Friday, August 31, 2012

Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2012

It's less than 24 hours to go until the start of the 8th GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN and the Eissportshalle in Ruhpolding, Germany is buzzing with competitors making their way to the registration tables to check-in and collect their race information.
300 teams from 32 countries around the world, including Malaysia, Japan and Lithuania, are preparing themselves for the incredible journey that lies ahead. Eight stages, three countries, 320km and an altitude difference of more than 15000m, it's no wonder that the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN is one of the toughest yet exciting foot races on the planet.
The route director Wolfang Pohl is sure that this year's route will not only impress the participants but also drive them to their limits: "The Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2012 features everything that experienced trailrunners expect from such an Alpine route: challenging and at the same time varied trails, long ascents and rapid downhills, high Alpine passages with a great perspective and breathtaking views down the landscape. The race is with over 320 kilometers of horizontal distance and over 15,000 difference in altitude ascent the longest Transalpine run that takes place since its debut in 2005. From Ruhpolding in the Bavarian North Alps to Sexten in the Dolomites there is no Alpine passage that offers more challenges for the runners".

A snapshot of Stage 1: Ruhpolding/GER – St. Johann in Tirol/AUT

At 49.6km, stage 1 is the longest stage of this year’s Gore-Tex® Transalpine-Run. All the competitors will find themselves running through the heart of the Chiemgauer Alps and across the famous Winklmoosalm.
Stage 1 presents the first of the major but runnable climbs of the event with an ascent of almost 1000m to the Straubinger Hütte at 1558 m. Runners will then enjoy an easy descent back down to Unterfürung over the next 5km before making the last ascent over Angerlalm towards the finish in St. Johann, Austria. During this stage there are no alpine parts but the stunning and diversified landscape makes up for that and leads the runners into Tirol submontane of the Wilder Kaiser.
Running gets underway at 9:00am on the morning of September 1st in the centre of the small Bavarian village, famous for producing some of Germany's finest cross country skiers. Not even the cold and rainy weather will be enough to deter the many supporters who will no doubt be out lining the main road offering their support to the runners as the gun goes.
 
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kelly Clark and Ryo Aono win Halfpipe World Cup opener in New Zealand

Kelly Clark (USA) and Ryo Aono (JPN) have won the first halfpipe event of the 2013 FIS Snowboard World Cup season. Both joint favorites for victory earned the top spot in a high class final held at Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort, New Zealand, due to extremely high executed runs.
A field of twelve men and six women including some of the world's best riders competed in a two-run final with men and women alternating runs. With fresh snow overnight, the 22ft pipe was in great condition and the riders executed huge tricks and flips of true World Cup standard. The gusty wind conditions created an additional challenge for the athletes.
Ryo Aono set the bar high scoring 92.75 on his first run, this gave him the confidence to push harder on the second and execute a new trick, a backside 12. Aono's second run demonstrated great technical ability with a blistering 95.25 point performance which included an air to fakie tail, followed by a cab 10 lean, in to a frontside 9, backside 12 and finishing with a frontside 10.
"The competition went really well for me today; I am so excited to win. We have a strong Japanese halfpipe team and we are looking forward to the rest of the 2012 season", said Aono.
Competing in his first World Cup event Shuhei Sato (JPN) recovered well from a fall in his first run and took out second place with a score of 88.5, Yiwei Zhang (CHN) placed third with 84.00 points despite riding with a broken hand.
The women's competition was tight with the wind playing a bigger role for the lighter riders. Not landing her first run of the finals the pressure was on Clark to perform on the second. She pulled out a frontside 7 indy, cab 7 mute, frontside air, backside 5 mute and finished with a front 5 japan to receive the winning score of 83.0. World number two Sophie Rodriguez (FRA) took out second place with 81.75 points and Queralt Castellet (ESP) taking third place with 71.75 points.
"It was a great competition today, the pipe is the best it has been. Not completing my first run provides a good opportunity to come from behind, I enjoyed this and happy to be on top of the podium as the girls are riding great at the moment and really pushing the boundaries. I am looking forward to coming back next year for the Winter Games", said Clark.

Vail Resorts and Lindsey Vonn Announce EpicMix Racing

Vail Resorts and World Champion Skier Lindsey Vonn Announce EpicMix Racing to Engage More Kids and Families in Ski Racing Through Social Media. Vail Resorts Guests Can See How They Stack up Against the Most Successful U.S. Ski Racer of All Time and Share Their Results with Family and Friends.
Vail Resorts on Wednesday announced the third generation of its wildly popular ski and snowboard application, EpicMix, which once it launches in mid-December, will provide skiers a new way to experience ski racing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone in Colorado and Heavenly and Northstar in California and Nevada. With EpicMix Racing, skiers will automatically have their race times compared to ski racing great, Lindsey Vonn, with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded based on achievement. Race times, digital medals, overall leaderboards and leaderboards with just family and friends will all be available on both the EpicMix website and mobile application. Race results and medals can then be easily shared on Facebook and Twitter. Finally, the Company has created the Lindsey Vonn Race Series, in which all skiers and riders will be ranked based on their best 10 races of the season. The top racers from across the six resorts will be invited to a grand finale event in April 2013, hosted by Vonn, on the world-famous Birds of Prey World Cup Course at Beaver Creek. Vonn also will provide race tips throughout the season, which will be featured on the web and mobile applications.
"We created EpicMix to bring together the digital and physical experience of skiing and riding and make it easy to share your story with friends and family", said Rob Katz, Vail Resorts chairman and chief executive officer. "In its first season, we tracked your vertical feet and awarded digital pins for your special accomplishments on the mountain and in the second season, we re-imagined how we captured and delivered your vacation photos. For our third season, we have brought amateur ski racing into the 21stcentury with EpicMix Racing. Working with World Champion ski racer Lindsey Vonn, we have completely redesigned how skiers can fully utilize the latest digital technology to compare themselves against the very best, seamlessly track and share all of their accomplishments and compete against racers from six world-class resorts".
"Making ski racing fun and engaging for kids and families is an exciting opportunity and a real passion of mine" said Lindsey Vonn. "Growing up racing, I always looked forward to telling the stories of my races and being able to track my progress and see how my friends were doing. The opportunity to make that happen using the latest technology in social media is absolutely the right next step for ski racing and I was thrilled to be able to work with Vail Resorts to make this happen".
To support Lindsey's commitment to giving back to the skiing community for future generations, Vail Resorts will donate one percent of all revenue to create scholarships at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and other ski racing clubs at its resorts for aspiring young ski racers.
Vonn will bring her passion for racing and online sharing to the EpicMix community by providing tips on how to improve race times, the most-effective training exercises, the best post-race stretches and her favorite workout tunes.
EpicMix Racing courses will be located at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado and Heavenly and Northstar in Lake Tahoe. EpicMix Racing will be available at Kirkwood for the 2013-2014 season.

How it will work:
  • EpicMix Racing courses will be located on intermediate trails at the resorts in comparable locations as they are today and designed to be fun, challenging but not intimidating for skiers of all ages.
  • Guests can ski right up to the start gate and quickly purchase and register for their races using their credit card or resort charge with either their season pass or daily lift ticket. Guests will not longer have to go inside or fill out paper forms.
  • Lindsey Vonn will set the pace for EpicMix racing at the U.S. Ski Team training event at Vail Mountain in early November 2012.
  • For each race, digital medals of gold, silver and bronze will be awarded through the EpicMix application, based upon the skier’s age, gender and discipline. Kids will also earn physical medals after each race.
  • EpicMix will adjust each racer’s time for age, gender and discipline and compare that to the time set by Lindsey Vonn and assign each racer a "seconds behind Lindsey" score for each race.
  • EpicMix Racing will be integrated into the EpicMix dashboard and will feature a special EpicMix Racing section to track your overall race times, points and medals on EpicMix.com. Vail Resorts guests can also see how their results stack up against other skiers on their social networks.
  • Racers of all ages can participate in the Lindsey Vonn Race Series by completing 10 races in the 2012-2013 season.
EpicMix launched in 2010 and experts called it a "game changer" and one of the most ridiculously cool…” mobile strategies. Six months after it debuted, it won a "People’s Voice" Webby awardin the Experimental and Innovation category for mobile devices. When the Company launched EpicMix Photo in 2011, experts again lauded the social media application for changing the vacation photo business, proclaiming that "the days of heading to the photo center and searching through hundreds of photos of strangers and their kids is over".
The true innovation with EpicMix is that the app and online site allows guests to selectively share stats and information via Twitter and Facebook without requiring skiers or snowboarders to do anything different other than enjoy their skiing and snowboarding experience. Instead of manual check-ins, the RF-enabled pass or ticket allows for automatic check-ins at each lift at all six resorts, which then tracks the vertical feet and rewards guests for accomplishments like riding every lift in one day to earn the Conqueror pin.
Nearly 100,000 guests activated their EpicMix accounts in the 2010-2011 ski and snowboard season which equated to a 15-percent adoption rate. Last year with EpicMix photo more than 200,000 additional guests activated accounts and shared more than 1 million photos on their social networks.
EpicMix is available to all Vail Resorts guests at any of its seven world-class mountain resorts–Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood–who purchase any lift ticket or season pass this year. Almost every ticket and pass will be enabled with RF technology and allow guests to participate in EpicMix. EpicMix Photo and EpicMix Racing will not be available at Kirkwood this ski season.

Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. Vail Resorts operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, and Heavenly, Northstar and now Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada, and the GrandTeton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resorthotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estateplanning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly heldcompany traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

RIP CURL presents ALIVE AND KICKIN'

It’s been a long summer and we’re ready to rip the white sheets with our rides. It’s been a hard year for some, it’s been good for others. Some of you might feel like survivors so we wanted to dedicate a movie to all who share the stoke of winter pleasures. Have a seat and get ready: it’s time to kick the summer blues with Rip Curl’s saucy footage brought to you by our most innovative, talented and ‘all around nice guy’ riders.  Victor De Le Rue, Elias Elhardt, Janne Lipsanen, Nils Arvidsson and more are still Alive and Kickin’ like tomorrow’s their last day of winter. Enjoy! 
   

Friday, August 24, 2012

X Games Cancels Snowboard X and Skier X

Two of the longest-running competitions in X Games history, winter's Snowboarder X and Skier X, will not be part of the show when the X Games return to Aspen in January 2013, event organizers confirmed Thursday. ESPN decided to cut the events, as well as Mono Skier X, and will not build the X Course for the first time in history.
Snowboarder X was one of three events that had taken place every year since the Winter X Games debuted in 1997, along with Snowboard Superpipe and Slopestyle. Skier X had been staged 15 of those 16 years, starting in 1998. Mono Skier X was added to the docket five years ago.
Meanwhile, two events that were dropped last year, Snowmobile SnoCross and Speed and Style, are returning to the 2013 Aspen schedule. SnoCross had been featured for 14 straight years before it was omitted from X Games Aspen 2012.
"It's a devastating blow to our sport and skiercross, too, because X Games has been our Super Bowl for years", said Nate Holland, who has won six of the past seven gold medals in Snowboarder X. Holland said he appreciated the opportunity to work with ESPN in the past, but he's expecting to take a financial hit with the loss of the sport's most prestigious annual event. "I have sponsors that put a value on X Games and the exposure I get there," he said. "Basically, my stock went down as soon as that news came out".
"No Skier X comes as a surprise to me since X Games put it on the map and (helped foster) the progress it's made to the Olympic level", Daron Rahlves, the 2008 Skier X gold medalist and promoter of the Rahlves Banzai Tour, said in an e-mail from Chile. "Skicross athletes look forward to the X Games for the best track of the year and the big stage to compete on".
"It's definitely perplexing", 2011 Mono Skier X gold medalist Josh Dueck said. "It's not the only mono skiercross race, but in my eyes it is because it does it on a level no other event matches. There's no better exposure we can get for our sport. And right now we're young and growing exponentially. This is a huge, huge hit to the evolution we're seeing. It's hard to digest".
Tim Reed, senior director of content strategy for ESPN X Games, didn't dismiss the possibility of the disciplines being added to future X Games events. "There's nothing to say we won't do X course next year", he said. "We believe in the sport, we love it, we've been doing it for a lot of years. Ultimately we just made the decision that we're going to focus on pipe, slope, big air, a full complement of snowmobiles and snowboard street".

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Perfect conditions for FIS Freestyle Ski Halfpipe World Cup

The world's top ranked freestyle skiers battled it out under picture perfect blue skies at Cardrona Alpine Resort today where Torin Yater-Wallace (USA) and Devin Logan (USA) won the men and women's FIS Freestyle Ski Halfpipe World Cup titles.
A talented men's field of 36 freestyle skiers competed in the qualifying heat for the top 12 spots. With two runs per round, best run counting, Thomas Krief, (FRA) Torin Yater-Wallace (USA) and Antti-Jussi Kemppainen (FIN) took the top three spots. Twenty seven women lined up for the qualifier with Devin Logan (USA) scoring the highest.
Torin Yater-Wallace (USA) came out tops in the end with a huge second run, he was awarded 93 points and took the lead off Thomas Krief (FRA) who finished in second place with 90 points. Benoit Valentin (FRA) placed third overall with 84.2 points.
Yater-Wallace's winning run was made up of a double cork 1260 mute grab, an alley oop flat spin 540, a 900 tail grab, a 1080 tail grab and a switch right side 900 mute grab. Head judge Spence Steele said the judges were impressed with the execution and amplitude of the winning run. "The pipe skiing was phenomenal today. The top skiers were very impressive for the first competition of the qualifying season," he said.
The women's final produced some big spins and tail grabs. Current Overall AFP World Champion Devin Logan lived up to expectations taking out first place with a score of 83.0, despite not landing her first run. It was second and third for Japanese skiers Manami Mitsuboshi (80.0 points) and Ayana Onozuka (78.6 points).
"The weather and conditions were amazing today. I had a great qualifying round and really felt the pressure for my second final's run, the Japanese girls were really pushing me. I was lucky today, it's a good start to the season", said Logan.
Janina Kuzma (Wanaka) was the only New Zealand female to go through to the women's finals in 12th place. A gutsy second final's run and scoring 76.6 points put her in fourth place overall. Jossi Wells finished 7th overall scoring 76.6 on his first run and not landing his second run. Brother
For the first time freestyle ski athletes' competition points will count towards gaining an Olympic spot. The International Olympic Committee announced in April that men's and women's halfpipe skiing will be an Olympic sport at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The action continues on Friday and Saturday (August 25-26) with the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup also at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Monday, August 20, 2012

FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Ski Halfpipe World Cups

With the Summer Olympic athletes resting from their recent achievements it is time for the winter snow sports professionals to take centre stage for the FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Ski Halfpipe World Cups at Cardrona Alpine Resort this week.
Over 200 athletes representing 26 nations will battle it out in Cardrona's 22ft superpipe for a combined prize pool of NZ$115,000. The skiers and riders will be performing a creative mix of tricks, flips, back-to-back rotations and big air grabs guaranteeing high adrenalin action.
The freestyle ski competitions just got tougher with confirmation of Tanner Hall (USA) and current Overall AFP World Champion Devin Logan (USA) on the start lists. Logan joins five times European Open Champion Virginie Faivre (SUI) and Kiwi entrants Janina Kuzma and Rose Battersby in what promises to be an exciting opening competition on Wednesday.
The men's freeski field is packed with some of the biggest names in the sport including current FIS World Cup Champion Benoit Valentin (FRA), last season's AFP Overall World Champion Gus Kenworthy (USA) up against New Zealand's Jossi Wells and Lyndon Sheehan.
The snowboarders will be ready for action on Saturday and Sunday with an all-star field in place. The stakes in the men's snowboard event rose with the recent entry of Swiss snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov, World Snowboarding Championships gold medallist and multiple X Games medallist.
Competing against Podladtchikov will be last season's World Cup champion Nathan Johnstone (AUS), the current Bronze Olympic medal holder Ryo Aono (JPN) and Scott Lago (USA). The women's field is equally strong with nine of the top ten Olympic field on the start list including the Gold medallist Torah Bright (AUS) and 2012 Winter X Games gold medallist Kelly Clark (USA), fresh from her win of the Burton High Fives last week. Representing New Zealand will be Ben Stewart, James Hamilton and Rebecca Sinclair.
Winter Games NZ CEO, Arthur Klap believes the quality entries show just how important this competition is as the first qualifier in the world for the 2014 Winter Olympics. "Both events are going to be great for the competitors as well as the spectators. Snow sports competitions in New Zealand have certainly raised the bar over the past five years and this will continue through to next season when we host the 2013 Winter Games NZ. The 2013 Games will include at least five World Cups and feature many who will go on to podium at Socchi", he said.
Off mountain the Winter Games Adventure Film Festival from the 24-26 August returns to Queenstown. There's an action packed programme of spectacular adventure films to inspire and entertain. Tickets are still available.
The FIS Freestyle Ski Halfpipe World Cup will take place on 22 August while the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup will take place on 25-56 August, both at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

To Ski or not to Ski? Marketing matters when it comes to growing snowsports numbers

The best way to grow your business is by taking care of the customers you already have, says a new report from Snowsports Industries of America.
New customers are nice, but the National Ski Areas Association found that even if you do manage to convince someone to try skiing or snowboarding, only about 16 percent stick with it. That, they say, is a poor way to target dwindling marketing resources. "Let's face it, marketing dollars are tight, so it's important to communicate to consumers effectively", said Kelly Davis, SIA's director of research.
In 2011, the SIA found 10.5 million Americans who consider themselves skiers and/or riders but don't do it much any more.
They don't come back for a variety of reasons: They don't have anyone to go with, they don't have time, children, safety, they want to visit warm-weather destinations.
Most of them are concentrated among those of "lower proficiency", the report says.
That leaves the snowsports industry with a target market of 21.2 million active participants, the report says.Like most industries, the snowsports industry's greatest growth potential is persuading people who already ski and board to do it more or those who are lapsed to try it again, the report said.
The SIA's report uncovered a fascinating dichotomy.
First, as skiers and boarders get older, they list "children" among the reasons they don't get out as often as they used to.
Then again, when people were asked why they were skiing more, they said "family/children". It turns out that 72 percent of those asked said it's a great way to spend family time together.
Speaking of families, women must be more front and center in marketing materials, the SIA said.
The report's authors Googled "skiing", and of the first 20 images that popped up, 18 were men. Most of those men were engaged in extreme skiing. "When the images of snowsports are seemingly extreme and hard to reach, average women aren't pulled into the message", the SIA report says. "By creating materials that are women-specific, family oriented or simply less extreme, it is likely that women will be more encouraged to come out to the mountain and bring their families with them".

Friday, August 17, 2012

Winter Will Be Snowy

The high probability of seeing an El Niño year for the upcoming ski season has some local ski areas hoping for an improvement over last year's dismal season — and announcing opening days for the upcoming season.
Consistent with opening days in 2011, local ski areas will open anywhere between mid-October into December depending on weather conditions. "We are hopeful that conditions this year will allow us to open at least by our goal opening day (Nov. 2)", said Katherine Bush, spokeswoman for Copper Mountain Resort. "If we have more snow early than anticipated, we may open earlier".
In Colorado, the eastern plains have the best chances of moisture from October 2012 to June 2013, according to Klaus Wolter, a climatologist who makes long-range forecasts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder. But things still may bode well for the mountains. "In fact, one could argue that the northern Front Range and Rocky Mountains may end up with the wettest outcome", Wolter said. The last two years have been La Niña seasons and "long-lived La Niña events have a more pronounced tendency to flip to El Niño, 60 percent of two-year events end up in El Niño in the third year", Wolter said.
The presence of El Niño or La Niña - and their strength - is used to project how active the winter season is going to be. AccuWeather.com Long-Range meteorologists are projecting a weak to moderate El Niño by the fall.
An El Niño pattern is classified by above-normal water temperatures in the central and equatorial Pacific Ocean. Warming the ocean water in turn warms the air above the Pacific, causing weather patterns to change globally.
El Niño winters feature a strong southern branch of the jet stream across the U.S.
Along with Wolter, the AccuWeather winter outlook for 2012-2013 calls for above normal snowfall for the High Country. "The ski industry, which despite an early start for some resorts, suffered a slow season overall last winter, will benefit from the above-normal snowfall", the AccuWeather Report stated. "Long-range meteorologists are projecting a moderate El Niño by the fall". Arapahoe Basin Ski Area — which typically vies with Loveland for first-tracks honors — aims to open for the season in mid-October, weather dependent, and will announce the exact date closer to that time.
AccuWeather, established in 1962, is a weather service with headquarters in State College, Pa. They provide local forecasts for everywhere in the United States and over two million locations worldwide. They also provide weather products and services to more than 175,000 paying customers in media, business, government and institutions.
The AccuWeather Full-Length Winter Forecast will be released in October.

Planned Opening Days For Colorado Ski Resorts:

Mid October — Loveland, Arapahoe Basin
Nov. 2 — Wolf Creek, Copper Mountain, Keystone
Nov. 9 — Breckenridge
Nov. 14 — Winter Park
Nov. 16 — Eldora
Nov. 18 — Vail Resort
Nov. 21 — Steamboat, Monarch, Crested Butte
Nov. 22 — Telluride, Aspen/Snowmass, Ski Cooper
Nov. 23 — Purgatory
Dec. 1 — Silverton, Howelsen
Dec. 5 — Echo Mountain
Dec. 7 — Sunlight
Dec. 8 — Aspen Highlands
Dec. 12 — Ski Granby Ranch
Dec. 15 — Buttermilk

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Alta, Aspen-Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows Form The Mountain Collective Pass

In an unprecedented move, four of the premier independent mountain destinations in the West (Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows) have created an alliance to form the The Mountain Collective, a pass for the 2012-13 season.
Starting today the pass is available online through an exclusive technology, distribution and marketing partnership with Liftopia at www.TheMountainCollective.com. Liftopia is the largest online platform for ski lift tickets and other mountain-related activities including rentals, lessons, dining credits, etc.
Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows have partnered to offer this exciting opportunity for passionate skiers and riders. For just $349, The Mountain Collective Pass includes two free days at each of the four destinations, plus a 50 percent discount on unlimited lift tickets at each of the destinations, once the complimentary days are used. In addition, passholders will receive exclusive lodging deals throughout the season. Collectively this pass grants access to eight mountains with more than 16,000 acres of terrain, over 100 lifts and an unmatched reputation for snow quality and quantity.
"This is a completely new concept for a ski pass and gives winter enthusiasts the freedom to access some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world", said Christian Knapp, vice president of marketing, Aspen Skiing Company. "There's been an incredible spirit of collaboration amongst the partners to bring this historic alliance and innovative new product to life".
The Mountain Collective Pass will be available for children (ages 12 and under) for just $229. The pass will also offer incentives to premier pass holders at the participating resorts.


Introducing The Mountain Collective™ from Aspen/Snowmass on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Top Winter Olympic Cities

With the London 2012 Olympics coming to a close, the editors and members of VirtualTourist.com have put together a list of "Top 10 Former Olympic Cities Worth a Visit".
The first celebration of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Since then there have been 21 Winter Olympic Games held in 18 different cities. The 5 cities selected by VirtualTourist are:

Innsbruck, Austria. Over More than 295 miles (475 km) west of Vienna, the town of Innsbruck has recently gained notoriety as perhaps the second town to hold three Olympics: in addition to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, it held the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in January. One rare characteristic of Innsbruck is all nine ski resorts that encompass the Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck are accessible on just one ski pass, including Olympic venues Patscherkofel and Axamer Lizum. In the non-winter months, the area has the Top of the Tyrol lookout at the summit of the Stubai Glacier, where visitors can see over one hundred 3000-meter peaks around them. While the old town is filled with magnificent medieval buildings, there are also modern wonders such as - the Nordkette cable railway, a funicular that takes you from the city center up the mountainside into the top of the mountain in only 20 minutes. Along the way, passengers can marvel at the various railway stations, designed by Zaha Hadid to resemble natural ice formations along the mountainside.

Albertville, France. Conveniently located along the Great Alpine Road, Albertville is uniquely positioned on the border of France, Switzerland, and Italy, in the middle of France's Rhone-Alps region. Though the 1992 Winter Games were awarded to Albertville, the competitions were held actually spread out between several small alpine towns. This Olympics was most notable for being the first time a unified Germany competed together for medals, as well as the former Soviet Union competing as the "Unified Team." Today, Albertville serves as a great starting off point for any winter sports enthusiast, since as it is located between France's two other Winter Olympic host cities, Chamonix and Grenoble.
For travelers who want to visit in the summer months, Albertville is also an excellent town for cycling, providing a great base camp for mountain routes throughout the region. Albertville was a starting point for one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France this year. In addition to the sporting activities in the region, this area of France is particularly noted for its chefs and cuisine: the Rhone-Alps is home to sixty eight Michelin-starred chefs.

Nagano, Japan. In 1998, the Winter Olympic Games took place in Nagano, Japan, much further south than prior Japanese Winter host, Sapporo. While the majority of events took place near Hakuba Village in the Matsumoto Northern Alps area, other Olympic sites are scattered around the prefecture. In addition to winter sports, there are some great architectural sights in the area: the Zenkoji Temple, a 1,400 year old temple that has long served as the Japan's primary center of Buddhist faith, is located in Northern Nagono. The temple is such an important part of Japanese Buddhist culture that it sees approximately 7 million visitors annually. Another national treasure in the area is the Matsumoto Castle, whose 5-five layer, six 6-story castle tower is the oldest in Japan.

Salt Lake City, Utah. United States hosted its eighth Olympic Games when Salt Lake City, Utah, and its surrounding ski resorts hosted the Winter 2002 Olympic Games. Visitors today can check out the Utah Olympic Oval on the western side of the city, or head east and hit Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley, and Snowbasin Ski Area, where former Olympians have competed for gold. In the last ten years since the Olympics, Park City has also become a major destination since it began hosting the Sundance Film Festival every January, so the city's historical Main Street now has modern eateries, nightclubs, and world-class spas. While Salt Lake City is a well-known winter destination, it's also becoming a much more popular summer spot for hikers and mountain bikers. Travelers with an interest in these sports couldn't find a destination better than Utah - Southern Utah contains some of the most picturesque terrain in North America, including the state's five national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Few Olympic cities can provide the variety of experiences that are available to visitors in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. While some natural occurrences were already ready for the games, like the amazing trails and conditions of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the city also made numerous green improvements in preparation for the Games. The city extended its SkyTrain rapid transit system to downtown Vancouver. In addition to seeing the Olympic Cauldron at English Bay in the West End, travelers can also bike or walk around West End's Stanley Park, North America's third largest urban park, with spectacular bay views and greenscape. In Vancouver, travelers can even try their hand at some of the Winter Olympic Sports.
At Whistler Sliding Centre, the public can test bobsleighs and skeleton rides on the same track used by Olympic athletes.

Paradiski Gets Greener

Patrick Thorne reports Paradiski, the world’s third largest ski areas created by the linking of La Plagne, Peisey Vallandry and Les Arcs, has announced that it is now using 100% renewable energy to power its ski lifts and other electrical needs.
Since 2008, all of the ski area’s lift companies have been Safety, Quality, and Environmental (SQE) certified to the international ISO 9001 (Quality), OHASA 18001 (Safety), and ISO 14001 (Environmental) standards.
"Since our inception we have been committed to playing a major role in respecting the environment and in effectively managing natural resources", said a statement from the resort.
The Paradiski ski lift network is now 100% powered by green energy, and certified by the European label, TÜV-SUD (www.tuev-sued.de), which ensures that the strictest standards set to date for 100% renewable energy: hydroelectricity, wind power, and solar power.
To reduce CO² emissions, Paradiski’s lift companies are also AlpEnergie 100 certified, receiving all electricity through the power company, ENALP, which specializes in distributing renewable energies.
By purchasing 100% green energy, Paradiski also contributes to the Nature Option Energy (NOE) fund, which finances research, development and construction of new means of renewable electricity production in France. These funds, created and managed by the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (www.cnr.tm.fr), provide financing for projects such as 3D mapping of wind, as well as wind turbine prototype testing and construction. In 2011, renewable energies represented 12.8% of the electricity produced in France.
Paradiski joins 60 other leading ski areas around the world that claim to use, and in some cases generate, 100% green energy for their power needs, either from local generation or by offsetting their purchase of ‘brown’ energy against the production of an equivalent amount of green energy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

British Columbia Ski Resorts offer half-price lift tickets on first Family Day

David Lynn, President & CEO, Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA), is pleased to announce the BC Family Ski Promotion on behalf of the Ski Resorts of British Columbia.
"From abundant snow to stunning scenery, BC Ski Resorts offer a diverse variety of world-class skiing. We are very excited to be able to celebrate the first BC Family Day by providing BC Families with the opportunity to experience BC Skiing at half the regular price. We hope that British Columbians take advantage of this fun and healthy way to enjoy the first BC Family Day", said David Lynn, President & CEO, Canada West Ski Areas Association.
On May 28, 2012 B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced that the first BC Family Day would take place be on Monday, February 11, 2013. This established the second Monday in February as a unique day for British Columbians to enjoy Family Day. It also created significant opportunities for the BC Ski and Tourism Industries, by avoiding an overlap with similar holidays in other jurisdictions, on which many BC Ski Resorts are typically operating at capacity.
"We expect the addition of the Family Day holiday will boost the economy and the tourism industry in B.C. This new February holiday is an opportunity for British Columbians to share time with their families while supporting our local ski industry and hotel and food operators. And this is another indicator that ‘Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan’ is working in our province as we continue to create and support favourable conditions for our labour force", said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. In light of the timing of BC’s new statutory holiday, a group of leading BC Ski Resorts have decided to implement a major promotion on the first BC Family Day. This promotion will provide BC Residents with the opportunity to purchase ½ price lift tickets for use on February 11, 2013:
Promotional Details:
  • 50% off all lift tickets for use by BC Residents on Monday, February 11, 2013.
  • This discount will be based on the regular “ticket window” price in effect for the 2012-13 season, and will not be combinable with other offers / discounts.
  • Participating Resorts may require proof of BC Residency (e.g. government-issued photo ID).
  • All Participating BC Ski Resorts will be required to provide the 50% lift ticket discount, but will be free to augment this offer with their own resort-specific promotions.
Participating Ski Resorts:
  • Apex Mountain Resort
  • Mount Seymour
  • Big White Ski Resort
  • Mount Washington Alpine Resort
  • Crystal Mountain Resort
  • Panorama Mountain Village
  • Fernie Alpine Resort
  • Red Mountain
  • Grouse Mountain
  • Revelstoke Mountain Resort
  • Hemlock Resort
  • Silver Star Mountain Resort
  • Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
  • Sun Peaks Resort
  • Kimberley Alpine Resort
  • Whistler-Blackcomb
  • Lost Lake Cross Country
  • Whistler Olympic Park
  • Manning Park Resort
  • Whitewater Ski Resort

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Environmental Groups To Buy Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort

A coalition of conservation groups (The Trust for Public Land  the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Northern Sierra Partnership) announced Monday they had reached an agreement to purchase 3,000 acres of granite peaks and wildflower-dotted meadows atop Northern California's Donner Summit.
Under an agreement reached last week with a court-appointed negotiator, three local nonprofits will buy the 3,000-acre Royal Gorge property for $13.5 million. They plan to build trails, take out fences and open up the site to public use, now that a proposed 950-home development on the property has slipped into foreclosure.
"This is the most important conservation acquisition in the Sierra Nevada in a generation," said Tom Mooers, director of the Nevada City-based nonprofit Sierra Watch. "Some people call it the most important square mile in the American West".
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the area has long served as a passageway for travelers seeking to cross the craggy peaks, including the ill-fated Donner Party.
The property is also sacred ground for environmentalists because of its variety of sensitive habitat, from summer wetlands to dense fir and pine forests. Van Norden Meadow alone hosts more than 150 species of butterflies, 16 amphibians, 100 birds, plus several endangered species, said John Cobourn, a hydrologist at University of Nevada-Reno who leads hikes in the area.
The Yuba, Truckee and north fork of the American rivers all trace their headwaters to the property, providing sustenance for a wide array of wildlife, he said.
Black bears, bald eagles, martens and other species thrive in the area, and the grassy meadows are kaleidoscopes of lupine, buttercups, larkspur and tiger lilies, he said.
"It's thrilling to me that future generations will be able to see Donner Summit pretty much unchanged since the Ice Age", Cobourn said. "We've all been very concerned it would end up urbanized".
The groups have worked with Sugar Bowl, a Sierra ski resort 90 miles east of Sacramento, to take over the Royal Gorge ski area, which has stayed open throughout the negotiations.
The Trust for Public Land, Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Northern Sierra Partnership still need to raise $13.5 million by December 20 to complete the purchase, and will be asking public agencies, foundations, nonprofits and the public for their help.
The Trust for Public Land protects land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since it was founded in 1972, the organization has completed 5,200 conservation projects in 47 states.
The Truckee Donner Land Trust preserves and protects scenic, historic and recreational lands with high natural resource values in the greater Truckee Donner region.
The Northern Sierra Partnership is a collaborative initiative to conserve, restore, and enhance the magnificent natural landscape of the northern Sierra Nevada, and build the foundation for sustainable rural prosperity.

AccuWeather Forecasts Good Start for Ski Season

The return of chilly air and early season snow is expected in the Rockies for Fall 2012.
While cold air may be delayed in arriving across areas farther east in the nation, cold shots will not have a problem reaching the Rockies. This is the first area that may be at risk for early frosts and freezes.
"I think there will be some early cold outbreaks out over the central and northern Rockies, especially. I think that where the season-winter season-actually is going to start much quicker", said Paul Pastelok, expert senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.
Temperatures are expected to average 1-2 degrees below normal for the northern Rockies this fall.
The central and southern Rockies, spanning the Four Corners region, may be a hot spot for snow by the middle of the season.
The mountains in Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico may start to get snowfall during October.
"As far as early snowfall goes, I think places in the Four Corner region will be the places to watch. The jet stream will be increasing across that area. And I think they will start to see some snow falling by as early as early- to mid-October", Pastelok said.
A possible early kick start to the ski season in the Rockies is great news for both ski enthusiasts and the ski industry.
The Northeast, which got hit by a nasty Halloween snowstorm last year, will have a slower return of chilly air. Early season snow is not likely for the I-95 cities, because it may take a while for cold air to sync up with huge storms.
It will start out wet during the early and middle of the fall in the Northwest.
"I think it will start out wetter, but get drier in the late fall season, which could set up for a fairly dry or at least below-normal winter season across areas like Seattle and Spokane", Pastelok added.
Wet weather will shift farther south across much of California during the middle to latter part of the season. A wet late-fall is in store for San Francisco.
Increased snowfall expected in the Sierra is good news for California water supply, following a significant snow drought last winter.
AccuWeather, established in 1962, is a weather service with headquarters in State College, Pa. They provide local forecasts for everywhere in the United States and over two million locations worldwide. They also provide weather products and services to more than 175,000 paying customers in media, business, government and institutions.

Fall Forecast Video

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chamonix Bans Wingsuit Base Jumps

As published in The Huffington Post

The French town of Chamonix, deep in the shadow of Mont Blanc, has always embraced danger. Climbers scale Europe's highest peak in dire conditions. Backcountry skiers risk avalanches or falling off cliffs.
But the arrival this summer of the wingsuit flyers offered peril on an entirely new scale. For nearly two months, daredevils in skin-tight suits with batwing sleeves and a flap between their legs hurled themselves off the Brevent cliff, soaring through the Alpine skies. Last week, tragedy struck: A Norwegian wingsuit flyer was killed when his parachute failed to open.
The next day, the mayor of Chamonix-Mont Blanc banned wingsuits. The decision has triggered a debate about how to weigh the dangers of extreme sport against the passion of the thrill-seekers the Alpine town has famously encouraged. The ban isn't meant to be permanent – local officials hope to come up with a set of rules on wingsuits that will satisfy everyone. But Chamonix remains shaken. "For us, adventure doesn't mean extreme risk", said Chamonix mayor Eric Fournier. "We have to ask questions of responsibility and respect for other sports".
In Chamonix, near the Swiss and Italian borders, paragliders and hikers share space with mountain gondolas, climbers and BASE jumpers, adventurers who leap from high places and float down by parachute Last month, nine experienced climbers died in an avalanche on the French side of the mountain. And there have been increasing concerns that the area is becoming just too crowded.
Wingsuits are a relatively new offshoot of BASE jumping, coming into their own only in the late 1990s. Flyers start high and hope for a breeze strong enough to make the flight last, before opening their chutes to land. Mont Blanc winters are long and harsh, and the wingsuit season there is short, dependent upon warm air and favorable conditions for landing. That's where the cliffs above Chamonix come in. Popular in winter among skiiers, in summer among paragliders and hikers, the cliffs are easily accessible by trail. That's just high enough to allow for a wingsuit jump and close enough for multiple jumps in a day – a rarity in the wingsuit world.
As a wingsuit site, Brevent was relatively unknown until late this spring, when YouTube videos caught the attention of flyers everywhere. They came by the dozens, according to Fournier and Roche Malnuit, who lives in Chamonix and is president of the French BASE Association. It's an exhilarating, dangerous sport with a small number of passionate adherents, numbering a couple hundred in France and perhaps a thousand or two in the world. The suits can cost over (EURO)1,000 ($1,200) and are made from the same synthetics used for hot-air balloons or parachutes. Flyers commonly jump from planes or helicopters – less commonly from cliffs – and can soar long distances before opening their parachutes to land. The world record, set from an airplane jump, stands at 16 miles. For BASE jumping wingsuit flyers, the distance is considerably shorter, Malnnuit said. At Brevent, where the cliff's stands at an altitude of 2,500 meters (7,500 feet), Malnuit said flyers can expect to travel about 4.5 kilometers (nearly 3 miles). Malnuit learned to fly in a wingsuit from his father, who was a BASE jumping pioneer in the 1980s. Malnuit said his father gave it up at age 50 "because the risks became too great. He said he was happy to have lived it." "I love nature, I love sports, I love the mountains", Malnuit said, explaining his own path to wingsuit flight. "I had my father who was there to teach me. He taught me that it's a sport of risk".
Tore Hovda is the brother of 38-year-old Jon Inge Hovda, who was killed after jumping from the Brevent cliff on July 23. Hovda said his brother got into the sport 15 years ago after starting out with parachuting. "That (BASE jumping) was his whole life. He just couldn't stop with it". Despite his brother's death, Hovda said he did not think the sport should be forbidden. "People should be able to jump if they want to", Hovda said from his home in Stavanger, in southeastern Norway. "It would be wrong to put a ban on it".
Many public places have done just that, including national parks in the United States. Even in California's Yosemite, where solo rock climbing without safety gear is permitted and considered a mark of the highest skill, wingsuits are banned along with other BASE jumping, for many of the same reasons Chamonix is struggling with the sport. "Yes, we allow free soloing and rock climbing, which are also high risk activities. However, the ban on BASE Jumping is not based on the high risk nature of the activity, rather it is based on its overall impacts to other park activities: the `circus-like' atmosphere it creates, its impacts on climbers, potential impacts to park resources, etc". Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite, told The Associated Press in an email. Yosemite has dozens of climbers a day at the high season and thousands of visitors on the trails. Gediman said he himself watched a BASE jumper leap to her death in 1999 when her borrowed chute failed to open.
Fournier, whose sports include skiing, paragliding and mountain climbing, doesn't envision a permanent wingsuit ban in Chamonix. He doesn't want to try wingsuits, but he understands the appeal and he expects to work with flyers to figure out how to proceed. "It's a practice that taxes the mind and the body", said Fournier. "In these last few weeks, it was opened too quickly to too many people". Malnuit supported time to reflect on the dangers, but said he hoped the cliffs will reopen soon to wingsuits. "With wings, you truly arrive at flying", he said. "You can steer, you can accelerate. You're truly in flight".

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

US Open Moves To Vail

Burton Snowboards and Vail Mountain officially announced today that the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships is moving to Vail, Colorado starting in 2013. The 31st edition of the US Open will take place at Vail’s Golden Peak from February 25 – March 2, 2013. The move is aimed at continuing the progression of the event. The US Open had been held at Stratton, Vt., for the past 27 years.
The move to Vail, and to Golden Peak in particular, will allow the event to expand on its festival aspects, including free live music concerts for spectators and riders alike. In addition, Vail hopes to secure final U.S. Forest Service approvals to relocate Vail’s halfpipe to a more favorable position closer to the base of Golden Peak, with ample room for thousands of spectators. Snow Park Technologies will build the slopestyle course and 22-foot halfpipe.
To commemorate this news, key members of the snowboard community gathered in Vail last week to get a first look at the venue, including the proposed 22-foot halfpipe location at Golden Peak, and hear from Burton andVail representatives about the vision and evolution for the event moving forward. Burton pro riders Kelly Clark and Mark McMorris were among the group in Vail, and had this to say:
"The US Open is one of my favorite events by far, and I couldn’t be more excited about its next evolution", stated five-time US Open halfpipe champ and three-time Olympian Kelly Clark of West Dover, Vermont. "Burton has always been about progressing the sport and doing what’s best for snowboarders, and I truly believe that this move to Vail will make the Open even better for theriders and the thousands of fans who come out to watch".
"I also couldn’t be more stoked on this", added two-time X-Games Gold Medalist Mark McMorris of Regina, Canada. "Ever since I started snowboarding, the US Open was always the main show, and knowing what Burton and Vail have in store to take this contest to the next level makes me so excited to compete there this winter".
The Burton US Open, which first took place in 1982, is now the longest-running snowboarding competition in the world. And like the sport itself, the event has morphed and changed over the past three decades - changes that not only included moving mountain locations from Suicide Six to Snow Valley to Stratton, but also changes that addressed the level of snowboarding and needs of the riders each year. Burton Founder & CEO Jake Burton has played a vital role at every step of the US Open’s history and had this to say:
"First off, I just want to thank Stratton Mountain in Vermont where the US Open took place for so long", said Jake. "Stratton not only hosted the Open for 27 years, but also played a pivotal role in making resort riding a reality. And as we look to the future progression of the US Open, I feel that Vail offers us the ideal venue to host the event. Vail is an incredible mountain and has been my snowboarding home-away-from-home for over 20 years. I have no doubt that the US Open at Vail will only grow in its legacy as the premier rider-driven event in the world".
Planning between Burton and Vail is well underway for the 2013 US Open, which includes securing final U.S. Forest Service approvals to relocate Vail’s halfpipe to a more favorable position on Golden Peak. In addition, Golden Peak’s base area will be transformed into a festival-like village with a host of exciting activities and experiences, including free, live music concerts for all riders and spectators.
"When Burton decided to move the US Open out west after 30 successful years back east, we were delighted that they chose Vail for such an important event. We look forward to hosting the world’s best snowboarders at Vail. We believe it’s a perfect marriage of two great brands in the winter sports industry and we’ll do our utmost to make this a tremendously successful endeavor", said Blaise Carrig, president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division.