Friday, November 25, 2011

Freeride World Tour Announces 2012 Event Schedule

Supported by long-time partner Swatch, the Freeride World Tour enters its fifth season solidifying its position at the very top of competitive Freeriding. Alongside Chamonix Mont-Blanc will be Austria's best kept big mountain secret, Fieberbrunn and a new Scandinavian stop - the tour will descend upon Røldal in Norway for the first time. The world's best Freeskiers and Snowboarders will then meet for the season finale on the legendary Bec des Rosses in Verbier which continues to stand alone as the world's biggest and most prestigious Freeride competition.
Competitive Freeriding has evolved rapidly over the last four seasons with the pros spinning, cliff-jumping and stomping with an ever increasing intensity. We're expecting to see further progression in 2012 as the experienced big mountain riders compete against a new wave of young talent.
The men's skiing line-up will feature big mountain specialist and two-time World Champion Aurelien Ducroz, the furiously fast and fluid Reine Barkered, Zermatt's favourite son Samuel Anthamatten and the ebullient Henrik Windtsedt. The rapidly advancing female skiers will again be pushing the limits with reigning World Champion Janette Hargin battling it out with USA's Angel Collinson and kiwi Janina Kuzma.
Xavier de le Rue, widely recognised as the world's best all-round snowboarder, will no doubt be "charging down the Alps" to win back his title, although Austrian stalwarts Mitch Toelderer and Flo Orley as well as exciting newcomer Christian Schnabel might have a few things to say about that. Swiss rider Anne-Flore Marxer impressed everyone in her rookie season taking the World title at the first attempt but will face stiff competition from Germany's Aline Bock and a field of contenders from both sides of the Atlantic.
The Freeride World Tour welcomes Swatch as its main sponsor partner alongside a growing array of ski industry partners - Scott, Dakine, Marker, Powderhorn, Kask, Snowpulse and Teko.
"This fifth season promises many things. The riders' performance improves every year and we'll undoubtedly see the bar raised even further in 2012. We have a first-ever Norwegian tour-stop, where we'll be working closely with a very experienced group of local organisers and we will be launching an Expo and Test at three tour stops - Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Fieberbrunn and Verbier. We will continue to actively support the 30+ qualifier events around the world and encourage the next generation of riders with three Juniors stops. I'm also absolutely delighted to see Swatch alongside us as well as so many ski industry partners", said Freeride World Tour founder and organiser, Nicolas Hale-Woods.

The 2012 Freeride World Tour (FWT):

1. Freeride World Tour, Chamonix Mont-Blanc 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 21- 27 January; Location: Chamonix (FRA)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

2. Freeride World Tour, Røldal 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 25 February - 01 March; Location: Røldal (NOR)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

3.Freeride World Tour, Fieberbrunn 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 09 -15 March; Location: Fieberbrunn (AUT)
Disciplines: Men's Ski and Snowboard

4. Freeride World Tour, Verbier 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 24 March - 01 April; Location: Verbier (SUI)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

Freeride World Tour stops in Rosa Khutor-Sochi (Rus) and North America are to be confirmed.

The Freeride World Tour was launched in 2008 and after four full seasons is now recognized by riders, the ski industry and the media as the competitive pinnacle of the sport. In 2012, the best Freeriders - men, women, skiers and snowboarders - will once again visit some of the world’s most iconic ski resorts in pursuit of the world title. The Freeride World Tour is supported by Freeride World Qualifier events around the world where the same criteria for event organisation, choice of locations, security, contest format, and judging is applied.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Big Snow Again Out West While Europe Waits

Skiinfo reports there have been increasingly heavy snowfalls in Western North America over the past few weeks, with Whistler reporting a metre of fresh snow in the past seven days and most other resorts on the western side of the continent reporting healthy snowfalls too.
In Europe warm weather and a lack of natural snowfall has been the less promising trend of November 2011 leading to some postponed openings. Currently about 20 resorts are open, most with glaciers, but non-glacier resorts including six in Norway have started opening and Ischgl will open 71km of pistes this Friday. Colder weather is expected towards the weekend allowing for more snowmaking and some natural snowfall.
Thanks to its many glacier ski areas Austria has had more centres open since early October than any other ski area in the northern hemisphere. Or at least it did have until dozens of Canadian and US ski areas opened in the past few weeks. Although like most of the rest of Europe these areas are waiting for fresh snow, bases accumulated earlier this month and last have left most glaciers with still at least a metre of snow on upper slopes at least. . The Pitztal Glacier has the most with 1-1.5m but you can also ski now at Kaprun, Kaunertal, Tux, Dachstein, Molltal, Solden and Stubai and the non-glacier slopes of Obergurgl and Schladming also have limited terrain open with 30-50cm of snow cover. Ischgl (picture attached) has a big opening weekend coming up and says they will have more than 70km of trails open and 20,000 people are expected to attend the big opening concert on Saturday starring Roxette.
Europe’s highest ski area, Val Thorens in France, was due to open last weekend and join the only French ski area currently open, Tignes, but postponed this to tomorrow, November 24th. Val d’Isere is due to open this Sat (26/11) as is Isola 2000 in the Southern Alps), but in its case only for the weekend with full opening from 3rd December. Cold temperatures are currently expected to arrive in France next Monday (28th).
Italy currently has some of the deepest snow bases in Europe with the Presana Glacier above Passo Tonale reporting a 2m base – deeper than anywhere else. Cervinia is also doing well with a 1.45m (nearly five foot) base. Some of the country’s big name resorts like Bormio and Livigno are already open with 50cm bases, and Alagna and Madonna di Campiglio currently expect to open this weekend with a 40cm base. Many more ski areas including resorts in the Dolomiti Superski area are scheduled to open from this weekend onwards.
It remains largely glacier ski slopes that are open in Switzerland. Saas Fee, which has been open all summer and autumn, claims the deepest snow depth at 167cm, but Zermatt, Glacier 3000 (above Gstaad/Diablerets) and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz in the Engadin has a short run open. Engelberg’s glacier lifts are closed for maintenance to this Friday 25th and the slopes of Laax are open at weekends.
After good early snowfall early this month the Pyrenees are facing the same challenging conditions as much of Europe. Grandvalira in Andorra, the region’s largest ski area, has delayed opening planned this weekend. It says it has some snow built up on its pistes but wants to preserve and enhance it ready for more important dates in December when Spain has bank holidays.
Colder temperatures at last in Northern Europe has allowed several resorts to open. In Norway six ski areas - Hafjell, Kvitfjell, Trysil, Bjorli, Rauland and Kongsberg all opening at the weekend and more are expected to open in the coming days.
In Finland, after a month’s delay on the hoped for October 15 opening due to warm weather, Ruka opened last week on November 16.
Great conditions in Western Canada where resorts that have already open are reporting great conditions with others like Fernie and Revelstoke planning to open for ‘preview weekends’ this weekend. The latter reports more than two metres of pre-season snow has fallen. All three Banff resoerts are open in Alberta with Lake Louise soon to host the annual World Cup downhill races.
The US has got off to a great start to the season and with most of the leading ski areas on the west side of the country already open or doing so in the next few days ready for the key Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, it’s hard to think of a better start to winter 11-12 for the area. Resorts have been opening on the East Coast too, thanks primarily to snowmaking efforts. Mt Baker has the deepest snowbase at 183cm, but 49 Degrees North, also in Washington state, has had the most snowfall is the past seven days – 137cm.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roxette to launch Ischgl's winter season

Next Saturday, Roxette will be marking the start of the winter season in Ischgl with their world-famous catchy tunes such as "The Look", "Sleeping in my car" and "Joyride" at the legendary Top of the Mountain Opening Concert. Admission to the concert is free with a valid ski pass.
"It all begins where it ends" – this famous line from Roxette’s global hit "Joyride" is perfect for the opening of the new winter season in Ischgl on 26 November 2011. After all: the legendary Top of the Mountain Opening Concert in Ischgl picks up where it left off at the start of May: with freshly prepared mountain pistes and global stars on the open-air stage. While ‘The Killers’ rocked the stage to mark the season finale, the Swedish pop band Roxette will be performing catchy hits such as "Listen to your heart", "Sleeping in my car", "Crash, Boom, Bang" and the mega-hit "Joyride" to some 20,000 fans at the start of the new winter season.
Swedish artists Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson founded the pop band Roxette in 1986. Their international breakthrough came in 1989 with the global hit "The Look". This was followed by 70 million record sales worldwide and a large list of hits. Even today, Roxette remains Sweden’s biggest music export after ABBA. In 2006, a greatest hits album was released to mark the band’s 20th anniversary. In the same year, Roxette was awarded a medal of honour by the Swedish royal family for their services to music as one of the most successful pop bands of the 1980s and 90s. Following an exten-sive break from the creative scene, the band made a long-awaited comeback in 2009. In 2011, the single "She’s got nothing on (but the radio)" was released from the album "Charm School", making the top 10 in many charts. The album went straight to number 1 in the German charts. Given their extensive success, it is little wonder that Roxette were asked to perform at the gala evening following the marriage of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling.
Roxette follows the footsteps of a galaxy of superstars who have entertained skiers and boarders in the Austrian resort's traditional Top of the Mountain gig. Fourteen years ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year to open and close the winter season. Elton John was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous season closing concerts, back in 1995. Since then the resort has hosted Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Atomic Kitten, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, Lionel Richie, Pink, the Scissor Sisters, the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Elton John again, Gabriella Cilmi, Leona Lewis, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Gossip and The Killers.
Ischgl (1377m) is a truly Ski Paradise in Tirol (Austria). The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover (natural snow conditions are helped by 575 snow-machines with a total max. performance of 1050 l/sec). 31 snow cats groom the Ischgl runs every night offering perfect conditions in the morning. You can count on the best conditions throughout the winter months: Cruise through loose powder, carve down hard-packed slopes and race through corn snow in spring. In Ischgl you can find ultramodern lift and cable-car system (3 cable cars, 2 aerial cableways, 23 chairlifts and 12 draglifts) with a transport capacity of 78,500 persons per hour ensure skiing without queues (€120 million have been invested over the last years). The new lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the Fimbabahn cable car built for the 2007/08 season. A variety of slopes 38 kilometres of blue/easy runs, 132 kilometres of red/intermediate runs, 45 kilometres of black/difficult runs, and 20 kilometres of ski routes offer a opportunity for everyone, from beginners to experts looking for challenging pistes. Eleven is the name of the longest piste with approximately 11 kilometres from the top of the ski resort in Greitspitz (2,872 metres) to Ischgl village (1,400 metres).
From Ischgl you can access to the Silvretta Arena Ski Paradise, thanks to an alliance between two Companies (Silvretta Seilbahn AG and Bergbahnen Sammaun AG) and two ski resorts (Ischgl-Sammaun) from two different countries (Switzerland-Austria).
This winter skiers will be able to enjoy enhanced comfort during the winter season of 2011/12 thanks to the new 6-seater chair lift: the new family chairlift ‘Sonnenbahn B5’ comes with an easy-to-use restraining bar locking system and replaces the Sonnenlift. Hungry skiers will certainly appreciate the new ‘Panorama Salettl Idalp’ bar. And there’s no more getting lost in the Silvretta Arena thanks to the new iSki Ischgl APP for iPhone, Blackberry and Android. The Ischgl App enables skiers to find their way around on a piste map using GPS. The design of the APP has been updated and a new GPS tracking system added which records the entire day’s activities in the ski re-sort.
The Tyrolean skiing area’s motto is: "Relax. If you can …" meaning you can choose between a great number of winter activities apart from the main attractions of skiing, boarding and night life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Be a Virtual Torch Bearer for Innsbruck 2012 on Facebook!

You can carry the Virtual Youth Olympic Torch and be in with the chance of winning a trip to Athens as the first Torch Bearer of the Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympic Torch Relay on 17 December 2011.
It’s easy! Simply register on our Facebook page and help take the Virtual Torch on a journey around the world. You will automatically be entered into the draw to win the awesome Torch Bearer role in Athens as well loads of other cool prizes.
The route of the Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympic Torch Relay, which will travel across the whole of Austria, will last 18 days and includes 2,012 Torch Bearers, 65 Break Sites and 18 days. The Youth Olympic Torch Relay will traverse the country, visiting all of Austria’s nine regional capitals as well as the country’s most famous winter sports resorts. Along its journey the Olympic Flame will be carried by 2,012 inspiring, athletic Torch Bearers – including some well-known personalities and sports stars – who will each run approximately 150 metres holding the Torch.
The Austrian leg of the Torch Relay will start in Innsbruck on 27 December 2011 and will return to the Tyrolean regional capital on 13 January 2012 to light Innsbruck’s third Olympic Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games. This moment will be a truly unique event in the 116-year history of the modern Olympic Games, as Innsbruck becomes the first host city ever to welcome the Olympic Flame on three separate occasions.
There is another reason why the Tyrolean regional capital and the Olympic Flame enjoy a special relationship: lighting the Olympic Torch using only the sunlight and a concave mirror – today an Olympic tradition – took its origin in 1964, when the Olympic Flame made its way from its home in the Greek town of Olympia to Innsbruck for the Olympic Winter Games.
On 17 December 2011 the Torch for the Winter Youth Olympic Games will once again be lit in Greece before being transported to Austria.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Big Snowfalls in the Alps and Pyrenees As Canadian Resorts Open

Snowfalls of up to 80cm (nearly three feet) have been reported by ski resorts in the Alps over the past 48 hours.
In Italy, already-open Cervinia reported 80cm of fresh snow while just over the Swiss border nearby Saas-Fee, which has been open since last Spring, has also reported a big fall, with 30cm (a foot) of fresh snow on Sunday and another 65cm today.
Down in the Pyrenees, Formigal, Grandvalira and Vallnord has reported of new snow over the weekend too. "This fall has increased the level of snow at the slopes in the ski area from 10 to 30 cm at 1800m", said Jose Luis del Valle, the resort’s commercial director. "At the same time we have started the snow cannons in this area so we are further increasing the snow level at the slopes. We are very happy to say that the South-Westerly front has which bought this weather is staying with us. We are pleased to say that we plan to open the resort on the 26th November".
Meanwhile in North America the Lake Louise Ski Area (picture attached) and Mt Norquay by Banff, both Alberta neighbours in Canada, opened at the weekend (Saturday 5th November) with the promise, they hope, of another great La Nina season. The two resorts join Keystone and Copper Mountain in Colorado which opened on Friday (November 4th) taking that state’s tally to five areas open.
"We have all heard the La Nina rumours and are expecting another great snow filled season", says Dan Markham, Director of Marketing and Sales at Ski Banff Lake Louise Sunshine.
The Lake Louise Ski Area kicked off the season running the Glacier Express Quad and the Sunny T-Bar allowing guests to ski on: Wi waxy, Bald Eagle, Easy Street and Sunny Side runs. "With some help from Mother Nature in terms of natural snow fall, as well as cooler temperatures, we've been able to work diligently making snow" says The Lake Louise Ski Area President Charlie Locke.
Lake Louise has far more acres of natural snow than any other ski resort in Alberta including its famous back bowls, the extensive upper mountain, and the groomed cruising runs in the Larch area which together offer more runs than most skiers can cover in a week. To complement, new upgrades this year to what was already one of the largest, most sophisticated grooming and snowmaking systems in the world, will help ensure snowsure conditions from November to May. Having good snow coverage is important for the resort as they host the first World Cup Downhill race of the season. The Men's race is held on the November 26th weekend with the Ladies racing the following weekend.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Aspen/Snowmass, Steamboat and Winter Park Launch New Colorado Triple Play

Three of Colorado’s most historic and celebrated ski towns have joined forces to unveil the new Colorado Triple Play featuring an unprecedented two days of skiing and riding at Aspen/Snowmass, Steamboat and Winter Park Resort during the 2011/2012 winter season.
"Skiing and snowboarding have always been a passion and way of life in these three mountain communities for decades and something that has always been shared", said Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing for Aspen/Snowmass. "The new Colorado Triple Play is our way of sharing the best of these three iconic Colorado resorts at an exceptional value".
The new Colorado Triple Play, which features two days at Aspen/Snowmass, two days at Steamboat and two days at Winter Park Resort, kicks off sales today, Friday, November 4th at the Colorado Ski Expo in Denver; online at ColoradoTriplePlay.com; and, at participating Colorado Front Range Christy Sports stores. The Colorado Triple Play will available for $299 for adults (13 & over) and $249 for children (12 & under) while supplies last.
"Aspen/Snowmass, Steamboat and Winter Park Resort have been known for their industry-setting family programs for decades", said Gary DeFrange, president and chief operating officer at Winter Park Resort. "The Colorado Triple Play ensures even the littlest powderhounds can enjoy the slopes, making for the ideal adventure across three of Colorado’s premier family resorts".
Colorado Triple Play pass holders will discover majestic peaks, fresh powder and uncrowded terrain across nearly 10,000 acres, more than 70 lifts, 13 terrain parks, almost 15,000 vertical feet, as well as industry leading family programs across these three resorts. Each mountain town is steeped in tradition, heritage and history, representing the best of the Colorado winter experience.
"Another La Niña snow year is in the works, and now, guests have a fantastic opportunity to experience these genuine Colorado communities and their legendary skiing heritage on one incredible ticket", commented Rob Perlman, senior vice president of sales & marketing for Steamboat. "If you want the ultimate winter experience, then the Colorado Triple Play is your ticket to ride the best of the Colorado Rocky Mountains".
All three resorts received abundant and consistent snowfall last season and signs are pointing toward another bountiful La Niña weather forecast for the upcoming winter. The 2011/2012 winter season is currently scheduled to operate:

Winter Park Resort: November 16 to April 22
Steamboat: November 23 to April 15
Aspen/Snowmass: November 24 to April 15

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aspen To Require Helmets On All Employees

Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) is instituting a new employee helmet policy tas an integral part of its commitment to safety. ASC currently recommends that all snowsport participants wear a properly fitted snowsports helmet whenever they are skiing or riding. To further instill that habit this season, all Aspen employees will be required to wear a helmet while on duty and "clicked in" to their skis or snowboard.
Aspen was one of the first resorts to require helmets for some clientele and employees when, in March 2002, it mandated helmets for all children enrolled in ski school classes. Last year, Aspen required helmet use by a number of employees who were seen as influencers. More than 80 percent of guests and employees at Aspen/Snowmass currently wear helmets, well above the national average.
"The safety of our employees and our guests is our top priority", said Mike Kaplan, ASC president and CEO. "The new helmet policy will take our focus on safety to the next level".
All employees who are required to wear a helmet as part of this policy will be provided a helmet at no charge if they do not already have a suitable one.
A number of leading resort groups in North America including Intrawest and Vail Resorts have already made helmet-wearing compulsory in various scenarios including for on-mountain staff and for guests taking ski school lessons.
According to findings of the 2011 National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) National Demographic Study, 61 percent of skiers and snowboarders now wear helmets while enjoying the slopes at U.S. ski areas, up from 57 percent during the 2009/10 season. Helmet usage among those interviewed nationwide has increased 140 percent since the 2002/03 season, when only 25 percent of skiers and snowboarders were wearing a helmet at the time of being interviewed. More importantly, nearly 80 percent of children aged 17 and younger now wear helmets on the slopes. The annual Demographic Study is compiled from more than 130,000 interviews of skiers and snowboarders nationwide, over the course of the 2010/11 season. "Parents and resorts continue to do a great job of promoting the use of helmets for guests, especially children", said Michael Berry, president of NSAA.