Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First US Ski Helmet Laws Appear Close To Implementation

Two US states, New Jersey and California, appear close to passing laws that will be similar to those currently in force in Italy and parts of Austria, requiring children below young-teenage to wear helmets.
The legislation is at its most advanced stage in California where Austrian-born governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is now considering whether to make the draft bill law (SB 880) after it successfully passed through the state’s senate with a two-thirds (22-11) majority in favour last week. The measure by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, mirrors bicycle helmet laws already in place in California.
If passed as it current stands by Governor Schwarzenegger, it will be the most extensive helmet law yet in that it will require all children aged up to 18 to wear helmets, older than the age requirement in countries that already have helmet laws in place.
However breaking the law would by contrast be the least severely punished, in contrast to California’s infamous ‘Three-strikes’ law which can see repeat offenders jailed for life for committing a succession of occasionally relatively minor offences. Parents may face a $25 fine if their children are caught skiing or snowboarding in California without a helmet.
Ski resorts will be required to post signs about the law on trail maps, websites, and other locations throughout the property, but it has not been reported whether they too would face fines if they failed to enforce the law, as is the case for Italian resorts.
Half of all skiing deaths are caused by a head injury. Recent studies show that when helmets are used, the incidence of traumatic brain or head injury has been reduced 29percent to 56 percent. The Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has found that more than 7,000 head injuries per year on the slopes in the U.S. could be prevented or reduced in severity by the use of a helmet. The CPSC study also showed that for children under 15 years of age, 53 percent of head injuries (approximately 2,600 of the 4,950 head injuries annually) are addressable by use of a helmet.
The legislation has sparked a debate following the themes of safety versus personal choice. Some older teen snowsports participants said they wanted the law as it would act against peer pressure they said they felt to not wear helmets even though they wanted to. Others said such a decision should be made by parents not by legislators. "It's a tough call, I have real issues in terms of liberty and letting parents make their own decisions ... but we are talking about a situation with minors, not adults, and a lot of serious injuries can occur on the ski slopes", said Assemblyman Ted Gaines, the only Republican in the Assembly who voted for the bill. "I've skied since age 5 and I am very fortunate to still be here to talk to you. I think it's a reasonable approach".
Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, who carried the bill on the Assembly floor, noted that ski resorts did not oppose the bill. The ski industry had fought a proposal by Jones that would have required ski resorts to publish reports on how many people are injured or killed on the slopes, increase safety measures, and force minors and employees to wear helmets.
Jones amended that bill, AB1652, which also was approved by lawmakers this week. It now requires ski resorts to develop and publish safety plans, and submit reports to state safety officials only when a fatal accident occurs.
In addition to the California Psychological Association, SB 880 is supported by the American College of Emergency Physicians, California Brain Injury Association, California´s Children´s Hospital Association, California Chiropractic Association, California Hospital Association, California Medical Association, California Nurses Association, California Psychiatric Association, California Travel Industry Association, Children´s Advocacy Institute, and the National Academy of Neuropsychology, among others.
The Governor must sign or veto both bills by September 30.
A number of leading resort groups in North America including Aspen Skiing Company, Intrawest and Vail Resorts have already made helmet-wearing compulsory in various scenarios including for on-mountain staff and for vguests taking ski school lessons.

100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games confirmed for 2011

Winter Games NZ chairman, Sir Eion Edgar, today announced 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games is confirmed for 13-28 August 2011 following signoff from all key central and local government partners.
Expanding on the successful inaugural event in 2009, 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games, will feature 16 days of snow and ice sports and is expected to attract over 1,000 elite athletes from throughout the world to the Southern Alps.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2010 FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Junior World Championships, Sir Eion said, "We are delighted with the level of government support from the Major Events Development Fund, SPARC and Tourism New Zealand which has ensured the future of this highly regarded event. They recognise the success of the first Games and support the continued growth into 2011. Our planning is already well advanced and with the success of this year’s Junior World Championships we expect even bigger and more competitive fields next year".
In 2009, Winter Games made global snow sports history by producing the first winter sports event of its kind outside of the Winter Olympics and by combining adaptive and able-bodied athletes in an elite event. Its importance on the elite snow sports calendar was confirmed, not only by the significant field it attracted, but by the number of competitors who went on to win medals at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver. Seven Paralympic and 10 Olympic medallists had competed at Winter Games, including the entire men’s snowboard halfpipe podium.
Building on that success, the 2011 provisional programme has expanded with the inclusion of two new sports and a new location outside of the Otago region. Mt Hutt near Christchurch, Canterbury will now host the Super G and Adaptive Super G alpine skiing events while the remaining alpine skiing events will stay at Coronet Peak in Queenstown.
Dunedin will again be the ice sports centre and will see an increase in events with the inclusion of speed skating in the ice programme. In addition, the ice hockey tournament will feature four international teams in a round robin play-off while figure skating will open the Games on 13 August 2011. The ice programme is rounded out by the curling programme in Naseby, Maniototo which has been extended to include mixed pairs.
Another new addition is Winter Triathlon at Snow Farm, near Wanaka which was a demonstration event at the 2009 Winter Games. Snow Farm will also host the adaptive and able-bodied cross-country.
Cardrona Alpine Resort near Lake Wanaka will host the free ski and snowboard halfpipe and big air events together with the snowboard cross and ski cross racing. Freeski and snowboard slopestyle will take place cross the valley at Snow Park NZ.
Central and local government supporters of 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games are New Zealand Major Events, SPARC, Tourism New Zealand, Dunedin City Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Christchurch City Council, Lake Wanaka Tourism, Destination Queenstown, Tourism Dunedin, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism and Ashburton District Tourism.

Finland triumphs as Snowboard Big Air brings Championships to a close

Enni Rukajarvi (picture attached) and Petja Piiroinen (19), both of Finland took out the Women’s and Men’s Junior World Champion titles in today’s snowboard big air at Cardrona at the final day of the 2010 FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships.
The girls really showed their metal with many choosing the massive 20m jump over the smaller 17m option. Rukajarvi got the top score of 26.0 with a massive backside 540 with indy grab off the big kicker. Urska Pribosic (SLO) took silver and Klaudia Medlova bronze. "It was very exciting to ride such a good jump, even though the weather didn’t allow us much practise time", said Rukajarvi. "I’m so happy to have won!".
Men’s winner Piiroinen took out the title for the second year with a backside 1080 toppo cork and a score of 27.3. He was a clear 1.5 points ahead of Belgian Seppe Smits and Ville Paumola, also of Finland took bronze. "It’s so nice to win for a second time", said Piiroinen. "The other guys were all riding really strongly so it’s great to be world champion".
Juliane Bray, Championships Patron and New Zealand Olympic snowboarder said the level of riding was outstanding. "All the riders really wanted to hit the jump because it was a fantastic jump with great set up", she said. "In between the clouds the riders who wanted it the most put on an amazing show with at least five of the riders doing double cork tricks (1080 spin with a double somersault), the most progressive trick currently in snowboarding. The women’s big air was a massive challenge as they were so young and the jump was so big – I’ve got big respect for all them".
At the end of the closing ceremony, Russia was announced as the recipients of the Marc Hodler trophy for the most successful snowboard nation at the championships.
The 2010 FIS Junior World Championships have come to an end and in doing so made history as the first world championships to combine freestyle skiing and snowboarding, as well as feature slopestyle in both disciplines.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Australia’s Ski Areas Celebrate Best August Snowfall For 25 Years

Australia’s leading ski areas are currently being dumped on and are reporting the best August snowfalls for more than two decades. Much of the snow has been falling in the past week.
"Yesterday we smashed the record books with some of the best snow the mountain has seen in years! The resort received 34cms of snow, rendering it as the best August snowfall recorded since 1985!", said an excited spokesperson for Mt Buller (picture attached).
It’s a similar story at the country’s largest resort, Perisher, which thinks this August could still end up their snowiest ever as the snow is still falling. There has been no other August since 1984 where more snow has fallen. Perisher has had more than 30cm of fresh snow settle across the resort since yesterday, that makes it 2.6m of accumulated snowfalls since 1st August with wind-drifts over 1.5m deep in places.
For Mt Hotham it’s 102cm in the past week with 47cm of fresh snow overnight on Wednesday - the biggest single dump on record since 2003. 82cm has fallen in the past 48 hours making it the resort’s snowiest August since 1992. All 13 lifts are operating with plenty of powder stashes to be found.

Perisher Afternoon Snow Report 31st August 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

North American Skiers get the podium in the Freestyle Ski Halfpipe

A heavy overnight snowfall delayed start while the pipe was emptied of snow but by 1.00pm competition was underway for a two-run final.
Noah Bowman (CAN, picture attached) and Britta Sigourney (USA) were today crowned as the first FIS Junior World Champions in the freestyle ski halfpipe.
Bowman threw down the run of the day in his first run, which in hindsight was good planning on his part. A huge left 5 mute into a right 7 tail, into a switch left 7 mute, right 5 reverse mute, left 9 tail, perfectly executed earned him 40.5. Walter Wood of USA and Kristopher Atkinson (CAN) took second and third respectively. Stop-start conditions and eventual dense fog saw the men’s finals being decided on just one run causing disappointment among competitors who didn’t land their first run which included one of the top riders, Byron Wells (NZE). "It was a tough day out there and disappointing for everyone that the weather wasn’t better", said head judge, Ola Sundequist. "It was a shame Byron didn’t land his first hit based on what we had seen at training. And it was a shame all the riders didn’t really get the chance to show what they can do". "I wasn’t too worried about the weather", said Bowman. "I did a safer run for my first run and was planning to do a harder one second time round but luckily I scored well on that first run".
The women’s event was one rider short of completion and Devin Logan (USA) waited over two hours for a gap in the fog to complete her second run. However, Mother Nature wasn’t her side and the women’s event also reverted to a one run final. While Sigourney had put down her highest scoring run in her second run, her first attempt was also enough to earn her first place with 41.1 with a left 5, alleyoop, straight tail mute, alleyoop 5 finishing with a straight 7. "It was a little challenging out there at first with the pipe being stuck in a big cloud but I was really glad we got to do the competition", said Sigourney. "I’m stoked with my results and it was too bad Devin didn’t get to do her second run after waiting so long". Hannah Haupt (USA) took second and Devin Logan rounded out the podium in third.
At the end of competition the USA were announced as recipients of the Marc Hodler Cup as the most successful nation in the freestyle ski disciplines "We’re excited and really proud to have represented the USA the way we did", Cheryl Pearson, USA freestyle programme manager. "The kids stayed focussed and stuck to their game plans throughout the competition and were in the top six in every event. We’d also like to thank the organising committee for running such an excellent event".

Films "Purity" and "Asgard Jamming" winners of the 16th Mountain Film Festival in St. Anton

From August 24th to August 28th St. Anton am Arlberg hosted the 16th Edition of the Mountain Film Festival. After viewing the films and a long deliberation with a few heated discussions they finally came together with a decision which of the films would take home the St. Anton Spezialpreis 2010 for best film. The winners of the 2010 edition are the films Purity und Asgard Jamming.
For 5 days, writer-directors, mountaineerers, climbers and mountain film friends from around the world gather to watch the spectacular documentaries and thrilling feature-length films about the sport they all love on the giant screen arranged in the Arlberg-well.com, a modern event center for Wellness and Communications located in the heart of the village.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Learning for Innsbruck 2012 in Singapore

The Closing Ceremony of the inaugural edition of the Youth Olympic Games brought a dramatic and emotional end to 12 days of world-class sporting competition and cultural and educational activities in Singapore on Thursday night.
In 2012 the first winter edition of the Youth Olympic Games will take place in Innsbruck, Austria. In this video Peter Bayer, CEO Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, talk about what he has learnt from Singapore 2010

Innsbruck was elected to host the Games in December 2008. The result was announced by IOC President Jacques Rogge at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne. The Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, to be held between 13 and 22 January 2012, will bring together 1,058 athletes between 14 and 18 years of age from approximately 80 National Olympic Committees to compete in the seven sports on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games programme. Innsbruck will host the Olympic torch for the third time after hosting the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games. Alongside the sports element they will participate in a Culture and Education Programme (CEP) which will raise Participants’ awareness of the Olympic values and topics like Olympism, skills development, well being & healthy lifestyle, social responsibility and expression through Digital Media. Innsbruck is a beautiful alpine city of 130.000 people which offers a vibrant city life in the heart of Europe. It is surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks that provide a constant reminder that cities and nature can co-exist in harmony. The lifestyle in Innsbruck has focused on winter sports for decades.
The participants will be accommodated in a newly developed Youth Olympic Village. Innsbruck has committed to build a completely new neighborhood which will serve more than a 1.700 beds. After the Games the Youth Olympic Village will provide the city with a much needed legacy in new housing.

Freestyle Ski Cross Junior Champions Crowned

The action was fast and furious in today’s freestyle ski cross at Cardrona Alpine Resort in the 2010 FIS Junior World Championships with Switzerland and Norway taking out the honours.
The battle in the women’s final was fierce with Fanny Smith (SUI, picture attached) demonstrating how she has earned her top five ranking. After a bad start, she soon took the lead with Katrin Ofner (AUT) hot on her heals, a mistake on the second to last jump saw her lose her lead with Ofner taking full opportunity. However Smith’s experience kicked in and she reined in Ofner, taking a smart line on the last berm putting her across the finish line in first place. Meanwhile the battle for second and third was taking place behind her with Ofner just taking silver ahead of Yulia Livinskaya (RUS) and Violetta Kovalskaya (RUS) came in fourth. "It was a great race and very tough", said Smith. "I didn’t start as well as I could have but I came here to win and I knew that I must win so I did everything I could and it worked!".
The men’s race was equally competitive with Norwegian Didrik Bastian Juell taking the title after qualifying in third. After a physical top third of the course where he worked his way up from fourth to first, his team mate, Morten Ring Christensen and Georgy Kornilov (RUS) were always close behind. By the second half of the course he had extended his lead slightly to give him a comfortable finish and the world championship title. Anton Grimus of Australia took fourth. "My day didn’t start out as well as it could have and that’s why I’m so surprised to have won", said Juell. "But I got a few good starts in the heats which helps a lot. In the final, there was a bit of contact at the start but I came out of that OK and for the rest of the final I kept waiting for someone to overtake me but they never did! It’s amazing and I never expected this – it’s quite a shock!".
The course was adapted slightly from last Sunday’s snowboard cross taking into account the skiers were travelling at higher speeds. The angles were decreased angles on the take-offs as so the skiers flew longer rather than higher. Joe Fitzgerald, FIS Freestyle Coordinator, said the course was an excellent world championship course. "It’s very nice, smooth, exciting course and it was noted by one of the Olympic skiers that is very similar to the Olympic course with the banks and flow".

Friday, August 27, 2010

16th Mountain Film Festival in St. Anton

From August 24th to August 28th St. Anton am Arlberg will host the 16th Edition of the Mountain Film Festival. For 5 days, writer-directors, mountaineerers, climbers and mountain film friends from around the world are coming to watch the spectacular documentaries and thrilling feature-length films about the sport they all love on the giant screen arranged in the Arlberg-well.com, a modern event center for Wellness and Communications located in the heart of the village.

My selection for today (Pure Sport):


Snowboard Parallel Slalom Junior World Champions crowned

Two more alpine snowboarding junior world champions were decided today at Snow Park NZ in the Parallel Slalom with Russia’s Dimitry Bazanov (19, picture attached) and Sabine Schoeffmann (18) of Austria taking out the male and female titles respectively.
It was another highly competitive day of racing with conditions perfect compared to yesterday’s blizzards. A cold night set up well for hard, fast course for the 70 athletes taking part.
Bazanov said he came to New Zealand to win – his first goal was to win yesterday’s giant slalom, a dream that was shattered when he fell. Today he was in the finals against yesterday’s newly crowned world champion, Edwin Coratti of Italy. After the first run he got a delay penalty but managed to overtake Coratti in the final gates, securing the world championship title. Johann Stefaner (AUT) took the final place on the men’s podium in third. "I wanted to win yesterday and it still doesn’t feel real that I am now world champion", he said. "Edwin was a really strong racer but I knew, even with the time penalty I could beat him and I did – I’m so happy!".
The women’s race was equally competitive with Schoeffmann narrowly winning by just three hundredths of a second over Switzerland’s Julie Zogg who also took silver in yesterday’s giant slalom. Ekatarina Khatomchenkova rounded out the podium with bronze. "I had a lot of luck today and the other girls were really good", said Shoeffmann. "I was really surprised to win as I thought I’d do better yesterday but instead I won today – it’s a really great feeling to be world champion!".
The FIS Junior World Championship action moves to Cardrona Alpine Resort tomorrow for the ski cross.

Junior World Champions decided in Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom

Testing conditions for competitors and organisers marked the first of two days of alpine snowboarding at Snow Park NZ at the 2010 Junior World Championships.
Just under 70 athletes took on the parallel giant slalom course in conditions that included driving blizzard, limited visibility and high winds. However, determination won through and Edwin Coratti (19, picture attached) of Italy and Annamari Chundak (20) of Ukraine took out the World Championship titles.
Chundak, who has a world ranking of 36, clocked the fastest women’s qualifying time while Lukas Mathies (19) of Austria, ranked 28 in the world, was the fastest men’s qualifier. Chundak managed to hold onto her lead throughout the event to take the overall title. "The weather was horrible but we train in all different conditions so it didn’t affect me so much", said Chundak. "It was a very tough competition but I believed in myself and now I am so happy to be world champion". Julie Zogg (SUI) took silver and Ina Meschik (AUT) took bronze in the women’s race.
Mathies fought hard through the finals but it was Edwin Coratti who pipped him to the post by just hundredths of a second. "It was a great day", said Coratti. "Lukas was my closest rival and it was very hard racing against him but I did it!". Konstantin Shiplove (RUS) and Stefan Baumeister (GER) took silver and bronze respectively

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. An eco-responsible event

Today at 18:30 hours the 8th Edition of the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc will start in the Place du Triangle de l’Amitiét in he centre of Chamonix. The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) takes place in one of the most incredible landscapes on the world. A breathtaking scenery of seven valleys, 71 glaciers and 400 summits like the Mont Blanc, the Dent du Géant and the rock face of the Grandes Jorasses. The athletes cover a distance of 166 km and 9,400 of positive altitude change along the famous GR TMB, within 46 hours, at an altitude ranging between 1012 m and 2537 m., crossing six passes over 2000 metres high. They will pass through 3 countries: France, Italy and Switzerland.
Created in 2003 by a united party of friends lovers of cross-country racing and of the country of Mont-Blanc, les Trailers du Mont-Blanc, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a real challenge for the organization: 1700 volunteers maintaining 48 control and safety points for a duration of 60 hours to ensure the wellbeing of all who participate. Also, the entire length of the trail is checked and marked with about 5000 flags or signs, all of which have to be removed the days following the race. In the route there will be a total of 33 refreshment posts, some in villages and others at high mountain refuges, together with 4 bases at Les Chapieux, Courmayeur, Champex and Chamonix.
Since the creation of the event, organisers, runners, accompanying persons, volunteers and partners, meet the challenge of integrating an event gathering several thousand actors together into a fragile environment. By integrating a totally active eco-responsible attitude, the organisation tries to minimize, to the maximum, harmful effects. Therefore everybody can leave the event by congratulating themselves for having been able to reconcile the beauty of the effort with the magnificence of high mountain ecosystem.
Whether it is by logistical optimization of anticipating the unforeseen, or by establishing innovative measures such as buses for the runners and their accompanying persons, car-pooling, road closures or the use of the unique beaker for the runners, the UTMB has always had as an objective the conservation of the natural environment, by the raising each person’s awareness of how to protect an exceptional natural landscape and how to adopt an eco-responsible attitude. The North Face Ultra-Trail of Mont Blanc is signatory of two environmental charters: that of the Espace Mont-Blanc (involves 35 different communes, under the wing of the Mont-Blanc cross-border conference -Switzerland, Italy and France- who are all striving to protect and valorise an exceptional cross-border territory) and of the Direction Départementale de la Jeunesse et des Sports.
Hundreds of thousand walkers, and more and more runners, stride out along the paths of the Tour du Mont-Blanc every year, without any supervision. For the greater part, they have a strong urge to leave the least possible track of their passage. To understand, analyze and act, in 2010 the Environment committee of Ultra-Trail are taking advantage of these thousands of runners to pilot and supervise a study into the impact on the environment. It will gather the anxieties, knowledge and ideas of all the actors of the massif to envisage a project where nature and runners can each find a harmonious place. More concretely, it will be a question of drawing up a map of the exposed zones, to verify that the load capacity of the environment crossed is not exceeded and that the generated disturbance is not too important in relevance to the stakes of site conservation.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

16th Mountain Film Festival in St. Anton

From August 24th to August 28th St. Anton am Arlberg will host the 16th Edition of the Mountain Film Festival. For 5 days, writer-directors, mountaineerers, climbers and mountain film friends from around the world are coming to watch the spectacular documentaries and thrilling feature-length films about the sport they all love on the giant screen arranged in the Arlberg-well.com, a modern event center for Wellness and Communications located in the heart of the village.

My selection for today (Adventure in the Gobi Desert):

Alleingang in der Gobi

Huge Snowfalls in Argentina, But Not Much Fresh Anywhere Else

Skiinfo reports that after the dramatic snowfalls of recent weeks, the world’s snowy weather seems to have quietened down in the last seven days with only small falls reported on each side of the equator. The exception being Argentina where Catedral is claiming the have received an incredible 90cm (three feet)! of snow yesterday following other big falls a week ago. The snow depth on piste there is currently the deepest in the world at 2.4m (eight feet).
In Switzerland the two open glacier ski areas of Sass Fee and neighbouring Zermatt continue to offer the best conditions on the continent at present. Both received more than a foot of fresh snow a few weeks ago. Snow depths at both remain about 1.2m (four feet) and terrain park features are in good shape.
There’s no change in Austria where the Kitzsteinhorn’s ‘temporary closure’ due to thin snow cover on the glacier is stretching towards a month. There’s only 7cm of snow reported on there at present so it’s not looking promising that it’ll re-open any time soon. It’s a similar picture on the Dachstein Glacier which has 30cm of snow on the glacier which it describes as "wet". It only had limited cross country skiing open at present. On the Molltal glacier in the south of the country there remains 9.5km of runs open with up to 1.2m (four feet) of snow lying. Snow depth on the year-round snow sports centre at Tux in the Ziller Valley has dropped below a metre for the first time in a long while – it’s at 95cm (just over three feet), but there are still 20km of runs and more than 600m of vertical to enjoy.
Italy’s Val Senales, Cervinia and Passo Stelvio remain open, each with 70-100cm (2.3 – 3.3 feet) of snow. Cervinia, which is in its penultimate week of summer skiing, closing on September 5th, has the best snow after benefitting from the large snowfall that Zermatt received a few weeks ago.
In France cover is patchy at Les 2 Alpes and Tignes, the two open glacier ski areas, both of which close this weekend, although in Tignes’case, only for three weeks before re-opening for winter 2010-11 in mid-September!
In the USA it’s till Timberline on Mt hood in Oregon that’s the only snow sports centre open. It’s two chairs and public terrain park are all open and temperatures are dropping a little as summer draws to a close.
In the southern hemisphere we’re starting to see more Springlike conditions at some resorts while others remain in mid-Winter mode. Chile’s Portillo has issued a statement saying, "We are in a spring skiing freeze\thaw cycle. Off piste skiing cover is variable. The heliskiing is operating as weather permits on corn snow and the snow depth on the Plateau side is 100cm and 50cm on the Juncalillo side". This seems to be a pattern being repeated at other Chillean resorts, with Chapa Verde’s base depth now down to 50cm (20 inches) at Valle Nevado it’s only 40cm, despite more than 3.7m falling so far this winter. None the less, most of the terrain there remains open.
Things are looking different across the Andes in Argentina with Catedral, the continent’s biggest ski area, reporting an amazing three foot (90cm) fall today taking base depths on the mountain to 2.4m (eight feet). There’s a dramatic difference between the top ad the bottom of the slopes however, with lower runs only reporting a25cm (10 inch) base and 10cm (four inches) of new snow. It’s also looking good, if not quite so spectacular, in Chapelco with a 1.4m (4.6 foot) base. At Argentina’s other big resort, Las Leñas, snow depths on upper slopes are at 95cm (just over three feet).
Conditions are generally good across Australia’s ski areas with most of the major resorts boasring a base depth in excess of a metre (just) and most receiving at least some fresh snow in the past few days, and that snowfall is on-going. Mt Hotham reports the whole mountain is open, with Keogh's and The Orchard opened for the first time in season 2010 last week and Blue Ribbon followed suit on Saturday after 17cm (seven inches) of fresh snow fell on Friday night. August snowfalls now measure 143cm (nearly five feet) and it's been the best August for snowfalls since 2001!. Another large dump of snowflakes is expected to fall throughout this week with up to half a metre predicted.
In New Zealand the big news isn’t so much the snow as the fact that over 300 of the world's elite junior snow sports athletes from some 30 nations are in Lake Wanaka this week to compete in the inaugural joint FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships (picture attached) which began last Thursday 19th August and continue to Tuesday the 31st. Marking the first time a FIS World Championship has taken place in New Zealand and the first time the disciplines of Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding have combined at FIS World Championship level, the event has attracted a high calibre field. Cardrona, where some of the main events are taking place is reporting excellent conditions with temperatures around -3 and 90cm (three feet) of snow on upper runs, virtually everything open, but no fresh snow. SnowPark NZ, the other venue, doesn’t go in to detail but just reports everything ‘open’. Mt Ruapehu’s two resorts of Turoa and Whakapapa have bases of 115-160cm (approximately 4 – 5.3 feet) and though they’ve had no new snow, are expecting fresh for the rest of the week. Over at The Remarkables the snow has started falling, just, with a centimetre of fresh in the past 24 hours, it has a one metre base. Mt Hutt has had the same fall but double the base. Coronet Peak also reports a centimetre of new snow on its 110cm base.
Afriski, the only ski area open in Africa, reports conditions little changed on last week. The resort managed nine hours of snowmaking in the past 24 hours taking the season-to-date snowmaking hours total tantalising close to 500, with 485 to date. The ski area in Lesotho has built up a 70cm (2.3 foot) deep base on its 700m long main run and there’s also a terrain park and beginners slope open. The resort has had no natural snowfall reported this winter.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

16th Mountain Film Festival in St. Anton

From August 24th to August 28th St. Anton am Arlberg will host the 16th Edition of the Mountain Film Festival. For 5 days, writer-directors, mountaineerers, climbers and mountain film friends from around the world are coming to watch the spectacular documentaries and thrilling feature-length films about the sport they all love on the giant screen arranged in the Arlberg-well.com, a modern event center for Wellness and Communications located in the heart of the village.

My selection for today (spectacular Ski And BASE Jump Films):

Immer höher, immer weiter

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

Snowboard Halfpipe Junior World Champions Crowned

Cilka Sadar (18) of Slovenia and Taku Hiraoka (14 -picture attached) of Japan were today crowned Junior Snowboard Halfpipe World Champions in an exciting day of competition at Cardrona that also saw New Zealand earn its first medal of the Championships. The day started with an all-star line up with the forerunners, which included Olympic gold medallist, Kelly Clark (USA) and New Zealand Olympian Juliane Bray.
The Women’s semi finals saw New Zealander Rebecca Sinclair (18) score the highest qualifying run in the first run. However, by the second run, she dropped to third but still secured a place in the finals along with highest qualifier Haruna Matsuoto (17) and Palmer Taylor (17). In the finals it was Cilka Sadar who dominated with a solid backside 5, frontside 5, backside air, frontside 7, cab 3 finishing with an alleyoop scoring 37.8. Sinclair’s second run put her into the silver position with 31.7, landing a crippler 7 (inverted 720 spin), a result she was stoked with given her recent injury woes. "I wasn’t even expecting to be able to compete with my injured ankle", she said. "But it’s all strapped up – I’ve been struggling with landing the crippler all week and I’m stoked I pulled it off in my second run. It’s a real privilege to have the Junior World Championships here in New Zealand and great preparation for my next goal which is the World Championships in Spain in January 2011". Haruna Matsumoto (17) of Japan rounded out the podium with a score of 31.4.
The Men’s semi finals saw Australia’s Nathan Johnstone (20) take the top finals qualifying spot with a spectacularly solid run with huge amplitude, despite the windy conditions. He was closely followed by Manuel Pietropoli (20) of Italy and New Zealand’s Ben Stewart (18). In the finals Hiraoka once again stole the day, scoring a massive 44.2 with a frontside air, backside 5, frontside 7, cab 10 and frontside 5, all with huge amplitude, over 12 feet above the pipe edge. "It’s amazing to be World Champion", he said. "It’s really important for my future in halfpipe – I’m so happy". Johnstone continued his consistently high level of riding with second place with a score of 42.2 while Manuel Pietropoli took bronze.
Head judge, Ola Sundequist, said the level of riding was extremely high. "We were quite worried about the wind earlier on in the morning and that we wouldn’t see the riders get much height out of the pipe. However, they ended up going very big and while some were affected by gusts, most landed fine resulting in some good scores. Taku’s run was incredible, everything was so smooth".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

16th Mountain Film Festival in St. Anton

From August 24th to August 28th St. Anton am Arlberg will host the 16th Edition of the Mountain Film Festival. For 5 days, writer-directors, mountaineerers, climbers and mountain film friends from around the world are coming to watch the spectacular documentaries and thrilling feature-length films about the sport they all love on the giant screen arranged in the Arlberg-well.com, a modern event center for Wellness and Communications located in the heart of the village.
Since 1995 the St. Anton Film Fest has become an internationally renowned festival focusing on "Mountains, People, Adventures". The fascination of the mountain world, breathtaking landscapes and daring expeditions can be marvelled and discussed with high-profile guests. The Film Festival St. Anton presents a wide variety of this film genre: International documentaries, films about breath-taking outdoor sports, such as extreme climbing, skiing and snowboarding, paragliding, expeditions to the highest and most difficult mountains on the earth. In addition, spectacular films about living in the mountains – the Alps, Andes, and Himalayas – are presented.
It is not by chance that this famous town at the Arlberg initiated a film festival: Winter sport is legendary here and already in the 1920s mountain and skiing films were made. For example, Arnold Fanck, the pioneer of the German mountain film genre, used the unique winter scenery at the Arlberg for his spectacular films, such as "Der weiße Rausch" (White Frenzy) shot in 1931. Hannes Schneider from Stuben am Arlberg, skiing pioneer and founder of the Arlberg skiing technique, and Leni Riefenstahl featured in this film. Luis Trenker, who later became famous as a director and actor, started his acting career at the Arlberg in 1924.
The Film Festival is also famous for its unique atmosphere: Look out for numerous celebrities – filmmakers and extreme athletes – who are among the audience; the Film Festival is a meeting place for all mountain and mountain film enthusiasts. The films are skillfully presented at the film stage, and directors and protagonists answer questions and talk about their film work and their adventures. Among the special guests of the last FILM FESTIVALS were Dean Potter, Hans Kammerlander, Alexander Huber, Catherine Destivelle, Peter Habeler, Beat Kammerlander, Hubert von Goisern, Dana Vavrova, Alain Robert, Stephan Siegrist, Kurt Albert, Bernd Arnold, Ines Papert, Stefan Glowacz, Heinrich Harrer, Paul Flora, Joseph Vilsmaier.
Upcoming filmers can win the St. Anton Special Award presented by the local Tourist Board and the Arlberger Bergbahnen AG mountain lift company.

My selection for today (spectacular Freeride Films):

Made in Austria


The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

On Friday 27th August 2010, at 18:30 hours the 8th Edition of the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc will start in the Place du Triangle de l’Amitiét in he centre of Chamonix. The Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is one of the greatest European Mountain Trail Races. The international race limited to 2,300 participants -this year the event had a record success with almost 3,900 requests-, takes place in one of the most incredible landscapes on the world. A breathtaking scenery of seven valleys, 71 glaciers and 400 summits like the Mont Blanc, the Dent du Géant and the rock face of the Grandes Jorasses. The athletes cover a distance of 166 km and 9,400 of positive altitude change along the famous GR TMB, within 46 hours, at an altitude ranging between 1012 m and 2537 m., crossing six passes over 2000 metres high. They will pass through 3 countries: France, Italy and Switzerland. The sporting and human achievement is remarkable: 166 km is the distance between Paris and Auxerre by the motorway; it is also the distance of four marathons back to back. The positive height gain is equivalent to twice the ascension of Everest from base camp.
Alternatively, the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) will give the 2,000 participants 25 hours to cover a distance of 98 km with 5,600 m ascent from the Italian heart of the Aosta valley, through Switzerland, before finishing in Chamonix.
The "Petite Trotte à Léon", a event born two years ago, a non-competitive raid for teams of 3 people to complete a great circuit of Mont-Blanc of about 250 km for about 18,000 metres of positive altitude change (limit time: 100 h). This course, marked on a map handed out to each team, but not signposted, will follow the legendary passes (col des Fours, Fenêtre d’Arpette) with an extension towards the Great St Bernard and the Emosson barrage.For its 3rd year, the PTL is ‘complete’ with a record 75 teams registered.
This year the second edition of the event "Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie" will take place, approximately 105 km and 6700 m of positive vertical change for a limited time of 30 hours. In the line with the other races The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, this race is bathed in wilderness and takes place on the Great Ride mountain trails of the Mont-Blanc region and the Beaufortain region. The event in its 2009 format, did not fulfil one of the objectives for its creation, namely to satisfy the largest number of runners possible by balancing the registrations between the various races. The message from the competitors could not be ignored. After numerous discussions with the communes concerned and the wish to offer runners a race which pleases them, it was decided to invert the direction of the event. This way the runners can benefit from a magnificent departure from Courmayeur like that of the CCC, and the opportunity to cross the finishing line in Chamonix like all the other finishers.
Created in 2003 by a united party of friends lovers of cross-country racing and of the country of Mont-Blanc, les Trailers du Mont-Blanc, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a real challenge for the organization: 1700 volunteers maintaining 48 control and safety points for a duration of 60 hours to ensure the wellbeing of all who participate. Also, the entire length of the trail is checked and marked with about 5000 flags or signs, all of which have to be removed the days following the race. In the route there will be a total of 33 refreshment posts, some in villages and others at high mountain refuges, together with 4 reception bases at Les Chapieux, Courmayeur, Champex and Chamonix. For hours the volunteers will ensure a continual supply of hot and cold drinks, and trays of all kinds of foods (some places delight in offering their speciality – fresh cheese from the alp, homemade tart, etc.). Along with the racing, around 70 exhibitors are coming together in the context of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Open to all brands, the aim is to create an annual rendezvous. All the great figures in foot-racing will be there to present their novelties. But also trade names aware of the tourist impact of such a race. In fact a race of this size is a real tourist asset for a region (25,000 visitors expected).
With 6,500 participants and 58 nations represented the 4 events are surpassing the craze of previous years. Within the 4 events, the predominance is always sharply European with France in lead with 62.15% registrations, followed by Italy 7.68%, Spain 7.03%, United Kingdom 4.54% and Switzerland 3.28%. The event also see a notable increase in the presence of the Japanese who now outnumber the Americans with 110 registrations against 33 last year and 6 in 2008 !

Monday, August 23, 2010

US Skiers get the podium in the Freeski Slopestyle

The USA dominated today as Bobby Brown (19) and Jamie Crane-Mauzy (17 - picture attached) made history as the first Freeski Slopestyle World Champions at the 2010 Junior Snowboard & Freestyle World Championships.
Bobby Brown led the day from the start, qualifying with a solid first run which featured a massive double cork 10 off the giant 70ft kicker. In the finals an almost flawless first run of a switch with 270 out into a cork 9 tail into a switch 900 mute grab, double cork 1080 finishing with a misty 450 out put him nine points in the lead. However, that lead was closed on the second run by Gus Kenworthy (USA) but he held onto the title with an impressive 45.1 score. Jonas Hunziker (16) of Switzerland skied up into third place, taking the final spot on the podium. "It was a super fun day and it’s awesome to be standing on the podium next to one of my best mates, Gus Kenworthy", said Brown. "The introduction of freeskiing into FIS is going to be interesting. It’s great to have freeskiing at this event and it’s a good way to excel our sport".
In the women’s Jamie Crane-Mauzy qualified over 11 points ahead of her nearest rival, Blake Peterson (17), also of the States. In the finals a fall in her first run put her to the bottom of the table but her second run which featured a straight slide to back cross to 3 mute followed by a front flip truck finishing with a straight slide enabled her to just pip Keltie Hansen (18) to the post by 0.4 and take the world title. Fellow American, Devin Logan, rounded out the podium. "My goal was to land my run – I knew if I could do that I would do OK", said Crane Mauzy. "It feels so good to be world champion!".
Dean Gosper of FIS said it was a great compliment to the event that there was such a high calibre of field and a broad cross section of athletes with the wider selection of events has attracted a very exciting field. "NZ should feel complimented by the level of excitement within FIS about this event", he said. "FIS is very excited by New Zealand’s initiative to not only to host the first world championships in the Southern Hemisphere but also the first combined discipline world championships. The integration of the two sports provides a wonderful opportunity in competitive snow sports. They can sit comfortably side by side with a high cultural overlap and there is also a good level of respect between the disciplines. We see the Junior World Championships as the beginning of a closer working relationship between the disciplines at all levels of FIS".
With regards to the possibility of Snowboard and Freeski Slopestyle and Freeski Halfpipe entering the Olympics, Gosper commented, "There is a high level of interest from spectators and media so there’s a strong pull from the outside for these events to come to the Olympics rather than an internal push from the sports. The fact that the terrain is complimentary to these disciplines is also a very attractive feature – they’re exciting, contemporary and commercially attractive and can be delivered efficiently- these are very persuasive arguments to an organisation like the IOC".

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Snowboard Cross Champions Crowned at the FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships

A technical Snowboard Cross course of significant magnitude greeted 66 of the world’s elite junior riders today in day two of the FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships. The course’s two large hips and long fly-over table were particularly challenging for the young riders, as was the whoops section which caused many competitors to loose their rhythm while others used the feature to gain speed and propel them towards the finish line.
One such rider was Maximillian Stark (19) of Germany who recorded the fastest qualifying time in 1:07:26. However, it was Nikolay Olyunin (19) of Russia who took the world championship title having qualified with second fastest time. The final was a close run race and he narrowly missed being taken out by Joachim Havikhagen (18) of Norway on the second hip. However, he picked up speed through the lower berms and whoops to comfortably take the title ahead of Roger Carver (20) and Alex Tuttle (19), both of the USA.
"It’s fantastic being world champion", said Olyunin. "I was very nervous and the visibility was bad but it’s an amazing feeling. I just wish I wasn’t so far from home so I could celebrate with my parents".
Eva Samkova (17) from Czech Republic led the women’s field into the elimination heats in 1:14:04 and it was sheer tenacity that saw her take victory and the world championship title. For most of the final run she was racing in second to the USA’s Faye Gulini (18). However on the last bank Gulini made a mistake and Samkova saw her chance, overtaking and taking the win.
"This is fantastic!", said Samkova. "I really didn’t expect this, that I would be world champion. It was a very close race and I’m just so happy!".

St. Anton Mountain Bike Marathon

Yesterday the Mountain Bike Marathon took place in the Tirolean holiday resort of St. Anton am Arlberg known worldwide in winter as a ski destination. Situated at 1,304 m above sea level St. Anton lies on the Rosanna River and belongs to the district of Landeck. St. Anton is a truly unique recreation paradise for the whole family. The cozy little town with 2,500 inhabitants has still maintained its genuine ambiance and charming atmosphere.
The Arlberger Mountain Bike Marathon is the third and final stage of the alpine triathlon "Arlberg Eagle". The overall winner must work on their physical fitness throughout the year to be ahead of the field in the ski race (Der Weisse Rausch celebrated in April 24th), in the half marathon (July 25th) and in the mountain-bike marathon (August 21st). After the bike marathon, the heroes of the triathlon are duly celebrated on 21st August and the coveted Adler trophy is awarded to those finishing at the front in all three disciplines in 2010.
The Arlberger Mountain Bike Marathon is the highlight and at the same time the end of the St. Antoner "Bike week". A pre marathon party and live music on Friday evening put the guests and participant in the mood for the demanding race.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

First Junior World Champions Decided in Slopestyle

Snow sports history was made today at the FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships with the crowning of the first ever snowboard slopestyle junior world champions. Staale Sanbech (17 -picture attached) of Norway and Enni Rukajarvi (20) of Finland both astounded judges with their level of riding, indicating the future of snowboarding is very strong indeed.
An early morning blizzard cleared to provide perfect conditions at Snow Park NZ for this historic event. The course consisted of a down rail to 25ft flat box or rail followed by three kickers ranging in size from 15ft to 70 ft, ending in a multi-feature of an up box with gap off, snow rainbow and tank bonk.
New Zealand’s Ben Comber (20) of Christchurch scored the highest qualifying run of the day which included a gravity defying switch backside 9 off the 70ft kicker setting him in good stead as the only Kiwi going into the men’s finals. He continued his lead into the first run of the finals but by the second run everything changed. Sanbech was saving his best ‘til last and took out the world championship with a decisive second run which started with a front board on followed by a frontside 5 into a cab 9, a back 10 finishing with a 270 out on the last box. Ville Paumola (19) of Finland took out second place and Seppe Smits (19) of Belgium rounded out the podium. Comber eventually finished the day in fifth.
Rukajarvi dominated the women’s heats with comfortable lead of over four points ahead of her nearest rival, Slovenian Urska Pribosic (20). Rukajarvi continued to dominate in the finals with her second run. After the rail, a frontside 3 followed by a backside 5, gap 5 and stalefish secured her the world championship ahead of Slovenia’s Urska Pribosic and 15-year-old Samm Denena from Canada. Rebecca Torr (20) of Wanaka was the only New Zealander to make it into the women’s finals and she finished in fourth.
Dean Gosper, FIS Council member, said it was a great start to the event. "It’s fantastic to see great conditions for the athletes although the wind is a bit challenging", he said. "But it’s a spectacular setting and the event gives athletes an opportunity to perform at their best, helped by an amazing attention to detail by the organisers. Clearly the riding is at an elite level as it should be in a world championship and I have no doubt the competition will continue to be very fierce throughout the week".

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Huge August Snowfalls in the Swiss Alps, Argentina and New Zealand

Skiinfo reports that Saas Fee has reported half-a-metre of fresh powder falling on its glacier in the past few days and neighbouring resorts Zermatt and, over in Italy, Cervinia, have also seen big snowfalls setting off Skiinfo powder alarms. In the southern hemisphere there’s been snow in Australia, South America and New Zealand, where some areas are receiving heavy snowfall today.
Switzerland’s two open glacier ski areas have seen remarkable August snowfalls with Saas Fee reporting 45cm (18 inches) of new snow on Sunday, with more falling since, including another 5cm (two inches) yesterday. Neighbouring Zermatt, the only area open 365 days and home to Europe’s highest lifts, reported healthy snowfalls too. Saas Fee describes current conditions as "packed powder" and has a 1.6m (5.3 foot) base with terrain park and half pipe open. Both resorts set off Powder Alarms on Skiinfo.com, triggered for snowfall of 20cm or more, obviously a rare event in August. Zermatt triggered another powder alarm on Tuesday with another 28cm (nearly a foot) of snow reported.
The heavy snowfall spilled over in to Italy where Zermatt’s Italian neighbour, Cervinia, to which it is lift-linked, received a 20cm fall. Val Senales has also been receiving more snow, with another 5cm on Tuesday, the latest of about 10 days of regular snowfalls there, it currently has a one metre base. Passo Stelvio is also open.
In France the glacier ski areas at Tignes and Les 2 Alpes are both entering their last fortnight of summer operations. Les 2 Alpes has the better snow cover with a metre depth while Tignes has 30cm, both areas received a little new snow at the weekend.
The picture is a little less good in Austria where the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier remains closed for a second week due to warm temperatures ad a diminished snowpack – down to 10cm (four inches) on the glacier with temperatures above freezing still and rain falling. It’s a similar picture on the Dachstein Glacier where the lifts are running but downhill slopes and terrain park are closed – they report a 30cm (foot) base but that the snow is "wet". Two Austrian glacier areas are still open however, the largest one, Tux, had fresh snow on Sunday too and reports ‘powder’ conditions with 20km of slopes open, a 125cm (four foot) base and more than 600m summer vertical. The Molltal glacier continues to report 9.5km of trails open and a 1.2m (four feet) base.
In North America Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood in Oregon remains the only area open, despite temperatures hitting 75F. There’s a metre (3.3 feet) of snow and the public terrain park and several runs are open.
The snow has been falling in South America, where temperatures are generally a few degrees below zero at most ski areas. The continent’s largest ski area (in terms of uplift) Catedral in Argentina has received 30ccm (a foot) of new snow on its upper runs in the past 12 hours and now has a 1.6m (5.3 foot) base. Las Leñas has had 7cm of new snow too while Chapelco’s base is up to 1.2m (four feet) following fresh snow there.
Over in Chile Portillo has receive 13cm (five inches) of new snow in the past week but base depths remain lower than normal at around a metre (41 inches) on upper slopes with packed powder, 67cm (27 inches) at the base. Valle Nevado, part of the largest ski area in the continent in terms of terrain area, has an average 50cm (20 inch) base from a 3.7m (12.3 foot) snow fall so far this season. Chapa Verde has a similar base depth.
Conditions are mostly good at Australia’s resorts where snow has continued to fall over the past week with more predicted in coming days. Mt Hotham reports average snow depth is 89cm (three feet) but is a foot (30cm) deeper where there’s snow making. The resort has received 42cm (1.5 feet) of snow in the past week, 8cm (three inches) of it in the past 48 hours. The numbers are similar at Thredbo, which has had 38cm (1.3 feet) of new snow in the past week and has had 2.5m of snow in the past week. Falls Creek currently has a 77cm (2.5 feet) base of natural snow and all but one lift operating, in snowmaking areas snow depth is up to a metre greater at 177cm (6 feet).
In New Zealand there has been an exciting week of weather. Mt Hutt saw over 1000 guests stranded overnight last Thursday/Friday by 200kph winds but in the past 24 hours has received 19cm (eight inches) of new snow taking upper slope depths up to two metres (nearly seven feet). At Coronet Peak the figures are a little less impressive with 5cm of snow at the weekend taking depths to 1.1m (just under 4 feet), the Remarkables got 10cm yesterday and has a similar base depth. On Mt Ruapehu the lifts are closed today due to strong winds. The snow is falling to though with 5cm of fresh so far and base depths up to 1.3m (over four feet) at Turoa. Whakapapa has 81cm, both are expecting more snow for the resort of the week.
The eighth annual Burton New Zealand Open Halfpipe Finals (picture attached) took place under blue bird skies over the weekend at Cardrona Alpine Resort with Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) taking first place in the men’s event and Kelly Clark (USA) winning the women’s competition. Podladtchikov and Clark both finished the day NZ$6,000 richer for their efforts and set themselves up nicely with solid early season results counting towards the 2010/11 Burton Global Open Series and the Swatch TTR World Rankings. Although the weather was perfect, warm temperatures meant the competition format had to be shortened, in order to keep Cardrona’s 22-foot Olympic sized halfpipe in top shape. All 38 men and 19 women semi-finalists went straight into a single final round, with the best of two runs counting for their final ranking.
In Africa conditions are little changed at Afriski in Lesotho. A cold weather window has allowed for another 20 hours snowmaking in the past 24, taking snowmaking hours season to date to 450! There’s been virtually no natural snowfall this winter but the ingenuity of the centre’s operators means there’s still a 600m long main slope open with a 70cm base, with an additional beginners area and terrain park to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Countdown for FIS Junior World Championships

Over 300 of the world’s elite junior snow sports athletes will arrive in Lake Wanaka this week to compete in the inaugural FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships which runs from 19-31 August. The event has attracted a high calibre field that includes many ranked in the top 20 in the world, despite their young age. Heading the New Zealand team is current world number one, freeskier Jossi Wells of Wanaka. He is joined by Olympic snowboarder, Rebecca Sinclair and 36 other young New Zealand hopefuls keen to earn valuable experience against an international field on their home turf. Competition will be tough with athletes such as Fanny Smith of Switzerland who is ranked #5 in the world for ski cross and USA’s Hannah Haupt, also fifth in the world but for freeski halfpipe, confirmed.
The USA has sent a 40-strong team of athletes plus support staff while 33 Canadian athletes have also made the long journey to the southern snow. Other countries represented are: Sweden (4), Switzerland (23), Norway (15), Chile (1), Poland (3), Bulgaria (2), Netherlands (7), Czech Republic (11), Germany (11), Philippines (1), Japan (22), Belgium (6), Andorra (1), Russia (23), Austria (10), Great Britain (4), Slovakia (12), Australia (26), Ukraine (3), Greece (2), Italy (6), Korea (16), Finland (7), Spain (3).
A Parade of Nations through Wanaka town centre will launch the championships at 5.00pm on Friday 20 August, followed by a powhiri and official welcome by Dean Gosper of the Federation International de Ski (FIS) as well as Championships Patron Juliane Bray.
All the on-snow action in the 2010 FIS Freestyle and Snowboard Junior World Championships will take place from 21 to 31 August at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Snow Park NZ, Lake Wanaka featuring the following nine disciplines – Snowboard Slopestyle, snowboard Cross, Snowboard Halfpipe, Snowboard Parallel Slalom and Giant Slalom, Snowboard Big Air, Freeski Slopestyle, Ski Cross and Freeski Halfpipe.
In september 2009 the International Ski Federation (FIS) has awarded the 2010 Snowboard and Freestyle Junior World Championships to New Zealand. The event marks the first time a FIS World Championship will be staged in New Zealand, and also marks the first time that snowboarding and freestyle skiing will share the same stage in a World Championship.
Typically, FIS World Championships are staged during the Northern Hemisphere winter, but with New Zealand’s growing reputation as world-class snow sports destination, organisers are confident they’ll be able to attract full fields for the event.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Alpe d’Huez Gets Triple Eco/Quality Certification

The Society of Tourist development of Alpe d’Huez and the Grandes Rousses (S.A.T.A.) which runs the lifts and maintains the pistes at Alpe d’Huez has earned three separate levels of certification for its service management. The company is now certified in terms of quality (ISO 9001), as well as in environmental management (ISO 14001) and security (OHSAS -Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series- 18001).
"This triple certification will enable a fully integrated management system to better satisfy its clientele whilst continually bringing about improvements. It will alsoreinforce and up-date safety/security for clientele and personnel and recognize sources of pollution with the aim of effectively dealing with it", said a resort spokesperson.
Alpe d’Huez is now planning a complete review of its operations to highlight issues in different projects. Different types of works are taken into consideration in order to forecast security measures and environmental issues. For example waste treatment must be managed, in particular for chemical products, so procedures need to be set up to deal with any potential pollution issues (engine failure with oil leaks, chemical products).
Impact studies concerning each potential new project will be done systematically for each project and there will be reductions in the number of new ski lift pylons, better integrating them in to the surrounding landscape.
Staff will be trained to have improved eco-awareness/sensitivity and grooming machine drivers will be trained to, "drive ecologically". There will also be pilot team of staff on site created to deal with internal environmental matters.
€150,000 is invested each year on selected seed-sowing.
In the resort’s town hall the community is launching a busy programme that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions via a territorial energy plan. Their commitments include measuring the resort’s current carbon footprint in 2010 so that future improvements can be measured against the current level.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Third Week In A Row of Snowfall In Both Northern and Southern Hemisphere Ski Areas

Skiinfo reports that there has been fresh snow once again in the Alps and in many areas in the southern hemisphere, however temperatures are also still warm in the Alps, and one glacier in Austria has had to close temporarily as a result, taking the number of open centres down to 10. The biggest falls of the past week have been in New Zealand with resorts receiving up to a metre of snow in 48 hours, with one reporting 68cm on Sunday alone.
Val Senales in Italy has reported the biggest snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere, at an open ski area at least, in the past seven days with a 25cm (10 inch) fall last Thursday, 5th August, it has a one metre base. At Cervinia it’s 70cm nut a rather warm +5C on the Plateau Rosa glacier, Passo Stelvio is also open for snow sports.
Despite some fresh snow last week the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun in Austria which has been battling an increasingly thin snow pack, has decided to temporarily halt snow sports until conditions improve. Currently the snowpack is down in to single figures (7cm) and temperatures on the glacier are +4C. It’s better news on the Hintertux glacier which is still maintaining one of the largest snow areas in the Alps with 20km of trails open served by nine lifts, it reported fresh snow on Saturday. It’s warm to on the Dachstein glacier where cross country trails and the Horsefeathers Superpark are both open. In the latter’s case a ski area spokesman says, "The setup remains in great shape and shredding the slushy snow under a bright blue sky makes you feel like a fish in his favourite water". The third glacier still open in Austria is the Molltal which is continuing to report 9.5km of slopes open with up to 1.5m (five feet) of snow depth just as it has for the past month or so. It intends to remain open now until mid-May next year.
We’re in to the last few weeks of the summer ski season in France where the glaciers at Tignes and Val d’isere will close later this month. However the closure will be only temporary in the case of Tignes which re-opens in late September and remains the only open French ski area for most of the autumn. Both have glacier snow bases of 60-100cm and both received a little snowfall late last week, greatly improving conditions over the very hot days of July.
In Switzerland Saas Fee and Zermatt are both open, receiving up to 4cm of new snow at the weekend. Saas Fee reports a 117cm (nearly four foot) base. It has ten lifts, four runs, its terrain park and half pipe open.
The only other lift-served skiing in the northern hemisphere, besides indoor centres, is at Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon (USA) where there’s about a metre(3.3 foot) base with ski liofts operating between 7am and 1.30pm daily. The Mile Canyon ‘freestyle terrain area’ is also open.
In South America there’s been little new snow in Chile, Portillo has reported 9cm (four inches) in the past week, and the base remains between 40cm and a metre, still waiting for the first huge fall of the season. Chapa Verde has a 50cm (20 inch) base. Valle Nevado’s large ski area remains almost entirely open, with a 70cm (2.3 feet) with no new snow in recent days. It has received 3.7m (over 12 feet) of snow so far this season.
It’s a similar picture in Argentina where Las Lenas reports snow depths of 40-110cm (1.3 – 3.6 feet), but some of the continent’s deepest snow at present is on the upper slopes of Catedral to the north, which has the biggest uplift capacity in South America and 1.4m (nearly five feet) snow depth on its upper runs.
Over in Australia and New Zealand there’s been more snow through the past seven days. Australian resorts have been cheering their ongoing falls after the big falls a week ago, but this time it’s New Zealand’s slopes that have seen huge falls, with one, Mt Hutt, receiving over a metre in 24 hours, 68cm (2.3 feet) of it on Sunday the 8th alone. The centre is currently digging out its terrain park and other facilities as fast as it can, but is open to anyone who can get there and if self driving chains or a four-by-four are required. The current snowbase of 2.4 metres (eight feet) is among the deepest in the world at present.
Other ski areas in New Zealand have reported big, if not quite such meteoric accumulations in the past few days. Coronet Peak added 45cm (18 inches) to their base and now has a 110cm accumulation. Treble Cone has a 157cm (over five foot) base wioth 15cm (six inches) falling in the past 48 hours. Over on Mt Ruapehu , Whakapapa has a 90cm (three foot) base, Turoa 150cm (five feet).
Conditions are largely good in Australia with most resorts now having at least a 60cm (two foot) base, temperatures hovering around freezing, and snow flurries. More of the same is expected for most through the rest of the week and hopefully some bigger snowfalls too. Falls Creek has almost all of its lifts and runs open, snow depth is averaging around 60ccm but in snowmaking areas it’s up on 99.5cm (3.3feet). Mt Hotham has had 5cm (two inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours and has an average snow depth of 70cm (2.3 feet), but the depth in snow making areas is above 1.1m – nearly four feet. It’s looking good in Thredbo too, with an 83cm base (just under three feet) with 3cm of new snow while Mt Buller has 60-90cm (2-3 feet), 5cm of it fresh in the past 24 hours.
In Africa conditions are little changed. Afriski in Lesotho reports lovely sunny days – too sunny by the afternoon when the snow becomes too sticky, but still dropping low enough overnight to continue snowmaking and top up any snow that’s melted during the day. So the centre is managing to maintain a 600m long slope with a 70cm base, as well as an additional beginners slope and its terrain park.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

IDE All Weather Snowmaker Demonstration for Sochi 2014

A special demonstration of IDE All Weather Snowmaker has been performed at Pitztal Glacier Ski Resort in Tirol, Austria for visiting Russian delegation on July 9th. The event has been organized by IDE Technologies and Roskommunenergo (IDE's official distributor in Russia) with the help of Pitztal Glacier Ski Resort during a pre-season operation of IDE All Weather Snowmaker.
The event was honored by senior representatives of Russian Federation President Office, Sochi 2014 Supervisory Board and Organizing Committee, Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), International Ski Federation (FIS), Russian Ski and Snowboarding Federation, Russian Cross Country Ski Federation, Russian Biathlon Federation, Russian Freestyle Federation, Olympstroy, the Olympic Ski Resorts of Gazprom Sotsinvest, Krasnaya Polyana and Rosa Khutor, New League, Rosengineering and leading International Ski experts and consultants.
A slope of fresh snow of 0.6m deep, 20m wide and almost 200 meters long has been prepared for the event. Many of the guests, including professional ski experts, tested the snow and enjoyed summer skiing and snowboarding at ambient temperature of above 25 ºC. All visitors and experts were extremely satisfied with the quality of the snow and they have declared that the snow was excellent for alpine ski, snowboarding, cross country, biathlon, ski jump and freestyle. "I liked it a lot. The conditions here are really very similar to the spring conditions in Alps…This is snow!", said Mr. Georgiy Kadykov – Sport Manager Cross Country Organizing Committee of Sochi 2014 and Vice President of Russian Cross Country Ski Federation.
The Supervisory Board and Organizing Committee of Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games would like to secure the availability of high quality snow for all international winter sport competitions scheduled in Sochi from 2011 toward the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and onward. The importance of the snow availability for Olympic Venues was demonstrated in Cypress, Canada during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games where temperatures were too high for snowmaking by conventional snow guns. VANOC had to spend millions of dollars on helicopters and tracks to secure the Olympic Venues. "Artificial snow quality reminds of spring snow and may be used for the cross country and alpine skiing slopes", said Mr. Alexey Povkh – Head of Sport Complex Development Department, Olympstroy.
Following Zermatt’s footsteps, Pitztal Gletscherbahnen was the second ski resort to order a new kind of artificial snow system: the IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker. IDE Technologies is a world leader and pioneer in water desalination, wastewater concentrators and purifiers. The snowmaking technology comes from the mining industry where it is used to cool the goldmines.The All Weather Snowmaker is a unique, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient solution that produces large quantities of high quality snow using vacuum conditions to generate it. Unlike the conventional snow gun, the All Weather Snowmaker is capable of operating at all ambient temperatures, thus ensuring full operation during warm spells as well as supplementing natural snowfall accumulation."This 1.5 million Euro investment will complement existing snow making systems by covering slopes that so far had to rely exclusively on natural snowfall", said Hans Rubatscher, Pitztal Glacier Resort Chairman.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fredrik Ericsson's has died on K2

During his attempt to summit and ski K2, the world’s second tallest mountain, 31-year-old mountaineer, Swedish ski mountaineer Fredrik Ericsson was killed around 7:30 a.m. Pakistani time on Friday, August 6.
Ericsson has been killed a year after his first attempt was curtailed by the death of his partner on the trip, Italian Michele Fait, who fell to his death while skiing down from K2's C2 on the SSE spur.Ericsson, Cook, and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner left Camp 4 around 1:30 a.m. to begin their journey to the summit of K2. Around 5:30 a.m. Cook decided to turn back, leaving Ericsson and Austrian alpinist Kaltenbrunner to attempt the summit by themselves. According to Kaltenbrunner, Ericsson was fixing rope to a rock and lost his footing between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. He was unable to stop his fall, and it was later confirmed that he fell around 3,281 feet, and did not survive.
His K2 summit was part of his dream of becoming the first person to ski the world’s three highest mountains: Mount Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga. Swedish-born and now Chamonix-based Ericsson is one of the world’s leading high altitude skiers with ski descents of some of the highest mountains on earth, including Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2, Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri. "I have already skied on five mountains higher than 8000 meters. During these adventures I gained critical experience that will apply towards my goal of skiing the absolute highest. The project spans two years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in the world: K2 (8612m) this summer, Mount Everest (8850m) in autumn 2010, and Kangchenjunga (8586m) in autumn 2011", said Fredrik. At the request of his parents Ericsson’s body will be left resting in the mountain.

Video: Extreme skiers Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot attempting to ski the world's 3rd highest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8586m) in Nepal, 2008. The sequence is from the Swedish ski movie Free Radicals 618.

More Fresh Snow On Both Sides Of The World (But More In The Southern Half)

Skiinfo reports that changeable weather in the Alps has led to a mix of rain and fresh snow on the 11 glacier ski areas that are currently open. Fortunately temperatures have dropped a lot from a fortnight ago when they were up in double figures at some areas, but they are still above freezing at some – which means thaw of course. It’s a brighter picture in the southern hemisphere where Australia in particular has benefitted from heavy snow, with around two feet falling at several areas.
In Austria only the upper slopes on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier are open with the snow cover still thin and temperature at 3 degrees Celcius, sleety snow is expected over the next few days. The Dachstein glacier has limited skiing and describes its 60cm base as ‘wet.’ On the Molltal glacier it’s not been great either, with runs closed on Tuesday as rain fell, but this should turn to snow when temperatures drop below the current 4 degrees on the glacier and the 9.5km of summer runs should re-open and much of the 1.5m (five foot) base should remain intact. Hintertux too has seen a mixture of fresh snow (5cm) ad rain. It’s base depth stands at 125cm (just over four feet) with nearly 700m of vertical still skiable at the year-round snow sports resort.
In France Tignes and Les 2 Alpes are still open with similar conditions to Austria, if a little less precipitation. Snow depths are 60-100cm (2-3.3 feet). It’s warm on Wednesday, but cooler yesterday down to -5 on the glacier with precipitation forecast that will hopefully fall as snow for the last few weeks of the summer ski season.
In Italy Val Senales received 5cm of fresh snow last week and has a one metre base and 8km of piste open. It’s a similar picture at Passo Stelvio and Cervinia, the other two Italian areas currently open.
The other two open glaciers are in Switzerland, neighbouring Saas Fee and Zermatt. Saas Fee has some of the best conditions in Europe right now with temperatures on the glacier around freezing, 8cm of fresh snow last Friday, four runs, the glacier half pipe and the terrain park open and a 126cm (over four foot) base.
No other outdoor ski areas are currently open in Europe, and in the USA only Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon continues to offer snow sports, so for the best conditions you’ll need to head south of the equator.
It’s Australian ski areas that have been reporting the world’s best snow conditions over the past few days with more than 60cm (two feet) falling in 48 hours at one centre, truly epic by Aussie standards and by far the biggest snowfalls of winter so far – which had been mostly cold to date, allowing for lots of snowmaking, but with limited natural stuff until now. Perisher (picture attached) in New South Wales, Australia’s largest resort, has also reported the biggest snowfall of 64 centimetres (Two feet, two inches) of fresh snow in 48 hours from Sunday though Monday. Prior to the new snowfall, Perisher had achieved a new Australian record in snowmaking, producing over 800,000 cubic metres of snow with depths of up to three meters (10 feet) in some areas. With further falls of up to 20 centimetres forecast later this week by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the resort's greater natural snow reliability, Perisher can now provide skiers and snowboarders access to almost 1245 hectares of snow covered terrain.
"The four resort areas of Perisher, Blue Cow, Guthega and Smiggin Holes will be interconnected this weekend", said Gary Grant, General Manager. Perisher is planning additional investment in snowmaking to increase coverage to 110 hectares. The resort plans to have all trails linking its four ski areas covered throughout the winter season. Other Australian resorts have reported healthy snowfall too, if not on quite the same scale. Mt Buller reports 24cms (nine inches) of snow and Mt Hotham has had 51cm (21 inches) of fresh snow over the past week. Natural snowdepth now averages 66cm, with 98+cms in snowmaking areas. Seven lifts are in operation at Hotham with more lifts currently being assessed for opening in time for the weekend.
In New Zealand there’s been mixed weather but some fresh snow and conditions overall are good. Mt Hutt got 5cm (two inches) of new snow on Monday (Aug 2) and now has a 155cm (5.1 foot) base, at Coronet Peaks there’s a 90cm (three foot) base but there hasn’t been any new snow for over a week. The centre staged an FIS standard international race this morning (Aug 4) dominated by the Canfian squad who are currently training there and took the top four places. Racers from teams including the US, Great Britain, Spain and Korea also took part. Over at Mt Ruapehu, Turoa was closed today due to strong winds, but snow is expected over the next few days, the base depth is 135cm (4.5 feet). The lower mountain at sister resort Whakapapa was open however. It has a 90cm base and is also expecting fresh snow at the weekend.
In South America conditions remain good, but cold, at Catedral in Argentina, the continent’s biggest resort in terms of uplift. Here’s there’s 1.6 metres (over five feet) of snow lying on upper slopes but it has been cold, below -15C at times. It’s not quite as cold or quite as deep at another Argentinian resort, Chapelco, which has a 1.3m base and temperatures around -9C. The country’s other big resort, Las Lenas in the south, has 40cm (16 inches) at the base and 1.1m (3.7 feet) at the top of the lifts.
In Chile virtually all lifts and runs are operational at Valle Nevado which reports another 5cm of fresh snow, taking its season tally to 3.6m (12 feet), although the compacted base at present is rather less than that, if healthy enough at 70cm (2.3 feet). Chapa Verde reports an 80cm (2.6 feet) base and Portillo to the north is still not quite at the top of its game with an 80cm natural snow depth, low temperatures but not much of the off piste powder for which it’s most famous, although there has been 30cm (a foot) of new snow in the past week.
Over in Africa it has warmed up a little at Afriski in Lesotho and the snow guns are no longer able to operate after their long spate of snowmaking for most of the winter. However the accumulated base isn’t thawing too quickly and the snow surface is good in the morning after an overnight freeze, though it gets a bit sticky after lunchtime – much like an alpine glacier. There’s still a 600m main slope, 200m beginner slope and a terrain park open to enjoy with best snow depth 70cm (2.3 feet) on the main run.