Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ski Areas In Eight More Countries Ready To Open In June As Southern Hemisphere Reports First Turns Of Winter

Skiinfo reports that June will sees ski areas open in the southern hemisphere countries of Argentina, Australia, Chile, Lesotho, New Zealand and South Africa while glacier ski resorts will re-open for the summer in Canada and France where currently no ski areas are known to be open. These hundred odd ski areas in eight countries will join the 20 or so still going in 11 countries in the northern hemisphere since 2009 – located in Austria, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and the US. In the southern hemisphere snow is already falling and resorts are making snow. In New Zealand, Treble Cone (picture attached) reported 35cm (14 inches) of new snow this morning and those prepared to hike up ahead of the resort’s official opening later this month were able to enjoy the powder. The trend in open resorts is already up with three glacier areas in Austria, Italy and Norway opening at the weekend.
In the northern hemisphere Austria seems to be the place the ski this week with glacier ski areas reporting up to 40cm (16 inches) of new snow and the Dachstein Glacier in southern Austriare-opening for snow sports at the weekend, unveiling its improved Horsefeathers Superpark for the summer snow season.The Kaunertal, Stubai and Tux glaciers are also open and have reported substantial new snow too. Dachstein’s improved park offers a new three-boxes-line and freestylers can now slide down up to four rails in a line. On top of the two existing rails, an 11-meter down rail and a 14 metre double kinked rail are being added. Instead of the two Corners, a brand-new medium boxes line has been added and the rails are constructed as double piped rails. "We’ll position the rails a bit lower so that also beginners can try their first tricks on real metal", said Bernd Mandlberger.
Elsewhere in the Alps a third ski area – Passo Stelvio, has joined the Presena Glacier and Val Senales, open in Italy.
In Switzerland Europe’s highest slopes above Zermatt, remain open and there are mixed signals coming from the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz with part of the official site showing the centre as open but clicking on it leading to a more detailed page which seems to indicate it has closed.
There are no ski areas currently open in France although there’s plenty of high altitude ski touring going on above resorts like Chamonix. The country’s three remaining summer ski areas - Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere begin opening in three week’s time.
In Northern Europe they’re still skiing at Riksgransen in the Swedish Arctic Circle where there’s now24 hour daylight, at Ruke in Finland and on Norway’s three glacier areas of Folgefonn, Galdhoppigen and Stryn – the latter recently opened.
Meanwhile Cairngorm Mountain above Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands has announced plans to open for the first weekend of June, next Saturday 5th/6th and on weekends through June, conditions permitting . On June 21st Northern Scotland celebrates the start of summer with near-24 hour daylight, thanks to the region’s northerly latitude. The ski area is enjoying a record breaking year approaching eight months of near continual operation (all closures due to too much snow, extreme weather or more recently too few visitors, rather than any lack of snow). There was more fresh snow last week with temperatures hovering around zero at the top of the slopes. The centre has been open at weekends through May and was open on English Bank Holiday May 31st. The Ptarmigan lift is running and the train makes mid-station stops if it is possible to ski to the middle using the gunbarrel. The terrain park and the sledge park are open. Opening hours are from 10am - 4pm and snowsports tickets will be available for the whole day or for 3 hour sessions.
In North America the season continues as last week at five US ski areas – Mammoth Mountain in California, Arapahoe Basin in Colorado (now in its last week),Snowbird in Utah and Timberline in Oregon. However three areas opened at the weekend to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday in the US. On the West Coast Donner Summit and Squaw Valley ski areas re-opened due primarily to fresh snow falling last week. On the East Coast, Stowe in Vermont took a different approach and unveiled a huge pile of snow it had stockpiled through the winter to use for one off ‘Last Trick’ Rail Jam over Memorial Day weekend. The giant pile of snow, formerly the resort’s halfpipe, provided the venue for Stowe’s park crew to set up the rails, boxes and jumps for one more jam session. The event was open to all skiers, snowboarders and spectators with music provided and prizes and giveaways for participants to add to the mood. Mammoth Mountain announced five inches (12cm) of new snow fell during a storm just before last weekend.
There are no ski areas known to be open in Canada at present although Whistler Blackcomb is due to reopen shortly for its summer glacier ski and board season.
In the southern hemisphere there’s been natural snowfall in New Zealand where the 2010 ski season is only weeks away. Resorts have begun snowmaking too. The team at Turoa on Mt Ruapehu spent much of Monday morning blowing snow down on the meadow with the snow making crews both there and at the mountain’s other ski area, Whakapapa, primed and ready to get more snow on the ground whenever conditions will allow it. There has been snow throughout the day and more in the forecast so mother nature is doing her bit to help out too. Things are currently on track for the projected opening dates of the 19th of June for Turoa and Whakapapa following one week later on the 26th of June.
There’s been less fresh snow in Australia but temperatures have been low enough for snowmaking to begin at Perisher ski resort, the country’s largest.

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