Monday, June 30, 2008

Marathon du Mont-Blanc (Chamonix)

Last weekend, the Cross & Marathon du Mont-Blanc took place in Chamonix. On Saturday the Cross du Mont-Blanc for junior runners, a mini cross for children and a 10 kilometres introduction course (Cross Decouverte) for newcomers to this type of race, took place.
On Sunday the Marathon race (42,195kilometres, 2445 metres of positive drop and 1480m of negative drop) started from the centre of Chamonix (1035m). Then the route steadily climbed towards the upper valley, progressively passing through the hamlets of "Les Bois" and Lavancher to reach Argentière (1250m). Afterwards crossed the "Col des Montets" (1461m) in the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve. Then along the "Chemin des Diligences", the old stage-coach route, runners arrived at the hamlet of Buet before reaching Vallorcine (1260 m). Heading towards the Col des Posettes (1997 m) participants were rewarded with a splendid view of the Mont-Blanc massif. Opposite the ‘Aiguille Verte' and the massif, the route gradually descended back down across the mountain passes to reach Charamillon (1850m), where the gradient increases until the village of Tour (1453 m). It became relatively flat on the road to Montroc (1382 m), before traversing the hamlets of Frasserands and Tré-le-champ. At the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, opposite the Mont-Blanc range, the route climbed up towards la Flégère (1875 m). After crossing the magnificent Charlanon coomb (1812m) the gradient increases until just before the finishing line at Planpraz (2050 m).
The winner of the 2008 Marathon du Mont-Blanc was Jean-Yves Rey from Switzerland.

The Pass’Portes du Soleil MTB Festival took place last weekend

The so called Pass'Portes du Soleil MTB Festival is a mountain trek ranging from 1000-2250m on fabulous tracks linking France and Switzerland in the Portes du Soleil. The 28th and 29th June 3 circuits were organized, of 30 (discovery), 45 (intermediate) and 75 (classic) kilometres. The 3 circuits all use the 24 lifts working in the Portes du Soleil in summer. The trek tooks one day, and participants (3500 this year) can chose whether to ride it on Saturday or Sunday.
For 2 days, the Mountain bike Show was held in Champery (Switzerland), with numerous events, MTB trial demos by Julbo, children's circuits, bike-handling workshops, test-riding of display bikes and concerts.
In 1993 the Portes du Soleil decided to open their ski-lifts in summer for the first time. Les Gets went into the lead by hosting the first leg of the MTB World Cup and developing slopes reserved for the mountain bikes. Since then, the number of bikers and the number of lift-passes sold have constantly increased (10% every summer)and the Chablais resorts became famous for being the biggest MTB area in the world (650 kilometres of tracks).

Click here to see the video

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Families Welcome Ski Resorts

Families are a main market for Ski Resorts and they are trying to look more appealing and accessible to families and kids. The Industry Report published a post about how european ski resorts are getting more and more into the family way. More than 50 ski areas have taken direct action to lure the family market by raising the minimum age kids pay for their lift tickets to nine. The Industry Report's Patrick Thorne says the trend began to take off in Switzerland at Zermatt, Saas Fee, Villars, and Gstaad, and has now spread to Austria at St. Anton, and Italy at Cortina and Val Gardena. Recently more than 200 European resorts have published their price schedules for the 2008-09 season and the growing trend is obvious. Swiss resorts, for example, are showing rates for kids, ages 9-16, at 30-50 percent of adult prices.
The resorts of the Alps of Lake Geneva Region (Switzerland): Villars/Gryon, Les Mosses, Leysen, Les Diablerets, and Château-d'Oex/Rougemont have joined in a regional marketing strategy (Free for Kids up to 9) to offer free ski passes to kids under nine.
"This creates an additional argument on price/family budget as 55 percent of our clients are families (all social levels), often with rather young kids," Guy Chanel, Villars' marketing manager told the Industry Report. Chanel says they have determined fewer kids are tempted to learn skiing as pre-teenagers as used to be the case in western Europe 15-20 years ago. "Skiing is perceived as an expensive sport activity nowadays".
Older kids 9-15, Chanel says, are usually skilled with Web and e-procedures. They usually pay 50-65 percent of an adult ski pass, but "we have launched an online system that allows them to book their ski pass online and automatically get 20 percent or more discount on the public price".
Swiss Ski Resorts which are especially suitable for family holidays, with a range of services geared specifically to the needs and wishes of children, their parents and accompanying adults, have been awarded with the "Families Welcome" label since 1996.
Patrick Thorne notes there is movement on the other end of life's scale as well. The age at which seniors receive discounted or free skiing continues to slide upward or is being removed all together.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Rocksresort in Laax

Only two hours away from Zürich and its international airport you can find one of the most impressive ski paradises for winter sport fans: Laax. Located in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, in a fantastic setting with a small lake (Laaxersee) and stunning views of the Signina group to the south and the Flimserstein to the north, the resort offers three diferent locations Flims, Laax and Falera to enjoy snow-sure pistes between 1,100 and 3,018 m above sea level (70% of the pistes in Flims Laax Falera are over 2,000 m). At 3,018 m, the Vorab Glacier is the highest point in this huge Ski Paradise of 220 kilometres of pistes (63 blue, 71 red, 46 black and 40 km of ski routes) served by a modern web of 27 lifts managed by the Weisse Arena Bergbahnen AG.
Now, Laax is developing the Rocksresort, a unique holiday complex of eleven imposing cubes of rock containing exclusive apartments with a wellness area, shops, restaurants, bars, a 4-star hotel and 700 underground parking spaces. A contemporary architecture project designed by Domenig Architekten inspired in a natural phenomenon: the Flims landslide. The biggest alpine landslide of all time occurred 10,000 years ago inspired the architects to arrange the giant blocks in what appears to be a random formation. They lie at the foot of the Crap Sogn Gion in the heart of the ski resort like scattered boulders. All apartments not only satisfy the highest aesthetic demands, they also conform to the Minergie Standard, for a better quality of life and lower fuel consumption. The buildings are made exclusively from local materials with the rocks facade made from solid Valser quartzite making possible the architecture blends harmoniously into the landscape. In contrast to the outside, bright, fine materials are used on the inside. Untreated oak, limestone, concrete and matching textiles help to create the perfect environment for a holiday unique experience. All the apartments feature large panoramic windows to enjoy the breathtaking mountain landscape of Laax.
The first 50 apartments will be ready to be occupied in December 2008 and the completion of the construction will take place in 2010. The Rocks construction company (made up of Weisse Arena Gruppe, Laax and Domenig Immobilien AG, Chur) offers a innovative sales formula: the buy to use and let&quot. The owner willbe able to use the apartment for 3 weeks during the peak season and will have unlimited use outside the predefined season times. At the same time the apartment will be available to rent with the Rocksresort management company taking care of all the aspects of letting and maintaining your apartment.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Canada's entire country on board for Vancouver 2010

Last June 18th the final Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the Province of Saskatchewan. Now, every one of Canada’s nine provinces and three territories has signed on to participate in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. On October 7th, 2005, Québec was the first province to sign an Memorandum with VANOC. Each MOU outlines a number of potential areas where the province or territory can collaborate with VANOC on its mission and vision to engage benefit citizens across the country in the areas of sport development, culture, volunteerism, tourism and economic development. The memorandum of understanding may includes the following areas of cooperation:
  • Participating in the events and activities associated with the torch relay when it passes through the country’s provinces and territories prior to the 2010 Winter Games.

  • Establishing informational displays in Vancouver and/or Whistler during the Games to showcase local cultural performers and athletes.

  • Ensuring provincial and territorial Aboriginal participation in the 2010 Winter Games and in events leading up to the Games.

  • Showcasing provincial and territorial artists and arts organizations.

  • Developing initiatives that promote tourism, immigration, trade and investment.

  • Promoting educational and volunteer opportunities relating to sport and culture, and encouraging healthy lifestyles.

Once an MOU is signed, an individual province or territory can choose to become part of the Contributing Province/Territory Program(CPTP). Under the CPTP, participating provinces and territories make a financial contribution toward the success of Canadian athletes in 2010 through the Own the Podium 2010 program, and toward culture and arts through the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad program.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games represent an opportunity for all of Canada to be showcased on the world stage and we invite Canadians, wherever they live, to play an active role (...) The 2010 Winter Games will be Canada’s Games" said John Furlong VANOC Chief Executive Officer.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012

Yesterday June 20th, the IOC confirmed its shortlist of four candidates cities to host the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012: Harbin (China), Innsbruck (Austria), Kuopio (Finland), and Lillehammer (Norway). The host city of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will be announced in December 2008.
The Winter Youth Olympic Games will be a 10-day multi-sport, cultural and educational event.
The age groups participating in a sport or discipline will vary between 14 and 18 years. The programme of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will be established on the basis of the seven sports included in the Vancouver 2010 programme (Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating and Skiing).
The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) will highlight the different sports and provide an efficient platform to motivate young people to “get active” and adhere to the Olympic spirit. Each edition of the YOG will leave a consistent legacy for the young people of the host country, and the host city will have also a great opportunity to present itself to the world during the Games as the Olympic Youth Capital, therefore shaping its image as a youth-friendly city that offers a multitude of attractive places and events.
"By creating the Youth Olympic Games on 5 July 2007, the IOC played its role as a catalyst for the sports movement. It showed that its commitment to the youth of today and tomorrow is about action, not just words, by offering them an event of their own in the spirit of the Olympic Games" (Jacques Rogge, IOC President).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Vancouver 2010 Volunteer application process moves to the next step

Last February the Volunteer application process for Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games started. Now that approximately 45,000 people have applied to volunteer for the 2010 Winter Games Organizing Committee is moving to the next stage in the recruitment process – in-person interviews with as many as 100 people daily, beginning in July.
VANOC have received applications from hopeful volunteers in every Canadian province and territory and from 96 different countries including Venezuela, Lithuania, Barbados and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Workopolis, Canada’s biggest job site and VANOC’s online recruitment partner, helped support the Call for Volunteers across Canada with a major advertising and public relations campaign. Worldwide information technology partner Atos Origin created and supports the secure volunteer application platform, which collects and processes volunteer data for Vancouver 2010.
While building a highly capable and well-trained team of volunteers during Games time is critical, the 2010 Winter Games have already benefited from the efforts of 430 pre-Games volunteers actively engaged in planning the event. Many of them played a significant role throughout the bid process, and continue to contribute to the ongoing planning stages of the Games.
The volunteer selection process will take about two years and several steps along the way including:
  • Application (The online application process for volunteers started February 12th, 2008 and continues until all roles are filled).
  • Phone screen (From July 2008 to the end of 2009)
  • Security clearance (September 2008 to the end of 2009)
  • Interview (September 2008 to the end of 2009)
  • Orientation and Customer Service Excellence training (September 2008 to the end of 2009)
  • Offer of a volunteer position (offers will be extended throughout 2009)
  • Acceptance. Volunteers are asked to accept or decline positions in a timely manner.
  • Job-Specific and Venue-Specific Training (Fall 2008 to January 2010)
  • Scheduling (Fall 2009).

You'll be considered a 2010 Winter Games volunteer after you've passed the security screening, have been offered and accepted a position and have completed the accreditation process.
Volunteering allows you to fill out your resume developing communication, career building and social skills that will be useful in your Career.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chamonix Tourist Office has been awarded ISO-14001 Environment Management Certification

The Chamonix Tourist Information Office have been granted ISO 14001 Environment Management Certification after a multistage auditing process carried out over a period of 8 months.

An Environmental Management System (EMS) meeting the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 is a management tool enabling an organization to:
  • identify and control the environmental impact of its activities
  • improve its environmental performance continually
  • implement a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives and targets, to achieving these and to demonstrating that they have been achieved.

"By introducing in a voluntary manner a System of Environmental Management, the Tourist Office of Chamonix Mont-Blanc aims to be a real force for implementing the development of sustainable tourism and for encouraging all the main players to follow this path (...) Chamonix Mont-Blanc Tourist Office, undertake to put into practice all the provisions of our system of management and to respect the legal requirements in environmental matters which relate to our activities, in order to achieve together the objectives of a continual reduction in our impact on the environment, and by example, to motivate those who come to Chamonix to follow this course" Bernard Prud'Homme, Director of the Tourist Office, said.
Florence Petit is the one responsible to coordinate the efforts for the correct functioning of the Environmental Management System.
Recently the Tourist Office has launched a blog ( to promote sustainable and responsible tourism in Chamonix.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bombardier will design Vancouver 2010 Torches and Cauldrons

Bombardier, a world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions headquartered in Canada, has joined the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) as an Official Supporter of the 2010 Winter Games. As part of their sponsorship, Bombardier will design and manufacture the torches for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays and two ceremony cauldrons, one for the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver and the other for the Celebration Plaza in Whistler. Twelve-thousand Canadians will carry the torch over 35,000 kilometres – the longest single-country relay – bringing it through up to 1,000 communities in over 100 days.
Vancouver 2010’s torch and cauldron will be magnificent, technically stunning pieces, and we are confident they will inspire Canadians and the world – in 2010 and for generations to come", said John Furlong, VANOC chief executive officer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Winners of the 2007/08 NSAA Marketing and Guest Service Awards

Recently National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) announced the winners of the 2007/08 Marketing and Guest Service Awards during a reception at NSAA's National Convention and Tradeshow held at the Hilton San Francisco, California. The awards, sponsored by Mountain Uniforms and SnoCountry Ski Areas Association, are presented annually to ski resorts nationwide, both large and small, for their successful marketing and guest service programs that ultimately help grow the sports of skiing and snowboarding. This year’s categories recognized the Best Overall Marketing Program and the Best Overall Guest Service Program in four resort categories based on resort skier and rider visitation: Up to 100,000 visits; 100,000 to 250,000 visits; 250,000 to 500,000 visits; and 500,000 and more visits.
The 2007/08 winning resorts are:

Best Overall Marketing Program:

Best Overall Guest Service Program:

Monday, June 16, 2008

NSAA Annual Heads Up Industry Safety Awards

Last May 30, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) recognized six member resorts with its annual Heads Up Ski Area Safety Awards at its National Convention and Tradeshow held at the Hilton San Francisco, California.
The National Ski Areas Association, along with the National Ski Patrol, the Professional Ski Instructors of America, the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, and Willis and AIG insurance companies, has created the Safety Initiative campaign to assist ski area operators nationwide address the topic of slope safety education for guests. The primary goal is to attempt to further reduce the frequency of accidents, and to unify the industry to focus on and communicate a proactive, strong safety message. The awards honored those resorts that have done an outstanding job of educating employees and guests about skiing and snowboarding responsibly.

The 2008 edition winners are:

Heads Up is a common cautionary phrase that is used when someone is warning others to be careful, use caution, or pay close attention. Resorts receiving Honorable Mentions include California’s Bear Valley, Mammoth and Northstar-at-Tahoe, Colorado’s Copper, Keystone and Telluride, Eaglecrest, Alaska, Schweitzer, Idaho, Crystal Mountain and The Summit at Snoqualmie, Wash., and Whiteface, N.Y.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Accomplishments in U.S. Ski Areas

Established in 1993 by Clif Bar & Company, the Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence recognize the environmental achievements of ski areas. Based in Berkeley, California, Clif Bar is a leading maker of all-natural and organic energy and nutrition foods. This year’s award winners were recognized for excellence in the following areas:

  • Golden Eagle, Overall Environmental Excellence: Jiminy Peak (Massachusetts); Finalists: Arapahoe Basin (Colorado), Grand Targhee Resort (Wyoming). Jiminy Peak became North America’s first mountain resort to install a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine ($4 million), generating 45-50 percent of its total electricity needs. Unused excess power Jiminy creates goes back into the power grid.

  • Silver Eagle, Water Conservation: Vail Resorts (Colorado); Finalists: Arapahoe Basin (Colorado), Homewood Mountain Resort (California). Vail has implemented many water conservation measures, including installing efficient water-saving devices, reducing leaks and designing trail layouts to make the most out of snowmaking. The Easy Street Run Enhancement project at Heavenly reduced snowmaking by 65 percent, saving over 1.3 million gallons of water.

  • Silver Eagle, Energy Conservation/Clean Energy: Park City Mountain Resort (Utah); Finalists: Okemo Mountain Resort (Vermont), Whistler Blackcomb (BC, Canada). Through initiatives that include the purchase of more energy-efficient snowmaking equipment and biodiesel use in its snowcat fleet, the resort has been able to reduce energy consumption by 23 percent.

  • Silver Eagle, Fish & Wildlife Habitat Protection: Snowshoe Mountain Resort (West Virginia); Finalists: Stratton Mountain Resort (Vermont), Vail Resorts (Colorado). Snowshoe Mountain Resort completed West Virginia’s first Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the HCP established a 230-acre plot of land as a permanent, protected habitat for the endangered West Virginia flying squirrel.

  • Silver Eagle, Environmental Education: Aspen Skiing Company (Colorado); Finalists: Grand Targhee Resort (Wyoming), Telluride Ski Resort (Colorado). Aspen Skiing Company has taken the approach of gutsy activism to educate and build awareness among its guests and the broader general public on what is arguably THE issue of our time, climate change. Aspen’s approach has taken many forms, including the Save Snow ad campaign, congressional testimony, a Kimberly-Clark boycott and development of solar energy at a utility scale.

  • Silver Eagle, Visual Impact: Arapahoe Basin (Colorado); Finalists: Stevens Pass (Washington), Winter Park (Colorado). Arapahoe Basin’s new 400-acre Montezuma Bowl was developed with an emphasis on minimizing environmental impacts through alternative construction methods. The only structures installed include the chairlift, snowfences, avalauncher tower, trail signs, and boundary posts and signs. Furthermore, less than 3 acres of trees were removed connecting open areas and providing feeder trails into the lift.

  • Silver Eagle, Stakeholder Relations: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (California); Finalists: Copper Mountain (Colorado), Whistler Blackcomb (BC, Canada). Working with the Mono Lake Committee and Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area purchased 112 acres overlooking Mono Lake’s ecologically unique waters, permanently protecting the property from development for future generations.

  • Silver Eagle, Waste Reduction & Recycling: Grand Targhee Resort (Wyoming); Finalists: Gore Mountain (New York), Whistler Blackcomb (BC, Canada). The resort has worked to reduce the trash each guest generates by eliminating disposable products in its restaurants and switching to bio-based compostable plastics. Grand Targhee also started e-waste, food waste and household hazardous waste recycling programs. All told, the resort reduced its waste stream by 4 percent from 2006 to 2007, and has a goal to reduce it 50 percent by 2010.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Monte Rosa Hut in Zermatt

The new Monte Rosa Hut at 2810 metres above sea level will be a special mountain hut, which has been planned for the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) by the Department of Architecture of the Swiss Federal Technical University in Zurich (ETH). The Concept and Design of the building was made by Prof. Andrea Deplazes.
The Monte Rosa hut will look like a glass crystal and will be relatively easy for hikers to reach (2.5 hours on foot from Rotenboden-Gornergratbahn station). The new building will be about 80 m to the north of the old hut on the granite ledge “Untere Plattje”, nestling between Gorner glacier, Grenz glacier and Monte Rosa glacier in Zermatt. From the Monte-Rosa-Hut you can enjoy a magnificent view and wonderful sunsets. It is a popular starting point for mountain tours and hikes.
The hut project is for a 5-storey modular wooden structure with a restaurant and places to sleep for 120 persons. The energy strategy was designed by the Energy Science Center of the ETH with the target to be environmentally friendly. In fact, the new Monte Rosa will be in the middle of a natural reserve with extreme alpine conditions, yet energeticaly to 90% self-contained and self-sufficient (90% autarchy). Solarthermics, photovoltaics and a combined heat and power plant (CHP) ensure the energy and heat requirements. Photovoltaic cells provide the power for wastewater treatment, ventilation, lighting and household appliances. Surplus energy is stored in batteries, guaranteeing an uninterrupted power supply even when the sky is overcast. Thermal solar panels satisfy the requirement for heating and water heating.
The price of the new Monte Rosa hut: CHF 5.7 million, of which the SAC will be contributing with CHF 2.15 million and the rest will be financed through sponsoring: Holcim (Schweiz) AG, Energie Ouest Suisse (EOS), Bundesamt für Umwelt (BAFU), Karl Steiner AG, Geberit AG, Sika AG, Saint-Gobain Isover AG, Kanton Wallis, and several Bachelor Partners.
The new hut will combine modern design and state-of-the-art technologies. Thus it will be Switzerland’s first completely digitalised building: The production machines for the hut components will be coupled to the architects’ design programs.
The realization of the building will start this summer and a year later the new Monte Rosa Hut will open.

Friday, June 13, 2008

2007-2008 Winter Season is Best on Record in the U.S.

Based on preliminary estimates released by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), ski areas nationwide tallied 60.1 million visits for the 2007/08 season, making it the best season on record. The new record represents a 9.1 percent increase from the 55.1 million visits recorded in 2006/07, and a 2.0 percent rise from the prior record of 58.9 million visits set in 2005/06.
Over the last 10 seasons (1998/99 – 2007/08), the average number of visits recorded nationally was 56.16 million visits. The 2007/08 season represents a 7.0 percent increase from this 10-year average. By region, the Northeast was up 9.0 percent from its 10-year average of 12.91 million visits, tallying 14.07 million visits this season. The Midwest, with 8.09 million visits, was up 10.1 percent, the Rockies were up 9.9 percent with 21.33 million visits, the Pacific West was up 1.4 percent with 11.37 million visits and the Southeast was down 1.3 percent with 5.21 million visits in 2007/08.
The study cites strong increases in snowfall as a contributor to the record season. Snowfall in the Pacific West was up 62 percent, up 39 percent in the Rocky Mountains, up 35 percent in the Midwest, and up 26 percent in the Northeast. Only the Southeast reported a decrease, down 7 percent.
Aspen Skiing Company has just announced that it will open the top of Aspen Mountain for skiing this weekend, June 13-15 to celebrate a winter of record snowfall. Snowbird announced that the Utah resort will be open for skiing and riding on weekends through Sunday, June 15. Skiers in Mount Hood, Oregon also take advantage of snowy conditions.