Friday, July 31, 2009

The 2009 Red Bull X-Alps Race is over

Today at 11:24 the 2009 Red Bull X-Alps has finished. Thirty athletes from 23 nations (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Slovakia, USA and Venezuela) were on the start line in Mozartplazt (Salzburg, Austria) but only two athletes (Christian Maurer and Alex Hofer) made it to Monaco.
Christian Maurer from Switzerland leads the race before the Marmolada turnpoint and hasn't looked back. On Wednesday, July 29, after 9 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes ("the fastest race ever") Maurer officially won the 2009 edition of the Red Bull X-Alps, a 818 kilometres race from Salzburg to Monaco.
Alex Hofer arrived yesterday after a 12 days effort. A balmy evening and a really joyful atmosphere awaited Hofer at the Mt. Gros. About 30 people were there including Alex's parents and supporter Nicole Schlotterer. Also Toma Coconea from Romania came to the last turnpoint of the race to cheer Hofer. He looked relaxed and well despite his disappointment over being disqualified for airspace infringements. On the 2007 edition Coconea hiked more than one thousand kilometers in order to claim the second position in the podium.
Honza Rejmanek step on to the podium alongside the two swiss athletes. Aidan Toase takes 4 place in the race. Other thirteen also hiked, ran and flew the very last second, and the other thirteen gave it their all until they retired through injury, elimination or rule infringement.
The prize giving ceremony takes place tonight at 19:30 at Stars n Bars, Monaco Harbour.

IOC launched the bid process for the 2018 Winter Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today launched the bid process for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in 2018. National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have been invited to submit the name of a city within their jurisdiction as an applicant to host the Games in a little under nine years’ time. The key dates of the procedure are as follows:

Phase I - Known as the candidature acceptance procedure, involves a thorough review by the IOC of each city’s potential to organise the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Cities will be asked to reply to a questionnaire. Their answers will be studied by the IOC in order to help the IOC Executive Board select the cities that will become Candidate Cities and therefore move on to Phase II.

  • 15 October 2009: NOCs to inform the IOC of the name of an Applicant City
  • 12-28 February 2010: Cities participate in the Vancouver 2010 Observer Programme
  • 15 March 2010: Submission of Application File and guarantee letters to the IOC
  • March-June 2010: Examination of replies by the IOC
  • End June 2010: IOC Executive Board acceptance of Candidate Cities

Phase II -Known as the candidature procedure, Candidate Cities will be requested to submit their Candidature File, that is to say an in-depth description of their Olympic project, and prepare for the visit of the IOC Evaluation Commission. The Evaluation Commission will make a detailed technical assessment of each candidature and publish a report one month before the election of the Host City for IOC members to review.

  • 11 January 2011: Submission of Candidature File and guarantees to the IOC
  • February – March 2011: Evaluation Commission visits
  • One month before the election of the Host City: Report of the IOC Evaluation Commission for 2018
  • 6 July 2011: Election of the Host City of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games during the 123rd IOC Session in Durban

All relevant information and deadlines relating to the first phase of the 2018 bid process are contained in the Candidature Acceptance Procedure (Download the document here).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Little New Snow For Europe, But Up To A Foot in 24 Hours In Southern Hemisphere

Skiinfo reports that 14 ski areas are currently open in five European nations, with largely sunny weather dominating after fresh snow fell last week.
Saas Fee in Switzerland however is reported 3cm (just over an inch) of fresh powder yesterday (Tuesday July 28th) to top up its deep base. Nice lifts are currently operating there including three drag lifts on the glacier itself, served by the Metro Alpin. The resort’s snow park is open complete with rails, kickers and half pipe. At neighbouring Zermatt most of the Europe’s highest ski runs are open, with two blue and four red runs to enjoy. In total Zermatt offers 20km (13 miles) of piste on the resort’s Theodul glacier.
France is down to two centres open following Val d’isere’s glacier closure at the end of its brief summer ski season at the weekend. Tignes reports a 180cm (six foot) snow base while Les 2 Alpes says they have 50cm (120 inches) lying, both say the weather is sunny with gentle winds at present. Temperatures on the glaciers are a few degrees above zero so conditions will be best mid-morning and getting sticky by lunch time.
In Italy five lifts and five runs are open at Val Senales, with the ski area open to 1pm. At Passo Stelvio the glacier is open from 8am to 4:30pm with a break between 1 and 2pm although both access gondolas operate from 8am to 5pm without a break. A third choice is Cervinia which has a 1.2m (four foot base) and is operating its Rosa terrain park.
Austria offers more glacier ski areas than any other country in the northern hemisphere with four choices including the Tux glacier near Mayrhofen, the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun, the Molltal glacier above Flattach and Mallnitz and the Dachstein glacier near Kaprun. Temperatures have been warm on some of the glacier slopes at 5-10 degrees with rain falling in places. The Kitzsteinhorn reports a 233cm (7.5 feet) base and is gearing up to stage a mountain bike race on the glacier, the Snowclimb, on August 8th.
Norway’s three small summer ski centres are still open. Folgefonn has the greatest snow depth with 3 metres (10 feet), but the summer ski runs Galdhoppigen and Stryn are also well covered with at least a metre (3 feet) of the white stuff.
In North America the closure of whistler’s summer ski area on Blackcomb glacier last weekend means that only Timberline ski area on Mt Hood, Oregon, USA remains open for snow sports on the continent. It is currently reporting a 110cm (3.7 feet) base with two lifts and two runs open, including its terrain park and superpipe.
Moving in to the southern hemisphere, in Africa temperatures have been very low – hitting double figures below zero overnight – at Tiffindell in South Africa. Snow depths there are up to 65cm (2.2 feet) with a kilometre of runs open. The other Southern African ski centre, Afriski in Lesotho, is also reported to be open.
There has been heavy snowfall in parts of South America, with Portillo in Chile reporting 60cm (2 feet) of new snow in the pasty week, although the falls have stopped now. It has more than 1.8m (6 feet) of snow at the top of the slopes and is a few centimetres off accumulating four metres (13.3 feet) of new snow already this winter. Other resorts in Chile have also reported healthy snowfalls with base depths at centres like Valle Nevado and la Parva typically now at around 1.2-1.5m (4—5 feet). It’s a less promising picture in Argentina which has not seen much new snow and with the exception of Las Lenas, which has the country’s best snow depths of around 1.2m (4 feet), the main centres have limited cover on lower slopes and a maximum of 60cm (2 feet) at the top of the lifts.
In Australia Perisher ski resort received 32cm (13 inches) of fresh snow in 24 hours last Wednesday/Thursday July 22nd/23rd and has received smaller accumulations since.
The new snow turned the resort’s snow slopes in to a powdery paradise. To-date an accumulated 191cm (6.3 feet) of snow has settled across the resort, comprising 71cm (2.3 feet) in June and 120cm (four feet) since the beginning of July, allowing Perisher to offer excellent riding conditions across its four resort areas. It has had some of the best of recent snowfalls, but most of the other Aussie snowfalls have reported significant accumulations too.
Most New Zealand resorts have also received fresh snow in the past week sand conditions continue to be snowy across much of the country. Most of the main centres on both islands now have healthy snow depths of 1.5 – 2.1 metres (5-7 feet) on upper slopes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christian Maurer (Switzerland) wins the 2009 Red Bull X-Alps Race

Today after 9 days, 23 hours and 54 minutes at 11:24 Christian Maurer from Switzerland officially won the 2009 edition of the Red Bull X-Alps, a 818 kilometres race from Salzburg to Monaco. This edition was the fastest Race ever. Maurer touched down this morning to the sound of clanking cow bells from a row of his friends from Switzerland who were standing on the beach. His supporter, Thomas Theurillat flew down just before him. Maurer is an awesome pilot, one of the best in the world, and he proves it. He punch solid flight out in very difficult conditions (picture attached: Christian Maurer swooping down to prepare to land at Lavotto beach in Monaco to win the 2009 edition of Red Bull X-Alps). Steve Cox, race director, gave us some clues about Maurer success last Tuesday 21 after only three days of competition: "Maurer can't walk brilliantly fast (but he) can land and pack his gear within a minute (...) He knows how to pack his wing quickly (...) and he can land his glider in really tight spots, and launch again from places others can't. His Advance glider is completely built for X-Alps. It's very easy to take-off and handle".
With Alex Hofer, the 2007 Red Bull X-Alps champion, now flying less than 150 kilometres from the finishing line in Monaco, Hofer has a strong chance of making it to goal. The Monaco goal closes 48 hours after the race leader touches down on the float. Behind him, Aidan Toase (GBR) and Honza Rejmanek (USA) are dogging it out on foot.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Mer de Glace. Free Conferences

Every Tuesday and Thursday during the summer, from 18 June to 15 September 2009 at Montenvers - Mer de Glace (Chamonix), Luc Moreau, a renowned glacioligist, invites you to join his talks on the history and evolution of glaciers and climate change.
The lectures will be in 2 parts :
  • On the platform where the train arrives: a lecture on the landscape and a general discussion of glaciers with a focus on the Mer de Glace (about 15 minutes).

  • A guided walk along the trail leading down to Belvédère (towards the Ice Cave), with several stops to discuss the glacier’s different historic stages (twice a day at 11am and 2:30pm, about 45 minutes).

Luc Moreau, a glaciologist and a doctor of Alpine geography has been studying and measuring the movement of Alpine glaciers for twenty years. He teaches glaciology, notably at the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d'Alpinisme (National School of Skiing and Mountaineering) in Chamonix. Dr. Moreau take you thorough the various stages of the evolution of the Mer de Glace glacier so you can put your finger on the problem of climate change and see visual evidence of its effects on our environment.
The Mer de Glace is located at the bottom of the Leschaux and Géant glaciers. It is the biggest glacier in France with 40 km2 of surface area over a length of 7 km. Given this name by the English, who were the first to admire it, because of the ripples covering its surface.
Attendance is open to all and free of charge. No advance booking required.

Friday, July 24, 2009

St. Anton Half Marathon

Tomorrow the Half Marathon will take place in the Tirolean holiday resort of St. Anton am Arlberg known worldwide in winter as a ski destination. Situated at 1,304 m above sea level St. Anton lies on the Rosanna River and belongs to the district of Landeck. St. Anton is a truly unique recreation paradise for the whole family. The cozy little town with 2,500 inhabitants has still maintained its genuine ambiance and charming atmosphere.
The Arlberger Jakobilauf is the second stage of the alpine triathlon "Arlberg Eagle". The overall winner must work on their physical fitness throughout the year to be ahead of the field in the ski race (Der Weisse Rausch celebrated in April 25th), in the half marathon (July 25th) and in the mountain-bike marathon (August 22nd).The race (21,125 kilometres) will start at 16:00 PM in the Kirchplatz in St. Jakob. From there the route heads towards Pettneu, along the banks of the Rosanna river, through Schnann into the centre of St. Anton …. and back to St. Jakob via Nasserein. On the home straight, the athletes give their best and are carried the last metres to the destination by the cheers of the spectators. It is a popular running event for intermediate runners, long enough to be a serious challenge but not requiring the level of training of a marathon.
In the evening, the runners are duly celebrated at the award ceremony at 7 p.m. as part of the St. Jakob fair.


The Swissalpine, known previously as Swiss Alpine Marathon Davos, will take place tomorrow. The event name and the slogan were altered last year to "more than a race", because Swissalpine really is more than just a race. It now also includes the multi-sport Alpinathlon (took place last Saturday). The event also includes the "high seven". This term relates to seven days high in the Alps. With it, the people responsible are referring to the multi-faceted supporting programme, which includes, amongst other things, two concerts, a two-day exhibition, seminars, a medical parc, route inspections and excursions.
The Top Race for tomorrow is the Route K78 (78.5 kilometres and +/-2260 m), the biggest mountain ultramarathon in the world, and the ultimate challenge. 21 km of the race is on high alpine terrain, the highlight being the Panorama Trail (a narrow and, in parts, exposed mountain path) at an altitude of 2,600 m. This is the biggest mountain race event in the world, with roughly 4,500 runners participating in the different races (the marathon programme encompasses the full range: ultra (K78), marathon (K42, C42), three-quarter (K31), half (K21, Nordic Walking) and quarter (K11). The event also includes a Mini Race for "new blood" this evening).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fresh Snow In The Alps, Africa, And a White Christmas in Australia

Skiinfo reports that fresh snow in the Alps at the end of last week boosted snow depths at the continent’s open summer ski glaciers. Tignes in France and Val Senales in Italy reported the biggest falls with 15cm (six inches) of fresh powder each. At Tignes this temporarily boosted the snow depth to 195cm (6.5 feet). Another Italian ski area, Cervinia reported 7cm (three inches) of new snow and just over the border Zermatt, which shares this world’s only cross-border summer ski area, reported 5cm of new snow. It is currently reporting, marginally, the greatest snow depth in the world at present with 422cm (nearly 14 feet) of snow on the glacier; 12cm/four inches than Austria’s Molltal glacier in second place.
Elsewhere in France, Val d’Isere closes for the summer ski season this Sunday, 26th July. Les 2 Alpes is reporting a snow depth of 50cm (20 inches) on the glacier with strong winds at present. Both it and Tgnes remain open for a another month, and even after that Tignes will re-open a few weeks in to September to begin its long 2009-10 season. A third choice for skiers in Italy is Passo Stelvio.
Saas Fee, had to cancel the big Saas Fee Ride event planned for last weekend as precipitation made it too difficult for the terrain features to be created to a high enough standard to suit the pros. As the organisers conceded however, the resulting 10cm (four inches) of fresh powder led to a great conditions for recreational skiers and boarders.
Austria has four glaciers open for summer skiing and boarding still. Besides the afore-mentioned Molltal glacier, Hintertux has one of the largest ski areas currently available with 23km (15 miles) of runs, a 600m vertical, nine lifts open and 195cm (6.5 feet) of snow lying.
At the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun seven lifts are open and there’s over 2.5m (8.5 feety of snow lying. The Dachstein Glacier also has a small ski area open.
Europe’s fifth summer skiing nation, Norway, still has three glacier ski centres open, each operation one or two long drag lift. Folgefonn has the third deepest snow deopt6h in the world at present with 4m (over 13 feet) of snow lying. Galhoppigen and Stryn are the other two choices.
Across the Atlantic in North America, it’s the end of Whistler’s long ski season this Sunday when the Blackcomb glacier shuts down for the summer. Excitement is of course mounting as when the resort re-opens in the autumn it will be just a few short months until the 2010 Winter Olympics kick off there. Timberline in Oregon, USA remains open however with skiing on the Palmer snowfield which has a terrain park and superpipe and is served by two lifts. Snow depths are just above 1.2m (4 feet).
Moving in to the southern hemisphere where it really is winter, heavy snow is currently falling in parts of South America, with virtually all ski areas expected to receive fresh snow in the coming days if they have not done so already. Portillo in Chile reports 30cm (a foot) of fresh snow in the past 24 hours taking season snowfall to date past 330cm (11 feet) and base depth on the mountain to 1.5m (5 feet). The access road to capital Santiago is currently closed by snow.
In Argentina the largest area Catedral is also receiving heavy snowfall at present, reporting a 10cm (four inch) accumulation in the past 12 hours.
Fresh snow in Africa has brought snow depths up to 60cm (Two feet) at Tiffindell and the ski run now extends to 1km, the longest this season to date. Afriski in Lesotho is also reports it has opened for their season.
Most of New Zealand’s ski areas are sitting on healthy bases of 1-2m (approximately 3- 7 feet) and most have reported moderate snowfalls of 5-10cm (2 – 4 inches) in the past week, topping up those snow packs with a nice dusting of powder. Like South America however, heavier snow is currently falling at several areas. Rainbow has reported 20cm (eight inches) of new snow overnight and Cardrona 10cm (four inches), other areas are expecting fresh snow on Thursday and Friday.
In Australia, Perisher, which currently has a snow depth of 112cm (Just under four feet), reports that it is currently (morning of Wednesday 22nd July) snowing heavily and 46 lifts are operational. At Mt Buller however it is blue skies, but the resort reports, "Cloud is expected to increase throughout the day with the chance of showers and snow during the afternoon. Snow is forecast to fall into tomorrow and the sun should come out on Friday. As we enter the weekend, it looks like more of the white stuff". With a 10cm (four inch) top up of fresh snow falling in the last week, Hotham now has 12 out of 13 lifts turning. The Gotcha chairlift opened last Wednesday, shortly followed by Keogh's and Orchard on Friday just in time for the weekend. These openings provided access to most of Hotham's signature black and double black diamond terrain including Spargo's run, as well as blue trails for intermediates in the Orchard area. More snow is forecast to fall above 1400m today and on Thursday. Of course Australian's love a traditional Christmas dinner, but the typical midsummer heat there on Christmas Day means that many families sit down to salad and cold beer on December 25th, rather than tucking into a sumptuous big feast or going skiing for that matter. Not to be denied a white winter with all the trimmings, Perisher has adopted the tradition of celebrating Christmas in July so the resort will be covered in Christmas decoration, streamers and bonbons this Saturday 25th July. Anyone visiting the snowy slopes this weekend is encouraged to join in with Perisher's staff members and dress up in anything Christmas related!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Red Bull X-Alps 2009 Kicks Off

At 11:30 thirty athletes from 23 nations (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Slovakia, USA and Venezuela) will begin in Mozartplazt (Salzburg, Austria) the 2009 edition of the Red Bull X-Alps, a 818 kilometres race from Salzburg to Monaco. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish in Monaco as quickly as possible traveling only by paragliders or by foot. Each team can choose their own route but must pass the official turning points. During the race, the athlete must fly using his minimum equipment or walk carrying his minimum equipment. The Red Bull X-Alps minimum equipment must consist of at least one paraglider, one harness, one emergency parachute, one helmet, one mobile phone, one GPSTracking-Device and one emergency signal red rocket. In addition to the GPS-Tracking-Device, every athlete is advised to carry a GPS Logger. Seventy two hours after the start of the race, the last team in the Red Bull X-Alps ranking will be eliminated. Thereafter every 48 hours the last team will be cut from the race unless the athlete has passed the turning point Mt. Blanc.
Athletes equipment also includes a complete kit of Peak Performance endurance clothing, a Suunto Core watch, Red Bull Mobile Oakley sunglasses and Petzl headlamps and safety lights.
ON the technical side, athletes will use a Bräuniger Comped+ flight instrument, a Red Bull Mobile Sony Ericsson C702 phone and Sony HDR-TG3E camcorders which will be used by the teams to record their exploits for the athletes' cam webclips. 4GB Scandisk memory cards will be used in the mobile phones and camcorders.
All athletes must make daily updates to their personal internet diaries on the Red Bull X-Alps website. Athletes must submit at least one text blog and two photos per day. At least one video blog every two days must be uploaded. Failure to do so will result in a penalty from the Race Committee.
You can watch the athletes arrive to the starting point on Facebook.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jeantex Bike Transalp 2009

The official race start of the twelfth Jeantex Bike Transalp powered by Nissan will take place tomorrow in Reith im Alpbachtal, Austria. For the first time in the history of the Jeantex Bike Transalp powered by Nissan, a stage of the world’s hardest mountain bike stage race had to be cancelled. Due to the bad weather conditions with heavy rainfall in the start town Mittenwald and partly snowfall in higher altitudes with already 0 °C at the Karwendelhaus a safe run of the course to Reith im Alpbachtal could not be guaranteed. For all participating teams, a shuttle service to Reith im Alpbachtal will be organised.
The Transalp Challenge will take place from July 18th till 25th 2009. More than 600 kilometers and a vertical gain of 22,164 metres are to accomplish on the way from Mittenwald in Germany to Riva del Garda in Italy. 550 teams of two participants each will take part on the race in five categories: Women, Men, Mixed, Master Men and Grand Master Men.
The Jeantex Bike Transalp route leads through the most beautiful mountain ranges of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy:
  • Stage 1: Mittenwald - Reith im Alpbachtal (cancelled)
  • Stage 2: Reith im Alpbachtal - Mayrhofen
  • Stage 3: Mayrhofen - Brixen
  • Stage 4: Brixen - St. Christina
  • Stage 5: St. Christina - Sarnthein
  • Stage 6: Sarnthein - Kaltern
  • Stage 7: Kaltern - Andalo
  • Stage 8: Andalo - Riva del Garda

Friday, July 17, 2009

Alpinathlon 2009

A new edition of the Alpinathlon will take place on Saturday 18. The event is a combination of sport, adventure, team spirit and pushing the boundaries. In a team of 7 participants –women, men and mixed (4 men/3 women)– or on your own, you can conquer mountain and valley, hiking trails and areas of the High Alps, in the disciplines of mountain biking, running and bicycle racing. This sporting event links the beautiful summery mountain paradise of Engadine/St. Moritz. The inline skating and mountain bike routes take you through some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world.

  • Route 1: Bergün- St. Moritz. Discipline: Cycling. Length/altitude: 37.2 km +1110m/-720m. Estimated completion time: 80 – 140 minutes.
  • Route 2: Area St. Moritz/ Pontresina/ Alp da Staz. Discipline: Running. Length/altitude: 17.4 km, +/-495mEstimated completion time: 80 – 120 minutes (woman).
  • Route 3: Area St.Moritz/ Marguns/ Corviglia/ Champfèr. Discipline: Biking. Length/altitude: 18.7 km, +/-920m. Estimated completion time: 80 – 140 minutes.
  • Route 4: Area St. Moritz/ God Plazzers/ Lej dals Chöds/ Surley. Discipline : Running. Length/altitude: 14.5 km, +/- 590m. Estimated completion time: 70 – 120 minutes.
  • Route 5: Area St. Moritz/ Alp da Staz/ Surlej/ Alp Surlej. Discipline: Biking. Length/altitude: 21.4 km, +/-680. Estimated completion time: 80– 112 minutes (woman).
A supporting programme will be organised for the participants in the Alpinathlon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Saas Fee Ride 2009 Postponed due to Bad Weather

This year's Saas-Fee Ride 09 event has unfortunately been postponed until next summer due to unusual weather patterns over the past few days. Extremely high temperatures and the forecasted heavy rain for most of Friday and Saturday morning has made it impossible to shape the kicker for the Big Air contest to the standard needed for the event.
Ride Freesport and Saas-Fee Bergbahnen took the decision to postpone the event until next summer so as to maintain a level of safety for the athletes and also to not compromise the athletes professional skiing standard. It is important that freestyle skiing is portrayed in a professional manner and running the event with the athletes not being able to output their full level and style due to conditions does not do the sport justice.
If you were planning on being in Saas Fee for this event you should expect to ski powder snow due to the heavy rainfall and the temperatures dropping in Saas-Fee on Friday and Saturday. Ironically, the snow conditions on Saturday afternoon and Sunday should be the best of the summer so far with good fresh snow. Unfortunately there will not be enough time to shape the kicker for the Big Air with the new snow for the competition.

Skiinfo Reports More southern Hemisphere Snow And Big Events in the Alps

Skiinfo reports that after last weeks fresh July snowfalls on Europe’s open-for-skiing glaciers, skies have been largely clear with little or no fresh snowflakes reported in the past week.
In France snow sports are continuing at Tignes, Les 2 Alpes and Val d’Isere with each reporting a 180cm, (six foot) snow base. Temperatures have been high however with Val d’Isere currently reporting 8 degrees Celcius at 3000m mid-morning on their glacier and all three resorts reporting quite windy conditions with wind strengthes up to 50kmph.
Over in Switzerland, Saas Fee will stage one of the biggest events on snow this July when the resort’s annual summer Ride event attracts many of Europe's top freeskiers to the Allalin Snow Park on the resort’s glacier this Saturday, July 18th (picture attached). Last year’s Saas-Fee Ride was seen across the globe with a 26 minute TV programme that surprised many people of just how good summer glacier skiing can be. It has just clocked up over 500 hours of television airtime and has given the 50+ athletes at the comp some much deserved publicity. This year's main discipline is Big Air. There will also be a Rail Jam session for athletes to show their style for the TV crews
The organisers report that Saas-Fee is the perfect location for the competition due to the north facing glacier, which keeps the snow in great condition and the safety standards high. Nearby Zermatt is also open for snow sports with Europe’s highest ski slopes and the world’s biggest summer ski vertical open to all.
Another of the biggest summer ski areas in Europe continues to be found at the Hintertux glacier in Europe, the largest of the four Austrian ski areas currently open – the other’s being at Dachstein, Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun and the Molltal glacier near Mallnitz and Flattach. Hintertux offers 23km (15 miles) of runs at present with a near 600m vertical and a 225cm (7.5 feet) snow depth – nine of the area’s 22 lifts are operational.
Italy has three areas open too. Cervinia, linked to Zermatt, as one of the biggest ski areas in the country and a 1.5m (five foot) base, Passo Tonale has deeper snow with a two metres (6.6 feet) base and Passo Stelvio is the third option.
Norway’s Folgefonn glacier ski centre with four metre (13.3 feet) deep snow continues to have the greatest snow depth in the world. Two other Norwegian ski centre choices currently available are Galdhøpiggen with a 200cm (6.6 ft) base and Stryn with 90cm (three feet) of snow lying.
In North America Whistler is in to the last two weeks of its short summer ski season on the Blackcomb glacier. Conditions there are reported to be a little challenging for the half dozen operators of inclusive ski and snowboard camps. Snow depth is reported to be down to 90cm following rain in the region. South of the border Timberline remains operational on Mt Hood in Oregon, USA with both lifts operating and serving the new terrain park and the superpipe.
More than a dozen current and former U.S. Ski Team members will be at the ski centre this weekend for or a chartity fundraiser on July 18 and 19 to benefit the World Cup Dreams Foundation, a non-profit organization giving financial assistance to aspiring American ski racers. The two-day clinic will be held in the mornings on the Palmer Snowfield at Timberline on Mount Hood. A fundraising dinner and auction is planned for Saturday night, July 18. Spaces for the clinic cost $350 for one day and $600 for both days, about 20 people are so far signed up.
In the southern hemisphere Australian ski resorts have reported more fresh snow is currently falling. "We have had a big week of snowfall - the last 24 hours have brought us another 7cm - we now have a natural average of 68cm - with almost a metre across the manmade areas", Mt Buller told Skiinfo this morning. Meanwhile Perisher reports that there is a 90% chance of snowfalls tomorrow (Thursday 16th) The Australian Weather Bureau has forecast snowfalls above 1100m with light to moderate southerly winds and top temperature of -1C. At Mt Hotham the resort reports 34cm (14 inches) of fresh flakes falling across the ski area in the last 48 hours with snowfalls are predicted to continue through to Friday with a glimpse of sun on the weekend and more snow next week. The average natural snow depth there is now 78cm (2.7 feet) with eight lifts open.
New Zealand has received less snow in the past week although there have been a few fresh inches last weekend and snow depths are greater – typically between 120cm (four feet) and 180cm (six feet) at South island ski areas.
Conditions vary in South America where there has been little fresh snowfall in the past week. In Argentina, Las Leñas has between 90 and 120cm (three – four feet) of snow on its slopes and is 100% open and the other major resort of Catedral reports similar snow cover.
Over the border in Chile Chapa Verde has a one metre (3.3 foot) base whilst Portillo has received more than three metres (ten feet) of snow this season and currently reports 91cm (three feet) on lower slopes, 129cm (4.3 feet) on upper runs but only 5cm (two inches) of fresh snow in the past week.
In Africa conditions are unchanged from last week with Afriski in Lesotho still reporting insufficient snow cover to be able to open, however temperatures are expected to drop to -7C tonight with a moderate fall of snow expected. Tiffindell in South Africa has a 30cm (one foot) base and 750m of ski runs open.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saas Fee Ride 2009

Next Saturday July 18th will see the 7th edition of the Saas-Fee Ride. The competition will be held in the stunning glacial terrain park of Saas Fee, the famous car-free glacier village at the foot of the Mischabel chain. The event took place for the first time in 2003 when Warren Smith, the event Director, established it to breach the gap between the winter seasons.
Athletes will gather in Saas Fee on the 18th July 2009 to compete in a world class Big Air competition and an expression session Rail Jam.
Big Air might well be considered the most spectacular discipline in new school freestyle. Competitors jump off an enormous kicker (jump) and demonstrate their wildest tricks in the air: horizontal and vertical twists are not a rare sight. The best competitors achieve jumps of up to 25 metres.
This year edition also introduces a Rail Jam into the competition. Rails is one of the fastest growing aspects of skiing today and the Saas-Fee snowpark will be hosting one of the highest levels of performance.
The Saas Fee Ride is going to be a unique summer freeski event with the Saas Fee terrain park at 3300 meters providing the venue. The Saas-Fee park is renowned for its perfectly shaped kickers, world cup half pipe and innovative rails. The park team will work throughout the months of May and June to ensure a world class standard for the summer event.
The media will be there in force too. A 24 minute TV program of the event is being filmed and distributed world-wide by Quattro Media. A news feed from Ride Freesport will ensure the best runs and hits of the event are broadcast in High Definition, 720x576, Web Resolution, Podcast and 3GP formats for true global TV viewing. With photographers, such as Yves Garneau covering the event, the Saas Fee Ride 09 will act as a European showcase for summer Freeskiing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Adventure Film Festival

Chamonix will host the first edition of the Adventure Film Festival on the evenings of 15th and 16th July in the Majestic congress centre. Born in Boulder Colorado, the Adventure Film is an independent film festival dedicated to the production of World Class Film, Film­makers, Adventure and Environmental Conservation. Created by adventurers, artists, filmmakers and activists, this international team is committed mobilizing people through powerful art, adventure, activism, inspiration and awareness of the world around us. Adventure Film is rooted in the concept of "making your own legends", thus empowering each of us to create positive change in our world.
Jonny Copp, the festival organizer, is unfortunately dead recently with 2 of his friends, during an ascent in China. Jonny Copp was photographer, climber, alpinist and he loved a lot of Chamonix. The Chamonix festival, in collaboration with the town, will be an hommage to his work and passion.
The Festival will kick off with a synchronized aerial acrobatics show performed by Anthony and Timothy Green. 10 adventure films have been selected for this first edition of the film festival in Chamonix:
  • Lift (Paragliding, 28min). Director: Anthony and Timothy Green
  • Seasons (Biking, 60min). Director & Producer: The Collective
  • Andy Parkin: A life in Adaptation (Climbing, 28min). Director: David Fair. Producer: Blue Hippo Media and Weekday Productions
  • Fridays at the Farm (Organic Farming, 19min). Director: Richard Power Hoffmann. Producer: Coyopa Productions
  • Get Up Stand Up (Kayaking and Board Surfing, 5min). Director: David Gonzales
  • Source (Whitewater, 60min). Director: Brooks Baldwin, Marlow Long and Rush Sturges. Producer: Young Gun Productions
  • Sliding Liberia (Surfing, 48min). Director: Britton Caillouette and Nicholai Lidow. Producer: Woodshed Films
  • The Sharp End (Climbing, 60min). Director: Peter Mortimer & Nick Rosen. Producer: Sender Films
  • Aconcagua Speed Flying (Speed Flying,6min). Director & Producer: François Bon and Damien DuFresne
  • Running Down the Man (Fly Fishing, 15min). Director: Travis Rummel and Ben Knight. Producer: Felt Sole Media

Monday, July 13, 2009

Red Bull X-Alps Technology

As well as incredible feats of endurance and adventure, the Red Bull X-Alps is well known for using advanced and reliable technology to monitor the athletes and keep the race’s followers up to date.
The unique 818 Km adventure race requires 30 participants from 23 different nations to paraglide or hike from Salzburg in Austria to Monaco via a series of turnpoints in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France. Every movement made by the athletes is broadcast to the world via a Live Tracking map, hosted on the official website and Google Earth. As in previous Red Bull X-Alps, viewers will be able to pinpoint an athlete’s location on an interactive Live Tracking map - updated every minute - and see if they’re paragliding, hiking or resting.
For 2009, there will be a number of interactive features including pop-ups with the athletes’ latest diary entries and statistics showing how far a participant has flown or hiked over the past 24 hours. Additionally Google Earth will show tracks in 3D with markers defining the daily progress of each athlete.
Live Tracking is made possible by Red Bull MOBILE cell phones in combination with Bräuniger Compeo+ flight instruments. GPS data is collected and processed by the Bräuniger instruments’ firmware into a compressed binary format and transferred via Bluetooth to specially adapted Red Bull MOBILE Sony Ericsson C702 phones. This information is sent via automatically generated SMS messages to the server, which then reinterprets and uploads the data immediately to the Live Tracking map and Google Earth.
This technology is used by the race organisation to keep a close eye on the athletes. Race director Steve Cox checks that all Red Bull X-Alps rules are adhered too, making sure that all turnpoints are passed properly and that restricted airspaces are not breached. "Live Tracking is important for us to look out for the athletes, and also for the fans to follow what’s going on", says Cox. "It’s fascinating to watch the race develop and dissect the athletes’ tactics and progress".
All athletes must make daily updates to their personal internet diaries on To make these updates they will use the Red Bull MOBILE Sony Ericsson C702 phone to send images, videos, text and voice messages via MMS. Athletes must also make weekly diary entries leading up to the race via All teams are must submit video footage (minimum 10 minutes per day) to the communications crew every 48 hours. Teams will be subjected to 12 hours penalty time for each failure to comply with this rule. The communication equipment (video cameras and tapes) will be supplied by the Race Organisation. The assistant is obliged to deliver all video footage to the defined meeting points or directly to the Red Bull X-Alps communication crew.
Additionally, the athletes will be issued with a Suunto Core outdoor watch, which will help them meet the extreme challenges that await them. The Core’s altitude, barometer and compass functions will be invaluable tools as the racers navigate their way through the Alps during the two-week long event.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Red Bull X-Alps Route

Red Bull X-Alps is an adventure and paragliding competition for 30 selected international athletes. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish in Monaco as quickly as possible traveling only by paragliders or by foot. Teams will start in Salzburg in eastern Austria and travel past turnpoints defined by the race organisers. The athlete reaching goal in Monaco first is the winner of the race.
Each team can choose their own route but must pass the official turning points:

  • The summit of Gaisburg Peak (Austria).
  • The Watzmann Middle Peak (Germany).
  • The Grossglockner (Austria).
  • The summit of Marmolada (Italy).
  • The Matterhorn Peak (Switzerland).
  • The summit of Mont Blanc (France).
  • The summit of Mont Gros (Monaco).
  • The coordinates of the finish in Monaco will be declared before the first athlete reaches Mont Gros.

Every athlete will carry a GPS-Tracking-Device, which the organisers will put at their disposal for the duration of the race. In addition is advised to carry a GPS Logger. Athletes are not permitted to use any tunnel connection between different Valleys and no highway or motorway tunnels. Restricted and forbidden air control zones and airspaces may not be crossed while flying. Any athlete entering restricted airspace will be immediately disqualified. The route flown will be tracked by the GPS logger. The exact notification of the restricted air spaces will take place at the briefing before the race start and will be pre-entered into the GPS Tracking Device provided by the Race Organisation.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Red Bull X-Alps is Back

Next Sunday a new edition of the Red Bull X-Alps kicks off in Salzburg. Red Bull X-Alps is an adventure and paragliding competition for thirty selected internacional athletes from 23 different nations. The challenge is to cross the Alps from East to West and finish in Monaco as quickly as possible traveling only by paragliders or by foot. The race goes on day and night, whatever the weather conditions are, until the first pilot reaches the goal. Athletes are forbidden any kind of motorised transport but can select a supporter to help supply food, equipment and information.
The first Red Bull X-Alps took place in 2003 opened up a new dimension in adventure racing. For Hannes Arch, event mastermind the adventure race “is much more than just an Alpine crossing; it’s an adventure, an expedition and at the same time a competition”. As the organizer behind the event, Hannes Arch proves that he has the spirit and capability to combine sports in the purest form with modern marketing and media strategies.
Teams will start on July 19th at 10:00 am at Salzburg Mozartplatz and must travel over selected turnpoints defined by the race organisers towards Monaco. Final results are established according to the time it took participants to reach Monaco or the number of kilometres covered during the course of the event. The total prize money of 28,500 Euros will be divided among the athletes according to their final position in the race field (1st: €10,000; 2nd: €5,000; 3rd: €3,000; 4th-10th €1,500 each).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Skiinfo Reports Fresh July Snow in the Alps and Southern Hemisphere

Skiinfo reports that the summer glacier ski areas of both Tignes in France and Saas Fee in Switzerland have received fresh snow in the past few days. Tignes received 5cm (two inches) of powder on Tuesday, July 7 taking upper slope depths to 180cm (six feet). Saas Fee, which has re-opened for snow sports, received the same amount of new snow on the same day, and is reporting snow depth on the glacier at three metres (ten feet).
In Austria the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun has reported 4cm (two inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours, it has a three metre (ten foot) base and temperatures are around -2C at the summit. The Molltal glacier is also open for skiing near Flattach with 9km (six miles) of runs served by three lifts which operate between 9 and 4pm – later in the day than most alpine glacier ski areas. It has a 330cm (11 foot) snow base but hasn’t reported any fresh powder. A small ski area on the Dachstein glacier near Schladming is a third Austrian option. The Tux glacier, which along with Zermatt is one of two in the world that is still open virtually 365 days a year (subject to weather conditions and maintenance closures), currently has one of the biggest ski areas open anywhere with 23km (nearly 15 miles) of slopes swerved by nine lifts, accessing a near 600m vertical between 2660m and 3250m – not bad for July!
Italy is down to three summer ski centres open, following the closure of the presena Glacier aabove Passo Tonale at the end of its long 2008-9 season last week. Cervinia, lift-linked to Zermatt’s ‘largest ski area in Europe’ offers the biggest ski area on a 150cm (five foot) base. Val Senales also has a sizable summer ski area in operation with most of the 20km (13 miles) of piste open and the majority of the resort’s 10 lifts operational. It was blessed with another 10cm (four inches) of snow earlier this week. Passo Stelvio is the third choice.
In France Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere’s glaciers all open under sunny skies with each reporting a 180cm (six foot) base.
Over the border in Switzerland, Zermatt is also in full swing on Europe’s highest ski slopes with the biggest lift-served vertical available anywhere in the world in July fully ski or boardable. The Stoked Ski and Snowboard school is currently offering summer freestyle camps in the resort’s Gravity Park with coaches and professional riders offering advice on improving skills and technique riding the pipe, various kickers, rails and obstacles. The perfectly shaped Gravity Park has its own park lift and Summer Camps Packages are available with inclusive accommodation, breakfast and dinner, ski pass, coaching and the latest boards and skis for testing. Engelberg isn’t open for skiing or boarding but it will again stage its annual Ice Festival on Mount Titlis. On 12 July the start of a summer snow and ice sports season on the glacier kicks off. This incorporates multiple fun activities, although no longer summer skiing or boarding.
Facilities at the top of Mount Titlis include an ice grotto, for example, where visitors can explore the glittery world of ice enhanced by light and sound effects. Those who are more adventuresome can go trekking over the glacier or try abseiling in a glacial crevice. The Snow Fun Park offers toboganning and snow tubing all year round for both the young and young at heart.
In Norway, Folgefonn currently has the biggest lift-served snow base on earth with five metres (17 feet) accumulated. However the terrain park at Galdhøpiggen, situated in spectacular surroundings on a glacier 2200 meters above sea level, at the foot of Northern Europe’s highest mountain is where the 5th Annual Quiksilver snowcamp is currently underway. It’s reportedly where more and more girls have headed this week, opting to replace the bikini with ski- and snowboard clothes this summer and head for the camp instead. Roxy teamrider and one of Norway’s leading snowboard talents, Silje Norendal (15) went to her first summer camp last year and found the combination of snow and summer temperatures extremely attractive; "The opportunity to go snowboarding in a T-shirt during the day and go swimming, skateboarding or rafting in the evening is truly unique", she said. However, you certainly don’t need to be a pro to enjoy yourself at the camp. The park is specifically designed to cater for riders of all ages and skill levels. The kicker tables range from two to 16 meters in length and are divided into three different kickerlines. There’s also a separate rail-combo-line which at any time consists of approximately 10 rails, but as the camp has more than 20 rails on hand this line will be constantly changing during the course of each camp in order to provide the riders with endless amounts of creative freedom. The glacier skiing at Stryn is a third option in Norway.
In North America the glacier ski area on Blackcomb Mountain at Whistler, Canada is open, as is the summer ski area at Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon, USA. There the new terrain park in the Magic Mile Canyon is open for the summer. Summer camps incorporating indoor training and outdoor snow are also on-going at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
In the southern hemisphere there’s been more snow in many resorts in the region’s five ski nations.
South Africa’s Tiffindell ski area has seen the base thin to 30cm (a foot) but is offering longer ski runs, now up to 750m in length.
In South America snow conditions are good at many resorts in Argentina and Chile. Tour operator Crystal have announced a special deal at Portillo (picture attached) in Chile this summer. Families were up to two children under 12 ski, eat and sleep for free for departures in August and a nine day, full board stay including Heathrow departure on August 21st with transfers to Portillo Grand Hotel’s Octogen Lodge including 7 day lift pass include, day care for children aged 3-7 years, free use of pool, Jacuzzi, fitness centre, games room with aerobics and gym classes and two nights in Santiago at the four star Atton El Bosque Hotel costs £2,339 per person (adults) and £1,429 (children).
In Australia the Heavenly Valley chair started turning for the first time this season last Saturday after over half a metre (20 inches) of snow dumped on Hotham in Australia in a 48 hour period. Keen skiers and boarders heading out for first tracks on Hotham's signature terrain and what is arguably some of Australia's best black diamond terrain. The lift will open everyday and for first tracks at 7.30am from Wednesdays to Sundays all season long (snow and weather permitting).
Many of New Zealand’s resorts got a good amount of new snow early in the week. This took the base to 134cm (4.5 feet) at Turoa and 91cm (3 feet) at Whakapapa for example.
Snow Park NZ was the latest resort to open, last Saturday 4 July, with good fresh snow coverage across the terrain park and new features introduced. Night skiing and riding sessions kicked off twice weekly, on Tuesday (7 July). Mt Hutt reported receiving 50cm (20 inches) of new snow at the start of the week and 74cm (2.5 feet) in the last week and is now boasting a good base of 150cm (five feet) with more snow forecast for the next couple of days. "Everyone was beaming ear-to-ear today as they skied knee-deep powder", said Dave Wilson, Ski Area Manager. "Awesome snow falling with little winds has created near-on perfect conditions at Mt Hutt for the school holidays".

Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike

The 15th edition of the Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike Mountain Bike Marathon will take place tomorrow in Hochpustertal/Alta Pusteria. The race encloses once again the two classic distances - short with 60 km (total climbing: 1.785 m) and long with 115,5 km (total climbing: 3.658 m). The race will kick off at 7.30 a.m. on the main road right in front of Villabassa's main square.
The Alta Pusteria is the home of the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the picturesque Val Fiscalina along with sumless unique bizarrely shaped rocks, deep valleys and wide high plateaus characteristics of the Dolomites. The Alta Pusteria Touristic Association is a cooperation between the communities of Niederdorf/Villabassa, Toblach/Dobbiaco, Prags/Braies, Innichen/San Candido and Sexten/Sesto. Sesto is well known as a summer and skiing resort, surrounded of the "Sundial of Sesto", a mountain range with five peaks called the "Nine o'clock Peak", the "Ten o'clock Peak", the "Eleven o'clock Peak", the "Twelve o'clock Peak" and the "One o'clock Peak". The Alta Pusteria ski resort is part of the Dolomiti Superski ski carousel with a total of 450 cable cars and 1,220 km of slopes.
Today the Opening of the Expo & Tech Area will take place at 19:00 p.m. The goal is to create an attractive and interesting expo for both, visitors and exhibitors.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

11th International Climbing Festival

From July 11 Chamonix will host the International Climbing Festival. Every year, at the beginning of July, the best international climbers meet in Chamonix at the foot of Mont-Blanc for this prestigious event. Festival includes the French Championships and the World Cup events.
The place for the event will be located on the Anneau de vitesse close to the Lac de la Plage. With different demonstrations, stands and an introduction to climbing for the youngsters, Chamonix is transformed once more, into the true capital of climbing!.
The Chamonix Mont-Blanc'sClimbing World Cup (Difficulty and Speed Climbing Men & Women) will take place on Sunday July 12 and Monday July 13. The event reunites the best climbers in the world.
In the Difficulty Event climbers confront each other in pairs, each taking a turn lead climbing on an unkown route. The first one to go the farthest on the first try is the winner. In case of a tie the climber who went the farthest in the the previous qualifying round is the winner.
In the Speed Event climbers confrontone another side by side climbing 'second'. The first one to finish the route and reach the top is the winner.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fourth and Final Ski Area Opens for Season at Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

Lake Wanaka’s 2009 ski season is officially underway with all four fields open for business. Good snowfalls throughout May combined with a prolonged period of cool and calm weather, ideal for snow making, has equipped the mountains across the region with one metre bases providing the best opening conditions in a decade. A cold front moving across the region over the past few days has provided a timely deposit of fresh snow for the July school holidays starting on Monday.
Snow Farm opened in mid-June for cross-country skiers with many kilometres of world class trails. Snow Farm is New Zealand’s only Nordic ski area will host many international teams and events this season as well as continuing is successful development of Biathlon.
Cardrona Alpine Resort opened all facilities and 100% of their extensively groomed trails last Friday. Skiers and boarders had great on-piste and weather conditions throughout the day.
Treble Cone kicked off their season on Saturday opening all of its 550ha of skiable terrain, including the Saddle Basin and Motatapu Chutes, plenty of beginners took advantage of the free learner’s lift as well as the shuttle bus transporting visitors up the mountain access road.
The roll-out of Lake Wanaka’s ski areas continues with Snow Park NZ opening last 4 July. With good fresh snow coverage across the terrain park and new features introduced over summer the freestyle action will get underway. Snow Park NZ is looking forward to starting their night skiing and riding sessions, twice weekly, today Tuesday 7 July.
James Helmore, general manager of Lake Wanaka Tourism said there was a positive buzz of excitement in town, "The ski season has started and it is great to see keen skiers and boarders coming from around the globe to experience our four world class resorts and enjoy the unique alpine town. We are looking forward to the busy season ahead", he said. Lake Wanaka’s resorts will again host many national and international events over the coming winter months. Events such as the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games, incorporating the LG FIS Snowboard World Cup, and the Burton New Zealand Open will offer spectacular action from world class athletes. The new developments for Lake Wanaka’s resorts include: a new FIS certified trail and expansion of terrain at Cardrona with a snowmaking upgrade to cover the entire resort, night skiing and riding extended to three nights a week at Snow Park NZ as well as new all-inclusive accommodation packages. Treble Cone is offering free use of the lower mountain learner lifts all season long and 90 minute complimentary guided tours of the mountain (groomed trails) twice daily.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

'Greener' Fireworks Available for Ski Resorts

Patrick Thorne reports scientists are helping pyrotechnicians to make their colourful green fireworks even greener for the environment. The same chemistry that makes the crowds in ski resorts "ooh" and "ah" each New Years Eve apparently also rains "potentially toxic compounds on their heads", so scientists across the globe are helping pyrotechnicians to make their colorful green fireworks even greener for the environment.
The chemical reactions in a firework start with a stream of hot gas released by burning fuel -- a charcoal mixture called "black powder" -- that pushes the rocket upwards. This fuel feeds on oxygen produced by an "oxidizer". At the top of the rocket's path, a second charge of powder ignites and explodes with a hue determined by a "color agent" mixed with the powder. Green fireworks get their color from the metal barium and burn thanks to the oxidizer perchlorate, the same chemical that NASA puts in the solid rockets used to launch astronauts into space. When a firework explodes, it scatters traces of various chemicals into the environment. This year, a study found that the snow on New Year's Day in Saalbach, Austria contained 800 times more barium than it did before the previous night's fireworks show.
Whether these amounts pose a health risk to the plants, animals, and people in the affected area remains an unresolved question. In large enough quantities, barium can interfere with the thyroid -- the gland that helps our body to regulate hormones -- and cramp muscles, disrupt heartbeats, and constrict the lungs – but the volumes left by firework displays are believed to be much too small to cause health problems for most people.
However until the health risks are definitively determined, experts recommend that people who have respiratory ailments should think twice before sitting underneath the shower of particles released by fireworks. Studies in Hawaii and India showed an increase in the number of asthma cases on the Fourth of July.
Performers in venues that use fireworks regularly are also thought to be vulnerable. In the 1990s Disneyland started to receive complaints from its neighbors in Anaheim, California about the clouds of smoke drifting out from its nightly pyrotechnics show. Subsequent testing showed that metals were building up in local waters, so Disney recruited scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico to develop fireworks that produce less smoke and contaminants.
"If everything in a firework worked perfectly, you would just make gaseous products like carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas", said LANL chemist David Chavez. But imperfections in the chemical reactions leave a fog of particles that include unburned carbon and crystallized metals such as barium. To cut down on the smoke, Chavez helped create nitrogen-enriched fireworks that require less perchlorate to burn or substitute cleaner oxidizers such as nitrate. With less smoke obscuring the sparks, these fireworks do not require as much barium to bring out the color. "From a health standpoint, if the evidence shows that there is a need for more environmentally-friendly pyrotechnics ... I think it would be about a 10 to 20 percent cost increase to use these in the outdoor market", said Chavez.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 Reports Summer Ski and Southern Hemisphere Resort Openings Takes World Tally Past 60 Choices ln A Dozen Countries

Skiinfo reports that all three of the glacier ski areas that are still opening each year for summer skiing in France are now open, following Val d’Isere’s summer snow opening on Saturday. It joins already open Tignes and Les 2 Alpes for a 6-10 week summer season. All three resorts are reporting snow depths around about 180cm (six feet) on their glaciers.
Austria still has four glacier ski areas open, the largest at Tux, close to Mayrhofen, which has more than 23km (15 miles) of runs to enjoy. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier at Kaprun, the Dachstein glacier near Schladming and the Molltal glacier are the three other choices
Italy now equals Austria with four summer-ski choices available, the most for any one country. Newly opened last weekend is Cervinia, which gives access to Europe’s highest ski lifts above Zermatt over the border (currently still the only summer skiing in Switzerland, although due to be joined by Saas Fee this Saturday, July 4). There are also summer ski runs on the Italian side of the border, and Cervinia is reporting snow depths of 180cm (six feet) at opening. A Cervinia lift company spokesman commented, "The glacier is in splendid condition this year!". The Presena glacier above Passo Tonale is still open although the tourist office reported last month it expected the glacier ski lifts would close, "by the end of June", so best to check direct before you travel there. It unusually offers tough skiing only with two reds and one black run and a snow depth – which was amongst the deepest in the ski world all last winter at up to six metres/20 feet - still at 320cm (nearly 11 feet). The other Italian summer ski choices are Passo Stelvio and Val Senales. In Zermatt the Matterhorn glacier paradise, billed as the largest summer ski area in the Alps is currently hosting the Stoked Ski and Snowboard school which offers great summer "freestyle" camps in a on the resort’s Gravity Park, which has its own dedicated lift. "Instead of being in crowded swimming pools, get some refreshment on the snow. Supported by our coaches and professional riders, you can improve your skills and technique riding the pipe, various kickers, rails and obstacles", said Thomas Schetty from the resort.
Norway ‘s three glacier ski areas are all open and Folgefonn is currently reporting the deepest snow base anywhere with a 5m (17 foot) accumulation. The Stryn glacier has a 180cm (six foot) base and Galdhøpiggen 150cm (five feet).
In North America the two open ski areas remain open to all - the Horstman Glacier on Blackcomb mountain at Whistler, Canada which has about a metre (over three feet) of snow and Timberline in Oregon, USA, where the shrinking snow pack still remain above 150cm (five feet).
However the snow slopes of Copper Mountain in Colorado, USA, one of the world’s 10 highest ski areas, were open to participants in the resorts new summer camps which combine a new indoor ski training facility with artificial slope surfaces and a campers-only on-snow terrain park which opened each day in the morning, with features such as a big-air jump, multiple rails and boxes, and a jump onto an airbag.
In South America, Portillo in Chile reported 28cm (a foot) of new snow on Monday and that access roads to the resort were blocked by snow. Snowfall to date this season has already reached 180cm (six feet) with a base in excess of a metre (over three feet) at the hotel. La Parva reported 35cm (14 inches) of new snow in 24 hours on Monday, part of a 95cm (three foot) fall in seven days. It has about a quarter of its lifts and runs open and describes conditions as ‘powder’. Valle Nevado has also reported big snowfalls, with 35cm (14 inches) of new snow on Monday taking falls to data this season to 138cm (4.5 feet) with a 40cm (16 inch) base. Over the border in Argentina, Las Lenas has reported big falls but remains closed. Catedral at Bariloche, the continent’s largest ski area, has a 45cm (18 inch) base on upper runs.
In Africa Tiffindell remains open with a 60cm snow depth on a 175m long run, Afriski in Lesotho is still closed.
In Australia most ski areas have seen temperatures hovering around zero for several days now and a few cm/inches of fresh snow falling. Typical is Mt Buller with an average 45cm (18 inch) base on open terrain. At Mt Hotham snow fall yesterday evening (Tuesday 30 June) above 1600m and is expected to continue throughout Wednesday and Thursday above 1300m. With any luck this will also continue into Friday with scattered snow showers predicted.
Two more New Zealand ski areas opened at the weekend. Cardrona Alpine Resort opened its gates to thousands of skiers and snowboarders on Friday (June 26), with ideal snow and weather conditions, a superb start to the 2009 ski season. There is over a metre of snow on groomed trails. "There were plenty of happy people up here today", said sales and marketing manager Nadia Ellis. "Everywhere you looked there were smiling faces as everyone enjoyed a fantastic opening day. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2009 season". Meanwhile another kiwi resort, Whakapapa, opened for the season on Saturday (June 27) with both Happy Valley and the Rock Garden open. The Rip Curl Terrain Park Crew have managed to get a few small features installed too so they'll be ready to play with on opening day. The grooming team has spread out the snow a whopping two metres thick over Happy Valley. Snowmaking actually had to stop because they ran out of water. The resort has turned 72 million litres of water into snow so far.