and Meribel where skiers and boarders have been hiking up to ski down the slopes. However other than Tignes – where conditions are reported to be much improved with the new snow and skiing down to Val Claret – unless anyone breaks ranks, it looks like we still have to wait another 10 days for the first to open, Val Thorens on November 21st. Across France’s south Western border, ski resorts in Spain are expected to begin opening soon, and earlier than expected, after heavy snowfall was reported by a number of the country’s top resorts in the Pyrenees mountains.
Temperatures have dropped, snow has been falling for the past few days and Spain’s largest winter resort, Formigal, now has depths of nearly a metre (3.3 feet) at 1,900m and 35cm (14 inches) at village level (1,500m). Another leading resort, Baqueira Beret, has reported similar cover following two days of heavy snowfall, with a metre (3.3 feet) at the top of the ski area at 2500m, and 45cm (18 inches) in resort. Commercial manager for Formigal, Jose Luis del Valle, said: "This is great news, we should be able to open very soon. And with our great offers like free ski hire and free lift passes for kids, a holiday to Formigal won’t break the bank".
The eyes of skiing’s World Cup competition will be on Scandinavia this weekend however as the circus rolls in to Finnish resort Levi, one of several already open in the country, along with Ruka amongst others.
In Sweden the resorts of Vemdalen and Klövsjö/Storhogna received between 20-30cm (8-12 inches0 of fresh snow. And the weather report looks promising for the rest of the week, with temperatures below zero. Vemdalen plans to open on Saturday. Funäsdalen and Tänndalen are already open and received about 5cm (2 inches) of new snow. This week both the Swedish and the US Alpine Ski teams are training on the slopes in Tärnaby for the World Cup in Levi. "We've got everything the teams need, good snow conditions for training and convenient slopeside accommodation", Said resort manager Thomas Ringbrant.
Ski areas open in Norway are also in to double figures with Hemsedal among those reporting over a foot of new powder to delight early skiers and boarders.
Resorts are now opening daily across North America and it’s at this point that it becomes impossible to keep track, at least two or three are now open in each ski state/province in the west of the continent where many areas have had two feet or more of new snow in the past week. The majority of US ski areas will want to be open for the thanksgiving holiday in a fortnight’s time. In Colorado the number of areas open looks set to reach double figures by the weekend, with resorts like Keystone and Copper mountain having joined early-openers last month including Arapahoe Basin and Loveland. Other Western US resorts already open or opening imminently include crystal Mountain and Mt Baker in Washington state
In the east of the US, Killington and Bretton Woods in Vermont and New Hampshire respectively opened at the weekend, joining Sunday River in Maine. Several more plan to open in the next few days including Belleayre in New York State.
In Canada more resorts have been opening in Alberta and British Columbia. Lake Louise opened last Friday, joining fellow Banff area Mt Norquay, and they’re due to be joined by Marmot Basin and sunshine in the next few days. The Banff area has reported 63cm of new snow in the past few days and Marmot Basin will debut its new quad chairlift. Another Albertan resort, Nakiska, the closest to Calgary, is already open for race te4ams and opens to the general public this weekend – it too has a new quad chairlift. Blessed with this great early season snowfall and one of the world's most sophisticated snowmaking systems, Lake Louise (picture attached) is preparing to welcome the World Cup races later this month. The Men’s races will take place on November 28 to 29, and the Women’s races on December 4 to 6. Sunshine Village will open on November 11, after receiving 130cm of snowfall to date. Approximately 50 per cent of the resort’s 107 runs will be accessible, with Standish, Wawa and Strawberry lifts set to open.
The newly renovated Sunshine Mountain Lodge will open 30 new eco-luxurious rooms in early December. The multimillion dollar wing replacement has not only added luxury to the Lodge, but also lowered the resort’s carbon footprint. Over in British Columbia Sun Peaks also plans to open in the next few days a week earlier than planned. Thanks to all the snow.
Continuing West, in Asia the ski season looks to be days away in Japan. "On October 30th we saw snow falling for the first time and after a few cold dry days, we got our first “dump” of snow at the resort village level (approx 200m above sea level)", said Andrew Clarke of Niseko alpine developments, based in one of the country’s largest resorts, Niseko. "More is forecast to come soon and the resort is due to open on approx Nov 20th. Last summer the last lifts stopped running on May 6th after a long bank holiday weekend, but only because of visitation was too low to sustain the lifts running costs, not because of any lack of snow which lasted well into June on many of the slopes".
In New Zealand the last ski area known to be open in the southern hemisphere closed at the weekend, bringing the long 2009 ski season to an end. Turoa on Mt Ruapehu still had more than two metres of snow lying on closing day. "Both Turoa and Whakapapa have done us well this year with plenty of fine weather weekends and fresh spring snowfalls which helped extend the season at Turoa for the second year in a row. We'd like to thank everyone who visited us for their support throughout the 2009 winter season, particularly during Snovember. It's great to have the opportunity to offer another three weeks worth of skiing and riding but we couldn't do it without our wonderful customers", said a ski area statement.

Mother Nature Hits Whistler Mountains with Snow helping Snowmaking efforts to prepare the Alpine Skiing venue for the 2010 Winter Games

Snowmaking is an important part of early season preparation at Whistler Blackcomb in any given year. This year, while extra efforts are focused on readying the Alpine Skiing venue for the 2010 Winter Games, crews are also hard at work across both mountains to open up as much terrain as quickly as possible. And with Mother Nature’s cooperation, the mountains have been pounded with snow over the past few days, with more on the way.
This season Whistler Blackcomb’s snowmaking team is larger than ever, and is dedicated to providing an exceptional product for all guests while meeting or exceeding all criteria for the Games. Currently, over 160 snow guns are assisting Mother Nature to get a head start on winter with additional snow guns expected to be on-line within the next 24 hours as the freezing level continues to descend down the mountain.
"Our goal is to get as much quality snow as possible across both mountains for our guests early season", says Bob Pasch, snowmaking manager at Whistler Blackcomb. "More snow on the ground now not only helps us open up terrain early but also provides a thicker, durable base, benefitting the late season too".
With Opening Day just around the corner both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains are currently under siege with snowmaking efforts. Currently snowmaking production is converting over 7,000,000 gallons of water into snow per day. This is equivalent to producing snow as high as a four-story building with a footprint the size of a football field, per day. As temperatures cool production levels can more than double. Priorities include establishing connector runs to the major lifts and restaurants, the development of children’s learning areas, construction of terrain park and special event features, and preparation of high traffic ski outs prior to the Christmas holidays, all in tandem with the Games race and training course preparations.
"Alpine temperatures have been working in our favour enabling us to keep our snow guns running", says Pasch. Snowmaking can start with temperatures as warm as -1 Celsius and production levels increase substantially with every one degree drop in temperature. "Our snowmaking crews are working 24/7 to ensure our product is the best it can be on both Whistler and Blackcomb for opening day", he continues.
And to assist snowmaking crews in their efforts, the Environment Canada Long Range forecast is calling for a strong weather system to roll through the Coastal Mountains bringing significant snowfall – potentially up to 60 centimetres – to the region over the next five days. The freezing level is expected to stay near the valley bottom, meaning optimal temperatures for natural snowfall and snowmaking across much of Whistler Blackcomb’s one-mile vertical rise.
Opening Day at Whistler Blackcomb is set for Nov 26, but if Mother Nature fulfills on the promises that are forecast, an early opening is always possible.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ski Utah. The Greatest Snow on Earth

The western edge of the Rocky Mountains, the Wasatch Range towers over Utah's Great Salt Lake and the vast desert basin beyond, create an ultimate playground for powder addicts. Utah's self-proclaimed "greatest snow on Earth" is not only a slogan. With an average of 500 inches (12,7 metres) of the planet's lightest and driest powder annually (the 2008-09 Season was fantastic in Utah with over 600 inches/15,24 metres), the claim is back up with some geographic facts:
  • Winter trade winds push clouds full of moisture east from the Pacific Ocean, across California and Nevada and to Utah. As the clouds move across the desert, the heat bakes out much of their moisture. When the clouds meet Utah’s Rocky Mountains, the remaining moisture rapidly cools and condenses, and precipitation hits our Utah ski resort terrain with a "mother lode" of deep, white powder snow that’s particularly light and dry.
  • There’s another weather element that feeds Utah’s love affair with the white stuff. TV station News 4 Utah’s Chief Meteorologist Dan Pope says, "We have something that no other ski location in the world has - The Great Salt Lake Effect. Often the Great Salt Lake is much warmer than the bitter cold air following a cold front. The lake releases water into the air that then rises into clouds of snow, producing squalls on its eastern flanks. These squalls contain some of the world’s lightest, fluffiest and driest snow ever produced, and it falls in feet – not inches – on our Wasatch Mountains". As clouds draw moisture up from the Great Salt Lake, they "recycle" themselves for several days in the surrounding mountains. Utah ski enthusiasts often get a "one-two" (or a "three-four") punch of powder, causing many local employees to call in sick with the "powder flu". Editor in Chief of Skiing Magazine, Marc Peruzzi , simply stated, "That is why we test fat skis in Utah".

Home to 13 world-class alpine ski resorts, Utah can't be beat for its terrain and consistency of the lightest, deepest powder around. From the rugged powder choked steeps of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, home to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude, to the immaculately manicured slopes of Park City, where you can find Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, and The Canyons, Utah has it all.



Solitude (Utah) Opens November 6th

Solitude Mountain Resort officially kicked off the 2009-10 Utah ski season on Friday. On its first day, the ski area opened two lifts, Link and Moonbeam Express, servicing two beginner runs, Easy Street and Main Street. The ski area reported a 16-inch (40 centimetres) base with 40 inches (1 metre) of natural snowfall so far this season.
The resort had opened the Link lift on Halloween for passholders only, but Friday was the area's first open day for the general public. The resort had moved up its originally scheduled opening date by a week.
Nestled in Utah among the towering peaks of the Wasatch Mountains in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Solitude Mountain Resort is a four-season resort, just 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Crystal Ski Sends Resort Information Direct to Your Mobile

Customers of the UK’s largest tour operator, Crystal Ski (featuring 140 resorts in 14 countries worldwide), can this winter receive an essential ‘information pack’, including downloadable piste maps and details of rep services available in the resort, ready for their mobile phone.
Crystal is replacing the traditional printed pack with an online pack which allows customers to access essential resort information up to nine days before departure from their PC or web-enabled iphone, BlackBerry and other devices.
The information pack includes personalised ‘first 24 hour guide’ with details of local airport, transfers, check-in details, ski escorting, childcare service; names and 24/7 contact details of the in-resort team; daily snow reports, piste condition, weather and temperature; live web-camera images; downloadable piste and resort maps; puzzles and games; information for families and first time skiers/boarders ; resort facilities, après-ski venues, restaurants and bars, events and other winter sport activities available in resort and an opportunity to speak to in-resort team before departure and questions answered.
Crystal Ski has also set up a partnership with Travel Buddy to communicate by text messages with their customers while in resort. Receiving text messages through Travel Buddy will be absolutely free. If an incident occurs in a ski resort or a flight is delayed due to heavy snowfall, the Crystal Travel Buddy can provide free text messages with guidance and advice.
Crystal Ski managing director Mathew Prior said: "We are thrilled to introduce these innovations next winter which result from Crystal’s commitment to improve our customer’s experience while on holiday. Our research has shown us that customers want assistance within the first 24 hours of the holiday and to get them skiing as smoothly and quickly as possible. The best way to achieve this is providing a personalised service tailored to our customers’ needs - before travel, upon arrival and while on holidays".
In other initiatives Crystal has also promises 50% more free ski escorting this winter and have extended the service so it is now available three days a week. The ski escorts will show how to beat the queues, find the best runs and get inside information necessary for a successful day on the slopes.
Customers will also be able to let Crystal do the queuing for them this winter in more resorts than ever before. We will deliver lift passes before the lifts open either to our customers’ accommodation or to a convenient central point in resort.
Crystal Holidays is part of TUI Travel PLC, the largest holiday company in Europe with over 28 years experience of delivering outstanding ski holidays.

Senior Skiers Continue to Hit the Slopes

The market for more mature skiers appears to be booming with the announcement from UK adventure ski tour operator Ski Freshtracks that over 35% of their bookings so far for the 2009/10 season are for their Peak Experience programme – holidays for skiers over 50s.
Ski Freshtracks, the biggest provider of ski holidays specifically for older skiers, offers 26 dedicated trips and their loyal following stems from the huge variety of resorts and types of holidays on offer. Because all holidays are graded by ski standard and hosted by experienced holiday leaders, the Ski Freshtracks concept is ideal for older couples or solo skiers. This winter there are several holidays offering single rooms with no supplement.
"We understand that our more mature ski clients are still looking for a wide choice of resorts, smart accommodation and whatever their standard, an adventure to suit", says Caroline Boileau, General Manager of Ski Freshtracks. "Also, as each holiday group is graded by ability, every skier has a sociable experience with like-minded skiers of the same standard. Interestingly, last winter we found that 25% of our bookings came from clients under the obligatory age".
Peak Experience holidays fall into three categories, catering for all standards of skier. There’s action for skiers that want mostly piste skiing accompanied by Ski Club leaders, or performance holidays with an element of coaching from highly qualified instructors or thirdly off piste for skiers that want to an adventure away from the pistes with fully qualified mountain guides.
Top ability skiers can choose to holiday in La Grave, Chamonix and St Anton; intermediates wanting instruction and the comfort of a first class hotel can take a package to Grindelwald or Lech and there are also Peak Experience holidays to suit varying standards to, for example, the resorts of Laax, Klosters, Zermatt and Obergurgl, Big White and Sun Peaks.
New for the Ski Freshtracks Peak Experience programme for winter 2009-10 are the resorts of Cortina and Colfosco in the Dolomites and Crans Montana and Grimentz in Switzerland.

Barcelona Snow Show

Just days after his win at the season's first big air in London last week, 20'000 spectators at Estadio Olimpico saw Stefan Gimpl victory in Barcelona at the second city event of the 2010 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. The Austrian veteran relegated Switzerland's Gian-Luca Cavigelli to the second rank with Gjermund Braaten from Norway round out the podium as third.
The best three riders of the day were only divided by two tenths before entering the third and decisive final jump. Just like last week at Battersea Power Station, Gimpl was in the lead after he had earned 26.8 points for his "Frontside 900". Breathing in his neck with only one tenth behind was runner-up Cavigelli who had scored 26.7 points for his "Backside 1080" - and with 26.6 in third Braaten thanks to an amazing "Backside 1080 Double Cork". But after Gimpl showcased a final "Cab 900" - just like Cavigelli before - the tide turned in Gimpl's favor who said: "This is amazing. This was so close. Gian-Luca (Cavigelli) and me, we were even. I mean our last jumps were the same level." Then he added with a smile that his nine year younger opponent from Switzerland "still has some more years to win some contests".
Maybe it's time for Cavigelli in two weeks when the World Cup circus heads to Stockholm for this winter's third big air: "I'm really pleased how everything is going at the moment. It's awesome to place second two times in a row". The 21-year-old heads to Sweden self-assured: "I'm absolutely motivated. It would be nice if I could grab the win in Stockholm in two weeks".

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mount St. Elias Film Presentation at Torello's Film Festival

From November 13th to 22nd Torelló will host the 27th Edition of the Caixa Sabadell Mountain Film Festival. The Film Festival is one of the most important meetings of this kind in Spain and one of the best in the world with thousands of spectators gathering in Torelló each year.

Mount St. Elias (directed by Gerald Salmina)
Torelló, November 17th, 21:00

Story Line: A dramatic and awe-inspiring feature documentary following three of the world’s greatest ski mountaineers (Two Austrian Axel Naglich and Peter Ressmann and American Jon Jonhston) to the Mount St. Elias in their attempt to realize the longest ski descent of the world. Far away from the civilized world, Mount St. Elias is located in south-eastern Alaska bordering the Yukon Territory. The Canadian side is part of Kluane National Park, while the U.S. side of the mountain is located within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Mount Saint Elias is notable for being the highest peak in the world so close to tidewater.

Back-Story: After a first failed attempt in May, Austrian skiers from Kitzbühel, Axel Naglich and Peter Ressmann, have become the first to ski down Mount St. Elias (5,489 meters) in Alaska on a run of about 20 kilometres, the longest ski descent ever.
The mountain known as "The Man Eater", one of the peaks of the St. Elias Mountains on the Yukon border -the highest coastal range in the world- is a spectacular snow-covered pyramid renowned for its dangerous icy and massive vertical relief, 50 to 60 degrees on upper slopes. A glacial stream runs all the way from the top of Mount St. Elias down into Icy Bay in the Gulf of Alaska.
In 2002, two experienced ski mountaineers, Aaron Martin and Reid Sanders, died attempting the ski descent and their remains are under the ice on a slope near the summit.
On August 9th the team left the base camp on the Haydon Shoulder (3,000 meters) at midnight and climbed, through a loose rock face in the dark to avoid rock fall, to advanced camp (4,300 meters). Next day they left the advanced camp at 7:30 a.m. ascended to the high camp at 4,700 meters preparing the final push. On August 11th Axel Naglich and Peter Ressmann reached the summit at 12:50 p.m. and then, after a 10 minutes rest, began their descent down an unexplored line to avoid the avalanche-prone slope they had ascended. It took the pair less than two hours to ski to high camp, break down camp and continue the ski down to 4,300 meters where they camped. On August 12th the pair left their camp at 2 a.m., repelling down the treacherous rock face before dawn. They arrived back at Haydon Shoulder by noon and within hours had been picked up by the Super Cub airplane, who shuttled them back to Ultima Thule Lodge.
Axel Naglich (39), an architect and extreme skier from Kitzbühel, was already the first to ski down new extreme routes on Mount Cook in New Zealand three years ago and Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus, Europe’s highest mountain, four years ago. He has won the "24 Hours of Aspen" three times and has taken part in both the Red Bull Snowthrill in Chamonix and the X Games twice.
Peter Ressmann, ski guide and ski school owner, has skied China’s 7,500-meter Muztagh Ata as well as the Himalayan giant, 8,125-meter Nanga Parbat. He joined Axel Naglich on two attempts to descend Mount Cook’s as-yet-unskied Caroline face and in 2006 successfully summited and skied 8,047-meter Broad Peak in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breckenridge Legalizes Pot

Breckenridge voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to make it legal to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana, as the issue received 71 percent support in Tuesday’s election. As a result, effective Jan. 1, people 21 and older in Breckenridge will be able to legally possess small amounts of marijuana. While possession remains illegal under state law, Breckenridge police chief Rick Holman said his department will "still have the ability to exercise discretion", according to the Summit Daily News. In the past, the chief has said that pursuit of pot smokers was not a major priority. The vote, supporters say, will further encourage local law enforcement to leave average recreational pot smokers alone.
Currently, the petty, non-jailable offense under town code carries a maximum $100 fine. In 2008, Breckenridge Police Department ticketed 10 people under the town marijuana possession law, according to BPD ticket statistics.
In 2005, Denver became the first major city to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana after voters approved legislation similar to that in Breckenridge.
The decriminalization won't change laws prohibiting smoking in public, use by minors or driving under the influence.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Powder Alarms Across The Alps As More Resorts Open Early

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vail Resorts Offers 'Free Skis & Boards Package'

Vail Resorts announces several innovative programs, from ski and ride school to dining, equipment rentals to season passes, designed to offer great values for skiers and riders all season long.
Last season, Vail Resorts provided a $50 credit on baggage fees for skis and snowboards and this year the Company is going one better. Guests can leave their skis and snowboards at home, avoiding Baggage fees on airlines, because rentals are free with this package. The Free Skis & Boards package features lift tickets and a free ski and snowboard sports rental package per person for up to seven days at the retail locations of Vail Sports, Beaver Creek Sports, Breckenridge Sports, Keystone Sports and Heavenly Sports, as well as lodging in a Vail Resorts property or third-party lodging sponsor at Heavenly.
The package must be purchased by Dec. 1, 2009, and is not valid from Dec. 28, 2009-Jan. 4, 2010, and Jan. 15-18, 2010. It is based on a two-night minimum stay.
Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resort properties of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone mountain resorts in Colorado and the Heavenly Ski Resort in the Lake Tahoe area of California and 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.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

London LG FIS Snowboard World Cup

After the World Cup kicked off with a halfpipe contest in New Zealand two months ago, London hosted the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. Right next to the iconic towers of Battersea Power Station, at the Thames riverside, the first big air of the 2010 season took place.
Stefan Gimpl,the Austrian snowboard veteran not only celebrated his career's seventh World Cup triumph at the season's first big air competition. The rider from the Salzburg countryside also made himself a fantastic birthday present. Turning 30 in front of 15,000 spectators at Battersea Power Station in London, the World Cup title defender relegated Switzerland's Gian-Luca Cavigelli and Domen Bizjak from Slovenia to the second and third rank respectively.
Besides the young guns with their "Backside 1260's" (Ulrik Badertscher, NOR) or "Frontside 1260's" (Janne Korpi, FIN) Gimpl stood out with his great style which made the tricks look so easy and him being able to stick them smoothly even if the 30-years-old had to struggle with his shaky legs right before the final attempt. "I was very nervous up there although actually nothing could have gone wrong as I was lucky over the last years living on the sunny side of life. It seems that someone is meaning well for me".
The World Cup leader was able to stomp a "Frontside 1080", his "so far best in my whole life" and then a "Cab 900" after the spectator crowd had serenaded him "Happy birthday".
The whole starter field met the expectations with a high level riding including some of the more than 50 riders from 12 countries showcasing even more difficult tricks than the winner - however, not as smooth and stylish like Gimpl did.