Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010-11 Ski Season Gathers Pace with Fresh Snow, First Snowmaking, And More Areas Opening

Skiinfo reports that as the southern hemisphere’s ski season continues to wind down, resorts in France, Switzerland and the USA are opening, or have opened, in the last seven days. Fresh snow in the Alps and the start of snowmaking in Colorado are further signs that the ski season is just around the corner, and in fact in a dozen resorts it has already started.
There’s been fresh snow in the Alps again in recent days with up to 30cm (a foot) falling and giving powder conditions at the open glacier ski areas – these are now back in to double figures thanks to resorts opening in Austria, France and Switzerland.
With the re-opening of the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun, Austria has by far the widest choice of ski areas open in the northern hemisphere with seven centres to choose from. The Stubai (60cm), Solden (61cm), Kaurnertal (55cm) Molltal (90cm) and Pitztal (33cm) are also all open, only the Dachstein remains closed. Hintertux, which is open virtually all year, has a 1.1m base but has expanded the amount of open terrain to 39km over a 600m plus vertical so is offering one of the largest snow areas open anywhere at present.
France is also now back in to the ski and board market with the re-opening of Tignes glacier (50cm) last weekend.
In Switzerland, The Titlis glacier above Engelberg plans to open its slopes on Saturday (Oct 2nd) due to a snow cover of up to 70cm, this means they will open two weeks earlier than last year. "This is the earliest opening date possible", said Peter Reinle of Titlis Rotair, who believes that opening the slopes in September wouldn’t make sense as the snow might melt again and most people don’t think of skiing then. But, "from now on there’s a big chance the snow will stay", Reinle said. It will join already (and almost always) open Sass Fee and Zermatt, both with more than a metre of snow.
In Italy Val Senales and Passo Stelvio remain open, the former with over a metre of snow and 30cm of that fresh from last weekend.
Elsewhere in Europe Ruka in Finnish Lapland has revised its initial plan to open this Friday, October 1st and is now aiming for a fortnight later on October 15th.
Across the Atlantic in North America following reports of heavy snow in Alberta and BC last week, with hike-up skiers making first tracks at Fernie and others, as well as news that one of the world’s highest ski area, Loveand in Colorado has started snow making, Timberline ski area at Oregon has announced it re-opens for the start of winter 2010-11, for weekends only initially, this Friday, October 1st. "Late spring storms and focused summer grooming and maintenance of the Palmer Snowfield have provided a great level of snow above 7,000 feet", said a resorts spokesperson. "We’ll be operating our Magic Mile and Palmer Chairs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through October (weather/conditions permitting). We’ll look to open more lifts as soon as the snow starts to fall and we can build a base on the lower mountain". The Palmer Snowfield is recommended for advanced intermediate and above skill level only, and downloading on the Magic Mile lift is required during the early season.
Following the heavy snow storms that brought up to a metre of new snow to New Zealand’s ski slopes – in some cases the biggest falls of the southern hemisphere’s winter, a number of areas have announced they intend to stay open longer than originally planned. Whakapapa and Turoa on Mt Ruapehu both plan to stay open longer, in the latter case hopefully in to November. In Queenstown Coronet Peak, which had intended to close on Sunday, will stay open an extra week to October 10. The weather has settled down a lot after the extremes of last week. But it is still snowing and Mt Hutt has reported another 15cm (six inches) overnight keeping its base near two metres on 195cm (6.5 feet). The remarkables has 180m (six feet) lying.
It’s the last week of the season in Australia but the snow is still falling with resorts reporting a dusting overnight as temperatures dipped well below zero. At Mt Hotham the average natural snow depth is 76cm with 140cm in snowmaking areas. Six lifts are open and the Summit Terrain Park is constructed for Spring styling action. At Mt Hotham it's a firm packed cover after cold nights with temperatures dipping to -4C still. But it warms up a lot in the day and the snow will tend to soften as the day progresses. "The grooming team have been hard at work and all intermediate and beginner runs are nicely shaped and smoothed awaiting your turns. Little Buller Spur and Summit are two of the top picks for the day", said a resort spokesperson. Perisher has 161cm (5.3 feet) of snow and says it was stay open up to and including Monday next week, October 4.
It’s coming to the end of the ski season in South America too with many areas now closed, in Chile, Valle Nevado is one of the few still open and is due to close this weekend but still has a 30cm base. In Argentina the continent’ largest area, Catedral, is still open with a 115cm (Just under four foot) base.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get Excited: Huge Snowfalls in New Zealand and first Big Falls In Canada as more Resorts Open For 2010-11 in the Alps

Skiinfo reports that more ski areas have opened in the Alps for ‘winter’ 2010-11, while heavy snow falls have been reported in North America and in the southern hemisphere in New Zealand in the past few days.
In France Tignes will re-open its glacier at the weekend, all being well, after less than a month since it ended its summer snow season. The resort will be open through to next May and for the next two month will, with the exception of a brief opening of Les 2 Alpes in late October and the indoor snow centre in Amneville, be the only area open in the country.
Six glacier ski areas are now open in Austria after the Stubai and Kaunertal glaciers joined already open Hintertux, Solden, Molltal and Pitztal glaciers at the weekend. The Dachstein and Kitzsteinhorn Glaciers remain unexpectedly closed, although the latter has a 42cm (17 inch) base.
In Switzerland it’s still either Saas Fee or Zermatt with a metre to 150cm lying and terrain parks open. It’s still a few more weeks until the glaciers of St Moritz, Gstaad and Engelberg join the party.
In Italy Val Senales still has a metre base, it received 5cm (two inches) of new snow on Saturday to freshen up its slopes.
In northern Europe, Ruka in Finland, up in the Arctic Circle, which has Europe’s longest ski season for a resort without a glacier, maintaining a snow slope for nearly nine months a year, is aiming to open on Friday, October 1st. Ruka also has some of the lowest priced lift tickets for a major resort in Europe. In the low season, which runs from October 1st to December 17th and then again in May 2011, the price for an adult day ticket bought online is only 29.5 Euros and a six day ticket 131.5 Euros, compared to most major resorts in the Alps which generally come in the 190-220 Euro price band. Even in the main season between these days a six day ticket bought online is only 164.50 Euros.
There’s currently no skiing in Africa or in North America, as Timberline in Oregon is closed until October for its annual maintenance period however the snow is starting to fall big time, especially at the northern end of the continent. Marmot Basin above Jasper and Banff – Lake Louise, all in the Canadian province of Alberta, have reported big snow falls in the past 48 hours. Over 20cm of snow blanketed Banff-Lake Louise on Monday with more forecast. The snowstorm started on the 20th and continued non-stop throughout the night. Jasper's Marmot Basin (picture attached) also received over 10 cm of snow on 20th September with considerably more accumulation at higher elevations. At 1,700 metres, Marmot boasts the highest base elevation of all Canadian ski resorts meaning it often gets large amounts of snow when it is raining lower down in the Athabasca Valley and the town of Jasper. That was exactly the case today when a mix of rain and snow fell on the valley floor while heaps of wet, white snow fell on the mountain slopes. Last winter Marmot opened on November 11, its earliest opening date ever, with ideal snow conditions. So far this fall is shaping up to deliver a repeat performance of last year's early season snowfalls which helped contribute to Marmot's record setting year for attendance. "I think this snow is here to stay", predicted an optimistic Brian Rode, Marmot's VP of Marketing and Sales. "We may still get some warm weather, but given that it's nearing the end of September, I am quite sure this is the beginning of a very good base layer", added Rode. Marmot Basin is once again targeting November 11 as the opening day of the season.
It’s getting towards the end of the season in the southern hemisphere but New Zealand is seeing the biggest snowfalls of the winter to date at present. "We have received heavy snow mainly from the west and north west since late last week. Whakapapa has gone from 130cm's a week ago to over two metres. Turoa has received just as much snow but it has come with higher winds meaning the snow stake measurement hasn't changed as much. Don't be fooled though, conditions will be way better when the storm passes", said a statement from Mt Ruapehu. It’s a similar story at other areas, most reporting up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow over recent days but with strong winds and other extreme weather problems meaning most have had to close their slopes until the storm, which began at the weekend, passes over, predicted for the next 24-248 hours, leaving a spectacular weekend on the snow in prospect.
It’s not all good news though, the heavy snow led to a collapse of a sports hall and on Ruapehu Tower 8 of the High Noon Express has been damaged in the storm. The resort has already ordered replacement parts from a New Zealand based company and hopes to have the lift fixed by Sunday, with the lift hopefully operational late next week.
There’s been no fresh snow in Australia but conditions are still good at most ski areas thanks to the huge falls in August and subsequent top ups. Temperatures have been touching double figures above zero at some areas and most are reporting "beautiful Spring-like conditions". Thredbo for example still have 1.7m (nearly six feet) of snow lying at mid mountain. At Falls Creek snow depths are a little lower, just above a metre, although deeper in the snow making area. It’s a similar story at Mt Hotham which says it has concluded snow making for the season.
Over in South America, in Chile, Valle Nevado is in to the last few weeks of the season, but temperatures are still below freezing and the snow tally for the season has just passed the four metre (13.3 feet) mark. The hotels are scheduled to close this weekend but limited terrain will remain open to 2nd October. At Portillo snow depths are 25-50cm (10-20 inches) with no new snow in the past week and Spring-like conditions . In Argentina one of the top resorts, Las Leñas, closed on Monday, but Catedral is still open with a diminishing snow pack on upper slopes – down to 1.7m (just under six feet).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

International snowboarding elite to meet in Saas-Fee

On 3 and 4 November the cream of the snowboarding world will gather for the 7th FIS Snowboard World Cup in Saas-Fee to show off their skill in the Freestyle Park Allalin’s half-pipe at 3,300 metres.
But it is not only the FIS Snowboard World Cup that will be drawing athletes to the glacier village. The FIS Snowboard European Cup, which takes place the week before, is also a welcome opportunity for participants to size up the competition. Both events regularly attract a large number of contestants to Saas-Fee at the beginning of each season. This year the organizers once again are expecting over 100 participants for the World Cup and around 150 for the European Cup. The event is still open for registration. Collecting points will be on the minds of all athletes heading to Saas-Fee in 2010 – this time not for the Olympic Games, but for the 9th Snowboard World Championships that will be held in La Molina in Spain between 14 and 25 January 2011.
An attraction during the competitions in the glacier village is the so far unique double halfpipe which has been available to athletes in Saas-Fee since 2007. In addition to the World Cup pipe, the Saas Valley also has a world-class training pipe right next to it, where the public can watch athletes can hone their skills. As you can imagine, the spectators are just as excited about these facilities as the FIS and, of course, the athletes. Where else can you ride a pipe side by side with a participant in a world cup? Moreover, it is ideal for the athletes because they have no "idle" times. For the first time in Saas-Fee the athletes of the European Cup and the World Cup are going to ride in a 22ft pipe (official Olympic size), which is over one meter higher than the last few years.
The organisers look very much forward to their cooperation with Roxy/Quicksilver. During the FIS European Cup as well as during the FIS World Cup, Roxy/Quiksilver will provide a varied programme with movie nights, DJ rotations (with Fredy K), fashion shows and much more. Six to seven action-packed party nights will be held in the Livingroom or in the Popcorn bar altogether. You're sure to bump into at least one of the top riders competing at these events.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Social Media and Ski Rental Services

Ski Butlers, a full service ski shop and snowboard shop that offers ski rentals and snowboard rentals in 30 North American ski resorts, is taking advantage of Social Media: "It seems like every week there is a new 'hot' social media site to sign up for, and it’s great!", said Ski Butlers Aspen/Telluride president Riley Tippet. "It has been an incredible way for us to get in front of partners we work with and our customers, for free". Tippet, along with owners and employees of Ski Butlers other 8 shops are constantly posting relevant news, info, posing questions and sharing photos and videos via Facebook and Twitter. "It has allowed us to get instant feedback on new ideas, new equipment and our company in general". Tippet goes on, "It’s also an additional measure of accountability. Since the internet and social media has the ability to reach thousands at an instant we recognize that you can’t afford to ever slack on customer service". Ski Butlers is a relatively new company, going on 7 years, so they have been able to adapt quickly to the changes in PR and marketing and have begun to really take advantage. "It’s fun", Tippet says. "It’s great to be part of something new and to be able to share ideas and thoughts instantly within our industry as well as within the communities we all live and work in".
As the economy and the travel industry begin to slowly recover it is ever more important to reach your customers effectively as well as try to keep costs at a minimum. "Social media has allowed us to do this", Tippet says with a grin, "it’s a lot of work but the price is right and the results are beginning to become apparent". Ski Butlers has begun a big push to get more customers and industry partners on board on their sites, they will begin offering promotions, not just to future and past customers, but to local concierge, property managers, hotel staff, etc. "We have a little over 1000 fans on Facebook and we’d like to hit 2000 sometime this upcoming season, it will be beneficial for everyone".

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Freeride World Tour Expands to Six Stages in 2011

After the success of its three previous editions, the Freeride World Tour 2011 grows from four to six tour stops with new events in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Fieberbrunn, Austria. The world's best freeride skiers and snowboarders will once again be going head-to-head in search of the 2011 world title. Spectacular action guaranteed on some of the planet's most challenging mountains!.
The 2011 tour for male riders will kick off mid-January at the mecca of freeriding, Chamonix-Mt-Blanc in France. The athletes will then travel the globe to five more destinations in Europe, Russia and North America. The female riders have their own tour schedule, competing at the Freeride World Qualifyer events. They will then join the men for the grande finale in Verbier, Switzerland, at the prestigious Nissan Xtreme by Swatch, celebrating its 16th edition.
In Verbier the battle for the world title 2011 will determine who will follow in the footsteps of reigning World Champions Candide Thovex, FRA (men ski), Ane Enderud, NOR (women ski), Xavier de Le Rue, FRA (men snowboard), and Aline Bock GER (women snowboard).
"I'm delighted to announce the schedule for the fourth edition of the Freeride World Tour (FWT). With Fieberbrunn and St. Moritz as new FWT tour stops we are making a major move into the Germanic part of Europe. I'm also really pleased that Nissan and Swatch continue to be FWT partners and that major snow industry players such as Scott and DaKine see the FWT as the premier tour in this rapidly developing and exciting sport. Our goal is to deliver the best in big mountain Freeride competition. We're well positioned once again to do that in 2011", comments Freeride World Tour founder and organiser, Nicolas Hale-Woods.

The 2011 Freeride World Tour six stages:

1. Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc 2011 by Swatch (FRA) Date: 22 January 2011

2. Nissan Engadin Freeride St. Moritz 2011 by Swatch (SUI)Date: 29 January 2011

3. Nissan Russian Adventure Sochi 2011 (RUS)Date: 19 February 2011

4a. North American Championships Kirkwood 2011 by Swatch (USA)Date: 26 February (Ski only) 2011
4b. North Face Masters Kirkwood 2011 by Swatch (USA) Dates: 5 March (Snowboard only)

5. Big Mountain Fieberbrunn 2011 by Nissan (AUT) Date: 12 March 2011

6. Nissan Xtreme Verbier 2011 by Swatch (SUI) Date: 19 March 2011 (Finals)

IOC honours broadcasters for Vancouver 2010 coverage

Yesterday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) honoured broadcasters for their outstanding coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games at the biennial Olympic Golden Rings ceremony in Lausanne. Created in 1976, the Olympic Golden Rings is a prestigious international contest through which the IOC seeks to promote and recognise excellence in television broadcasting of the Olympic Games. The contest is organised every two years, on the occasion of the Summer and Winter Games, under the aegis of the IOC Radio and Television Commission.
This year, 42 film clips from 13 countries were judged by an international jury, with the winners receiving their prizes at The Olympic Museum in the presence of IOC President Jacques Rogge. Members of the IOC Radio and Television Commission were also in attendance, along with representatives from the rights-holding broadcasters, the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games in Vancouver, London and Sochi, International Federations and the city of Lausanne.
Gold, silver and bronze trophies were awarded in four categories: Best Olympic Feature, Best Athlete Profile, Best Olympic Programme, and Best Sports Coverage by the Host Broadcaster.
NBC was the big winner of the evening, striking gold in The Best Olympic Feature category for "Discovery", the broadcaster’s introduction to the Vancouver Games on the night of the Opening Ceremony, before taking top honours in the Best Athlete Profile category for a piece on Norwegian Alpine skiier Aksel Lund Svindal. China’s CCTV won the The Best Olympic Programme category for their coverage of pair figure skaters Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, while "Ice Hockey" was named Best Sports Coverage by Host Broadcaster OBSV.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Fresh Snow in The Alps as Three More Austrian Glaciers Opens For ‘Winter’ ‘10-’11

Skiinfo reports that a second Austrian resort opens for its long 2010-11 ski season today, Pitztal has opened the country’s highest lifts this morning. The Stubai glacier near Innsbruck has announced it will open this Friday, it currently has 30cm (a foot) of snow lying. The Kaunertal Glacier has announced it will open on Saturday, September 18th, it currently has a 30cm/one foot base.,Pitztal’s glacier has received 10cm (four inches) of new snow in the past week and has skiing from the top of the lifts at 3,440m down to the Glacier Restaurant at 2,840m with 9 -35cm (4-14 inches) of snow cover. This can be topped up by one of only two plus temperatures snow making systems operational in the world, and it may come in to use over the next few days with temperatures well above freezing. Pitztal and Stubai glacier will join Solden, which opened last week and Tux, which has been open year round. It has 20km of slopes open and a 95cm (three foot) snow depth over a 590m vertical. It received a dusting of fresh snow on Monday. The Molltal glacier is also open with the deepest snow in the country at 1.3m (4.3 feet) and has 9.5km of trails to enjoy. It’s still not looking good at two Austrian resorts however. The Dachstein glacier has only 10cm of wet snow and has not been able to open to downhill skiers and boarders for a month now, although it is maintaining a cross country ski loop. It’s a similar picture at the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun which has been "temporarily closed" for more than a month now too, although it’s snow depth has been increasing and is now at 55cm (nearly two feet).
Elsewhere in Europe the list of open ski areas is getting smaller rather than larger with Cervinia closing at the weekend, although Val Senales is still open in Italy and has had fresh snow to top up its metre (3.3 foot) base.
In Switzerland conditions are still good at Saas Fee and Zermatt. It’s now just over a week until outdoor snow sports return to France when the Tignes glacier re-opens on the 25th. At present you can only ski indoors there on the world’s longest indoor run, the 640m long Amneville descent.
There’s currently no skiing in Africa or in North America, as Timberline in Oregon is closed until October for its annual maintenance period.
In South America we’re in the last month of the season at most resorts but most areas remain open and several are still going particularly strong, most notably Chile’s Valle Nevado, which operates in the largest ski area on the continent, the South American Three Valleys. It has had 10cm of new snow this week on Sunday, and the UA women's ski team have arrived, including Lindsay Vonn, Hailey Duke and Sarah Schleper to train there this week. Portillo to the north has had an inch of snow in the past week and snow depth is 57cm at the top.
In Argentina Las Leñas says it has about 30-40cm (12-16 inches) of snow left and plans to close on September 20th – next Monday. It’s looking more promising further north with Chapelco reporting 1.5m (five feet) still at mid-mountain and the continent’s largest resort, Catedral, having 2.1m (seven feet) at the top and is reporting another 3cm(just over an inch) in the past 12 hours.
The southern hemisphere’s snow season also continues in Australia and New Zealand where conditions remain largely good for the time of year, with Springlike conditions bringing everything from blue sky days to rain or more snow to ski areas in both countries. In Australia Thredbo and Perisher both report a base of around 180cm (six feet) with temperatures however around zero. Thredbo has had 12cm (five inches) of new snow in the past week, most recently on Monday. It’s a similar picture at the other Aussie ski areas, even if the snow is not quite so deep/ Falls Creek has a 116cm (near 4 foot) average and all but one of its lifts running, indeed virtually all of Australia’s pistes are groomed and almost every lift operational.
In New Zealand Mt Hutt is maintaining a two metre (near seven foot) snow depth on the upper mountain after another 14cm (six inches) feel yesterday. The remarkables (picture attached) has got half that but did get another 5cm earlier today. Over on Mt Ruapehu, Turoa reports another 15cm (six inches) fell overnight – keeping snow depths up above 1.8m (six feet) on the upper mountain.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Europe Prepares For Winter 2010-11 Season, Starts Tomorrow in Solden!

Skiinfo reports that following heavy snow over the past week, Solden in Austria has announced it will open its glacier several weeks ahead of schedule, this Friday, 10th September, for the 2010-11 ski season.
The "Schwarze Schneidbahn" and "Kaleskogl" lifts will be in operation on the resort’s Rettenbach glacier. It’s a mixed picture elsewhere in Austria however. Although Tux is still open, as it invariably is, with one of the largest ski areas available anywhere at present, complete with more than 90cm of snow, and the Molltal glacier likewise, with a 1.3m base and 9.5km of runs, on the Kitzsteinhorn above Kapun temperatures are up above freezing again but so is the snowdepth – now 75cm, more than 60cm/two feet greater than when the slopes were "temporarily closed" due to lack of snow last month. They remain temporarily closed. As does the Dachstein glacier which looks to be in a slightly sorrier state with only 20cm of snow left on the glacier which it describes as, "wet". Things are looking better at not-yet-open Austrian ski areas like the Stubai which is also reporting fresh snow. The Pitztal glacier, with Austria’s highest slopes, is scheduled to open a week today for their long season through to May 2011
Elsewhere in the Alps there’s rather less happening. In France the two ski areas that were still open, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes, have now closed their glaciers, but in Tignes case only for three weeks. It will be one of the first resorts in the world to open for ‘winter’ 2010-11 later this month.
In Italy the choice is down to two – Val Senales and Passo Stelvio, after this weekend when Cervinia is due to finish it’s summer skiing season.
The only other European snowsport to be had at present is in Switzerland where Saas Fee and Zermatt are open, weather permitting, each with over a metre of snow on their slopes and terrain parks. The Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz has just announced it will open for the season on October 16th.
There are currently no ski slopes open in North America – which only happens for a few weeks each year and these are they! Timberline’s ski area on Mt Hood in Oregon, the only area open through the summer on the continent, is currently closed.
In the southern hemisphere many resorts are reporting conditions more spring like. In Africa that means the season is over at Lesotho but there’s been more fresh snow in South America.
In Las Leñas, at the southern end of Argentina , cover remains fairly moderate with 75cm (2.5 feet) on upper slopes. Chapelco is looking the better bet with 215cm (over seven feet) of snow on upper slopes and Catedral, the continent’s biggest resort, the best in the whole southern hemisphere with a 3.2 metre (nearly 11 foot) base on upper slopes which should see it stay open well in to the autumn.
In Chile Portillo’s lacklustre season for snow rumbles on with another inch in the past week topping up the meagre 45 – 67cm base, actually not too bad on the piste where conditions are described as ‘Spring-like’ but still not great news for the off piste abundance of powder for which the resort is world famous. There’s been no new snow at Valle Nevado either, which has a 40cm (16 inch) base and hasn’t quite reached a 4m season to date total accumulation, it’s on 397cm. Chapa Verde has decided to call it a day for winter 2010 and will reopen in June 2011.
Most of the resorts in Australia are reporting rapidly changing conditions with beautiful clear Spring days and blue skies one moment, then less welcome wind and rain the next. "It's 3.48pm on Monday afternoon. My legs are fatigued, I'm short of breath and can feel a couple of sunkissed freckles emerging on my nose. It feels great. The only way I can accurately describe our quick expedition to Orchard is, unexpected. There was not a sign, not even a whisper, of the incessant rain that pummelled Hotham over the weekend. I was expecting hard ice or wet slush, but I was not expecting a foot of fresh, light powder", said one enthused skier at Mt Hotham on Monday. The weather mix has continued. At Mt Buller it’s a similar story, the resort has 93cm (over three feet) of snow in its base and 18 lifts running, "spring really has arrived on the mountain, with a mixed bag of weather hitting the resort this week. After yesterday's beautiful bluebird conditions, today we're expecting cloudy skies, moderate to moderate/strong winds and a top temperature of 3 degrees. A strong front crossing the Alps is also expected to bring rain at times, with the chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Looking ahead, we're expecting showers and rain tomorrow, falling as snow at times until the late afternoon. These wetter conditions are then expected to change to snow by the weekend, with snow showers forecast for Saturday and Sunday!", said an optimistic spokesperson.
It’s a similar picture over in post-earthquake New Zealand with both areas on Mt Ruapehu (Turoa and Whakapapa) reporting changeable weather and Spring snow conditions. "Last Thursday the Mountain received 25cm of fresh snow from the West. This was then topped up by more cold wet snow from south-easterly winds on Friday night. On Saturday morning locals awoke to a picture perfect postcard view of snow covered lawns, with Ohakune and National Park covered in snow. Then there was heavy rain at the start of the week but both Ski Areas have good cover top to bottom", said a spokesperson. There has been new snow at most resorts. The remarkable got 15cm (six inches) last Friday and has a 110cm base with temperatures still below freezing. Mt hutt still has just over two metres of snow (seven feet) lying and got another 10cm on Saturday, at Treble cones there’s up to 180cm (six feet) lying so it looks like the new Zealand ski season still has a good way to run.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ski Utah is looking for Powderhound blogger

Ski Utah is looking for someone to blog once or twice a week this winter about skiing and boarding, presumably describing places they’ve been that will make readers’ mouths water.
The Ski Utah Yeti is looking to add a new member to his blogging team. The Ultimate Powderhound has a strong ability to communicate their passion for Utah snow sports and a unique perspective on Utah’s 13 ski resorts. As a new member of the blogging team, The Ultimate Powderhound will be awarded a Ski Utah Silver Pass which enables them to ski 30 days at all 13 Utah ski resorts, a $2,400 value!. The job also comes with a nickname — Ultimate Powderhound.
Predicting fierce competition for the position and the pass, Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty said applicants "should prove their ability to communicate their resort experiences through writing and video production".
To apply fill out the short application form and submit a 30 second video on why you are the Ultimate Powderhound. Entries will be judged on popularity of their video and their application response. Deadline for entry is September 17th. For more information email Ski Utah Communications Director Jessica Kunzer.
The western edge of the Rocky Mountains, the Wasatch Range towers over Utah's Great Salt Lake and the vast desert basin beyond, create an ultimate playground for powder addicts. Utah's self-proclaimed "greatest snow on Earth" is not only a slogan. The claim is back up with an average of 500 inches (12,7 metres) of the planet's lightest and driest powder annually. Home to 13 world-class alpine ski resorts, Utah can't be beat for its terrain and consistency of the lightest, deepest powder around. From the rugged powder choked steeps of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, home to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude, to the immaculately manicured slopes of Park City, where you can find Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, and The Canyons, Utah has it all.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Saas Hiking Day in Saas-Almagell

To celebrate the Year of Hiking, a new event has been created in the Saas Valley. On 18 September 2010 the first Saas Hiking Day will take place in the Saas Valley. The event promises an active day ending with a relaxing raclette among friends, as well as a programme packed full of great entertainment. The first Hiking Day will begin from Saas-Almagell. In the following years, the event will start in a different village of the Saas Valley each time.
For those of you who don’t yet know the Saas Valley... It is an attractive destination for lovers of the great outdoors, featuring over 350 km of hiking routes along scenic Alpine paths and fascinating adventure trails. Look out over the treetops, walk through fragrant larch forests, hike along snow fields and rugged rock faces, or stroll alongside ancient waterways, all the while enjoying magnificent views of the majestic mountains and their snowy white peaks. The Saas Valley is a paradise for walkers of all ages and fitness levels. There are hiking routes and trails to suit everyone. Whether you want to climb up high or enjoy the cool shade of a forest, hiking here is always varied and exciting – just like the first Saas Hiking Day will be!
The first Saas Hiking Day presents three different routes that are sure to please everyone.
The relaxing route (Route 1) is perfect for those new to hiking or for those who simply want to take it easy. This gentle uphill climb takes you through stunning larch forests and along ancient waterways (Suonen) and beautiful streams. The route lasts between 90 minutes and two hours.
If you are looking for a particularly idyllic hike, you will take the romantic route (Route 2). This hike begins with an uphill climb, taking you through a beautiful larch forest, along a rushing river and on up to the Furggalp. From there you’ll enjoy an unobstructed view of the Mischabel massif aboveSaas-Almagell as you carry on to Furggstalden and then back down to the village. The tour lasts two-and-a-half to three hours.
And last but not least, for those hikers who like more of challenge there’s the adventure route (Route 3). Starting with a gondola ride from Saas-Grund up to Kreuzboden, the route continues along the Almagell Alpine Path. Far above the treetops, the route takes you along narrow paths with stunning views over the entire Saas Valley, all the way to the Mattmark reservoir, and of the eighteen 4,000 metre peaks that surround it. Further on into to the Almagell Valley, the cosy Almagelleralp restaurant, which is celebrating its centenary this year, offers the ideal spot for a break. After regaining your strength, it's time to leave the valley and continue onto the next highlight of the hike. Before making your way back down to Saas-Almagell, you can look forward to the challenge of the Almagell Adventure Trail. Its two suspension bridges, which are each over 60 m long, are guaranteed to provide that extra adrenaline rush. The route takes between three-and-a-half and four hours.
The fee for each hike gets you a great selection of goodies, including welcome coffee and croissants, a panoramic map, cableway tickets (Routes 2 and 3), raclette and wine at the end of the walk, and a souvenir gift. Those taking Route 3 will also receive a voucher for a cup of the Almagelleralp’s delicious house coffee.
The organisers are delighted that professional Alpine skier and honorary member of Skiclub Saas-Almagell Silvan Zurbriggen will be joining as a hiking guide for the day. He will also attend the festival on the village square afterwards, where he will be chatting to fans and answering their questions.
When you finish your hike you will all have the pleasure of meeting back on the village square in Saas-Almagell where you can enjoy a delicious raclette and a good glass of wine.
After an active start to the day and a stunning hike through the Saas Valley’s impressive Alpine landscape, you can relax and enjoy a great entertainment programme that includes musical entertainment, performances by village associations, market stalls, Alpine wellness,refreshments and, finally, the inauguration of Saas-Almagell’s recently redesigned village square. This will be an ideal opportunity to reflect on the day’s experiences with friends and to start planning your next hike in the beautiful Saas Valley!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Big Snowfalls In Northern And Southern Hemispheres, ‘Winter 10-11’ May Start Next Week ...

Skiinfo reports that there have been huge snowfalls of 60cm/two feet plus in Australia at the end of last week and in the Austrian, German and Italian Alps in the past 48 hours. Up to 70cm (2 feet, 4 inches) of snow has fallen in the past 36 hours on northern Alpine glaciers, so it’s slightly ironic that the number of ski areas open has dropped to seven, after the two French centres of Tignes and Les 2 Alpes ended the country’s summer ski season last weekend. Cervinia in Italy is due to follow suit this weekend. In Tignes case the closure is only for three weeks and It will be one of the first resorts in the world to open for ‘winter’ 2010-11 later this month.
However all is not lost as Solden (Austria) is currently hoping to start their winter 2010-11 season a month earlier than planned, this weekend September 4th, following the heavy snow fall there – they’ve currently got a 61cm (two foot) base. The Pitztal Glacier, which was due to be the first to open in September for 2010-11 on September 15th has not announced any plans to open early, but has announced 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow. The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun which closed unexpectedly in August due to the snow on the glacier all but melting away, has still not re-opened as yet however, even though it too has had several feet of new snow and now boasts 55 – 65cm over a 500m vertical. It’s the same at present on the Dachstein glacier, although it reports a foot of new snow. The Molltal glacier has had 50cm (20 inches) of new snow and now has a 1.3m (4.3 feet) base, the falls have been less spectacular on the Tux glacier but it still has the most terrain open, with 20km of runs to enjoy and a 95cm (three foot) base.
In Germany the Zugspitz glacier has reported 70cm (28 inches) of new snow but is not yet open. It Italy Val Senales reports 30cm (a foot) of new snow taking its total base to a metre, but Cervinia has only had an inch or so of new snow, as has its Swiss neighbours Zermatt and Saas Fee, reporting 120cm (four foot) base and ‘Spring like’ conditions.
There’s no skiing today in North America as the only ski area due to be open, Timberline on Mt Oregon, is closed due to rain and wind. It’s due to close soon shortly anyway for it’s annual maintainance shut down for a few weeks in late September. On the upide Loveland in Colorado, one of the world’s highest resorts and typically one of the first to open in North America each year, usually in early October, has announced it has wheeled out its portable snowmaking guns on to the piste ready for temps to drop low enough for snowmaking to begin, which they think is imminent.
In the southern hemisphere the big news was Australia’s leading ski areas being dumped on big time at the end of last week (and still a little bit now) and in some cases reporting the best August snowfalls for more than two decades. "We smashed the record books with some of the best snow the mountain has seen in years! The resort received 34cms of snow, rendering it as the best August snowfall recorded since 1985!" said an excited spokesperson for Mt Buller. It’s a similar story at the country’s largest resort, Perisher, which thinks this August could still end up their snowiest ever as the snow is still falling. There has been no other August since 1984 where more snow has fallen. Perisher has had more than 30cm of fresh snow settle across the resort, that makes it 2.6m of accumulated snowfalls since 1st August with wind-drifts over 1.5m deep in places. For Mt Hotham it’s 102cm in the past week with 47cm of fresh snow overnight on Wednesday - the biggest single dump on record since 2003. 82cm fell in 48 hours last weekend making it the resort’s snowiest August since 1992. All 13 lifts are operating with plenty of powder stashes to be found.
In New Zealand there’s been less fresh snow but more world class competitions, with the FIS Junior World Championships at Cardrona and SnowParkNZ declared a success as they drew to a close. Mt Hutt continues to have some of the best snow in the country receiving yet another 14cm (six inches) yesterday taking base depts. Up to 205cm (nearly seven feet). There’s been fresh snow, if less of it, at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables which are both looking good though they have around half the snow depth. But Treble Cone (picture attached) went one better than Mt Hutt with 30cm (a foot) of snow falling in 30 hours last Friday, just in time for the weekend. The snow is still falling there with another 5cm in the past 12 hours and base depths past 180cm (six feet) so conditions are spectacular. Snow depths are also still good on Mt Ruapehu where Turoa has more than 1.6m (five feet) of snow and Whakapapa 112cm (nearly four feet). Cardrona has a 105cm base but rainbow unfortunately remains closed for nearly two weeks now while waiting more snow.
Across the pacific in South America there’s been fresh snow with Chapelco’s base depth on upper slopes hitting 225cm (7.5 feet). Conditions are fairly amazing at cathedral too, with base depth’s at the continent’s biggest ski resort up to an incredible 3.3m (11 feet) on upper slopes, 80cm (nearly three feet) at the base. Although it’s as cold as -10C at Las Leñas the snow is not so great 60cm (two feet) at the top but only 20cm (eight inches) at the base.
It’s snowing in parts of Chile too, Valle Nevado, another of the continent’s big areas, has had 9cm (four inches) in the past 24 hours, taking its season-long snowfall to 381cm – nearly 13 feet. At Portillo it’s still not a memorable season, but they’ve had 5cm (two inches) of new snow today, a small boost to the 80cm (32 inch) upper slope base depths, but the powder skiing for which the resort is most famous remains sadly limited.
Across the Atlantic, Afriski, the only ski area that’s been officially open in Africa for the southern hemisphere’s winter in the continent is due to close this weekend after a successful season. "Spring has arrived at the resort. The peach trees in the valley are blossoming and our snow is sadly melting. If you need a last snow fix, make use of our 70% discount on skiing and select accommodation for this weekend and enjoy a spring snow break with us", said a resort statement. Snow depth on the main run which had been above 70cm (2.3 feet) for several months has dropped to 45cm (18 inches) and the run length has also decreased to 440m. The snowpark and a diminished beginners area are still open though!. All of the snow this season has been machine made and Afriski’s snow guns got tantalisingly close to raking up 500 hours of operation, but it now looks like they‘ll finish the season with 496 hours. Temperatures are set to hit double figures for the final few days of the Lesotho ski area’s season.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

$40,365.79 Ski Movie Contest

Jack Turner, the producer of the soon-to-be-released "Cheap Ski Movie", has launched a ski movie trivia contest with a grand prize of $40,365.79. The first eligible person to correctly answer 100 trivia questions based on "Cheap Ski Movie" and the history of skiing/snowboarding takes home the cash prize.
"Cheap Ski Movie", a parody of the ski film genre, will be released in October. It was filmed at 15 ski areas across the U.S. (Aspen, Deer Valley, Steamboat, Squaw Valley, Durango, Pats Peak, Jay Peak, Brighton, Perfect North Slopes, Mountain Creek, Beaver Creek, Yellowstone Club, Mountain High, Wachusset, Las Vegas), with additional scenes in Las Vegas and Hollywood. More than 30 Olympic and X Games legends appear in oddball cameos and ambush interviews.
"It’s a Wayne’s World version of a Warren Miller movie", Turner says. "Cameo appearances range from current athletes such as Tanner Hall to Jonny Moseley, Glen Plake, and Billy Kidd. There’s even a music video featuring X Games Champion Jen Hudak as the lead singer".
Just how cheeky is the project? Olympic champion Phil Mahre plays a polygamist in the Utah family skiing segment, and there’s a guest appearance by "the filmmaker formerly known as Warren Miller (courtesy of the FBI witness protection program)".
"We’re actively promoting ‘Cheap Ski Movie’ as the worst ski film of all time", Turner adds modestly. "It’s so bad that we’re offering folks $10 per running second to watch it—that’s how we came up with the $40,365.79 prize".
The trivia contest officially starts on Jan.12, 2011, but 50 clues will be released in advance by Powder magazine—five per week starting Sept. 1—at Powder Magazine. Contestants can register in advance and get a head start before all questions are released in January.

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

When does one ski season end and another begin? It’s a question we are always wondering at Skiinfo, because tracking snowfall all year round, we know that somewhere in the northern hemisphere there’s always somewhere open for snow sports. With ski areas like Zermatt in Switzerland, Tux in Austria and Timberline in Oregon, USA open all year round for skiing and boarding and other areas opening at certain times in late spring, summer or Autumn it can be hard to decide!
For some resort’s the ‘next year’s ski season’ begins only a few weeks after the last one ends. Saas Fee in Switzerland for example or the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun in Austria that close for a month or two after the end of the winter season, before re-opening for a 10 month snow sports season from late May one year right through to the start of May the next. So they could claim to already be in the 2010-11 season.
But still other glacier resorts, like Les 2 Alpes and Tignes in France and Cervinia in Italy have a distinct ‘summer’ ski season, then close at the end of August or early September to gird their loins ready for a six or eight month winter ski season that begins in the Autumn.
With Timberline also having a fortnight’s maintenance closure in mid-September it does seem that this is the most favourable month, if any, to say one ski year ends and the next begins. The summer heat is dying away and temperatures are dropping, in North America some of the highest resorts in the world, but without glacier ski areas, like Copper, Loveland, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, all in Colorado, are likely to start snowmaking, some aiming to open in early October. It’s a similar picture in Scandinavia with resorts at northerly latitude, particularly in Finland, looking for October openings. In the southern hemisphere the season is beginning to wind down.
But which will be first?
A possible claimant is the Pitztal glacier in Austria, which operates the country’s highest lifts and has had its snowmaking system boosted recently by the installation of one of only two ‘all weather’ snowmaking systems imported from Israel that can make snow in plus temperatures. This year Pitztal is aiming to open on Wednesday, September 15th. A few days later Tignes will open and then in early October a rush of a dozen or so glacier resorts in Switzerland and Austria as well as, probably, the high altitude resorts in Colorado and northerly resorts in Scandinavia, will join the ski areas open for 2010-11 list.
Well whichever comes first, let’s hope for a repeat of the great early season snow in the Alps of recent winters which has seen resorts like Bormio in Italy, Kitzbuhel in Austria and Cairngorm in Scotland all opening months earlier than usual. Skiinfo will continue to post live snow information from all, and 2,000 other northern hemisphere ski areas as they open later in the year for the coming winter.
Snow addicts can sign up for the company’s weekly newsletter, join nearly 60,000 fellow snow fans across Europe in the Skiers’ Lounge, follow Skiinfo on Facebook and sign up for powder alarms or snowfall forecasts from their favourite resorts among many other activities from booking a ski holiday to buying skis on Skiinfo.

Vail Resorts Launches EpicMix

Vail Resorts is launching EpicMix, a first-of-its-kind online and mobile application for the 2010-2011 ski and snowboard season. EpicMix allows Vail Resorts guests, at any of its five world-class mountain resorts–Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly–to effortlessly utilize technology to digitally capture their ski and ride experience and share it with friends and family. "With the advent of new technology in equipment and new features on the mountain, skiing and riding have become the ultimate form of creative expression in sports and travel. At the same time, the rapid growth of social media has given people a whole new way to express themselves online and connect with friends and family. EpicMix is a groundbreaking experience that brings both together in a seamless and hassle free way for all of our guests", said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "EpicMix takes the fun of playing and sharing online and marries it with the very real experience of skiing and riding".
Guests can access EpicMix online, at their computer or via a free mobile application that can be downloaded for the iPhone, Android or other smart phone. The app automatically captures the activity of guests throughout each of its resorts, via radio frequency (RF) scanners that are being installed at each of the five areas’ combined 89 lifts. An RF-enabled chip embedded in Vail Resorts’ season passes and Peaks multi-day lift tickets will automatically track guests’ lift rides, calculating vertical feet skied and days on the mountain.
EpicMix will recognize special achievements and accomplishments by granting guests commemorative, collectible digital pins. There will be hundreds of available digital pins available, to recognize a multitude of unique experiences that can be achieved at each resort.
EpicMix will allow guests to share their statistics and accomplishments through updates on Twitter and Facebook; guests can create special EpicMix leader boards with their Facebook friends. The mobile app will also alert guests when any of their Facebook friends are skiing, and where they are on the mountain. The application will also allow guests to send messages to their private groups of Facebook friends on the mountain.
The mobile app will also provide trail and grooming information, snow and weather reports, resort news and traffic updates.
For kids under age 14, EpicMix will also have a special website that will connect them with their parents’ accounts, but will have kid-specific content, and unique pins only kids can earn. The kids’ site also will have special privacy restrictions. Parents will also be able to track the lift rides of their kids in real time.
Concerned about privacy, perhaps? VR says that no information collected through EpicMix will be shared, unless a guest "opts in" and specifically chooses to. Guests can also choose to disable the RF chip to prevent any scanning. Children under 14 participating in EpicMix will have limited features and a connection only to their parents’ account.