Sunday, May 31, 2009

Over 150,000 tickets to Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games up for sale June 6

Next Saturday, June 6 the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) releases more than 150,000 tickets for sale to the public at
Tickets for every sporting event, as well as the Opening, Closing and nightly Victory Ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Games will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
"This is a major release of tickets before the 2010 Winter Games, and is the best remaining opportunity for Canadian Olympic fans to get their hands on tickets", said Caley Denton, vice president, ticketing and consumer marketing for VANOC. "We want to make sure everyone’s ready on Saturday morning, so take a minute to register a ticketing account if you don’t already have one and have a look at the schedules ahead of time. Whether you’re an ice hockey or a biathlon fan, or love the drama and colour of the ceremonies, tickets to every event will be available. We’ve worked hard to make as many tickets available as possible, and based on the enthusiasm shown by Canadians we anticipate demand will be high".
In addition to the more than 150,000 competition and Opening and Closing Ceremonies tickets, this marks the first time thousands of Victory Ceremony tickets will be available as single tickets for $22. Previously they could only be purchased through the bundled Olympic Experience Packages available in the first round of sales. The nightly ceremonies at BC Place in downtown Vancouver will pay tribute to the medal-winning athletes as the International Olympic Committee recognizes the day’s accomplishments. Following the medal presentations, the athletes’ triumphs will be honoured with a celebration concert featuring renowned entertainers.
On June 6, ticket customers visiting will be directed to a virtual waiting room, where they will be randomly selected to enter the Vancouver 2010 ticketing website. Once signed into their account, customers will be able to purchase up to four separate events, with a limit of either four or eight tickets per event. If a customer wants to order more than the limit of four events, they will need to start a new transaction.

Sochi 2014 Begins Construction On Major Links

Last Wednesday Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, marked the beginning of construction of a major system of tunnels between Adler and the Кrasnaya Polyana mountains. These tunnels will play a key role in the delivery of the road and railway that will connect the Sochi 2014 Coastal Cluster with the ski venues in the Mountain Cluster. The event is a major milestone in the delivery of Russia’s first Winter Games.
"The first major stage of construction for the most complex Sochi 2014 Olympic facilities has begun. This involves work on a huge scale, including the development of temporary access roads as well as the electricity and water supplies necessary for highways construction. More than 15,000 Sochi residents are already benefitting from improved transport links as work continues", Dmitry Kozak said.
This system of tunnels, located near Ahshtyr, a village in the Adler district of Sochi, will consist of a 2.2 km road tunnel, a 2.5 km rail tunnel and a 2.3 km escape tunnel. In total, the 50 km road and railway that will play a vital role in Sochi 2014, will include 26.5 km of road, rail and escape tunnels and more than 35km of bridges and trestles.
Drilled using the LOVAT boring machine – an incredible 200-ton devise that was flown to Sochi on several flights of the huge Ruslan cargo plane – the tunnels will progress at an impressive rate of more than 300 meters per month. For tunnels’ construction 5 drilling complexes will be used.
"I am proud that construction has commenced on this important project. Following the recent visit of the IOC Coordination Commission to Sochi, this is yet more validation that Sochi 2014 is on track to deliver an innovative Games in 2014. Following construction, travel between Adler and Krasnaya Polyana will take only 30 minutes by train and 40 minutes by road making Sochi 2014’s plan the most compact in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games", Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of Sochi 2014, said.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Former Olympic Snowboarding Champion Karine Ruby dies in Mountain Accident

Karine Ruby, a former Olympic snowboarding champion died Friday in a mountain accident on the Tour de Ronde of the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix. Ruby was roped to five other climbers when she and some members of the group fell into a crevasse at appproximately 3,300 meters of altitude on the Glacier du Géant on the way down the mountain, Chamonix police official Laurent Sayssac said. A 38-year-old man from the Paris region also died in the fall, and a 27-year-old man was evacuated by helicopter with serious injuries and hospitalized in Geneva.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon called Ruby an "exceptional sportswoman"."Karine incarnated the emergence of snowboarding in France", Fillon said in a statement. "The people of France will hold on to the memory of her talent and her joie de vivre".
The 31-year-old dominated Snowboarding for almost a decade. Ruby won a gold medal in the giant slalom at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and a silver in the parallel giant slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. She was a six-time world champion with 67 snowboard World Cup victories and 122 Podiums. She retired after the 2006 Turin Olympics, where she was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the snowboardcross event.
Ruby had since been working toward becoming a mountain guide and was expected to finish her training in the coming weeks.
Click here to Relive Karine Ruby's victory in Nagano

Friday, May 29, 2009

Honouring Edmund Hillary

This post is a tribute to the legendary mountaineer, adventurer and philanthropist Sir Edmund Hillary on the day he reached, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the summit of Mount Everest. Sir Edmund Hillary died on 11 January 2008, after a heart attack in Auckland City Hospital, aged 88. He was farewelled at a state funeral – an unprecedented honour for a private citizen – on 22 January.
All we love the mountains and adventure need to remember Sir Edmund words: "The explorers of the past were great men and we should honour them. But let us not forget that their spirit lives on. It is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, not for what he may find".
Sir Edmund's greatest project was his Himalayan Trust, set up in the 1960s, to help improve the lives of the Sherpas and hill people of Nepal. Even more than Everest, this will remain a perpetual memorial to his life and achievements. From 1966 Hillary raised funds and made numerous visits to the Himalayas to build built schools, hospitals and other facilities in the mountains.

Radio New Zealand: Documentaries about the Life of Sir Edmund and audio from the State Funeral.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Summer Skiing in Europe as Southern Hemisphere Season Starts Early

Skiinfo reports that there has been fresh snow in the past few days at ski areas in both northern and southern hemispheres. Arapahoe Basin, still open in Colorado for the northern hemisphere’s 2008-9 season, has had a few more inches; in the southern hemisphere big falls continue in New Zealand where the first ski areas are due to open at the weekend, a fortnight ahead of schedule, because of all the snow in May. It will be the first May opening in New Zealand since the 1990s.
The number of ski areas open worldwide remains around 20 (Excluding the hundreds of indoor snow and artificial surface slopes). A few areas have closed but new summer ski areas have opened and the numbers open will continue to increase over the next few weeks and months as more ski areas re-open for summer now than are left to close for winter 2008-9.
In Austria, although the Pitztal glacier closed last weekend, the number of ski areas still open will be back to five next weekend when the Dachstein Glacier is scheduled to re-open for summer skiing and boarding on Friday (29th May). The glacier currently has a 150cm (five foot) snow base and will be open from 7am daily so skiers and boarders can get on the slopes early to make the most of snow before the afternoon thaw sets in. Dachstein joins the still-open-since-2008 Kauntertal, Kitzsteinhorn, Stubai and Tux glaciers. Kaunertal currently reports a snow depth of 40-140cm (16 – 56 inches) with five lifts open serving a variety of terrain including the resort’s terrain park. Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun closes for a week next week for maintenance but in the meantime there’s up to 303cm (just over 10 feet) of snow to enjoy on upper slopes, and still more than 80cm (nearly three feet) at the base of the summer ski area. The Stubai has a 280cm (over nine foot) base at 3,000m and seven runs – blues and reds – open, served by 11 lifts. Tux has a 325cm (nearly 11 foot) snow base and perhaps the largest ski area currently open in Europe with 42km (27 miles) of piste still open, served by 10 lifts.
To the West, Engelberg has finally closed for the season and with Saas Fee still closed for maintenance, two Swiss snow resort choices remain. The Diavolezza glacier, and the long 1,000 vertical metres descent from the top of it, remains open in the Engadin, close to St Moritz, in Switzerland. Only one run is open, and snow depth is down to 20cm (eight inches) at the 2,000m base of it (60cm/two feet at the 3,000mm top) but it’s one long run to be skiing in late May! The other choice is year-round ski destination Zermatt, which continues to operate its ski lifts on the continent’s highest runs, touching 3,900m.
France still lacks an open outdoor ski area as the country awaits the start of summer snow sports there next month, so the only other centres open in mainland Europe are in Italy, where the still open Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale (which still has two red and one black run open on a big snow depth with a 275m vertical) is joined by Passo Stelvio in Valtellina on Saturday (May 30) which will operate nine lifts to service its 20km (12 miles) of piste between 2760m and 3450m.
The only other lift-served Spring skiing still available in Europe is in Scandinavia where Norway, Sweden and Finland all have centres open. Norway’s Folgefonn glacier has a 450cm (15 foot) base, and the Stryn and Galdhøpiggen summer ski centres are also looking good.
Up in the Swedish Arctic, Riksgransen is bathed in 24 hour daylight making it possible for the ski lifts to run at 12 o’clock at night for skiing under the midnight sun. Over in Finland Ruka will continue to keep one run open for skiing through to mid-June.
In North America only Whistler remains open in Canada which currently has a healthy snow base of 159 centimetres (over five feet) with over 1,000 acres available to ski and ride. There’s also the added attraction of lift accessed downhill mountain biking in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park which is now open. The Upper Dave Murray Downhill run is hosting 14 jib features and a 35 foot jump before it transitions next winter into the Men’s Alpine Downhill course for the 2010 Winter Games. South of the border there are four ski areas to choose from. Arapahoe Basin has reported another 8cm (3 inches) of snow fell last Friday with base depths staying over a metre ( 3.3 feet). Snowbird in Utah is open to mid-June after extending its season and has 91 inches (2.3m) of snow lying at mid-mountain. In California Mammoth Mountain is also open at least until mid-June and has two – four feet (60-120cm) of snow lying with slope access via Broadway Express 1, Face Lift Express 3 and Chair 23. Timberline Lodge in Oregon kicked off its summer ski and snowboard season on Friday (22nd May), giving it the longest opening in the US. In the coming months, skiers and snowboarders from around the world will flock to the Palmer Snowfield, high on Mt. Hood’s south slope. After the first ski camp accessed the Palmer Snowfield via snowcat and surface lifts in the summer of 1956, the novelty of skiing in the summer started to become popular. Then, with the building of the original Palmer chairlift in 1978, the word quickly spread, and modern day American summer skiing was born. The Palmer chairlift was upgraded in 1996 to a state of the art high speed quad chairlift and the resort also offers expert grooming and innovative freestyle terrain features.
In the southern hemisphere it’s New Zealand that has the most snow news, with another 25cm (10 inches) of fresh snow falling on Sunday (May 24th) at Mt Hutt, meaning the resort is on course for it’s first May opening this millennium with the resort still reporting mid-winter conditions that have lasted throughout May and a base depth of one metre (40 inches). It’s the best early snow the ski area has had in decades, according to Dave Wilson, Ski Area Manager for Mt Hutt, which is aiming to open two weeks ahead of schedule, this Saturday, May 30th, subject to weather conditions. "We’ve got awesome snow conditions so have decided to open early for some May skiing. But it’s been a big call to make", he said. "There are huge logistics involved in opening a ski area ahead of schedule. We need to ensure our suppliers can meet our deadlines, go through all of our health and safety checks and ensure we have enough staff to provide the best possible snow experience from opening day. A lot of staff have changed their plans to get here early which is humbling. We’re also bringing in staff from our sister mountains (Coronet Peak and The Remarkables) in Queenstown to help us out". Mt Hutt received more than 170cm (nearly six feet) of snow in the first fortnight of May and has had regular falls since. For non-New Zealanders there’s an added benefit to heading south of the equator this year – the lowest prices for many years as well as the great snow, because the New Zealand dollar has fallen by more than a third against the Euro and the US Dollar and is even down against the British pound. Mr Wilson said the Summit Six Chairlift, the Quad Chair and the Magic Carpet would be operating for the early opening and that the Triple Chair would open in the following weeks, snow dependant.
Meanwhile more fresh snow fell on other New Zealand ski areas up to last weekend, which coming on top of consistent snowfall throughout May, is delivering spectacular pre-season conditions. Coronet Peak ski area, scheduled to open in less than two weeks on Saturday 6 June, received 50 - 100cm of snow over four days resulting in an 80cm base at the top of the mountain and a 50cm base at the bottom. Hamish McCrostie, Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager, said they couldn’t have asked for a better build up to season opening. "It’s just fantastic. We’ve had consistent snow falls since early May which is unusual but very welcome", he said. "We’ve started packing the snow already which bodes well for a really good base for the season to come". Across the valley at The Remarkables, the ski area received 45cm of fresh snow in 48 hours and has received 150cm over the last two weeks, resulting in a solid 120cm base across the mountain. The Remarkables Ski Area Manager Ross Lawrence said he was excited about current conditions stating "it is the best start to the season anybody can remember for many years (...)These are magic conditions for this time of year so we’re all hyped up for some superb skiing and riding from opening day", he said.

Monday, May 25, 2009

FIS SnowKidz Website and Award Launched

In November 2008, the FIS Council decided to initiate a campaign to 'Bring Children to the Snow'. The campaign has been divided into two dimensions: an International Communication Campaign and a National Activity Campaign with different projects and programs depending on the country. Now externally the campaign activities will be known through the 'FIS SnowKidz' brand: "All children between the ages of four and fourteen should have the chance to experience the fascination of snow".
The main aim of the FIS campaign is creating a pool of lifetime skiers and snow lovers among small children. The campaign is about bringing newcomers to snow and keeping those with initial experience there. At the same time, it is not focused on generating competitors for any particular FIS discipline in the first instance.
The FIS SnowKidz are easily approachable super heroes who take care of children and youngsters anywhere in the snow, all around the world. The positive side effect of these super heroes is that they're not only great for identification and motivation but can also help reduce fears, anxieties or obstacles in children's minds connected with snow or snow activities. The SnowKidz are the figures to help reach the campaign's real targets, children aged 4-14, and their parents. The four campaign characters (a girl and a boy for each of the two target groups 4-9 and 9-14) are joined together under the collective brand of the FIS SnowKidz.
To recognize and promote the best examples of bringing children to the snow in varying national circumstances, FIS has launched a new award under the campaign: the FIS SnowKidz award. The FIS Member National Ski Associations (full and associate members) are invited to submit their projects to compete for the first award for the best examples of bringing children to the snow to be granted at the 47th International Ski Congress in Antalya (TUR) in 2010. The submissions are due by 31st January 2010. The award will be presented every second year during the International Ski Congress.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2015 Winter Universiade will be held in Granada

Yesterday, during the second day of the FISU Executive Committee Meeting the 27th Winter Universiade has been attributed to Granada, Spain. The authorities presenting Granada were the Mayor of Granada José Torres, the Rector of the University of Granada, Francisco Gonzalez; representative of the Council of Andalucia, Martin Soler; the Representative of the Government Antonio Martinez; Marta Carranza (CSD), Maria José Rienda (RFEDI); Eduardo Roldan (RFEDI); Frank Gonzalez (FDEH); Francisco Barranco (GR2015); Eduardo Valenzuela (GR2015).
With the legendary Sierra Nevada mountain range as the focus of the Bid Committee's presentation, the Spanish stressed the importance of bringing the Winter Universiade to Granada to develop the ice sports in the south of Spain. "Granada and the Sierra Nevada is a well known snow sports area", Eduardo Valenzuela, Bid Director said. "Thanks to the Winter Universiade we will be able to start developing the ice sports as well. This will make the region a complete winter sport hotbed".
"I'm happy that FISU has the opportunity to go back to Spain for the Winter Universiade, We've been in Spain twice before and we know they will do a good job", FISU President Killian said.
FISU stands for Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (International University Sports Federation) and was founded in 1949. FISU's main responsability is the supervision of both Summer and Winter Universiades as well as the World University Championships.
The Universiade is an international sporting and cultural festival which is staged every two years in a different city and which is second in importance only to the Olympic Games.
The Winter Universiade consists of 7 compulsory sports (Alpine skiing; Nordic skiing composed of jump, cross country & combined; Biathlon; Ice Hockey; Short-Track Speed Skating; Figure Skating and Curling) and one or two optional sports also chosen by the host country.
The Universiades is open to all student athletes that have not been out of university or its equivalent for more than a year and that are between 17 and 28 years old.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Winter Games NZ

Winter Games NZ is an elite winter sports competition for all athletes to compete together regardless of whether they are able bodied or have a disability. This is a new concept in high performance competition. In contrast to existing premiere events such as the Winter and Summer Olympics. Winter Games NZ features over 800 of the world's top athletes competing in 9 snow sports: Alpine Skiing (Able body and Adaptive), Cross Country Skiing (Able body and Adaptive), Curling, Figure Skating, Snowboard, Freestyle Ski, Ice Hockey as well as the demonstration sports of Winter Triathlon and Natural Luge (A variation of the more commonly known Olympic luge taking place on an un-banked track with a base of hard-packed snow covered in a layer of ice, enclosed within low wooden walls). The events will take place at Wanaka (Snow Farm and Cardrona), Queenstown (Coronet Peak and The Remarkables), Naseby (Maniototo Ice Rink) and Dunedin (Dunedin Ice Rink) from 22-30 August 2009. The Official Welcome and Opening Ceremony will be held at 1pm on Friday 21 August on the Queenstown waterfront.
Winter Games NZ will provide the opportunity for both able bodied and adaptive competitors to race alongside one another in alpine skiing and cross country events. During the Winter Games NZ there will be special seminars for those working with disabled sports men and women.
The ten-day long Games also include plenty of off-snow activities for spectators and athletes with live music and entertainment in downtown Queenstown and Wanaka.
Winter Games NZ is a charitable trust established by the New Zealand Olympic Committee for the purpose of running the games.
The freeskiing disciplines of this year’s Winter Games NZ is shaping up to be the most prestigious event of its kind ever seen in New Zealand. Along with an invite list that includes many the biggest names in the sport, Winter Games NZ will also act as a qualifier for ESPN Winter X Games as part of the AFP Tour.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lessons to be Learned

A panel of six ski resort CEOs (Rusty Gregory, chairman and CEO of Mammoth Mountain; Tim Boyd, president of Peak Resorts; Michael Kaplan, president and CEO of Aspen Skiing Company; Rob Katz, COO of Vail Resorts; Stephen Kircher, president of Boyne Resorts Eastern Operations; and Bill Jensen, CEO of Intrawest) discussed about the economic downturn's effect in the Ski Industry.
The panel was held at the National Ski Areas Association 2009 Convention and Trade Show in Marco Island, Florida (May 13-16). This high-powered CEO Summit gave attendees a fascinating look at some very different operations and how they deal with some very familiar subjects. The panelists discussed the hard times that have hit the ski industry this season, and though all agreed their customers are resilient (U.S. ski areas tallied 57.1 million visits for the 2008/09 season, making it the fifth best season on record), most suggested changes in customer behavior and resort operations that occurred this season as a result of a tough economic situation will likely persist for years to come.

The Lessons to be Learned from the 2008-09 Winter Season would be (sources: The Industry Report; Ski Area Management Magazine):
  1. "The loyalty we created in our industry is unparalleled. Our guests don't want to leave so we need to take advantage of that" (Michael Kaplan).
  2. "We’re more weather-driven than economy-driven. It was tough, but not as tough as a bad winter. We’d rather have a bad economy and good weather than a good economy and bad weather" (Tim Boyd).
  3. "Drive-to resorts performed better than average, and destinations were hurt" (Stephen Kircher). "The best thing we learned is we’re glad we’re close to the people. The farther a resort is from markets, the more challenging this winter was. Our resorts are closer to metropolitan areas, and we probably suffered a lot less impact than the destination guys" (Tim Boyd).
  4. "What we saw this year was (…) when the time came for the core skiers to prioritize how to spend time and money, skiing was right at the top of their list. Our resorts offer other services, though, and our company saw spending on that side go down. Our guests still love to come, but they’re not going to spend as much money, and we have to find ways to continue to grow our profit" (Rob Katz). "We saw greatly reduced spending, at the ski school and food and drink outlets. Instead of a $100 bottle of wine maybe a $12 dollar bottle. We don’t see that reversing course in the next 12-to-18 months" (Michael Kaplan).
  5. "The old Intrawest focus had been real estate for 20 years. That went into the toilet, flushed down the sewer and into some ocean, so that business opportunity is truly dead right now" (Bill Jensen). "The concept of real estate defining a resort is gone, probably for our lifetime" (Stephen Kircher).
  6. "These are times when people tend to panic, and that’s the worst time to be making decisions about pricing. If you get into a discounting situation, you’re going to create a discounting war, and all these people who are coming are going to come anyway and all you’re doing is driving down your yield" (Tim Boyd).
  7. "Intrawest went into a real cost-cutting exercise. We didn’t cut from the guests, we maintained our standards, basically stabilized the business and allowed it to survive by cutting fixed costs. We created a new foundation for the organization going forward. As business comes back we don’t have to add back in those costs" (Bill Jensen).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Snowfall Continues in New Zealand

More fresh snow on Queenstown’s premier ski areas over the last days, on top of consistent snowfall throughout May, is delivering spectacular pre-season conditions.
Coronet Peak ski area, scheduled to open in less than three weeks (Saturday 6 June), has received 50 - 100cm of snow in the last days resulting in an 80cm base at the top of the mountain and a 50cm base at the bottom. Hamish McCrostie, Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager, said they couldn’t have asked for a better build up to season opening. "It’s just fantastic. We’ve had consistent snow falls since early May which is unusual but very welcome (...) We’ve started packing the snow already which bodes well for a really good base for the season to come", he said”. McCrostie said the Peak’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system was set up and nearly ready to go with final commissioning of the new pump-house almost complete. "We intend to start snowmaking on the 25th May but we could hit the button sooner if temperatures remain consistently cold (...) The system is designed so that without any natural snow the central core of the mountain can be opened within three days of continuous snowmaking conditions. Under optimum conditions, all trails, including those on Rocky Gully, could open within 10 days", he said.
Across the valley at The Remarkables, the ski area has received 45cm of fresh snow in 48 hours (Tuesday/Wednesday) and has received 150cm over the last two weeks, resulting in a solid 120cm base across the mountain. The Remarkables Ski Area Manager Ross Lawrence said he was excited about current conditions stating "it is the best start to the season anybody can remember for many years (...) These are magic conditions for this time of year so we’re all hyped up for some superb skiing and riding from opening day", he said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Europe’s Snowfall Stalls For Spring After Six Months

Skiinfo reports that with the end of the season finally arriving in France a week ago and at Sierra Nevada in Spain last weekend, the only other skiing in Europe is in Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia or indoors in the continent’s 30+ indoor snow centres. In North America there are still five ski centres open and in the southern hemisphere the first ski resorts will open for the 2009 winter next week. There has been no sizable fresh snowfalls reported at any of the open ski areas for the first week since early November. Altogether less than 30 outdoor snow ski areas are open anywhere in the world at present – one of the quietest weeks of the year.
Austria continues to have the most ski areas open in Europe. There’s been little or no fresh snow this week, but the glaciers have huge snow bases so that’s not a problem. Conditions are typical for Spring skiing with overnight freezing followed by thawing from lunchtime, so morning conditions are generally best. The Kaunertal glacier has had nearly 10 metres (33 feet) of snow this winter and currently has 155cm (over 5 feet) lying on the upper slopes with five lifts accessing the slopes. On the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun there’s 353cm (12 feet) of snow to enjoy. The Stubai and Tux glaciers are also open with three to four metres of snow each.
Switzerland currently has skiing available at Engelberg on the Titlis glacier and on Europe’s highest ski slopes at Zermatt. There are 8km (5 miles) of runs available at Engelberg, where a 4m (13 foot) snow base is available with five lifts running. Zermatt has a similar amount of terrain open and also boasts more than four metres (13 feet) of snow lying – it will remain open year round.
In Italy only one ski area is currently open – the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale, which reports over five metres (17 feet) of snow lying. Open terrain is only suited to intermediate and advanced level skiers and riders with two red and one black run open, the longest the 1.7km long Paradiso trail, the steepest the 1km long Sinistra. The ski area will be joined at the end of next week by the Passo Stelvio Glacier which re-opens on May 30th.
In Scandinavia there are ski areas open in Finland, Norway and Sweden. In Finland, Ruka’s seven month ski season continues with the 550m long Saarua number 12 slope open until June 13th. Over the border in Sweden, Riksgransen in the Arctic Circle is just getting in to its swing, with skiing under the midnight sun thanks to 24 hour daylight. Norway’s three summer glacier ski areas are all open. Folgefonn has the biggest snow base with 450cm (15 feet) lying, The Galdhøpiggen and Stryn glaciers are also now open.
Across the Atlantic in North America, Alberta’s final snow sports for the season ended last weekend when Sunshine’s long season came to an end. So the only remaining open ski area in the country is Whistler Blackcomb, with skiing on the Blackcomb Glacier. There’s been no new snow here in the past week but the resort is reporting a 169cm (just under six feet) base with recommended runs Upper and Lower Zig Zag. South of the border in the US, four ski areas remain open following the closure for the season of Mt Bachelor in Oregon after its last ski day at the weekend. On the upside however, Snowbird in Utah has announced an extended ski season. In Colorado Arapahoe Basin has about a dozen runs open with a mid mountain snow base of 115cm (46 inches). Timberline in Oregon, which is open almost year round, closing only for a few weeks in September, has a 480cm (16 foot) base. Mammoth Mountain (picture attached) in California’s famed Spring Super Duper Pipe opened on Monday, May 18th. Located above McCoy Station at an elevation of 10,000 feet, the new halfpipe boasts 22-foot tall walls and measures 400+ feet in length. Mammoth currently has terrain parks open on Forest Trail and Unbound Main, and a selection of jumps and rails will soon be added to the new spring park to complement the massive halfpipe ensuring that Mammoth will have a terrain park open until the last day of the season. With a base depth of 120-240cm (4-8 feet) of snow near Main Lodge (8,900ft) and 4.5 – 4.5m (14-18) feet of snow at the summit (11,053ft), Mammoth’s spring skiing conditions are in full effect. Thanks to nearly 13m (40 feet) of snowfall throughout the 2008/09 winter season, Mammoth Mountain has extended its winter operations until at least June 14, and possibly later.
The southern hemisphere’s ski season is still due to kick off a fortnight ahead of schedule at Mt Hutt in New Zealand next week on Saturday 30 May (conditions permitting). The centre has received around two metres (seven feet) of fresh snow this month.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Preliminary Report Indicates 2008/09 US Winter Season is Fifth Best on Record

Based on preliminary estimates released Friday 15th by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), U.S. ski areas tallied 57.1 million visits for the 2008/09 season, making it the fifth best season on record. Over the last 10 seasons (1999/00 – 2008/09), the industry has averaged 56.7 visits. The 2008/09 season represents a 0.8 percent increase from the 10-year average, and just a 5.5 percent decrease from the record 2007/08 season of 60.5 million visits. At 13.8 million visits in 2008/09, the Northeast region was up 5.5 percent from its 10-year average. Meanwhile the Southeast region, at 5.62 million visits, was up 3.8 percent from its 10-year average; the Midwest region, with 7.41 million visits, was down 1.1 percent from its 10-year average; the Rocky Mountain region, with 19.79 million visits, was up 1.3 percent from its 10-year average; and finally the Pacific West region, with 10.54 million visits, was down 5.8 percent from its 10-year average.
Relatively favorable snow and weather conditions in most parts of the country during much of the season provided a strong counterbalance to the challenging economic conditions. Based on resort comments, the impact of the economy varied somewhat depending on resort location and resort type. Many day-ski areas in close proximity to major metropolitan markets benefitted as many guests chose to ski and ride at locations closer to home. Meanwhile destination resorts often reported fewer overnight visits and shorter stays. Many resorts commented that snow and weather conditions had a more powerful impact on their visitation than the economy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Snowbird Extends Ski Season Through June 14

Utah’s longest ski and snowboard season just got longer at Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, as officials announced the Utah resort will be open for skiing and riding on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) through June 14, conditions permitting. The extension marks 200 days of skiing and riding for the 2008/09 season, one day short of Snowbird’s record 2004/05 season when the Little Cottonwood Canyon resort stayed open for 201 days and closed on July 4.
"We’ve experienced another incredible year of snowfall at Snowbird, especially in March and April,” said Snowbird President Bob Bonar. “Our snowpack is in great shape for this time of year and we’re excited to be able to extend our ski season well into June".
Snowbird is currently offering skiing from the Tram, Little Cloud and Mineral Basin Express on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Memorial Day. Starting May 29, Snowbird will have the Tram and Little Cloud open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at a reduced ticket price of $49 (sold at the Snowbird Tram ticket office, entry 2). At this time, Snowbird is expected to close on June 14. The Utah resort will reevaluate opening for additional weekends after June 14, to be determined by weather and snow conditions. Snowbird has received 621 inches (1577 cm) of snowfall this season, well above the resort’s average of 500 inches (1270 cm) annually.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dolomiti Superski Region Put Onus On Safety

The giant Italian Dolomiti Superski region is continuing to step up its safety campaign, ‘Safer ski!’ with the greatest onus on skier behaviour.
"The Dolomites Region does not generally have many avalanches and the lifts and cableways are among the safest in the world. Safety on the slopes usually depends on the skiers and their behaviour when coming downhill. Carelessness and high speed, as well as overestimation of their own capabilities are the most common causes of accidents", said a company spokeserson.
Each person who buys a ski pass receives a brochure with tips and instructions how to plan your ski day efficiently, how to choose the right equipment, together with information on well-balanced nutrition and the FIS-Rules for conduct of skiers and snowboarders.
However for the unconvinced, Italy has four different sets of safety personnel working on the slopes. The Alpini Group, which are part of the military, belong to the mountain infantry and are good skiers. They have additionally completed a medical training at the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and have knowledge in legal issues. The Carabienieri are another army unit, whilst the Polizia (police) and the Finance police are units of the Ministry of the Interior. All have the duty to guarantee security on the slopes and have the power to fine skiers and boarders who break behaviour and thus safety rules. Spot fines range from 30 euros for not stopping up to 92 euros for serious misbehaviour.
"The number of accidents is higher in good weather as people ski more carefully in bad weather", explains Fabio, who works at the Kronplatz. "The main cause is usually high speed. Alcohol generally is not the problem. If someone is just a little tipsy we don’t do anything. But if the people are really drunk then we react. Luckily this happens very seldom". Worst of all according to Fabio are those who ski in sites closed to the public. "When they set off an avalanche/snowslide, they risk their own lives, those of others and those of their rescuers". Some skiers and boarders try to out run the various piste police services. Fabio grins, "We are faster though. They bluster and we keep calm. Our main aim is to inform, not to punish".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

IOC Confident Sochi Success

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, led by its Chairman, the Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy, has brought to a close two days of meetings (13-14 May 2009) with the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee in the Russian host city. Joined for part of the trip by the Presidents and Secretaries General of the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations, the Commission was pleased to see that sport and the athletes were playing a central role in all areas of the project’s development and planning.
Jean-Claude Killy said,"We must not underestimate the size and complexity of what our Russian friends will achieve here. When we look at the work that is being done in areas such as transportation, infrastructure development and technological upgrades for the whole region, it is absolutely immense. As Deputy Prime Minister for the Olympic Games and Regional Development Dmitry Kozak has pointed out, this project has the full support of the Russian Government because it is part of a much wider regeneration of the region, in addition to being a great way for the Government to invest in this time of economic downturn. The Games are a catalyst for this development but it also increases the organisational challenge, which is why we have a highly competent Deputy Prime Minister in the person of Aleksandr Zhukov, as Chairman of the Sochi 2014 Supervisory Council, looking after the organisation of the Games".
He concluded, "A lot of advances have been made since our last visit and we have also taken some important steps forward during our meetings this week, but as I have said in the past, time is not a luxury that we have to play with on this project. The Sochi team must therefore ensure that it makes its decisions in a timely manner, so as to maintain its ambitious schedule. However, with the high calibre of the people in front of us and the impressive detail of the reports over the past two days, I am confident that Sochi 2014, ably led by its President and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko, will deliver".
Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of Sochi 2014, said: "It has been a privilege to welcome so many world-leading experts in winter sports as part of the IOC Coordination Commission - their advice has been incredibly valuable and I will personally ensure that it is incorporated into Sochi 2014's already well advanced plans. Sochi 2014 has recently made substantial progress. We have submitted the Games Foundation Plan to the IOC and are moving from the strategic planning phase to the operational planning phase. Sochi 2014 is fully on schedule".
Another key area for the IOC in Sochi’s preparations is the environment, and the IOC was pleased to hear the announcement from Deputy Prime Minister Kozak that they will be implementing new green construction guidelines on the Olympic project, which is a major step in the right direction. The evolution in understanding in this field has advanced greatly within the project, and this is also due to Sochi 2014’s close collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and various environmental NGOs.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) elected last July 4th Sochi as the host city of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014 during its 119th Session in Guatemala City. The Russian resort triumphed over competing bids from Pyongchang in South Korea and Salzburg in Austria.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Whistler Mountain Bike Park Opens This Saturday

Whistler Mountain Bike Park Opens This Saturday May 16 With 12 Trails. This season, riders can expect Garbanzo expansion and redesigned Slopestyle, Giant Slalom and Dual Slalom Courses.
"At Whistler Blackcomb we’re lucky enough to have six months for mountain biking season. As all trails are covered in snow, the anticipation builds when we can finally clear the trails and get the Bike Park open", says Brian Finestone, Whistler Mountain Bike Park Manager. "The mud gates are about to open this Saturday and people are worked up into a frenzy with opening day anticipation. We’ve got lots of trails ready to go and are expecting a great start to what will no doubt be another fantastic season".
The Bike Park is open daily from 10am-5pm until June 19 and then from 10am-8pm starting June 20 through the summer. Weekday access is via the Whistler Village Gondola with the Fitzsimmons Chairlift opening on weekends.
Riders can mix it up with some skiing and snowboarding this weekend, as Blackcomb Mountain remains open for skiing through Monday and Whistler Mountain reopens for skiing and riding on Tuesday. Summer glacier skiing and snowboarding resumes on Blackcomb Mountain June 20. For this weekend, skiing and riding is available by uploading and downloading via the Excalibur Gondola. Open lifts scheduled to spin include Solar Coaster, Excelerator Chair, Jersey Cream, 7th Heaven, Glacier Express and the Horstman T-Bar. This Saturday and Sunday, Catskinner and the Showcase T-Bar will open, weather permitting.

Scottish Ski Resort Clean Up Returns for Second Year

The Big Spring Clean, a clean up initiative organised by the Ski Club of Great Britain, returns for its second year at Cairngorm Mountain and Nevis Range on Sunday 31st May 2009.
The event which attracted over 100 participants in 2008 is a chance for mountain users to do their bit by picking up litter left by a season’s worth of visitors. The event raises awareness about responsible tourism and the seriousness of dropping litter.
Caroline Stuart Taylor, Chief Executive of the Ski Club has welcomed the return of the event: "After such a successful Big Spring Clean event last year, we are delighted that we can again run another clean up day in two of the key Scottish ski areas. Last year we collected over 40 bags of litter at Nevis Range and Cairngorm, but maybe just as importantly we sent out a message to skiers, snowboarders and anyone who loves the mountains that they are the ones who can make a difference and can take responsibility for trying to preserve our mountains. We hope that even more people will put on their gloves for this year’s Big Spring Clean".
Volunteers are asked to meet at 10am at the bottom of the gondola at Nevis Range or the Ranger Base at Coire Cas on Cairngorm Mountain. Gloves and bags are provided for all litter pickers and for everyone who brings back a bag of litter, tea and cakes will be provided.
The Big Spring Clean is another step forward in the Ski Club of Great Britain’s Respect the Mountain campaign. The Respect the Mountain campaign aims to raise money, raise awareness and educate skiers and snowboarders about helping to safeguard the natural environment and the long-term future of snowsports.
The Big Spring Clean has this year become part of a wider clean up campaign. In 2009 the event is also being promoted by French eco-organisation Mountain Riders as part of their ‘Ski Slopes Clean-up Sessions’. Over 50 French resorts are also hosting clean up days in May and June this year. Last year 17 tonnes of rubbish was collected across the resorts. Many other ski resorts around the world are also involved in post-season clean ups.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

National Ski Areas Association to recognize impact of ESPN's Winter X Games

This year, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) will present its Industry Impact Award to ESPN and the Winter X Games for its role in bringing the thrill and excitement of skiing and snowboarding into the living rooms of millions of television viewers worldwide. The NSAA Industry Impact Award recognizes significant contributions made to the ski industry by an individual, business, or other entity. The NSAA Industry Impact Award will be officially presented Thursday, May 14, to Chris Stiepock, ESPN VP and General Manager of Global X Events, at the group's annual Convention and Tradeshow to be held on Marco Island in Florida.
"We'd be remiss if we didn't formally recognize the impact that the ESPN Winter X Games has made on the ski industry", said NSAA President Michael Berry. "There is little doubt that the exciting action that these games deliver into the homes of viewers both young and old has caused them to pick themselves up off of their couch, and give skiing and snowboarding a try for themselves. Clearly the industry as a whole has benefited greatly from ESPN's exposure".
Chris Stiepock, who has been with the X Games since its inception in 1995, started out as the Marketing Director and last year was promoted to Vice President of the franchise. "ESPN would not have been able to grow the Winter X Games event and brand without the tremendous assistance of our various host resorts," said Stiepock. "We have greatly benefited from the hard work, vision, passion and expertise of many terrific people from our host mountains who worked tirelessly on our behalf".
The Winter X Games will enter its 14th year in 2010. Debuting in Snow Summit, Calif., in 1997, the event has been held in Mount Snow, Vt., Crested Butte, Colo., and Aspen/ Snowmass, Colo., where it has been for the past eight years and will remain through 2012.
The X Games is an annual multiaction sports event. ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Action Sports, first developed its X Games franchise in 1995. Today, the X Games are the biggest action sports events in the world. The games are broken into seasons: the Winter X Games—held in January or February—and the X Games—usually held in August. The location of the Winter X Games is in Aspen, while the location for the Summer X Games is in Los Angeles through 2009. In addition to the two U.S.-based events, ESPN has held X Games competitions and demonstration events around the world including Dubai, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, China, Korea, Malaysia and Spain. Since Winter X Games Six in Aspen (2002), the event has seen significant growth: attendance has nearly doubled; the event is now live on ESPN and ABC; SportsCenter is now televised live on site; and a multitude of ESPN media platforms regularly cover the event. Last year’s telecasts garnered record viewership, averaging 863,000 homes, up 17% from 2007.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fresh Kiwi Southern Hemisphere Snow Heralds First May Opening In A Decade

Skiinfo reports that as mid-May approaches the number of northern hemisphere ski areas still open has dropped below 50 – less than the number of indoor snow centres to choose from! But more heavy snow in New Zealand means that Mt Hutt is hoping to open two weeks ahead of schedule, and for the first time in a decade this would mean a May opening in just a few weeks.
But for those northern hemisphere ski areas still open, there has been Fresh snow. In Europe, Chamonix in France, which was the last in the country to close, along side Tignes, last weekend, did so in style with a further 25cm (ten inches) of fresh snow. The country’s ski areas now begin a five week break which will end with Les 2 Alpes opening for summer skiing on June 13th, with Tignes following a week later and Val d’Isere a week later still on the 27th.
Norway’s three summer ski areas are all open and Folgefonn has seen some of the best new snow of the past week with 20cm (eight inches) more falling. The Galdhøpiggen and Stryn glaciers are also now open. Riksgransen in Sweden's Arctic circle is another Scandinavian choice, with 24 hour daylight and midnight skiing due to begin any day now.
In Switzerland there are three ski areas currently operational. Engelberg has another 11 days of the season to go with the Titlis glacier currently reporting a 425cm (14 feet) base and temperatures still hovering around zero by midday. The Diavolezza glacier ski area near St Moritz in the Engadin region will stay open later in the month. Two lifts are open serving three runs.
Austria currently has the most ski areas open of any country in Europe, with five to choose from – equalled only by the US. The Molltal glacier currently has the deepest snow base in the country with 410cm (nearly 14 feet) but it is in the middle of a 10 day close down for maintenance – re-opening on the 20th from when it will remain opening right through to 16 May 2010! The Dachstein glacier also has an 11+ month season but is closed this month. So the Tux glacier, with a 395cm (13 foot) base and the biggest ski area currently open anywhere, with more than 64km (40 miles) of runs still available, has the biggest and deepest ski slopes at present. It doesn’t really close at all, all year, weather permitting. Other options currently open are the Kaunertal and Kitzsteinhorn (above Kaprun) glaciers. The Pitztal glacier is also open, through to 24th May with its remarkable new Israeli-built plus-temperatures (if needed) snowmaking system. Currently it has a 315cm (10 foot, 6 inch) base at the top so perhaps it’s not needed. The Stubai glacier near Innsbruck is another good choice with 12 lifts and 12 runs still operating and a snow base 5cm (two inches) deeper than Pitztal’s! It is open for another month through to mid-June.
In Italy only the Presana Glacier above Passo Tonale is currently open with three red and black runs to choose from. It will be joined in a few weeks by two more summer ski choices of Val Senales and Passo Stelvio but in the meantime claims some of the deepest snow depths in Europe with around six metres (20 feet) accumulated.
Elsewhere in Europe ski areas in the Pyrenees have finally ended operations after their spectacular 2008-9 season, but Europe’s most southerly major ski area, Sierra Nevada in Spain, is open for a final weekend, with 80-300 cm (3-10 feet) of snow still lying near the Mediterranean coast to enjoy (with perhaps a swim in that warm sea in the afternoon).
There has also been fresh snow on the hills of Western Scotland, although no ski-areas have re-opened.
In the US, Squaw Valley in California called it a day last weekend, but there’s still a handful of resorts to choose from for a final snow fix, throughout the West. Arapahoe Basin in Colorado will be open until June 7th, it currently has a 140cm (55 inch) base after receiving three inches (8cm) of new snow in the past week. Mammoth Mountain in California has sunny conditions and has announced it intendfs to stay open until at least June 14th, "maybe longer". Current base is up to 10.5 feet (315cm). In Utah, Snowbird’s long season continues, with skiing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until May 25th, conditions permitting. Season snowfall to date has passed 15.5 metres, (621 inches) with 3.2 metres (128 inches) currently at mid-mountain. Timberline in Oregon is reporting the most snowfall of the past week with 20xcm (Eight inches) of new snow topping up it’s base depth of over five metres (17 feet), it’s looking good for skiing through to the annual two week shut down in September. Also in Oregon, Mt Bachelor has entered its last week of the season with an inch (2.5cm) of fresh snow reported in the past 24 hours. The resort closes on the 17th and currently has a base depth of 3.5 metres (140 inches) at mid-mountain.
North of the border just two ski areas remain open in Canada. Sunshine near Banff in Alberta will wind up its long 08-09 season this weekend with the 81st annual Slush Cup party, taking place May 18th. The long weekend party starts May 16th and ends on Canada’s Victoria Day. It features live performances by BC/DC, fun competitions, the Molson Beer Gardens, and of course, the Coors Light Snow Bunnies. Competition participants are encouraged to dress to impress – skiers and riders dressed in creative and original costumes, along with the skill to clear the chilly, slushy pond, will have a chance to win some great prizes. Prizes will also be awarded for Awesome Air, Best Belly Flop and Excellent Enema. Temperatures on the slopes are still between 3 and 10 degrees below zero and fresh snow has been falling – 2cm (an inch) in the past 24 hours and 10cm (four inches) in the past week, more than 50 runs are open for the final weekend. To the west, Whistler in British Columbia’s season still has months to run with glacier skiing on offer, before it finally winds down 08-09 a few months before the excitement reaches even greater fever pitch and the long awaited 09-10 Olympic ski season begins. Whistler Blackcomb has revised its late spring operating dates to offer skiing and riding through May 18 on Blackcomb Mountain and snowpack permitting until June 14 on Whistler Mountain. There will then be a five day break before summer skiing starts on Blackcomb glacier from June 20th to July 26th. Whistler too has had fresh snow, with 4cm (2 inches) in the past 24 hours and 14cm (6 inches) in the past week, snow base is 189cm (over six feet) with 3000 acres still open.
In New Zealand skiers and riders can look forward to hitting Mt Hutt’s slopes later this month as ski area staff work to open two weeks ahead of schedule for the first time in at least 10 years.
Mt Hutt (picture attached) has received more than 170cm (nearly six feet) of snow over the past 12 days resulting in a 110cm (nearly four foot) snow base and a decision to work towards a Saturday 30 May opening (conditions permitting). It’s the best early snow the ski area has had in decades, according to Dave Wilson, Ski Area Manager for Mt Hutt. "We’ve got awesome snow conditions so have decided to open early for some May skiing. But it’s been a big call to make", he said. "There are huge logistics involved in opening a ski area ahead of schedule". Mr Wilson said the mountain crew would be working around the clock to bring their original schedule forward. "We need to ensure our suppliers can meet our deadlines, go through all of our health and safety checks and ensure we have enough staff to provide the best possible snow experience from opening day. A lot of staff have changed their plans to get here early which is humbling. We’re also bringing in staff from our sister mountains (Coronet Peak and The Remarkables) in Queenstown to help us out". Mr Wilson said the Summit Six Chairlift, the Quad Chair and the Magic Carpet would be operating for the early opening and that the Triple Chair would open in the following weeks, snow dependant. "Our outlook for a 30 May opening is positive as long as conditions remain favourable and the weather permits on the day", he said. Paul Creswick, from the Mt Hutt Marketing Group and owner of Brinkley Resort in Methven, said the news was fantastic. "This is spectacular news for every tourism operator in town. The early opening and reports of lots of snow coupled with the soft New Zealand dollar and some great airline deals bodes well for everyone in Methven and the surrounding area this season", he said."Many operators are already reporting a significant increase in domestic and international enquiries from last year", he added.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Vancouver 2010 presents innovative online digital scrapbook called Canada CODE

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) invites Canadians to share their photos and words about their country and neighbourhoods through innovative online digital scrapbook called Canada CODE.
Canada CODE, a grassroots digital collaboration of text and photos by Canadians about their daily lives is the first project of a larger program called CODE (Cultural Olympiad’s digital edition. The Cultural Olympiad began in 2008 and is a three-year series of multidisciplinary festivals of arts, popular culture and digital programs, presented by Bell.
Bell has been instrumental in facilitating the involvement of leading industry partners and BC-based companies in CODE and, as the exclusive Telecommunications Partner to the 2010 Winter Games, Bell is helping to connect all Canadians to Canada CODE.
In addition to support from Bell, Canada CODE is also connecting with Canadians through the assistance of the National Film Board of Canada, a major collaborator on the project through its network of studios and partner associations.
Anyone—young or old—with access to the Internet and a desire to connect can create, explore or contribute to Canada CODE. Submissions will be moderated and uploaded within 48 hours. The contributor’s user name, as well as their location, will be tagged to their creative work and can be seen whenever a visitor to the site clicks on their submission.
A selection of the best Canada CODE content will be showcased on public screens in Vancouver and Whistler for the thousands of spectators and athletes visiting during the Games while the project in its entirety will continue to exist online in perpetuity as an archive of the country in 2010.
"This eclectic collection of words and photos submitted by anyone who wants to share is meant to reflect the stuff that we as Canadians are made of. It’s who we are. It’s the things we do every day. It’s the words we use to describe our selves and our communities,” explained Burke Taylor, VANOC vice-president, culture and celebrations. “The Canada CODE will reach into all parts of the country to truly make these Canada’s Games through the power of Canadians’ imagination and the Internet".
To kick-start the bilingual online art project, a number of Canadian writing luminaries such as this year’s Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden of Willowdale, Ontario, Vancouver’s Evelyn Lau and Montreal’s Nicole Brossard, have added their voices and vision to inspire others about their daily lives and neighbourhoods. A total of 49 Canadian writers will help launch the site, thanks to support from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Rae Hull, director of CODE and originator of Canada CODE said, "Canadians are always looking for ways to reach across the huge land mass we inhabit to connect with each other. Historically, we’ve had the telephone and the train; today, we are one of the most wired nations in the world. The networked nature of the web is an ideal way to illustrate both the incredible diversity that exists in Canada and the way we knit it all together. The Canada CODE is a playful way for all of us to riff on our collective sensibility to show the world what Canada is in 2010".

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Henrik Windsted line at the Nissan Xtreme Verbier 09

The Freeride World Tour (FWT) came to an end with an amazing fourth stage and grand finale: the Nissan Xtreme-Verbier. This is the 2008 Freeride World Champion Henrik Windsted competion run. The Swedish was one of the top contenders for the win at the Nissan Xtreme - Verbier 09, and for the Freeride World Champion title as well. After a solid top section, he had a spectacular crash while landing a big cliff...
The FWT 2009 brought together the world’s best skiers and snowboarders to compete around the globe: Sochi, Russia, Squaw Valley, USA, Tignes, France and Verbier, Switzerland.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ischgl 2009 Top of the Mountain Concert. Kylie Minogue Interview

Riding Monster Waves

This BBC video of a monster wave was filmed off the coast of Pohnpei in the Caroline Islands, part of the Federated State of Micronesia. The location is well known in the international surf community. Some of the biggest waves in the world break on South Pacific islands. The storm swells that create these waves travel more than 5,000km to break on their shorelines.

Nine applications for candidacy for 2014/2015 FIS World Championships

FIS has received nine applications for candidacy for the organization of FIS World Championships in 2014 and 2015. By the May 1st 2009 deadline, FIS received applications for candidacy from nine applicants, divided as follows:
  • One application for the 2014 FIS Ski Flying World Championships submitted by Harrachov (CZE)
  • Three applications for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships submitted by Cortina d'Ampezzo (ITA), St. Moritz (SUI) and Vail/Beaver Creek (USA)
  • Four applications for the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships submitted by Falun (SWE), Lahti (FIN), Oberstdorf (GER), and Zakopane (POL)
  • One application for combined 2015 FIS Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships submitted by Kreischberg (AUT)

"I am delighted to see that despite the current economical climate we have received applications as candidates for the 2014/2015 FIS World Championships in all disciplines. For us this underlines the continuing strength of our flagship events and their appeal to global audiences", commented FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.
The FIS Council will elect the organizers of the 2014/2015 FIS World Championships during the 2010 Congress week in Antalya (TUR) on 3rd June 2010.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fresh Snowfall Tops up Northern Glaciers, Heavy Snow South of the Equator

Skiinfo reports that as the long 2008-9 ski season finally winds down in the northern hemisphere, heavy snow in both Australia and New Zealand has led to the southern hemisphere’s ski season beginning five weeks early last weekend. Meanwhile there are still dozens of ski areas open in North America and in Europe, where the summer ski season is just starting off for 2009.
In the Alps several dozen major resorts called it a day for winter 2008-9 last weekend as May began, many reporting record or near record snow accumulations and better financial results than predicted by a pessimistic media, the largest resort owning business on the continent, the Compagnie des Alpes, amongst those announcing a 2% increase in sales for the season this week.
Two resorts are left open in France, but both Chamonix and Tignes will close for the winter this weekend on Sunday May 10th. Then there’s a month’s wait until the country’s three summer ski options – Tignes, Val d’Isere and Les 2 Alpes open. In the meantime the only snow skiing in France will be indoors, at the Amneville indoor slope.
Anyone fancying a final French snow fix for ‘winter’ 2008-9 will be pleased to hear that fresh snow is still falling on the mountains. Chamonix has added another 40cm (16 inches) of snow in the past week taking upper slope base depths to 375cm (12.5 feet) and Tignes has added 10cm (four inches) since last week. The base depth on the remaining ski slopes open there is 175cm – just under six feet.
Most of the conventional Austrian ski areas which had remained open in to May finally closed at the weekend, with St Christoph and Ischgl amongst those running their lifts for the last time this winter last Sunday. But half a dozen Austrian glacier ski areas remain open through June including Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn and Tux. The Stubai glacier, which currently has a 3.5 metre (12 foot) base, added 10cm (four inches) of fresh snow – the ski season here began last September, more than eight months ago! Elsewhere The Molltal glacier remains open until this Sunday when it will close for five weeks, the Pitztal glacier a little longer, to late May. Meanwhile the Dachstein Glacier is closed for most of May, re-opening on the 31st.
In Switzerland Saas Fee has moved ahead of Zermatt for the greatest snowbase in the country, with 446cm (nearly 15 feet) compared to Zermatt’s 402c,m (over 13 feet) – so academic really. Saas Fee is also currently in the middle of an annual 10 day shut down before re-opening next week on the 13th to continue its near year-round ski lift operations. Engelberg and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz are both also open for snow sports.
In Italy the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale has clocked up still more snow and looks set to stay open through June. It is reporting the country, and probably Europe’s biggest snow base with six metres (20 feet) of snow lying. The snow on the glacier has fallen as rain at lower altitudes, increasing the avalanche risk once again on the remaining snow pack now that the sunshine has returned.
The season ended on Sunday after a great winter in Andorra but it’s still possible to ski on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. Boí Taüll and Masella are both open to the end of the coming weekend on May 10th. Further to the south on the Spanish Mediterranean coast Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly ski resort, will be the last resort in the country top close and will be open for more than a week longer, until May 15th. It is currently offering half price ski passes, sun, three metres (ten feet) of spring snow and more than 50km of slopes to enjoy.
In northerly European latitudes the ski season is till in full swing at resorts like Sweden’s Riksgransen, which will soon offer its annual treat of lift operating at midnight when 24 hour daylight returns. On Saturday (May 9th) the third of Norway’s three summer ski destinations, Galdhøpiggen, will open, joining Stryn and Folgefonn (which has a 400cm/13 feet base). The latter posted one of’s few powder alarms this week, reporting 20cm (eight inches) of fresh snow on Monday.
Finally for Europe, a sixth indoor snow centre, The Snow Centre, has opened today at Hemel Hempstead, close to London, bringing fresh snow year round for the British capital’s skiers.
In North America the ski areas still open in Canada are limited to Sunshine in Alberta and Whistler in British Columbia. South of the border there’s a larger choice in the Western US states with Mammoth and Squaw in Caliofornia, Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Snowbird in Utah and Mt Bachelor and Timberline in Oregon all at least still partially open.
In the southern hemisphere the Australian ski season began five weeks earelier than planned when Mt Buller decided to run its ski lifts and open to the public at the weekend with an unprecedented 35cm/14 inch snowfall. "It's the best snow we've had this early since we opened in 1964, so it's pretty huge for us", Mt Buller spokeswoman Gillian Dobson told local media.
The snow arrived soon afterwards in New Zealand where enthusiasts dug out their gear and hiked up to the top of Canterbury’s Mt Hutt over the weekend to also enjoy ‘first tracks’ of the season. Snowfall on Thursday and Friday last week and continued cold temperatures has resulted in a 45cm (18 inch) base at the high country ski resort. James McKenzie, Assistant Ski Area Manager for Mt Hutt, said there were a number of keen skiers making the most of the early snow over the weekend. "We’ve got some awesome powder at the moment so it’s great to see locals hitting the slopes and having some fun so early in the season", he said. The ski area is officially scheduled to open and start running its lifts in just over five weeks on 13 June.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Marathon of Zermatt: running with Nathalie Etzensperger

On Saturday, May 16th, 2009, in association with the railways "Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn" and "Gornergrat Bahn", initiators and main partners of the Zermatt's Marathon, the association of the Marathon of Zermatt organizes a running - free of charge - with the experienced athlete Nathalie Etzensberger, winner of the 3rd Marathon of Zermatt in 2004.
An ideal preparation and a particular experience for the endurance sportsmen who, under her experienced behavior, will make half of the route, from St. Niklaus to Zermatt.
For the runners not in their best shape or who do not wish to run the half-marathon's distance, they can join Andrea Schneider, manager of the Zermatt Marathon, which will lead them from Randa to Zermatt.
All the runners announced for the running to the office of the Marathon of Zermatt till Monday, May 11th, 2009 by communicating their name and address, will travel free of charge on Saturday, May 16th, 2009 aboard the train "Matterhorn Gotthard bahn" during the there and back routes.
A ticket for the chosen route will be delivered to the registered runners. Luggage will be transported free of charge by the railway "Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn" from St: Niklaus's start line, respectively Randa, to Zermatt where the runners will get back their luggages at the station.
The runners will have the possibility to freshen up at their arrival in the basement of the railway-station of Zermatt.
After the training course, the association of the Zermatt Marathon offers to all the participants a free plate of spaghetti and a drink at the restaurant Victoria Nuovo in Zermatt.
Registrations until Monday, May 11th, 2009, at the latest: or 027 946 00 33.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Kylie Minogue's concert in Ischgl

Despite the weather, the Kylie Minogue's concert in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl was a complete success. Concerts like this are primarily a marketing ploy for the ski resorts, and they appear to be successful although getting performers like Kylie Minogue is a expensive bet. It has really put the resort on the map and brought an increasing number of skiers in. It sets you apart and broadens your image. Choice of holiday destination is a significant lifestyle indicator for today’s tourists and that kind of events guide consumers in the election process.
Thirteen years ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year to open and close the winter season, and the ploy appears to be paying off. Elton John was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous Top of the Mountain Concerts, back in 1995. Since then the resort has hosted Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Atomic Kitten, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, Lionel Richie, Pink, the Scissor Sisters, the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna and Leona Lewis. That kind of events is also part of a strategy for resorts to offer more than just skiing to attract a wider client base and enhancing visitor experience. For the 20,000 skiers at the afternoon concert held in a natural bowl near the top station of the main Silvrettabahn gondola, Kylie Minogue was a bonus to the spring skiing. And thousands of fans put their skis on and went to hit the slopes, making the last few runs before Ischgl closed for the winter on Sunday.

In Ischgl you can find an ultramodern lift and cable-car system (3 cable cars, 2 aerial cableways, 23 chairlifts and 12 draglifts) with a transport capacity of 78,500 persons per hour ensure skiing without queues (€120 million have been invested over the last five years). The lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the new Fimbabahn cable car. The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover. Ischgl is renowned for its apres-ski. You will experience a nightlife that you usually only find in a large city. If you must make a comparison, then it could be described at best as the "Ibiza of the Alps".

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sölden Glacier Festival

From May 1st to 3th Sölden's Glacier was a unique party zone to celebrate the end of the winter season. The program included a great variety of highlights, ski and snowboard tests of the 2009/10 winter equipment, live acts, and a lot of fun. The Waterslide contest was held for the fifth time at Reettenbach Glacier opening the 2009 bathing season. An absolute must was the live concert performed by the German band "Ich + Ich" on Friday on the Rettenbach glacier. The admission to the concert and the glacier stadium was free.
Sölden offers one of Austria's largest glacier areas. In the Rettenbach Glacier and Tiefenbach Glacier you can enjoy 38 kilometres of Ski Runs (25 blue and 13 red) served by 10 Ski lifts (3 gondolas, 2 chair lifts and 5 T-bar lifts).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

NSAA Safety Awards Honor Nine Resorts

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) has honored nine member resorts with its annual Heads Up National Ski Area Safety Awards, in recognition of the resorts’ programs to educate employees and guests about skiing and snowboarding responsibly. The 2009 winners are:

"We are continually impressed with the innovative efforts our member ski areas make all season long in educating their guests about skiing and riding safety", said NSAA director of education and risk, Dave Byrd. The winning programs will be officially recognized during NSAA’s National Convention & Tradeshow at the Marriott Marco Island Resort, Fla., May 13-16.

Winners of the 2008/09 NSAA Marketing and Guest Service Awards

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) announced the winners of the 2008/09 Marketing and Guest Service Awards. The awards are presented annually to ski resorts of all sizes nationwide for their successful marketing and guest service programs that ultimately help grow winter sports. This year's categories recognized the best overall marketing program and the best overall guest service program in four resort categories based on resort 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 2008/09 winning resorts are:

Best Overall Marketing Program

Best Overall Guest Service Program

The awards will be presented during the NSAA National Trade Show and Convention in Marco Island, Fla., from May 13-16.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kylie Minogue closes the winter season in Ischgl

Tomorrow Kylie Minogue will perform the season closing Top Of The Mountain concert in Ischgl. About 20,000 are expected to attend the concert, hold in a natural bowl near the top station of the main Silvrettabahn gondola from the centre of the village. The concert is free for those with lift-passes – necessary anyway to reach the venue.
Kylie follows in the footsteps of a galaxy of superstars who have entertained skiers and boarders in the Austrian resort's traditional Top of the Mountain gig, including Elton John, The Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Lionel Richie, Leona Lewis, Scissor Sisters and Stereophonics.
In Ischgl you can find ultramodern lift and cable-car system (3 cable cars, 2 aerial cableways, 23 chairlifts and 12 draglifts) with a transport capacity of 78,500 persons per hour ensure skiing without queues (€120 million have been invested over the last five years). The new lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the new Fimbabahn cable car. The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover.