Monday, August 31, 2009

The International Ski Federation launches FIS Marketing Company

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has announced the establishment of a new company, FIS Marketing AG, together with its marketing partners Tridem Sports and Infront Sports & Media. The strategic joint venture has the objective of enhancing the value of FIS marketing rights and developing sponsorship projects as well as providing improved service to FIS partners. FIS will be the majority shareholder of FIS Marketing AG with Tridem Sports and Infront Sports & Media holding the remaining shares as equal partners.
The new company will be based in Switzerland, incorporated under Swiss law and headed by Christian Pirzer, CEO of Tridem Sports. FIS Marketing AG will be structured as an independent and separately staffed entity tasked with the sales and handling of FIS controlled marketing rights.
The rights portfolio of the new company is being established and will include FIS World Cup title sponsorships and the data/timing packages across the disciplines. Marketing rights to the specific FIS World Cup events are held by the respective National Ski Associations. FIS Marketing AG's services will also be available to other organizations in the ski world, including National Ski Associations and ski clubs.
FIS President Gian Franco Kasper said: "This is a milestone in the history of FIS. It represents the realization of a long-standing intention to strengthen our marketing expertise and resources, in order to exploit the commercial rights to our flagship events to the full benefit of the sport". He added: "This is a win-win proposition for all parties involved. Equally importantly, it will deliver tangible benefits for the commercial partners of skiing. FIS remains in full control of its rights while taking advantage of external, specialist know-how from tried and trusted partners".

New Zealand Winter Games comes to a close

The inaugural 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games came to a close today on a wintery Coronet Peak in Queenstown. The celebrations were marked by a closing ceremony that featured aerials, a parade of nations down the mountain and the New Zealand Prime Minster before a final closing by Ngai Tahu elder Sir Tipene Regan and a celebratory fireworks display.
Over 800 athletes, 40 countries, 400 volunteers and 37 events over 10 days marked the first 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games which was heralded a success by athletes, stakeholders and organisers alike.
Winter Games NZ chairman, Sir Eion Edgar, said that it had been a fantastic 10 days and it was a credit to the athletes who had made these Games an outstanding world class event. He then presented the award for the top performing country of 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games to Canada who won 10 gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze medals. The USA was runner up, followed by Japan.
Prime Minister John Key said he was proud to showcase New Zealand to the international athletes and it was testament to the commitment of the athletes that they were prepared to compete in spite of challenging weather conditions. He also paid tribute to the many volunteers who were instrumental to the success of the event and went on to indicate his support of the 2011 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games.
Winter Games NZ CEO, Arthur Klap, is pleased with the international coverage of the event saying it has been outstanding with expected global TV audiences of 500 million and extensive print and internet coverage.
The next 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games will take place in 2011.

New Zealand Winter Games Big Air

Some of the world’s top freeskiers and snowboarders took part in the ultimate battle at the Queenstown Resort College Big Air today on the final day of the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games at Coronet Peak. Despite high winds and rain, the crowds packed out the Coronet Peak deck to watch local freeskier names such as Jossi Wells and Beau-James Wells dominate the monster 85ft kicker, but it was 18-year-old Bobby Brown from the USA who struck gold with a double-cork 1080 mute. Second place went to Sweden’s Kim Boberg and in third place was local Byron Wells. Crowds also went wild for 13-year-old Beau-James Wells and older brother Jossi Wells from Wanaka, with spectators filling out the restaurant and deck to catch the action.
The snowboarding contest was cancelled after the qualifiers, so the judges used the qualifying scores as results. New Zealander Stef Zeestraten pulled off a well-executed backside 7 and his second hit was huge with a switchback 9, but unfortunately he wiped out. However his first run was enough to put him at the top of the field. Close behind, Jan Necas (CZE) rode into second place with a frontside inverted 5 while Queenstown’s Nick Hyne stomped a frontside 7 earning him the final place on the podium.
The women’s competitions in both freeski and snowboarding were unable to run due to weather.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Zealand Winter Games Freeski Halfpipe

After the wild weather of previous days, conditions mellowed but tricks remained intense for the Freeski Halfpipe. American skier Taylor Seaton took gold in the men’s competition following his second place in the Volkl NZ Freeski Open at the same venue nine days before.The winner of that event, local favourite Jossi Wells, couldn’t repeat his success at Winter Games NZ and pulled out early into his first run due to a knee injury. David Wise of the USA came second in the men’s event after nailing a double flare in his second run – one of the tricks of the day. This pushed Xavier Bertoni of France into third place. Lyndon Sheehan of Wanaka was the top Kiwi, flying into fifth place with a great first run.
In the women’s event, Swiss skier Mirjam Jaeger was a clear winner ahead of Rosalind Groenewoud. Fellow Canadian, Dania Assaly just edged FIS world number two Anais Caradeux from France out of the medals. Mirjam Jaeger said, "I just feel great – what else is there to say? I’m super stoked right now. I love New Zealand. I’m definitely going to be back next year!". Janina Kuzma was the highest placed New Zealand woman in 5th place.
Head judge Phil Larose was impressed by the competition at Cardrona, "It went super well. Organisation here was really professional and the athletes felt very comfortable – as if they were competing at X-Games".

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kilian Jornet wins the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

Kilian Jornet (Salomon) has held his rank as super-favourite by this afternoon winning the 7th edition of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). Holding onto the title, the 21-year-old Catalan has done the double, after 21H33 of effort. "This second success has a different flavour from last year’s" Kilian explained at the Finish. "This night has been very tough, with rain, wind and cold around the French-Swiss border". Capricious weather certainly handicapped the Spaniard in his quest for a victory inside 20 hours. He joins UTMB legend, his "senior" Marco Olmo, with two consecutive victories around Mont-Blanc.
Although Kilian crossed the Finish Line as winner, Frenchman Sébastien Chaigneau (The North Face) clocked in about one hour behind, with the Japanese Kaburaki (The North Face), already 4th last year, on his heels. Scott Jurek and Julien Chorier (Lafuma) had for a long time been attempting to keep up with this leading trio, but eventually were no longer able to maintain the frenetic pace and dropped gently down in the Top 10.
Jornet had never been troubled throughout his entire trip, which brought together 2,286 competitors. He clocked first at each of the control points along the 166km long course with its 9,400m of ascent. By nightfall, yesterday evening, several outsiders had been forced to lowertheir flag. The first were Marco Olmo (ITA) and Dawa Sherpa (NEP). The latter gave in his race number at La Balme. "I did not have any strength left, neither in my arms, nor my legs, I was emptied, and it would not have been of any use for me to continue in such conditions", explained the Nepalese, who was showing the initial symptoms of anaemia. His Quechua team-mate, Vincent Deleberre, retired at Lac Combal.
Yesterday evening just before 10pm, the Swiss Jean-Yves Rey (Nike) won the the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix after taking 11h40 to cover the 98 race kilometres and 5,500m ascent. Already winner of the 2008 Mont Blanc marathon, the Helvetian runner did it again on this half circuit of Mont Blanc, in his first appearance in the event. "It’s true that this region smiles down on me", smiled the Swiss. Jean-Yves went it alone from the Start at Courmayeur, regularly increasing the distance from his different adversaries. He was 35 minutes ahead of the Greek Nikolaos Kalofyris (Team Salomon) winner of the Olympus Marathon in 2006, and the Frenchman Ludo Pommeret (Team Quechua), also on a winner’s podium this year.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ötztaler Radmarathon

Next Sunday August 30 at 6:30 am a new edition of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon will take place in the Ötztal Valley (Tirol) with start and finish in Sölden. The event marks the highlight of the cycling season for hobby cyclists from all over the world. 4000 participants will take part in the race.
The Race covers a total distance of 238 kilometres. The cyclists, coming from 15 different countries, have to conquer no less than 5,500 meters of altitude gain. The unique route takes them from the high Alpine Ötztal glacier world to Tirol's lower mountain ranges and further on to the scenic South Tyrolean vineyards. 4 steep Alpine passes are a part of the challenging race: Sölden (1,377 m) - Längenfeld - Umhausen - Oetz (820 m) - Kühtai (2,020 m) - Kematen (610 m) - Völs - Innsbruck (600 m) - Sonnenburgerhof - Schönberg - Matrei am Brenner - Steinach am Brenner - Gries a. Brenner - Brenner pass (1,377 m) - Sterzing - Jaufen pass (2,090 m) - St. Leonhard im Passeiertal - Timmelsjoch pass (2,509 m) - Sölden (1,377 m).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vancouver is ready for 2010 said IOC

"Vancouver is ready for 2010", said the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games through its Chairman, René Fasel. For its ninth and final visit (25 – 26 August) to the next Olympic and Paralympic Host City, the Commission was joined by representatives of the Olympic Winter International Federations, who were able to bring their expertise to bear in the discussions with the Vancouver Organising Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) relating to the sporting elements of the Games, as well as by observers from the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee.
Speaking at the close of the meetings, Fasel said, "The organizers of the Games in Vancouver and Whistler are ready for 2010. We’ve heard from VANOC and its partners about all the steps that they are undertaking to ensure that the athletes and other Games visitors have a fantastic Olympic and Paralympic experience. We are extremely happy with what we have seen and heard, and are confident that they will deliver". He continued, "The Commission members and I have seen this project grow from plans on paper into almost a reality, and we would like to commend the work of the team led by Jack Poole and John Furlong. The venues are spectacular and the plans for next February are very good. The great venues, the outstanding natural setting and hugely knowledgeable and enthusiastic fans will guarantee that these Olympic and Paralympic Games will be an unparalleled success".
With the Olympic Torch Relay getting underway in only 57 days, VANOC and its partners are becoming increasingly operational and are reaching a very precise level of detail in their planning. This is normal at this stage of the Games preparations and requires great focus from the organisers to ensure that the Games reach Olympic level.
Chairman Fasel commented, "With the Olympic flame getting ready to travel across the great nation of Canada, VANOC and its partners are starting to reach an extremely fine level of detail in their preparations. This often brings with it some last-minute challenges and the need to find solutions. This is not unexpected with a project of this size and complexity, and our Canadian friends are well prepared to deal with them. As we enter the home stretch, people around the globe are watching and waiting for you to deliver a great Games not just for Canada but the world".
"It is with mixed feelings that we close this final Coordination Commission session as we have gained so much from these sessions with our IOC friends and the international sport federations – they have been invaluable to our planning", said John Furlong. "At the same time, their final advice, their confidence and their full support for our plans gained during this visit is just what we need as we head into the final several months. We thank each and every member of the Commission – and particularly, the leadership of Chairman René Fasel and IOC Executive Director Gilbert Felli - for their thoughtful insights and counsel throughout the past several years. The Coordination Commission’s engagement and oversight has unquestionably been key to staging a successful and unforgettable Games in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010".
During its meeting, the Commission heard reports from VANOC on areas such as the Olympic Torch Relay, spectator services, sport, marketing, media operations, National Olympic Committee services, technology and the Paralympic Games. The visit also provided the opportunity for some Commission members to tour venues including the Vancouver Olympic Village, UBC Thunderbird Arena, Richmond Oval, Hillcrest Curling Centre and the Main Press and Broadcasting Centres.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Zealand Winter Games Snowboard Halfpipe

High winds created even higher drama today for the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup Halfpipe final. Liu Jiayu of China and American legend Shaun White of the USA eventually blew the field apart taking gold with heart-stopping displays at Cardrona’s Olympic halfpipe.
Liu took victory with her first run that finished with a front-7 to a cab-7. American Kelly Clark came good to grab silver, while consistent quality from compatriot Gretchen Bleiler secured bronze.
Shaun White took victory with his first score of 47.1. Silver went to Iouri Podladtchikov from Switzerland and Kazuhiro Kokubo gave the vocal Japanese fans plenty to cheer about with bronze. Mobbed by the media and fans at the end of his second run, White said, "I knew I’d already won so it was fun to have a victory lap and I let out two of my best tricks – a cab 1080 double cork and a frontside double. What a wild event! I didn’t think we were going to ride today – the wind was unreal".
Head Judge Ola Sundequist summed up the action: "It turned out to be a fantastic day which I wouldn’t have believed this morning. The women’s result was closer and exciting to the end. Shaun White won because of amplitude off the jumps, level of difficulty and the fact that he’s creating new tricks. We haven’t seen that in the sport for a few years. What we’ve witnessed at Winter Games NZ here today clearly demonstrates the progression being made by both men and women".

August Snow in Northern And Southern Hemispheres

Skiinfo reports that there has been fresh snow in Northern and Southern hemispheres this week as the Alberta Rockies got a healthy August snowfall, and it’s now only 10 weeks until the first Canadian resorts will be opening for the 2010 Olympic Winter. South of the equator it’s Australia that has the most fresh snow to shout about in the past 48 hours.
In Europe we’re in to the last week of the summer ski season at France’s two open glacier ski areas – Tignes and Les 2 Alpes, both due to close this weekend. Tignes has taken the opportunity to re-measure the depth of snow on the Grand Motte glacier which it has been reporting at 1.5m (five feet) all summer, and has found the depth is 10cm (four inches), about the same figure as Les 2 Alpes where the base depth had dropped more gradually over the past few months.
Throughout Europe the warm August has taken its toll on the snow depths on the continent’s open glacier ski areas, and Austria has dropped from four areas open to two in the past week with the Dachstein (near Schladming) and Kitzsteinhorn (above Kaprun) glaciers now closed until fresh snow arrives. The Molltal and Tux glaciers remain open however, with sunny weather predicted for at least the rest of the week. At Tux, the glacier is holding steady with 165cm (5.5 feet) of snow, but the amount of runs open has been cut by more than a third to 15km (nine miles) with nine lifts running. Skiing at Molltal is also limited, down to 3km (about two miles) with a 170cm (5.6 feet) base, and temperatures on the glacier reported to be hitting a seriously melting 8 Celcius.
In Switzerland the neighbouring high-altitude, car free, resorts of Saas Fee and Zermatt are both open with about a metre of snow (over three feet) on each of their glaciers. Saas Fee has the smaller area open, with just three runs to choose from, but the resort’s summer terrain park and half pipe are still open.
In Italy there are still three ski areas to choose from, which thanks to the two closures in Austria, means the country now has more ski areas open than any other in the northertn hemisphere. The choices are Cervinia – which has six ski slopes shared with Zermatt, Val Senales and Passo Stelvio.
In Scandinavia, two ski areas are still open in Norway. Folgefonn is reporting a metre (just over three feet) of snow. Both it and Galdhoppigen, Norway and Northern Europe’s highest mountain at 2,469m, have a single drag lift operating.
Across the Atlantic in Canada Banff National Park has been enjoying its first glimpse of winter2010 – in August, with a summer snowfall blanketing the mountains at the ski areas of Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise Ski Area (picture attached) and Sunshine Village. The announcement of tentative 2009 opening dates is adding to the excitement. Mt. Norquay is planning to kick off the season with a Halloween party on October 31st and will then open at weekends only through to Decemer 5th. Lake Louise Ski Area is scheduled to open on November 6, with preparations well underway to again host the first, and Canada’s only, stop on the World Cup circuit. The Men’s races will take place on November 28 to 29, and the Women’s races on December 4 to 6. Sunshine Village plans to open on November 11, with the newly-renovated Sunshine Mountain Lodge opening 30 new eco-luxurious rooms shortly after. The multimillion dollar wing replacement has not only added luxury to the Lodge, but also lowered the resort’s carbon footprint. "We’re very excited for the upcoming season", said Dan Markham, of Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine. "We’re hoping to yet again be the first resorts to open in Canada, with a great start to this Olympic season. We’ll be joining the world to enjoy the spirit and energy of the Games, cheering on our local athletes and celebrating our sport".
South of the border at Timberline in Oregon the slopes remain open for advanced skiers and boarders now, although the centre’s terrain park and pipe remain closed and the annual September shut down is drawing nearer. Snow depths are just below a metre (three feet) and the weather largely sunny.
In the southern hemisphere, Africa’s ski areas are still reporting low temperatures and good conditions. At Tiffindell in South Africa the resort reports 1.2km of piste open and a snow depth of 50cm (20 inches) with temperatures ranging between -2 and -7 Celcius. Afriski in Lesotho has not updated conditions since 15th August when it said it had a 1km slope open with a 40cm snow depth and temperatures below freezing, however the lack of an update for more than 10 days appears to indicate the centre may have closed for the season.
The end of the season seems much further off in South America, where the huge falls of last week have eased with skies and access roads cleared. Portillo in Chile is still reporting some of the biggest accumulations with season-to-date falls of more than 6.8m (23 feet) and snow lying at the top of the slope nearing 3m (10 feet). It reports receiving about a metre (over 3 feet) of new snow in the past 7 days, although this was mostly part of a larger fall of more than double that volume which ran through last week. Several other resorts in Chile have similar big snow bases, especially the 3 Valleys resorts around Valle Nevado close to capital Santiago. It’s a more mixed picture over the border in Argentina but the two largest resorts of Catedral and Las Leñas are both reporting healthy bases.
Back across the Pacific there’s been fresh snow in the past 48 hours in Australia. Perisher, the country’s largest resort, most recently reported 22cm (9 inches) of fresh dry flakes overnight with more at upper elevations. "There are plenty of wind blown stashes and powder pillows to be found across the resort ready for guests to carve up", said a resort spokesperson. Mt Buller has had fresh snow too, reporting 12cm (5 inches) of new snow and temperatures staying below zero to keep the snow in great shape.
In New Zealand the biggest international competition ever staged in the southern hemisphere is currently underway with snowboard superstars hitting the resort of Cardona’s Olympic halfpipe earlier today as the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games continued in extremely variable weather. The world’s best riders did not disappoint an expectant crowd, defying the conditions with some outstanding performances. In the women’s heat, the triple challenge of whiteout, snow and wind tested riders’ concentration and technique to the limit. World number one, Liu Jiayu from China led the way with a magnificent display in her first run which included 5-to-5 and 7-to-7 combos. A score of 45.0 reflected huge amplitude and incredibly smooth riding. "She jumps as big as the guys with great control. Everything was good", said Head Judge Ola Sundequist. Conditions stayed poor as the male riders completed their first run. Pre-event favourite Shaun White lived up to his billing with a smooth run through the snow including a switch frontside 10 and super-big amplitude. No one could touch White’s class even as blue skies returned and the flame-haired American’s chose not to appear for his second run.
Other resorts in New Zealand are currently reporting challenging conditions. Turoa has a 2.2m (7 foot) base but is closed today because of severe gales and rain. Mt Ruapehu neighbour Wakapapa, with a 1.8m (six foot) base, is also closed for the same reason.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

On Friday 28th August 2009, at 18:30 hours the 7th Edition of the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc will start in the centre of Chamonix. The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is one of the greatest European Mountain Trail Races. The international race (more than 50 nationalities represented), limited to 2,300 participants, takes place in one of the most incredible landscapes on the world. A breathtaking scenery of seven valleys, 71 glaciers and 400 summits like the Mont Blanc, the Dent du Géant and the rock face of the Grandes Jorasses. The athletes cover a distance of 166 km and 9,400 of positive altitude change along the famous GR TMB, within 46 hours, at an altitude ranging between 1012 m and 2537 m., crossing six passes over 2000 metres high. They will pass through 3 countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. The sporting and human achievement is remarkable: 166 km is the distance between Paris and Auxerre by the motorway; it is also the distance of four marathons back to back. The positive height gain is equivalent to twice the ascension of Everest from base camp.
Alternatively, the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix will give the 2,000 participants 25 hours to cover a distance of 98 km with 5,600 m ascent from the Italian heart of the Aosta valley, through Switzerland, before finishing in Chamonix.
Last year was the bithday of a new event. The "Petite Trotte à Léon" a non-competitive raid for teams of 3 people to complete a great circuit of Mont-Blanc of about 250 km for about 18,000 metres of positive altitude change (limit time: 100 h). This course, marked on a map handed out to each team, but not signposted, will follow the legendary passes (col des Fours, Fenêtre d’Arpette) with an extension towards the Great St Bernard and the Emosson barrage.
This year a new race have been created: "Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie", approximately 105 km and 6700 m of positive vertical change for a limited time of 30 hours. In the line with the other races The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, this race is bathed in wilderness and takes place on the Great Ride mountain trails of the Mont-Blanc region and the Beaufortain region. The start will take place at Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Saturday 29th of August at 5am and will be arriving at Courmayeur.
Created in 2003 by a united party of friends lovers of cross-country racing and of the country of Mont-Blanc, les Trailers du Mont-Blanc, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a real challenge for the organization: 1400 volunteers maintaining 30 control and safety points for a duration of 60 hours to ensure the wellbeing of all who participate. Also, the entire length of the trail is checked and marked with about 5000 flags or signs, all of which have to be removed the days following the race. In the route there will be a total of 16 refreshment posts, some in villages and others at high mountain refuges, together with 4 reception bases at Les Chapieux, Courmayeur, Champex and Chamonix. For hours the volunteers will ensure a continual supply of hot and cold drinks, and trays of all kinds of foods (some places delight in offering their speciality – fresh cheese from the alp, homemade tart, etc.). Along with the racing, around sixty exhibitors are coming together in the context of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Open to all brands, the aim is to create an annual rendezvous. All the great figures in foot-racing will be there to present their novelties. But also trade names aware of the tourist impact of such a race. In fact a race of this size is a real tourist asset for a region (15,000 visitors expected).

New Zealand Winter Games Snowboard Slopestyle

Great weather conditions prevailed for day two of the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games at The Remarkables. The Snowboard-Slopestyle qualifications kicked off with New Zealanders making up over half of the 30 strong qualifying field, six of whom made it through to the final 12. Head Slopestyle Judge, Ola Sundequist said the number of New Zealanders in the field reflected the depth of New Zealand’s snowboarding talent.
New Zealander Stef Zeestraten finished first in the men’s competition followed by Queenstown local Nick Hyne in second place. Gjermund Braaten from Norway, the World Rookie Champion of 2008, finished third. Stef Zeestraten said, "It was pretty cool to be home and do so well. Not only are all the New Zealanders killing it today but it’s awesome to see New Zealand put on a cool event".
Fellow kiwi, Shelly Gotlieb, followed suit by taking out first place in the women’s event. Shelly, who originally hails from Ohakune, recently came fifth in the 2009 US Burton Open but thinks today’s win was more special due to it being at home. Second place went to recent Burton NZ Open winner Jamie Anderson from the USA and third place to Aimee Fuller of Great Britain.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

15th Mountain Film Festival in St. Anton

From August 25th to August 29th St. Anton am Arlberg will host the 15th Edition of the Mountain Film Festival. For 5 days, writer-directors, mountaineerers, climbers and mountain film friends from around the world are coming to watch the spectacular documentaries and thrilling feature-length films about the sport they all love on the giant screen arranged in the, a modern event center for Wellness and Communications located in the heart of the village.
Since 1995 the St. Anton Film Fest has become an internationally renowned festival focusing on "Mountains, People, Adventures". The fascination of the mountain world, breathtaking landscapes and daring expeditions can be marvelled and discussed with high-profile guests. Upcoming filmers can win the St. Anton Special Award presented by the local Tourist Board and the Arlberger Bergbahnen AG mountain lift company.

Mount St. Elias (directed by Gerald Salmina)

Story Line: A dramatic and awe-inspiring feature documentary following three of the world’s greatest ski mountaineers (Two Austrian Axel Naglich and Peter Ressmann and American Jon Jonhston) to the Mount St. Elias in their attempt to realize the longest ski descent of the world. Far away from the civilized world, Mount St. Elias is located in south-eastern Alaska bordering the Yukon Territory. The Canadian side is part of Kluane National Park, while the U.S. side of the mountain is located within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Mount Saint Elias is notable for being the highest peak in the world so close to tidewater.

New Zealand Winter Games Freeski Slopestyle

The inaugural 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games began yesterday with the Men’s and Women's Freeski Slopestyle event at The Remarkables. The world class slopestyle course was treated to clear weather conditions providing the athletes with a great start to the Games.
First place in the Men’s Final went to Thomas Wallisch from USA , second place went to New Zealander, Jossi Wells, and third place to USA’s Bobby Brown.
Australian, Anna Segal took out first place in the women’s event, Second place went to Rosalind Groenewoud and third place went to Dania Assaly, both of Canada.
Head Slopestyle Judge, Phil Larose enjoyed the originality of The Remarkables course. "The course was pretty interesting, it was fun to see different stuff rather just the usual jumps and rails. The barrel bonk jump was really original and while the riders weren’t used to it they found a way to do tricks on it anyway".
The stand out trick of the day belonged to Matthew Margetts from Canada who did a handplant cork three on the barrel bonk jump. "It was the sickest move of the day", said Phil Larose.
Situated high in The Remarkables mountain range and surrounded by craggy peaks, The Remarkables Alpine Park provides a spectacular, true alpine environment. Extending over 700 hectares of reserve land, there's 220 skiable hectares accessed by three quad chairs within threesunny, wide open bowls.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

St. Anton Mountain Bike Marathon

Today the Mountain Bike 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 Mountain Bike Marathon is the third and final 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). After the bike marathon, the heroes of the triathlon are duly celebrated on 22nd August and the coveted Adler trophy is awarded to those finishing at the front in all three disciplines in 2009.
The Arlberger Mountain Bike Marathon is the highlight and at the same time the end of the St. Antoner "Bike week". A pre marathon party and live music on Friday evening put the guests and participant in the mood for the demanding race.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Zealand Winter Games are open!

The inaugural 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games opened this afternoon in front of over 1,000 spectators and the world’s media. A skydiver landing on the beach heralded the start of the opening, followed by 40 local school children arriving by jet boats across Lake Wakatipu, each carrying a flag of the 40 nations competing in the Games.
The rousing call of the putara (conch) called the crowds to attention for the start of the powhiri (welcome). The warriors of Kai Tahu Whanui issued a challenge to the visitors and placed a teka (dart) at the feet of Jean-Phillipe Roy of Canada who was representing the several hundred athletes present.
Governor-General Hon Sir Anand Satyanand officially opened the Games, highlighting the benefits and unique nature of this ground-breaking event, as well as it’s potential for the future. He talked about the vision of chairman Sir Eion Edgar, and CEO Arthur Klap had to produce this event and how it evolved through the collaboration with the Olympic committees of the Pacific Rim countries. With the athletes (800 participants) the most important part of the Games he also commented how perfectly timed the Games are, just six months out from the Winter Olympics, providing an ideal platform for those chasing their Olympic goals. Finally he said the beauty of the landscape, from the Southern Alps to the plains of the Maniototo to the coastal town of Dunedin was the final key to success, setting the Games in a league of their own.
At the media conference earlier in the day, top Canadian ski racer, Jean-Philippe Roy said the Games provided Northern Hemisphere athletes with a great opportunity of a big race start before the World Cup season began in the Northern Hemisphere. Jake Zamansky of the US Ski Team said it was very exciting to see the high level of profile the event had been receiving and said it was a huge benefit to get World Cup-like conditions on challenging hills during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Top New Zealand snowboarder, Juliane Bray, said she believed the halfpipe at Cardrona was one of the best in the world and she was delighted that New Zealand’s outstanding snow sports facilities and athletes were being profiled to a global audience.
The sporting events of the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games open tomorrow Saturday 22 August at The Remarkables with the freeski slopestyle and continues through the week with snowboarding, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, freeskiing curling, ice hockey, figure skating, winter triathlon and natural luge. The competition takes place throughout Otago from the coastal town of Dunedin, to the plains of the Maniototo to the towns of Queenstown and Lake Wanaka, high in the Southern Alps.
Highlights will include the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup Halfpipe on Wednesday 26 August and the Big Air Closing Ceremony on Sunday 30 August that will broadcast live on Sky TV with a grand finale of fireworks and spectacular aerials and a closing by New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key.

Video: Interview with Arthur Klap, CEO Winter Games NZ

Inferno Triathlon

Tomorrow August 22nd the Inferno Triathlon will take place in Mürren. The race is one of the most beautiful and spectacular events in the Swiss mountains. With its ascent of 5,500 metres, is one of the toughest in the world and already ranks as a classic. The unforgettable encounter with nature in the incomparable Alpine world of the Bernese Oberland and the easy-going atmosphere make the Inferno a most impressive challenge.
A triathlon is an endurance sports event consisting of swimming, cycling and running. First athletes must face the Swim leg (Thun - Oberhofen, 3.1 kilometres). Then the cycling stage, divided in two legs: Road Bike (Oberhofen - Grindelwald, 97 kilometres) and Mountain Bike (Grindelwald - Stechelberg, 30 kilometres). Finally the running stage (Stechelberg - Schilthorn, 25 kilometres) ending in the Schilthorn at 2,970 metres above sea level.
Mürren, located at 1,650 metres above sea level, is a marvellous car free mountain village, perched on a high, sunny terrace facing the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It nestles at the foot of the Schilthorn with its revolving Piz Gloria Restaurant, made world-famous by a James Bond film.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big Snowfall in South America, Big Events in New Zealand

Skiinfo reports that all of Europe’s glaciers have been reporting very sunny weather conditions over the past week, which in most cases has led to a diminishing snowpack and difficult conditions for snow sports – hard packed first thing and sticky by 11am.
There’s currently a choice of two resorts in Norway (Galdhoppigen and Folgefonn), four in Austria (Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun, the Dachstein glacier, Molltal and Tux); three in Italy (Passo Stelvio, Cervinia and Passo Tonale) and two in Switzerland (Saas Fee and year-round Zermatt).
In France Les 2 Alpes and Tignes are in to their last few weeks of operations, scheduled to close on August 29th and 31st respectively, although Tignes, which is still reporting a 1.8m (six foot) snow base on the Grande Motte ghlacier despite the melting temperatures, will re-open a few weeks later in mid-September, with other glaciers in nearby Austria (such as Pitztal) and Switzerland (such as Engelberg) beginning to re-open for the start of the 2009-10 season around then too. Tux is currently reporting the biggest snow area open in Europe with 23km (14 miles) of runs to enjoy, as well as its Better park terrain park, on a 165cm (5.5 ft) base. Although temperatures on the glacier there are, typical of Europe’s open ski slopes at present, peaking at 6C, cloudier weather that should cool things down a bit and hopefully bring a dusting of fresh snow is expected in the next few days.
In North America, Timberline in Oregon remains the only choice at present, although it will close for its annual maintenance in a few weeks’ time. The centre has already closed its terrain park and superpipe in the past week but the chairlifts are still running.
Temperatures have dipped back below zero at South Africa’s Cape where skiers at Tiffindell will find snowdepths holding at 50cm (20 inches) and 1.2km of runs still available. Afriski in Lesotho is also reporting it is still operational as the usual southern African ski season nears its close.
South America has had the best of the world’s fresh snowfalls in the past seven days with leading resorts in both Argentina and Chile benefitting from heavy falls. Portillo is reporting some of the biggest snowfalls, that are ongoing, taking season-to-date falls past 6.5m (22 feet). The resort reports 240cm (eight feet) of new snow in the past seven days, including 70cm (2.3 feet) of powder in the past 24 hours alone. Top slope base depths have reached 330cm (11 feet) meaning snow-surety for the rest of the season at least. Other resorts in Chile are also reporting big falls, as are those in Argentina, which were particularly needing a top-up. Catedral and Las Lenas, the two biggest resorts, are both reporting more than 1.8m (six feet) of snow on upper slopes.
New Zealand has some of the biggest excitement in world skiing on their local slopes at present with the Burton NZ Open just finished and the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games, starting in Queenstown tomorrow (Friday, August 21st). Kids and adults alike were wowed by some of the world’s top ski champions on Sunday (August 16) as the skiers signed posters and posed for photographs at a poster signing event at Coronet Peak (picture attached: USA ski stars Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn, Resi Stiegler, Julia Mancuso, and Canadian Britt Janyk, sign posters at Coronet Peak). Members of the USA Men’s and Women’s ski teams and the Canadian Women’s ski teams were overwhelmed by supporters as they spent an hour meeting and greeting their fans in the sunshine at Coronet Peak. The women’s team included alpine skiing overall winner and double world champion from 2009, Lindsey Vonn who was joined by Olympic Gold Medalist from Torino, Julia Mancuso. The USA Men was led by combined Olympic Gold Medalist in Torino Ted Ligety, alongside Jimmy Cochran, Scott Macartney and Marco Sullivan from the Tech and Speed Teams. "We had some of the best male and female alpine ski racers on the planet signing autographs for everyone here yesterday. We will be watching closely and wish them well for the Vancouver Olympics", said Richard Murphy, Head of Race and Events at Coronet Peak where the teams are currently training in preparation for the coming competition. Elsewhere in New Zealand, Mt Ruapehu is reporting strong winds and heavy snowfall at present, with snow base last mentioned at 223cm at (7.5m) at Turoa but no measure of fresh accumulations yet available.
Over in Australia the skies have been largely sunny with little fresh snow reported anywhere for the past week. However the larger resorts have built up healthy snow bases, in the case of Perisher 122cm (Just over 4 feet) at best, so the sunny slopes are still in reasonably good shape. Other resorts like Mt Buller and Falls Creek are reporting slightly less, though still plenty, with about 90cm (three feet) on upper slopes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Internationaler Matterhonlauf

Next Sunday 23th Zermatt will host the 27th edition of the Internationaler Matterhonlauf. The race course starts in Zermatt at the train station place "Bahnhofplatz" (1,620 metres) and ends at Schwarzsee (2,583 metres), covering a distance of 12.49 kilometres and an altitude difference of 980 metres. The route of "Matterhornlauf" goes through the most beautiful and naturallandscapes of Switzerland at the foot of the Matterhorn, surrounded by an incredible scenery of mountains and glaciers. The main sponsors of the race are Zermatt Bergbahnen, the largest aerial cableway company in Switzerland and Die Post/Swiss Runners. The competition is open for everybody within three categories: runners, popular race and Nordic Walking (the runners race will start at 09:30 am). Additional to the individual Matterhorn race, there is also a Team Race. The teams consisting of 4 runners maximum and 3 runners minimum can be put together out of every category, however, team members must be of the same nationality. The fastest 3 runners of the team will be admited to the rating.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Zealand Winter Games. Snowboard and Freestyle Skiing.

The slopes of Cardrona, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak - all within easy driving distance of each other - will host New Zealand Winter Games Skiing and Boarding events.
Cardrona Alpine Resort is a relaxed and friendly ski and snowboard resort located between Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand with specialist slopes for beginners, wide open groomed slopes for intermediates, chutes for the advanced and an extensive park for freestylers. Cardrona Ski Field has the only 22ft Olympic standard half pipe in the southern hemisphere.
Situated high in The Remarkables mountain range and surrounded by craggy peaks, The Remarkables Alpine Park provides a spectacular, true alpine environment. Extending over 700 hectares of reserve land, there's 220 skiable hectares accessed by three quad chairs within three sunny, wide open bowls.
Coronet Peak is just 25 minutes from Queenstown, the closest resort to the city. Over 60 years of passion and a commitment to quality has created a world renowned ski area at Coronet Peak. A multi-million dollar investment last year has transformed this much loved mountain, resulting in its elevation to true world-class status.
The New Zealand Winter Games Freestyle Slopestyle event will take place at The Remarkables, Saturday 22nd August. The Snowboard Slopestyle will take place on the same venue on Sunday 23th.
The Snowboard Cross event will take place at Cardrona Ski Field, Monday 24th August. The Ski Cross will take place on Thursday 27th August.
The New Zealand Winter Games Snowboard Half Pipe event will take place at Cardrona Ski Field, Wednesday 26th August. The Freestyle Skiing Half Pipe event will take place at Cardrona Ski Field, Saturday 29th August.
The 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games Queenstown Freeski and Snowboard Big Air event will take place on Coronet Peak, Sunday 30th August 2009.

New Zealand Winter Games. Alpine Skiing.

The slopes of Coronet Peak will host the New Zealand Winter Games Alpine Skiing events. Coronet Peak is just 25 minutes from Queenstown, the closest resort to the city. Fans have flocked here to enjoy winter sports for more than 60 years creating a world renowned ski area at Coronet Peak. A multi-million dollar investment last year has transformed this much loved mountain, resulting in its elevation to true world-class status. Fantastic views, the view from the skifield south across Lake Wakatipu and the smaller nearby Lake Hayes is breathtaking, and diverse rolling terrain providing challenges and hidden delights for all ability levels.
The 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games Super G skiing event will take place on Coronet Peak Tuesday 25th August 2009. Winter Games NZ is the first major event to include adaptive skiing in the mainstream event that will allow adaptive skiers to race on the same course, on the same day as able-bodied skiers. Athletes with a range of physical disabilities or visual impairment will compete. There are three classes of skiers - standing, sitting (using a specially mono ski) and visually impaired (who race with a guide).
The Giant Slalom skiing event will take place on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th August 2009. The Men's race will be held Thursday 27th. The Women's and Adaptive races will be held Friday 28th.
The New Zealand Winter Games Slalom skiing event will take place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August 2009. The Adaptive race will be held Saturday 29th. The Men's and Women's races will be held Sunday 30th.

Countdown to New Zealand Winter Games Opening Ceremony

New Zealand Winter Games kicks off this Friday, August 21 with the spectacular Opening Ceremony as athletes, celebrities and VIPs join thousands of spectators at Earnslaw Park in downtown Queenstown.
At 4pm skydivers will plunge down onto the shores of Lake Wakatipu as a specially-composed fanfare announces the arrival of flag bearers – local children representing each competing nation – via jet boat.
With everyone in position, a traditional powhiri/welcome by members of Kai Tahu will take place with one of the athletes representing the visitors accepting the challenge laid down by the wero ki nga manuhiri/warriors.
The Governor-General of New Zealand, Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, will then formally declare the Games open before a fire show leads the procession of VIPs inside for an official reception. Spectators can keep warm with plenty of food and drink as two great live bands – the G.C.s and the Lynch Mob – play into the night. Earlier in the day another local band Mutz Nutz will play from 1pm followed by a fantastic prize giveaways and more great music from The Cartel.
Winter Games NZ will take place at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, Naseby and Dunedin from 22-30 August 2009.
With an action-packed programme of twenty four events, the Winter Games NZ encompasses alpine skiing, free skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, curling, ice skating and adaptive snow sports, as well as the demonstration sports of winter triathlon and natural luge.
New Zealand Winter Games is the first elite snow sports event to have able bodied and athletes with a disability compete together in the alpine skiing and cross-country skiing disciplines. "This is a new concept in high performance competition," said Winter Games NZ CEO, Arthur Klap. "We believe no distinction should be made between any athletes that perform at the highest possible level, against the best in the world. To this end, adaptive and able bodied athletes will be competing at the same time, on the same course."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Melting Yeti Contest kicks off Utah 90-day countdown to Winter Season

To celebrate the approaching winter season, Ski Utah is kicking off its 90-day countdown to snow with a "Melting Yeti Contest" at Utah’s Hogle Zoo in conjunction with Teddy Bear Picnic Day.
Ski Utah displayed a seven-foot-tall ice sculpture of "the Yeti" created by Iceworks at the Zoo last Saturday 8th August. Zoo-goers will have the opportunity to guess how long the frozen yeti will withstand the sizzling summer heat before melting. The participant who guesses the time the yeti will melt will win two passes to every Utah ski resort, nearly a $2,000 value. Children are also invited to bring their teddy bears to the Ski Utah booth and receive a free season pass for their furry friends.
In addition, Ski Utah offers information on preseason pass sales and discounts enabling local families to enjoy The Greatest Snow on Earth at the most affordable prices possible. Families will also have the chance to learn about the Ski Utah Fifth Grade Passport and Sixth Grade SnowPass, the best ways for fifth and sixth graders to hit the slopes this winter. Through the program, fifth graders can ski three times free at each of Utah’s 13 world-class resorts utilizing the Passport, and sixth graders can enjoy one day of free snowriding at each resort with the SnowPass. "Now is the time to take advantage of these very hot deals", said Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. "Resorts offer the best ski discounts from August through October. The key to keeping the sport affordable is thinking ahead. Don’t let the heat fool you, winter is on its way".

Official Selection. Nissan Outdoor Games. Interlaken 2009

Gravity Workshop, Russian Team Film

The Team:
Story Line: Each person arrives on earth with no experience. The road of life is long and filled with questions. However, each moment deserves to be experienced to understand the magic of our existence. The film is a metaphor of birth and experience, how life is an eternal rebirth.

Official selection. Nissan Outdoor Games. Interlaken 2009

Argon, Austrian Team's Film

The Team:

Story Line: Five young children meet up in a field where an old woman with a powerful spirit reveals their futures. This film tells how destiny guides the lives of normal people and how certain people have an influence on what could be seen as pre-destined.

Official Selection. Nissan Outdoor Games. Interlaken 2009

Ride the Planets Team:
Story Line: An old legend says the Oberland Bernois forest is haunted by the spirit of a man constantly seeking adrenaline. Offended by his powers, the Gods decide to punish him by taking his soul. Possessed by this rambling spirit, the characters acquire strange supernatural powers. A film packed with special effects topped off with humor!
The French Team was the winner of the "GoldenPeak" 2005 the first ever Outdoor Games trophy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jury’s Special Award. Nissan Outdoor Games. Interlaken 2009

The Jury’s Special Award of the Nissan Outdoor Games was given to the Swiss Team, Natural Born Flyers, for their cinematography and originality. The jury wanted to encourage a young, talented team that brought a fresh approach and evoked new emotions. The Jury's Special Award of the Nissan Outdoor Games is awarded with a prize of USD 10,000.
The Swiss also won the Best Sports Sequence, with a prize of USD 1,000, for the climbing scene performed by Cyril Albasini in Natural Born Flyers.

The Team:

Story Line: The storyline of this film is how motion is the common denominator of extreme sports. The agility of a juggler sets the rhythm for the athletic achievements. The film uses intense moments of serenity to explain what each athlete feels.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"GoldenPeak" Award. Nissan Outdoor Games. Interlaken 2009

The Finnish team, GOLGOHT, won the GoldenPeak, the award that given to the best film of the Nissan Outdoor Games 2009 edition.
The task was quite difficult for the jury when they were obliged to award the films as the quality of the film production and athletic performances were quite impressive. At the conclusion of the heated deliberations by the 8 members of the jury, the Finnish team GOLGOHT held high the massive ‘GoldenPeak’ trophy. The best film of the Nissan Outdoor Games is also awarded a prize of $15,000 US. Extremely well prepared, the Finnish team stood out for their creativity on all levels whether is be in the scenario, editing, sound design and action. The transitions between scenes were particularly hailed by the jury, as was the editing.

The Team:

Story Line: After a night of partying, a man has strange dreams. Through his hallucinations, he experiences the feats of high level athletes in kayak, BASE jump, paragliding, mountain biking and climbing mixed with rants of a mysterious homeless man.

Nissan Outdoor Games. Interlaken 2009

On May a selected group of athletes were in Interlaken (Switzerland) for the 5th edition of a completely unique event combining sporting competition and a video and photo festival. A multi-sports event, the Nissan Outdoor Games feature the world’s best athletes in 5 outdoor sports disciplines: mountain-biking, kayaking, rock climbing, paragliding and BASE jumping.
The athletes arrived in Interlaken (in the heart of the Swiss alps, between the Lakes of Thun and Brienz and at the foot the famous trio of peaks, the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau) with a challenging task:
to produce a 5-minute short film in 7 days (the filming time started on Saturday May 23rd after the teams’ briefing and ends on Friday May 29th at 8.00 pm)including 5 outdoor sports in the Interlaken region. Once the filming and editing were completed, the film entries were judged by a jury integrated by professional sportsmen and audiovisual specialists:
  • Glen Plake (USA) – President of the Jury, professional skier & actor
  • Serge-Alain Simasotchi (SUI) – TV Producer and Director, former track & field high-level athlete
  • Eric Themel (AUT) – Professional snowboarder
  • Dino Raffault (FRA) - Journalist & Extreme sports event organizer
  • Simon Hirter (SUI) – Professional kayaker
  • Cyril Neri (SUI) - Professional snowboarder, Freeride projection manager of the Diablerets Mountain Film Festival
  • Tero Repo (FIN) – Professional photographer specialized in outdoor sports
  • Christophe Margot (SUI) – Professional photographer specialized in outdoor sports.

Afterwards the finished entries were presented to the public on a big screen. The projection of the Nissan Outdoor Games official film selection took place Saturday evening 30th of May in front of six thousand spectators in the center of Interlaken (Höhematte).
The Finnish team, Golgoht, won the GoldenPeak, the award that given to the best film of this 2009 edition. For their first time participating, the Swiss team, Natural Born Flyers, was given the Jury’s Special Award as well as the Best Sports Sequence for climbing scene with Cyril Albasini. The Finn, Petri Kovalainen from the Golgoht team, won the Best Photographer award as well as the Game of Light Award by Julbo. The total prize money was USD 70,000.
The event is part of the Nissan Sports Adventure 09. The 2009 Freeride World Tour across Europe and the US, the Nissan Outdoor Games winter event in Chamonix (France), the Nissan Outdoor Games summer event in Interlaken (Switzerland) and the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup alongside the Nissan Sports Adventure athlete projects complete Nissan's 09 calendar of activity.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eiger Bike Challenge

The 12th edition of the Eiger Bike Challenge will take place on Sunday August 16th in Grindelwald. Organizers propose three demanding routes : 88 kilometres and 3,900 metres difference in height; 55 kilometres and 2,500 m difference in height. Also beginners can test themselves with a 25 kilometres and 1,050 m difference in height route. For children there is a special short course and a skills circuit.
Grindelwald is located in the district of Interlaken in the canton of Bern and it is famous for the ridge-crest that extends from the Eiger (3,970 metres) and across the Mönch (4,107 metres) to the Jungfrau (4,158 metres). Grindelwald is part of the breathtaking Jungfrau region a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most glaciated part of the Alps.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ski Areas Battle On As Temperatures Warm Up

Skiinfo reports that most of the world’s open ski slopes are reporting sunny skies and snow-melting temperatures, the main exception being Australia and new Zealand where the snow continues to fall and world class pre-2010-Olympic competitions are underway or starting soon.
In the Europe Alps, Les 2 Alpes in France is struggling to remain open for the final few weeks of its 2009 summer season, due to end on the 29th of the month, despite receiving receiving 5cm (two inches) of new snow last week. Hot weather, even up at 3200m on the glacier, has brought base depths down to only 10cm (four inches) and the centre has had to close on several days this week, although it is reported to be open today. The other open French ski area is Tignes, which is still reporting its base depth at 1.8m (six feet) as it has done all summer, although it also has warm weather to contend with. It is due to remain open to 3sdt August then close for just a few weeks before re-opening in mid-September, when it will be the only French area open for several months.
It’s warm in Austria too where there are still four glacier ski areas open. The Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun is reporting a snow base of 132cm (4.5 feet) on the glacier. The centre has just announced a series of planned workshops, gear tests and festivities to mark the opening on winter 2009-10 in October and November, culminating with an "opening weekend" on November 7th and 8th. At the Molltal glacier the centre was already reporting temperatures at 4 degrees Celcius on the glacier at 8am, and although the snowpark is closed, 9km (six miles) of runs are open served by three lifts. The Dachstein glacier has two pistes open, along with 15km of cross country trails and a beginner’s terrain park. The Hintertux glacier continues to have one of the largest ski areas open in Europe at present with 23km (14 miles) of runs open and five lifts serving them, there’s a 165cm (5.5 foot) snow base.
In Switzerland three runs are open on the Saas Fee’s glacier which is served by the Metro Alpin underground funicular. The summer terrain park and half pipe are also available with a snow depth of about 160cm (5.3 feet). Zermatt, with the continent’s highest lifts is also operational as it tries to be every day of the year, with over a metre of snow (3.5 feet) on the glacier.
In Italy Cervinia, Val Senales and Passo Stelvio are open for summer skiing, with the same sunny conditions and temperatures 3 or 4 degrees above freezing during the daytime on the glaciers. Val Senales has the most snow with a 150cm (five foot) base but it’s now nearly four weeks since the last snow feel (15cm/6 inches on 18th July).
Norway still has two summer ski areas open, running a drag lift each. Folgefonn and Galdhøpiggen, the latter located on Scandinavia’s highest mountain, both report good snow conditions.
In North America, Timberline in Oregon remains the only open option with about a metre (3.3 feet) of snow lying. The Magic Mile and Palmer chairlifts are open from 7am to 1.30pm daily serving the Mile Canyon terrain park and the resort’s superpipe.
In Africa the temperature have swung back well above zero in the range of +3 – 9 degrees Celcius. However the established snow cover at Tiffindell is holding up well with 1.2km of slope covered 50cm (20 inches) deep. The slopes around the ski runs have returned to brown and green grass however after being white with natural snow cover for recent weeks. The resort’s ski season typically lasts to end August or early September. Temperatures are also a few degrees above zero at Afriski, Lesotho’s ski area, where the freezing point is now above the height of the ski runs, but it too remains open for the time being.
In South America, Chile continues to have the best of the snow. Portillo has some of the deepest snow on the continent and after another 10cm (four inches) of snow took seasonal accumulation past 4.1m (Nearly 14 feet) in the last week it reports conditions as ‘packed powder’. Base depths range from 1.2m (four feet) at the hotel to 1.55m (over five feet) on the mountain. La Parva is also reporting great snow conditions with base depths of up to 205cm (just under seven feet) while Valle Nevado says it has received 265cm (nine feet) of snow to date but that slope depths are around 60cm (two feet).
In Argentina, Las Lenas reports a base depth of between 90cm (three feet) at the base and 125cm (over four feet) at the summit of the slopes. All lifts and runs are open, as well as the resort’s terrain park. Elsewhere in the country the continent’s biggest resort, Catedral, reports a 90cm (three foot) base. Other Argentinian areas have more challenging conditions, for example Chapelco notes only 32cm (13 inches) on the mountain and no snow at the resort’s base.
Across the Pacific in Australia and New Zealand conditions remain very good at most areas. In Australia Perisher ski resort has thrown its weight behind Australia's Vancouver Winter Olympic campaign, building a replica of the key features of the snowboard-cross and ski-cross course that will be used in the 2010 Games. Snowboard-cross and ski-cross races are won, more often than not, by the racer who gets an edge out of the start gate and down the first section of the course. So the Perisher grooming fleet has sculpted a series of jumps and turns identical to the Cypress Mountain course, focusing in particular on that critical opening section. The work on the Perisher course has been supervised by Canadian John Balfour, who was the assistant designer for the Vancouver Games course. The resort has accumulated 15cm (six inches) of new snow since the start of August and forecasters are calling 5-10cm (2-4 inches) of new snowfalls this week. Plus, another front is expected to hit around the 16th August bring serious snowfalls of up to 20cm (eight inches). Mt Hotham has reported a, "crazy weather week ...we've seen it all, from sun to wind, to wet conditions and now... it's snowing!" said a recent resort statement. 12cm (five inches) of new snow has fallen across Hotham in the past week. The average natural snowdepth is currently 81cm (2.6 feet) and the snowdepth in snowmaking areas is 106cm (3.5 feet). 12 lifts have been in operation on most days.
In New Zealand most resorts now have deep bases and several have reported fresh snow (The Remarkables picture attached). At Ruapehu Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas report 180cm (six feet) and 210cm (seven feet) lying on upper slopes respectively. Heavy snowfall and limited visibility delayed the start of the second day of the seventh annual Burton New Zealand Open at Cardrona Alpine Resort today (12th August), but the riders and course crew overcame the challenging conditions with a full day of competition. It was no small task as over 70 men and 35 women from 16 countries were slated to take to Cardrona Alpine Resort’s newly sculpted slopestyle course, each vying for a highly coveted spot in Friday’s semifinal competition.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ortovox and the Association of German Mountain team up

Ortovox GmbH, the Munich-based parent company of Ortovox USA, has announced a new partnership with the Association of German Mountain and Ski Guides (VDBS). For the next three years Ortovox will be equiping the federal coaching team with safety equipment.
The VDBS, founded in 1968, is the professional association for approximately 500 certified mountain and ski guides and is member of the IVBV, (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations) to which all major organisations belong.
Last season, the Austrian Federation of Mountain and Ski Guides (VÖBS) already joined Ortovox, so that the VDBS now represents a second important professional partner. For Ortovox this cooperation signifies an important quality certificate. Especially when it comes to choosing the most important safety equipment, such as avalanche transceiver, probes and shovel, professionals do not accept compromise – every second counts. This awareness amongst professional organisations has lead to choosing Ortovox. As of season 09/10 Ortovox will equip all members of the federal coaching team with the S1 avalanche transeiver (picture attached), the avalanche shovel Professional Alu II and the lightweight probe 240 Carbon pfa. Germany’s and Austria’s most important and best mountain guides will thus work with the best equipment the present market has to offer.
With this cooperation Ortovox is expecting to make important steps in product development as well as product testing. Regular meetings will give the oportunity to exchange ideas and to collect feedback from mountain guides. This exchange of knowledge and ideas will create a competitive edge so as to be able to continue to offer the most reliable and most innovative products on the market.
In addition to the two German speaking mountain guide associations VDBS and VOBS, Ortovox is also pleased to work with many other very significant professional partners, such as the DAV Summit Club, Hauser Exkursionen, the Bergschule Oberallgäu, the Oase Alpin and the Bergschule Chiemgau, to only mention a few.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Austria's passive house in Whistler

Austrian visitors to Vancouver 2010 this coming February will be invited into what is described as a home so unusual that only a dozen of its kind exist in North America: a passive house.
Last July the foundation of the Austria Passive House, located near Lost Lake in Whistler, between the upper and lower villages and a short-walk from the Village Stroll, got its first permanent building component: the insulation that goes under the load bearing slab, onwhich the rest of the building will be built. The specifically designed insulation material, supplied by the Passive House sponsor Isoquick, of Bechtolsheim, was installed under the watchful eye of its CEO, Peter Schroeder, who flew from Germany to oversee the operation. This insulation process is a key aspect of Passive House construction. These modules, made of Peripor® manufactured by BASF, are strong enough to sustain the weight of the building and therefore are installed under the load bearing slab. These interlocking modules prevent the cold from the ground to move up into the house. The connection it forms is a key factor in Passive House construction techniques and makes the whole structure more energy efficient. Insiders call it the "sock" of the building because it’s this material that keeps the floor and people’s feet warm. The Isoquick insulation was shipped from Germany, to Montreal, than trucked to Whistler in less than three days, as time was of the essence in getting the material installed.
Austria House (Österreich-Haus) will be the headquarters of the ÖOC (Austrian Olympic Committee), the ORF (Austrian Public Broadcaster), and a regular meeting place for the Austrian Olympic athletes and team members during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. After Olympics the house will be turned over to Whistler.
Austria Passive House is a private undertaking, built in partnership between Austria Passive House Group (APG) and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW.) The partnership was formed based on a shared commitment to developing innovative, sustainable technology and showcase Passive House. Now the house may become a model for more widespread deployment of housing designs that dampen energy use.
A passive house is a building in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained using ten per cent of the energy it takes to heat the average home. The house heats and cools itself, hence "passive". As well as forming an important contribution to the protection of the environment and the climate, this practice improves the quality of the spaces we live in and assures the long-term value of the buildings.