Saturday, July 30, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011 Ends

It was a spectacular end to the world’s toughest adventure race today with a close duel between two athletes sparring for second place. The Red Bull X-Alps finishes 48 hours after the winner arrives in Monaco. Christian Maurer clinched victory at 16:22 on Thursday, and at that time, his nearest followers were over 150 km away.
However, by last night, Toma Coconea (ROM) and Paul Guschlbauer (AUT4) were lying neck-and neck, around 65 km out from Monaco. They had both flown spectacular flights at heights of up to 3500 m through the southern Alps putting them within range of goal. As dawn broke, Coconea set off. He ran fast through the twisting valleys that lead to Monaco, sometimes averaging 10 km/h and living up to his nickname, "the raging Romanian". Meanwhile, Guschlbauer bade his time. He knew good flying conditions were forecast, and elected to hike to the same launch place above Isola that Maurer had used two days ago.
Suddenly, the final day had become a "Tortoise and Hare" race. Coconea initially covered big distance, getting within 20 km of goal by 09:30. But once Guschlbauer launched, the Austrian was able to fly much faster and as the crow flies – straight towards goal.
Eventually, Coconea completed 80 km of road running - the equivalent of two marathons – to emerge at the top of Peille take-off just over two hours before the race closed. Crowds of Romanian supporters cheered him as he inflated his glider and launched into a gap in the clouds down to the float at Monaco to secure second place (picture attached).
Guschlbauer’s race ended 10 km from Monaco. His tactic had failed, yet the Red Bull X-Alps newcomer had secured third position.
Behind them, Martin Muller flew well to clinch 4th place, while newcomer Jon Chambers maintained his fifth position.
The Red Bull X-Alps closes with a prize giving and party at Stars and Bars in Monaco, on Sunday July 31.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: A Tight Race For Second Place

As Maurer relaxes on the beaches of Monaco, his followers in the Red Bull X-Alps are sweating it out in the skies.
Today served up strong thermals and a generous portion of north-westerly winds: the perfect ingredients to help speed Toma Coconea (ROM, picture attached) and Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) on their way south. Right now, it’s a tight contest between race veteran Coconea and rookie Guschlbauer for second place. Coconea has flown this route before, making it to Monaco in 2007, while for Guschlbauer it’s uncharted territory. Both athletes have been riding thermals as high as 3500 m, and Coconea is now less than 125 km from goal. Meanwhile, Guschlbauer is around 20 km behind him.
Race commentator David Dagault, who has flown several 300 km + flights and finished 2nd in the 2003 edition, said that flying conditions just got better the further south the athletes travelled.
Jon Chambers (GBR) and Martin Muller (SUI) are in fourth and fifth positions. Both live in Geneva and have a home advantage over Ferdinand Van Schelven (NED) and Michael Gebert (GER) who have been snapping at their heels over the last two days. Chambers made a break for it this morning, flying the south-easterly faces while others hiked.
With the race closing at 16:22 tomorrow, making the right moves now is now more crucial than ever.
In other news, Steve Nash (GBR) was disqualified yesterday evening for infringing a forbidden zone near Locarno. This morning, Nash reported he was already missing the race. "You'd think that after a first proper night's sleep I'd be over it, but it was such fun, such a challenge, getting up and going for it day after day", he said.
Eighteen athletes continue the race.

Red Bull X-Alps 2011 Winner Profile: Christian Maurer

Name: Christian ("Chrigel") Maurer
Nationality: Switzerland
Date of birth: 07/27/1982
City: Interlaken
Country: Switzerland
Profession: R&D Advance
Glider: Advance Omega
Helmet: CAMP climbing helmet
Harness: Advance Lightness
Sponsors: Advance, Lowa, Biotech, Jugendheim Sternen, Bächli Bergsport, Jungfrau-Tächi Grindelwald, Gloryfy, X-Bionic, X-Socks, Leki, Haglöfs.

Assistant: Thomas Theurillat
Nationality: Switzerland
Date of birth: 09/08/1977
City: Interlaken
Country: Switzerland



Cross Country Exclusive interview with Chrigel Maurer after winning the 2011 Red Bull X-Alps

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Christian Maurer Wins (Again) Red Bull X-Alps

Christian Maurer (SUI, picture attached) has won the Red Bull X-Alps 2011, landing in Monaco this afternoon. He completed the 864 km course in just under 11 days, 4 hours and 22 minutes. Today, Maurer flew over 60 km through the southern French Alps to seal his victory. He arrived high over final turnpoint Mt Gros, and flew an aerobatic sequence before landing atop Peille to the cheers of several spectators. Maurer was hugged by his supporter Thomas Theurillat before being congratulated by race director Christoph Weber. When asked how he felt, he said, "it’s going to take some time for it to settle in!". The Swiss athlete said he was surprised to have managed to fly all the way in. "I thought I’d have to walk, but here I am!", he said. Maurer then launched and flew down to land on a float moored just off Monaco beach to the delight of hundreds of thousands spectators watching live via www.redbullxalps.com.
Athletes have faced challenging weather conditions during this race with snowstorms, strong winds and heavy rain since the race started in Salzburg on July 17.
Maurer managed to sneak ahead of his competitors by flying deep into the Dolomites on a strong wind day when others elected not to fly. He rounded the Tre Cime turnpoint, then put in a huge flight across Switzerland. During this flight Maurer infringed a forbidden zone by a few metres, and was served a 24-hour penalty. Suddenly the race was turned on its head. It seemed that surely others would now overtake him.
However, unseasonal weather put paid to the efforts of Toma Coconea (ROM), Paul Guschlbauer (AUT4 and Martin Muller (SUI) to catch their prey.
Coconea is currently in second position, over 170km north of goal, while Guschlbauer and Muller trail him.
The Red Bull X-Alps is now scheduled to end at 16:22 on Saturday July 30.
Good flying weather is forecast for the next two days and the heat is now on for the others battling for podium positions to reach Monaco. Follow their efforts on Live Tracking.
The Red Bull X-Alps prize giving and closing party has now been confirmed for 20:00, Sunday July 31 at Stars and Bars, Monaco.

Ski Utah Launches New Yeti Pass

New for the 2011-12 winter season, Ski Utah announces the Yeti Pass enabling pass holders to ski one day at every Utah resort for $499 ($35 per day). Sale of the passes opens Monday, August 1, 2011. A very limited number of Yeti Passes are available.
The Yeti Pass is the perfect accompaniment for parents with students participating in the Ski Utah Fifth and Sixth Grade Passport program (through which fifth and sixth graders ski free) or anyone who has ever wanted to explore the state’s 14 resorts. The Yeti Pass is good for one lift ticket at every Utah ski and snowboard resort during the 2011-12 season. The Pass is nontransferable and can only be used by the pass holder. A photo ID must be presented with a completely intact Yeti Pass booklet resort voucher at any resort lift ticket window to receive a same day lift pass.
Yeti Pass give access to the following 14 resorts: Alta Ski Area, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head Resort, Brighton Resort, Canyons Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Eagle Point, Park City Mountain Resort, Powder Mountain Resort, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, Sundance and Wolf Mountain. Deer Valley does not honor the Yeti Pass December 26, 2011 to January 1, 2012, due to their limitation of total daily lift ticket sales.
All Yeti Pass holders are invited to participate in the first ever Yeti of the Year contest. The first pass holder to successfully ski all 14 Utah resorts will be awarded an unforgettable heli-ski day with Wasatch Powderbird Guides. To participate, pass holders must take a photo of themselves at each resort ticket window with their lift ticket and Yeti Pass booklet, post it on the Ski Utah Yeti Facebook fan page and tag each photo "Ski Utah Yeti". Pass holders may only visit one resort per day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 11

Day Eleven of the Red Bull X-Alps, and Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) continues to pile the pressure on second-placed Toma Coconea (ROM). The Austrian flew the length of the Chamonix valley this morning, gliding 21 km to land at Le Prarion just west of Mt Blanc. Coconea had landed there earlier, and had flown away by the time Guschlbauer arrived, but he is not impressing as much as his Austrian rival in the air.
Behind them, Martin Muller (SUI) is taking the low road, hiking through Chamonix town, leading out from John Chambers (GBR) and Ferdinand Van Schelven (NED) who are engaged in a tight foot race.
Meanwhile, Maurer lies just 67 km from goal in Monaco. Weather conditions are much poorer in the south of the Alps than the north. The race leader’s efforts are being hampered by unseasonal downpours and low cloudbase, preventing him from flying. With limited take-off options the further south he travels, Maurer is electing to sit it out and wait for conditions to improve. It’s his birthday today, and he can afford to take it easy.
At the back of the field, a sense of unity through adversity is developing. "This is what it comes down to", Max Fanderl (CAN) said while hiking with Richard Pethigal (BRA). "It's about not getting hurt, making it to another take-off, making another flight. When you get tired, you get hurt", he says. He said the spirit at the back is excellent. The way Fanderl describes it, there is no envy, nor satisfaction to be discerned. It's about grinding on, getting as far as you can. "At this stage, we're all just hoping to fly another day, perhaps two, before the contest ends".
Once the race leader arrives at goal, athletes have 48 hours to make Monaco before the race finishes.
A sense of urgency is developing among those rounding Mt Blanc today, but with good weather forecast for tomorrow, there is still hope that several athletes will make it to Monaco.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 10

Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) and Martin Muller (SUI) made an audacious move this morning. They climbed to Refugio Sella on the south side of Neues Weisstor putting them in a perfect position to take the Matterhorn turnpoint.
Meanwhile, Toma Coconea (ROM, picture attached) maintained his second position, launching over Visp.
All three have now passed the Matterhorn, with Guschlbauer taking a tiger line over big mountains towards Mt Blanc.
Race leader Christian Maurer is blazing a trail southwards to Mt Gros. At the time of writing, he was covering up to 50 km an hour, flying at altitudes of 3500 m. Storms are set to develop late in the afternoon. "We don’t have a plan for today", said his support Theurillat. "But with the clouds building fast, he’ll fly as far as he can and then walk once it becomes impossible".
Behind, Tom de Dorlodot (BEL) has had a difficult day. Yesterday, he awoke in third position, and now he has dropped to ninth. Today, he hiked for six hours to 2500 m, only to glide to the valley floor.
Dealing with such ups and downs is one of the main challenges of the Red Bull X-Alps. Renowned adventurer Brad Sander is in Europe following the race. He commented, "this adventure is a true test of the human spirit and will to prevail".
At the back of the field, Martin Romero landed in a tree and was injured yesterday, forcing him to quit the race. This put real pressure on Carter (RSA) and Skrabalek (CZE) to avoid automatic elimination today.
Carter hiked high to try and out-glide Skrabalek, but was dogged by a tailwind that prevented him launching. At 0700 hrs, Carter got the call to say his race was over.
It’s an exciting last few days for the Red Bull X-Alps. If Maurer makes Monaco, then the others have just 48 hours to join him before the race closes.

Where To Ski This Week: Fresh Snow In The Alps

After a month or so of rapidly thawing snow on the glaciers of the Alps, snow storms descended at the weekend bringing powder conditions.
In Switzerland, Saas Fee (picture attached) which re-opened for snowsports two weeks ago had to cancel the The Saas-Fee Ride 11 summer Freeski competition they had planned. It has received more than a foot (31cm) of fresh snow in the past week. "The glacier had winter like conditions and there was powder snow on the Allalin Snowpark in Saas-Fee", said a resort statement, "This weekend’s competition could not be completed due to poor visibility with the snow storms".
Elsewhere in the Alps Solden (Austria), although not currently open for snowsports, generated a rare Skiinfo July "powder alarm" when it received more than 20cm of fresh snow in 24 hours.
The Mölltaler glacier has had 20cm of new snow while Tignes in France reported 15cm. in Italy Passo Stelvio reported 10 cm and Val Senales 5cm.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 9

"I’ll make Mt Blanc by 2 or 3 pm", predicted race leader Christian Maurer yesterday. However, he had crossed the border into France this morning by 11 am and soared his way down the Chamonix Valley to round Mt Blanc, the seventh of the Red Bull X-Alps turnpoints, by midday.
Not far behind, Toma Coconea (picture attached) was also making good progress, busting into Switzerland and taking turnpoint six, the Matterhorn.
A really tight race is emerging for third spot. Tom De Dorlodot, who held third position yesterday, snookered himself this morning by staying in the valley hiking while his rivals got up high for early flights.
Ferdinand Van Schelven (NED), Martin Muller (SUI) and Jon Chambers overtook De Dorlodot, but it is Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) who is pushing hardest and currently in third. He is 35 km behind second placed Coconea.
Further back, Martin Romero (ARG) landed in a tree this afternoon. He is unharmed, fit and well, but his glider has been damaged to such extent Romero has decided to end the race.
This puts real pressure on Carter (RSA). The South African was ill two nights ago and his performance has suffered. He has stated it is his goal to not be eliminated before the race ends, yet he is currently in last place, and the next elimination takes place tomorrow at 07:00 hrs.
At the time of writing, Maurer has just over 200 km to go before he reaches goal. The Red Bull X-Alps continues to thrill followers watching Live Tracking. Maurer’s performance and the battle for second and third place are getting news channels, the press and internet forums across the world buzzing.

Saas-Fee Ride 2011 - Freeski Video Competition

The Saas-Fee Ride 2011 summer Freeski competition found itself in the middle of winter like conditions and powder snow on the Allalin Snowpark in Saas-Fee. This weekend’s competition could not be completed due to poor visibility with the snow storms. Rather than cancel the event, the Ride Freesport team decided to re-format the event and run the Saas-Fee Ride 11 - Freeski Video Competition.
The Saas-Fee Ride – Freeski Video Competition is an event that was set up to ultimately give the athletes the chance to show their skiing talent and express their own personal style of riding in the amazing snow conditions of the Allalin Glacier.
The event will run from 25th July until the 20th August and give inscribed riders the chance to create short videos of themselves between 1 and 3 minutes and upload them to youtube to then be judged by the Ride Freesport panel.
You can enter as an individual, two person or three persons. Three is the maximum per team. Riders will be judged on their style and difficulty of tricks and on the quality of filming and editing.

Competition Rules:


  • All action needs to be filmed in the Saas-Fee Snowpark

  • Entry fee is CHF25 per rider (max 3 per team)

  • All music used on edits needs to be with permission or rights free

  • Edits need to be between 1 and 3 minutes

Prizes: 1st Place Video: CHF1,000; 2nd Place: CHF500; 3rd Place: CHF300; Best Trick Male CHF750; Best Trick Female CHF500.
All the video edits will shown on the Saas-Fee Ride 11 website, on the Ride Freesport youtube page and on Saas-Fee Ride 11 Facebook event page. All videos will also be integrated into event
partner websites to gain maximum exposure for riders.
Inscription starts today Monday 25th July at 6 pm.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 8

Day 8, and Red Bull X-Alps leader Christian Maurer bagged his sixth turnpoint: the Matterhorn. With strong winds blowing from the north-west, Maurer took off from a sheltered spot and flew out of the valley. After 30km, he landed on Raron airstrip, a sailplane field near Visp. He came down vertically into winds gusting up to 50 km/h. "At times I was climbing at 2500 ft a minute", he reported. A pilot at the sailplane club came out to greet him, and said, "we’ve closed the field today – it’s too windy even for sailplanes!".
Behind him, five other athletes have now rounded Piz Palu. Coconea is in second place, and continues to work hard at trying to close the margins.
There’s a big battle for third place. The Belgian (Thomas de Dorlodot) and Dutch (Ferdinand van Schelven) athletes showed their tactical prowess as they flew short flights this morning in inclement weather and a moderate north-westerly headwind. At present, De Dorlodot is in third place.
Further back, athletes are struggling to make the fifth turnpoint. As the last athlete in the field, Matsayuki Matsubara (JPN) was eliminated this morning – the next back-ender gets eliminated at 07:00 hrs on July 26th.

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 7

Day 7 of the Red Bull X-Alps dawned with the news that race leader Christian Maurer had been served with a 24-hour time penalty. During the night, the race committee ran a detailed analysis of Maurer’s track logs, which should that he had entered a forbidden zone near Locano airport by a few metres: enough to incur a penalty. Today, athletes rushed to close down the massive margin Maurer had built yesterday.
Toma Coconea (ROM) had taken the Piz Palu turnpoint and led the charge, with a squad of northern European athletes behind him: Gebert (GER), Van Schelven (NED), De Dordolot (BEL), Chambers (GBR2) and Makkonen (FIN). However, pouring rain and low cloudbase hampered their efforts to fly, so they caught up the only way possible, slogging it out on foot.
Yesterday, Maurer travelled over 213 km – nearly a quarter of the entire course distance. He launched at 3250 m from Monte Cevedale at dawn, and kept going until after 1900hrs, finally landing near Zermatt. This gave Maurer a 175 km lead by the time athletes awoke at 0400 this morning to launch their counter-attack. Team SUI1 were relaxed about their penalty, though. "A 24 hour rest after such an exhausting last week could actually do us a lot of good", said supporter Theurillat. At present, Maurer maintains a 150 km lead. The race continues with 23 athletes still in the competition.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 6

Switzerland's Christian Maurer has today extended his lead in the Red Bull X-Alps race to more than 100km over the Romanian Toma Coconea. Maurer (SUI) passed the Piz Palü turnpoint in southern Italy today, clocking more than 200km in flight by midday in what seems to be the longest flight yet this event.
But while the two frontrunners seem set to retain their positions for now, its the race for third spot that is heating up. Ferdinand van Schelven, who passed Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) in a strong flight to gain third place yesterday, had a bad start to the day, landing short of his intended target and being forced to walk up to a 1600m launch again.
Gathering storm clouds threaten to derail his plans today, while behind him Guschlbauer has been making up the lost ground, chased by Thomas de Dorlodot (BEL), Michael Gebert (GER) and Martin Müller (SUI), all within ten kilometers of each other - and the third podium position.
Nuno Virgilio (POR) was eliminated as the tail-ender this morning, At present, the last six competitors in the field are within eight kilometres of each other, and it will be a race from the back to avoid the next cutoff at 07h00 on 24 July. All six pilots will probably round the Tre Cime turnpoint today.
It was a day of drama for Vincent Sprüngli (FRA), who fell into tall trees today when he collided with a high cable. He deployed his reserve parachute but hit the trees before it opened. He was unhurt.
In the middle field, the Russian Evgeni Griaznov's slow but determined progress is continuing from day five. He is currently abreast with Finland's Jouni Makonnen, Jon Chambers (GBR) and Helmut Eichholzer (AUT).
So far six athletes have left the 864km adventure race. As well as Virgilio, Ivar Sandstå (NOR) was eliminated as the tail-ender. Mike Küng (AUT3) dropped out due to suspected pneumonia, Phlippe Barnier (FRA) decided not to continue on day three, Christian Amon (AUT) retired injured and Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN) was disqualified after entering forbidden airspace.
Maurer has now less than 400km straight line distance to Monaco, but the weather forecast does not bode well for flying in the coming days and he may well be pegged back by his rivals.

Friday, July 22, 2011

St. Anton Half Marathon

Tomorrow the Half Marathon (Arlberger Jackobilauf) will take place in the Tirolean holiday resort of St. Anton am Arlberg known worldwide in winter as a ski destination. Situated at 1,304 m above sea level St. Anton lies on the Rosanna River and belongs to the district of Landeck. St. Anton is a truly unique recreation paradise for the whole family. The cozy little town with 2,500 inhabitants has still maintained its genuine ambiance and charming atmosphere.
The Arlberger Jakobilauf is the second stage of the alpine triathlon "Arlberg Eagle". The overall winner must work on their physical fitness throughout the year to be ahead of the field in the ski race (Der Weisse Rausch celebrated in April 23rd), in the half marathon (July 23rd) and in the mountain-bike marathon (August 2oth).
The race (21,125 kilometres) will start at 16:00 PM in the Kirchplatz in St. Jakob. From there the route heads towards Pettneu, along the banks of the Rosanna river, through Schnann into the centre of St. Anton …. and back to St. Jakob via Nasserein. On the home straight, the athletes give their best and are carried the last metres to the destination by the cheers of the spectators. It is a popular running event for intermediate runners, long enough to be a serious challenge but not requiring the level of training of a marathon.
In the evening, the runners are duly celebrated at the award ceremony at 7 p.m. as part of the St. Jakob fair.

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 5

Great flying conditions today saw Red Bull X-Alps athletes finally take to the skies for some long flights.
At the time of writing, 14 of the top 20 athletes were airborne, flying around the spectacular Dolomites and towards Piz Palu, the fifth turnpoint. Live Tracking at redbullxalps.com went crazy with spectators worldwide following every move.
In particular, Michael Gebert (GER) has stunned spectators on Live Tracking by getting into third position overall, after such a dismal start which saw him at the bottom of the pack.
Max Fanderl (CAN) celebrated his birthday today with a good flight that has seen him maintain in 19th place.
With all routes firing, athletes bombshelled around the Tre Cime turnpoint today, Ferdinand van Schelven (NED) leading the charge down the south route.
He seemed intent on challenging Toma Coconea's (ROM) second position, and has landed, having covered 141km by air today already. Further north, Pierre Carter (RSA) and Helmut Eicholzer (AUT) are flying a new line to link up with Christian Maurer (SUI) and Coconea's north route.
Similarly, Finland's Jouni Makkonen and Honza Rejmanek (USA) are taking a tiger line due west, not following the pack along the south route.
Meanwhile, on the ground, Thomas Theurillat, supporter in the current winning SUI1 team, stated "We are prepared for any eventuality". A box in his van is marked "Chrigel: Next Move" and contains everything the Swiss defending champion needs for the next part of his day.
Theurillat and Maurer have written agreements as to how to deal with any mistakes or strong emotions, with clear strategies as to how to resolve them. An egg timer and waterspray sit next to the driver’s seat to help Theurillat wake up from power naps –a trick learned from Ellen McArthur, the world-famous solo sailor. Maurer is punching strongly west, and some anticipate he’ll arrive in Switzerland by nightfall.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 4

Day four of the Red Bull X-Alps saw a big shake-up in the rankings.
Christian Maurer (SUI) broke from the pack yesterday putting in a stunning four-hour flight to surf to within spitting distance of the Tre Cime. This morning, he awoke in a high mountain hut, took the turnpoint, and continued on his way. Four down, four to go: he is knocking down the turnpoints like skittles as he heads for Piz Palu.
Romania’s Toma Coconea (picture attached) and Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) are en route to the Tre Cime. Guschlbauer elected not to fly yesterday for safety reasons. Many are impressed with the rookie’s maturity and ability.
Jouni Makkonen (FIN) also flew. He spent the night up high on a mountain, and at the time of writing, is climbing again to try and fly into the Dolomites.
Other movers and shakers include Jon Chambers (GBR) who has moved to 6th place from the low-teens yesterday morning through a series of cunning short flights.
Michael Gebert (GER) had the worst possible start to the race, landing below the Gaisberg as others flew away to the Dachstein. He’s proved himself the comeback kid of the event, and is now in 12th position.
It hasn’t been a good day for five athletes. Sprungli (FRA), Latour (FRA), Sandsta (NOR), Pethigal (BRA) and Virgilio (POR) all infringed the buffer zone of airspace near Salzburg on Day One. The race committee did a thorough check of their back-up track logs and, as per race rules, applied a 24-hour penalty to each. Back runner Ivar Sandsta (NOR) was then eliminated from the race. The last athlete in the field is eliminated 72 hours after the race starts, and the next elimination takes place on Friday July 22 at 0700hrs.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 3

At 11:42hrs, Christian Maurer (SUI, picture attached) won the Glocknerkönig trophy presented by the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse for being the first athlete to reach the third turnpoint in the Red Bull X-Alps. He was shortly followed by Toma Coconea (ROM) and Paul Guschlbauer (AUT).
However, it was a tough day for other athletes. Two of the frontrunners, Christian Amon (AUT) and Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN) were forced to quit the race. At 6:30hrs, Amon quit the race due to a knee injury. Amon was leading for parts of the race yesterday, and was "extremely disappointed" to have had to quit the race. The long road sections of yesterday made for punishing times for athletes. This is the third time he has suffered an injury early on in the Red Bull X-Alps. Amon must now be wondering whether his knees are really built for a race like this. Then at 9:00 hrs, Ogisawa was eliminated. After a detailed evaluation of his track logs, Race Director Christoph Weber announced he had infringed airspace while en route to the Dachstein. Race organisers were clear that one of the main challenges of Day 1 was the tricky airspace around the Gaisberg. Paragliders, like all aircraft, have to obey airlaw and entering restricted areas is strictly forbidden. Ogisawa was the first pilot to reach the Dachstein and was gunning hard in this year's race, and it is a shame that he has had to leave the race because of his piloting error.
Some athletes managed to fly today, but strong winds of up to 80 km/h put paid to any hopes of flying around the Grossglockner. At 3798m, the mountain is Austria’s highest peak.
Meanwhile, Michael Gebert (GER) has stunned spectators by pulling back into the top fifteen. On the first day, Gebert launched from the Gaisberg and flew straight down. Sheer will power has seen him climb back through the rankings.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Day 2

It’s was a gruelling second day for the thirty athletes in the Red Bull X-Alps 2011.
Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN1, picture attached) was the only athlete to pass the Dachstein turnpoint last night, and led the assault towards the Grossglockner today. During the night several athletes sheltered from snow storms in mountain huts on the massif. As dawn broke, weather conditions remained poor. Ogisawa was the first to make his move, heading back down a via ferrata and making his way on foot to the third turnpoint.
Meanwhile, Honza Rejmanek (USA), Mike Kung (AUT3) and Pierre Carter (RSA) waited atop the Dachstein for a break in the clouds. Their patience was rewarded, and the airborne athletes leap-frogged over the heads of several race leaders slogging it out on foot beneath them.
By early afternoon Christian Amon (AUT 2) had stolen the lead from Ogisawa, who had held it since yesterday evening. It is definitely third time lucky for Amon: in both the 2005 and 2009 editions he was forced to withdraw on the first day due to injury.
The first two days of the race have shown how dramatically this race develops. Yesterday’s sunny skies and great flying conditions were quickly demolished by the arrival of a cold front.
Strong winds and low cloud made flying difficult for athletes as they neared the massif, and they had to land on the scree slopes and battle it out on foot. It was as if the event’s barometer had been set to ‘change’.
Now, anything could happen. Fifteen front-runners are racing along the valleys towards SalzburgerLand's Grossglockner, and hundreds of thousands are watching around the world through Live Tracking, ServusTV and the world’s media. The first athlete to reach the Grossglockner turnpoint will be crowned Glockner King and will win a special trophy and prize.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Race On...

Today 30 adventure athletes set out from Salzburg on the race of their lives: the Red Bull X-Alps. At 11:30 they burst out of Mozartplatz in the city’s centre. Their ultimate goal is Monaco, 864 km away, but ahead of them they face Europe’s harshest mountain terrain and extreme alpine weather conditions.
Rules state they must cross the entire Alpine chain by foot or paraglider. Their route takes them through five countries and past eight turnpoints including many of Europe’s most famous peaks.
To the cheers of hundreds of spectators, the athletes ran through Salzburg and up the Gaisberg. Richard Pethigal (BRA) was the first to reach the 1288m summit. Not far behind was Michael Gebert (GER) who chose to take-off first. Unfortunately, he misjudged the conditions, landed at the valley floor, and started hiking. Other athletes had more success, and soon, groups of paragliders were circling overhead in the afternoon thermals. Defending champion Christian Maurer (SUI1) buzzed the crowd, to their delight.
Improving flying conditions saw them reach heights of over 2000 metres and make good progress towards the Dachstein, their second turnpoint. They were soon specks on the horizon. Those that do not make it by air will face a punishing ascent by foot to its summit.
A tight race is now unfolding. After the Dachstein, they must then conquer the mighty Grossglockner. At 3798m, it’s Austria’s highest mountain.
They will then tackle the Tre Cime in the stunning Italian Dolomites. Athletes must then pass Piz Palu and the Matterhorn in Switzerland before rounding France’s Mt Blanc and heading south to Mt Gros and finally Monaco.
The race is expected to take between ten and fifteen days, depending on weather conditions.

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: Race On! from Planetmountain.com on Vimeo.

Chamonix International Climbing Festival

From July 10 Chamonix hosted the International Climbing Festival. Every year, at the beginning of July, the best international climbers meet in Chamonix at the foot of Mont-Blanc for this prestigious event. This year, Chamonix welcomes four huge competitions: Juniors National Trophy, Speed climbing Europe Cup (young), Speed climbing World Cup, Difficulty climbing World Cup.
The place for the event was located on the Anneau de vitesse close to the Lac de la Plage. With different demonstrations, stands and an introduction to climbing for the youngsters, Chamonix was transformed once more, into the true capital of climbing!.
The Chamonix Mont-Blanc's Climbing World Cup (Difficulty and Speed Climbing Men & Women) took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event reunited the best climbers in the world.
In the Difficulty Event climbers confront each other in pairs, each taking a turn lead climbing on an unkown route. The first one to go the farthest on the first try is the winner. In case of a tie the climber who went the farthest in the the previous qualifying round is the winner.
In the Speed Event climbers confront one another side by side climbing 'second'. The first one to finish the route and reach the top is the winner.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011 Racers

The Red Bull X-Alps is a unique event, an adventure and paragliding competition for 30 selected international athletes. Tomorrow the 5th X-Alps challenge will commence. 30 international athletes from 22 different countries will compete in a 24/7 race all the way from Salzburg to Monaco, covering a grueling 864 kilometers. In the selection process X-Alps mastermind Hannes Arch, head of organisation Ulrich Grill, race director Christoph Weber and communication manager Nick Warren face the difficult task choosing just 30 athletes.



Here's how some of the athletes have been preparing:

Red Bull X-Alps 2011 Route

Red Bull X-Alps is an adventure and paragliding competition for 30 selected international athletes. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish in Monaco as quickly as possible traveling only by paragliders or by foot. Teams will start in Salzburg in eastern Austria and travel past turnpoints defined by the race organisers. The athlete reaching goal in Monaco first is the winner of the race.
Each team can choose their own route but must pass the official turning points:



  • Start:Salzburg, Austria.

  • Turnpoint 1: Gaisburg (Austria).

  • Turnpoint 2: Dachstein (Austria).

  • Turnpoint 3: Grossglockner (Austria).

  • Turnpoint 4: Tre Cime.

  • Turnpoint 5: Piz Palü (Switzerland).

  • Turnpoint 6: Matterhorn (Switzerland).

  • Turnpoint 7: Mont Blanc (France).

  • Turnpoint 8: Mont Gros (Monaco).

  • Finish: Monaco.

Every athlete will carry a GPS-Tracking-Device, which the organisers will put at their disposal for the duration of the race. In addition is advised to carry a GPS Logger. Athletes are not permitted to use any tunnel connection between different Valleys and no highway or motorway tunnels. Restricted and forbidden air control zones and airspaces may not be crossed while flying. Any athlete entering restricted airspace will be immediately disqualified. The route flown will be tracked by the GPS logger. The exact notification of the restricted air spaces will take place at the briefing before the race start and will be pre-entered into the GPS Tracking Device provided by the Race Organisation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011

Next Sunday, July 17th, a new edition of the Red Bull X-Alps kicks off in Salzburg. Red Bull X-Alps is an adventure and paragliding competition for thirty selected internacional athletes from 22 different nations. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish in Monaco as quickly as possible traveling only by paragliders or by foot. The race goes on day and night (5 hours is the obligatory downtime for 2011. The athletes may not move from 23:00 till 04:00), whatever the weather conditions are, until the first pilot reaches the goal. Athletes are forbidden any kind of motorised transport but can select a supporter to help supply food, equipment and information.
The first Red Bull X-Alps took place in 2003 opened up a new dimension in adventure racing. For Hannes Arch, event mastermind the adventure race "is much more than just an Alpine crossing; it’s an adventure, an expedition and at the same time a competition". As the organizer behind the event, Hannes Arch proves that he has the spirit and capability to combine sports in the purest form with modern marketing and media strategies.
In 2003 seventeen athletes braved the 800km journey from Austria’s Dachstein glacier but only three managed to make it all the way to the finish in Moncao via three turning points at the Zugspitze in Germany, France’s Mont Blanc and Mont Gros. Kaspar Henny a 35 year-old Swiss grabbed an early lead and held onto it for the 11 days and 23 hours it took him to complete the course. David Dagault (FRA) was second, over five hours behind and Stefan Bocks (GER) was third.
For the next two editions (2005, 2007) the Swiss domination continued. Alex Hofer (SUI) beat Urs Lötscher (SUI) to Monaco in 2005, and Toma Coconea (ROM) in 2007. Hofer's superior skill in the air, solid fitness and extensive local knowledge fitted perfectly to the Red Bull X-Alps. His rivalry with Lötscher in 2005 and amazingly close finish in 2007 where he nipped past Coconea in the dying moments of the race made him a worthy champion.
Starting as top favourite in 2009, Hofer saw rookie Christian Maurer (SUI) romp away with a comprehensive victory, reaching goal in less than ten days – a record time for the event (Maurer flew 72% of the route, and walked 28%. In total, he flew 999km and hiked 380km through the Alps).
Lamentably Alex Hofer has withdrawn from the Red Bull X-Alps 2011 after incurring serious back injuries in a flying accident.
Teams will start on July 17th at 11:30 am at Salzburg Mozartplatz and must travel over selected turnpoints defined by the race organisers towards Monaco. Final results are established according to the time it took participants to reach Monaco or the number of kilometres covered during the course of the event. The total prize money of 28,500 Euros will be divided among the athletes according to their final position in the race field (1st: €10,000; 2nd: €5,000; 3rd: €3,000; 4th-10th €1,500 each).
At least 1 million people are expected to watch the race via Live Tracking on http://www.redbullxalps.com/.

Late-Season Surge Pushes Skier VisitsTo Set a New Record in the U.S.

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) announced yesterday that U.S. ski areas set a new all-time record of 60.54 million skier/snowboarder visits during the 2010/11 season, according to the final Kottke End of Season Survey. The association announced preliminary figures in May projecting that, at an estimated 60.1 million skier/snowboarder visits, the 2010/11 season was the second-best on record. However, an unprecedented turn of events that saw many ski areas operating late into the spring, and even summer, helped fuel the industry toward setting the new visitation record. As an illustration of the late-season surge in visits, it’s estimated that nearly 50,000 skier/snowboarder visits occurred over the July Fourth holiday alone, in which nearly a dozen ski areas were either still in operation, or had reopened. This marks the second time that the ski industry has broken the 60 million visit threshold, representing a 0.6 percent increase from last season’s 59.8 million visits, and a .1 percent increase from the industry’s previous record of 60.5 million visits set in 2007/08.
Nationally, snowfall at resorts was up 29 percent this season, and was the highest recorded in 20 years of Kottke research. As a result, the average season operating length increased, and some resorts opened early and/or remained open beyond normal closing dates. Most regions experienced significant increases in snowfall, including the Pacific Southwest (up 43 percent), Northeast (up 35 percent), Rocky Mountains (up 33 percent), Midwest (up 27 percent), and Pacific Northwest (up 19 percent). Gains in visits occurred in most regions of the country, and the industry as a whole exceeded its 10-season average by 4.7 percent, a pattern echoed by all regions. The final Kottke report will be published in August.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Countdown is on to the Innnsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games!

Today July 14th, Omega, the Official Timekeeper of the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, unveiled the Countdown Clock that will tick down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the start of the Opening Ceremony on 13 January 2012. The clock is located in the heart of Innsbruck, at the intersection between Maria-Theresien-Strasse and Burggraben, one of the most frequented areas of the city and just a stone's throw from many of the most popular tourist attractions. On hand for the unveiling were OMEGA Timing General Manager Christophe Berthaud, Innsbruck 2012 CEO Peter Bayer, and Mayor of Innsbruck Christine Oppitz-Plörer. The trio was joined by the mayors of Seefeld and Kühtai, regions which will also host competitions during the 2012 Games, as well plenty of famous former Olympic champions including legendary ski racers Franz Klammer and Fritz Strobl.
The unveiling event took place exactly half a year before the start of the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. The local organisers are proud that Innsbruck has been selected to host the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games and particularly excited that no other city has ever had the honour of staging three Olympic Winter Games. Innsbruck 2012 CEO Peter Bayer explained the importance of the OMEGA Countdown Clock: "Standing four metres high and over two metres wide, the spectacular Countdown Clock in the heart of Innsbruck is a fantastic way of showing that the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games are getting ever closer! The clock also underlines the important role timekeeping will play at the Games and makes every single moment even more tangible for athletes, officials and fans alike. We are proud to have OMEGA as a strong, reliable and professional partner. Together we will write sporting history".
The first Winter Youth Olympic Games will take place between 13 and 22 January 2012. The Winter Youth Olympic Games will be a 10-day multi-sport, cultural and educational event. The Games will bring together 1,048 athletes between 14 and 18 years of age from approximately 80 National Olympic Committees. The programme of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will be established on the basis of the seven sports included in the Vancouver 2010 programme (Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating and Skiing). The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) will highlight the different sports and provide an efficient platform to motivate young people to "get active" and adhere to the Olympic spirit.
Innsbruck (Tirol, Austria) was the 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).

Saas Fee Ride 2011

Next Saturday July 23rdth will see a new edition of the Saas-Fee Ride. The competition will be held in the stunning glacial terrain park of Saas-Fee, the famous car-free glacier village at the foot of the Mischabel chain. The event took place for the first time in 2003 when Warren Smith, the event Director, established it to breach the gap between the winter seasons.
The Saas-Fee Ride 2011 is laying on a freesports festival packed with on-slope action from some of Europe top New School freestyle skiers from various international teams. Athletes will gather in Saas-Fee on the 23rd July 2011 to compete in a world class Big Air competition and a Rail Jam expression session.
The Saas-Fee Ride is going to be a unique summer freeski event with the Saas-Fee terrain park at 3300 meters providing the venue. You can enjoy latest international new school freeski tricks & action on the ‘Fee Glacier’ above the beautiful and ancient Saas-Fee, where you may want to lay back and relax in the calm of the noise free mountain village, surrounded by a unique scenery of 13 summits of 4000 meters.
Big Air might well be considered the most spectacular discipline in new school freestyle. Competitors jump off an enormous kicker (jump) and demonstrate their wildest tricks in the air: horizontal and vertical twists are not a rare sight. The best competitors achieve jumps of up to 25 metres.
This year edition also introduces a Rail Jam into the competition. Rails is one of the fastest growing aspects of skiing today and the Saas-Fee snowpark will be hosting one of the highest levels of performance.
The Saas Fee Ride is going to be a unique summer freeski event with the Saas Fee terrain park at 3300 meters providing the venue. The Saas-Fee park is renowned for its perfectly shaped kickers, world cup half pipe and innovative rails. The park team will work throughout the months of May and June to ensure a world class standard for the summer event.
A 3 minutes News Feed through Ride Freesport will be aired on Monday 25th of July through the website of the eventand will include the most spectacular action of the day & the winners interviews.Downloads of the full Internet TV broadcast resolution (720x576) news feed will be available through Vimeo and Youtube. Check out the Saas-Fee website for links to view the web media.

Saas Fee Ride - 24 minute TV program from Ride Freesport on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where To Ski This Week: Hot In The Alps, Getting Snowier in Southern Hemisphere

Skiinfo reports warm temperatures are causing rapid daily thaws on the remaining glaciers still open for 2011 summer skiing and boarding in Europe as well as the remainder of the huge 2010-11 winter snowpack in Western North America but in the southern hemisphere conditions remain good in Australia and are picking up in New Zealand but not much in South America.
In Europe Austria’s open glaciers are down to two after a third successive week of 30cm thaw left the Dachstein with only 10cm of snow on its glacier slopes and it decided to close them. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier is also down – by 40cm – but it still has 80cm lying and remains open. Temperatures are up at +8C even on the glacier and only upper slopes open. However the Molltal glacier has re-opened with 9.5km of runs and a snow depth of up to 1.8 metres. Tux continues to report snow depth of "up to" two metres and 22km of trails open.
It’s similar story elsewhere in the Alps. Saas Fee (picture attached) is now open along with Zermatt in Switzerland; Cervinia has joined Val Senales in Italy and Les 2 Alpes and Tignes remain open in France, although Val d’Isere is calling it a day for summer skiing after this weekend.
In Scandinavia Folgefonn and Galdhoppigen remain open in Norway but their bases are also diminished to around two metres – albeit still among the deepest in the world at present.
In North America the US will be back to its normal one summer ski choice – Timberline in Oregon – when Crystal Mountain in Washington State closes its ski lifts for its seven month season, it’s longest ever, this Saturday, July 16th. North of the border, in Canada, Whistler’s summer ski and boarding on the Blackcomb glacier has another week to run.
In the southern hemisphere things have been picking up in New Zealand at last with tail backs to the slopes as pent up demand was satisfied t some extent as ski areas began opening after healthy snowfalls. Due to a lack of base terrain open remains limited compared to the norm at this time of the season, but at least they’re now open. The access road to Mt Hutt was closed today by heavy snow.
In Australia resorts remain excited by unusually good snow conditions for this time in the season there. Many resorts are hovering around the metre snow depth mark, with Perisher well past it, crediting cloud seeding for boosting their cover by 13% over what it would have been, they reckon.
South Africa is having a less positive time with Argentinean resorts having trouble opening for lack of snow and in Chile Valle Nevado and Portillo have limited terrain open and thin base cover.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tom Owens and Anna Frost Champions of the Salomon 4 Trails

Tom Owens has claimed overall victory in the premiere of the Salomon 4 Trails, dashing through the finish banner in Samnaun, Switzerland, in the hair-raising time of 4:47:14.3 hours. Today’s ultimate high-alpine stage covered a distance of 45,30 kilometers with no less than 2,909 meters of elevation gain between Landeck (Austria) and the well-known Swiss ski resort. After 157.4 km and 9,899 m of vertical ascent, Owens ended up with a cumulative time of just 16:43:54.3 hours for the trails between Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) and Samnaun (Switzerland). Second on today’s stage, but also in the overall ranking was the amazing Philipp Reiter (GER, 5:04:39.2, 17:26:13.8) who, in turn, was once again trailed by the ever-eminent Matthias Dippacher (GER, 5:10:19.5; 17:50:33.1). These three athletes as well as the victor of the Master Men title, Dr. Thomas Miksch (17:54:59.6), were the only racers to stay below the coveted 18 hour threshold.
An incredible achievement, which highlighted -in particular- Owen’s trail running prowess, which he had already underscored with two prior, consecutive victories in the Transalpine Run and a recent silver medal in the Ultra Distance World Championships. Owens clearly deserved carrying start number ‘1’ into this race and lived up to every expectation placed in him by expert race observers, dominating every one of the four race days.
Tom Owens was elated to have added another triumph to his already impressive racing vita although he suffered from foot problems since Day One. "This is a very special victory for me. It’s satisfying to know that all the training paid off. I didn’t experience any problems on the climbs but the downhills were a different story. All in all, these were four exhausting but wonderful days. I’m delighted to have finished as champion".
After all times were tallied up, the Team Salomon International racer had accumulated a lead of more than forty minutes on his closest pursuer, second-placing Philipp Reiter. On the last stage alone, Owens managed to put a gap of over 11 minutes between Reiter and himself on the way across Fisser Joch (2.432m), Arezzajoch (2.587m) and Ochsenscharte (2.787m).
Philipp Reiter, in turn, was very content with his performance over the past four days. “If anybody had told me before that I’d come in second, I wouldn’t have dared to believe it”. The 19-year-old German trail running prodigy was also surprised about each of the race days going so well. "This is definitely one of my greatest victories".
Anna Frost sets time for future female racers to be measured by taking upon her the long way from New Zealand paid off for traveling Anna Frost, who went into this race as a top contender and eventually made good on this expectation in a very impressive manner. Today, the likeable "Frosty", as friends call her, claimed her third consecutive stage victory (6:31:14.6).
After learning the ropes of racing in the Alps the hard way on Day One, the Kiwi had gotten stronger from one stage to the next. In the end, the clock tallied up just 22:08:35.6 hours for the long, rocky trails from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
That accomplishment relegated Julia Böttger to second place (22:34:12.5) in the overall ranking while tying for victory in today’s stage. The ill-fated German racer had suffered a knee injury early on in the race preventing her from being able to demonstrate true form in the stage race. Stefanie Felgenhauer (GER, 6:52:36.9; 24:26:54.4), an up-and-coming racer herself, yet was unable to take advantage of Böttger’s predicament ending up in third place, on today’s stage and in the ranking.
Anna Frost’s victory holds an interesting twist which underscores the international racer’s incredible form. Beset by a series of recent ankle injuries, the likeable 29-year-old had entered the race with little more than a 55-minute training run – but an unshakeable determination. In view of this lack of preparation, Frost commented "I’m really very, very happy. It was a fantastic race. I’ll be back next year for sure".

NSAA Environmental Report Highlights Resorts Efforts

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) released its 11th Sustainable Slopes Annual Report detailing the ski industry’s progress in implementing the principles of its Environmental Charter during the 2010/11 season. Based on information submitted by member resorts, the report highlights the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program and the new Climate Challenge. The report also highlights the latest environmental implementations at ski areas including the use of electric vehicles, composting, local purchasing programs, efforts to reduce carbon footprints, water conservation efforts, and employee and guest education as it relates to sustainability. More than 190 resorts endorse the Environmental Charter, and those resorts represent about 75 percent of the ski industry’s annual skier and snowboarder visits. The primary focus of the Sustainable Slopes program last season was implementing the new Sustainable Slopes Grant Program and launching the new Climate Challenge, a voluntary program for resorts to inventory, target and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Eight resorts have taken the Challenge in its inaugural year, including Utah’s Alta Ski Area, Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort, Colorado’s Telluride Ski & Golf Resort and Arapahoe Basin, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming, Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts, and Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon.
The annual report highlights sponsor and partner contributions that make the grant program possible, including in-kind snowmaking grants from NSAA supplier member HKD Turbo of Massachusetts, and cash grants from LeitWind, a division of Leitner Technologies, Colo., Renewable Choice Energy based in Boulder, Colo., California-based CLIF Bar & Co. and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). These donations made the implementation of the Climate Challenge possible and helped fuel resort efforts to develop more efficient snowmaking systems, solar trash compactors, water bottle refilling, electric vehicle recharging stations and lighting retrofits.

Vancouver 2010 Makes Final Presentation to the IOC

It has been almost 500 days since the Olympic flame was extinguished in Vancouver, thus bringing an end to an unforgettable XXI Olympic Winter Games. In Durban, Vancouver Organising Committee Chairman John Furlong and IOC Coordination Commission Chairman René Fasel closed another chapter of the Games by delivering the final presentation for Vancouver 2010 to the 123rd IOC Session.
By all measures, the Vancouver Games were a great success. The local Organising Committee set out to "touch the soul of the nation and inspire the world by creating and delivering an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic experience with lasting legacies", Furlong told the Session. Mission accomplished: The Games united Canada from coast to coast, brought greater global awareness and respect for Canada’s aboriginal community, and left many lasting sports, social, human and infrastructure legacies.
One of the greatest legacies from the Games was a renewed interest in volunteerism thanks to the 50,000 "blue jackets", who donated their time and effort to help make the Games a remarkable experience for everyone involved.
The Games also brought much in the way of infrastructure to Vancouver. From the Canada Line metro to the Sea to Sky highway, and from the Convention Centre to renovations at the airport, the area continues to benefit from the work undertaken to stage the Games.
Canada’s Own the Podium programme was a clear success, resulting in the most gold medals (14) ever won by a single country at an Olympic Winter Games. This not only inspired a new generation of athletes in Canada, but also led to an increase in funding for sport in the country.
Waste-free and carbon-neutral, Vancouver 2010 set a new standard for environmental sustainability, while Legacies Now (renamed LIFT) created a great number of social legacies, including affordable housing and an acceleration in the growth of not-for-profit organisations.
"Rarely in my many years within the Olympic Movement, have I ever seen such passion, such energy, such willingness to come together around such a unifying project as the Games", said Fasel. "Canadians joined forces to welcome the world and show the best that Canada could offer. I am sincerely convinced that this renewed pride and confidence that Canadians have in themselves is undoubtedly one of the greatest legacies that the Games have left to Vancouver, British Columbia and the whole of Canada".
"The Olympic Games have once again shown their tremendous catalysing effect and their potential to produce long-lasting change when they support a clear vision that is shared by all the partners involved in their organisation".

Friday, July 8, 2011

Vail Resorts' Acquires O2GearShop.com

Specialty Sports Venture (SSV), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vail Resorts, has acquired the assets of Outdoor Outlet, LLC, which operates O2GearShop.com, an online outdoor/snowsports retailer that drew more than 2 million total visits last year.
"The addition of O2GearShop.com is a significant opportunity that will allow SSV to now offer an online shopping experience to its broad customer base", said Jeff Jones, co-president and chief financial officer of Vail Resorts. "This acquisition is a perfect complement for Specialty Sports Venture, which will be able to leverage its strong vendor relationships and its wide exposure to the snowsports consumer through its more than 150 stores in five states and the broad connections that Vail Resorts has through all of its online and digital media channels".
The O2GearShop.com team, including founder Taylor Olsen, will remain with the company. Olsen will report to Kat Jobanputra, COO and executive vice president of SSV.
"Following on the heels of the most successful year in our 15-year history, with the addition of 18 new stores, including the retail presence at Northstar-at-Tahoe, Specialty Sports Venture and Vail Resorts are well positioned to continue the momentum. Our expertise, customer relationships and vendor partnerships will allow us to significantly expand the O2GearShop.com business model while providing even greater value to our customers", said Jobanputra. SSV plans a series of enhancements to the O2GearShop.com site leading up to the start of the 2011-12 ski and snowboard season.
The acquisition extends Vail Resorts online reach and broadens the company’s role in winter sports. A year ago, Vail Resorts purchased online resort news site OnTheSnow.com. This latest purchase has the potential to make Vail Resorts a major player in online retailing, in addition to its dominant role in specialty retail, online information, and destination resorts.
Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. Vail Resorts owns and operates the six premier year-round resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone mountain resorts in Colorado and the Heavenly Ski Resort and and Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada.
Specialty Sports Venture (SSV) has more than 150 retail and rental locations in five states (Colorado, California, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin) specializing in outdoors/snowsports gear and equipment, including ski, snowboard, golf and cycling. The SSV portfolio includes Colorado Ski & Golf, Bicycle Village, Breeze Ski Rentals and a number of slopeside shops, including Vail Sports, Beaver Creek Sports, Breckenridge Sports, Keystone Sports, Heavenly Sports, Aspen Sports, Telluride Sports and shops located in other Colorado mountain communities. SSV also operates the Any Mountain shops in the San Francisco Bay area. The online division of SSV includes skirentals.com, O2GearShop.com and rentskis.com, North America’s largest snowsports rental website and the equipment provider for online travel websites such as Travelocity.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com and Ski.com.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Australia’s Snow Best For 21 Years

Skiinfo reports ski areas in Australia are currently reporting by far the best snow depths in the southern hemisphere with measured base depths passing the 1.5m (5 feet) mark today after a week of successive powder days and drifts up to three metres deep reported.
It’s all change from the southern hemisphere ‘norm’ of deep powder expected in New Zealand and south Americas as ski areas in Argentina, Chile and NZ are in contrast struggling to open with the best bases still below 50cm in all three countries. In New Zealand’s case this follows the warmest ever may and a warm June, although the picture is now improving. Catedral, the leading resort is South America, has had the added complication of an erupting volcano nearby.
"It's official - this season is shaping up to be one of the best in decades with the snow depth officially reaching 158.9cm today (as measured by Snowy Hydro Limited at Spencer's Creek). Not since 1990 have we seen such a snow depth at this time of the year", says a statement from Perisher (picture attached) in Australia.
"Skiers and snowboarders are enjoying amazing conditions in Perisher at the moment with plenty of deep drifts to be found across the four resort areas. This weekend will see all 47 lifts open at Perisher accessing four resort areas. That's 1245 hectares of terrain to explore!".
The huge snowfalls are great news for Australia’s ski areas coming at the start of the winter. They’re also the latest of two months of serious wintery weather which allowed resorts to open for a rare weekend in May and to have good season openings in early June.
Australian ski areas can also claim the deepest fresh snow bases in the world at present. Although accumulations at still-open northern hemisphere resorts in the European Alps, Norway, Canada and the US are deeper, there’s been little or no fresh snow in Europe or north America for several months.

Where To Ski This Week

Skiinfo reports the southern hemisphere’s ski season is continuing to ‘take off’ as more snow reaches Australia and some snow arrives in South America and New Zealand. In Europe more glacier ski areas are opening in Italy and Switzerland, but several report another 20-30cm weekly drop in snow depth, while across the Atlantic, after peaking with over a dozen ski areas open for national holidays in Canada and the US last weekend, only three are open this weekend. France still has three centres open although Val d’Isere is due to close the weekend after next. Les 2 Alpes and Tignes will both be open to late August and early September respectively. Snow depths range from 50-120cm.
In Austria three areas are open at Kaprun, Tux and the Dachstein glacier, but the latter reports another 30cm week-on-week decline in snow depth, now down to 50cm – less than half the 1.1m of a fortnight ago.
Italy’s summer ski choice count is back up to three with Cervinia re-opening this week to join Val Senales and Passo Stelvio – which reports the deepest snow in central Europe at 4 metres. The orther two ares have a perfectly adequate 1.2 – 1.5m.
In Switzerland the skiing is still good at year-round Zermatt but it will be joined by neighbour Saas Fee (picture attached) which re-opens its glacier slopes next Saturday, July 9th and will stay open daily to May 2012.
Norway’s three summer ski and board areas continue to have the world’s deepest snow depths at present. At Folgefonn which has a 7.1m base, deeper than anywhere else on the planet, there’s reported to be great weather and the big jump was and is being used for filming, so it's in good shape
The number of ski areas open in the North America has dropped dramatically after a record-breaking 13 ski areas were open north and south of the US-Canadian border for the continent’s holiday weekend last week when Canada day fell on Friday, July 1st and the US Independence Day on Monday July 4th. Only Crystal Mountain in Washington State has said it will stay open and join the year-round ski area of Timberline in Oregon after nine other US ski areas said July 4th had been the last day of the 2010-11 season. In Canada Whistler is still open for another few weeks of summer glacier skiing and boarding on the Blackcomb glacier.
In the southern hemisphere Australia’s great winter continues with resorts announcing a ‘powder day’ today. This follows three days with 20cm falling each day at resorts like Mt Buller and Perisher. Depths are reported to be up to 3 metres in drifts.
Things are gradually improving in New Zealand with some fresh snow at last with resorts reporting falls of 10-40cm in the past few days and conditions generally more like winter,. However bases remain rather thin with Mr Hutt and Whakapapa both around 40cm at best.
In South America it’s still mixed too. In Argentina Las Leñas finally opened on Monday (July 4) with a 55cm base but Catedral, the continent’s largest resort, still has only limited terrain open. It’s a similar picture at Chile’s leading resort Portillo and Valle Nevado.
In Africa Afriski is in good shape still with snow park open, a 1km long main slope with snow 50cm deep. The biggest problem at the moment is black ice on the access road.

Utah Ski & Snowboard Association Releases Final 2010-11 Skier Day Number

The Utah Ski & Snowboard Association closed its 202-day 2010-11 winter season July 4 at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Utah’s 14 ski and snowboard resorts recorded 4,223,064 skier day visits during the season, previously estimated at 4.2 million. This marks a 4.23 percent increase over the last year’s 4,048,153 and is less than a percentage point (0.6 percent) below Utah’s all time record set in 2007-08. The National Ski Areas Association defines ‘skier days’ as one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night for the purpose of skiing/snowboarding.
In addition to skier day growth, Utah received record snowfall with Snowbird receiving 783 inches of The Greatest Snow on Earth® exceeding the old mark of 688 inches set in 1983-84. Snow totals were not the only thing climbing in Utah this season, as spending generated by skiers/riders was an estimated $1.173 billion according to a research study conducted by RRC Assoc. for the state industry marketing group. This number surpasses the previous estimate from Utah’s 2007-08 record season of $1.06 billion.
"It is safe to say that Utah ended the 2010-11 ski season with a bang", noted Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. "These results solidly reinforce the strength of the Utah ski product and the opportunities existing for future growth. As we finally close the 2010-11 season, we are busily preparing for next year, which is only a little more than four months away".
Ski Utah is the marketing firm owned and operated by the 14 statewide ski resorts that make up the Utah Ski and Snowboard Association. The organization has been creating brand awareness of and demand for the Utah wintersports product since its inception in 1978.
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.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PyeongChang awarded the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

PyeongChang's dream to become the Host City of the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games was today realized when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the historic decision to award the Winter Games to the South Korean city.
After bidding for the Winter Games twice before, today's decision by the IOC is a landmark moment for PyeongChang, the entire Korean nation and the whole of Asia. When the Winter Games comes to PyeongChang in 2018 it will be the first ever Winter Games in Korea.
PyeongChang received 63 votes in the first round of voting, with Munich receiving 25 votes and Annecy receiving 7 votes.
"Congratulations to PyeongChang. I think there is a lesson to be learnt from their achievement, and that is that patience and perseverance have prevailed and were important", said IOC President Jacques Rogge, referring to the fact that it was PyeongChang’s third attempt at obtaining the Games. "The three bids were excellent. Each city could have organised perfect Olympic Winter Games, but ultimately one had to be chosen. I would like to congratulate our Korean friends very warmly, and I am sure we will have great success with them in our future collaboration".
Myung-Bak Lee, President of Korea, said: "I would like to express my gratitude to President Rogge and the Members of the IOC for awarding the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to PyeongChang (...) Today is a wonderful moment for the Korean people, for Asia and we hope for the Olympic Movement".
Yang Ho Cho, PyeongChang 2018 Chairman and CEO, said: "On behalf of everyone involved with this bid, everyone in Gangwon Province and the entire nation of Korea, we are absolutely delighted that PyeongChang has been awarded the right to host the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games".
"Over the course of 10 years of bidding we have been listening and learning from the Olympic Family, improving our offer to the Olympic Movement each time. Today, our effort and commitment to hosting the Winter Games has been rewarded. We will now ensure that this hard work continues all the way through to 2018 to create an amazing Winter Games experience".
PyeongChang 2018’s vision for the 2018 Games is to offer the Olympic Movement and the world of winter sports "New Horizons" — a legacy of new growth and new potential never seen before. Its Winter Games plan is one of the most compact in Olympic history and it offers a unique stage on which the world’s best athletes can achieve superior performances. With PyeongChang’s strategic position in Asia, and its access to an emerging and fast-growing youth market, the 2018 Olympic Winter Games will no doubt expose new generations of potential athletes to the power of winter sport.
If you want to Re-live the announcement ceremony from Durban make click in the following link: IOC President Jacques Rogge announces PyeongChang as the Host City for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

IOC Announces Slopestyle debut at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Monday evening that Slopestyle Skiing and Snowboarding would make their Olympic debut at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Snowboarding parallel slalom was also added, while the proposed Alpine team event was not. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association played a key role in working together with the International Ski Federation on Slopestyle, including support in producing the debut World Championship last February at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.
The decision was taken by the IOC Executive Board ahead of the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa, and follows the inclusion in April of Ski Halfpipe (Men and Women).
"We are very pleased with the addition of ski and snowboard slopestyle and snowboard special slalom in the Olympic Winter Games programme", said IOC President Jacques Rogge. "Such events provide great entertainment for the spectators and add further youthful appeal to our already action-packed lineup of Olympic winter sports. We look forward to welcoming all the athletes to Sochi in 2014".
The Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) initially proposed the inclusion of the events to the Executive Board in Acapulco in October last year. The OPC studied the proposal of the individual International Sports Federations and, at the request of the Executive Board, compiled a detailed analysis of all candidate events at their respective world championships last winter. The decision was also based on an operational feasibility study undertaken by the organisers of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Saas-Fee Alpine Music Festival 2011

This will be the seventh edition of the Alpine Music Festival to be staged under the motto of folk music. Visitors to this festival can look forward to experiencing authentic folk music in the lovely village of Saas-Fee, against a spectacular backdrop of thirteen 4,000-metre peaks – a setting that cannot fail to inspire musicians and listeners alike. Folk music pearls in the Pearl of the Alps! As in past years, the 2011 edition of the festival offers plenty to look forward to: a diverse mix of traditional folk and Ländler music, popular German Schlager hits and alphorn sounds that is sure to delight the hearts of fans of authentic roots music. For the four days of the festival, the entire
village of Saas-Fee will be transformed into a stage, with Ländler groups playing on restaurant sun terraces, alphorn groups performing at various points around the village, and diverse concerts on the village square. And that's not all! Local societies, all 14 groups participating in the festival as well as other internationally known acts will be inviting guests to party and dance in the festival hall.
Visitors to the Alpine Music Festival in Saas-Fee can expect a great mix of tradition, folklore, authentic folk music and Schlager – it is an event that promises fun, entertainment, and plenty of opportunities to meet likeminded people. It’s a rare festival where musicians and audiences get a chance to mingle so closely .

Salomon 4 Trails

The Salomon 4 Trails is a new trail running event by PLAN B event company from Munich, the event specialists for mountain bike and trail running events. From July 6to 9, the schedule includes about 150 kilometers, approx. 9,000 meters of difference in elevation, three countries,four stages and five towns.
Aside from its athletic highlights, this new crossing of the Alps for individual starters offers the most beautiful trails, attractive landscapes and wonderful nature experiences in the most beautiful Alpine regions of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. With the starting location in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the stage host cities of Ehrwald, Imst, Landeck and Samnaun, charming towns of the Alpine region will again become the center of attraction for mountain runners.
"We are very happy that, with the Salomon 4 Trails, we can now also offer a crossing of the Alps that is even more geared toward popular sports", says project manager Anika Stephan about the concept of the Salomon 4 Trails. On the daily stages of this event, distances of thirty to forty kilometers and differences in elevation of more than 2,000 meters have to be covered. So, even though there will be a generous time limit, it is definitely not a good idea to show up untrained at the start of the Salomon 4 Trails.
The event is basically geared toward people who enjoys trail running and running out in nature. Experienced and ambitious trail runners as well as marathon and long distance runners, triathletes, Nordic Walkers and mountain runners will get their money’s worth at the Salomon 4 Trails. Surefootedness, Alpine experience and the ability to keep your bearings even in bad weather as well as a good physical fitness and the necessary stamina are absolute requirements to be able to successfully take part in the Salomon 4 Trails.
Emotional moments are guaranteed when finishers are awarded their attractive medals and the much sought-after finisher shirt after the run. The number of participants for the Salomon 4 Trails is limited to 1,000 so the event will retain its family atmosphere and feeling. Aside from the usual six classification categories of Women, Master Women, Senior Master Women, Men, Master Men, Senior Master Men, there will be a special classification for the best teams. Of course, there will be attractive merchandize prizes for the fastest climbers and the fastest trail runners of each category can look forward to prize money.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Swatch Skiers Cup is launched

In the first ever big-mountain Freeride team matchplay event, Europe will challenge the Americas in Valle Nevado, Chile from 5-12 September, 2011.
This new competition will see the world's top male freeskiers going head-to-head in both big mountain freeride and back-country slopestyle formats.
The teams will be captained by two icons of the Freeride world - Team Europe will be led by Kaj Zackrisson and Team Americas by Mark Abma. Week-by-week, they will be unveiling their individually selected team riders on Facebook and on the event website www.skierscup.com, with top names from both the competitive and film side of the sport to be announced.
Kaj says: "We've been working on this idea for a number of years, so it's super cool that Swatch has now made it happen. We're going have a lot of fun and hopefully, after the competition, 12 months of bragging rights!"
Captain Americas, Mark says: "Who wouldn't be up for this? Pow, Chile in September and the coolest riders around, let me know if it gets any better?".
A long-term partner of the Freeride World Tour, Swatch has played an active role in the development of the sport and this most recent innovation. Commenting on the new event, Swatch President Arlette-Elsa Emch said, "I am extremely impressed to see the total professionalism of these young men. They’re so full of joy and happiness, you can’t help but share their emotion".