Saturday, September 29, 2012

Last Freeride World Tour Stop Announced: Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc

The only missing stop in the 2013 Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face is now confirmed!Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc, Italy, will hold the first European stage of the world’s leading freeride tour. This Italian stop will be a men-only ski and snowboard event and will take place from January 19 to 25, 2013 – right after the tour’s kick-off in Revelstoke (Canada) and before the 3rd stop in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. Courmayeur is located on the south-eastern side of the Mont Blanc in the Aosta valley and welcomes the Freeride World Tour for the second time.

Here’s the complete schedule of the 2013 Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face:

1. Swatch Freeride World Tour Revelstoke 2013 by The North Face
Dates: 7 - 12 January; Location: Revelstoke (CAN)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

2. Swatch Freeride World Tour Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc 2013 by The North Face
Dates: 19 - 25 January; Location: Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc (ITA)
Disciplines: Men's Ski and Snowboard

3. Swatch Freeride World Tour Chamonix-Mont-Blanc 2013 by The North Face
Dates: 26 January - 1 February; Location: Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (FRA)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

4. Swatch Freeride World Tour Kirkwood 2013 by The North Face
Dates: 27 February - 3 March; Location: Kirkwood (USA)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

5. Swatch Freeride World Tour Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal 2013 by The North Face
Dates: 9 - 15 March; Location: Fieberbrunn-PillerseeTal (AUT)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

6. Swatch Verbier Xtreme 2013 by The North Face
Dates: 23 - 31 March; Location: Verbier (SUI)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard



Friday, September 28, 2012

Vail Resorts Introduces the New EpicLife Magazine

Vail Resorts has changed the name and redesigned the content of its resort magazine, formerly known as Peaks, to EpicLife Magazine to better align with the Company’s overall mission of providing its guests with the experience of a lifetime while visiting Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, KeystoneHeavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood resorts.
"The new direction, design and vision of EpicLife Magazine matches the Vail Resorts promise to make every aspect of our guests’ experience at our resorts ‘epic’ and to inspire them with compelling, relevant and informative content to help plan their winter vacations at our seven world-class resorts", said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts.
As part of the new format, the 2012-2013 issue of EpicLife features content from award-winning journalists and photographers, including Larry Olmsted, Edie Thys Morgan, Susan Reifer Ryan, Don Cudney, Jeff Cricco, Scott Markewitz and Jack Affleck. The magazine is designed to ignite readers' passion for the winter ahead and celebrate the mountain lifestyle, while providing an insider's perspective on the best offerings and experiences at all seven of Vail Resorts’ world-class mountains. Plus, EpicLife features highlights of the mountain lifestyle, health and fitness and the finest lodging, dining and shopping.
EpicLife also previews the latest and greatest ski and snowboard gear and fashion for the 2012-13 winter season and profiles transformational athletes Lindsey Vonn, whose record-breaking accomplishments this past season in the face of adversity are the subject of the "Girl Power" cover story, and Northstar’s Shaun White.
EpicLife is available at lodging and retail locations throughout Vail Resorts’ seven resort destinations and mailed to all Vail Resorts loyalty members and season pass holders.

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 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.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vail Resorts 2013 Outlook

On Tuesday, Vail Resorts reported results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended July 31, 2012 and provided its outlook for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2013.
Commenting on the Company's season pass sales for the upcoming 2012/2013 ski season, Katz said, "We continue to be extremely pleased with the strength of our season pass sales to date, especially coming off the challenging weather of the past ski season and the record performance we had in season passes last year. Sales of season passes through September 23, 2012 for the upcoming 2012/2013 season were up approximately 17% in units and approximately 21% in sales dollars versus the comparable period in the prior year, adjusted as if Kirkwood were owned in both periods. To date, we have sold approximately 178,000 passes for the upcoming 2012/2013 ski season. We have seen strong gains across all our key products and geographies, including from both our destination and regional guests, with particularly strong momentum in Tahoe, with the addition of Kirkwood and the Tahoe Local Pass, and in international markets. We anticipate seeing continued strength in the Tahoe market and from Europe, particularly with the recently announced addition of 3 days of skiing at Verbier to our Epic Pass. While we believe that a portion of the significant increase in sales to date is due to some timing shifts, we hope to maintain the vast majority of these absolute gains through the rest of the selling period, with a resulting moderation of the ultimate percentage increase in the program. Based on historical purchasing patterns, approximately 60% of our passes have typically been sold at this point in the selling process. It is also important to remember that all of the pass sales for the upcoming 2012/2013 ski season will be recorded as revenue in Fiscal 2013, over the course of the 2012/2013 ski season. This season pass sales performance provides a strong, pre-season indicator as we head into the 2012/2013 ski season".
Regarding advance Lodging bookings, Katz said, "Although it is still early in the cycle (less than 15% of winter season bookings are historically made by this time), we are pleased that at this point bookings are up in both room nights and revenue over the prior year".
Commenting on Fiscal 2013 guidance, Katz continued, "We would like to announce our guidance for Fiscal 2013. As always, our visibility on the upcoming season at this point in time is limited. Our guidance for Fiscal 2013 anticipates a return to more normal weather conditions and the continuation of a challenging, but stable economic environment. Based on our current estimates, our Fiscal 2013 guidance range anticipates Resort Reported EBITDA of between $260 million and $270 million, reflecting a 27% to 32% increase over Resort Reported EBITDA in Fiscal 2012. Our Real Estate segment results are impacted in any given year by the timing and mix of real estate sold and closed. For Fiscal 2013, we are estimating Real Estate Reported EBITDA of negative $9 million to negative $17 million, including approximately $2 million of non-cash stock-based compensation expense. Included in these estimates are Net Real Estate Cash Flow of $15-$25 million (defined as Real Estate Reported EBITDA, plus non-cash real estate cost of sales, plus non-cash stock-based compensation expense, plus change in real estate deposits less investment in real estate). Net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. is expected to be in a range of $50 to $60 million in Fiscal 2013". 

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 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.

Vail Resorts Reports Fiscal 2012 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results

Vail Resorts reported net income of $16.5 million in fiscal 2012, down from $34.5 million in 2011. But in a sign that last season’s snow drought has not dampened customer expectations, season pass sales for the upcoming season rose 17 percent in units, to about 178,000, and 21 percent in dollars through Sept. 23.
Commenting on the Company's Fiscal 2012 results, Rob Katz, Chief Executive Officer said, "I am very pleased with our fourth quarter and fiscal year results. In the fourth quarter, our Resort Reported EBITDA was improved compared to the prior year, reflecting enhanced summer guest visitation. For the full fiscal year, I am very proud of our results given that the 2011/ 2012 ski season was the most challenging winter in the history of the United States ski industry and our performance demonstrated the resiliency of our business model. In particular, the strength of our growing season pass business and the comprehensive and differentiated experience we provide at our resorts stabilized our revenues, in the face of very challenging weather".
Katz added, "In the Mountain Segment, net revenues actually increased 1.9% for Fiscal 2012 despite total skier visits declining 12.1% compared to Fiscal 2011. Several key factors contributed to our Mountain Segment results: the strength of season pass sales, which were up $15.8 million or 13.2% in revenue over a year ago; an increase in our effective ticket price, excluding season passes, of 9.3%; enhanced consumer spending resulting in double-digit growth in yield-per-skier visit in our ski school and dining operations and increased international visitation of approximately 2%. Each of these factors is a positive indicator as we look towards the upcoming season".
Regarding Lodging, Katz said, "Our Lodging business was also impacted by the decline in skier visitation during the season, but mitigated that impact through increased average daily rate ("ADR") and a higher mix of luxury room nights as well as strong summer operations, particularly at our Grand Teton Lodge Company operations, including the addition of the Flagg Ranch National Park concession, all resulting in an increase in total Lodging revenues (excluding payroll cost reimbursement related to managed hotel properties) of 1.1% compared to the prior fiscal year".
Katz added, "Resort Reported EBITDA declined 3.8% from Fiscal 2011 when adjusting for one time items (including the timing of the Northstar, Kirkwood and Skiinfo acquisitions and a prior year litigation settlement). We feel this modest decline is particularly noteworthy when considering that Fiscal 2011 was an all-time record snowfall year and Fiscal 2012 was the lowest snowfall season in our history".
Turning to Real Estate, Katz said, "Sales of units at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail and One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge continue to demonstrate strong momentum and met our expectations for the year. In the last quarter of Fiscal 2012, we closed on four units at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail, and one unit at One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge. For the entire fiscal year, we have closed on thirteen units at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail, and seven units at One Ski Hill Place. Real Estate net revenue in Fiscal 2012 was $47.2 million".
Katz added, "Our balance sheet remains in a very strong position. In Fiscal 2012, we generated $185.4 million of operating cash flow and ended the fiscal year with $46.1 million of cash on hand. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, in addition to paying out our quarterly dividend, we repurchased $22.5 million of stock at an average price of $46.78. As of July 31, 2012, Net Debt was 2.3 times trailing twelve months Total Reported EBITDA, and we had no borrowings under the revolver component of our senior credit facility. Additionally, we have virtually no principal payments due on debt until 2019".
Katz concluded, "I am pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend on Vail Resorts' common stock of $0.1875 per share, payable on October 25, 2012 to shareholders of record on October 10, 2012".

Mountain Segment:

  • Total Skier Visits for Fiscal 2012 were 6.1 million, versus 7.0 million in Fiscal 2011, a 12.1% decrease.
  • Mountain segment net revenue was $766.6 million for Fiscal 2012 compared to $752.2 million in the same period in the prior year, a 1.9% increase.
  • Mountain Reported EBITDA was $198.9 million for Fiscal 2012 compared to $213.2 million in the same period in the prior year, a 6.7% decrease. Excluding $3.1 million of Northstar Fiscal 2012 first quarter EBITDA losses and transition costs net of the prior year transaction costs, and $2.6 million of Kirkwood and Skiinfo acquisition timing and acquisition related costs, Mountain Reported EBITDA would reflect a 4.1% decrease from Fiscal 2011.
Despite the unprecedented adverse weather conditions, Fiscal 2012 Mountain revenue was stable due to increased season pass sales, higher pricing and increased average guest spend. Total Effective Ticket Price ("ETP") (calculated by dividing lift ticket revenue by total skier visits) for Fiscal 2012 increased 13.8% to $55.75 from $48.99 in Fiscal 2011, driven by price increases and a decline from Fiscal 2011 in visitation from season pass holders of approximately 1.2 days per pass. ETP excluding season passes increased by 9.3% and season pass revenue increased by 13.2%, including a 3% increase in units. Both ski school and dining revenues increased in Fiscal 2012 (0.6% and 0.5%, respectively) over the prior fiscal year, with retail/rental revenues increasing 4.3%. Fiscal 2012 fourth quarter results reflect strong momentum in summer revenues, with Mountain net revenues rising 11.3% to $46.4 million from $41.7 million in the same period of the prior year.
 
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 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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sochi celebrates 500 days to go until Olympic Winter Games

A host of sports and music events took place in 17 Russian cities, with the main attraction being an all-Russia national flashmob consisting of more than 12,000 Sochi 2014 volunteers drawn from the 26 Volunteer Centres. The volunteers participated in the construction of giant Olympic pictograms in squares, stadiums and indoor sports complexes of the various cities, having collected a total of all 22 images of Olympic sports.
Each pictogram was made using square blue-white shields that the volunteers held above their heads, turning around and combining them on the command of the event director. The largest-scale flashmob was held in Krasnodar, where 2,000 Sochi 2014 volunteers formed five pictograms on Theater Square: ‘Bobsleigh’, ‘Skeleton’, ‘Cross-country skiing’, ‘Freestyle cross-country skiing’ and ‘Ski Jumping’.
As well as the flashmob performances, each of the cities held a symbolic 500 metre relay representing one of the winter Olympic sports. The idea was the winning entry submitted to the All-Russian Contest "Scenario for a city event: 500 days to the Games", by Margarita Zharkova and Andrei Botsulko from the Sochi 2014 Volunteer Training Center at the Kuban State Technological University.
In Moscow, the relay represented ice hockey with participants completing the event in hockey helmets on roller blades, while in Sochi – the host city – participants demonstrated snowboarding by covering a set distance on skateboards.
The President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said: "We have reached another significant milestone: there are now only 500 days remaining until the XXII Olympic Winter Games. In fact, we have entered the finishing straight in our preparations for this extremely important event in Russia's history. I'm glad that this celebration has managed to involve, both in terms of spectacle and the scale, the whole country into Games preparations".
Sochi was elected as the host city for the XXII Olympic Winter Games at the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala City on 4 July 2007. Sochi won the vote against the cities of Salzburg (Austria) and PyeongChang (Republic of Korea) in the second round of voting. The Russian city edged out PyeongChang 51 votes to 47, with Salzburg having been eliminated in round one. The Sochi 2014 Games will play host to the seven Olympic Winter sports (Skiing, Skating, Luge, Biathlon, Ice Hockey, Curling, and Bobsleigh) currently on the Olympic programme and will run from 7 to 23 February 2014.

Monday, September 24, 2012

X Games joins TTR World Snowboard Tour

X Games Aspen and Tignes will be official events on the World Snowboard Tour starting this winter, TTR Pro Snowboarding announced Monday.
It will be a big year for competitive snowboarding. X Games Aspen will join the Arctic Challenge, the Beijing and Innsbruck Air & Style competitions, and the Burton U.S. and European Opens as a 6Star event on the 2012-13 tour. X Games Tignes, also a 6Star event, will count toward Tour points for the 2013-14 season.
TTR also will co-sanction the 2012-13 USSA Grand Prix competitions as 5Star events. The Grand Prix has been elevated to FIS World Cup status this year, so those events will count for Olympic qualification points as well as points on the World Snowboard Tour.
The original dream of the TTR, back when legendary snowboarder Terje Haakonsen founded it as "Ticket To Ride" in 2002, was to unite the many independent snowboard events of the time under the umbrella of one tour so there could be one definitive champion of snowboarding at the end of a winter season. The structure of that tour has gone through a number of changes since then, such as the inclusion of women; the inception of a one-to-six-star tiered ranking system for events in 2005-06; the addition of discipline-specific champion titles in slopestyle, big air and halfpipe in 2011-12; and the name change from TTR World Tour to simply the World Snowboard Tour this year. Still, the underlying, simple dream that started it all has remained the same: to make all of these events count for something more than just individual wins.
The Winter X Games have always stood apart from this, as if on an island where no other contest before or after really mattered. By becoming a part of the Tour, the X Games also become part of a larger narrative that, combined with the other decades-old, highly prestigious snowboard events on the WST, will tell the true highs-and-lows story of an entire competitive season.
On the TTR side, while other high-level events have straggled in and out of the picture over the years, the Burton U.S. Open has been the only 6Star event to continuously represent the TTR Tour in North America. For this reason, interest in competing in the full circuit on what has largely been seen as a European tour has waxed and waned among riders on this side of the planet. With the addition of X Games Aspen to the WST lineup, the Tour's importance in North America should increase dramatically.
And because riders on the top of the WST points list will get X Games invites, the incentive to compete in the full tour will be that much higher.
As to why Tignes will count toward next season's Tour points instead of this one, Tim Reed, senior director of content strategy for ESPN X Games, said: "X Games and TTR worked to include X Games Tignes as part of the 2013 World Snowboard Tour, but unfortunately X Games could not fulfill on all of the necessary event requirements for a final tour stop, so the collective decision was made to have X Games Tignes become the first event on the 2014 calendar. Needless to say, it will be a great way to kick off 2014 tour schedule".
Although it is not likely that the splitting-up of Aspen and Tignes X Games events between WST tour years will continue past this season, there is a benefit to the current division.
Those who have been following the dramatic ups and downs of TTR's attempts to negotiate with the FIS on Olympic qualification matters over the past two years know that stacked competition calendars have been a massive stress for snowboarders hoping to get one of their country's team spots in the Winter Games. Riders are often forced to pick between Olympic-sanctioned FIS competitions and TTR events, causing them to miss out on the full TTR season one out of every four years.
With Tignes counting toward 2014 WST points, "what we're hoping is that, by getting the opportunity to achieve a 6Star result before the Olympics, riders see it as a way to alleviate some pressure", TTR executive board member Maria McNulty said.
"The X Games is one of the most important events to us", 2012 TTR Big Air champion Seppe Smits said. "It's really great that it's a part of the World Snowboard Tour now. It's also relieving to know that with the Grand Prix serving as both Tour points and World Cup result, this gives us at least a little breathing room in an extremely packed season. We all prefer to ride the World Snowboard Tour events and appreciate the efforts of TTR to work on unifying the tour and making it less hard on us to plan".
The Olympic qualifying period kicked off in New Zealand in August and will continue until January 2014.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pitztal & IDE All Weather Snowmaker Launching Event

Next Monday Pitztal will host the launching event of the IDE All Weather Snowmaker. The Pitztal Glacier sparkles with a technical novelty, setting a new benchmark for a future-proof and environmentally-friendly use of the highest glacier ski area in Austria. The IDE All Weather Snowmaker –an innovation from Israel – makes it possible for the first time to produce snow without having to depend on Temperature, Humidity, and Wind. With traditional snowmaking systems, the temperature has to be at least minus 6 degrees Celsius and the humidity no more than 60 percent. The wind is also important if snow canons and lances are to be used economically. With the IDE Snowmaker, these factors don't come into the equation.
The Snowmaker will be used alongside the existing snowmaking equipment with canons and lances, in particular at the start of the season in autumn and in late spring.
The "Snowmaker system" can produce approximately 950 cubic metres of snow in 24 hours and is highly energy-efficient. The electrical load for the system is similar to a mid-sized chair lift, the electrical power consumption is approximately 500 KW, exactly the same as 6 standard snow cannons.
IDE Technology is one of the world leaders in design and construction of seawater desalination, water treatment and ice and snow plants. Since 1965 the company installed about 400 plants in over 40 countries world wide. IDE welcomes the Pitztal Glacier as a bold investor who has recognized the future prospects of the IDE All Weather Snowmaker at an early stage.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vail Resorts Receives a Travel + Leisure 2012 Global Vision Award

Travel + Leisure announced that Vail Resorts is a recipient of a 2012 Global Vision Award in leadership for its efforts in social responsibility and environmental stewardship. The Travel + LeisureGlobal Vision Awards recognize the outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations working to preserve the world's natural and man-made treasures. Travel + Leisure has recognized Vail Resorts for Leadership with the Company’s social responsibility and environmental stewardship program, Vail Resorts Echo.
"We are humbled to be named a recipient of a Travel + Leisure Global Vision Award and accept the honor on behalf of our employees and guests who have helped us raise millions of dollars for forest health, build incredible conservation programs at all of our resorts and give countless volunteer hours in our local communities", said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. "Our resorts operate in some of the greatest and most iconic natural environments in the world, and we are compelled to preserve them and inspire our communities and guests to be a part of this effort. We know this award will help further that cause", he added.
Vail Resorts focuses on preserving the environment through a focus on forest health and resource conservation and building stronger communities through non-profit partnerships and community engagement. In the last year, the Company has contributed more than $6. 5 million to non-profits committed to creating a brighter future for local kids and to helping keep Colorado and Tahoe forests healthy.
The Company is also focused on making its operations sustainable. After successfully reducing energy use by 10 percent since 2008, Vail Resorts has also committed to another 10 percent reduction through the new "The Next Ten" program. In addition, the Company is working towards zero waste restaurants, continuing to conserve water through innovative programs like Water on the Rocks in its lodging properties and to continually identifying greater efficiencies in its daily operations.
Vail Resorts engages its employees in giving back in their local communities with volunteer programs like the new Epic Volunteers, a program that will offer 50 employees 40 hours of paid time to volunteer – locally or even internationally. The Company also encourages employees to spend time giving back with their families and friends through Vail Resorts Echo Day. This companywide volunteer day, which just occurred on Sept. 15, boosted seven local community projects from Lake Tahoe to Jamaica, resulting in 1,046 volunteers giving 4,100 service hours.
Vail Resorts was selected as a Global Vision Award winner by a group of distinguished jurors who selected 20 winners total in the categories of Sustainability, Conservation, Community Building, Preservation and Leadership. The judges included award-winning industrial designer Yves Béhar; Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund; conservationist and philanthropist Gregory Carr; David Gensler, executive director of global design firm Gensler; Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts; Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International; Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz; Anya Schiffrin, director of Columbia University’s media and advocacy program; and John Wood, founder of Room to Read.


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 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, September 15, 2012

Essentials of Tourism Destination Management: Ski & Mountain Resorts

Take a look at the content of my new website: http://www.skiresortsmanagement.com/index.html

There you can take a look at my presentations, cases of study, workshops and the content of my seminar about Ski Resorts Management.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Karrera and Reiter from Team Salomon International Win the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2012

After eight days, 320 km and approximately 15,000 m of ascending and descending saw the euphoric and emotional final finish line of the 2012 Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run. Bright sunshine and big crowds in the beautiful final stage town of Sexten welcomed the runners with raucous support. After seven stage wins, two stage records and a time of 2.58.56, Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter from Team Salomon International showed their world class dominance on the trail to claim overall victory in the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN 2012. The pair commented that consistent pace, good conditions and lots of technical climbing and descending, which both consider their strength aided them to their supreme dominance and overall victory of the race. Karrera commented the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN 2012 win has interested him in more stage racing, and despite his own brilliance, he was quick to focus on Reiter’s accomplishments saying at only 21 he was going to be a name to dominate trail and ultra trail events in the future. Reiter’s victory at the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN 2012 adds to recent individual wins at the Salomon 4 Trails and Salomon Zugspitz Ultratrail in 2012.
Coming in second place today and overall 2nd, Team Gore Running Wear, of Florian Holzinger and Volkmar Rolfes from Germany crossed the finish line in 3.11.18. The pair, who were consistently strong in the race, were ecstatic at their second placing overall, commenting they would have never expected this considering the scale and prestige of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. Crossing the finish line 3rd in 3.14.43 and 3rd overall in Men’s standings were Eybl Salomon Running Team of Gerhard Russegger and Markus Frickh from Austria.
The final stage into Sexten affords the runners with some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery the course has to offer and with clear skies and full sunshine the finish in 2012 has not disappointed. The final climb of the race gave the runners a perfect clear view of the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Drei Zinnen’ the famous pinnacles of the Dolomites. These views provided runners some with their most beautiful trail running experiences to date, adding to the emotions and euphoria and sense of accomplishmentat completing one of the world’s toughest, dramatic and technical stage trail races. The distinguished‘Finisher 2012’ T-shirt will be worn with pride today and in the year to come by the teams whose legs, spirits and endurance have gotten them here.
After six stage wins and a strong dominance of the race Gitti Schiebel and Ildikó Wermescherof Team Mountain Heroes claimed victory in the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. The duo who only meta few days before racing got underway crossed the finish line in 4.00.09 winning the race by a huge margin of 2 hours and 56 minutes. Coming in second in the women’s race was Team SCLT Breitenback of Jutta Buschmann and Kristin Berglund, who finished strong, only 12 minutes behind the leaders. Completing the women’s podium, 6 hours and 37minutes after the leaders in the overall standings were Kristin Berglund and Cornelia Hauser-Ruckli of Team Schwizer Bärggeisse.
The Mixed Category produced some of the most exciting racing throughout the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. After some close finishes Irene Senfter and Stefan Tschurtschenthaler of Team Südtirol Dolomiti Superbikeclaimed overall victory and finished today in 3.31.50. Only 33 minutes behind Karrera and Reiter, the pair showed the strengthand caliber of racing in the mixed category. Team Buff of Chemari Bustillo and Nuria Dominguez claimed overall second place crossing the line today in 3.43.09. Improving performances throughout the race allowed Team Paralelo 70 of Manuel Rodriguez and Mercedes Arcos to finish third overall and crossed the line today in 4.03.09.
An exciting last day of racing between the masters men saw a close finish with Team Stunde Des Herzens of Stefan Zäh and Ralph Klisch cross the line first in the category in 3.20.35. However a sustained pace and clever racing by Marcus Kröll and Helmut Schiessel from Team Salomon Austria gained them overall victory in the category. The pair crossed the finish line in 3.24.40 to big cheers and support. Finishing a minute behind and third overall in the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN were Team Orthomol Sport of Stefan Lang and Thomas Drechsler.
The winners of the senior master men showed their endurance and strength on the trail with some brilliant finishes in the overall rankings. The category was won by Gerald Rüschenpöhler and Jörg Schreiber of Trail Team Kempten Hildrizhausen who finished today’s stage in 3.25.21, a commanding performance. Finishing 3 hours and 23 minutes later in the overall times were second placed Team Ahrntal of Paul Steinhauser and Hermann Schaiter crossing today’s finish line in 3.59.49. Third overall in thesenior masters were Team Allgäuspeed of Eugen Sinz and Rolf Schlachter crossing the line today in 4.54.34.

Team Americas Wins 2012 Swatch Skiers Cup!

Due to unsafe snow conditions on today's intended Backcountry Slopestyle course, athletes and organizers took a last minute decision to change plans and hold a tiebreak-style match with only three riders from each team on a higher venue with better snow conditions. After the uncertainty and suspense of the final day, and due to amazing performances from its chosen riders, Team Americas emerged victorious, winning the 2nd edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup.

Cody Townsend (USA) 1 – 0 Mathieu Imbert (FRA)
Chopo Diaz (CHILI) 0 – 1 Marcus Eder (ITA)
KC Deane (USA) 1 – 0 Paddy Graham (UK)

Changing the format of the event at the last minute was an extremely difficult decision for organizers and athletes alike. The variety of riding that both the Big Mountain and Backcountry Slopestyle heats offer is a trademark of the SWATCH SKIERS CUP, and everyone involved was wary of losing out on the freestyle component of this progressive event. However, thanks to the quick action of the organizers, and incredible riding by the athletes, the event was able to showcase cutting-edge riding in a high-mountain venue behind Valle Nevado ski area.
Each team had to choose only three riders to compete in the tie-break. "I chose my guys based on a combination of their motivation and enthusiasm in the moment and their abilities as creative freestyle skiers, because what I want is to push the level of riding at the event. If we would have won today we would have won with style", commented event co-founder and Team Europe captain Sverre Liliequist.
Event judge Mark Abma also had praise for the riding of Team Europe. "Markus Eder's run was amazing, spinning 360s in both directions and incorporating a rodeo 540 and a rodeo 720, all off of the natural terrain found on this backup venue", said Abma.
In the end, however, Team Europe couldn't stop the charge of Team Americas. With the score tied after the first two matches, it was up to KC Deane (USA) and Paddy Graham (UK). Paddy was building an impressive run, but took a hard impact on the landing of one of his airs, putting his knees to his chin, bringing his run to an end. Deane dropped in with a huge backflip at the top of the face and finished the run in impressive style, thus winning the tiebreaker and the SWATCH SKIERS CUP trophy for his team.
The conclusion of the second edition of the SWATCH SKIERS CUP is also a victory for the event itself. Organizers are proud to announce today that the next edition of the SWATCH SKIERS CUP will be held in Zermatt, Switzerland in front of the legendary Matterhorn from the 9th through the 16th of Februrary, 2013.
The event born in the minds of Sverre Liliequist and Kaj Zackrisson is here to stay ! Swatch Proteam member Kaj Zackrisson comments: "This is a dream come true! We are very excited to announce that we will meet next February in Zermatt. We knew from the beginning we had a super fun event concept, and this has let us attract the best skiers in the world. Get ready for more!".
Freeride World Tour standout and mountain guide Samuel Anthamatten responded enthusiastically to the news that the event is coming to his home town. "Zermatt is proud to host the 2013 edition of the SWATCH SKIERS CUP. The playground we have here is endless -- surrounded by the highest mountains in the Alps, Zermatt offers challenging venues and a spectacular panorama. The local community will live the event with passion and we are looking forward to welcoming riders and guests for an amazing time!".
Such a world-class event wouldn't be possible without the continued support of its title sponsor, SWATCH. "As a long-term partner of the Freeride World Tour and the SWATCH SKIERS CUP, we're thrilled to see this amazing event come to Europe for the first time. Zermatt is a fantastic, world-class venue, and its a great opportunity for the world's most exciting freeskiers, including the SWATCH ProTeam's Kaj Zackrisson, Sverre Liliequist, and Richard Permin, to showcase their talent and passion for the sport", commented Marco Vaccari, Head of International Marketing for SWATCH.
Last but not least, the two team captains for the next edition have already been confirmed. Cody Townsend (USA) will lead Team Americas and Kaj Zackrisson (SWE) will be in the driver's seat of Team Europe. Until they meet in the shadow of the Matterhorn, Team Americas will proudly guard the SWATCH SKIERS CUP trophy, their names now engraved on this piece of ski history.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The 2012 Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run Reaches the Dolomites

The penultimate stage of the 2012 Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run got underway from the beautiful village of St.Vigil without a hitch.Weather conditions continued to improve as the day dawned with clear conditions that would remain for the remainder of the stage. As the runners began their journey deeper into the heart of the Dolomites,towards the finish line inNiederdorf, it was evident that spirits had once again lifted after a tiring stage 6.
The stand out duo of this year’s event, the pairing of Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter from Team Salomon International, once again showed why they represent the pinnacle of the sport as they claimed yet another stage victory. Arriving in Niederdorf, Italy in a time of 4:16.10, it was apparent that, even with a time cushion of more than 1 hour and 30 minutes over their nearest rivals, they were not ready to take their foot off the accelerator just yet. Second place for the stage went once again to Florian Holzinger andVolkmar Rolfes fromTeam Gore Running Wear who finished in another solid time of 4:34.00, who continue to run consistantly to hold on to second position overall.
Chatting with race organizers after the stage, Philipp Reiter commented on the great atmosphere of this year’s GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN, particularly referring to today's stage. "At aid station 2, alongside a big lake, the local villagers had come out in huge numbers to support the runners. It really gave me goose-bumps to be there!", said Reiter.
With just one stage left to go, the womens category continues to see an epic performance by Gitti Schiebel and Ildikó Wermescher, the German/Hungarian pairing of Team Mountain Heroes, as they added 22 minutes to their overall lead, finishing in Niderdorf in a time of 5:58.30. Second place went to Jutta Buschmann and Kristin Berglund of Team SCLT Breitenbach once again who continue to slip further back in these closing stages of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN, finishing in a time of 6:12.12.
Irene Senfter and Stefan Tschurtschenthaler of Team Sudtirol Dolomiti Superbike continue turn on the pace in these late stages of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN as they take a second stage victory. Crossing the finishline in a time of 4:46.26, and extending thier newfound lead by 25 minutes and 31 seconds, means that a comfortable run on stage eight will secure them the overall victory.
Having no option but to run for second place was the Spanish duo of Che Bustillo and Nuria Dominguez from Team Buff, who had no answer to Senfter and Tschurtschenthaler's improving form. They crossed the finish line in Niederdorf in a time of 5:11.55.
As the sun’s warm rays fell on the picturesque town center of Niederdorf, it was once again the pairing of Christian Stork and Michael Veit of Team Salomon Masters who stole the limelight. Continuing to run impeccably, Stork and Veit finished in a time of 4:40.51, further extending their overall lead. Stefan Zäh and Ralph Klisch of Team Stunde Des Herzens, continued to follow suit and crossed the finishline in a time of 4:46.18.
Proving that age is merely a number, Gerald Rüschenpöhler and Jörg Schreiber of Team Kempten Hildrizhausen demonstrated one of the most dominating stage performances in GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN history, beating their nearest rivals by 1 hour, 4minutes and 40 seconds to claim today’s stage victory and extend their lead into the final stage. Crossing the finishline in a time of 4:49.41, they were dramatically only 33 minutes and 15 seconds behind the men's stage winners, and in sixth place overall.Team Ahrntal, of Peter Steinhauser and Herman Schaiter, had nothing left in the tank on stage 7 as they distantly trailed Rüschenpöhler and Schreiber to finish in a time of 5:53.01.

Stage 8 Snapshot -Niederdorf im Pustertal to Sexten

The final stage of the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN requires runners to get through 33.4km to the beautiful Italian town of Sexten. Not the shortest of the stages but certainly the route with the least altitude difference, this stage begins at 1180m in Niederdorf and will take all competitors through some of the most beautiful scenery of the entire event. The first half of the route is relatively flat as runners make their way to the 2nd aid station. From here the runners, after eight days of alpine runningtake on the final steep ascent of the race climbing up to Driezinnehutte at 2405m. The breathtaking views across the Dolomites in the predicted bright sunshine can then be enjoyed by the runner, including the backdrop of the famous Drie Zinnen, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its all downhill to the finish from there as the route descends to the finishline in Sexten, to a emotional and euphoric final finish line of the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN.

Now Ski Vail Resorts and Verbier on the Epic Pass

Vail Resorts announced an unprecedented partnership with Verbier, that will enhance the already incredible value of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, providing three days of free access to the Verbier ski resort, including Les 4 Vallées, the largest ski area in Switzerland, for new and renewing 2012-2013 Epic Pass holders. In addition to unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at eight world-class mountain resorts in the United States, Epic Pass holders will now have the opportunity to extend their winter from the U.S. to Europe, and experience four additional premier mountain resorts including the illustrious Verbier resort, as well as Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon, Switzerland. This exciting new partnership allows 2012/2013 Epic Pass Holders to ski for up to 3 Free days at Verbier, including the 4 Vallées and for annual 4 Vallées pass holders to ski for up to 3 Free days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood.
The unrestricted three free days of skiing and riding will be reciprocated for Les 4 Vallées season pass holders, allowing more European guests to experience Vail Resorts, including the award-winning application EpicMix.
"Vail Resorts Epic Pass holders already receive an incredible experience with unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail Resorts’ seven world-class resorts in the United States, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, as well as Arapahoe Basin, but we wanted to further enhance the value for our British guests by offering Epic Pass holders three free days of skiing at the legendary Verbier ski resort, including Les 4 Vallées, Switzerland", said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts. "Verbier, including Les 4 Vallées, offers a truly exceptional ski and snowboard experience that offers the same incredible terrain and outstanding guest service that we provide at our seven world-class resorts. Now for the 2012-2013 ski season Vail Resorts Epic Pass holders can expand their experience of a lifetime from the U.S. to Europe, and we are thrilled to welcome Verbier pass-holders to our resorts".
"We are very pleased to announce our partnership with Vail Resorts, providing an exceptional added value for our pass holders and Epic Pass holders alike", said Eric A. Balet, chief executive officer of Téléverbier SA. "Our passes provide unparalleled benefits and access to the best skiing in Europe, and now in North America. We are thrilled to be working together with Vail Resorts to provide our clientele such incredible added value and excited that our pass holders will benefit as a result of this strong partnership".
The  Verbier "4Vallées" ski area connects the resorts of Verbier, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon. Comprised of 92 lifts and 412km of ski runs, it is the largest ski area located entirely in Switzerland. The "4Vallées" ski area attracts snowsport enthusiasts of all ages and levels, and offers a magnificent setting thanks to its unparalleled sun exposure, and great snow quality. From Mont-Fort, the ski area’s culminating point (3,330m), visitors can take in breathtaking views of the Matterhorn, the Grand Combin and the Mont Blanc.

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.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mixed Team pulls off the performance of the Gore-Tex Transalpin-Run so far on stage 6

Stage 6 of the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run got underway in the scenic town of Sand In Taufers, South Tirol, as locals and supporters lined the streets offering their vocal support. With Race Director Wolfgang Pohl having announced the weather forecast as being "ideal running conditions, with sunshine and cool temperatures expected", tired runners began the day feeling excited and inspired. Being a relatively flat stage, apart from the one major ascent to the Kronplatz in the final section of the stage, competitors looked forward to a day of open running, giving them the chance to stretch out some aches and pains.
The pairing of Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter from Team Salomon International, once again delivered a flawless effort in the blazing South Tirol sunshine. Crossing the finish line in a time of 3:54.16, Karrera and Reiter were all smiles in the realization that they could relax ahead of the last two stages through the Dolomites. Second place went once again to Florian Holzinger and Volkmar Rolfes from Team Gore Running Wear who finished in a time of 4:04.18, who continue to run solidly to hold onto second position overall.
The performance of the day however had to have been in the Mixed category as the duo of Stefan Tschurtschenthaler and Irene Senfter from Team Südtirol Domomiti Superbike, dominate to take the stage win and claim 4th overall on the day. Senfter, a GORE-TEX®TRANSALPINE-RUN veteran, has won the event on three previous occasions.
Continuing along a path of dominance in the Women's category at the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN was Gitti Schiebel and Ildikó Wermescher of Team Mountain Heroes, crossing the finish line in St. Vigill in 4:58.30. Second place finishers, Jutta Buschmann and Kristin Berglund of Team SCLT Breitenbach seemed to battle some what in the heat of the midday sun and finished a further 34 minutes in a time of 5:32.22.
Stage6 once again saw some exciting changes take place in the Mixed category, as Irene Senfter and Stefan Tschurtschenthaler of Team Sudtirol Dolomiti Superbike showcased one of the performances of the event so far. Finishing almost 17 minutes ahead of Che Bustillo and Nuria Dominguez from Team Buff, they crossed the finish line in St. Vigil in a time of 4:21.17, meaning they now command a 12 minute overalll lead as the event enters its closing stages.. Bustillo and Dominguez could just not maintain the pace of thelast 5 stages, crossing the finishline in a slower time of 4:38.02 dropping to second place overall.
Drama also prevailed in the Mixed category as Roman Nef, running with Gaby Steigmeier in Team Salomon Swiss,was forced to withdraw due to injury. Steigmeier will continue the race in the singles category, opening the door for Anton and Simone Philipp from Team Plan B –Salomon who finished today's stage in 4th and now take over the overall third position.
Christian Stork and Michael Veit of Team Salom on Masters now continue to add daylight between themselves and the rest of the field as they add stage win number three to their tally. Finishing in a time of 4:17.25, almost nine minutes ahead of their once again nearest rivals of the day, Stefan Zähand Ralph Klisch of Team Stunde Des Herzens, Stork and Veit can now relax in the knowledge of their extensive overall lead.
The duel for positions in the Senior Masters category continued on stage 5 withTrail team Kempten Hildrizhausen of Gerald Rüschenpöhler and Jörg Schreiber putting in an epic performance to finish today’s stage first, 19 minutes and 38 seconds ahead of Team Ahrntal of Peter Steinhauser and Herman Schaiter.In third place, and gaining ground on the overall lead, was Jürgen Klöpfel and Andreas Soff Team Schiller Staffel Lauflinge who crossed the finish line in 5:34.07.
Unfortunately it was bad news for Hans Hörmann and Rudi Schöpf of Team Mountain Heroes who, while desperately hanging onto second place overall, suffered an injury withdrawal before the start of stage six meaning they are out of contention.

Stage7 Snapshot - St. Vigil to Niederdorf im Pustertal

Steep climbing continues as runners now near the end of the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. 42 km of ideal running terrain awaits all competitors on this stage as they begin through the Tamerstal to Pederu with the first major ascent early on in the day. After climbing to the Sennes hutte, the route continues on an extremely steep gradient to the Sennes Plateau, one of the most impressively beautiful alpine meadows within the Dolomites.From there, the route makes its way to the Seekoefelhutte and the Alta, via Dolomite no. 1, where runners will then reach the Prager Wildsee.After this section, another brief ascent to the Weislahnscharte then turns the runners in a northerly route to Niederdorf.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sprint Finish From Karrera and Reiter To Claim Stage 5 Record

With the stage town of Prettau in Ahrntal marking the halfway point of the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run, the tiny village centre was buzzing with the realization that the back of the race had officially been broken. Competitors readied themselves in the chilly morning air, preparing for the relatively short yet steep stage that lay ahead. With skies somewhat clearer then the previous four days, and with the surrounding Alpine peaks towering prominently above the race village, racing got underway at 8.00am sharp.
Once again it was the Spanish-German duo of Team Salomon International, Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter, proving their extreme running pedigree as they claimed the stage win in a lightening quick time of 3:37.51, breaking the existing stage record by just over a minute. Second place finishers Florian Holzinger and Volkmar Rolfesof Team Gore Running Wear, continued their impressive effort, finishing a further 10 minutes back, in a time of 3:47.22, maintaining their second place overall.
With under a kilometer to go until the finish line, Reiter and Karerra soon realized they could break the record. Karrera described the decision saying "I looked over at Philipp and shouted, come on, we can do this!" At the post stage interview, Reiter laughed and commented that "I thought Iker was trying to kill me, but I’m happy that we broke the record." Iker and Philip extended their lead of the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN to one hour 14 minutes after five stages and 207km of racing.
The GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN continued to claim further casualties as yet more teams withdrew. Rumors began emerging about whether or not the Team Inov-8 pairing of Billy Burns and Ben Abdelnoor would continue after stage 4. Burns has suffered excruciating knee pain in the early stages of stage 4, with Abdelnoor finishing alone. At the start line in Prettau however it was evident that the injuries were severe as a lone Abdelnoor toed the start line.
Overall race leaders Gitti Schiebel and Ildikó Wermescher of Team Mountain Heroes, continue their impecable running at the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN, crossing the finish line in Sand In Taufers in 4:54.13. With so many teams having already dropped out, Schiebel and Wermescher decided that they would ease of the pace and run a conservative stage. Second place finishers, Jutta Buschmann and Kristin Berglund of Team SCLT Breitenbach finished 20 minutes laterin a time of 5.14.01 however the duo lie one hour and 56 minutes behind Team Mountain Heroes in the overall standings.
Stage 5 saw some exciting changes in the Mixed category, where the competition remains fierce. Team Buff took the stage victory with Che Bustillo and Nuria Dominguez finishing strong in a time of 4.07.25. Crossing the finish line eight minutes behind them, today’s second finishers Irene Senfter and Stefan Tschurtschenthaler ofTeam Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike are only four minutes and 38 seconds behind in the overall standings, making for some very tight and exciting racing in final three stages. Team Salomon Swiss, of Gaby Steigmeier and Roman Nef finished today’s stage in 3rd place in 4.33.36.
Christian Stork and Michael Veit of Team Salomon Masters once again prove their near flawlless racing strategy to notch up their second stage win 3.57.39, eight minutes ahead of their nearest rivals, Stefan Zäh and Ralph Klisch of Team Stunde Des Herzens. Stork and Veit managed extend their new ovearall lead to over an hour and lie 14th overall in the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. Second placed Zäh and Klisch crossed the finishline in 4:06.03, with Thomas Drechsler and Stefan Lang from Team Orthomol Sport in 4.17.08.
The duel for positions in the Senior Masters category continued on stage 5 with Trail team Kempten Hildrizhausen of Gerald Rüschenpöhler and Jörg Schreiber putting in a commanding performance to finish today’s stage first, 18 minutes and 42 seconds ahead of Team Ahrntal of Peter Steinhauser and Herman Schaiter. Hans Hörmann and Rudi Schöpf of Team Mountain Heroes finished today’s stage in third place in 4.44.32 but remain second overall in the standings of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN senior master category.

Stage 6 Snapshot -Sand in Taufers to St. Vigil

Just when runners thought that it was all downhill to the finish, stage 6 delivers the the most brutal day of climbing with almost 2300m of altitude difference. Crossing the east slope of Taufers Tal ,runners head towards St. Vigil via Unteregelsbach, Gais and Dietenheim and Bruneck. After crossing the Reinz, runners will tackle the seemingly neverending ascent to Kronplatz, offering beautiful vistas towards the Dolomites in the south. The final section towards St. Vigil is steep and unprotected so runners will need to remain surefooted.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Karrera and Reiter still leads the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run

Once again, cooler and overcast conditions prevailed, as the start of stage 4 of the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run got underway in the small alpine village of Neukirchen. Even the tough running conditions of stage 3 could not lower the morale of the competitors, as teams made their way to the start line excited and ready to tackle the Birnlücke, the highest peak of the race.
Continuing to showcase their dominance at this year’s event, Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter of Team Salomon International, put in another solid performance to outclass their nearest rivals once again. Maintaining a good lead from early on in the stage, Karrera and Reiter crossed the finish line in Prettau am Ahrntal in a time of 4:16.45. Earlier in the morning Reiter had commented "I know the stage pretty well but with a lot of flat running, anything can happen".The local knowledge seemed to pay off however as they never put a stride wrong and won comfortably over second place finishers Florian Holzinger and Rolfes Volkmar of Team Gore Running Wear, finishing in 4:28.49, a further 12 minutes back.
Today’s stage was also not short of its fair share of drama. The biggest shock came in the Masters category as overall leaders, Marcus Kröll and former mountain running world champion Helmut Schiessel from Team Salomon Austria Germany, were forced to withdraw due to injury, mere minutes after the start. It never ended there, as Billy Burns from Team Inov-8 began suffering knee troubles early on in the stage, leaving fellow team mate Ben Abdelnoor to finish the stage alone, meaning the team will now have to exit the race.
Another unfortunate withdrawal was that of Team Sexton Salomon, Elisabeth Egarter and Petra Theiner, changing the landscape of the Women’s category on stage 4 of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. Overall leaders Gitti Schiebel and Ildikó Wermescher of Team Mountain Heroes, maintained their first place, crossing the finish line in Prettau in 5:26.55. Second place finishers, Jutta Buschmann and Kristin Berglund of Team SCLT Breitenbach finished only a few minutes back in a time of 5:28.20, taking over the second position overall.
Racing remains fierce in Mixed category as Irene Senfter and StefanTschurtschenthaler of Team Sudtirol Dolomiti Superbike, Che Bustillo and Nuria Dominguez of Team Buff and Gaby Steigmeier and Roman Nef of Team Salomon Schweiz, continue to battle one another. In the end though it was Senfter and Tschurtschenthaler who managed to open up almost an eleven minute lead over the closing stages of the route to win in a time of 4:49.44 ahead of Bustillo and Dominguez in second, crossing the finish line in 5:00.08.
With the door to the Masters category flung wide open, due to the withdrawal of Kröll and Schiessel, it was the turn of Christian Stork and Michael Veit of Team Salomon Masters to turn up the heat, running a stellar stage to finish almost 23 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals in 4:26.20. In second place, and running well to retain their overall position, but a further 22 minutes off the pace, was the German duo Stefan Zäh and Ralph Klisch of Team Stunde des Herzens, crossing the finish line in 4:48.58.
Competition seemed fierce in the Senior Masters category on stage 4 as the current top two ranked teams jostled for position relentlessly throughout the day. In the end however it was Hans Hörmann and Rudi Schöpf of Team Mountain Heroes who edged ahead in the last few hundred meters to cross the finish line in a time of 4:57.28, twenty seconds ahead of stage 3 winners Gerald Rüschenpöhler and Jörg Schreiber of Team Kempten Hildrizhausen, who finished in 4:57.48. The exciting racing between these two teams is sure to continue as the event reaches the closing stages in the Dolomites.

Stage 4 Snapshot -Prettau in Ahrntal to Sand in Taufers

Having already crossed the border into Italy stage 5 takes the runners a step closer to the Dolomites. At only 32.8 kilometers, stage 5 is the shortest of the 8 stages but competitors will not be able to take their foot off the gas just yet, as the climbing continues with almost 2000m of altitude difference across the route. On their way to the heart of the Tieserfernegruppe, runners will get to enjoy the high alpine terrain with views across the Zillertaler Alps. After a brief descent to Durra Alm, competitors will then traverse the Reintal, finishing with a scramble along theReinbach waterfalls before Sandin Taufers.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Karrera and Reiter Claim a Stage Record and Extend Their Lead at the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run

Stage three of the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2012 didn’t disappoint with another emphatic stage victory by Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter of Team Salomon International. The duo dominated the stage from the start finishing in 4.38.54 beating the stage record by 40 seconds set in 2010 by Tom Owens and Andy Symonds. On their strategy for the next few stages, Reiter humbly replied to ‘just run!’ and maintain their position. The pair continued to show their class, especially on the technical downhill sections where they were able to extend their lead. The final steep descent into today’s stage town Neukirchen was lined with inquisitive tourists to welcome the leaders.
The normally dramatic scenery afforded by the ridge between Schontaljoch and Wildkogelbahn upper station was unfortunately shrouded in fog, with the runners having to be vigilant for the Gore-Tex course markings rather than the usual breathtaking views across the Austrian Alps.
Team Gore RunningWear, of Florian Holzinger and Rolfes Volkmar from Germany were all smiles at the finish line coming in second place in 4.53.53. The duo were ecstatic with their placing, having met only shortly before the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN and with limited stage racing experience, the pair can rightly be pleased with today’s performance which ranks them third overall.
Stage one winners Billy Burns and Ben Abdelnoor of Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear came in third but retain their second placing overall in the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. Billy commented that their pace was consistent and strong on the uphill’s however they lost ground on the technical downhill sections and finished today’s stage in 5.12.31.
Another impressive run by Gitti Schiebel and Ildikó Wermescher of Team Mounta in Heroes, saw them leading from start to finish crossing the finish line into the picturesque Neukirchen in 5.58.47. This leaves them 43 minutes ahead of Elisabeth Egarter and Petra Theiner of Team Sexton Salomon who crossed the finish line second in 6.09.03 and lie second overall in the Women category.
Yet again the Mixed Category in the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN proved an exciting battle for the finish line. Irene Senfter and Stefan Tschurtschenthaler of Team Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike and Gaby Steigmeier and Roman Nef clocked an identical 5.42.06 crossing the line together. The teams pushed each otherhard throughout today’s 46km both fairing well on the technical terrain and not allowing any major gap to be formed. The two teams were closely followed by Team Buff of Chemari Bustillo and Nuria Dominguez who finished in third position in 5.43.47.
Continuing their winning streak in the Masters Category, Marcus Kröll and former mountain running world champion Helmut Schiessel from Team Salomon Austria Germany triumphed once again on stage 3, winning in a time of 4.56.55. Enjoying what Schiesseldescribed as ‘ideal conditions’ the pair were measured in their victory, with Schiessel aware ofsecond placed Team Salomon Masters, of Christian Stork and Michael Veit’s experience at long stage racing. Schiessel said their strategy was to retain their pace and consistency for the five stages to come.Veit and Stork clocked, coming in second in 4.58.03 and lie 10 minutes behind Krölland Schiessel.
The senior master men saw some exciting racing between Gerald Rüschenpöhler and Jörg Schreiber of Team Kempten Hildrizhausen who finished in 5.29.42 and Hans Hörmannand Rudi Schöpf of Team Mountain heroes crossing shortly after in 5.32.32. There is only a 13 minute gap between the two leading teams, making for some exciting racing over the next few days if Team Mountain Heroes can maintain their pressure on the leaders.

Stage 4 Snapshot -Neukirchen am Grosvenediger-Prettau in Ahrntal

Stage 4 see’s the runner’s cross into Italy and traverse a full marathon distance of 43.3km. Runners will reach the highest point of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUNat 2667m in the Tauern Alps. The stage involves only one major ascent but its length and altitude gain will test the runnersto their limitswho already have 130km in their legs already.The crossing from Austria to South Tyrol across sometechnical trail affords some of the most spectacular views of the Alpine landscape.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Karrera and Reiter Claim Impresive Stage Two Victory at the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run

The quaint village of St. Johann in Austria, the host town for the first nights stop over of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN, seemed alive with the anticipation of what lay ahead for stage 2. Start line nerves were soon replaced with raw excitement as the customary sounds of the Australian band ACDC’s "Highway To Hell" began to get louder and louder over the PA system. With the sun beginning to slowly filter through the breaking clouds, it seemed eminent that the competition was going to change.
An electrifying pace from Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter of Team Salomon in the opening kilometers saw them open up a commanding lead over stage one winners Billy Burns and Ben Abdelnoor of Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear. With the sun looking like it was going to make an appearance sooner than expected, Karrera and Reiter made the most of the cooler weather to advance almost 5 minutes ahead of Burns and Abdelnoor, finishing in a time of 3:43.07.
Commenting on their stage 2 strategy, Reiter said "one of my strengths is climbing so we wanted to make sure we took full advantage of that early on".
Running for second place, a brief lapse in concentration saw Burns and Abdellnoor take a wrong turn mere kilometers from the finishline costing them an extra minute overall, finishing in a time of 3:50.22.
A commanding run by yesterday’s second placed finishers, Gitti Schiebel and Ildikó Wermescher of Team Mountain Heroes, saw them leading from start to finish crossing the line a massive 26 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals in 4:32.25. Women stage one winners, Elisabeth Egarter and Petra Theiner from Team Sexten Salomon, had a somewhat off day, slowing their pace down quite substantially and finishing in 4:58.47.
Another surprising change of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN leaders jersey took place in the Mixed Category with stage 1 second place finishers Che Bustillo and Nur Dominguez of Team Buff driving daylight between themselves and the rest of the field, finishing in a time of 4:32.32. Running strongly to finish in second place, Irene Senfter and Ste Tschurtschenthaler of Team Sudtirol Dolomiti Superbike, crossed the finishline in 4:34.50. Stage one winners, Gabi Steigmeier and Roman Nef dropped well off the blistering pace set by Bustillo and Dominguez to finish a further 18minutes back in 4th.
Continuing their winning streak in the Masters Category, Marcus Kröll and former mountain running world champion Helmut Schiessel from Team Salomon Austria Germany triumphed on stage 2, winning in a time of 3:55.12. Enjoying ideal running conditions, they managed to add a minute to their overall lead over second place finishers Christian Stork and Michael Veit of Team Salomon Masters, who finished in 3:56.27.
Enjoying the intermittent sunshine was Gerald Rüschenpöhler and Jörg Schreiber of Team Kempten Hildrizhausen improving on yesterday’s second place, crossing the finishline in 4:26.00. Paul Steinhauser and Hermann Schaiter Hermannwere over 5 minutes off thepace finishing in 4:31.49

 Stage 3 Snapshot -Kitzbühel to Neukirchen am Grosvenediger

Stage 3 is where the climbing really begins with this stage offering an altitude difference of more than 2200m. Also known as the Royal Stage of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN, this 46.5km stage begins with some serious climbing early on along the route. Runners will be faced with challenging ascents and descents as they move through the Kitzbüheler Alps until they reach Stagenjoch. From there, the last tricky ascent forthe day is up the Wildkogel. Amazing views across the Hohe Tauren national park await the runners on their way into the finish at Neukirchen.

Swatch Skiers Cup 2012: Teams tied after first day of Big Mountain competition!

The SWATCH SKIERS CUP got off to an incredible start today with the Big Mountain competition, held on a spectacular, remote mountain near Valle Nevado. The competitors boarded helicopters at dawn this morning in Farellones and ascended to the venue -- a 4000m peak with a highly featured south face covered in high quality, dry Andean powder. After a short inspection, the head-to-head battles got underway in the suspenseful match-play format that makes the SWATCH SKIERS CUP unique. After the 16 competitors each took their two runs, the score between Team Europe and Team America was tied, 8 - 8.
After the first heat, Team Europe held a solid 5 - 3 lead. Europe looked especially strong throughout the event, with impressive performances from Markus Eder, captain Sverre Liliequist, and a jaw-dropping run from Sam Smoothy. "I was pretty knackered after the first run so I decided to go for something with less turns and more air. It was pretty simple but something that I could just charge." commented Smoothy.
Team Americas suffered another setback as Chris Benchetler, sustaining a shoulder injury during run one, was forced to sit out the second run. But as the second heat progressed, Team Americas rallied behind the leadership and rock-solid skiing of their captain, Cody Townsend, and staged an impressive comeback. Chopo Diaz ended up skiing twice in round two, replacing Benchetler. "Chopo was the Team Americas MVP by far, stepping up when Chris couldn't ski his second run. Doing two runs in one heat, at this altitude, with this long, difficult run is amazing!" praised Townsend.
The teams traded points back and forth until the very end, and when the final competitor crossed the finish line it was all tied up at 8 - 8. "This tight race after Big Mountain day is perfect, its exciting to see the close battles run after run. Plus it gives our team a ton of motivation for Backcountry Slopestyle day", said Sverre Liliequist.
The action is only half over. The Backcountry Slopestyle day remains, and the winning team there will be the one to hoist the SWATCH SKIERS CUP trophy. The date for this final day of competition will be announced in the coming days. The neck and neck competition between these two elite teams looks to continue to the very last run, so stay tuned, and don't miss a single match of this incredible event.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Billy Burns and Ben Abdelnoor claim the first stage of Gore-Tex Transalpine Run 2012

It was under threatening skies in the small Bavarian town of Ruhpolding, that the stage was set for the start of the 2012 GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN. 300 teams from 32 countries around the world gathered at the start area in the town centre for the compulsory kit check, the nervous excitement levels running high. Heavy down pours on the surrounding mountains the day before resulted in a slight route change for stage 1, and with cold temperatures and light rain forecast throughout the day, running conditions were never going to be easy.
In the men’s category it was a suprise win for the team from INOV-8 Billy Burns and Ben Abdelnoor who crossed the finish line in 4:26:18.
Having only met the day before the event, Billy and Ben ran an impressive last 10km to overtake the second place finishers from Team Salomon, Iker Karrera and Philipp Reiter who finished just over a minute back in 4:27:24. Third place went to the Team Dynafit pairing of Marc Pinsach and Marc Sola crossing the finishline a further 11 minutes off the pace in a time of 4:38:53.
Commenting on their stage win today, Billy Burns said "The rainy and cold weather never really bothered us but with slight knee problems, the flat parts were tough". Phillip Reiter from Team Salomon, was quite humble about their second place seeing commenting "there are still 7 stages to go so anything can happen".
In the women's category it was the Italian pairing of Elisabeth Egarter and Petra Theiner from Team Sexten Salomon who opened their race with a brilliant effort, setting up a lead of more than 4 minutes over their closest rivals, crossing the finish line in a time of 5:35:35. Team Mountain Heroes Gitti Schiebel from Germany and Ildiko Wermescher from Hungary fell off the pace after the second half of the stage finishing in a time of 5:39:17.
In the Mixed category once again, one of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN regulars, Gaby Steigmeier proved her pedigree finishing in first place with fellow Team Salomon Swiss team mate Roman Nef in a time of 5:26:01. It seemed to be a close fought battle all morning with the second placed duo of Team Buff, Che Bustillo and Nur Dominguez crossing the finishing line in second, a mere 1:35 behind them in a time of 5:27:36.
A solid performance in the Masters Category saw Marcus Kröll and former mountain running world champion Helmut Schiessel from Team Salomon Austria finish in first place, third overall, in a time of 4:36:16. Seasoned veteran and multiple GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINE-RUN winner Thomas Miksch is not competing this year, leaving the door open for some new blood. Miksch, who since last year has moved into the Senior Masters category, could not find a partner for this year’s event and will skip the race for the first time since its inception.
In the senior category and finishing inside of the top 50 overall, Rolf Schlachter and Eugen Sinz of the all-German Team Allgaeuspeed.de, ran an impressive run through the wet and muddy conditions to finish in a time of 5:22:18.
 
Stage 2 Snapshot - St. Johann in Tirol to Kitzbühel
At 34,8km long and with just over 1800m of vertical ascent, the second stage is not one of the hardest of the GORE-TEX TRANSALPINE RUN.
Containing some high alpine passes from the Wilde Kaiser to the Kitzbüheler Alps, the route becomes quite steep shortly after the start in St. Johann with partly exposed sections up the Wilden-Keiser-Steig. The route then descends rapidly from the highest point at Brennender Palven before climbing once again to the Bergstation Astberg, the last of the tougher climbs. Then it's downhill to the finish, passing through Reith on the way to Kitzbühel.

Swatch Skiers Cup 2012, Valle Nevado (Chile)

This September 1 - 9 at Valle Nevado, Chile 16 of the best freeride and freestyle skiers in the world come together for a one of a kind competition -- the Swatch Skiers Cup. A unique head-to-head format pits riders from two teams, Team Americas lead by Cody Townsend (USA) and Team Europe lead Sverre Liliequist (SWE), against each other in a suspenseful points race to determine who will to host the Swatch Skiers CupTrophy.
The riders have all arrived in Chile, some coming weeks in advance to train for the elite competition that is just on the horizon. Those who arrived early found up to a meter of recently fallen snow, the product of two large winter storms to have recently impacted Valle Nevado. The first possible day of competition is Saturday, September 1, and with sunny skies forecasted for the next several days and a storm blowing in before the event wraps up, conditions look to be ideal.
Some updates have been made to the team rosters in the past weeks. Mark Abma (CAN), slated to be the Team Americas captain this year and hungry for payback after losing to Team Europe in the 2011, was unfortunately forced to withdraw from his captain's duties at the last minute due to a nagging knee injury. Abma, who will act as a judge, is handing the reins over to none other than Swatch Proteam's Cody Townsend from Squaw Valley (USA). With Townsend's extensive experience filming in Alaska and his years competing on the Freeride World Tour, Team Americas is in good hands. In addition to Townsend, Team Americas welcomes aboard three other new riders, Drew Tabke (USA), Riley Leboe (CAN), and KC Deane (USA). On the other side, Team Europe standout and event co-founder Kaj Zackrisson (SWE) passed his spot to Mathieu Imbert (FRA) who will add his valuable competitive experience and stylish backcountry skiing to Team Europe's arsenal.
The diverse roster of athletes makes the Swatch Skiers Cup a competition with a distinctively progressive twist. The event is a virtual laboratory, mixing riders from different backgrounds and expanding the boundaries of what is possible on skis. "One of the best parts of the Swatch Skiers Cup is bringing top-tier riders from different backgrounds into a single team. We get inspired from each other and surprise even ourselves with what we can do on the mountain", said Sverre Liliequist, this year's Team Europe captain.
Two action-packed days of competition will go down during the event's nine-day weather window -- Backcountry Slopestyle and Big Mountain. Backcountry Slopestyle is an ideal spectator event, with the athletes throwing down in the Valle Nevado ski domain on a spectacular course designed by terrain park shaper David Ny. On Big Mountain day, helicopters take the competitors deep in the mountains for a freeride showdown in the spectacular arena of the High Andes. Specific dates for each event will be announced in the coming days.

Final Riders List

TEAM EUROPE - DEFENDER TEAM AMERICAS - CHALLENGER
Sverre Liliequist SWE - Captain
Cody Townsend USA - Captain

Jacob Wester SWE Chopo Diaz CHI
Markus Eder ITA Chris Benchetler USA
Mathieu Imbert FRA Dane Tudor USA
Paddy Graham UK Drew Tabke USA
Richard Permin FRA KC Deane USA
Sam Smoothy NZL Oakley White-Allen USA
Tom Leitner GER Riley Leboe CAN