Sunday, January 31, 2010

Candide Thovex Wins Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Against the beautiful backdrop of the Mont-Blanc the Freeride World Tour 2010 kicked off in perfect weather conditions on the 500 metre "Pentes de l’Hôtel" face at the Brévent ski area in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The 50 best freeriders on the planet put on an amazing performance, showing the 3000 cheering spectators the top of their game on the committing face and challenging snow conditions. The most impressive run of the day was the clean victory of French freestyle legend Candide Thovex, debuting in freeride contests, announcing a promising future.
After the last few days’ of snowfall the blue skies finally presented a dream like arena for the athletes and spectators of the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. However, the snow conditions were tricky for the competitors. A lot of the fresh powder was taken down by the first riders and parts of the face exposed rock hard snow, and at times ice. Control was decisive. First rider down, skier Julien Lopez of France set the tone with a spectacular line; steep, committing and clearing a massive cliff drop at the end (5th). Many variations and original lines followed.

Ski Men
The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc was the famous French freestyler Candide Thovex’s first Freeride World Tour contest, and with his explosive run he secured a solid victory. Thovex chose a unique line down the face, literally flying through the course at full speed, stomping several solid cliff jumps, cheered on by the excited Chamonix spectator crowd. Swedish Kaj Zackrisson is one of the veterans on the tour, and a Chamonix local since 10 years. The strong skier took second with an extremely powerful and consistent run, taking clean and big air. American rising star and newcomer Tim Dutton impressed the judges as he chose an original line down the face; creative, exposed and searching the good snow.

"I couldn’t sleep very well last night as I wasn’t really sure of my line, and I felt a lot of pressure this morning. But I went up early and got a good vision of the course. I looked for good snow and a line I could enjoy. I spotted some nice Alaska-like spines with great snow! I chose not to do some tricks and to focus on fluidity. I wanted to come down safe and sound. It has been really cool and the atmosphere is great, which was very motivating at the start. I am really happy of the victory and to share the podium with my friend Tim Dutton who soon will be at his home town in Squaw Valley. I am really motivated for the coming events!" said Candide Thovex.

Snowboard Men
The most consistent run among the snowboarders was Austrian Mitch Toelderer’s line, making an interesting line interpretation in the middle, steep section of the course, taking two solid airs towards the end. The Chamonix local Douds Charlet showed the international elite the local spice with two stylish jumps right at the start, with one clean "360 front side", securing second. The only Briton on the line up, James Stentiford, had a very fluid and fast run, with full control down the icy part of the face, giving him the third place of the podium.
Female riders
With several of the top female skiers injured (Ane Enderud, Marja Persson), American Jess Mc Millan (3rd on the Freeride World Tour Ranking 2009) proved to the crowds the high level of female skiers. With the most original line of the day Mc Millan took a massive cliff drop and skied a fast line including a couple more solid jumps. Reigning Freeride World Champion snowboarder Susan Mol (USA) had a convincing run down the face with an interesting line interpretation and fast controlled turns.

International Tourism Symposium (Chamonix)

The 12th International Tourism Symposium (ITS) starts tomorrow in the Centre de Congrès Le Majestic of Chamonix. For the first time the Symposium leaves Zermatt, its traditional location. In the next years the Internatonal meeting will alternate between Chamonix and Zermatt. Experts and Companies from all over the world will be reunited around the Theme: Economic Attractiveness of Mountain Regions: Tourism, the Future?. The objective of ITS 2010 is to challenge the recession, which should be considered as an opportunity for the Tourism industry, not only to solve its structural problems but also to reconsider its strategies in a more global context. Traditional ideas will be questioned, especially those referring to the importance and role that the Tourism industry has to play in the economic development of Mountain regions. All these questions are strategically vital for the future of Mountain regions and these are the issues that will be addressed by key decision makers in Chamonix.
Founded in 1998, the International Tourism Symposium is a non profit organisation. Initially dedicated to the Alpine region, the Symposium has expanded its influence from the Alpine Arc to all Europe, North America and Asia. The unique character of the Symposium is its business orientation which has resulted in becoming the event of reference for the leaders of the Tourism Industry on an international level.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Freeride World Tour by Glen Plake (Video Episode 5)

Glen Plake presents the inside scoop on the Freeride World Tour: "The Best Riders on the Best Mountains in the Ultimate Freeride Competition". Glen Plake is a figure in American Freestyle skiing and extreme sports. Born in Livermore, California, on September 9, 1964, he is known for his appearance in ski films such as Greg Stumps The Blizzard of Aahhhs (probably the best ski movie ever made), and for his trademark (often dyed blonde, purple or blue) Mohawk hairstyle. Plake was involved in the uprise of extreme skiing in America, being one of the pioneers. Glen Plake remains one of the most visible snow sliders on the planet.
In this video: Chamonix

Friday, January 29, 2010

Nissan Freeride de Chamonix Mont-Blanc Confirmed for Sunday 31

The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc will kick off Sunday 31 January, at 10 am, at the "Pentes de l’Hôtel" face in the Brévent ski area in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.
The Mountain Guides have, for the past several days, secured the competition face and will continue Saturday before the riders’ binocular inspection of the face, scheduled for 2 pm. The last few days of snowfall promise excellent conditions on the competition face.

Programme Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc:

Friday 29 January: Opening Ceremony of the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
6 pm Opening Ceremony and Bib Draw at Street Fair in the centre of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.

Saturday 30 January: Riders' Mountain Inspection
2 pm Inspection of the face with binoculars from below the face - if condititions allow. The inspection could be postponed to Sunday morning before the competition (if poor visibility Saturday).

Sunday 31 January: Competition Day
10 am - 1 pm Competition "Pentes de l’Hôtel" (Brévent Ski Area)
2 pm Prize Giving Ceremony at contest site
6 pm Prize Giving Ceremony at Street Fair, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc centre

Access to Spectator Area, View of the Entire Competition Face:
For spectators a FWT village will be installed at the foot of the competition face.
Take the "Plan Praz" gondola at the Brévent ski area. Take the chair lift La Parsa and then go down the blue piste Blanchot to the 6th marker. Traverse to FWT Village (with FWT signs).

Event Village in Chamonix:
The event village at the heart of the city centre is open to the public: Friday 29, Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 January from 3pm to 7pm.

Intrawest to sell Panorama Mountain Village

Intrawest and a newly formed company, Panorama Mountain Village Inc. (Panorama Inc.) announced today that they have entered into a definitive asset purchase agreement that will enable Panorama Inc. to purchase Intrawest's interests in Panorama Mountain Village. Panorama is located in the British Columbia Rockies on the Kootenay Rockies Powder Highway, close to Banff and just over a three hour drive from Calgary International Airport Panorama Inc. is made up of area homeowners and local business people. The transaction will include the resort's on-mountain and Nordic ski operations, a 50% ownership position in the Greywolf Golf Course, all of Intrawest's commercial operations and lodging units in the village and the land available for real estate development. The transaction is anticipated to close in February 2010, pending regulatory approvals.
This winter season it is business as usual for reservations and pass products. This sale comes on the heels of Intrawest selling Copper to Powdr Corp., as Intrawest tries to pay down its debts.
Fortress purchased Intrawest for $2.8 billion in 2006, and financed $1.8 billion of that amount. The resort operator missed a $524 million debt payment originally due Oct. 23. The primary lender on the Intrawest deal in 2006 was defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers.
Intrawest is a leader in the development and management of experiential destination resorts. The Company has a network of resorts at North America’s most popular mountain destinations including Whistler Blackcomb, the host venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and Canadian Mountain Holidays, the largest heli-skiing operation in the world. Intrawest is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chamonix will be the Freeride Capital of the World in the next days

Chamonix will host two of the 4 Freeride World Tour events (FWT). Chamonix is probably the world’s most renowned alpine resort. Host of the first ever official Winter Olympics Games way back in 1924, skiers and snowboarders now come from all over the world to take on its vast range of steep "couloirs" against the backdrop of the Mont Blanc. When it comes to freeride locations few can rival Chamonix, so it’s no surprise that in 2010 it joins the tour as a main stop for the first time. FWT ski world champion Aurélien Ducroz, who was born and bred in Chamonix, will be the hometown favourite and looking to maximise points on the south facing Brevent.
Due to heavy snowfall and wind, the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch was postponed and rescheduled in Chamonix. The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is scheduled for Saturday, January 30th, and the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch will take place the next possible day using the start list established in Sochi. Riders will meet in Chamonix for both events. The line up is as good as it gets with many interesting contenders for the Freeride World Champion 2010 title.
The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc will offer the total prize money of USD 56,200 and the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch prize money is set at USD 35,200. The season’s prize money grand total exceeds USD 200,000.
The Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc will take place on the Pentes de l'Hôtel. Situated in the Brévent ski area in the ‘Aiguilles Rouges’ facing the impressive Mont Blanc mountains, the Pentes de l’Hôtel’ are very popular among freeriders. This eastern facing slope is around 500 vertical meters, very technical thus allows skiers and snowboards to reveal their talent. An ideal spot for the public as well since you can see the competition form the Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc village set up at the base of the slope. Of course since there are many people on winter holiday, there will be lots of spectators to cheer on the riders.
Another option has of course been planned, according to weather and security conditions, in Flégère (still in the "Aiguilles Rouges") on the "Aiguille Pourrie": "We will decide which is the best option depending on the conditions at that time", explains Jerome Ruby, mountain guide and security manager for the event. "Both faces are really great and have lots of features for every riding style".
Each participant goes down the slope one after the other. How they get from point A to B is their choice. The run is judged by a panel of judges the foot of the slope. One score is given for overall impression for each rider. To evaluate the athletes, the judges use a 10-point system from 1.0 to 10.0. Among the aspects evaluated, line choice, fluidity and control are the criteria that guide the judges in their overall impression.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Low Temperatures In Europe, More Big Snow For Western North America

Skiinfo reports that Europe has had quite a quiet week in terms of fresh snowfall but in most areas temperatures have been low, helping to maintain snow quality, and small snowfalls have helped freshen up terrain at a number of centres. In North America there have been more huge snowfalls on the west side of the continent.
In France the cold temperatures have kept the snow in excellent condition for skiing. There’s been little new snow, except for a big snowfall recorded on Monday in the country’s Vosges region. Otherwise resorts have received 10 to 20cm (4-8 inches) through the week. However new big snowfalls are expected for tomorrow, Thursday. Laurie Martin Communications Officer of Montgenèvre told Skiinfo, "Snow conditions are optimal in Montgenèvre with 220cm at the top of the slopes and 160cm at the bottom. The whole area has been open since the end of December and the connections with the 'Voie Lactée' (Milky Way) are also open, which is not always the case at this time of the year. The coming February holidays will be good for skiers. It has been snowing steadily since mid-December and we have a very good season, with skiers happy. The snow cover is good and stable and we expect new snowfall on Friday". Chamonix will host the Nissan Freeride on Saturday and then stage the postponed opening event on the next suitable day afterwards. The Russian event was due to have been staged in the 2014 Olympic venue of Sochi last week but had to be cancelled due to strong winds and heavy snowfall there. Chamonix currently has the deepest snowbase in France with 3.9m (13 feet) on upper slopes. Flaine has 2.65m (nine feet), La Clusaz 2.6m (8.7 feet) and La Grave 2.5m (8.3 feet).
Snow began to fall again in Austria and Germany in recent days with more new snow forecast for tomorrow and in to the weekend – especially in the western Vorarlberg, Tirol and Salzburg provinces. Temperatures have been as low as – 20 degrees and colder in some parts. The deepest snow is on the glaciers (Mölltal 330cm/11 feet, Kaunertal 209cm/7 feet on upper runs). Sölden got the most snow in the country this week with 25cm (10 inches) with Kleinwalsertal reporting the biggest single fall of 17cm (six inches). Maria Alm/ Hochkönig and Alpbach had 10cm (4 inches) each.
It’s a similar picture in Switzerland where Elm reported the most new snow of the past week, with 30cm (a foot) accumulated. Disentis, Davos and Saas Fee got 12-15cm (5-6 inches) each. Andermatt has the biggest snow depth with 210cm (7 feet). Saas Fee and St Moritz have only a few centimetres/inches less.
Italy has also had a quiet week although low temperatures have brought some snow at low altitude in the North of the country and also in the central Appennine mountains. It’s snowing there now with Limone and Prato Nevoso in the north west reporting 20-25cm (8-10 inches) so far today. The Presena and Marmolada glaciers both have the most snow with about 3.9m (13 feet) on upper slopes, Bormio has 3 metres (10 feet).
The cold weather has extended as far as Belgium where recent fresh snow fall (10cm/4 inches on 24 Jan), combined with the cold temperatures (-5°to -15°C) has led some nordic resorts in the East of the country to re-open their tracks. Baraque Michel, Mont Spinet and Losheimergraben are offering Nordic Skiing on 10cm of snow. Other resorts, and hopefully also the Alpine resorts will follow as more cold and snow is predicted for next week.
There’s been little new snow in the past week in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. Base depths in Andorra remain relatively good with 60-130cm (2-4.3 feet) at most areas providing perfectly adequate cover on all but the steepest slopes. Although there has been little new snow this week, cold weather has helped Spanish ski resorts to maintain and improve conditions on the slopes. Typically resorts have 30-105cm (1-3.5 feet) at the base of their runs and 150-210cm (5-7 feet) on upper slopes. Cerler has some of the deepest snow in the country with 175cm (nearly 6 feet) on upper slopes. However Sierra Nevada in the south reports the greatest snow depth of three metres (ten feet) at the top and Formigal has the most terrain open with 136km (80 miles) of runs. More snow is expected tomorrow.

In Eastern Europe there have been some snow showers, particularly in the Czech and Slovak Republic, but it remains a moderate, if improving, first-half of the season in Bulgaria where cover remains rather thin at Borovets and Pamporovo, although better in Bansko.
Scandinavia has not had much snow in the past week, with Sweden's leader Are reporting 7cm (three inches) of new snow on Monday and Nalovardo this most with 11cm. The weather looks set to change in the next 24 hours with snow almost everywhere (It’s already falling) and up to a foot (30cm) of new stuff expected in the next few days in the mountains. Resorts in Norway have begun issuing powder alarms today and Kvitfjell has one of the biggest snowfalls of the past week, with 33cm (13 inches) accumulated.
In Scotland conditions are excellent at Cairngorm, which continues its superb season with up to 1.8m (six feet) on upper slopes and 60cm (two feet) on lower runs. The area has been closed for prolonged period over the past three weeks as heavy snow blocked roads and buried lifts and restaurants, but is now fully open with great conditions. The two other eastern Scottish ski areas at Glenshee and The Lecht don’t have as much snow but do have enough to be in great shape. On the West Coast the other two Scottish areas of Glencoe and Nevis range are open but with less snow.
Heavy snow up and down North America’s Pacific Coast has brought huge snow accumulations to most resorts, and also caused operational difficulties at some. In the north there’s been yet more now at Whistler, with the Olympics now just over a fortnight away. Its season-to-date snowfall is now nearly 10 metres (30 feet). Fellow host Cypress Mountain also had a respite from the thaw and rain that is threatening the snowboarding and freestyle venues, with some fresh snow there too. To the south of the region thousands of southern Californians who flocked to Mountain High resort (picture attached) in the San Gabriel Mountains, which has received five feet (150cm) of snow in recent storms, were turned away by police due to dangerous road conditions and diminishing fuel and food supplies. Truck convoys were organised to deliver food, supplies and fuel to the area on Monday, with roads re-opening that evening. However more snow is forecast, if on a smaller scale. John McColly, Mountain High’s Director of Marketing said, "There is a reason I am in this business. And this is it. Skiers and snowboarders that braved the storm are grinning from ear to ear. And I’m one of them". With the fresh snow there is an enormous temptation to go out of bounds but both Mountain High and the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s department advise against that. Says McColly, "Anything outside of Mountain High’s boundaries is not patrolled so if you run into any trouble, you are on your own. There is plenty of terrific tree skiing and natural terrain within Mountain High’s permitted area so stay in bounds, enjoy the fresh snow, and be safe". It’s a similar story at other western resorts, Jackson Hole has reported more than three feet of new snow, Snowbird in Utah, seven feet in seven days. Up in British Columbia, monumental snowfall over the last week has created perfect conditions at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. With a mid-mountain snow base of 320cm and 399cm at the top, the resort is once again the home of Canada’s deepest snowpack. The news couldn’t be any better for the first wave of Olympic athletes who arrive this week to train at the Island mountain. "We received over a metre and a half of snow in the last six days", says Resort spokesperson Brent Curtain. The Chinese Biathlon team arrived in the Comox Valley late Thursday and hit the snow on Friday, January 22nd. The team will train at the mountain’s popular Nordic Centre, an obvious choice for numerous cross-country and biathlon teams over the next month. A total of 26 teams from 15 countries are performing their final on-snow preparations at Mount Washington before heading back to the Lower Mainland and Whistler for the Games. It’s been less promising on the East coast with warmer weather and some resorts reporting rain over the weekend, but it’s now colder in most areas and Smugglers Notch in Vermont is among those reporting fresh snow in the past 24 hours.
Elsewhere in the world, Japan’ Niseko looks set for record breaking January snowfall. "Consistent snow falls for the last two weeks of December and another metre to celebrate the New Year here in Niseko have made for some epic skiing conditions with waist deep powder for everyone! With a village average top temperature of -2 °C and an average low of -8 °C since the New Year the base is in great condition. Get ready for some of the lightest, driest powder on the planet- the forecast is for continued moderate to heavy snow falls for the next week", said an excited Ski Japan statement.

Winter X Games (Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado)

Winter X Games 14 will take place in Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado (USA), from Thursday, January 28 to Sunday, January 31. The annual Winter X Games is the premier winter action sports event in the world, featuring athletes from across the globe competing in three sports: Ski, Snowboard and Snowmobile. All Winter X Games competitions take place at the resort’s Buttermilk Mountain (picture attached). Participants compete to win bronze, silver and gold medals, and prize money. Winter X Games 14 will welcome 250 world-class athletes, including 39 past and present Olympians. Less than one month before many of the athletes compete in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, they will vie for gold at the Winter X Games in Men's and Women's Snowboard SuperPipe, Men's and Women's Snowboarder X, Men's & Women's Skier X and Men's and Women's Snowboard Slopestyle. "This is an incredibly exciting time, and I'm looking forward to a great Winter X Games on my way to the Olympics in Vancouver (...) These are my two favorite events and together they are bringing amazing, positive exposure to the sport of snowboarding", said Aspenite, Gretchen Bleiler, who made her Olympic debut in 2006 winning a silver medal in Snowboard SuperPipe, returns to Aspen to try for her fourth gold medal.
The X Games is an annual multiaction sports event. ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Action Sports, first developed its X Games franchise in 1995. Today, the X Games are the biggest action sports events in the world. The games are broken into seasons: the Winter X Games—held in January or February—and the X Games—usually held in August. The location of the Winter X Games is in Aspen, while the location for the Summer X Games is in Los Angeles through 2009. ESPN and the Aspen Skiing Company have reached an agreement that will keep the Winter X Games in Aspen/Snowmass through Winter X Games 16 in 2012. The announcement was made last year one day prior to the official start of Winter X Games 13, the eighth straight Winter X Games held at Buttermilk, one of Aspen-Snowmass' four ski mountains.
Winter X Games originally rotated on a regular basis. The inaugural event was held in Snow Summit Mountain Resort, Calif. (1997), then it moved to Crested Butte, Colo., for two years (1998-1999) before moving east to Mount Snow, Vt. (2000-2001). It has been in Aspen since 2002. As part of the new agreement, the Winter X Games will remain in Aspen/Snowmass for a total of 11 consecutive years (2002-2012).
Since Winter X Games Six in Aspen (2002), the event has seen significant growth: attendance has nearly doubled; the event is now live on ESPN and ABC; SportsCenter is now televised live on site; and a multitude of ESPN media platforms regularly cover the event.
Concurrent with competition will be the "X Fest" sports and music festival, which offers live music, athlete autograph sessions and interactive elements.
The X Games also has international competitions and demos around the world that are held at varying times throughout the year.

Winter X Games Telecast Schedule

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snowbird Receives two metres of snow in Seven Days

Snowbird received 7 feet (over 2 two metres) of snow over the last week thanks to a succession of powerful storms. Snowbird’s year to date snow totals started at 141 inches (3,5 m) on January 18th and increased steadily throughout the week, totaling 225 inches (5,7 m) by the afternoon of January 25th. The resort’s mid-mountain base depth currently measures 93 inches (2,3 m), with 100 percent of all terrain and lifts currently open.
"This past week brought an impressive amount of snow, making for what can only described as incredible skiing", said Snowbird President Bob Bonar. "We’re thrilled to offer such great conditions, especially with Outdoor Retailer and The North Face Masters in town over the last few days".
Unmatched accessibility (Snowbird is 29 miles and 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport), deep powder, varied/exciting terrain (Beginner: 27%, Intermediate: 38%, Advanced: 35%), a pedestrian slopeside village and first-class services combine to make Snowbird an unparalleled Utah destination.
Snowbird is located in the heart of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird averages approximately 500 inches (12,7 metres) of low-density, "dry" Utah powder annually. Thanks to ideal geography and a phenomenon called Lake Effect, Little Cottonwood Canyon powder is known worldwide. Last season, Snowbird received 621 inches (15,7 m) and remained open until May 31.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Nissan Russian Adventure Postponed and Moved to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Due to heavy snowfall and wind, the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch is postponed and will be held in Chamonix after the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.
As security is key for the Freeride World Tour competitions, organiser Nicolas Hale-Woods and the team of mountain guides decided that the heavy snowfall and high winds over the last 24 hours would not allow for optimal security conditions to hold the competition.
The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is scheduled for Saturday, January 30th, and the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch will take place the next possible day using the start list established in Sochi.
Riders will meet in Chamonix for both events. The line up is as good as it gets with many interesting contenders for the Freeride World Champion 2010 title.
The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc will offer the total prize money of USD 56,200 and the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch prize money is set at USD 35,200. The season’s prize money grand total exceeds USD 200,000.
The Freeride World Tour was launched in 2008 and after just two full seasons is already recognized by riders, the ski industry and the media as the pinnacle of the sport. In 2010, the best freeriders: Men, Women, Skiers and Snowboarders alike, will visit four of the world’s most renowned ski resorts (Sochi, Chamonix, Squaw Valley and Verbier) in pursuit of the world title. The four-stop Freeride World Tour is supported by 18 Freeride World Qualifier Events around the world where the same criteria for event organization, choice of locations, security, contest format, and judging is applied.

Ski Paradise is ranked Top Skiing Blog Worldwide by BlogRank

Ski Paradise is ranked No. 23 on the Skiing top 50 in blogrank. The list tracks close to 20,000 blogs and evaluates them based on 20+ different factors such as (but not limited to):

• RSS membership
• Yahoo incoming links
• Yahoo indexed pages
• Google indexed pages
• Google PageRank
• Monthly visitors
• Pages per visit
• Link to page ratio
• Compete, Alexa, and Technorati ranking
• Social Sites popularity (Digg first page stories, Stumbleupon reviews, Delicious bookmarks, Redditt, Propeller and mixx)

Ski Paradise was created in 2007 by Raúl Revuelta, Director of Tourism Programs and Director of Extracurricular Activities at IE University. Ski Paradise is a place to share experiences of snow tourism and ski & mountain resorts.
Blogrank is a comprehensive system that collects data on thousands of blogs, and ranks them in different categories based on over 20 different factors, using a unique formula. Blogrank was launched in May 2009 and took us over 8 months, with over 20,000 blogs and 50 categories.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Freeride World Tour by Glen Plake (Video Episode 4)

Glen Plake presents the inside scoop on the Freeride World Tour: "The Best Riders on the Best Mountains in the Ultimate Freeride Competition". Glen Plake is a figure in American Freestyle skiing and extreme sports. Born in Livermore, California, on September 9, 1964, he is known for his appearance in ski films such as Greg Stumps The Blizzard of Aahhhs (probably the best ski movie ever made), and for his trademark (often dyed blonde, purple or blue) Mohawk hairstyle. Plake was involved in the uprise of extreme skiing in America, being one of the pioneers. Glen Plake remains one of the most visible snow sliders on the planet.
In this video: Pow test


Freeride World Tour by Glen Plake (Video Episode 3)

Glen Plake presents the inside scoop on the Freeride World Tour: "The Best Riders on the Best Mountains in the Ultimate Freeride Competition". Glen Plake is a figure in American Freestyle skiing and extreme sports. Born in Livermore, California, on September 9, 1964, he is known for his appearance in ski films such as Greg Stumps The Blizzard of Aahhhs (probably the best ski movie ever made), and for his trademark (often dyed blonde, purple or blue) Mohawk hairstyle. Plake was involved in the uprise of extreme skiing in America, being one of the pioneers. Glen Plake remains one of the most visible snow sliders on the planet.
In this video: First day of Pow


Freeride World Tour by Glen Plake (Video Episode 2)

Glen Plake presents the inside scoop on the Freeride World Tour: "The Best Riders on the Best Mountains in the Ultimate Freeride Competition". Glen Plake is a figure in American Freestyle skiing and extreme sports. Born in Livermore, California, on September 9, 1964, he is known for his appearance in ski films such as Greg Stumps The Blizzard of Aahhhs (probably the best ski movie ever made), and for his trademark (often dyed blonde, purple or blue) Mohawk hairstyle. Plake was involved in the uprise of extreme skiing in America, being one of the pioneers. Glen Plake remains one of the most visible snow sliders on the planet.
In this video: What freeriders do on a day off!

Freeride World Tour by Glen Plake (Video Episode 1)

Glen Plake presents the inside scoop on the Freeride World Tour: "The Best Riders on the Best Mountains in the Ultimate Freeride Competition". Glen Plake is a figure in American Freestyle skiing and extreme sports. Born in Livermore, California, on September 9, 1964, he is known for his appearance in ski films such as Greg Stumps The Blizzard of Aahhhs (probably the best ski movie ever made), and for his trademark (often dyed blonde, purple or blue) Mohawk hairstyle. Plake was involved in the uprise of extreme skiing in America, being one of the pioneers. Glen Plake remains one of the most visible snow sliders on the planet.
In this video: Riders meeting & Interviews

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pirena 2010

The 20th edition of Pirena, the white route of the Pyrenees, starts today January 23rd with the official Presentation of the teams in Zaragoza and finishes in La Molina on Saturday February 6th.
Pirena is an international sleddog crossing-race and one of the most outstanding in the world. During 15 days men and dogs will cross the Pyrenees, a natural border between Spain, Andorra and France, from West to East (Itinerary). In the magnificent frame La Partacua and the marvellous mountains of Telera and Tendeñera dominating the natural scenery in the Pyrenees of Aragon dogs and 40 mushers will start the way which will lead them to reach La Molina in fifteen days crossing an important part of The Pyrenees.
Pirena 2010– Grand Prix Affinity Advance is one of the races that count for the International Sled dog Sports Federation –IFSS- World Cup. Pirena also counts for the European Sled dog Racing Association –ESDRA- Europe Cup.



Friday, January 22, 2010

Major Snowstorm Welcomes Sundance Film Festival to Utah

Up to 40,000 movie-goers and celebrities are expected to flock to Park City, Utah this week for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. However, films and parties will not be the only action at the festival this year as a major winter storm has landed in Park City as well. Park City ski resorts have received as much as 17 inches of snow in the past 48 hours and forecasts suggest that an additional two feet of snow may fall by Sunday. Other Utah resorts have reported as much as 26 inches of snow in the last 48 hours and are also expecting additional accumulation throughout the weekend.
The Sundance Film Festival has been in Park City for almost 28 years. This festival takes place annually in January for 10 days. The 2010 festival is scheduled for January 21ST through January 31st.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Arrival of Olympic Flame in British Columbia

With just 22 days remaining before the world is welcomed to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Olympic Torch Relay is in the final leg, whichofficially started Today when the Olympic Flame re-enters British Columbia, the Host Province of the Games, through the Rocky Mountains and into the town of Golden. The flame will complete its 106-day journey across Canada towards BC Place and light the Olympic Cauldron on February 12, welcoming the world to the Games.
Today, January 21-Olympic Torch Relay Day 84, was "an incredibly exciting day for all of us involved in the 2010 Winter Games as we welcome the Olympic Flame back to British Columbia. It’s been an inspiring relay throughout Canada with warm welcomes extended everywhere leading to a steadily growing excitement towards the Games. We are truly in the home stretch now of final preparations to welcome the world", said board chairman Rusty Goepel.
Peter Lougheed, who was instrumental in the securing and organizing of the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games, passed the flame to Wally Buono, head coach of the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions, as it officially enters British Columbia through Kicking Horse Pass. The pass, the highest point on the Canadian Pacific Railway at 1,627 metres, is a national historic site and played an important role in connecting Canadians to each other and the world through the railway in the 1880s and later on with the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway in the 1960s.
"It’s been a remarkable journey up to this point and we take a moment now and again, like today, to enjoy the moment but then it’s back to work asour team continues to work around the clock to make sure every detail is tended to", said John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of VANOC. "The relay continues to showcase what a marvelous and beautiful country Canada is, filled with people willing to share their amazing stories and show lots and lots of heart. We hope you’ll all be with us in spirit, if not in person, on February 12".

Intrawest Foreclosure Rumors

On Tuesday, a notice of a public auction to be held February 19, 2010, was published in Canada and the United States, announcing that some of Intrawest's lenders, represented by Wilmington Trust FSB, would conduct a public auction to sell their interest in the company. Among the assets in the notice were "partnership interests in two resort properties located in Canada (Whistler and Blackcomb)." The auction of the interests represented by Wilmington Trust FSB was announced to take place while Whistler-Blackcomb hosts many of the Alpine and cross-country events for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In a statement released yesterday, Intrawest disputed published reports about an impending foreclosure action and asserted that it remains in control of all its resorts. "There have been inaccurate and misleading media reports surrounding Intrawest (...) Fortress Investment Group continues to own and control Intrawest and all of its properties. Serious discussions with Intrawest’s lenders are ongoing regarding refinancing and the Company continues to operate 'business as usual' at all of its resort properties. Intrawest is looking forward to the success of the 2010Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games", Intrawest statement said.
Fortress purchased Intrawest for $2.8 billion in 2006, and financed $1.8 billion of that amount. The resort operator missed a $524 million debt payment originally due Oct. 23.
The primary lender on the Intrawest deal in 2006 was defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers. New York debt managers Davidson Kempner and Oak Hill Advisors also helped finance the deal, and a source familiar with the process told CBC News the major creditors are united in pursuing the auction process. Typically, lenders are willing to work with borrowers to avoid foreclosure. But the lenders' inability to move the debt repayment plan along seems to have spurred this week's unexpected developments. "What the lenders are saying is that we want to get this process going", bankruptcy lawyer Richard Jones told CBC News. Jones, who worked on the high-profile restructurings of Air Canada, Olympia & York and Cadillac Fairview, suggested an application for creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act could be the next step in the story, as Intrawest works to get its financial house in order.
Informed sources said that the Games are not being used as a bargaining chip, since the auction will not happen until after the Games begin.
In a statement released yesterday Vanoc board chairman Rusty Goepel said: "The board is confident the organizing committee and its partners are well prepared to meet the extraordinary day-to-day challenges of hosting one of the largest international sporting events (...) Many hurdles have been overcome in the past few months —both with ingenuity and a lot of long hours by dedicated staff, contractors and volunteers, which will make all Canadians proud".
Intrawest is a leader in the development and management of experiential destination resorts. The Company has a network of resorts at North America’s most popular mountain destinations including Whistler Blackcomb, the host venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and Canadian Mountain Holidays, the largest heli-skiing operation in the world. Intrawest is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Big Snow For Western North America And French Pyrenees

Skiinfo reports that there’s been more snow in the Alps, leaving good conditions at most resorts. However the Pyrenees and the West Coast of North America have reported the biggest falls of the past seven days, giving great powder conditions, but also a big avalanche danger off piste.
There’s been snowfall across France in the past week, generating more than 40 powder alarms on Skiinfo from resorts reporting at least 20cm (8 inches) of new snow in a 24 hour period.
There was snow in all of the country’s main ski regions including the Northern and Southern Alps, with the Pyrenees receiving the largest falls. Here Cauterets received 80cm (nearly three feet) of new snow on January 15, then got more good falls two days later on the 17th. In the northern Alps with Avoriaz reported 25cm (10 inches) of new snow while la Grave in the Southern Alps reported 30cm (a foot). Thibaut Deserces, Manager of "La Maison de Peyragudes" – the tourist office for the French Pyrenees resort of Peyragudes commented on the latest falls there: "More than 50cm of fresh snow is lying at the bottom of the slopes, thanks to the snowfall on Thursday and Friday. Peyragudes woke up Friday morning with bright sunshine and then a large amount of snow fell through the night. The snow depth is now excellent with more than 110cm on upper slopes". Chamonix continues to have the deepest snow in France and the whole of Europe with four metres (13.3 feet) on upper slopes. Flaine has 275cm (9 feet), La Clusaz 260cm (8.7 feet). The snow has fallen in perfect time for a free gear testing weekend coming up at La Grave. This will include safety information, freeride backcountry skis, snowboards, Telemark, and even monoski testing followed by a live music night on the 23rd and 24th.
Italy has had a quieter week with little new snowfall although Obereggen reports 45cm (18 inches) in the past seven days and Courmayeur 15cm (six inches. More snow is expected in the north of the country tomorrow. The deepest snow of any ski area in the world is on the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale still which has 4.3m (14.3 feet). The Marmolada glacier has 3.8m (nearly 13 feet).

In Austria the resort of Loser Sandling Altausee has had some of the biggest snowfalls in Austria in the past week. Egon Hierzegger, director of Loser Mountain Railways commented. "During the past two days 40cm of new snow fell above 1500m. After the snowfalls ceased on Monday night the powder snow conditions – which I enjoyed myself when the lifts opened this morning – were excellent". Loser has 120cm (four feet) of snow on upper slopes and 40cm (1.3 feet) on lower ones now. “All four chair lifts and the children’s lift are open. But for the T-bars we need 1,5-2m of snow to prepare the trail”, Hierzegger said. The top snow depth in Austria is still on the glaciers with the Mölltaler glaciertscher reporting up to 1m (10.3 feet), the Kaunertal glacier 213cm (7.2 feet), the Hintertux glacier 205cm (6.8 feet) and the Pitztal glacier 200cm (6.6 feet). Other resorts with snowfalls the past seven days include Sölden, Lech Zürs, Zauchensee and Eben with 14-25cm (6-10 inches) of new snow.
In Switzerland 11 resorts have a snow depth of two metres or more, including Saas Fee and St. Moritz. The past week brought at least 20cm (eight inches) of new snow to many resorts including Meiringen, Leukerbad and Lötschental. The latter has the greatest snow depth in the country (223 cm/7.4 feet) but Andermatt-Gotthard has almost the same amount of snow on upper slopes.
On Sunday and Monday Germany had a couple of powder alarms especially in the Bavarian Forest where Hohenbogen got 42cm (17 inches) of new snow in a week. "On the Arber, the highest mountain in the Bavarian Forest, we have about a metre of snow now", said Ulrike Eberl-Walter of Ostbayern Tourism. "All lifts are in operation and the cross-country trails are prepared". Hans Amann of Ski Lifts Sankt Englmar said: "We are especially happy to have so much new snow. The slopes that were already well-prepared got up to 40 cm of new snow – which stirred the skiers’ and snowboarders’ blood!". The biggest snow depth in Germany is still on the Zugspitze (180 cm) and at Oberstdorf-Nebelhorn (170 cm).
Conditions have improved again in Andorra with most areas receiving around a foot (30cm) of new snow in the past few days bringing base depths up around the metre mark at most resorts with fresh powder on top.
More snow in the Spanish Pyrenees has made conditions great on the groomed pistes but very dangerous off piste with an increased the chance of avalanches. In Formigal five season ski passes have been confiscated after five skiers caused an avalanche. Formigal's spokeman has criticised people who take unnecessary risks, get into trouble and put in danger the lives of skiers and the members of the rescue services. Formigal currently has the most terrain open in Spain with 122km (76 miles) of piste to enjoy and a base of 105-220cm (3.5 – 7.3 feet) Baqueira Beret has a similar snow depth and 110km (70 miles) of piste open. Sierra Nevada in the south is reporting the deepest snow depth in the country with 50-300cm (20 inches – 10 feet) and 83km (51 miles) of runs. Due to extreme weather conditions upper station lifts were close until yesterday when Laguna de las Yeguas Ski Area was opened. In the next few days all ski lifts are expected to be in operation and the complete domain will be open for skiing with over 100km of runs.
There’s also been fresh snow in most Eastern European resorts, particularly good news for Bulgaria where cover was getting decidedly think at Borovets and Pamporovo, although Bansko has at least 60cm (two feet) lying. The other two could still do with more though as there’s only 15-20ccm (6-8 inches) on lower slopes. Resorts in the Czech and Slovak Republics have reported widespread snow, the largest fall at Železná Ruda - Belveder which reports a foot (30cm) of new powder.
Scandinavia’s ski areas have had a relatively quiet week with temperatures rising to a more normal few degrees below zero at most areas. There has been limited snowfall in the past seven days although one small Norwegian centre posted more than 50cm (20 inches) of new snow in the past week and the larger resorts of Gålå and Kvitfjell both had 20cm (8 inches).
In Sweden there has been 3-5cm (1-2 inches) in a couple of resorts, but otherwise just flurries in sight for the weekend. Student Ski Week has started in Åre and will continue for three weeks with lots of competitions and apres-ski events.
All five ski areas in Scotland are open, although conditions are reported to be better at the Eastern resorts of Cairngorm, The Lecht and Glenshee where the main problem has been getting access to the ski slopes with snow and ice on access roads. CairnGorm Mountain was closed for the past week as staff attempted to ‘dig the resort out from, ‘too much snow’. Over the past decade CairnGorm and other Scottish ski areas have more often been forced to close their ski slopes because of too little snow, rather than too much, but CairnGorm has received nearly two metres of snow on its upper slopes in the past month and strong winds caused drifts up to five metres deep which buried the resort’s access road and parts of the funicular railway, as well as causing a high avalanche risk. This winter has had one of the best starts for 30 years according to some reports in terms of snow conditions and visitor numbers, with more than 30,000 skiers and boarders reported to have visited CairnGorm so far this season.
In North America conditions are reported to be good on both East and West coasts with most resorts on both sides off the continent seeing at least some fresh snow in the past week. On the East Coast snow depths are typically 60-120cm (2-4 feet), which is considered a healthy base in the area. They’re not much different at Colorado’s resorts, where the stats are less impressive due to the usual abundance of snow in the leading US ski state. In both Canada and the US the heaviest snow of the past week and the deepest bases are on the far West Coast. In the US, Squaw Valley in California has seen the second wave in an ongoing series of winter storms has leave over two feet (60cm) more snow in the past 48 hours. Recurring storm waves are forecast to continue for the next few days, delivering several feet of additional snow and setting up the resort with exceptional conditions into the core of the season ahead. The resort has received 17 feet (over five metres) of snow so far this season and is 100% open. In Canada the latest storm to hit Whistler Blackcomb has dumped 70 centimetres (28 inches) in 24 hours at the weekend, immersing the resort in deep winter conditions. Although the heavy snow and high winds prevented a number of lifts from opening until conditions improved. Other resorts in British Columbia have also been reporting big snowfalls. "Even with all the snow this year, this latest storm was one of the most intense we’ve dealt with in a long time", said Doug MacFarlane, Whistler Blackcomb’s mountain manager. "Ski Patrol has been conducting extensive avalanche control work, and Operations crews have been working throughout the night and day digging out. For those guests who endured the storm, the rewards were plentiful as there were many fresh tracks to be had". The snow base is on the verge of reaching three metres or 9.8 feet. With the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games now less than a month away, the resort is primed ready to welcome the world to its snowy slopes.

Freeride World Tour kicks off in Sochi

The 2010 Freeride World Tour (FWT) will start in Russia next Thursday. The Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch will take off for its third edition at the ski resort Krasnaya Polyana in the Western Caucasus. Krasnaya Polyana is the host of the alpine and nordic ski events of the 2014 Winter Olympics with Sochi as host city. Sometimes called the "Russian Courchevel", Krasnaya Polyana is the most sophisticated ski and snowboard resort in Russia, located just 45 minutes from the Black Sea, and well known as one of President Putin’s favourite holiday resorts. It is also famous for awesome heliskiing in the spectacular Caucasus mountain range
"Krasnaya Polyana has the best snow in Europe! With its maritime weather conditions it snows a lot and as in Alaska it sticks very well to the steeps. With the 55 lifts and all the facilities that are planned for 2014, Krasnaya Polyana will be a major resort, which will compete with other big resorts in the Alps", commented Xavier de Le Rue (FRA), Freeride World Champion 2009 and gold medal favourite in Boarder Cross for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
"It is just fantastic skiing in Krasnaya Polyana, which is still an exotic destination. For freeriding the resort can get a lot of snow in a short period of time - nice dry snow in large quantities! The tree skiing is amazing with perfect spacing between the silver birches and with lift access you can find some really good faces. A perfect venue for a freeride contest. Regarding the Olympics, there is a great potential for the alpine disciplines in this terrain", said skier Sverre Lilliequist (SWE), winner of the Nissan Russian Adventure 2009.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Shapes in White. Snow Sculpture Competition in Ischgl

During the 17th Snow Sculpture Competition in Ischgl, international artists made their snow sculptures, several meters high. The massive sculptures were placed throughout the entire skiing area, where skiers can admire them on and next to the slopes.
This year's theme was "Vicky the Viking (Wickie und die starken Männer)", an Austrian-German-Japanese cartoon series which tells the adventures of Vicky, a 10 years old Viking boy who uses his wits to help his Viking fellows. It premiered on the German TV channel ZDF on January 31, 1974. The script was developed from children's book Vicke Viking (1963) written by the Swedish author Runer Jonsson, who won the German Children’s Book Award for it in 1965. German director Michael "Bully" Herbig filmed a live action adaptation of the series called "Wickie The Mighty Viking". The movie had its premiere on September 9, 2009, in Munich.
The ingenuity and stunning technical brilliance of the sculptors is on show for skiers and boarders to marvel at until the Spring thaw sends the creatures from outer space back home - so that won't be until the beginning of May as Ischgl enjoys guaranteed snow right till then.
The artists had just five days (from January 11 to 15) to hammer and carve their allocated piles of snow into works of art.
Professional sculptors from throughout the world sent their designs to the jury in Ischgl ahead of the competition. The ten best were invited to the elimination stage and to realise their creations. The aim here is to use the submitted sketches to create masterpieces within 5 days in the middle of Silvretta's mountain scenery - using nothing but snow. Wickie fans and snow enthusiasts had the chance to be there, live, and watch the artists at work. The awards ceremony for the sculptures took place last Friday.
The winner was the sculpture named "Let’s go sledging" made by Ivan Holzknecht and Arnold Holzknecht from Italy.

To see the sculptures click here

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Skiing Moguls (3): Speed Control

Warren Smith, the leading ski instructor and coach, offers his top tips on improving skiing moguls. The Warren Smith Ski Academy is based in the Swiss resort of Verbier. During the summer, the Academy runs courses on the glacier above the nearby resort of Saas-Fee.
In this video, he advises on how to control speed.



By Warren Smith (as published in Telegraph.co.uk)
To ski moguls effectively, it is essential to be able to control your speed. One of the biggest problems for most skiers is accelerating after one or two turns. It’s a hard habit to break, because most of your turns before mogul-skiing have been geared towards carving on piste and involve edging your skis to keep control.
The first thing you need to do is become aware of how much you are edging – and then to turn with reduced or very little edge angle. You’ll notice that as soon as you reduce the angle of your edges, the skis won’t accelerate so much as you go through the turn.
In fact the turn becomes predictable, and you get a feeling of control – even though you are actually skidding. Get used to this new sensation by practising it on a piste.
Once you have developed your skidding technique, take it back into the moguls. You should feel more relaxed, and have much more time to actually think about skiing the moguls, rather than just surviving them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Skiing Moguls (2): Rhythm

Warren Smith, the leading ski instructor and coach, offers his top tips on improving skiing moguls. The Warren Smith Ski Academy is based in the Swiss resort of Verbier. During the summer, the Academy runs courses on the glacier above the nearby resort of Saas-Fee.
In this video, he talks about maintaining rhythm.



By Warren Smith (as published in Telegraph.co.uk)
A key element of mogul-skiing is rhythm. Rhythm is very important to help you flow, and get a feel for the terrain you are skiing on. And the best way to develop rhythm is through the pole-plant.
Pole-planting is often neglected by skiers. Most just rely on using their feet. But the more advanced your skiing – especially all-terrain skiing – the more important your pole-plant.
First practise making short-radius turns on piste. Try to make pole plants for a long time with exactly the same rhythm. It’s not as easy as it sounds. You need to develop your pole-planting skills to a level where even if your turn loses balance or rhythm, your pole-plant keeps going. In this case, it will actually help you get back into balance quicker.
When you feel you have reached this level of rhythm, take your improved technique into the moguls, and get more feeling, flow and ultimately rhythm out of your descent.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Skiing Moguls (1): Finding a Line

Warren Smith, the leading ski instructor and coach, offers his top tips on improving skiing moguls. The Warren Smith Ski Academy is based in the Swiss resort of Verbier. During the summer, the Academy runs courses on the glacier above the nearby resort of Saas-Fee.
In this video, he talks about finding the right line through the mogul field.



By Warren Smith (as published in Telegraph.co.uk)
Moguls are mounds of snow that have been formed as a result of hundreds of skiers riding over the same slope. Skiing them is probably the aspect of the sport that fazes most skiers out – whether they are intermediates venturing into the moguls for the first time, or experienced skiers tackling steeper or icier moguls.
To ski them well, you need to develop a variety of skills. First of all, you need to be able to skid and pivot your skis: this will help you negotiate a line through a mogul field with control.
You will find that most mogul fields have bumps of different sizes. When choosing a line, look for consistency in the pattern of the bumps. The easiest place to turn your skis at first is on the crest of a mogul. Once your have pivoted your skis, skid down the back face of the mogul checking your speed as you go, and then turn into the next bump.
As you improve, you also need to develop your ability to “absorb” the moguls, rather than collapsing your body as you ski over them. To do this, you need to maintain a strong core in your upper body. You also need a fast and effective pole-plant, and to ski with a closer stance than you would on piste.
Finding a line: Many skiers get frustrated tackling moguls and lose their rhythm because they find it hard to keep a line through the mogul field.
One reason is that they don’t have the skill to move in different ways from one mogul to another when the bumps are irregularly placed. Another is not using certain key tactics.
Because moguls do not always occur in a regular pattern, you need to be able to skid and manoeuvre in different ways to keep your descent flowing. Practise this on an easy piste by making different types of descent – downwards, across, even skidding backwards.
Later, add a higher level of athleticism into your skidding. Finally, take these skills onto a mogul field. You’ll find that you will be able to ski irregular moguls more easily – and with a flowing technique, without stop-starting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Snow Reaches 4 Metres Deep In The Alps

Skiinfo reports that Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is currently reporting the deepest snow in Europe with a four metre (13.35 feet) accumulation. The new snow last week, particularly on Friday, saw the French mountains receive healthy increases to their snow depths. About 41 Powder Alarms were triggered on Skiinfo France with over 80cm (2.65 feet) fell in Formiguères (picture attached), 60cm (two feet) in Puy St Vincent and 50cm (20 inches) in Alpe d’Huez. Carmen Hernandez, Communications Manager at Formiguères, commented, "with the exceptional snowfall on Friday we now have very good snow cover. At the moment, you can ski on a fresh snow with optimum conditions". Further snowfalls are expected for the end of the week, particularly on Thursday with around 30cm (a foot) more snow expected at Tignes and Val d'Isere with Argentière and La Clusaz expecting 25cm (10 inches) more. The Grand Massif area is also doing well with 270cm (nine feet) of snow lying. Pierre Claessen, Manager of Flaine Tourist Office said, "This year, we received the most important snowfalls at Christmas. The snow is really good but people have to be careful when free riding as conditions off piste are very dangerous at the moment". The avalanche risk is especially high (4/5) at Abriès, Alpe du Grand-Serre, Auron, Ax les Thermes, Isola 2000, Les 7Laux and Serre Chevalier.
Switzerland has seen good snow falls in the past week with 40cm (16 inches) of new snow at Gstaad – Glacier 3000, which now boasts some of the deepest snow in the country with 181cm (six feet) of snow on upper slopes and 45cm (18 inches) in the valley. The top snow depths in Switzerland however is at Andermatt-Gotthard with 220cm (over 7 feet). Saas Fee has 210 cm (7 feet) and St. Moritz just a little less with two metres (6.65 feet), it received 45cm (18 inches) more snow in the past seven days.
In Austria, Sölden had 37cm (15 inches) of new snow in the last week (it now has a 185cm/6.2 foot base)and Heiligenblut 35cm. The Mölltal G0acier still has the most snow in the country (3.1m/10.3 feet) with the Hintertux Glacier on 205cm (just under 7 feet).
Germany received a lot of new snow with several powder alarms in Bavaria yesterday. This came at the end of a week in which more than 80 German resorts reported 10-45cm (4-15 inches) of new snow. The Zugspitzplatt has the deepest snow depth with 180cm (six feet) Oberstdorf has a little less with 170 cm (5.7 feet).
Northern Italy has reported some of the biggest snowfalls in the past 24 hours with Courmayeur and Val Senales both reporting 40cm of new snow, La Thuile 30cm (a foot). These top off a week of heavy snow in the north of the country which has seen some of the biggest snow accumulations in Europe of the past seven days, with Limone Piemonte reporting 195cm (6.5 feet) and Arabba Marmolada 120 cm (four feet). The country also has some of the world’s greatest snow depths – the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale reporting 430cm (14.3 feet) and Bormio 3m (10 feet). Bormio will be staging a special non-competitive Peak to Creek event (peaktocreek.it) on January 16th at 10am with a 10km, 1800 vertical metre descent from Cima Bianca 3012m down to Bormio 1215m itself.
It’s been good news in the Pyrenees in the past week too with plenty of new snow boosting the previously rather average conditions in Andorra and helping Spain’s resorts open more runs.
In Eastern Europe conditions remain largely good in northern countries but less so in the south with some ski areas in Bulgaria such as Borovets and Pamporovo struggling with just a few centimeters of snow and warm temperatures. Bansko is not suffering as badly as it had built up a bigger snow base in December and most runs are open there.
In Northern Europe temperatures have been low across Scandinavia although there’s been less fresh snow than the previous week. In Sweden Hemavan broke the season record with - 40.8 C on Saturday night. More snow is expected across the region at the weekend.
One unusual twist on the cold weather that is affecting much of the northern hemisphere is the opening of a new 2km long ski run opened on January 9th in the southern Netherlands in northern Europe. The temporary trail winds down around the 90m high Wilhelmina mountain.
The ‘mountain' - which is in fact a spoil heap from a former mine - is already home to the world's largest year round indoor snow centre, Snow World Landgraaf, with its 550m slope. In a remarkable twist the centre allowed its indoor six-seater chairlift to be used by skiers and other snowsports fans to reach the top of Wilhelmina indoors, exiting the building through an emergency exit. Hot chocolate with whipped cream and mulled wine were served up to visitors.
It is not clear how long the snow and thus the ski run will last, but temperatures have remained around freezing, dropping to minus 5 Celcius at night, the same as the indoor temperature at SnowWorld.
Conditions are still generally good across North America. All the resorts in Tahoe as well as Mammoth in California are open and reporting fresh powder and a base of 6 to 9 feet (1.8-2.7m) in Mammoth, 3 to 6 feet (90cm -1.8m) in Squaw Valley and 2 to 3 feet (60-90cm) in Heavenly. It has been a dry winter in California to date with no threat of avalanches. At Vail Rob Katz, Chief Executive Officer commented on the start of the season, "We are pleased with our early season, particularly given the current state of the economy and since snowfall came late to our Colorado resorts this year. Below average snowfall at our Colorado resorts leading up to the holiday season limited the amount of terrain open, which negatively impacted skier visits, including pass visits, during the early season and the beginning of the holiday season. Fortunately, recent winter storms brought significant snowfall to our resorts, which allowed us to open the vast majority of our lift serviced terrain at our five resorts. For example, Vail Mountain on December 18, 2009, had only 19 of its lifts and 28% of its terrain open, whereas Vail Mountain now has 30 lifts open and 95% of its terrain open, including all of the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin".
Whistler in Canada has reported more fresh snow and the pattern has been repeated at many other Western Canadian resorts in resorts in Alberta and British Columbia. Whistler has a 2.35m (7.5 foot) base on the upper mountain and has received around 3cm (a foot) of new snow in the past few days. However further south Olympic venue Cypress Mountain was forced to close on Monday due to heavy rain – not a great sign with the Games three weeks away and the half pipe needing to be maintained in good shape. On the East Coast the weather has quietened down after the New Year storms with limited fresh snow in the past week. But most areas now have healthy bases and the weather has been cold enough for more snow making, so getting chance to clear access roads and prepare the pistes properly is seen as a good thing by most resorts.

Der Weisse Ring Race (Lech-Zürs am Arlberg)

Next Saturday, January 16th the 5th edition of the longest ski race in the world will take place again in Lech-Zürs. Skiing is celebrated on The White Ring in Lech Zürs for more than 50 years. For the 50th anniversary of this unique ski circuit in the Alpine region, the first White Ring race, the longest ski race all over the world, was held in the season 2005/2006. When Olympic Champion and World Champion Patrick Ortlieb was inaugurating the first White Ring race on 15th January 2006 and was marking the course record that still holds, nobody knew how this race would develop to such a cult event.
The succesful story of the White Ring starts in the 40's with the first operation of the skilift Zürsersee in winter 1940/41. After that the single chairlift from Zürsersee to Madloch was built and during the season 1956/57 the skilift from the "Milchloch" to the Trittalpe was put into operation as the third link. With the fourth installation, the cable car Rüfikopf I, the White Ring was also completed in the direction Lech-Zürs. The most essential ideas and original lifts come from Dipl.-Ing. Sepp Bildstein. In his honour the Bildstein-Trophy (group classification) was initiated for the White Ring-Race.


Powder Video (Snowbird, Utah)



Unmatched accessibility (Snowbird is 29 miles and 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport), deep powder, varied/exciting terrain (Beginner: 27%, Intermediate: 38%, Advanced: 35%), a pedestrian slopeside village and first-class services combine to make Snowbird an unparalleled Utah destination.
Snowbird is located in the heart of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird averages approximately 500 inches (12,7 metres) of low-density, "dry" Utah powder annually. Thanks to ideal geography and a phenomenon called Lake Effect, Little Cottonwood Canyon powder is known worldwide.

'Cheap Ski Movie' Pokes Fun at Ski Film Genre

By Pat Graham (Associated Press)
Jack Turner attended a Warren Miller movie screening with his son a few years back, certain the teenager would be mesmerized by skiers plunging through thigh-deep powder at picturesque locales. Ten minutes into the film, he received a text message from his son: "Can we go?" Turner, a former U.S. Ski Team member-turned-film producer, couldn't fault him. Turner thought the movie - all recent ski film releases, actually - had become almost infomercials for the ski industry. Eye candy for powder seekers.
Where was the beginner falling off the chair lift? The novice face-planting in the snow?
Ski movies, Turner believed, had become too perfect, too unattainable for the average skier to experience. "Skiers and snowboarders are quite an imperfect lot. Yet, the only images you ever see in magazines and movies are the people who look perfect," said Turner, who lives in Durango, Colo. "The beauty of our sport is really how ridiculous we look, and I'm talking about everybody from the beginner to the Olympic athlete". An idea hit: Create a spoof of all ski movies - "Wayne's World" meets Warren Miller. That's how "Cheap Ski Movie" was born, an hour-long feature that set him back US$60,000.
This really is unlike any movie you've seen. After all, the two main characters, Jonny and Lou, are cardboard cutouts. That's right, cutouts. It's far cheaper to move cardboard around the country than actual ski talent, and this is, after all, a cheap ski movie.
The premise of the movie is simple enough: Two best friends embark on a quest to make the best ski movie ever. Subplot: Try to find the true meaning of skiing along the way.
Think of these two as Wayne and Garth, because, well, they're loosely based on those "Wayne's World" characters. And the actors who give a face and voice to Jonny and Lou aren't really actors at all. Turner found the character of Lou at the local gym, mopping floors as a janitor. His real name is Ian Wolf, and he's in a band. Wolf then persuaded his roommate, the tattoo-laden Matt Peters, to play the role of Jonny.
The movie opens with a real-life version of Jonny and Lou sitting on a couch in a basement, working out a plan to make their movie. They're calling around, hoping someone will bankroll their dream. In a magazine, they find a number. And who should answer? None other than Olympic and Winter X moguls star Jonny Moseley, who's sitting behind a desk next to a pool in Squaw Valley, Calif. Instead of money, Moseley offers wisdom: Follow their dreams not at places like Aspen or Squaw Valley, but remote destinations. Thus begins the journey as the title characters morph into their cardboard-cutout counterparts, who run into a swarm of skiing and snowboarding stars from the past and present. There's extreme skier Glen Plake, purple Mohawk and all, playing the part of a sponsorship genie, helping the characters secure rich deals at a Las Vegas ski show. Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler and freeskier Tanner Hall also are in the film, along with snowboardcross racer Graham Watanabe. Olympic champion Phil Mahre offers the cutouts advice on skiing, while another Olympic medallist, Billy Kidd, must be enticed by the cutouts to participate.
Jonny and Lou show up in Steamboat Springs, Colo., trying to persuade him to be in the film. Kidd lists his demands: dressing room, chef, chauffeur ...
"... Billy, look, it's a cheap ski movie," he's quickly reminded.
Kidd got a kick out of his cameo. "I can understand making a ski movie without helicopters, but with cardboard cutouts? I wondered what it was going to be like", said Kidd, who captured silver in the slalom at the '64 Olympics in Innsbruck. "I've known Jack for years, knew it would be good".
Part of the movie is spent trying to get two-time World Cup overall winner Bode Miller to glance into the camera and say, "I don't want to be in your cheap film!". But Turner and his crew couldn't get close enough to Miller. So, Turner flipped the script. Instead, he made it the cutouts' mission to simply locate Miller at a World Cup event in Beaver Creek, Colo. Only, they're searching for someone named "Bod" and can't find him. While Miller chats with Austrian ski great Franz Klammer in a scene, the cardboard cutouts happen by. They're wondering if one of them could be the elusive Miller. "Nah, they're a little too chubby", Jonny says. They really aren't.
But that's the thing about this movie - it pokes fun at everyone. The industry, skiers, snowboarders, even famed ski film movie maker Miller, who has a spot in the film.
As the characters find out, skiing is skiing, whether it's in Utah, Colorado or at a family farm in Indiana that's now a ski area with 400 vertical feet. "We figured this would be a fun project to be involved in", said Mike Mettler, director of operations at the Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind. "It's an interesting concept".
While his cutouts travelled all over, Turner didn't always go with them. Ever the penny pincher, he would send detailed instructions to film crews he hired at various sites.
The footage he got back, though, wasn't exactly what he wanted. For one, the extras holding the cutouts could easily be seen, their shadows in sight. At first, that bothered Turner. Then, he realized the quirks were brilliant. "In our film, what's bad is good", said Turner, who competed for the U.S. Nordic combined team in the '70s.
Turner's goal isn't to disparage the movies that Miller and his company made over the years. Those were classics that kicked off the ski season for many. Turner wanted to honour those films - just in his own way. "We need some humour in this industry", Turner said. "It's OK to make fun of yourself".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Squaw Valley Celebrates 50 Years Since Their Olympics

Squaw Valley USA by Lake Tahoe in California was already celebrating clocking up more than 13 feet (4 metres) of new snow by the end of last year, now they’re about to launch a week of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympic Winter Games and 60 years of operation. The event, which runs to January 17th, will come complete with fireworks, hockey, ski racing, a retro party and a grand gala.
The week kicked off with an Opening Celebration and fireworks display at the Village at Squaw Valley USA. The Village streets welcomed back 1960s Olympians who returned to the Valley, many for the first time since the 1960 Games. Local Olympians ran a torch relay from Sugar Pine Point State Park on the West Shore up to Squaw Valley where the resort will reignite the Olympic flame. Following speeches by Uncle E, Jonny Moseley and Squaw Valley CEO Nancy Cushing, the sky erupted into a gorgeous fireworks display visible from the Village and the KT Sundeck. With the celebration will culminate next Sunday with the 1960 Olympic Legends Gala, where revellers have the opportunity to mingle and dance with 1960 Olympic Legends and Olympians past and present in the Grand Ballroom at the Resort at Squaw Creek. In attendance will be 1960 Olympic Legends Penny Pitou, the 1960 Hockey Team Coach Jack Riley, Osvaldo Ancinas, Starr Walton, Babette Haueisen, as well as other Olympians past and present. A multi media presentation depicting mountain culture in 1960 kicks off the evening. The Gala will come alive with live music and dancing, and cuisine by Chef Jason Friendly, champagne and a silent auction bring in an element of winter sports nostalgia.
The Olympic Heritage Celebration will welcome a wide variety of events celebrating the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. Sugar Pine Point State Park is hosting a biathlon and Nordic racing, while Squaw Valley USA is recreating the original men’s and women’s downhill courses, open for guided tours by past Olympians.
The 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics saw many firsts. It was the first time the Olympic Games were held in the Western United States, the first time the Games were nationally televised and the first time computers were used to calculate scores. The 1960 Winter Games were also the first and only time that the Olympic athletes were housed under one roof. In a time before grooming machines, sponsorship contracts and HD Television, the 1960 Olympics revolved around ideals of simplicity, athleticism and international camaraderie.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Alicia Keys closes the winter season in Ischgl

Alicia Keys will perform the season closing Top Of The Mountain Concert in Ischgl on Saturday May 1. About 20,000 are expected to attend the concert, hold in a natural bowl near the top station of the Silvretta and Fimba gondola lifts with the stunning backdrop of the Silvretta mountains (entrance is by valid lift ticket).
Alicia Keys, is an American recording artist, musician and actress. Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for "Fallin'". Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at number one in the United States. Her third studio album, As I Am, was released in 2007 and sold six million copies worldwide, earning Keys an additional three Grammy Awards. In 2009 she released The Element of Freedom. Throughout her career, Keys has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, establishing herself as one of the best-selling artists of her time.
Alicia Keys follows in the footsteps of a galaxy of superstars who have entertained skiers and boarders in the Austrian resort's traditional Top of the Mountain gig. Fourteen years ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year to open and close the winter season. Elton John was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous season closing concerts, back in 1995. Since then the resort has hosted Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Atomic Kitten, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, Lionel Richie, Pink, the Scissor Sisters, the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Elton John again, Gabriella Cilmi, Leona Lewis, Kylie Minogue and Katy Perry.
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 five 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 new Fimbabahn cable car. The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover.