Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Which Will Be The First Ski Resort in the World to Open For ‘Winter’ 2010-11?

When does one ski season end and another begin? It’s a question we are always wondering at Skiinfo, because tracking snowfall all year round, we know that somewhere in the northern hemisphere there’s always somewhere open for snow sports. With ski areas like Zermatt in Switzerland, Tux in Austria and Timberline in Oregon, USA open all year round for skiing and boarding and other areas opening at certain times in late spring, summer or Autumn it can be hard to decide!
For some resort’s the ‘next year’s ski season’ begins only a few weeks after the last one ends. Saas Fee in Switzerland for example or the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun in Austria that close for a month or two after the end of the winter season, before re-opening for a 10 month snow sports season from late May one year right through to the start of May the next. So they could claim to already be in the 2010-11 season.
But still other glacier resorts, like Les 2 Alpes and Tignes in France and Cervinia in Italy have a distinct ‘summer’ ski season, then close at the end of August or early September to gird their loins ready for a six or eight month winter ski season that begins in the Autumn.
With Timberline also having a fortnight’s maintenance closure in mid-September it does seem that this is the most favourable month, if any, to say one ski year ends and the next begins. The summer heat is dying away and temperatures are dropping, in North America some of the highest resorts in the world, but without glacier ski areas, like Copper, Loveland, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, all in Colorado, are likely to start snowmaking, some aiming to open in early October. It’s a similar picture in Scandinavia with resorts at northerly latitude, particularly in Finland, looking for October openings. In the southern hemisphere the season is beginning to wind down.
But which will be first?
A possible claimant is the Pitztal glacier in Austria, which operates the country’s highest lifts and has had its snowmaking system boosted recently by the installation of one of only two ‘all weather’ snowmaking systems imported from Israel that can make snow in plus temperatures. This year Pitztal is aiming to open on Wednesday, September 15th. A few days later Tignes will open and then in early October a rush of a dozen or so glacier resorts in Switzerland and Austria as well as, probably, the high altitude resorts in Colorado and northerly resorts in Scandinavia, will join the ski areas open for 2010-11 list.
Well whichever comes first, let’s hope for a repeat of the great early season snow in the Alps of recent winters which has seen resorts like Bormio in Italy, Kitzbuhel in Austria and Cairngorm in Scotland all opening months earlier than usual. Skiinfo will continue to post live snow information from all, and 2,000 other northern hemisphere ski areas as they open later in the year for the coming winter.
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1 comment:

skiholidays said...

superb article - I'm a huge fan of your ski site and also get your newsletter.

I know Patrick (snow24) who contributes to your excellent resource - there's no question he's one of the most knowledgable people in skiing

I hope we can work with you guys - excellent ski holidays from real snow lovers