Thursday, December 31, 2009
It’s been a good snowy Christmas in France. Even if the temperatures last week were higher, the French mountains have still received good snowfall. Chamonix has topped Europe’s snowfall tally for the past seven days with a 103cm (3.5 feet) accumulation. 40cm (16 inches) of snow fell in Serre Chevalier in the Southern Alps and 35cm (14 inches) at La Clusaz in the northern Alps. Further snowfalls are expected for the end of the week. 34cm (17 inches) of snow is expected in Tignes and Val d'Isere in the coming days.
The avalanche risk is high across the Alps with sadly several fatal incidents in the past week. In France Montgenevre (which currently has the deepest snow depth in France at 180cm/six feet) has the highest alert level of five, Ste Foy Tarentaise and Serre Chevalier are at level four.
Lötschental currently has the biggest snow base in Switzerland with 221cm (7.4 feet). Yesterday the resort reported another 16cm (six inches) of new snow. They've had 54cm (nearly two feet) in the past seven days. Nax has had the most new snow in the past week however with 80cm (2.7 feet). Other Swiss resorts with deep snow include Andermatt-Gotthard and St. Moritz which have snow depths of two meters (6.7 feet) each.
Yesterday there was 10cm (four inches) of new snow in Sölden, Austria, which has received 35cm (14 inches) on new snow in the past seven days. It now has 167cm (5.6 feet) on upper slopes. Lech Zürs has had 25cm (10 inches) in seven days, while the Großglockner / Heiligenblut and Montafon Gargellen have had 30cm (a foot) each. The Mölltaler Glacier continues to have the deepest snow depths in the country with 240cm (eight feet).
Italy still has the deepest snow in Europe with 312cm (10.5 feet) at the Marmolada glacier near Arabba and 2.6m (8.7 feet) at Boirmio, which was hosting World Cup downhill ski races this week. Italian resorts are also reporting some of the biggest snowfalls of the past seven days. Sestriere had 60cm (two feet), Courmayeur 65cm (2.3 feet), Livigno 80cm (2.7 feet) and Bormio 90cm (three feet).
The fresh snow has arrived in the Pyrenees a little later than the Alps but the conditions are now near normal with a snow depth of nearly 60cm (two feet), but most stations are still only partially open. There’s been 30cm (a foot) of fresh snow in Gavarnie, Cauterets has 100cm (3.3 feet) and Piau Engaly and Peyragudes 70cm (2.3 feet).
In Spain many resorts had to close due strong wind, rain and warm temperatures but a cold front is expected to bring new snow New Year. Formigal has some of the deepest snow in the country with 120cm (four feet) of snow on upper slopes and most terrain open, 97km, and 70cm (2.3 feet) on upper slopes.
There’s been heavy snow in Scandinavia with lots of snow at Swedish and Norwegian resorts in the last week. In Sweden Valfjället and Ski Sunne got the most snow with 40cm (16 inches) each and Fjätervålen 35cm (14 inches) got the most snow. The Christmas holiday also brought really low temperatures to large parts of the area, dropping to -15 to -25 at several resorts.
Elsewhere in Northern Europe there’s no outdoor alpine skiing in Belgium at the moment, but the Nordic resorts around Belgium´s highest peak ´Signal de Botrange´ (694m) are still busy with snow fans from Belgium and the Netherlands. Baraque Michel, Mont Rigi and Signal de Botrange are still open with 15cm (six inches) of snow, which received 3cm (an inch) more fresh snow last Sunday. More fresh snow is expected next week.
Scottish ski areas are enjoying their best Christmas for 14 years. Over 2000 skiers a day have been enjoying the excellent snow cover all over Cairngorml and temperatures are set to remain below freezing until at least Tuesday 5th January and the Scottish school holidays continue through to January 11th. Forecast strong winds are expected to drop to give a another good skiing day on New Year’s Day with bright sunshine and only pockets of cloud. More snow and blizzards are expected from 2nd January.
The picture in Eastern Europe is mixed with resorts in countries further west like Slovakia and Slovenia reporting fresh snow, but in Bulgaria the snowpack has diminished and is quite thin at all areas. In Slovakia Donovaly reported 10cm (four inches) of new snow today, Vel’ka Race 5cm (two inches).
Across the Atlantic the main snow news has been heavy snow across the Eastern side of the North American continent, with many ski areas in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and New York State reporting at least a foot (30cm) of new snow. More southerly states like West Virginia and New Jersey have also had snow. Most of the rest of the continent has seen limited fresh snow and major resorts are still only partially open. In Quebec 97% of the Mont-Sainte-Anne trail network is now open to skiers and riders. In addition to this happy and welcomed news, night skiing is now in operation and Mont-Sainte-Anne has the highest nocturnal vertical drop of all Canada, with 100% of its terrain available. Both Mont-Sainte-Anne and it’s sister resort, Stoneham, have received 70cm (2.3 feet) of snow in the last week.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The eight million Euro ‘Kandahar Express’ represents a significant enhancement of the region’s winter sports infrastructure and was partly funded by federal and state government, underscoring their support for the sports tourism industry and for hosting major events such as the Winter Games in 2018. The news also gives a timely boost to Garmisch-Partenkirchen where the prestigious FIS World Ski Championships will be held in 2011. The service was opened in style when German ski stars Christian Neureuther, Rosi Mittermaier and Martina Ertl-Renz became the first passengers. Willy Bogner, Manager and CEO for the Munich 2018 Bid, "The Kandahar Express is an important investment for the future. It further establishes Garmisch-Partenkirchen as a superb winter sports region, offering benefits for the 2011 FIS World Ski Championships, Munich’s bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2018 and tourism in the region. It also complements our aim to make the Games as spectator-friendly as possible".
The 'Kandahar Express' gives easy access to the three kilometre long Kandahar slope, which will stage most of the races during the World Championships. The re-built and modernised track was re-opened a year ago.
"Munich’s application to host the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games reflects the region’s enduring affinity with winter sports and its focus on protecting the environment in which winter sports are held", said a bid spokesperson. "The Games concept is based on sustainability and the short distances between innovative sports venues and its environmentally friendly Olympic Villages in Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Ice sport will be staged in Munich while Alpine events will be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen".
The Bid Committee has also developed a comprehensive environmental concept which is designed to set new standards for the Games.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The third season of the FWT will start on the Russian slopes of Sochi on January 21st followed by the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc on January 30th. The Tour will then journey to the United States to the mythical Tram Face in Squaw Valley on February 27th. Finally, those riders with the top ratings will compete in the Tour's grand final in Verbier on March 20th during the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch which celebrates its 15th year.
Having missed a $524 million payment Dec. 23 on a $1.4 billion loan, Intrawest is continuing negotiations with its lenders, according to The Globe and Mail. Lenders had reportedly granted Intrawest a 60-day extension on the loan, which had been due Oct. 23. "Intrawest continues to be in active dialogue with our lenders regarding refinancing a term loan", chief executive officer Bill Jensen said in a statement. On December 23, Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen said in a prepared statement, "Intrawest continues to be in active dialogue with our lenders regarding refinancing a term loan. Our core ski operations are off to a very good start this season and it is business as usual for Intrawest. We are continuing to provide our customers and homeowners with the memorable experiences that they have come to expect when they visit our resorts".
"Intrawest is generating strong cash flow from its resorts, is well capitalized, and core ski operations are off to a very good start this season", Jensen said, according to a Bloomberg News report last week.
According to the Bloomberg report, Intrawest in September presented lenders with a plan to reduce its debt. One part of that plan was to sell assets, as Intrawest did last month when it agreed to sell Copper Mountain to Powdr Corp. Bloomberg reported that a person familiar with the debt negotiations said a portion of the proceeds of the sale would be used to pay lenders. While the sale price for Copper has not been publicly disclosed, Bloomberg learned that Intrawest told lenders the price could be as high as $107.4 million.
Fortress Investment Group bought Intrawest in 2006 for $1.8-billion and assumed an additional $950 million in debt as part of the deal, a total that amounted to a 20 percent premium over Intrawest's share price. This past summer, Fortress told its investors that it was marking down the value of the Intrawest investment to 29 cents on the dollar, according to the Globe and Mail.
Fortress, which was trading above $15 a share in early 2008, was at $4.50 recently
Monday, December 28, 2009
In the St. Anton zone from the Valluga peak at 2,811 metres you can admire and incredible landscape and then skiing downhill the longest run to the bottom of the valley with a total length of 10.2 kilometres. Of course you need to try the famous Kandahar/Kapall/Fang slope, scenery in 1928 of the first Arlberg-Kandahar Race and nowadays Alpine Ski world Cup Race courses.
From St. Cristoph you can reach the Schindler Spitze peak (2,660 m.) and go downhill to Stuben through the Valfagehrjoch red piste before you can challenge yourself in the Extreme Ski Route named Pfannenköpfe-Valfagehr. In St. Cristoph you need to visit the old hospice founded in the 14th century by the shepherd Heinrich Findelkind to offer shelter to travelers crossing the Arlberg pass. Nowadays the hospice developed into one of the finest inns in the Alpine region, enjoying local and internationally reputation for its award-winning kitchen and excellent wine cellar (the entrance walls are covered with pictures of famous personalities and members of the European Royalty).
In Rendl you can find a sunny but less challenging terrain more suitable for intermediates, perfect in case of bad weather. Now it is much more accessible thanks to a brand new access lift from a much more convenient location. The new lift containing 68, eight passenger, cabins will whisk up to 2,000 skiers per hour up to the under-used ski area. It is located more than 300m from the old lift with the base near the roundabout and bus station at the western entrance to the resort, making it much easier to reach for skiers coming from the other areas of Galzig and Kapall.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Conditions in France are continuing to improve in the Alps with most resorts reporting snow over the past few days, and this is continuing right now. La Clusaz appears to be doing the best, posting yet another powder alarm for another 35cm (14 inches) of snow overnight this morning. It has received the most snow in France over the past week, with 117cm (nearly 4 feet) in the past week and now has the deepest reported base in France as a result, with 1.4m (nearly five feet). Many other major French resorts are not far behind however and conditions are currently great at most, with fresh powder on a solid base. Les Contamines Montjoie and Peisey Vallandry each have 130cm (4.3 feet) bases with La Plagne and La Rosière1850 only 5cm (2 inches) less. In common with the rest of Europe temperatures have been very low however, dropping to about -16°C in Le Grand Bornand on Sunday morning. All major French resorts are now fully or partially open.
Switzerland continues to top the list for powder alarms in Europe. Today Vercorin reports a remarkable 90cm (three feet) of new snow, and eight out of the top ten snowfall reports in Europe are in Switzerland. Andermatt-Gotthard claims the most snow in the country with 2.5m (over eight feet), St Moritz has 1.8m (over 6 feet), Laax 168cm (5.6 feet) and Engelberg 165cm (5.5 feet). After Vercorin with 1.6m (5.3 feet), Champoussin on the French border in the Portes du Soleil has had the most snow in the past week with a metre of fresh.
Italy continues to have the greatest snow depth in the world at the Presena (3.8m/12.7 feet) and Marmolada (3.2m/10.6 feet) glaciers above Passo Tonale and Arabba respectively. The country has also seen some of the heaviest snowfall in Europe through the past week. With the north-western regions of Piemonte and the Aosta Valley doing especially well and snow falling in Turin. Bardonecchia and Macugnaga both reported 50cm (20 inches) of new snow each yesterday, Cervinia and La Thuile 40cm (16 inches) each.
Austrian ski areas typically received another 20-30m (8-12 inches) of snow at the start of the week, Wilma Himmelfreundpointner of St Anton Tourism commented, "I had the pleasure to enjoy the perfectly prepared slopes and the great mountain view on Sunday and I can only say it’s a winter’s dream". St. Anton currently has 28 lifts opened and 68km of slopes prepared. After the powder alarm on Monday (20 cm) and 5cm of new snow so far today (Wednesday) the resort has 130cm (4.3 feet) of snow on upper slopes now and 30cm (a foot) in the valley. Across Austria the Mölltal glacier continues to have the most snow with 230cm (7.6 feet) , the Kaunertal glacier 191cm (6.3 feet) and the Hintertux glacier 170cm (6.6 feet). Großglockner/Heiligenblut has had the most snow in the country in the past week with 40cm (16 inches). A quarter of it falling today. Bad Kleinkirchheim had 30cm (a foot) yesterday.
It snowed all weekend in Germany. The Allgäu Alps reported the biggest snowfalls in the country, but there were many powder alarms in the central uplands, too. Temperatures reached a low of - 28C and immense snowfalls caused traffic chaos while hundreds of skiers and snowboarders entered the slopes in the Sauerland region and enjoyed up to 35cm (14 inches) of new snow that had fallen over the past week. Dozens of powder alarms have been issued by German resorts in recent days, mostly for 20-30cm (8-12 inches) in 24 hours. Ofterschwang reported 25 cm of new snow last night. The resort is open partially and will open completely on Christmas Eve tomorrow. Rainer Hartmann, manager of Ofterschwanger Bergbahnen was happy about the cold temperatures allowing snow production and also about the great snowfalls last night: "Now we can offer our guests a great ski resort for Christmas!", he said. The Zugspitzplatt has the most snow in the country with 170cm (5.6 feet), Oberstdorf – Nebelhorn has 110cm (3.6 feet).
Heavy snow and low temperatures across most of Eastern Europe has allowed about 75% of the ski areas to either fully open or at least open some slopes in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia to open at the weekend. In Bulgaria, Pamporovo and Borovets have joined Bansko in opening their slopes this weekend, a week after Bansko. Snowfalls of up to 430cm have been reported and Bansko has the greatest base depth of up to 70cm (2.3 feet). Romania's leading resort of Poiana Brasov has partially opened following fresh snow there, it is currently reporting temperatures in double digits below zero. Most of Slovenia's ski areas also opened at the weekend too, after the warm snap that affected much of mainland Europe finally ended. Krvavec, which has been voted the best resort in the country by a Croatian Ski Magazine for three years in a row, has a 55cm (22 inch) base. Most of Slovakia's leading ski areas have also opened at the weekend, the new Kosutka ski centre which opened last winter has 40cm (16 inches) of snow.
To the north some serious snow arrived last week in Scandinavia, particularly from Thursday through to Tuesday. In Sweden Bydalen got the most with 45cm (18 inches) of new snow, followed by Vemdalen with 39cm (16 inches). Hassela got 30cm (a foot) and Tandådalen 22cm (9 inches). Vemdalen and Ramundberget have the greatest snow depths in the country at the moment with 80cm (Nearly three feet) to enjoy off-piste. The forecast shows really low temperatures all over the country for the upcoming Christmas Holiday.
It’s a similar picture in Norway with cold crisp weather (25 below zero this morning in Hemsedal) and fresh snow. Voss was one of the main beneficiaries, issuing a powder alarm at the weekend.
Spain has also had snowy news and the very cold weather currently common across Europe. A succession of Atlantic fronts has brought a mixture of snow and rain in the last few days. Now ski resorts are looking to the Christmas holidays optimistically. On Monday it snowed again in Madrid and snow is expected again all over Spain's Ski resorts in the next few days. Baqueira currently has the most terrain open in the country with 77km. Formigal is a few kilometres behind with 71km and has some of the deepest snow at 90cm (three feet). Conditions have improved a lot in Masella (25-55 cm powder and 41km) and has opened today a new ski area served by a new chairlift called La Pia Express (picture attached). Sierra Nevada is reporting 20-100 cm of powder snow but it is currently closed due to the strong wind.
Andorra has had a little new snow too but snow depths could still do with a perk up – they’re currently in the 30-60cm (1-2 foot) range.
Western Canada is still receiving plenty of snow after the record falls of November. Red Mountain in British Columbia says it has received 73 cm (29 inches) of new snow since last week and Fernie 35cm (14 inches) in the past 48 hours. Whistler continues to build its incredible base ahead of the Olympics, with healthy falls through the past seven days meaning another 1.2m (4 feet) has fallen. Whitler’s seasaon-to-date snowfall is noew already nearing 7 metres (21 feet) and its mid-mountain base 2.5m (8.3 feet). Currently it recommends The saddle Gs course as one of the best on the mountain. Eastern Canada is also looking good. Mont-Sainte-Anne has the largest open terrain in the Province of Quebec with 30 slopes open and nearby Stoneham Mountain Resort is following close by with 9 slopes. In total, almost 50km of slopes are available to skiers and riders, in addition to the 109km of XC trails open at the Mont-Sainte-Anne Cross-country Skiing Center!. The low temperatures of last week allowed Mont-Sainte-Anne to pursue its snowmaking efforts with 100% of its system in operation. Snow guns have now been moved to the mountain’s expert terrain to open a maximum number of runs for the holidays. So far the resorts have received 143 cm of snow.
It’s a similar picture in the US where, like in much of Europe, cold temperatures and heavy sow have brought chaos to metroplitan areas as well as plenty of snow to the si slopes of New england in great time for christmas and the New Year. Whoiteface mountain reports it has "a ton" of snow, most other resorts in the region are claiming several feet of new cover (30-60cm). At Squaw Valley USA in California it just won’t stop snowing. Three weeks into December and the resort has already received 100 inches (2.5m) of snow. Days-on-end of snow accumulation have allowed resort operators to get the mountain 100% open for the Holidays.
Revelers can catch Santa and his Elf in the Village or out on the slopes, enjoying the phenomenal conditions.
The third season of the Freeride World Tour will start on the Russian slopes of Sochi on January 21st followed by the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc on January 30th. The Tour will then journey to the United States to the mythical Tram Face in Squaw Valley on February 27th. Finally, those riders with the top ratings will compete in the Tour's grand final in Verbier on March 20th during the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch which celebrates its 15th year.
Monday, December 21, 2009
The Ice Climbing World Championships in Saas-Fee’s multi-storey car park are a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with top class athletes and experience the exuberant atmosphere of the ice climbing scene. The competitions take place in a unique location that is very unlikely to be replicated elsewhere.
The 10-storey car park in Saas-Fee can also be used as a venue for staging the competitions in bad weather. Its round tower acts as a spectacular grandstand for spectators. So every year a good 2,000 spectators can follow all the action live and up close from each storey of the spiralling ramp in the car park. At the same time the first guests can already step out onto the dance floor deep down in the party zone and celebrate the dazzling performances of the athletes to the full. The competitions will be relayed live on a big screen in the party zone throughout the evening, with the best scenes being shown again at the end. On both days there will also be a live band providing musical entertainment.
This year the organisers are once again expecting a good 100 athletes from 14 nations who will take part in the UIAA World Cup and the Swiss Masters in ice climbing. As last year, 2010 will begin with both "lead" and "speed" disciplines. "Lead" involves a long, taxing climb with a safety rope during which climbers can reach a height of up to 35 metres. The victor is the person who can cover the greatest distance in the allotted time. Amongst other things, a tally is made of the number of carbines into which the climber has been able to hook the rope. "Speed" climbing, as the name suggests, involves climbing as quickly as possible up an approx. 15 metre vertical ice wall. Top athletes can climb it in around 13 seconds.
"This was shot on the first run of the trip. The crew tried to get out the previous day, but the heli landed on a cornice that broke loose. They called it a day after that", said Jeff Cricco.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
In Europe the best news of the past week has been a dramatic lowering in temperatures. This has led to double-digit below-zero temperatures at higher elevations, but more importantly means lower slopes are seeing subzero temperatures enabling the snowmaking guns to work even if mother nature isn’t providing enough of the natural stuff in some places.
It has been very cold since Sunday in France, just in time for the big increase in skier numbers expected at the weekend. Nearly all of the major resorts are now open, more than 40 in total and all are expected to open this weekend. Overall there has been little fresh snow in France in the past week with about 10cm (four inches) falling on the Pyrenees and both the north and the Southern Alps. A little more snowfall is expected this Friday. La Clusaz currently reports the deepest snow in the country with 140cm (4.6 feet). Cauterets, La Plagne and Alpe d'Huez all have at least a metre. World Snowboard Day returns for its 4th edition this Sunday, December 20th. The idea is to discover for free the joys of snowboarding and the snowboard culture.
Austria has had some new snow with lower temperatures helping to bring the freezing point further down the slopes. The glaciers still have the greatest snow depths was Molltal leading the way with a 230cm (7.6 foot) base. Kaunertal is not far behind with 1.9m (6.3 feet). The latest fresh snow in the country of 10-20cm (4-8 inches) has been reported at Eben, Zauchensee and Flachau. Most Austrian resorts that are not yet open will open this weekend: "We’ve had fresh snow but a little less than expected, at the moment there’s 35cm (14 inches) on upper slopes", said Anna-Christina Moser of Alpbacher Bergbahnen, "Snow conditions are good now not only because of the latest snowfalls but particularly because of the cold temperatures, allowing our 85 snow guns to produce snow 24 hours a day". Alpbach opens this Friday December 18th and will have their longest slope in operation and all the lifts at the Wiedersbergerhorn. Stuhleck Semmering and Kleinwalsertal celebrated their winter openings last weekend. Sandra Janser of Kleinwalsertal Tourismus said, "Last weekend we officially started the winter season and the long awaited snowfall arrived right on time. The slopes are in good condition now and we’ll open more lifts as soon as the snow will allow it". Currently Fellhorn/ Kanzelwand has eight lifts in operation, Ifen and Waldmendinger Horn are likely to join next weekend.
Parts of Switzerland have received up to 55cm (nearly two feet) of snow in the past week. Laax, which is reporting the second deepest snow base in the country at present with 168 cm (5.6 feet) was one of the major beneficiaries with 51cm (20 inches), Disentis got the 55cm. Arosa and Kanderstag added 30cm (a foot) each.
Italy continues to report some of the healthiest snowfalls in Europe, with another 70cm (2.3 feet) in Val Gardena in the Dolomites, and 60cm (two feet) for Limone Piemonte in the west of the country. This week the snow started to cover central Italy (Lazio e Abruzzo) and for next two days the forecast are for snowfall down to altitudes around 400-500m in these areas.
Arabba Marmolada has the greatest snow depth in the country, and in Europe at present with 312 cm (10.5 feet), the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale has 300cm (10 feet) and Bormio 190cm (6.3 feet). The Sky Mountaineering World Cup will be staged this weekend (18 -20 December) in Pila and the Aosta Valley. The race makes ski mountaineering manageable in small stages and participation is limited to athletes with ski mountaineering licences from official bodies in Italy or any other country.
Cold weather has arrived in the Pyrenees too and last Monday has snowed in Madrid and today snow is expected again all over Spain. Aramon's Javalambre (opening Friday December 18) and Valdelinares ski resorts received the greatest snowfall. At the moment Baqueira Beret, with a 30-60cm (1-2 foot) base has the most terrain open with73km of runs, whilst Astun, has the most snow with an 85cm (nearly 3 foot) base on upper slopes. Most of the other resorts have similar bases to Baqueira but more limited terrain. Outside the Pyrenees in Spain only Sierra Nevada with 20-40cm (8-16 inches) and 10km of runs available is open for skiers. Aramon, which runs several leading Spanish ski areas, has announced a big event for this winter called "Pirineos Sur Winter". The First Edition of the Festival will take place in Formigal from February 12 until March 13 and feature a mix of local and International artists like Brazilian Carlinhos Brown on the programme.
It’s a similar snow picture in Andorra where snow depths are shallow and the snow hard packed, but again the current weather conditions should mean an improvement by the weekend.
In Eastern Europe, Bansko in Bulgaria had its annual celebrity opening last weekend with its biggest swathe of former ski stars yet in attendance including Pirmin Zurbriggen, Mark Girardelli, Paul Accola and Patrick Ortlieb. It reported 50cm of much needed snow arriving just in time for opening day and Bulgaria’s other leading resort, Borovets, has received fresh snow too and aims to open shortly.
In Northern Europe Germany has been enjoying its first good snowfalls of the winter. In many parts of the country it’s snowing again today and weather forecasters are predicting more over the next few days with temperatures below zero in most areas. The Central German Uplands currently have up to 25cm (10 inches) of snow. Snow making systems in Winterberg have delivered 20cm (8 inches) of snow and Wintersportzentrum Sellinghausen issued a powder alarm with 20cm of new snow. In the Schwarzwald, where the snow is falling, there is 20cm of snow on the Feldberg at the moment, in the Allgäu there’s up to 50cm (20 inches) of snow.
Further north in to Scandinavia resorts in Norway and Sweden have been reporting falls of 15-30cm (6-12 inches) through the last week. In Norway Voss was one of the big winners with 15cm (6 inches) of new snow. As with the alps it has also become very cold making good conditions for further snowmaking.
Across the North Sea to Scotland, Cairngorm above Aviemore remains open with a dusting of fresh snow, and more snow forecat over the next few days which could be good news for its neighbouring Eastern Highlands ski areas of Glenshee and The Lecht which have not been open to open so far.
As reported above the biggest snowfalls of the past seven days have been in the Western US states, but further north the snow is still falling with Whistler (Canada) reporting another 10cm (four inches) overnight. The picture has further improved on the East Coast too, especially in Quebec with resorts like Mont ste Anne and Stoneham reporting up to 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow and new snow and lower temperatures in New England to the south too, where resorts like Attitash in New Hampshire, Stratton in Vermont and Sunday river in Maine have reports 12-18 cm (5-7 inches).
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Scott’s commitment to the Freeride World Tour (FWT) goes beyond equipment and financial support. Scott supports some of the world’s best riders including 2008 FWT Runner-Up Seb Michaud, Austria’s Matthias Haunholder who won the 2009 FWT stop in Tignes and snowboard legend Jeremy Jones. This coming winter season will see Scott heavily promoting the FWT and its riders with a range of retail activity, posters and displays. Further, a limited edition "Freeride World Tour Goggle" will be sold in selected shops at the four FWT event resorts.
"It is really rewarding for the Freeride World Tour to see one of the leaders in the ski industry commit for another three years. Scott and the FWT are planning long-term and our partnership that runs to 2013 is an integral part of our growth strategy", commented Nicolas Hale-Woods, Founder and organiser of the Freeride World Tour.
"The freeride movement with the Freeride World Tour and its qualifier events is the main focus in event sponsoring for Scott Wintersport. Apart from the World Tour we are also partner of several qualifier events such as the Scott Big Mountain Fieberbrunn (AUT), Nendaz Freeride (SUI) and Czeck Open (SUI)", stated Marc Roesti, Marketing Manager Wintersport, Scott.
In the Freeride World Tour third season the world's best skiers and snowboarders will yet again be battling it out in four of the world's most prestigious ski resorts. It will all start on the Russian slopes of Sochi in January followed closely by the next stage in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. The Tour will then journey to the United States to "ride" the mythical Tram Face, that has not yet officially been cleared for a freeriding competition. Finally, those riders with the top ratings will compete in the Tour's grand final in Verbier during the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch which celebrates its 15th year.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Also two FIS Europa Cup mogul events took place in the previous weekend. From this series of competitions Events In Suomu Oy, Ski Sport Finland and Suomutunturi Ski Resort have put together an event called Freestyle Premiere 2009.
Suomu fell is located on the Arctic Circle, in Lapland in the Kemijärvi region and is known as Santa’s official ski resort. Suomu lies among a densely wooded area that provides shelter for cross-country and downhill skiers, with plenty of soft snow, while other resorts have hard and icy conditions. Starting in the mid-1960s, Suomu’s skiing history is world renowned. The grandfather of Freestyle, the HotDog Ski, came to Finland in the 1970s and in 1989 Suomu hosted Finland’s first Freestyle World Cup competition. The wind protected slopes of the region have helped to produce freestyle artists right up to World and Olympic champions.
Suomu has hosted its last world cup 20 years ago. Since then, Suomu as the home of Avalache Ski Club, has produced many world class skiers. FIS Freestyle Race Director Joe Fitzgerald is pleased that Suomu will host an event of Freestyle World Cup. Since Nagano he has been told that this is the point of the world which produces the most of the best mogul skiers if you compare the amount of skiers and population.
Freestyle World Cup Opening will take place in the middle of the polar night!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
To execute the acquisition, the partners united in a CDA-led consortium to create an ad hoc investment vehicle, Deux Alpes Invest, whose capital is divided among Compagnie des Alpes (60%), Caisse des Dépôts (19%), Banque Populaire des Alpes (12.6%) and Caisse d’Epargne Rhône Alpes (8.4%). The consortium's memorandum of understanding grants CDA operational and financial control over Deux Alpes Loisirs while allowing its partners to participate actively in governance and to protect their fundamental proprietary interests.
Specific provisions have been made for transferring securities and returns, allowing CDA the possibility to increase its shareholding in Deux Alpes Invest over the medium-term while also ensuring its partners' investments.
Deux Alpes Invest financed the transaction solely through equity capital without taking on any debt. The €46 million transaction is based on a 100% enterprise value of €47 million, or a multiple of 4.8 times EBITDA, based on DAL Group results at September 30, 2009. The share financed by CDA amounted to €27.7 million.
The Deux Alpes ski area offers the kind of scope and quality necessary to meet the selection criteria specific to CDA's business model:
- Its size — 430 hectares (1.7 sq. mi., 1,060 acres), 225 km (140 mi.) of ski runs, 55 ski lifts — makes it comparable to other large Group ski areas, such as Les Menuires and Serre Chevalier. It is the tenth largest French resort in terms of sales.
- Thanks to the site’s altitude and infrastructure, skiing quality is up to the highest standards; skiers can enjoy altitude of up to 3,600 meters (11,800 ft.), on Europe's largest skiable glacier.
- The resort offers plentiful accommodations, with nearly 30,000 rental beds, and hosts an exceptionally international clientele (almost 50% of winter customers) every year.
With more than 1.32 million skier days in the 2008-2009 winter season, Deux Alpes Loisirs generated consolidated sales of €40.6 million, including €32.5 million for lifts and €4.6 million in package vacation sales from its travel agency and €0.9 million from its real estate activity, which was limited to end-of-project disposals.
For CDA Chairman - Chief Executive Officer Dominique Marcel, "this acquisition, executed under excellent terms, illustrates CDA Group's ability to seize opportunities for external growth without weighing on its balance sheet. Deux Alpes perfectly meets the Group's longstanding criteria and contains great growth potential, notably in creating new lodging capacity. As the DAL majority shareholder, CDA will henceforth pursue the active management of our business portfolio that I announced at the end of 2008, which has already been evidenced by our disposal of shareholdings in Téléverbier, Saas Fee and SMVP. CDA is thus proving its resolve to optimize its resource allocation and focus on assets for which it can create value. As a transaction carried out in consortium, this acquisition also reflects the Group's ability to finance its growth through targeted partnerships. Having Caisse des Dépôts, Banque Populaire des Alpes and Caisse d’Epargne Rhône Alpes by our side shows their support of Group strategy and demonstrates our shared commitment to local development".
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Italy has had the most snow anywhere in the past week and currently has some of the world’s biggest accumulations. The biggest falls were in the north-west of the country (Piemonte, Lombardia, Valle d'Aosta) and in the last few days in Alto Adige. However the snow cover isn’t universal and in Friuli a lack of snow las lead to the start of the season being postponed.
The biggest accumulation of the past seven days has been in Val d'Ultimo which reports 190cm (6.3 feet) of new snow. Val Senales / Schnals is not far behind with 160cm (5.3 feet) and Santa Caterina is on 130cm (4.3 feet), Cortina d'Ampezzo 110 cm (3.65 feet). The Arabba Marmolada glacier currently reports the deepest snow anywhere in the world with 312cm (10.5 feet) on upper slopes, 55cm (22 inches) at the base. It’s a similar picture, just a few centimetres less, on the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale. Bormio, one of the winter’s early openers six-weeks ago, has 190cm (6.3 feet) on upper slopes, 30cm (a foot) below. Madesimo and Cervinia - Breuil each has about 1.5 metres (five feet) on upper slopes.
Thirty resorts have already partially opened their ski areas in France, of which six are currently only open at weekends. That number will grow to at least 40 this weekend. After a warming period following last week’s snow, with some rain damage to lower slopes, more snow has started falling again and Orelle, lift-linked to Val Thorens in The Three Valleys (each of which is now at least partially open) in the northern Alps, issued a powder alarm yesterday with a 20cm (eight inch) snowfall. Resorts scheduled to open this weekend include La Plagne, Serre Chevalier, Flaine, Vars and Avoriaz. La Clusaz currently reports the best snow depth in the country with 120cm (four feet) of snow. In the Pyrenees, Bareges and La Mongie have the most snow with 90cm (three feet). Val d’Isere will host the 54th edition of the "Critérium de la Première Neige" this weekend on the 11th - 13th December for Women and the following weekend (18th -20th December) for men.
There has been limited new snowfall in Austria, however the country’s glacier ski are reporting some of the deepest snow available anywhere. The snow line in Austria is between 500 and 800 metres today and the Austrian Broadcast Corporation ORF predicts more snowfall for Saturday and low temperatures between -6 and 0 degrees (Celsius) for Sunday. The Molltal glacier has among the three biggest snow depths in the world at present with 2,2m (7.3 feet), while Pitztal, Solden, Stubai and Hintertux glaciers all have at least 1.5m (five feet)of snow. Kaprun has released powder alarms reporting 40cm of new snow in the past 24 hours. Austrian resorts which will open this weekend include more of the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser with 15cm (six inches) of snow in Brixental and Kleinwalsertal (opening on the 12th) with up to 40cm (15 inches) of snow at the Nebelhorn ski area. Seefeld – Rosshütte, Gerlos/ Zillertal and Lermoos/ Tiroler Zugspitz Arena will also open with 30cm (a foot) of snow.
It’s a similar picture over the border in Germany where the Zugspitzplatt has the most snow with 125 (4.1 feet). Oberstdorf has 30cm (a foot).
After heavy snow last week in Switzerland almost cut off the resort of Engelberg and other resorts reported bug falls, Swiss resorts have again been announcing substantial snowfalls of at least 20cm in each in the past 24 hours. Davos, Gstaad and Les Diablerets are among the latest to note substantial new snowfalls, with Engelberg also reporting another 20cm (eight inches). Verbier had the biggest single snowfall, with 30cm (a foot) of new snow. Swiss resorts are now reporting some of the deepest snow depths in the world, with Andermatt recording some of the deepest snow, a1.3m (4.3 feet) base at the bottom of the slopes and 1.9m (6.3 feet) on upper runs.
In Andorra and Spain the news is less good as pouring rain and warm weather ruined some of the great conditions reported only a week ago. Only Spain’s largest resorts of Baqueira (30-60 cm and 77 km) and Formigal (10-80 cm and 64 km) continue to offer good conditions. However Panticosa (30-60 cm and 22 km), Cerler (20-65 cm and 18 km), Astun (20-80 cm and 20 km), Candanchu (15-65 cm and 29 km), Boi Taull (15-30 cm and 20 km), La Molina (10-20cm and 3 km), Masella (10-25 km and 9 km) and Grand Pallars ski resorts (Espot, Port Ainé and Tavascan, 15-40 cm with 60 km) all in the Pyrenees, are still open. Outside the Pyrenees only Sierra Nevada with 10-30 cm and 5km of runs is open for skiers. A cooling trend is expected for the weekend however, allowing ski resorts to put snow making facilities back in to operation.
In Scandinavia there has been a similar roller coaster of weather to the Alps and Pyrenees with just a few centimetres of snow for some resorts.
However Åre in Sweden is hosting the ladies WC this weekend and they are giving away one free day pass to all spectators who come to watch the competitions. The ski resort of Säfsen will open up two slopes this weekend.
In Scotland, Cairngorm remains open and has extended the terrain available, with a descent to the bottom of the funicular on a narrow band of snow possible this week. Low temperatures should help to maintain this possibility. The country’s other four centres have insufficient snow to open.
There are no reports of any ski areas open yet in Eastern Europe although Bansko in Bulgaria has said it plans to open this weekend and the webcams are showing a snowy picture in the Czech Republic.
Across the Atlantic most areas of North America have seen improved conditions. The exception is possibly British Columbia (Canada) where conditions couldn’t really actually improve much on the record breaking November snowfall. The only problem there is that it’s very cold – as low as -40C overnight, so wrap up well! Kicking Horse and Fernie are now open, joining the rest. Virtually all of the province’s ski areas are now open, although Panorama still has to join them, with opening scheduled for this Friday, November 11. At Fernie conditions are described as, “fantastic” with over a six feet (1.8m) of settled snow base in the five alpine bowls. Heli-skiing is the latest snow sport to benefit from the great snow in BC with Great Canadian Heli-Skiing announcing that its first paying guests went heli‐skiing last Sunday, December 6th, three weeks before the normal start date! This lucky private party, which includes the only North American delegate to be invited to judge the snowboarding events at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, shows that amongst Great Canadian’s guests, snow is definitely trumping the economy!. Due to numerous calls into Great Canadian Heli‐Skiing’s office by guests demanding to come heli‐skiing in order to enjoy the amazing conditions, the decision was made to meet consumer demand by operating much earlier than scheduled. The next group of lucky skiers and boarders will arrive Friday, December 11th for a three day trip. Further highlighting how snow is trumping the economy, November bookings to Great Canadian Heli‐Skiing were 30% higher than any other previous November and it was the second biggest month in the past six years.
In Alberta, Sunshine’s famous Delirium Dive opened at the weekend, the earliest opening in its ten year history. As one of Sunshine Village’s three freeride zones, the Dive offers some of the most extreme inbounds terrain in North America. This week it was named one of the ‘World’s Scariest Ski Slopes’ by MSN, to add to its many other accolades. "We’ve had fantastic snow this season enabling us to open the Dive earlier than ever before. Expert skiers and snowboarders will be very happy!", said Dan Markham, of Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine. Within the Dive’s 600 acres of terrain, natural features include 20 metre cornices, frozen waterfalls, stepped pillow drops, jagged rock spines, and 25 metre cliffs. These natural hazards are unmarked and exist throughout the area. Skiers and snowboarders need to use good judgment, know their skill level, and understand that mountain conditions may change quickly. Entry is only permitted for those with a shovel, transceiver and buddy. The Dive’s opening adds to the expert terrain already available at The Lake Louise Ski Area and Mt. Norquay. Whitehorn 1, A Gulley and Ptarmigan Shoots are just some of Lake Louise’s terrain already open for expert skiers and riders, with great powder conditions. Last weekend Mt. Norquay held a special early opening of the North American chair, offering access to the resorts infamous double-black diamond runs.
With some of the best snow in 30 years, the conditons at all three resorts are great on beginner and intermediate terrain too.
On the East Coast, which had suffered from warm weather and little snow, resorts have been able to open thanks to some fresh snow and temperatures cold enough for snowmaking. Mont-Sainte-Anne near Quebec City began operating for the 09-10 season at 8:30am last Saturday but with only one slope open to the public, the popular Quanik, adding another slope, La Paradeuse on Sunday and also a new cross-country skiing loop exclusively reserved to training, that will be set up on the west side of the summit. The 800 meter loop can be reached by the panoramic gondola and can accommodate up to 50 athletes simultaneously, in both skating and classic styles; a first of this kind in the East of the continent. The resort plans to open two other slopes in the next few days, La Printannière and La Mélanie Turgeon. Mont-Sainte-Anne is now open 7 days a week. Stoneham Mountain Resort opened on Sunday at 9 am, with its slope Les Pionniers and a small snow park set up at the base of the mountain for all freestyle fanatics. Mont Sutton to the south of the province is hoping to open this weekend. Further south resorts have been opening in New England, including Sugarbush, Sugarloaf and Smugglers Notch – each using a combination of fresh natural snow and machine made white stuff.
In Western North America a big storm is tracking across the country bringing large snowfalls to California (US) and now moving in to the Rocky Mountain bringing snow to resorts in Colorado and Utah. Squaw Valley reported a two-foot (60cm) accumulation on Monday, greatly improving conditions at the leading Californian resort. Heavenly Mountain Resort (picture attached) in South Lake Tahoe, California has reported 34 inches (86cm) of fresh snow in the past 24 hours, and the Colorado resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek are under a winter storm warning having already received more than 5 inches (13cm) in the past 48 hours.
Ski Utah has enhanced its snow report to provide afternoon snow totals, historical data, resort specific weather forecasts, and terrain park information along with 24-hour and 48-hour snow totals. Continuing the popular "Monster Dump" tradition, Ski Utah snow report users are also eligible to win a case of Monster beverage each time Utah receives a "Monster Dump" (12 inches of snow or more in 24 hours). Users simply log on to SkiUtah.com and click on the green "Monster Dump" banner to enter. The Ski Utah snow report can be accessed by phone, email, RSS feed, mobile alert, mobile web browser, or by simply visiting Ski Utah website.
Tech-savvy snow enthusiasts can engage in "teachreation" by downloading Ski Utah's cutting-edge iPhone app made famous by author Paul Tolme in the 2009 October issue of SKI magazine. The new app includes resort snow reports, "Monster Dump" alerts and, links to Hot Deals and the Ski Utah Yeti Flickr page which highlights the latest snapshots of Utah resorts. A recent study by AdMob (one of the world's largest mobile advertisers) indicates that iPhone traffic now accounts for nearly half of all smartphone requests in the U.S. Using the Ski Utah app, one quick tap on the screen might frostbite fingers as powder has never been this portable. The iPhone app is available on the Apple Application Store, free to all iPhone users. To download the app visit skiutah.com/winter/snow_report/mobile/index.html/.
With so many ways to get the Ski Utah Snow Report, there is no excuse to be the last person calling in with the powder-flu.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Ischgl (1377m) is a truly Ski Paradise in Tirol (Austria). The 235 kilometres and 506 hectares of slopes are all located on north-facing slopes assuring a reliable snow cover (natural snow conditions are helped by 575 snow-machines with a total max. performance of 1050 l/sec). 31 snow cats groom the Ischgl runs every night offering perfect conditions in the morning. You can count on the best conditions throughout the winter months: Cruise through loose powder, carve down hard-packed slopes and race through corn snow in spring. In Ischgl you can find ultramodern lift and cable-car system (3 cable cars, 2 aerial cableways, 23 chairlifts and 12 draglifts) with a transport capacity of 78,500 persons per hour ensure skiing without queues (€120 million have been invested over the last years). The new lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the Fimbabahn cable car built for the 2007/08 season. A variety of slopes 38 kilometres of blue/easy runs, 132 kilometres of red/intermediate runs, 45 kilometres of black/difficult runs, and 20 kilometres of ski routes offer a opportunity for everyone, from beginners to experts looking for challenging pistes. Eleven is the name of the longest piste with approximately 11 kilometres from the top of the ski resort in Greitspitz (2,872 metres) to Ischgl village (1,400 metres).
From Ischgl you can access to the Silvretta Arena Ski Paradise, thanks to an alliance between two Companies (Silvretta Seilbahn AG and Bergbahnen Sammaun AG) and two ski resorts (Ischgl-Sammaun) from two different countries (Switzerland-Austria).
The Tyrolean skiing area’s motto is: "Relax. If you can …" meaning you can choose between a great number of winter activities (cross-country skiing, ice skating, tobogganing, winter hiking, horse-drawn sleigh rides, guided mountain tours and indoor sports) apart from the main attractions of skiing, boarding and night life.
Opening ceremonies for FIS Freestyle World Cup Mogul Opening will be held on Friday 11th. There will be both athletes and great artists on stage."After official speeches we will have a great show with darkness, lights and excellent artists", promises Side event producer Kari Väänänen.
International Ski Federation (FIS) has confirmed that Suomu will host Freestyle World Cup events until 2013. Freestyle Race Director Joe Fitzgerald is very confident that the organising committee of Freestyle Premiere will succeed.
"Slope, schedule and organisation. Those are the key points for successful event. I count on this organisation; Finns are extremely good of organising competitions. Schedule is already done and working. They have still some work to do with the slope, but I’m not worried about it when work is already started", Fitzgerald said when visiting Suomu in the beginning of October.
Ski Sport Finland, one of the organisers, wants to succeed as host but with its mogul skiers as well. Finnish Freestyle Team was training in Argentina and Middle Europe before snow fell down in Finland. Last season Tapio Luusua won two medals in FIS Freestyle World Championships in Inawashiro Japan.
Starting in the mid-1960s, Suomu’s skiing history is world renowned. The grandfather of Freestyle, the HotDog Ski, came to Finland in the 1970s and in 1989 Suomu hosted Finland’s first Freestyle World Cup competition.
Although the mogul course has kept its place in Suomu Ski Resort for all these past years, some renewals needed to be done before Freestyle Premiere. Slope has now a new profile which meets the new standard and safety rules. New lightning will be built as well. The finish line on the mogul course is actually on the the arctic circle!!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
IOC President Jacques Rogge commented, "I would like to congratulate Sochi 2014 on the launch of their new brand. Every Olympic Games has an emblem and look that crystallises the identity of those Games for all time, and Sochi is no exception. The Sochi 2014 emblem will become one of the most visible and recognised marks for people of all ages from around the world over the next few years, especially as Sochi 2014 has made a conscious effort to link its brand to the digital generation. Thanks to the growth of social media, the Sochi brand will no doubt spread like never before through these online channels, reaching the youth of the world quickly and in a format that they appreciate".
"sochi2014.ru" is the first Olympic emblem that also forms a web address. It has been designed to actively encourage dialogue between Russians, nations and winter sports fans – particularly young people – facilitated by Sochi 2014's online platforms. The ".ru" component is Russia’s web-domain address, and signifies that Sochi 2014 is an Olympic Winter Games hosted by a whole nation, as well as the Black Sea sub-tropical city of Sochi. The mirror of "Sochi" and "2014" reflects that Sochi is the meeting point between the sea and the mountains. As a key component of the new Sochi 2014 emblem, the Olympic rings sit large and in colour to leave no doubt that this is a symbol of progress for the Olympic Movement. The opportunity to change the colours and inner design of the rest of the emblem encourages people to express themselves, with some expected to transform it using traditional images, while others will take an ultra-modern approach.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
RTP’s REALSKI introduces augmented reality (AR), a new mobile phenomenon made possible by the iPhone 3GS, to navigate trails and on-mountain features at select North American ski resorts. REALSKI allows riders to view their surroundings through the iPhone’s camera while the app overlays digital graphics on the screen, showing nearby lifts, runs and resort facilities in real view and real-time. Move the iPhone up, down, and around to scan their surroundings, and digital overlays appear in real time to match what the camera sees. The overlays direct users to the location of facilities and points of interest, including named runs (with skill designation), lifts by name, lodges, restaurants, restrooms, and special areas such as terrain parks.
The initial version of the app will be free and includes maps for Killington, Copper Mountain, Deer Valley, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Stevens Pass. Later in December, a full version of the app will be available with maps for about 80 North American resorts. The first version of REALSKI is anticipated to be available via iTunes by December 7.
The iPhone 3GS is the first phone to offer a camera, GPS, compass and an accelerometer. This combination enables RTP to augment the reality provided by the camera with digital graphics. REALSKI layers information on top of the visuals by using the current location and elevation detected by the GPS, the compass heading, and the accelerometer. Augmented reality mobile apps are new, and RTP’s REALSKI is the first available for major mountain resorts. And it works even when there is no cell coverage, as it leverages the GPS features of the phone.
Perfect North’s app, from epop studio, provides more typical web-based information—an audio snow report, current weather, live cams, video podcasts, plus news and events and directions to the area. "This app provides what I need to know about Perfect North without cluttering the screen", says derwood294 on the App Store site. "Got to love instant access to the local snow report and webcams".
A second version of the Perfect app is awaiting approval from Apple; it will allow guests to upload both photos and video taken at Perfect North Slopes directly from their iPhone to the PNS photo gallery.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Located in Colorado, USA, Beaver Creek is owned and operated by Vail Resorts Management Company, one of the leading resort operators in North America. The Company owns and operates five ski resorts: Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek, located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and Heavenly, which is located on the Lake Tahoe area of California/Nevada. With abundant natural snow (average snowfall 790 cm), backed up by a modern snowmaking system (36 % of the marked runs), Beaver Creek guarantees skiing from early November to mid April. 148 trails (19% Beginner, 43% Intermediate, 38% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 1,233 metres. Reminiscent of a secluded European alpine village, Beaver Creek combines the luxury and refinement of a five-star resort with a relaxed, family atmosphere.
The Lake Louise Ski Area hosts, since last week, the 2009 Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup. Located in Alberta, Canada, Lake Louise is one of the largest ski areas in North America. With abundant natural snow (average snowfall 454 cm), backed up by Canada's largest snowmaking system (40% of the marked runs), Louise guarantees skiing from early November to mid May. 139 runs (25% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 30% Advanced) and a vertical drop of 991 metres, Lake Louise offer a wide opportunities for skiers from perfectly groomed beginner runs to double black diamonds rated "the best super steeps in the country" (Ski Canada Magazine). The Canadian Ski resort is one of the best options to enjoy magnificent scenery and stunning panoramas.
As a result, Skiinfo has now released more than 200 powder alarms for ski areas reporting more than 20cm (eight inch) falls in 24 hours, with Switzerland among the big winners. St Moritz and the Engadin Valley have received 1.3m (4.4 feet) since the weekend. Most other Swiss resorts have done well too, Sedrun, for example, got a whole metre of new snow in 24 hours on Monday (Nov 30th) – the road to nearby Disentis was covered with snow. Engelberg was virtually closed down by snow at the start of the week too due to a massive storm that hit central Switzerland with over 90cms (three feet) of fresh snow according to Eric Spongberg an ex-freeriders based at Ski Lodge Engelberg. The roads in and out of the village where closed down on Monday, and all the lifts were closed on Tuesday due to high avalanche danger. "There was rumours of snow coming in, but we have virtually been covered in snow in the past 24 hours", says Eric. "It is total chaos here, with ploughs running back and forth trying to clear the streets and the avalanche bombs thundering in the background. The snowpack has been looking thin lately, but this definitely means a white Christmas in Engelberg". The ski area is open today and Eric is hoping to be on the slopes, "It might be one of those days, I just might need to skip a couple of hours off work".
Austria, which had great snow in late October and early November, but in common with the rest of the Alps, suffered a warm spell through the mifddle of last month, has also been receiving plenty of fresh snow. The Mölltaler glacier got 60cm (two feet) of powder and now have one of the deepest snow depths in the world at present with a 220cm (7.3 foot) base. Many other areas received between 20 and 50cm (8-20 inches) including Axamer - Lizum at Innsbruck, Sölden (52cm) and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl. Lech Zürs has confirmed it will open lifts on Friday. Currently they have up to 55cm (22 inches) of snow on their slopes. Hochzillertal will open on the same day. Silvretta Montafon (Nova and Hochjoch) now has 70cm of snow for their planned opening on Saturday. "There’s been heavy snowfall down to 800 metres and we hope to begin operating the Zamang Bahn (the ski lift for Hochjoch) and Versettla Bahn (for Nova) on December 5th", said Frank Peters of Silvretta Montafon Mountain Railways.
It’s good news once again in France where more resorts are opening after good snowfalls across the country’s ski areas. Lans en Vercors and Collet d'Allevard are opening their ski lifts today as a result and La Clusaz it’s Nordic ski area "Les Confins". Many more plan to open thisweekend, at least partially, including Meribel, Alpe d'Huez, the Grands Montets at Chamonix, Montgenèvre, Les Arcs and probably Courchevel 1850, Le Grand Bornand and La Clusaz (only this weekend and just the "Massif de Balme"). Val Thorens, which is already open, has reported 40cm of fresh snow and has one of the deepest bases in the country with a metre of snow lying.
It’s a similar picture in Italy where the powder alarms continue to be issued. Bormio has the deepest base in the country at 1.9m (6.6 feet), much of it fallen in the past week. Other resorts reporting big falls include Madesimo with 90cm (three feet) and Alagna, Cervinia, Livigno and Monterosa resorts reporting at least 50cm (20 inches of new snow each). Italy’s ski resorts enjoy a long ski weekend to December 8th so it’s great timing. This weekend many ski resorts will officially starts the season including Monterosa Ski, Dolomitri Superski, Limone, Courmayeur, resorts on the Milky Way pass like Sestrire and Sauze d’Oulx, Adamello (some lifts open at Passo Tonale and Pontedilegno).
Forty-eight hours of heavy snowfall over the Pyrenees in Spain has left Formigal more than ready to open this weekend. Spain’s largest resort has 160 cm of snow on the higher slopes, around a metre on the lower pistes and more is predicted to fall over the next few days.
For bookings made before 15th December there is free ski or board hire for everyone and throughout the season there is a free child lift pass for every pre-booked adult lift pass.
There’s fresh powder too at Baqueira (40-70 cm), Cerler (20-125cm, picture attached), Panticosa (70-130cm) and Sierra Nevada (10-30 cm). All the main ski resorts will open on Friday for a four days holiday (December 8th is a local holiday in Spain too). For Spanish skiers and boarders, this ‘Purísima Feast’ is a must every year and represents the official opening of the winter season.
Snow has also been snowing in Andorra, where resorts first opened early in mid-November after heavy snowfalls at the start of the month, but then had to postpone opening on the scheduled season start date last weekend due to a thaw. It’s now looking goods for this weekend. On the French side La Mongie and Bareges reported 60cm (two feet) on Tuesday, Piau Engaly 30cm (a foot). Piau-Engaly expects to open this weekend with its "Rock on Snowboard Tour" event.
Although the focus of recent snow reports has been on mainland Europe, conditions remain good in most Scandinavian ski areas to the north. Resorts in Norway reported up to 50cm (20 inches) of new snow in the past week and this weekend there will be 38 ski resorts open including the big ones of Trysil, Geilo, Hafjell, Kvitfjell, Skeikampen and Hemsedal which has the most snow in the country with a 94cm (3.2 foot) base. There are also a lot of opportunities for people who want to go cross country skiing, with 13 ski resorts that have more than 30km of tracks groomed.
There´s been some fresh snow in Sweden too where Lindvallen reports 15 cm and Tandådalen 7cm of new cover. In addition, the cold weather over large parts of the country makes ideal conditions for snowmaking. Further up north the resort of Kittelfjall has opened with a snow depth of 46cm. Dundret, 100km north of the polar circle, has opened too with a snow depth of 35 cm.
Elsewhere in Europe the ski season began in Scotland on Saturday when Cairngorm Mountain opened runs at the top of the ski slopes, attracting about 600 hardy souls who enjoyed the first turns of winter despite 45mph winds and a much stronger wind chill factor.
There’s no information on ski areas opening yet in Eastern Europe, however temperatures have dropped at last in that part of the continent with Bansko in Bulgaria reporting several days of sub-zero temperatures and snow falling.
Across the Atlantic in the US the prolonged warm spell that stopped virtually all of New England’s ski areas opening for Thanksgiving weekend has finally ended and many resorts are reporting some snowfall and temperatures cool enough for the region’s mammoth snowmaking arsenal to dire up. Sugarloaf in Maine and Whiteface in New York State are among those planning to open at the weekend.
Further north in Eastern Canada, where Toronto recently declared last month the driest November in 70 years without a snowflake, conditions have improved greatly too. Mont Ste Anne in Quebec expects to open after several postponements this weekend with at least four runs available. It reported 12cm (5 inches) of snow at the weekend. Mont Sutton received 43cm (17 inches) of snow at the summit over the weekend. In the west of course it is a different story and Whistler’s November snowfall total officially passed 5.6m (18 feet) by the month end, with a 1.92m (6.5 feet) base, by far the biggest ever for this early in the season and indeed the biggest ever monthly snowfall for the resort. The good snow news isn’t just restricted to the 2010 Winter Olympic host however, most of Western Canada’s resorts have great snow cover, and several more resorts opened early at the weekend, or announced they’d be opening earlier than planned in coming weeks including Fernie and Kicking Horse. Revelstoke, which now has North America’s largest vertical, as well as the only heli and cat ski operations running along-side regular ski lifts from one base, opened upper slopes for a ‘taster weekend’ and will open permanently from next weekend. Silver Star has also opened, "To the delight of us all, the winter skies have opened up and delivered over 40 cm of the white stuff needed to make the jump from Nordic skiing to alpine. With the alpine base now over 100 cm the Comet Express, Silver Woods Express, and the Silver Queen Chair", said a resort spokesperson. The world’s attention has however been on Alberta over the weekend with Lake Louise Ski Area hosting its annual Winterstart World Cup Races. The men’s races took place November 28 and 29 and the women race this coming December 4 through 6. The WinterStart Festival takes place over the two weekends and includes the World Cup Alpine Ski Racing followed by a festival within a festival; Christmas in the Rockies, which runs December 5 and 6. All the lifts are open at The Lake Louise Ski Area and Sunshine Village, with more available at Mt. Norquay today! The North American chair is open morning offering access to the infamous Lone Pine run. "This is the best snow we’ve seen in 30 years, allowing the backside of Lake Louise and Goat’s Eye at Sunshine Village to be open already, offering tons of terrain, fresh tracks and a lot of powder", said a spokesperson. On Thursday, December 3rd, the newly renovated Sunshine Mountain Lodge at Sunshine Village will open 30 new eco-luxurious rooms.
Back south of the border in the Western US states temperatures are low for snowmaking but precipitation has been rather limited meaning that bases remain modest and open terrain is little changed from last week.