Monday, May 31, 2010

Intrawest Sell Mountain Creek Resort

Intrawest has sold its Mountain Creek Resort in Sussex County (New Jersey) to a group led by developer Eugene Mulvihill, who operated the property when it was known as Great Gorge during the 1980s. Intrawest had owned Mountain Creek since 1998, it’s the latest resort sold by Intrawest following its disposal of of Copper Mountain last December, followed by the sale of Panorama resort, B.C., the Village at Squaw Valley and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort .
Last April Intrawest announced that it has successfully completed the refinancing of its corporate debt which was due in December 2009. The Company repaid its prior lenders in full and has completed a new loan, which is scheduled to mature in 2014.
The transaction includes the resort and its real estate properties, according to Mulvihill, who plans to add "other amenities" to the resort to complement the Crystal Springs Golf Resort that he operates in nearby Hardyston. "It's the only major ski resort within an hour of New York City, and it has one of the best terrain parks for snow boarding", Mulvihill said in a phone interview. The resort has 1,500 condos and has the capacity to build another 1,500, he said. The developer expects to build hotels at the location and add other sports attractions. Mulvihill and his partners have potential plans to add retail stores, a craft village, an indoor water park, organic food shops and a tropical rain forest in Vernon Valley.
Intrawest is a leader in the development and management of experiential destination resorts. The Company has a network of resorts at North America’s most popular mountain destinations including Whistler Blackcomb, the host venue of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and Canadian Mountain Holidays, the largest heli-skiing operation in the world. Intrawest is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Slopes Open for Europe’s glacier ski season as Southern Hemisphere Winter 2010 Only Days Away

Skiinfo reports that May, the 'quietest month' of the world’s ski year, is nearing its end with Canada joining the list of major skiing nations that currently have no ski areas officially open and the southern hemisphere’s winter, or the northern hemisphere’s summer glacier ski seasons yet to kick off. However it’s still possible to ski at around 25 ski areas in at least ten countries – the US, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Iceland, Japan, Scotland, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
In the Alps you have eight glacier ski areas to choose from, with a ninth choice opening this Saturday – marking a turning point! In Switzerland Europe’s highest lifts are operational for the summer (The two T Bars up to 3899m in Zermatt don’t usually run in winter) and there’s still skiing and boarding at the top of the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz.

In Italy the summit red and black run on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale are still open, and they’ll be joined by a second Italian glacier ski choice, Passo Stelvio which opens for its annual summer ski season on the 29th.
But Austria continues to have the most choice of glacier ski slopes open and will add another option with the re-opening of the Dachstein Glacier on Saturday, taking the current tally to five. It is reporting a 2.9m (near 10 foot) base and has revamped the Horsefeathers Superpark for the occasion with the addition to a new 3-boxes-line so users will be able to slide down as many as four rails in a line, which should make all the down rail and double kinked – lovers happy. On top of the two renowned rails, an 11-meter down rail and a 14 meter double kinked rail, two new additions are already under construction at the park. Dachstein joins the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun, the near-year-round open Tux glacier at the Stubai glacier near Innsbruck which all remain open. The Kaunertal glacier is also open and has up to 1.45m (five feet) of snow on it. National teams from Austria, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Lichtenstein and even Brazil have been training there in recent weeks.
Up in the north of Europe it was the hottest weekend of the year so far and at CairnGorm Mountain in Scotland, where temperatures at the top reached 20C on Saturday, snow sports enthusiasts were flocking to the high tops in their shorts, t – shirts and kilts to enjoy the unseasonal temperatures out on the ski slopes. Over two hundred skiers and five hundred ski spectators headed up the mountain where the sledge park, snow cross terrain park and Ptarmigan Ski Tow is still providing winter fun in what is set to become one of the longest skiing seasons on record. Skiing is still possible right down to mid mountain level and Colin Matthew (Operations Manager) said: "CairnGorm has had a real carnival atmosphere with the public out it shorts, shades , t shirts and even the occasional kilt. The sledge park and the fun park have both been really popular today. Snow conditions are soft and a bit like summer skiing on a European glacier with the temperature on the top slopes well into the lower 20’s – the only difference is that we’re short a few thousand feet on altitude here at CairnGorm". This week has seen a dramatic drop in temperature however, back down to single figures once again and more Easterly/Northerly airflows. Colin Matthew continued: "The beginning of the week sees a return to cooler temperatures which will help keep the snowpack in a reasonable condition, with careful management we hope that we can keep skiing going for at least the English Holiday weekend at the end of May".
Elsewhere in northern Europe there’s still skiing at Riksgransen in the Swedish Arctic where it’s currently the brief ski-under-the-midnight-sun period; also at the glacier areas of Folgefonn and Galdhoppigen in Norway and on the slopes of Ruka in Finland, maintained since last Autumn.
In the USA Snowbird ski resort in Utah has announced it aims to stay open for skiing and riding on weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) for another month through to June 20, conditions and weather permitting. The extension would mark 199 days of skiing and riding for the 2009/10 season, two days short of Snowbird’s record 2004/05 season when the resort stayed open for 201 days until July 4. As of May 20, Snowbird’s mid-mountain base stands at 117 inches with forecasts calling for flurries throughout the weekend. It’s the third year in a row that Snowbird has surpassed its annual average in snowfall. Other US resorts still open include Mammoth Mountain in California which has announced it will aim to stay open to July 4, and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, which reported a few inches iof fresh snow this week and plans to stay open in to June. Timberline Mountain in Oregon is open year round except for a few weeks maintenance closure each September.
North of the border the ski season has ended in Canada with Sunshine ski area (picture attached) near Banff the last to close on Monday, following Whistler Blackcomb’s season ending on Sunday. The famous British Columbian resort celebrated its second snowiest winter ever and will re-open for glacier skiing in a few weeks time.
In the southern hemisphere there are increasingly good signs for the coming winter. One of the first hoping to open is Afriski in Lesotho where temperatures are forecast to be in the range of -7 to +2C over the week up to its official opening date, next Tuesday, June 1st, a promising sign for the start of the 2010 season.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Europe’s Ski Areas Prepare For 2010 Spring Clean

Next week-end, on the 29th & 30th of May, people all over Europe will be getting together for the Annual Spring Cleaning of the Mountains. So that everybody can become aware of the impact rubbish has in the mountains, and people’s behaviour concerning their rubbish can be changed.
Although ski areas may seem clean when covered in snow, last year 30 tonnes of rubbish were picked up from the slopes of 55 ski resorts by that 3500 volunteers.
For the past 9 years the French environmental group for ski resorts, Mountain Riders, have been organising and coordinating the spring cleaning to raise awareness on the state of our outdoor playgrounds at the end of the ski season.
This year, Mountain Riders and their European partners: The Ski Club of Great-Britain, Respect the Mountains in the Netherlands and Summit Foundation in Switzerland are once again calling on everybody to join in with the European spring-cleaning.
In the UK the spring clean takes place at Cairngorm and Nevis Range in Scotland and will be three weeks later than in the Alps because of snow remaining on the slopes with Cairngorm still open for skiing and boarding.
From ski resorts to Mountain bike tracks, crags and other areas where you can go climbing, this year everybody has got involved in the mountain clean up. So why don’t you meet up with the locals at your local ski-resort or your favourite outdoor playground and help out. With over 140 events taking place in France, Scotland, Switzerland and Belgium, there’s no excuse not to be out there.
To see the complete list of events and participating resorts click here

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Aspen to require Helmets for On-Mountain Staff

SAM reports more than 500 employees at Aspen Skiing Co. will be wearing helmets while working on the slopes next season. The Aspen areas join Vail Resorts and Intrawest areas in requiring helmets for large portions of their labor forces.
At the same time, the Aspen resorts expanded their helmet requirement for ski-school students to include all those age 17 and younger, up from age 13 and younger, and for every student in a terrain park or halfpipe. Any instructors teaching classes where helmets are required for students must also wear a helmet.
Aspen also surveyed its employees before enacting the policy, and received strong support for it. Many employees have been wearing helmets voluntarily.
The Aspen resorts expanded their helmet requirements for both staff and guests "to ease our way into this and to lead by example", PR director Jeff Hanle told the Aspen Times. "We want to practice what we preach".
Still, many Aspen hourly employees are not included in the new policy. Among them: instructors (except as noted above), patrollers, and lift attendants. But Hanle noted that could well change in the near future, as there’s a steady movement in that direction in the industry as a whole.
In fact, helmet use continues to expand with customers as well. Last season, 57 percent of skiers and riders were wearing helmets while hitting the slopes of U.S. ski areas, according to the latest figures from the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). That compared to 48 percent in 2008-09 and 43 percent in 2007-08.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Red Bull 1976 Games

More than 30 years ago, Denver was awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics. Then, a coalition of activists and politicians campaigned against it and the games moved to Innsbruck, Austria, instead. Red Bull decided it was time the year 1976 had its day state-side!
The Red Bull 1976 Games took place in Copper Mountain, Colorado. Teams sporting vintage gear competed in two events, "Snowbladecross" and "Old School Air". Teams were judged the Red Bull way: event performance, creativity, and overall 70’s style. Prizes were awarded for best costume and team mojo. The premise of the contest is to wear retro gear to celebrate the Olympics that should have been. Participants did grow mustaches and squeezed into one-piece and got ready to party like it was 1976.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fresh Snow on the Still Open Glacier Ski Areas of the Alps

Skiinfo reports that it’s currently snowing in the Alps, up on the glaciers at least, eight of which remain open for snow sports in three countries. In Northern Europe more area are opening for summer skiing in Norway, while ski areas in Finland and Scotland remain open, and in Sweden they’re skiing and boarding under the midnight sun now 24 hour daylight has returned. Half a dozen ski areas remain open in North America too since last Autumn.

It’s cold on Austria’s glaciers, four of which are currently open for snow sports, following the closure of the Molltal glacier ski area for the season last weekend. Temperatures have been dropping as low as -10 (and a max of -5) with fresh snow forecast on the Kaunertal glacier, which has a 90-140cm (3-5 foot) base and all lifts and slopes open. There are similar conditions on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun where nine lifts are serving the glacier ski slopes and the accumulated base is 193cm (6.5 feet). It’s -10C for the Stubai glacier near Innsbruck too, which reports 5cm (2 inches) of new snow and a 180cm (six foot) base. However the Tux glacier probably has the biggest ski area open in the Alps at present with 43.5km of runs, 13 lifts running, a 295cm (10 foot) base and an 1150m skiable vertical.
In Switzerland you can choose between Engelberg, St Moritz and Zermatt if you want to get on the snow this weekend. Zermatt continues to operate Europe’s highest ski lifts, touching 3,900m and opening up the world’s biggest lift-served summer vertical. Engelberg is in its last few weeks of operation for the season but still has its Ice Flyer six-pack chairlift operating on the glacier, though it does not open for snow sports until 11am. The Diavolezza glacier in the Engadin near St Moritz is still open and reported fresh snow on the mountain last Friday, although the base remains at 50cm (20 inches) and there’s nothing left at the bottom of the slopes.
There are no ski areas open in France at present and only terrain suited to intermediate and advanced skiers in Italy were one resort remains open for snow sports, Passo Tonale. The Presena Glacier is open there with two reds and one black run over on a vertical of nearly 500m between 2600 and 3100m. The snow remains deep here year round and is still over four metres (13 feet). A second glacier ski area, Passo Stelvio, is due to re-open the weekend after next.
In Northern Europe the region’s highest ski slopes on Galdhoppigen in Norway (1850m) opened for the season at the weekend, they’ll stay open until October. They join already open Norwegian ski areas Folgefonn and Stryn putting Norway in third place behind Austria and the US for ski areas currently open.
Over the border in Sweden Riksgransen is starting it’s brief period of offering skiing under the midnight sun and further East, Ruka in Finland still has slopes open.
In Scotland there was more fresh snow last weekend, and Cairngorm is continuing to open for weekend snow sports. The centre is using the Ptarmigan and Ciste tows as well as the funicular railway. The slopes are open from 10am - 4pm and tickets are available for the whole day or for three hour sessions.
There are four areas still open in the US, all on the Western side of the country. Mammoth Mountain (picture attached) in California has a 7.5 – 12 foot (2.3 – 3.6m) base and reports a fresh dusting of snow in the past few days. The near-year-round Timberline ski area on Mt Hood in Oregon has a 148 inch (4.5m) base. Arapahoe Basin in Colorado is looking good with about half of its lifts and terrain open with a 45 inch (112cm) base and yet another three inches (7cm) of new snow in the past few days. Snowbird in Utah is reporting a 117 inch (just under 3m) base but no fresh snow, it is currently open at weekends.
In Canada the 2009-10 ski season has finally entered its last week at Sunshine Village near Banff in Alberta. It will close next Monday, May 24th leaving only Whistler Blackcomb’s glacier skiing remaining open in Canada. Currently 9 lifts and 60 runs are operational at sunshine with a 135cm (4.5 foot) base.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ultimate freeskiing competition: The Red Bull Cold Rush

Retallack’s steep and deep mountain landscape hosted the fourth edition of Red Bull Cold Rush. Twelve male skiers and, for the first time in the event’s history, five of their female counterparts competed for the title of the most versatile and best all-around skier at Red Bull Cold Rush from March 23-27, 2010. The three-discipline competition will deliver three components: Big Mountain, Slopestyle and Pillow Lines.
Sean Pettit and Suzanne Graham were crowned "The Most Versatile and Best All-Around Skiers" at Red Bull Cold Rush 2010.
Retallack (British Columbia, CA) prides itself on 'being in the right place. Retallack offers 38 square kms (9500 acres) on three main mountain peaks called Reco, Wishful and Texas. These peaks and their long alpine ridge lines (Reco is 7 km long!) form perfect snowcat access drop off points at elevations between 7000' and 8500'.

Rocky Mountain Lift Association Spring Conference and Trade Show

Ski Area Management Magazine reports the 39th Rocky Mountain Lift Association Spring Conference and Trade Show in Grand Junction, Colo., May 10-13, drew the second-largest turnout in its history. The attendance reflects the renewed sense of optimism about the future that also fueled the nation’s 59.7 million resort visits last winter.
RMLA continued its multi-track program for training and personnel management, safety, basic and advanced mechanics and electronics, and government rules and regulations. With an increasing number of The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) visits to winter resorts, OSHA had a presence in several seminars this year. And of course, lift and conveyor companies hosted manufacturer-specific sessions.
Aviation consultant John Goglia, who is often credited with establishing the importance of "human maintenance factors" in the airline industry, noted the many parallel issues faced by mechanics in the airline and lift industries. Among those: pressures to drive costs down by cutting staff and raising efficiency, and resulting pressure on managing safety. He recounted some serious incidents that resulted from deferred maintenance, improper training, and plain human error. He urged lift mechanics and managers to do as he did, and collect solid data on what incidents have occurred and why. "Data will drive your maintenance program and help you", he said. "You have to have data, and track it, to convince management of the need to change the safety culture".
Safety is always at the top of the RMLA agenda. One of the annual highlights of the show, and one of the reasons for the founding of RMLA, is the "incident roundtable", during which time the audience revisits some of the previous year’s lift incidents. There were very few this past season, the brake failure at Devil’s Head, Wisc., being the most widely publicized. NSAA’s Sid Roslund described the series of events that led to the failure, from delayed maintenance to improper parts, and noted that if any one of the failures had been avoided, the incident would not have occurred. As is often the case, there were perhaps a dozen steps that led to the failure, not just a single failure. The lesson is simple: tend to the small issues before they contribute to a big problem.

A Culture of Speed

Ski Racing Development (SRD), a subsidiary of Racing Development, Inc. and Ski Racing International, LLC, the Journal of Snowsport Competition, have announced a joint venture to produce a new publication for ski enthusiasts entitled "A Culture of Speed". This annual will contain in-depth articles on ski racing, skiing, ski culture and other areas of interest, in addition to retail offerings from many top suppliers.
"A Culture of Speed" will be the only dedicated print publication available to racers and advertisers in the United States for the 2010/11. Ski Racing Magazine has adopted a digital format after a successful transition during the 2009/10 ski season.
"This is a great opportunity for the ski and ski race related industry to reach their core customers in a new and innovative way" commented Barry Levinson of Ski Racing Development. "Unlike in Europe, the opportunities for manufactures, ski academies and other supporting companies to promote their products, athletes and services are very limited, and these factors will help make A Culture of Speed a powerful publication".
"In a country where Bode Miller or Lindsey Vonn can walk down any sidewalk in America with virtual anonymity, we all need to work together to create a stronger ski racing culture” noted Harry W. Rhulen, President and Co-Founder, Racing Development, Inc. “There are hundreds of thousands of dedicated ski enthusiasts looking for information, products and affinity. This publication will be a start to forming that community".
Added Gary Black Jr., CEO, Ski Racing International, LLC. "Ski Racing and SRD have the passion to produce a unique publication A Culture of Speed which will be an exciting coffee table magazine with unusual insight into the world of skiing and the behind-the-scenes culture that underlies it. While we are thrilled with our digital magazine results, and the opportunities to bring the sport to life with video and great photography, we believe that our readership and advertisers will benefit from a printed annual which will be available in their living room throughout the year".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chamonix Encourages Everyone to Reduce their Climate Impact by A Factor of Four

Studies at Chamonix have determined that the average temperature in the famous French resort has risen by 1.5 degrees in the past century and the resort is actively seeking to do its bit to combat climate change.
"Mythical mountains, majestic glaciers, exceptional fauna and flora; the inhabitants of the Chamonix valley are conscious of the extreme beauty of their environment which attracts visitors from all over the world. But this beauty is fragile. The melting of the glaciers, visible to the naked eye, is confirmed by local scientific data", says a resort statement.
Chamonix has been rolling out a local Energy Plan for several years and the process is on going. Initiatives being considered or already undertaken include lighter traffic initiatives and communal wood burning heating systems. As part of it, the resort is highlighting the need for everyone to reduce their personal impact on the environment and is organising workshops to help people reach that goal.
The resort reports that daily activities of each French citizen leads to seven tons of CO2 emissions per person (compared to two tons/year for a Chinese and 20 tons/year for an American). The planet can naturally recycle 11 billion tons of CO2/year, which means to each person on the planet needs to generate 1.8 tons of CO2 or less per year.
Chamonix's local economy changed rapidly from agro-pastoral activities to tourism and leisure over just a few decades and the valley has been confronted with the problem of exponential international transport. On a local scale, the municipality provides an environmentally friendly transport service and actively supports alpine farming. On an larger scale and as a member of the "Espace Mont-Blanc", Chamonix partakes in the deliberations on international transport between France, Switzerland and Italy.
Chamonix's growth involves the apparition of a Urban Heat Island (UHI). An UHI is a metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its surrounding areas. The temperature difference is usually larger at night than during the day, and is most apparent when winds are weak. Seasonally, UHI is seen during both summer and winter. The main cause of the urban heat island is modification of the land surface by urban development which uses materials which effectively retain heat (buildings, roads, and other infrastructure replace open land and vegetation. Surfaces that were once permeable and moist become impermeable and dry). Waste heat generated by energy usage is a secondary contributor.
Mitigation of the urban heat island effect can be accomplished through the use of green roofs, installing cool—mainly reflective—roofs and the use of cool pavements and lighter-colored surfaces in urban areas, which reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 NSAA National Convention & Tradeshow

From May 2-5, 2010, a total of 814 winter resort industry personnel descended on Orlando, Florida, for inspiration, ideas and a little bit of sunshine at the NSAA’s National Trade Show and convention. Of the 814 in attendance, 117 ski areas were represented by 438 people and 137 supplier companies brought in 376 employees.
On Monday, May 3, a panel called In Print, Online, or On Air: The Future of Consumer Ski Media, moderated by Brian Fairbank, President & CEO, Jiminy Peak Resort, was held at the National Ski Areas Association 2010 Convention and Trade Show to discussed about the Ski Media. This panel included Steve Bellamy from The Ski Channel; OnTheSnow’s Craig Altschul; Adam Cozens from Transworld; Brad Fayfield from Freeskier; Mike Federle from Bonnier; and Ashley Otte from Powder. Each addressed the changing media landscape and the importance of not just message delivery, but branding through events, special sections, and digital media. Each media expert emphasized that they were as interested in building the sport as they were on reporting on it. When asked whether print was dead, they unanimously agreed that is far from it. In fact, response to print advertising still ranks higher than any other medium. As for social media taking over marketing, one of the experts explained that it is for PR, not marketing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quietest Three Weeks Of The Year On the Slopes Begins

Skiinfo reports that despite on-going cold weather in parts of Europe and ski areas still boasting a ski pack of many metres at most top resorts, less than 30 ski centres are currently open worldwide as most northern hemisphere ski areas have now closed and southern hemisphere resorts are now open.
There are in fact more places to ski snow indoors than outdoors open at present, with some 60 indoor snow centres operational in 25 countries.

The latter half of May is traditionally the quietest period of the entire year for world skiing as the northern hemisphere’s season ends while the southern hemisphere’s is yet to begin, and several dozen northern ski areas that will open for summer skiing from June take a few week’s break for low season maintenance.
It is still snowing in different areas around the world however. Mammoth Mountain, the only ski area still open in California, has reported 5.5 inches (14cm) of new snow in the past 24 hours to add to its 8-12 foot base and there’s been new snow at Arapahoe basin in California and in the southern hemisphere in Australia.
The ski season has now ended in France and no outdoor snow slopes are open in the country. Tignes, Val d’Isere and les 2 Alpes will re-open in June for summer skiing. There’s plenty of snow still lying however and the ski touring season is still going strong for those prepared to hike up however. In St Foy the Tarentaise Mountain Guides have some places for a collective ski touring group from tomorrow 13th May to Sunday the 16th of May.
There’s not much open in Italy either as Cervinia closed last weekend until it re-opens for summer skiing in late June. Two other ski centres will also be open for summer skiing – Passo Stelvio which re-opens for the last weekend of May, and Val Senales, which opens on 12th June. In the interim however the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale will remain open until late June. It currently has around four metres (13 feet) of snow on the glacier and two red and two black runs to enjoy.
In Switzerland the weather has warmed up after last week’s snow showers and three resorts are still open. Engelberg’s Titlis glacier as well as the slopes of Zermatt remain open, as dopes the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz which has a 1000m+ vertical to enjoy still, with 50cm (1.6 feet) of snow at the top.
Austria has the lion’s share of Spring skiing in Europe now with glacier skiing available at five areas. At the Kaunertal glacier where all lifts are running and all pistes open, heavy snow showers are expected for the rest of the week topping up the 85-135cm (3-4.5 foot) base. It’s a similar story on the Pitztal glacier, Austria’s highest ski area, which is approaching its last weekend of its eight month ski season, which commenced last September. The Stubai has one of the largest ski areas open anywhere at the moment with 18 runs served by 16 lifts to choose from on an 1.8m (six foot) base. You can also ski or board this weekend on the Kitzsteinhorn or Huntertux glaciers.
In Northern Europe several ski areas remain open in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Scotland.
There’s a heavy frost this morning in the Scottish Highlands where the mountains have been repeated small falls of fresh snow over the past few days. The ski area is open weekends only through May.
In Sweden Riksgransen ski area in the Swedish Arctic is stil, in full swing and will begin its midnight sun skiing in the next few weeks. In Finland Riuka still has ski slopes open and in Norway Galdhøpiggen summer ski area is due to join already open Folgefonn, which has a four metre (13.3 foot base) when it opens tomorrow, May 13th.
In North America more ski areas closed after last weekend and resorts still known to be operating are down to Mammoth Mountain in California, Snowbird in Utah, Arapahoe Basin in Colorado and Timberline in Oregon. Mt Hood Meadows, also in Oregon, is reported to be opening this weekend and next. Arapahoe Basin has reported another inch of snow in the past three days, topping up its 44 inch (110cm) base. Six of its seven lifts are running and about 75% of the total terrain open.
North of the border in Canada Whistler’s Olympic ski season continues and Banff’s Sunshine ski area is in to the last fortnight of its long winter. The lifts are no longer running at Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia but Canada’s National Team and development team cross country skiers (picture attached) are enjoying beautiful spring conditions. Mike Cavaliere, Head Coach of the National Development Team states "The ski conditions are ideal, great grooming and sunny skies". The athletes stay at Silver Star Mountain Resort and use the National Altitude Training Center weight room in the afternoon. This year cross country skiers were able to ski eight months of the year on Silver Star Mountain. (October-May) The National Cross Country Ski Team starts their winter season at Silver Star (November) and starts their spring training for the new training year at Silver Star (May). 98 Olympic medals were won by athletes in cross country skiing and biathlon who trained at Silver Star Mountain leading into the 2010 Olympic Games.
With a month to go to the start of the new season in Australia, Mt Hotham is expecting nowfalls through the next 48 hours. This comes hot on the heels of some earlier snowfalls in the previous week when the heavens opened over Hotham and Dinner Plain with snowfalls down to 1300m at Hotham Airport. At this time of the year, early light snowfalls work well to cool the ground and prepare it for snowfalls closer to the season opening. This also helps the resort to prepare for the commencement of snowmaking as the ground will be ready to hold snow on it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 Official Hiking Year

Switzerland Tourism labels 2010 as an official hiking year and highlights 32 trails for the public to discover some of the world’s finest backdrops.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More Fresh Snow as Ski Season Wind Down Continues

Skiinfo reports that the northern hemisphere’s ski season is continuing to wind down, with more areas closing last or next weekend. However mother nature hasn’t got the message that Spring is half-gone already as it’s still snowing on some of the still-open ski areas. Meanwhile in the southern hemisphere there are increasing signs that winter is not far away.
It may be May but temperatures are falling again in France and heavy snowfalls are expected in the Pyrenees over the next three days. It' a pity therefore that all the ski areas in that part of the country have now closed for snow sports. However four leading resorts in the departments of Savoie and Haute Savoie are open for a final weekend – closing on Monday, May 9th. Here the French resorts still open until 9/05: Chamonix Mont-Blanc (picture attached) is still open with 305cm (10.1 feet) of snow, while Orelle and Val Thorens at the top of the Three Valleys has 145cm (nearly five feet) and Tignes – which has been open for eight month since last September - 140cm (4.6 feet). All French ski areas will be closed from next Monday onwards but three - Val d'Isere, Tignes and Les 2 Alpes - will re-open for a couple of months in the latter half of June for summer skiing and boarding.
Three ski resorts are still open in Italy. Cervinia and Gressoney are open until this Sunday, 9th May, while the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale is open to the 26th of June. It currently has a four metre (13.3 feet) snow base so looks in good shape for the next few months. Monterosa where Gressoney is located saw 20cm (8 inches) of new snow in the past week.
In Switzerland the temperatures are well below freezing and it’s snowing heavily at still open Engelberg, where the snow is forecast to continue at least until the weekend. Saas Fee is also receiving new snow and has reported 20cm (8 inches) overnight but no lifts are operating. Zermatt remains open and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz has a 1000m+ vertical to enjoy still, with a metre (3.3 feet) of snow at the top and 20cm (8 inches) at the bottom.
It’s cold too in Austria where several glacier ski areas remain open and are receiving fresh snow showers. The Kaunertal glacier has highs of zero and has six lifts operating, it’s open all month and currently has up to 134cm (4.5 feet) of snow on upper slopes. It’s a similar picture at Austria’s highest ski area, Pitztal, at 3440, although it will end its long season which began last September in mid-May on the 16th. There are nine lifts and 1.2m (four feet) of snow on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun, which will stage its annual ski and gold tournament next week. The Molltal glacier is alo open although it closes on Monday until the summer ski season begins in late June. Currently 30km of runs are open though and the snow i up to 3.6m (12 feet) deep still. A fifth Austrian option is the Stubai glacier near Innsbruck with 18 pistes open and 180cm (6 feet) of snow lying. You can also still ski on the Tux glacier in the Ziller valley.
The ski season ended at the weekend in Spain, with Europe’s most southerly resort wrapping up it winter despite still having several metres of snow lying on upper slopes. There are also no ski areas reported open in Andorra or on the Eastern side of Europe.
However in the north of the continent the lifts are still running in Scandinavia, Iceland and the UK.
A fresh spell of cool weather has brought new snow to Scotland for the mayday holiday period. CairnGorm mountain above Aviemore is the only Scottish ski centre still open for snow sports and it reported 2.5cm (an inch) of new snow. The centre has received 141,000 skier visits to date (more than double the 65,000 skier visits in 2009, recovering from worst season on record in 2007). So far the centre has been open 133 days open since the end of November 2009. Several hundred skiers enjoyed the fresh powder as Cairngorm entered its seventh calendar month of continuous operation in one of its busiest and most successful seasons in memory. CairnGorm Mountain will keep its winter sports facilities open for weekends in May if demand remained high - at least 300 skiers a day are needed. The best season for over 15 years has continued over the May Bank holiday weekend with over 700 skiers taking to the slopes at CairnGorm Mountain and over 1000 non-skiers enjoying the action. Fresh snow overnight on Saturday and Sunday has delighted skiing and non-skiing visitors alike as winter conditions continue to provide snowsports above the mid-mountain level. Skiing is still possible on runs including the White Lady, M1, Coire Cas and the nursery slope area at the top of the Mountain in the Ptarmigan Bowl. "The Bank holiday weekend has seen a return to wintry conditions and CairnGorm Mountain has welcomed both skiing visitors and non-skiers many of whom took the opportunity for some fun in the sledge park outside the top station". The area plans to continue to offer snow sports and sledging at weekends only throughout May.
In Scandinavia several top resorts are still open. Finland’s Ruka has 14 runs open served by five lifts, and up ion the Swedish Arctic, Riksgransen is nearing 24 hour daylight ahead of it midnight-un-ski-season beginning in the next few weeks.
Norway’s Folgenfonn ski centre opened on 1st May and immediately reported the deepest snow pretty well anywhere with 4m (13.3 feet) lying and 15cm (six inches) of fresh snow for opening day. It will be joined by a second Norwegian summer ski glacier area, Galdhoppigen, on May 13.
In North America more ski areas closed at the weekend including Loveland in Colorado and Mountain High in California. In the US however Squaw Valley in California is open for one more weekend, with lift tickets down to 45 dollars on the final day of the season – this Sunday. Snowbird in Utah plans to stay open at least through May and back in California, Mammoth is aiming to keep the slopes open until the 4th of July. In Colorado Arapahoe Basin is still open and in Oregon Mt Bachelor has reported eight inches (20cm) of new snow since the weekend. There’s still more than 10 feet (3 metres) of snow at village level and even more on the mountain. Another Oregon resort, Timberline, which normally remains open through spring and summer, is also looking good.
In Canada only Sunshine near Banff in Alberta and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia remain open.
South of the equator in New Zealand a cold front at the weekend reminded the country’s North Island skiers and riders that the southern hemisphere’s winter is just around the corner. Mt Ruapehu looked postcard perfect with a fresh layer of gleaming white snow.
In Australia’s mountains the warm, summery, weather has hibernated too, as it should in autumn. There's a distinctive nip in the air and the prospect of snow at Falls Creek ski resort has emerged in tandem with a forecasted first big cold front of season. There's only 40 days to go until the official opening date of another winter season at the resort in the province of Victoria.
In Southern Africa, Afriski in Lesotho has announced its 2010 season will begin on May 25th.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Preliminary Report Indicates US Ski Areas Tallied 59.7 Million Visits in 2009/10, Second Best Season on Record

In a dramatic rebound from the previous season, the U.S. ski industry recorded 59.7 million visits, the second best season ever, according to the preliminary 2009/10 Kottke National End of Season Survey. In spite of continued pressures from a weak economy and without the catalyst of an exceptional snow year, skier visits this season increased by 4.2 percent, only 1.2 percent below the all time record of 60.5 million visits achieved in 2007/08.
According to the study, all regions except the Northeast achieved substantial gains in total visits. The Pacific Southwest had a 15.0 percent increase in skier visits, and the Midwest and Southeast also experienced notable gains of 7.2 percent and 6.7 percent respectively. The Rocky Mountain region continued its dominant overall position in terms of total visitation, increasing by 3.4 percent over last year, and again exceeding the 20 millions visit threshold. The Pacific Northwest also rose from 2008/09, growing by 3.2 percent. The Northeast decreased by a projected 2.7 percent.
In an indication of widespread solid performance, the industry as a whole exceeded its 10-season average by 3.9 percent in the 2009/10 season, a pattern echoed by all regions, including the Northeast (up 1.1 percent from its 10-season average), Southeast (up 9.9 percent), Midwest (up 2.1 percent), Rocky Mountains (up 4.3 percent), Pacific Southwest (up 4.7 percent), and Pacific Northwest (up 5.7 percent). On an individual basis, 69 percent of responding areas reported increased annual visits.
Visitation gains occurred despite a 14 percent decrease in overall snowfall among ski areas nationwide. Regionally, snowfall totals were mixed, with substantially greater snowfall in the Southeast, up 98 percent; and to a lesser extent in the Pacific Southwest, up 8 percent. However, decreased snowfall was reported in all other regions, including the Northeast (-21 percent), Midwest (-32 percent), Rocky Mountains (-20 percent) and Pacific Northwest (-25 percent).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Alicia Keys Conquers Ischgl

Alicia Keys hit the heights with a spectacular mountain top concert to mark the end of the ski season at the leading Austrian resort of Ischgl. The American star sang in front of 15,000 fans, many of them skiers and snowboarders enjoying the last of the winter's snow.
The Tirolean village's Top of the Mountain concert on the first Saturday in May has long been established as the Alps' major music event, and Alicia Keys follows in the footsteps of a galaxy of superstars who have entertained skiers and boarders in the Austrian resort's traditional Top of the Mountain gig. Fifteen years ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year to open and close the winter season. Elton John was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous season closing concerts, back in 1995. Since then the resort has hosted Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Atomic Kitten, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, Lionel Richie, Pink, the Scissor Sisters, the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Elton John again, Gabriella Cilmi, Leona Lewis, Kylie Minogue and Katy Perry.
Alicia wowed the audience, including winter sports fans from Austria, Germany, Britain, Holland, Italy and Russia, in a high-energy show.