Friday, February 26, 2010

CairnGorm Mountain Attempts World Record For Skiing in Kilts

CairnGorm Mountain ski area above Aviemore in Scotland is attempting to set a world record for the largest number of kilted skiers/boarders skiing/boarding down a piste at once. The attempt will take place on Saturday 6th March at 11am and all money raised will be split between Maggie’s Highland hospice and the local Badenoch and Strathspey Schools Skiing Programme.
The centre is aiming to have 600 kilted skiers and snowboarders ski in a single consecutive line from the Ptarmigan Top Station at CairnGorm Mountain all the way down to car park level.
Ian Whitaker, Chief Executive at CAirnGorm Mountain said: "Snow conditions this winter are so fantastic at CairnGorm Mountain that staff wanted to celebrate the skiing from top to bottom in a memorable way that would also involve the public. So far this year we have held two torch light descents but the 'CairnGorm in Kilts' world record attempt would be unique to Scotland and Scottish Skiing. We hope that our customers will embrace the fun and also know that they are raising money for two great local causes".
Participants should be competent intermediate/advanced skiers or snowboarders capable of skiing slowly and steadily from the top station down the Traverse, Coire Cas, Zig Zags and the lower slopes without stopping (world record attempts require the line to be consecutive and a moving single line).
It is possible for non participants to make a donation to Maggie’s by visiting this link: http://www.justgiving.com/CairnGormMountain
In the event of poor weather on the 6th March the attempt will be made on Sunday 7th March (and again finally on the 13th March). Full updates and details will be posted on the CairnGorm Mountain web site.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nissan Tram Face Squaw Valley USA

Strictly illegal to ski, the Tram Face is being opened specifically for the Freeride World Tour competition. Its steep and seemingly un-skiable pitch, permanent closure, and tantalizing location in perfect view from Squaw Valley’s Village and base area, have made it a coveted descent among the strong local freeride community. Several of the top American riders are from Squaw Valley (Jeremy Jones, J.T. Holmes, Tim Dutton, Cody Townsend, Elyse Saugstad, Will Brommelsiek) and will clearly be aiming for victory on home snow and score important points on the FWT ranking. "I am looking forward to see the first descents that are going to be skied on Tram Face. The event has a potential to be the ultimate show for the public! We consider Tram Face the forbidden fruit and it will be nice to get a taste of it!", said J.T. Holmes.
Conditions are great this year with the El Nino weather pattern bringing huge amount of snow to the Californian resort, and history will be made when the world’s best freeriders will get the chance to challenge the steep rock face.
"I feel very honoured to snowboard down a face that is normally illegal to ride and closed for skiers and snowboarders. The Tram Face looks playful with steep sections, nice jumps and many technical lines. I think the riders will provide a great show. Leading the FWT Ranking gives me a lot of confidence and I am still super happy about my win in Fieberbunn, but I also know, that it can change very quickly, so I just focus on the next event, trying to do my best and having lots of fun", said Aline Bock (GER) current leader of the Freeride World Tour Ranking Women Snowboard.

Legendary skier C.R. Johnson dies at Squaw Valley

Twenty-six-year-old legendary freestyle & freeride skier C.R. Johnson was killed yesterday February 24 while skiing at Squaw Valley, California. According to a statement issued by the resort, the Lake Tahoe native caught an edge on exposed rocks while entering the Light Towers area above the Cornice II lift. He fell through rocks before coming to a rest several hundred yards below the entry.
"Witnesses immediately notified ski patrol and medical personnel arrived on the scene within minutes. Despite efforts to revive Johnson, who was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident, he succumbed to his injuries", said Amelia Richmond Squaw Valley spokeswoman.
"Johnson was known in recent years for his inspiring return to skiing after a traumatic brain injury that he suffered in December of 2005. The injury, sustained when another skier accidentally landed on him during a run, left him in a coma for 10days. He spent 34 days in the hospital and several months in rehab, but was back on snow by the end of that winter. He made steady progress in recent seasons and this winter finished third in the prestigious Red Bull Linecatcher event in the French Alps", Micah Abrams posted at ESPN Action Sports (2006 Interview with CR Johnson in Backcountry.com).
C.R. Johnson won the US Open in 2002. He was a two-time Winter X Games medalist, earning bronze in the 2001 Big Air and silver in the 2002 slopestyle.
He appeared in numerous ski films, including Seven Sunny Days, Ski Movie III, 2007's Believe and last year Poor Boyz Productions Every Day Is A Saturday movie.




Rest in Peace

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nissan El Dorado Freeride 2010 Highlights

The 13th edition of the Nissan El Dorado Freeride (EDF) took place last weekend in the Arcalis sector of Vallnord (Andorra). El Dorado is the main extreme competition in the South of Europe and the first freeride competition of the Pyrenees that has been selected by the Freeride World Tour (FWT) as a Freeride World Qualifier event (FWQ). EDF was born in 1998 when some Riders contended the first extreme competition of ski and snowboard ever held in the Pyrenees. This first edition was celebrated in Vall de Núria on the 14th and 15th of February 1998.
In addition to the FWT four stages -Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch (Sochi, Russia), Nissan Freeride of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (France), Nissan Tram Face (Squaw Valley, USA) and the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch (Verbier, Switzerland)-, for the 2010 ranking, there are 18 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 growth in the number of FWQ events has been rapid and this will continue as resorts look to capitalise upon the explosion of interest in freeriding, and the next generation of freeriders seek the opportunity to compete with the current elite.



Nissan El Dorado Freeride 2010 Highlights from evisual on Vimeo.

Environmentally-friendly Winter Games (II)

The environment is the third pillar of the Olympic Movement and, as such, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) places considerable importance on the environmental and sustainable management of the Games. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games are a leading example of how respect of and commitment to the environment have been embraced and integrated into planning.
Travel Smart: Vancouver 2010 is also trying to use the Games to change people’s travel habits for the better by encouraging them to travel smart. TravelSmart options include transit, ride-sharing, vanpooling, cycling, walking and teleworking. During the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, TransLink and VANOC have introduced a number of initiatives to make it easier to travel smart:
  • For Local Residents: TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority and Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) have asked local residents to reduce their vehicle trips by 30 per cent during Games time. A number of initiatives have been introduced to make it easier to local residents to travel smart and in a more environmentally friendly way and make the changes permanent once the Games are over. TransLink will expand transit services during Games time with the new Canada Line, more cars on the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines, more buses and three SeaBuses will be in service. NightBus services will expand to offer more routes and travel times to early morning commuters and late night celebrants.
  • For Businesses and Employers: Businesses and employers are invited to take the TravelSmart Olympic Pledge to help reduce the number of vehicles that travel to worksites. Strategies include taking advantage of expanded transit services, shifting travel times to avoid peak periods, or eliminating travel through teleworking or a modified work week.
  • For Games Spectators: All Olympic and Paralympic athletic event tickets include unlimited access to all of TransLink’s transit services for the day of the event, right through to the end of service the following morning. There is no public parking at any Games venue. Spectators must take public transit or the Olympic bus network.
    Another sustainable travel initiative that will be showcased during the Games is the BC Hydrogen Highway, which will highlight hydrogen and fuel-cell technology such as fuel-cell vehicles and fuelling stations. Some of the buses that spectators will use to get around will use this technology.
  • For Persons with a Disability: TransLink’s entire transit fleet (including buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express) is 100% accessible to people in wheelchairs, scooters or with other mobility devices.
  • TravelSmart Resources: The best way to get around during the Games is to plan ahead, avoid peak travel times and know the transportation options before stepping out the door.

Nissan Tram Face 2009

The first and unique stage (the second stage scheduled at the mythical Tram Face slope was cancelled due to bad weather) of the Nissan Tram Face (Squaw Valley, USA) took place Friday, February 27th on the impressive Silverado face with excellent conditions. The 53 riders qualified for the only North American stage of the Freeride World Tour amazed the crowd under the California sun. Videos shows best of the action and some of the best crashes during the competition. None of the riders were injured!







Sunday, February 21, 2010

Freeride World Tour Next Stop: Squaw Valley

After the Nissan Russian Adventure rescheduled in Chamonix and the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc the third Freeride World Tour (FWT) stop will take place next week. The world’s best ski and snowboard riders will make history by competing for the first time ever (after last year failed attempt) on the infamous Tram Face: the mythical Squaw Valley venue which has remained strictly off-limits since the resort opened nearly 60 years ago.
The Nissan Tram Face event is the third of four Freeride World Tour stops.
After Squaw Valley, those riders with the top ratings will compete in the Tour's grand final in Verbier on March 20th during the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch which celebrates its 15th year. Julia Mancuso (USA), Olympic Silver medallist in the women's downhill competition and super combined, has confirmed her participation in the Nissan Xtreme Verbier by Swatch. Maelle Ricker (CAN), Olympic Gold medallist in the women's boardercross, will compete in the Nissan Tram Face in just over a week from now...
Snow conditions are perfect. The first possible day of competition is Saturday, February 27th, so stay tuned for more details!

Freeskiing World Tour moves to Crested Butte


After the events hosted in La Parva (Chile), Revelstoke (Canada) and Telluride (USA) the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour moves to Crested Butte (Colorado, USA).
For the 17th consecutive year, competitive freeskiing's elite will gather at the Subaru US Extreme Freeskiing Championships, February 19-23. And with record snow levels burying Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), spectators, media and athletes prepare to witness history in the making.
The first resort in the United States to initiate an extreme freeskiing contest, CBMR has the longest running event of this kind and hosts male, female, junior, and master's competitors. With the largest cash purse on the Subaru US Freeskiing Series (USFS) $23,400 being awarded to top finishers and prizes from a litany of sponsors, the Extremes, as it is known in freeskiing circles, is one of the most prestigious events on the 2008 USFS.
Event management company Mountain Sports International (MSI) is proud to partner with CBMR as this is the company's former home. For MSI, having a Crested Butte stop on the calendar is just perfect, said MSI president and former Crested Butte resident Adam Comey. The mountain itself is a great venue for showcasing what freeskiing is all about, and to work with our friends at CBMR is always great. I am really looking forward to seeing what these athletes will be throwing down it's amazing to see how far this sport has come since the Extremes inception 17 years ago.
MSI will be posting comprehensive same-day video webcasts of the final rounds on the newly redesigned and recently launched www.usfreeskiing.com, which features state of the art video and photo player technology. The daily uploads of video, photos, news and results of each day�s competition action will be available after each day concludes.
With the Extremes, athletes are heading into the third stop on the 2008 USFS, charging on terrain most skiers consider untouchable. It is every competitor's goal to ski away with this crown jewel of championship titles. Some of the best known freeskiers in the world -- people like Kim Reichhelm, Kristin Ulmer, Dave "Swany" Swanwick, Seth Morrison, Brant Moles, Shane McConkey, Noel Lyons, Alison Gannett, Wendy Fisher and Aaron Estrada - all entered past competitions as unknowns or up-and-comers and distinguished themselves by taking top honors in the U.S. Extremes.
To win the US Extreme Freeskiing Champs is huge, said Griffin Post, men's champion of the Subaru Telluride Freeskiing Open. I've had my eye on that one for a long time, and I feel like I�m skiing better than ever. If I can keep the momentum going, this might be the year for me at the Extremes!
The four days of competition will take skiers to the natural hazards and solitude of the Extreme Limits where a field of 160 competitors will charge down super-technical steeps with pitches from 39-45 degrees, ultimately determining the 2008 Subaru U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Champion.

Update From The Deep Stuff in Crested Butte from Subaru Freeskiing World Tour on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Celebrate The Olympics In Tirol And Try Out The Disciplines Yourself

Tirol and Innsbruck, host city to the Olympic Winter Games back in 1964 and 1976 (Innsbruck replaces Denver at short notice to host the Winter Games after the people of the state of Colorado voted to prohibit public funds from being used to support the Games), are promoting themselves to go for people to actually try the sports they’re seeing on TV in the current Vancouver Games.
The Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck includes 9 skiing regions (Nordkette, Patscherkofel, Axamer Lizum, Muttereralm, Rangger Köpfl, Glungezer, Schlick2000, the Stubaier Glacier and the Kühtai valley) – 89 mountain railways and lifts – and 295 km of pistes. But the ski centres surrounding the capital of the Tirol offer not only skiing and ice skating but also bobsled, luge, biathlon and even, in the nearby HoheSalve region, ski jumping for all!
The famous Igls Olympic bobsled track which was created in 1976 (and completly renovated in the period 2004-2006) is available for public descents. With an average speed of 100km/h you'll rush down with special bobs - take 14 turns - and arrive safely at the finish of the Olympic Bob- and Tobogganrun at Igls where your friends and participants wait with a diploma and a little party. The minimum age limit is 14 years and runs costs 30 Euros per person.
A new Biathlon centre opened in Seefeld this winter. The Olympiaregion Seefeld, which played host to the Nordic disciplines in the Winter Olympic Games of 1964 and 1976, is hailed as a Mecca of cross-country skiing. Biathlon combines cross country skiing and shooting. Skiers race with rifles strapped to their backs stopping at a target range every few kilometres. The objective in biathlon is to complete the course in the least amount of time, hitting as many targets as possible to avoid time penalties. Now 9 small-bore shooting ranges and 5 air rifle ranges (the newest and most state-of-the-art ranges available on the market at present) are available for guests. This offer of biathlon for holidaymakers enables guests to feel like real professionals and it means that Seefeld can add yet another notch to its belt as regards its range of facilities. An additional 21 rifle ranges can be rented for major events or team training sessions.
In 2012, the Olympic flame will once again burn brightly in Innsbruck’s Bergisel ski jump stadium when the city will host the Youth Olympic Winter Games.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Environmentally-friendly Winter Games

The environment is the third pillar of the Olympic Movement and, as such, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) places considerable importance on the environmental and sustainable management of the Games. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games are a leading example of how respect of and commitment to the environment have been embraced and integrated into planning.

Green Venues: The Vancouver 2010 venues are a mixture of existing, new, and renovated facilities. The new venues were all developed in accordance with the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building ratings systems, and a number of buildings are looking to achieve gold and silver ratings – while there is even one building in the Vancouver Olympic Village aiming for platinum status. An area where the new and renovated venues have looked closely at their designs is that of heat recapture, which sees the excess heat produced in one part of the building being recycled to provide heat in another area, thus reducing energy consumption.
The Hillcrest/Nat Bailey Stadium Park venue (home to curling for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and wheelchair curling for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games) is an example of where an integrated heat recovery solution was successfully implemented. Hillcrest, which will feature a new icesheet, is next to a future 50-metre pool in a new multi-purpose community recreation and aquatics centre. After the Games, the heat generated by the ice rink’s refrigeration plant will be captured and used to heat the pool. The development, a legacy for the people of Vancouver, will be operated by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, which will enjoy the cost savings of reusing waste heat.
A number of other green initiatives have also been integrated into the sites, with perhaps the most visibly striking being the use of salvaged British Columbia wood that was damaged by a pine-beetle infestation for the roof of the Richmond Olympic Oval. At a size of about 100 metres by 200 metres (2 hectares), the roof is believed to be the largest surface ever covered in the once-discarded wood. Showcasing use of this wood may encourage its application elsewhere and help mitigate the economic hardship the pine beetle epidemic has brought upon regional communities in British Columbia.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Great Ski Conditions In Almost All Resorts (Except Maybe Cypress Mountain)

Skiinfo reports that despite the fluctuating weather conditions in Vancouver for the Olympic Games, most of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is reporting great ski conditions.
Mt Washington, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic training site close to the Games sites is currently leading the world with the greatest reported snow accumulation of 4.6m (15.3 feet) to date. Mount Washington also had the most snow in the past week with nearly 90cm (three feet) more. In the US all 50 states reported snow lying at some point on their terrain during Valentine’s day.
In Europe Chamonix, France, Passo Tonale, Italy and the continent’s most southerly major resort, Sierra Nevada on the Spanish Mediterranean coast each have around 4m of accumulated snow. There has been much less snow in Europe this week than last, but that is expected to change in the next few days with more snow coming, and in any case conditions are generally excellent because of the accumulations already there.
In Asia, the Japanese resort of Niseko reported ‘shoulder deep’ powder with one local advising visitors planning to ski it to make sure they had brought a snorkel.
There has been limited fresh snowfall in the Alps over the past five days, but that is expected to change in the next few days and the first few powder alarms for 20cm (8 inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours have been issued this morning by several Swiss resorts.
On Thursday last week heavy snowfalls of up to 60cm (two feet) were reported from Austria. Since then the high avalanche risk has been lowering again (though still considerable in some regions like Tirol or Steiermark) and today lucky skiers and boarders across the country are enjoying good skiing conditions with sunny slopes in many places. Last Thursday brought 30 powder alarms to Austria. The biggest snowfalls took place in Carinthia where 60cm (two feet) was reported from smaller resorts like Flattnitz or Petzen. Bad Kleinkirchheim and Dachstein West also had 20-30cm in 24 hours. The Mölltaler glacier has the most snow in the country at 3.5m (nearly 12 feet), with St. Anton am Arlberg second with 240cm (eight feet).
In Switzerland the most snow was reported from Eigenthal with 90cm (three feet) in seven days. Beatenberg also had 60cm (two feet). Bigger resorts like Laax, Saas Fee, Zermatt and Davos usually had 8-15cm (3-6 inches) during the week. Today there’s a dozen Swiss resorts reporting snow depths of two metres or more, including Saas Fee, St Moritz and Laax. Engelberg is on top of the list with 255cm (8.5 feet).
In Germany many resorts have seen 20-35cm of new snow in seven days. The resorts in the uplands of the East, Southeast and the Centre were reporting bigger snowfalls than the German Alps. Grasgehren and Oberstdorf - Nebelhorn in the Allgäu both have 190cm (over six feet) of snow on their upper slopes though and the top snow depth is at the Zugspitzplatt with 205cm (6.5 feet).
Elsewhere in the Alps it has been ‘quiet’ for new snowfall in France and Italy, although Serre Chevalier has reported 12cm (five inches) of new snow so far today, and Chamonix continues to have some of the deepest snow depths in Europe, with more than 3.8m (Nearly 13 feet) lying on upper slopes.
In Italy more snow is expected in the coming days. Arabba has had the most snow in the country for the past seven days with 45cm accumulated and it has some of the deepest snow in the country too, although the glacier at Passo Tonale continues to boast the deepest snow depth in Europe with 4.2m (14 feet).
In Spain it's snowing again in Madrid and the novelty of that is wearing off after multiple snowfalls in the Spanish capital. It’s good news for skiers wanting to visit the nearby ski hills too and has increased business at the city’s indoor snow centre as people think more about winter sports. More snowfall is expected through the remainder of the week in Spanish ski resorts.
Sierra Nevada to the south is now reporting up to four metres (13.3 feet) of snow on its upper slopes (the deepest snow in Spain and close to the deepest in the world) and has 99 km of runs open. The weather conditions have meant a dramatic increase in the avalanche risk in Sierra Nevada making off piste skiing especially dangerous.
In the Pyrenees Baqueira (picture attached) just inaugurated a new snowpark for boarder and skier fun, it has up to 195cm (6.5 feet) of snow and 110 km of piste open. Formigal has the most piste open in the country, with 136km and snow depth up to 220cm (7.6 feet). Most other ski areas have between 1.5 and 2.2m (5-7.3 feet) of snow lying .
Conditions are reported to be generally good in Andorra too with some fresh snow and upper slope base depths of 1-1.8m (3.3-6 feet).
At the other end of Europe, Scandinavia has seen more snow, if not so much as previous weeks. There’s been some new snow in Sweden with Åmål and Ramundberget ski areas both receiving 15cm (six inches) and the leading resort Åre 11cm (four inches). The country’s greatest snow depth is in Tänndalen with 120cm (four feet). But this will soon change since Riksgränsen, the worlds northern most ski resort known for its midnight sun due to open in two days. They also have 120cm (four feet) at the moment. So great skiing conditions all over the country and more snow is expected in the middle of Sweden on Friday.
Across the North Sea, Scotland’s ski areas have had a good top up of snow over the past 36 hours and its still falling, more than a foot of new snow is on the slopes meaning the ski centres are continuing to have one of the best winters for 30 years.
Down in Eastern Europe conditions are the best so far this season in many resorts, following ggood snowfalls over the past week. Bulgarian resorts are now reporting up to 1.8m (six feet) of snow accumulated after a thin start to the season in several centres.
Across the Atlantic, with fresh snow right across North America, it’s the US and Canada that have seen the most fresh snow of the past seven days anywhere in the world. Falls have been particularly heavy on the West coast and while there has been rain at lower elevations causing major headaches for Olympic organisers, Whistler has actually seen some of the most snow in the world in the past week with 68cm (2.3 feet) accumulated on middle and upper elevations.
Other western resorts reporting big falls include Jackson Hole, Vail, Big Sky, Breckenridge and in Alaska, Alyeska, all of which have received more than 60cm (two feet). There’s been snow on the east too, with the excellent ski area of Mt Sutton in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, for example, receiving more than 40cm over the weekend. Cold weather has also allowed for snowmaking at many resorts in the East.

Welcome To The World’s Biggest Potlatch!

A Potlatch is a big party hosted by one First Nations clan in honour of another and, according to Tewanee Joseph, the CEO of the Four Host First Nations Society (FHFN), this is exactly what the Vancouver 2010 Games will be – the world’s biggest Potlatch! The Games are being held within the traditional and shared territories of the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, who have all been involved since early on in the bid process for the 2010 Games.
Since Vancouver was elected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in 2003, these Four First Nations have come together to coordinate their efforts around the Games, and have been an integral part of the planning process run by the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee (VANOC).
"The Games provide an opportunity for Aboriginal peoples to showcase their cultures, their entrepreneurial spirit, to share a bit of us with visitors from across Canada and around the world. We are convinced the Games can be transformational – not just for Aboriginal peoples, but for the non-Aboriginal people of this country", said to Olympic.org Tewanee Joseph.
VANOC’s goal was to achieve unprecedented Aboriginal participation in the planning and hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. They achieved this by developing strong relationships with Aboriginal peoples – First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and the support of their Partners. Aboriginal participation is a key element of our sustainability mandate and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the value it brings to the Olympic Movement.
For instance, 4th annual corporate Vancouver 2010 Sustainability Report released last Wednesday by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) indicates:
  • Since 2003, Aboriginal businesses have received $56.7 million in contracts with VANOC; $5.9 million in this reporting period alone.
  • $56,460 contributed to the 2010 Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund through the sale of official licensed merchandise.
  • Contracted 96 Aboriginal artists from across Canada to produce permanent installations as part of the Venues’ Aboriginal Art Program.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games break broadcast records!

In Canada, the IOC’s rights-holding broadcast partner, the CTV consortium, announced that the Opening Ceremony of the Games was in fact the most watched television event in Canadian history, with an audience of over 13 million viewers!.
The record easily broke (by 29%) the previous record-holding event, the gold medal hockey game at Salt Lake City 2002.On Saturday, Ivan Fecan, President and Chief Executive Officer, CTVglobemedia and Chief Executive Officer, CTV Inc. said, "The Canadian Olympic team will break records at these Games, but the first record was broken last night!".
And in the US, NBC announced that the ceremony was the most watched Opening Ceremony ever for a non-US Winter Games, with an audience of 67.5 million viewers.
In China, live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on CCTV was watched by 16 million viewers across China, which equates to four times the audience achieved by the live Opening Ceremony coverage from Salt Lake 2002.
Vancouver 2010 is also set to be the first Olympic Winter Games to offer live and on-demand broadcast of the Games, available around the world both online and on mobile phones. Digital coverage is expected to reach unprecedented levels for a Winter Games – and globally there will be at least the same amount of coverage on online and mobile platforms as there is on television platforms. In particular, the mobile platform will come into its own with a record 6,000 hours of coverage worldwide expected.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Scott Big Mountain Fieberbrunn, the Second Women's Stage of the Freeride World Tour

As the female Freeride World Tour riders did not take part in the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch, their second FWT contest took place yesterday in Fieberbrunn, Austria. A Freeride World Qualifier for men, but counting as FWT event for female FWT riders. With a great welcoming of the Tyrolean resort, the Scott Big Mountain Fieberbrunn, was a success, showing some world class skiing and snowboarding down the north east facing "Wildseeloder" face. A varied face with one very steep and technical side and one side with more open spaces for fast and playful riding.
Freeride World Champion Ane Enderud (NOR) was back in competition after she cancelled the first FWT competition in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc for back problems. Yet again she showed great skill and won the women’s ski discipline. German Aline Bock took victory in the snowboard category with a very solid run, putting her on top of the leaderboard of the Freeride World Ranking.
"Ane made the most complete run of the female skiers, by skiing really fluid even at the technical part of the face with a good flow all the way down, taking several airs, including sticking a big drop into the main couloir without any hesitation", said Martin Winkler, Head Judge Ski.
Several Freeride World Tour riders entered the Fieberbrunn World Qualifier competition to score important points for the ranking, in tough competition with many upcoming talents. Local Austrian FWT rider Max Zipser won the men’s snowboard category by taking the most technical line of the day. He went down the face really fast where sections steeper than 50 degrees did not seem to slow him down. FWT rider Matthias Haunholder, also from Austria, won the skiers category in tie with an upcoming rider Samuel Anthamatten.
Fieberbrunn is located in the PillerseeTal, a mountain valley situated in the North East of Tyrol. It borders on the Province of Salzburg and Bavaria. The five villages of Fieberbrunn, Hochfilzen, St. Jakob in Haus, St. Ulrich am Pillersee and Waidring have joined together to become an all-year-round holiday region with the eponymous Pillersee at the centre. Fieberbrunn is the snowhole of the Kitzbüheler Alpen.
The third Freeride World Tour stage for both male and female riders will be held in Squaw Valley USA on the infamous Tram Face, February 27th.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vancouver welcomes the world: 2010 Winter Games declared open

The 2010 Winter Olympics have opened with a spectacular ceremony at Vancouver’s BC Place. The ceremony was held undercover for the first time. Fans, who paid up to $600for a ticket, participated like they were in an audition, showing precision and style when instructed by volunteers.
On a sad note, it was announced seconds before the ceremony started that the night was being dedicated to 21-year-old Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died at Whistler Sliding Centre during training just hours before the Games opened.
The ceremony began with a stunning film of just why Vancouver and Whistler have been chosen as hosts for the 21st Winter Olympics. Stupendous scenery, with a snowboarder atop a snowy peak. He plunges down through the powder, carving arcs of fresh snow and flying off rocks before speeding through a giant red maple leaf made up of torchbearers. In the stadium, he appears below the huge screen and soars off a ramp, through the Olympic rings and into the arena. "Welcome to Vancouver 2010" he cries.
60,000 spectators witnessed 2,500 athletes from 82 nations parade including debutants Cayman Islands, Colombia, Ghana, Pakistan and Peru. The largest cheer was for the host team Canada, with Clara Hughes, defending 5000m speed skating champion wavingthe flag and clad all in red.
The parade was followed by the perfomance of Canadian artists Bryan Adams and Nelly Furtado. "Sing something louder, so the whole world can hear..." they sung. The crowd have been given torches and drums and they were all being used at once creating a formidable spectacle.
After that the ceremony continued with the most amazing perfomance: a piece celebrating the northern Canadian lands and peoples. The northern lights were represented by a huge lit-up display suspended in the centre of the arena, with the constellations depicted and the huge 50ft spirit bear of the first people rising from the floor. The sea ice on the floor of the stadium was seen to split up as the peoples were disseminated, before stunning computer graphics showed killer whales, and wild pacific salmon racing upstream. The waters then morph into trees to represent Canada's giant forests. Nova Scotia's three-time Grammy Award winner Sarah McLachlan sang "Ordinary Miracle". A huge harvest moon descended from the roof to depict the Fall and giant red maple leaves fell to the floor. Music and tap-dancing became the center of the show.
From the ice, to the seas and the forests and then to Canada's great prairies.The golden prairie idyll was broken by a great storm and then the Rocky Mountains were born, depicted by huge cloth peaks. Red skiers and boarders descend on wires to denote the sports that we are all here for. Red-clad skaters joined in to circle the Rockies and their energy sparked the transformation of the mountains into a sky-scraper packed neon-lit city. Poet Shane Koyczan performed his "We Are More" poem, an ode which defines Canada.
After the speeches governor general of Canada Michaelle Jean declared open the Games of Vancouver, celebrating the 21st Winter Games. Canadian singer KD Lang sings Hallelujah.
The Olympic flame was jointly lit by four Canadian sports heroes: ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, skier Nancy Greene, speed skater Katrina LeMay Doan, and basketball All-Star Steve Nash ending a 106-day, 45,000-kilometre torch adventure which officially began in Greece. After that, Gretzky made his way to the harbour to light a second cauldron outside in the harbour area which will burn for the 16 days of competition.

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay

Yesterday the Olympic flame was jointly lit by four Canadian sports heroes: ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, skier Nancy Greene, speed skater Katrina LeMay Doan, and basketball All-Star Steve Nash ending a 106-day torch adventure which officially began in Olympia, Greece on October 22 when the Olympic Flame was lit.
From Greece, the Olympic Flame made a trans-Atlantic flight to Canada. Starting on October 30th in Victoria, British Columbia the Olympic Flame traveled more than 45,000 kilometres across Canada by land, air and water. During its journey towards Vancouver, the Olympic Flame passed by some of the most pristine and stunning landscapes in the world. And at each turn and twist in the path to the Olympic Games, excited Canadians and visitors gathered to share in the experience. The national relay route linked together over 1,000 communities and places of interest.
The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay was the longest in history to be contained within the Host Country. The Torch Relay presented by Coca-Cola inspired and engaged Canadians from coast to coast to coast as it traveled along the path of northern light.
"Obviously, it was one of the great days of my life not only for me but my entire family, starting today with my dad getting the chance to run with the torch", said ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, whose father Walter had run in the relay earlier Friday.
The Olympic cauldron will burn for the 16 days of competition.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony "“To Inspire the World"

Opening Ceremony: Day 1, Friday, February 12, 2010, 18:00–21:00
The Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony will take place today at Vancouver’s BC Place.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies are large-scale community celebrations that capture the spirit and unique personality of the host city, province and country, provide inspiring messages regarding the Olympic Movement and celebrate the world’s greatest athletes.
The Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games will capture the heart and spirit of Vancouverites, British Columbians, and Canadians. "The Opening Ceremony is our biggest chance to speak to a global audience and tell the story of a contemporary Canada that will inspire the world. So many talented Canadians have shared their thoughts and hopes for the ceremonies over the past six weeks and we are most grateful", said John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).
The Games Ceremonies are mandated by the International Olympic Committee to promote international peace and understanding, honouring the world’s greatest athletes, and celebrating humanity.
"The expectations for David Atkins (VANOC’s executive producer and artistic director of the Olympic Ceremonies )and the ceremonies’ creative team are monumental. They are tasked with creating life long memories — from the iconic Opening and Closing Ceremonies to those golden moments that celebrate the athletes’ achievements", said John Furlong, VANOC Chief Executive Officer. "Their work will be watched live by thousands at BC Place and billions worldwide on television — and this team has both the talent and experience to meet that challenge. They will embrace our country’s rich culture and innovative spirit, while revealing our incredible wealth of Canadian talent to the world".
David Atkins acknowledged the calibre of the creative team, saying, "This world-class team is filled with artists who know how to wow audiences at international events and are leaders in their fields, from creating magical scores to designing opulent costumes and intricate footwork. (4500) Ceremonies volunteers are going to be working with the best; this is a true opportunity of a lifetime".
What does it take to produce an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony? Vancouver2010.com sat down with David Aktins to find out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Olympic Facebook Page Attracts Millionth Fan

The International Olympic Committee’s Facebook page enlisted its millionth Games fan this week as the IOC continued its expanded digital outreach on multiple platforms. With Olympic enthusiasts joining the Facebook fan network at a rate of about 10 per second at peak times, the fan base crossed the million milestone late on Tuesday - less than a month after the page was created.
The IOC has significantly expanded its use of social media and other online communications tools to engage younger audiences, promote Olympic values and share the magic of the Games with the largest possible audience.
Victoria McCallum of Richmond, Canada, the site of the Olympic speed skating venue, was among those who joined the recording-setting Facebook surge on Tuesday night. McCallum, 33, said she signed up on after watching the Torch Relay earlier in the day. "I want to get updates as the Olympics are going on", she said on Wednesday. "I’ve followed the Olympics before, but it’s obviously more exciting when it’s your home town".
The 2010 Games will see several other milestones in the IOC’s embrace of new media. For the first time in Olympic history, the amount of digital coverage online and on mobile phones will be on par with the amount of television coverage – about 21,000 hours for each. In another sign of the times, the mobile platform will come into its own with an anticipated record 6,000 hours of coverage worldwide.
In Canada, every second of the action will be streamed in high-definition live over the Internet for the first time in Olympic Winter Games history.
In Europe, more than 40 broadcasters will offer live streaming, as well as delayed material, on their web sites.
In the United States, NBC will provide more than 400 hours of live competition coverage from Vancouver online.
Social networks are a key element of the IOC’s effort to promote the universality of the Games.
In addition to Facebook, the IOC web site, http://www.olympic.org/, links to Twitter, www.twitter.com/olympics, and Flickr, www.flickr.com/groups/olympicphotos. The IOC has also launched its own digital channel, www.youtube.com/olympic, to broadcast video highlights from past Olympic Games.
More than 55 per cent of the Facebook Games fans are women, and about a third are under 17 years of age. Countries with the largest participation are the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Chile and Serbia. The most common languages among the participants are English, Spanish, French and Indonesian.
Participation is sure to grow during the Games with the addition of new features. A new application, http://apps.facebook.com/vancouver-minigame/, lets online fans around the world compete in a version of the official video game of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.
On 12 February, the IOC will launch a photo competition that will let Games fans in Vancouver share their photos. The winners will receive free tickets to the Games and have their photos posted on other high-traffic Olympic web sites, including olympic.org and vancouver2010.com.

Vancouver 2010 Skiing and Snowboarding Venues: Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb will be the Official Alpine Skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Inspired by a trip to the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics, Franz Wilhelmsen formed Garibaldi Lift Limited with the aim of building a ski area on London Mountain in Whistler, British Columbia. Building on the dream of one day hosting the Winter Olympics, it would take 50 years and four Olympic bids before Whistler would realize its Olympic dream.
Creekside Village will be a hub of activity during the Games. Whistler Creekside will host the disciplines of Men's and Women's Downhill, Super-G, Giant slalom, Slalom and Super combined. The Men's Skiing will take place on the well-respected Dave Murray Downhill run, while women's skiing will take place on Franz's run. The Dave Murray Downhill run has seen a number of World Cup Downhills and Super G races over the past 20 years. Perhaps the most notable was the 1989 World Cup during which young Whistlerite Rob Boyd stole the downhill gold on home soil, becoming not only a hometown hero, but a national legend.
Whistler Blackcomb is consistently Ranked the No.1 Ski Resort in North America. Whistler Blackcomb has more terrain than anywhere else in North America with 8.171 acres. During Games time, Whistler Blackcomb will be over 90 per cent open for skiers and riders to enjoy. That’s still more terrain than any other ski resort in North America!.The host venue for the men's and women's alpine skiing competitions is Games-ready with an unprecedented 10.2 metres of snow.
Whistler Olympic Park will host the Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon and Ski Jumping events. The compact, one-square-kilometre Olympic Games core area includes three separate stadiums for each event located about 400 metres apart. Approximately 15 kilometres of Olympic competition trails for cross-country skiing and biathlon have been built and tested through the 2007-08 opening season. Vancouver 2010 Games will be the first time in Olympic history that all four Nordic disciplines (biathlon, ski jumping, Nordic combined, cross-country skiing) are occurring at the same venue.
The Olympic and Paralympic Village Whistler is located within the scenic Cheakamus Valley and less than 20 minutes from all Whistler competition venues. A short shuttle ride will take athletes to the heart of Whistler’s town centre and the Whistler Celebration Plaza.

Another Few Feet For Europe As North America Experiences “Snowmaggeddon”

Skiinfo reports that heavy snow across North America, dubbed ‘Snowmaggeddon’ by media there, has resulted in travel chaos, but has also seen the country’s highest accumulated snow depth at Kirkwood in California overtake Europe’s deepest non-glacier accumulation for the season to date at Chamonix, both a few centimeters over four metres (13.3 feet).
Not every part of north America is experiencing great snow cover, unfortunately one of the few losers in the current snowy forecast is 2010 Winter Olympic snowboarding and freestyle skiing venue Cypress Mountain, close to Vancouver, which is battling with warm weather and a resulting lack of snow. Whistler, further north, has declared itself Games ready.

In Europe conditions have quietened a little after heavy snow at the end of last week which means conditions are generally excellent across most of the continent. However avalanche danger is high in many areas off piste, with Italy suffering a number of deaths, leading to the possible introduction of legislation to levy large fines for those who ski or board in areas with an avalanche danger warning and of imprisonment for people who also set off avalanches. Greater death tolls were reported in Iran (8 people) and India (17 soldiers) after extreme weather conditions brought heavy snow followed by strong winds creating unstable conditions.
In Europe, it has snowed a lot on the French mountains throughout the past week, with the heaviest snow leading up to the weekend. The snow is continuing today and is expected to continue for the next few days. Up to 60cm (2 feet) has been reported over the last week with resorts like Meribel, La Plagne and le Grand Bornand all reporting big falls. The Vosges region, one of the lower mountain area for ski resorts in the country has received a particularly notable covering of up to 50cm (20 inches) at 1,200m. At Gerardmer, one of the region’s leading ski areas, Fabrice Clair, manager of the resort, told Skiinfo "It has snowed more than 50cm on one day, greatly increased the snow depth which had been very thin at the beginning of winter. It’s now 1.2m (4 feet) in place thanks to artificial snow, but there is an average layer of natural snow from 50 to 60cm over the entire ski area". Across France as a whole Chamonix Mont-Blanc has the top snow depth of 4m (13.3 feet) with Oz en oisans and Vaujany below Alpe d’Huez at 3.2m (10.6 feet), Flaine and La Clusaz have 2.9m.
Switzerland also witnessed snowfalls last weekend. Arosa and Klosters in Grisons were among those issuing powder alarms on Saturday. Even more snow fell in the Valais with Champoussin receiving 60 cm (two feet) in only 48 hours. The resort issued just another powder alarm this morning because of a further 30cm (one foot) snowfall, as did its neighbour in the giant Portes du Soleil ski region, Morgins. The Swiss WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF expects 10-20 cm of new snow for Switzerland’s’ northern slopes and for Lower Valais this afternoon – but also "widespread considerable avalanche danger". The deepest snow depths in Switzerland are at Lötschental and Engelberg with 262cm/245cm (8-9 feet) respectively . Andermatt, Saas Fee, Laax and St. Moritz each have two metres or more. All of them had some new snow in the last week.
Austria too has had a lot of fresh snow in the past week. Martha Schultz of Mölltal glacier’s lift compay told Skiinfo the ski resort had 40cm (16 inches) of new snow last weekend so there were "very good conditions" on the slopes. "But please don’t ignore the current avalanche situation", she added. On Sunday 30cm (a foot) of new snow in 24 hours had caused a powder alarm for the glacier, which currently has the greatest snow depth in Austria – three and a half metres-12 feet). Willi Krüger of Pitztaler Gletscherbahnen told Skiinfo, "On the Pitztal Glacier the snow cover, which was already great, was topped by 30cm of fresh snow in 48 hours at the weekend. You can only call this ideal conditions". Sölden got 27 cm of new snow last week. They have a snow cover of 192cm (over six feet) on the glacier today. For this afternoon and for tomorrow more new snow is expected in Austria.
To the north, the heavy snow falls of last week lessened a bit in Germany last week. Still there was up to 53cm (nearly two feet) of new snow in seven days in Upper Bavaria. Ofterschwang in the Allgäu region had 33cm (13 inches) in a week. Yesterday snow started falling again in Germany and weather forecasts say there is more snow to come today and tomorrow.
Italy has had a good deal of heavy snow across the country, leading to great powder conditions, but high avalanche risk. Monterosa has had some of the biggest falls of the past seven days with 72cm (2.4 feet) accumulated.
The Pyrenees are still looking very nice with more than 1.5m (five feet) of snow on the top of the slopes in Andorra.
More cold weather and snowfall are expected through the week there and in Spain, where the top ski resorts have reported powder snow conditions. Formigal has some of the deepest snow in the area with 220cm depths and 136km of slopes open. It will celebrate the Pirineos Sur Winter Formigal this weekend, a fusion musical Festival with performances from the School of Samba da PraÇa, Dj Wagner Pa and Jazz Rap Band US3. Sierra Nevada (picture attached) in the south of the country has the deepest snow in Spain however and is reporting 300cm (10 feet) on upper slopes and 99 km of runs open.
Scandinavia saw some of the biggest falls at the start of this week. In Sweden 11 resorts reported between 15 and 25cm (6-10 inches) during the past 7 days. The most was at Kappruet with 25cm but the region’s largest ski resort, Åre was only just behind on 24cm. The biggest snow depth in the country at the moment is in Ramundberget with 117cm followed by Vemdalen with 115cm. The weather forecast looks promising with more snow in the south and far up north. Sween’s most popular radio show, Rix Morronzoo broadcasts live from Åre this week from 10-13 Feb.
In Eastern Europe there’s been a few inches of fresh snow at most resorts and conditions are now good at most areas across the region with up to 1.5m (five feet) of snow on upper slopes at Bulgaria’s Bansko.
In Northwest Europe there’s still snow in Belgium and the Netherlands. The recent snowfall (this morning) led to mega traffic jams in Belgium of up to 900km, in part because trucks blocked tunnels in Antwerp and Brussels due to snow on the road and in the Netherlands the was a 380km traffic jam which is longer than the distance from the very south to the northern border of the country. Snow Fun can still be found in the East and Southern part of Belgium where Nordic and Alpine resorts have built up to a 40cm (16 inch) snow layer. Alpine resorts Spa and Baraque Fraiture are leading, together with the Nordic resort Losheimergraben.
Across the North Sea all five Scottish ski areas remain open, with most receiving some new snow in the past week and Cairngorm continuing to have the deepest snow, although all resorts have good cover. Cairngorm staff were rewarded this week with a special commemorative bottle of whisky from a local distillery in recognition of their efforts to ‘dig out’ the ski centre from the heavy snow in January. Next week the resort will be organising torchlit descents to celebrate the Olympics.
In North America there have been snowfalls at most resorts, particularly on the US West Coast in California and further north in Alaska, where Alyeska has had the biggest snowfall in the world over the past 7 days – 107cm or 3.6 feet. Other resorts across the West have had big falls of 2-3 feet, although the snow hasn’t been quite as abundant in Colorado and other ski areas in the Rockies, although most have had good falls there too. More unusually large falls have been reported in South eastern US states like Virginia where ski areas have reported 50cm (20 inch) accumulations an there have been similar large falls in other southern US states to the west like Arizona and New Mexico.
Whistler in Canada, host venue for the men's and women's alpine skiing competitions, will athletes training on the Olympic courses from today. The first alpine competition is the Men's Downhill on February 13th, the first day of Games competition. "International Olympic Committee delegates recently skied the course and were very pleased with the results", says Tim Gayda, Vice President of Sport for the Olympic organisers VANOC. "From the beginning of the season, VANOC and Whistler Blackcomb crews have worked hard together to prepare the courses to create a very dense base of snow that involved a massive snowmaking effort.
Add to that the incredible amount of natural snow that has fallen in Whistler this season, and we're now ready to deliver an Olympic-class alpine skiing venue that will live up to the reputation that the renowned Dave Murray Downhill course holds the world over. We look forward to debuting the spectacular new woman's course on Franz's Run. We're in to the home stretch on our final preparations
". Deep snow at Whistler Blackcomb is not unusual, but reaching the average annual snowfall (10.13 metres/ 33 feet) this early is truly unique. Since snow reporting began in the 1979/80 season, this is the first time that Whistler Blackcomb has received this much snow by the end of January. The prior record was set in 2006/07 when 945 centimetres or 31 feet of snow fell by January 31. The news is not so good at Cypress Mountain, the Olympic venue for snowboarding and freestyle events, is continuing to battle to be Games Ready however, although Olympic organisers insist it will be. Cypress is close to Vancouver which has been unseasonably warm all year and most of the snow at resort level has melted. The venue has been using hay bales to build structures like the half pipe and has been trucking in snow to cover them, rather damaging the ‘green’ reputation the Games have been striving for.
With no good news on lowering temperatures as the Games get closer the organisers are now using a Sikorsky S64 Skycrane, the second largest helicopter in the world, to transport snow onto the Olympic competition areas. Snow from the upper regions of the mountain will be moved by the helicopter and transported to the areas they are needed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vancouver 2010 Skiing and Snowboarding Venues: Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain is the Official Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding Venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The ski resort is located in Cypress Provincial Park, adjacent to the District of West Vancouver. The mountain is served by an excellent highway, it is only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver, and offers spectacular views of Vancouver and its harbour. Cypress Mountain is one of the most popular skiing areas in British Columbia, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The 2010 Winter Games upgrades (improvements to Cypress Mountain are estimated at $16.7 million) will enhance the Cypress Mountain experience for both recreational and competitive users. For example, the new base lodge, which will be a very nice legacy of the Games and a great new spot to chill between runs, will be up and running since this season. Venue upgrades include modifications to existing runs, a new in-ground halfpipe, a snowmaking system and water reservoir, lighting, a new freestyle site for aerials and moguls, and a Parallel Giant Slalom course. Cypress has 51 downhill winter skiing and riding runs (Beginners 17%, Intermediate 27%, Advanced/Expert 55%) accessed by 7 chair lifts, including a magic carpet surface lift in the kids camp area, 2 parks and a Olympic Superpipe, 19 kms of track set Cross Country Skiing trails, a Snowtubing park with a tube tow lift, and amazingly popular snowshoeing tours around the historic Hollyburn Lodge built in 1926. Cypress Mt claims rights to the most vertical (2,010 ft/613 m) out of all the city mountains and the most terrain as well (1,482 acres/600 hectares). This is a great mountain big enough to spend te entire day or to hit for a quick fix of riding before or after (since this season there will be also more night riding available) on Vancouver.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Intrawest to sell Sandestin Resort

SAM reports Intrawest announced today a definitive purchase agreement to sell its interests in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort to the Becnel family of Destin, Florida. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed; the transaction is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2010.
Located on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast in Destin, Florida, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a 2,400-acre premier destination resort located in Northwest Florida, between Pensacola and Panama City.
The purchase agreement includes the management contracts for Cottage Rental Agency, a community of beach homes located in Seaside, Fla., and two hotel properties, The Marriott Residence Inn and The Marriott Courtyard, both located at Sandestin. Once the transaction is finalized, Intrawest and the Becnel family are committed to work together to ensure a smooth transition of ownership. Until then, it’s business as usual for Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Cottage Rental Agency and the Marriott hotels, according to a prepared statement.
This is the latest in a string of asset sales by Intrawest, beginning with the sale of Copper Mountain last December, followed by the sale of Panorama resort, B.C., and the Village at Squaw Valley last month. Intrawest has been raising cash as it negotiates with lenders to refinance its debt.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Freeskiing World Tour moves to Telluride

After the first and second stages hosted in La Parva (Chile) and Revelstoke (canada) the Subaru Telluride Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier (FWTQ) moves to Telluride Ski Resort February 4-6, 2010.
Telluride Ski Resort hosts nearly 150 athletes competing in the Subaru Telluride Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier, which takes place on Telluride’s vast and challenging terrain. Telluride is a qualifying event for top skiers who are not already qualified for the World Tour. Nestled at the end of a box canyon in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, Telluride sits against the most beautiful and mystical setting imaginable. Far removed from the hectic pace of every day life, this charming and authentic town is surrounded by the greatest concentration of highest peaks in North America.
"Telluride is excited to host the 2010 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier. With a qualifying event, we are sure to see athletes really going for it and we've got the perfect terrain for them to show off their skills. Black Iron Bowl, with Palmyra Peak as the backdrop, is both stunning and challenging. This will be a great event for spectators, as well. We hope to see a crowd out there cheering!" said Elizabeth Howe, Executive Director of Resort Operations.
Palmyra Peak is the backdrop for this year's competition as skiers explore terrain off the ridges of Black Iron Bowl and Prospect Basin. Spectacular Mountain Quail will be the venue for the final day of competition. These extreme steeps and great snow make Telluride unmatched in North America.
After Telluride, the Subaru FWT continues to the legendary steeps of Crested Butte, Colorado, and then onto the famed Cirque at Kirkwood, California. Long known as the premier venue on the Subaru FWT, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort will host the 2010 Subaru Freeskiing World Championships, with the tour leaders battling for top positions in the final runs of the year down the infamous North Baldy.


FWT Qualifier Kicks off From Telluride 2010 from Subaru Freeskiing World Tour on Vimeo.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter X Games Highlights

The 14th edition of Winter X Games took 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. 250 world-class athletes, including 39 past and present Olympians participated in this year edition.

Freeride World Tour by Glen Plake (Video Episode 7)

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: Nissan Russian Adventure at Chamonix

Xavier De La Rue's Winning Run in The Nissan Russian Adventure

Due to heavy snowfall and wind, the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch was postponed and rescheduled to take place in Chamonix after the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The competition finally took place yesterday February 4th at the north east face of Aiguille Pourrie at the Flégère ski area. With an extremely high performance level, Frenchman Snowboarder Xavier De La Rue took victory. Riders had, from the starting point at 2500 metres of altitude, to negotiate 500 vertical metres of cliff jumps, snow loaded spines, big wide open fields and steep chutes at an average steepness of 40 degrees.

Julien Lopez's Winning Run in the Nissan Russian Adventure

Due to heavy snowfall and wind, the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch was postponed and rescheduled to take place in Chamonix after the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. The competition finally took place yesterday February 4th at the north east face of Aiguille Pourrie at the Flégère ski area. With an extremely high performance level, Frenchman Skier Julien Lopez took victory. Riders had, from the starting point at 2500 metres of altitude, to negotiate 500 vertical metres of cliff jumps, snow loaded spines, big wide open fields and steep chutes at an average steepness of 40 degrees.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

French Riders Dominated the Second Stage of the Freeride World Tour

Chamonix again provided the thrills of freeride, hosting the second stage of the Freeride World Tour (FWT): the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch, initially planned to take place in Sochi/Russia, but moved to Chamonix for security reasons and difficult weather conditions. Only the men skiers and snowboarders took part of today’s contest, at the north east face of Aiguille Pourrie at the Flégère ski area. With an extremely high performance level, Frenchmen Julien Lopez and Xavier de Le Rue took victory. The multiple X-Games medallist skier Candide Thovex FRA and snowboarder Mitch Toelderer AUT are now at the top of the Freeride World Tour Ranking.
With the early 9 am start this morning, the competitors had, from the starting point at 2500 metres of altitude, to negotiate 500 vertical metres of cliff jumps, snow loaded spines, big wide open fields and steep chutes at an average steepness of 40 degrees. The experienced athletes put on a different show, than at the first FWT contest last Sunday, with bigger air, throwing off stylish tricks and fast lines in the great snow conditions and varied features.
The tendency in freeriding is that athletes express different style on varied terrain but not necessarily extreme. The face chosen today by the organisers corresponds exactly with this criteria. As Nicolas Hale-Woods, organiser and founder of the Freeride World Tour, comments: "We choose as varied competition faces as possible, so that each rider can express their own style the best possible way. Some of the athletes origin from the alpine scene and some from freestyle. Our judging system is developed so that each style could be awarded the winning line. After a challenging competition on Sunday, the contest today showed a different face of freeriding, with many impressive manoeuvres in the air and a very tight line up. This shows the variety and the vivacity of our Sport".
The third FWT stage for both male and female riders will be held in Squaw Valley USA on the infamous Tram Face, February 27th.

Cold Temperatures and Heavy Snow Across Europe Continues

Skiinfo reports that it’s cold across Europe and it’s been snowing, often heavily, right across the continent, with hundreds of powder alarms (snowfall at an individual resort of more than 20cm/8 inches in 24 hours) released to subscribers over the past five days. The snow is still falling and conditions are excellent at almost all major resorts, but beware of avalanche danger conditions off piste.
Skiinfo has released more than 50 powder alarms for French resorts since last Friday. The Pyrenees have seen the heaviest snow, with one resort reporting a metre (3.3 feet) of snow in 48 hours over the weekend. Vincent Doutres Business Manager of Espaces Cauterts (picture attached) in Pyrenees told skiinfo: "In Espaces Cauterets we have a superb snow. This week it snowed a metre in 48 hours. The ski area was entirely safe this weekend but we closed 15% of the terrain for security reasons. Those runs are in a slightly sensitive area. Our guests must beware of off-piste skiing as the avalanche risk was 4 / 5 in all stations of the Pyrenees because of heavy snowfalls in recent days. The snowpack needs a little time to stabilize. The snow conditions are ideal for the 20,000 skiers expected next week for the February vacation". There have also been large snowfalls in the Northern Alps with Avoriaz reporting 60cm (two feet) of new snow. Chamonix Mont-Blanc reports its base remains the world’s deepest at 4.2m. Alpe d'Huez now has 3.2m (Nearly 11 feet), Flaine 282cm (9.5 feet) and La Clusaz 2.7m (9 feet).
To the east, Swiss resorts have reported huge snowfalls over the past few days, led by Filzbach - Kerenzerberg which has received two metres (Nearly 7 feet) of new snow in the past week.
Andermatt has the second deepest snow depth in Switzerland at present with 2.4m (8 feet) on the mountain and 150cm (5 feet) in the valley. On Friday the resort issued a powder alarm and has also reported 45cm (18 inches) of new snow in seven days. "At the moment there is more than enough snow to enjoy all kinds of winter sports here in Andermatt. Freeriders will also get what they want. On the slope with its beautiful new snow it’s a real pleasure to enjoy the great skiing and boarding", Peter Heinzer, managing director of Andermatt-Gotthard Sportbahnen, told Skiinfo’s Pascal Bovee. Most of the leading resorts have reported between 30 and 60cm (1-2 feet) of new snow over the weekend, including Crans Montana, the Four Valleys and Saas Fee.
Italy has seen plenty of snow in the past week too, if perhaps a little less than the northern Alps. Falls of 30-50cm (12-20 inches) over the past week have been reported by resorts like Andalo and Piancavallo. The Marmolada glacier has a 3.8m (nearly 13 foot base), Bormio 3m (10 feet) and Courmayeur up to 245cm (8 feet).
In the Central and Eastern Alps, Austria has been seeing some big snowfalls too, right across the country. St Anton has reported another 15cm (six inches) of snow today which follows on reports of 20cm (8 inches) yesterday in the SkiWelt, Kitzbuhel, St Johann and many other Austrian resorts. Over the past week Austrian resorts have accumulated up to 80cm (2.7 feet) of powder, with the Kleinwalsertal region reporting 75cm (2.5 feet) of new snow and St Johann 60cm (two feet).
Germany to the north is absolutely drowning in powder at the moment with Skiinfo issuing more than 100 powder alarms, for snowfalls of 20cm (8 inches) in less than 24 hours, since Friday. In the Allgäu the resorts Alpsee Bergwelt and Grasgehren reported half a metre of new snow on Sunday. The latter has 180cm (six feet) of snow on its upper slopes now. Oberstdorf's ski resort got 20-30cm yesterday. The biggest snowfalls of the last few days were reported from the Sauerland (Central Uplands) though Giller-Hilchenbach topped the list with 70cm in 24 hours this morning. Medebach had reported the same yesterday. It still hasn’t stopped snowing with 19 new powder alarms where issued so far this morning, especially in the Bavarian Forest and the Sauerland in North Rhine-Westphalia. Balderschwang in the Allgäu has reported nearly 1.4m of snow in the last week. Werner Fritz of Guest Information Balderschwang told Skiinfo the current snow depth there is between 100 and 150 cm. "At the moment we have ‘champagne powder’ that couldn’t be any better. The slopes are perfectly prepared", he said.
As mentioned above, the Pyrenees are seeing lots of snow, and that goes for Spain and Andorra as well as France. The top Spanish ski resorts have reported powder conditions with snow depths of up to 225cm (7.5 feet) on their side of the mountain range. The country’s two largest resorts Baqueira (120-185cm) and Formigal (105-220cm) have 110-124km of piste open respectively. Elsewhere in Spain there’s up to three metres (10 feet) at Sierra Nevada.
Pirena 2010 Grand Prix Affinity Advance will finish next Saturday in the ski resort of La Molina. The 20th edition of Pirena, the white route of the Pyrenees, started last January 23 with the official Presentation of the teams in Zaragoza. Pirena is an international sleddog crossing-race and one of the most outstanding in the world. During 15 days men and dogs cross the Pyrenees, a natural border between Spain, Andorra and France, from West to East (Itinerary). 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.
Ski conditions in Norway are great right now with constant low temperatures and big falls of snow at most resorts. This week 50 ski resorts have had some fresh snow, with resorts in the west of the country like Strandafjellet and Stordal reporting a full metre of snow in the past seven days.
Over to the east in Sweden all ski resorts are now open an most of them have at least 80% of their slopes and lifts open. According to Skiinfo’s Snowfinder service, more snow is coming the next four days. It has been snowing in large parts of the country the past seven days with Nalovardo getting the most with 23cm (9.5 inches), Hassela 20cm, Bjursås and the largest, Åre 16cm. Temperatures have dipped as low as -20C in recent days in the north of the country and it remains below freezing in the south too. More snow is expected through the rest of today and Thursday, especially in the south, where forecasts say up to 20cm will fall. So ski slopes in Sweden are in great condition all over the country at present.
It’s still a mixed picture in Eastern Europe however. While resorts in the Czech and Slovak Republics have issued plenty of powder alarms in recent days, Poland hasn’t had a great start to the winter, but has had some good snowfalls in recent days, Ms Teresa Kęsek from Polskie Koleje Linowe told skiinfo.pl, "After a long wait, skiers can finally ski in Kasprowy Wierch, part of Poland’s leading Zakopane ski area. At the moment one slope in open in Kocioł Gąsienicowy. We’re now waiting for the snow depth to build to 50cm when we will be able to run the Kocioł Goryczkowy chairlift. The very late opening of the slopes is because of adverse snow conditions and there being no possibility of using snowing system in area of Tatra National Park in Poland". Dwie Doliny Muszyna - Wierchomla has the deepest snow in Poland with a 120cm (4 foot) base.
Bulgaria to the south has had fresh snow this week – bases at the main resorts there currently range from 30 – 120cm (1-4 feet).
Not one of Europe’s best known ski destinations, Belgium’s ski slopes in the country’s southern Ardennes region are currently reporting excellent conditions, with falls of up to 35cm (14 inches) at once. The heavy snowfall wasn’t good news for everyone though, trucks got in trouble driving the E25 Route du Soleil through the Belgium Ardennes. Some trucks didn´t make it up hill, and blocked the road, with a major traffic jam with over 500 trucks as a result. Most truckers and also private car drivers had to sleep in their vehicles before the road reopened next day. Belgian resorts including Mont Spinett, Signal de Botrange, Mont Rigi, Baraque Michel, Rocherath Eifel Ski Zentrum and Ovifat Alpine Resort received up to 50cm (20 inches) of snow in the last week. The same resorts claim the deepest snow depth in the country with 40cm (16 inches) of snow. "It’s a long time since we´ve seen a snowy winter like this one, people - locals and tourists alike, are enjoying the fresh snow cover in the natural environment", commented Lennert Van Loo, country manager for skiinfo.be.
Scotland’s ski areas have continued to receive more fresh snow although Cairngorm, which has the best conditions, has revised its accumulated total down to 150cm (five feet) at the top. All five areas are open and ready for the school holiday period over the next fortnight.
In North America the news is generally good too, with cold weather predominant on both West and East coasts at present, and many resorts reporting 6-18 inches of new snow in the past week on both sides of the continent. Conditions at Whistler with the Olympics just over a week away are reported to be excellent, although snowboard and freestyle venue Cypress mountain is still battling an unseasonal thaw, currently trucking in snow to top up diminishing cover.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Best Moments Video of the Freeride World Tour stage in Chamonix

The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc took place last Sunday 31 January, at 10 am. 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.
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.

The postponed Nissan Russian Adventure will take place tomorrow in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Due to heavy snowfall and wind, the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch was postponed and rescheduled to take place in Chamonix after the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.The competition is now confirmed for tomorrow February 4th at 9am. Spectators can easily access the competition site (Aiguille Pourrie) by taking the Flegere cable car then the Index chair lift. At the top of the lift, take lookers left to the contest village.