Wednesday, September 28, 2011 Reveals New Skin. Website Redesign Highlights Content, Blog and Social Media Upgrades

Leaves are not the only thing changing colors this fall as they prepare for quickly approaching winter. Ski Utah has recently launched a new skin for its website, The new skin was inspired by the organization’s 2011-12 advertising campaign incorporating bright playful colors and feathery snow images. The campaign slogan, "You’ll Never Look at Snow the Same Way Again", highlights the light fluffy quality, incredible consistency and massive abundance of Utah’s Greatest Snow on Earth.
The new site has also been redesigned to better feature the company’s Blog and social media efforts. "Consumers want authentic and relevant information that will not only entice but enhance their overall vacation experience,” said Ski Utah Content Editor Brandon Ott. “The Ski Utah Blog Team and Yeti mascot enable website visitors to create a personal relationship with Utah’s wintersports product".
Ski Utah’s new website has also been reengineered to assist users in more easily locating content related to their search items and to improve the overall flow of information. Up-to-date videos and photos will also be more prominently displayed.
In addition to site enhancements, Ski Utah has recently awarded the coveted Park Rat blogger position to Tom Haraden of Kennebunk, ME. Haraden will make the move all the way to Utah from his home in Maine to live his snowboard dream. Readers of Haraden’s blog will be able to explore Utah’s resorts, and park and pipe terrain through the fresh and enthusiastic eyes of Utah’s newest transplant.
In addition to these latest improvements, Ski Utah contnues to work towards a more perfect user experience with a new "My Vacation Cart" feature, an updated mobile website and apps underway. Ski Utah is the marketing firm owned and operated by the 14 statewide ski resorts (Alta Ski Area, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head Resort, Brighton Resort, Canyons Resort, Deer Valley Resort, Eagle Point, Park City Mountain Resort, Powder Mountain Resort, Snowbasin Resort, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, Sundance and Wolf Mountain) that make up the Utah Ski and Snowboard Association. The organization has been creating brand awareness of and demand for the Utah wintersports product since its inception in 1978.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Resorts Start Opening Following Fresh Snow In The Alps

Skiinfo reports that the first ski resorts to open for the 2011-12 ski season will do so tomorrow (September 21st) and Saturday (September 24th) with the benefit of fresh snow.
Glacier ski areas in the Alps have reported up to 30cm of fresh snow in the past 48 hours following on from falls on the highest peaks in Colorado reported at the end of last week.
The Stubai glacier (picture attached) has announced it will open tomorrow, September 21st, following recent falls. It has a 60cm (two foot) base and reports 50cm of that is ‘fresh’.
Pitztal in Austria begins its nine month long season this Saturday, 24 September, joining the half dozen ski areas in Austria (Molltal 80cm, and Tux 105cm), Italy (Passo Stelvio and Val Senales 40cm) and Switzerland (Saas Fee 59cm, and Zermatt 20cm) which have been open since the summer and remain so.
Pitztal currently has a 51cm base and will also be unveiling its new Doppelmayr built eight passenger cabin gondola with heated seats on Austria’s highest glacier up to 3440m. As natural snowfall Pitztal benefits from an IDE snowmaking system, the only one designed to produce snow in positive temperatures when necessary. Only Pitztal and Zermatt have this machine installed.
Other Austrian resorts are expected to open or re-open shortly too, including the Dachstein, Sölden, Kitzsteinhorn and Kaunertal glaciers. Tignes in France plans to open on October 1st and Swiss resorts including Engelberg and Glacier 3000 are expected to open early in October along with Cervinia in Italy.
In the USA Copper Mountain, which along with Breckenridge issued images of fresh snow on its peaks last week, has said it plans to begin snowmaking on 26th September. The near year-round US ski centre of Timberline in Oregon plans to re-open on 30th September.
The southern hemisphere’s season continues to wind down but is far from over at resorts like Ruapehu in New Zealand which is reported closed today due to blizzard conditions and another 10-15cm of snow falling. The Turoa ski area on Ruapehu currently has a 333cm (11 foot) base – believed to be the deepest snow in the world at present.
Australia’s great season is continuing too although temperatures are fluctuating between well above freezing to just below for spring-like conditions. Perisher still has a 1.13m (nearly four foot) natural snow base and reports a dusting of fresh snow today.
Most ski areas are still open in South America, with up to two metres of snow on upper slopes at the best of them (Catedral in Argentina).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

International Tourism Symposium (Zermatt)

The 13th International Tourism Symposium (ITS) starts tomorrow in the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof in Zermatt. Experts and Companies from all over the world will be reunited around the theme: The Real Issues of Tourism. Customer - Social media - Innovation.
A unique opportunity to exchange experiences at the highest level on these issues and to globalize your network with 200 selected participants from more than 150 companies and 20 countries from Europe, North America and Asia.
In our economy where industrial activities are continuing to globalise, our Industry faces a turning point, as we enter a period that some experts describe as "Marketplace chaos". In this context, Tourism has an important role to play but its development will depend on our ability to attract the millions of emerging tourists and to maintain loyalty of the traditional customers.
The overarching strength of ITS is its determination to anticipate and plan for those challenges. The 2011 Program is designed to tackle the most relevant issues, challenges and opportunities, focusing on recent successes. The top "Movers and Shakers", high-caliber speakers leading the most successful companies in the tourism industry, will demonstrate the requirement to build our future on solid fundamentals. We need both industrialised and innovative solutions, which not only address the problems, identified but do so in a sustainable manner.
This includes answering questions like the management of crises and cultural sensitivities, revenue optimisation with e-tourism, the requirement to redesign the nature of Mountain, risk and safety management and the future profile of Winter Olympic Games organisors.
To succeed in this period of economic depression, a new vision needs to be realized, one which addresses the dramatic unemployment numbers, the increasing number of people living under the poverty line and our irreversable impact on the envrionment.
The Symposium Association was created in 1988 with the aim of developing a platform for strategic consideration and discussions at the highest level for key players in the tourism industry. In order to ensure that such activities continue with an international focus, in April 22, 2009, the ITS Foundation - International Tourism Symposium - was created.
The Foundation has now become the benchmark "business" event in the tourism industry for the mountain regions.
The success of the Symposium's annual meetings, alternating between Zermatt and Chamonix Mont-Blanc, is based on its international positioning and its business focus.

Zermatt and Saas-Fee Win Top Recognition for their Environmentally Friendly Transport Systems

Fourteen destinations were evaluated by the VCS (Swiss Motor Club): Adelboden, Arosa, Crans-Montana, Davos Platz, Engelberg, Grindelwald, Lenzerheide, Leukerbad, Saas-Fee, Scuol, St. Moritz, Verbier, Wengen and Zermatt. This new "mobile & ecological" rating by the VCS is intended to assist consumers with decision making on winter holidays. The survey was supported amongst others by the STV (Swiss Tourism Association) and the Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE.
Zermatt takes 1st place. In second place was Saas-Fee, also car-free, followed by St. Moritz. The Transport and Environment Association gave the highest ratings to Zermatt and Saas-Fee for their excellent rail and bus connections. The two winter hotspots in canton Valais were also recognised for their efforts in promoting public transport.
"For car-free Zermatt, this award is confirmation that our decades of effort and commitment for a sustainable destination are being rewarded", says Zermatt Tourismus Director Daniel Luggen. He is aware that tourism is effectively a balancing act between comfort, growth and improvement of offers on the one hand and sustainability on the other: "We will continue to be committed to sustainability. We’re staying on the ball!".
The Transport and Environment Association also praised other resorts, such as Davos and Grindelwald where local bus rides are free.
Another resort that received special praise was the Lower Engadine resort of Scuol, where "Holidays Without Your Car" packages - that include free access to public transport, separate transport of luggage and electric bicycles for hire - are available.
Among the criteria evaluated were travelling time to the destination, signage, local buses, frequency of public transport and luggage transport possibilities.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

IOC's Coordination Commission visit concludes in Innsbruck

The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission for the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 2012 concluded last Tuesday its fourth and final visit to the Austrian host city. The Coordination Commission visit took place after three successful days of Chefs de Mission meetings with all 65 nations that will compete in Innsbruck.
With 129 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, the Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee (IYOGOC) remains on track as it enters the operational readiness phase in its planning.
Headed by Chairman Gian-Franco Kasper, the IOC Coordination Commission was particularly impressed with the progress of the Youth Olympic Village (YOV). The YOV will accommodate approximately 1,660 athletes and officials during Games time, and, as a legacy of the Youth Olympic Games, will be used as affordable housing once the Games have concluded. "The Innsbruck Organising Committee heads into the final few months of preparation with an extremely organised and creative team who are working tirelessly to ensure an unforgettable elite sporting event for the world’s best young winter athletes", said Kasper. "This unique host city has a rich Olympic history, and today we can feel the excitement building as it makes history again with the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games".
The IOC has supported the move to have all snowboard and freestyle events at the Kühtai venue. Based at over 2,000 metres and with excellent snowmaking facilities that practically guarantee snow conditions, the venue, thanks to the new facilities, is expected to become one of the best winter freestyle sport and training centres in Europe. This adds to the legacy of the recently completed Biathlon shooting range at the Seefeld venue.
At Innsbruck 2012, several new disciplines will be seen for the first time at an Olympic event, such as snowboard slopestype, ski half pipe and ice hockey skills challenge. Also integrated into the sports programme for the first time is women’s ski jumping, the winner of which will be awarded the first Winter Youth Olympic Games medal.
The Coordination Commission was also pleased to note the full integration of the unique Culture and Education Programme (CEP) into the overall schedule for athletes, spectators and local schools. The Programme will enable athletes to learn new skills, experience different cultures and cover key topics such as the benefits of healthy lifestyles, the dangers of doping, and the values of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The CEP was successfully tested this week during a seminar involving the 33 Young Ambassadors chosen by National Olympic Committees. This group will then guide the athletes through the programme during Games time.
The volunteer programme, launched earlier this year, has attracted almost 2,500 applications from 40 countries — double the amount of volunteers actually required. In addition, partnerships with 12 international universities have also been secured.
Communication and promotion of the Youth Olympic Games will build in the final months leading up to the Games, with the main focus on ticketing and the 18-day Torch Relay that will visit 50 national locations. Several digital media initiatives are also under way, increasing traffic and fan numbers on IYOGOC’s website and social media platforms. Supporting the promotional campaign will be a group of ambassadors selected by the IOC that includes Alpine skiers Lindsey Vonn (USA) and Benjamin Raich (Austria), with more to be announced in the lead-up to the Games.
In one month’s time, Innsbruck 2012 will celebrate its 100-day countdown, and will take the opportunity to present a number of engaging initiatives and events to mark the milestone.
"Holding 63 medal events and a wide-ranging Culture and Education Programme in the space of just 10 days requires a tremendous amount of detailed planning, organisation, coordination, leadership and monitoring", said Innsbruck 2012 Chief Operating Officer Peter Bayer. "I am proud of our team. The vision of the Youth Olympic Games is within touching distance, and there is great enthusiasm among all the members of the Organising Committee. We have embraced and are living the Olympic Spirit, which is reflected in the excellent work we’ve done so far".
The first Winter Youth Olympic Games will take place between 13 and 22 January 2012. The Winter Youth Olympic Games will be a 10-day multi-sport, cultural and educational event. The Games will bring together 1,048 athletes between 14 and 18 years of age from approximately 80 National Olympic Committees. The programme of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games will be established on the basis of the seven sports included in the Vancouver 2010 programme (Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skating and Skiing). The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) will highlight the different sports and provide an efficient platform to motivate young people to "get active" and adhere to the Olympic spirit.
Innsbruck (Tirol, Austria) was the host city to the Olympic Winter Games back in 1964 and 1976 (Innsbruck replaces Denver at short notice to host the Winter Games after the people of the state of Colorado voted to prohibit public funds from being used to support the Games).

Sochi 2014 Venues On Track

Preparations for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games are continuing, with work expected to be completed on many of the mountain venues by the end of this year. During the 2014 Games, events will be focused around two different areas – a coastal cluster of venues in Sochi for ice events, and a mountain cluster in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains.
The mountain cluster will be home to all the skiing and sliding sports and will include a Biathlon and Ski Complex, a Bobsleigh Track, a Ski Centre and a Ski Jump Complex, as well as a Snowboard Park and Freestyle Centre.
Many of the venues are due to host international events at the beginning of 2012, in preparation for the 2014 Games, and IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy was confident that the athletes would be impressed following a recent visit to Sochi. "I am confident that the world’s winter athletes will be impressed when they arrive in Sochi for the up-coming sports events and the Games in 2014", said Killy. He continued, "The entire Sochi 2014 team deserves great praise for their achievements over the past six months".
The Biathlon and Ski Complex, located on the crest and slopes of the Psekhako Ridge, will host both the FIS Cup and the IBU Cup in January next year, while the Alpine Centre, on the Aibga Ridge, will host the Alpine FIS World Cup in February.
The Ski Jumping Complex, which is located in Esto-Sadok village on the northern slope of the Aibga Ridge, will stage the FIS Ski Jumping Cup in February, while the Snowboard Park and Freestyle Centre, to the West of the Rosa Khutor plateau, will host both the Freestyle FIS European Cup and the Snowboard FIS European Cup in March.
The Olympic Park will be the main focus of the coastal cluster and will be home to the Central Stadium, the Bolshoi Ice Palace, the Maly Ice Palace, the Sochi Curling Centre, the Figure Skating and Short-Track Centre and the Speed Skating Centre. It will be the first time in Olympic history that all the ice venues are within walking distance of one another, creating a centralised Olympic Park that will be able to accommodate around 75,000 fans when full.
The Olympic Park, which is being built by the Black Sea coast in the Imeretin Valley, will also house the Main Olympic Village, the International Broadcasting Centre and the Main Press Centre. All the venues and facilities will be newly built. "We are impressed by the speed that Sochi is changing", said IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy. "The first test event held in February this year is proof of their progress and the government is committed to the Games".
According to Sochi organisers, developments are well on schedule: "The plan is to finish the mountain and coastal venues two seasons before the start of the Games. All of the infrastructure will be done by 2012 for the Olympic Park".
After the Games, the Central Stadium will become a football stadium to be used by the Russian national team and as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Speed Skating Centre will be turned into a trade and exhibition centre, while the Bolshoi Ice Palace will serve as an ultra-modern, world-class multi-purpose sports and entertainment centre.
The Maly Ice Palace, the Sochi Curling Centre and the Figure Skating and Short-Track Centre are all temporary venues, which will be dismantled and transported for post-Games use in other Russian cities.
The VIth visit of the IOC Coordination Committee for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held from September 12-14. On Wednesday, September 14, IOC Coordination Commission Chairman, Jean-Claude Killy, and IOC Executive Director, Gilbert Felli, will host an official press-conference to provide an update on their assessment of Sochi 2014's progress.

IOC's Seminar To Prepare PyeongChang for 2018 Olympic Winter Games

A delegation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wrapped up a successful orientation seminar (29-31 August) with representatives of PyeongChang 2018, less than two months after the South Korean city was elected host of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Led by the Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the PyeongChang 2018 Games, Gunilla Lindberg, and Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli, the IOC group spoke to the local delegation about the management of the Olympic Games and the key milestones that occur during the lifecycle of an Organising Committee. They also laid out the framework of partnership that will guide preparations for the next seven years and outlined some best practices from previous Games. Speaking after the seminar, Lindberg said: "We are excited to be here so soon after PyeongChang was awarded the right to host the 2018 Games. Our Games Management process helps cities to get up and running quickly and effectively, which is highly beneficial because, as PyeongChang will discover, the seven years between now and the Games will go by rapidly". "The city has already benefited from the transfer of knowledge from past Games and from their previous bids and we can see how well-prepared and eager they are already (...)We were pleased with the presence of all levels of government during our visit, as we met Minister Choung from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Governor Choi; and the mayors of the host communities. This underlines the strong ties between the Games stakeholders and the commitment of the country to these Games", she continued.
The PyeongChang 2018 delegation at the orientation seminar was headed by Bid Committee Chairman Yang Ho Cho and included Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) President Y.S. Park, IOC member from Korea Dae Sung Moon and Ki Hong Kim, Director General of the Sports Bureau, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Yang Ho Cho, Chairman and CEO of PyeongChang2018, said: "We are very happy to have welcomed Ms Lindberg and the IOC representatives to PyeongChang again. As we wrap up the IOC Orientation Seminar, I feel that we are off to a very good start. We are learning a great deal from the IOC's expertise and experience, and the information we have received during this Seminar will serve as the foundation for our preparations. For the next seven years, we will work closely with the IOC, and all of their guidance, counsel, and friendship will ensure that we host a successful Winter Games in 2018".
As part of its transfer of knowledge programmes, the IOC runs an orientation seminar shortly after the election of each host city. The aim of the seminar is to help the newly elected city make the transition from bidding for the Games to being a Games organiser. It explains in detail the preparation phases and the operations that will need to be finalised over the next seven years, while building upon the transfer of knowledge that the cities receive from the IOC during the bid stages. The seminar also helps the organisers to decide where they should focus their efforts during the start-up phase and is an opportunity for the IOC to share its Games management philosophy with them. This enables everyone to understand what is expected of them and ensures that the collaboration is as efficient as possible right from the outset.
The IOC’s Olympic Games Knowledge Management (OGKM) programme plays a key part in allowing Organising Committees to build top-quality Games on the basis of past experience. In addition to the orientation seminar, the IOC’s Olympic Games Knowledge Management programme consists of a knowledge base, accessible via an extranet, comprising key reports, plans and information from every area of Olympic Games management, observers’ and secondees’ programmes during the Games, a debrief following each edition of the Games, and access to specially tailored courses for Organising Committees with the participation of Games experts.

Team Europe Wins the Swatch Skiers Cup Trophy in Valle Nevado

Team Europe clinched the SWATCH SKIERS CUP today with a final score of 14 – 10 at the inaugural freeski competition high in the Chilean Andes. In today’s showdown on the Backcountry Slopestyle course, Team Europe held their own against the favored strength of Team Americas freestylers and it was Kaj Zackrisson and his band of seven riders that held the SWATCH SKIERS CUP triumphantly aloft at the end of the day.
In two rounds of eight head-to-head duels, Team Americas would showcase its unrivaled freestyle strength on the two large features shaped by David Ny, and the varied natural hits, cliffs and powder landings of the Backcountry Slopestyle. The panel of three international judges awarded a single point to the winner of each man-to-man heat.
Round 1: Coming off the Big Mountain segment of the event Monday trailing 2-6, Team Americas’ riders were pressed in the Backcountry Slopestyle discipline to reverse their deficit. Powered by the talents of Rory Bushfield (CAN) and Dylan Hood (USA), they delivered their best. Rory simply stomped everything he threw, though his top run would include a 360 over the entry hip, a cork-720 off the kicker, a right-side 360 off a medium-sized drop and finish with a 180 nosetap off a rolling 10-meter drop.
Switzerland’s Nicolas Vuignier, his first-round rival, answered with one of the most stylish cab-540’s of the day. Most impressive in the first round was the explosive energy of Markus Eder’s (picture attached) (ITA) cab 900 mute and switch 540 revert.
A series of spills by Team Americas would limit their gains, though, and both teams finished the first round with an additional four points, making it 10-6 for Team Europe.
Round 2: Round two would see Henrik Windstedt (SWE) charge to the finish with solid, controlled skiing, winning a total of two points today for Team Europe. Co-founder of the event and big mountain specialist, Sverre Liliequist (SWE) would display a whole new side with a misty 720 and a stomped backflip.
Team Americas refused to be outshined , however and equalized the round yet again with Dylan Hood’s (USA) enormous cork 720 and switch tricks around the venue.
Captain of Team Europe, Kaj Zackrisson (SWE) also pushed his limits today to land both left and right 360’s – a first in his long career as a freeskier – after brief instruction from young compadre Nicolas Vuignier (SUI) the previous day.
Team Americas’ Josh Bibby (CAN) would win both his runs, but the favored talents of teammates Dana Flahr (CAN) and James Heim (CAN) would not shine in the showdown today.

In the end, Europe would gain enough points by the third duel in the second round to win the event. The athletes agreed that after such an experience in Chile, they would certainly support another SWATCH SKIERS CUP. Says Richard Permin (FRA): "I think it’s the best spirit I have ever seen in a contest".
Team Americas Captain, Mark Abma (CAN) was very impressed with the SWATCH SKIERS CUP inaugural: "I think this has been a success just because of its team feel, and the camaraderie that comes from it. We have so many contests these days that are individually focused, that to create a team focus is really a funky twist. These days we just need something different and [Kaj and Sverre] stepped-up to it".

Saturday, September 10, 2011

David Lopez and Miguel Caballero overall champions of the 2011 Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run

David López Castán and Miguel Caballero have won the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. The two 29-year-old trail experts of Spanish Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex covered the monstrous distance of 273.73 kilometers and a cumulative ascent of 15,436 meters in astonishing 26:37:51.0 hours.
Trailing the overall victors by merely 17 minutes after eight intense days of trail running are Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds of Scottish Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear (26:54:18.5). The finishing touch of their race performance, however, was not just a well-deserved second place position in the overall ranking but today’s stage victory well ahead of any other team (2:50:26.9).
Julien Chorier (FRA) and Philipp Reiter (GER) of Team Salomon International ended the globally recognized trail running event in third place overall after a total of 27:54:37.2 hours on the trail. After logging a distance of 30.2 kilometers today that packed 1,807 meters into a single sustained climb, the two racers even managed to come in second (3:02:33.1) ahead of the Spanish overall race champions.
For the first time in its seven-year history, a Spanish team made up of members of the National Trail Running team, won the Transalpine Run. "It’s simply an incredible feeling right now. We are overjoyed that we ended up winning the race as first-time participants", shared Miguel Caballero who was clearly the stronger of the two team members on the last two stages. Apparently, his teammate "David started experiencing an increasingly upset stomach. That ended up costing valuable time", said Caballero. "In view of that, our overall victory ended up being a real piece of work".
Closest competitors of the Spanish overall victors, Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds, had experienced similar health issues early on in the race. Having fully recovered, they went full bore today winning the hearts of spectators with a riveting sprint to the finish line in sun-drenched Latsch. In the end, though, that extra effort didn’t pay off in real terms. Joe Symonds, junior brother of last year’s champion Andrew, put it in plain language "Naturally, it is nice to know that we ended up being the strongest runners in the field today. However, in the end that doesn’t count. The prize goes to those who went all the way in the least amount of time". Still, the audacious attack the two Scotsmen launched on the overall leaders was laudable if only as a daring expression of not accepting defeat without at least trying. After setting a punishing pace up to the Göflaner Scharte (2,396m) and beating it back down to valley elevation (640m) at break-neck speed, Symonds and Lennox had managed to reduce the Spaniards’ extensive lead by one half. That, in turn, prompted Symonds’ tongue-in-cheek request to "extend the Transalpine Run by yet another two stages".
While winning the Gore-Tex® Transalpine Run was a first for champions Lopez and Caballero, Dr. Thomas Miksch and Anton Philipp of Berglaufteam Haglöfs-Gore have savored that privilege already twice before. The Master category, where the cumulative age of both runners must exceed a total of 80 years, has been dominated by this highly experienced race duo (29:15:59.3) three consecutive times by now.
Having spent one half hour longer than the category champs on the trails between Oberstdorf and Latsch, Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn of Team Schlanders (29:43:34.9) claimed second place in the overall ranking.
Steffen Walk and Christian Stork of Team Salomon/Sport Reischmann (29:51:13.8) had closely pursued Team Schlanders throughout this week. Their courageous effort was rewarded by third place in the end. In a gesture of true sportsmanship, Walk and Stork decided to cross today’s finish line in synch with Marco Schneider and Holger Finkelmann of Main Ausdauershop Trail Team with whom they had raced chin-to-chin for much of stage. The joint endeavor paid off as both teams ended up crowding the top podium position for today’s fastest time among the Masters (3:08:03.1).
While Anton Philipp and Dr. Thomas Miksch won the overall title, their performance on this final stage demonstrated a degree of vulnerability to the competition. Anton Philipp shared "I’m happy but also relieved. Thomas again suffered a great deal today. Thus, we were eager to simply get through. This tactic played out all right".
Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell have claimed the trophy among the Women teams at the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. The two Scottish racers definitely dominated not just yesterday’s stage but also the final day of racing ending up in Latsch in less than four hours (3:57.32.8) and with a sizeable overall lead of nearly five hours ahead of the closest competition (34:40:28.5).
Gerti Ott and Sabina Kraus of Orthomol Sport Team Lautrach finished as runner-ups in the overall ranking (38:07:46.7) while Switzerland's Brigitte Eggerling and Daniela Nusseck of Team Alpinrunner rounded out the overall podium as third (39:57:25.5) after eight exhausting days on the trails across the High Divide.
After a couple of failed attempts, Gaby Steigmeier (SUI) and Seppi Neuhauser (AUT) finally have met their long-standing objective of ruling and winning the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run as a Mixed team (31:44:16.8). They accomplished that goal in an impressive manner that left little doubt as to their supremacy in that category. With already seven stage victories under the belt, the Swiss-Austrian duo gave another handy demonstration of seasoned technical skills and physical prowess today arriving in the record time of 3:21:34.9 hours. Steigmeier, was clearly moved and shared "A long-held dream has come true. I’m overjoyed. Finally, it worked out!".
Andrea and Uli Calmbach of Team Salomon Deutschland wrapped up their race week as second fastest duo in the ranking (33:42:14.6) while Sonja and Andrea Irendorfer of Team Innenausbau Irendorf were overjoyed with the remaining podium position (34:22:28.2).
Akin to the victors of the Mixed category, Rudi Schöpf (GER) and Hans Hörmann (ITA) finished the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run without ever loosing the lead to another team. They carried that distinction right to the finish in Latsch, which they reached in 3:39:00.9 hours. That accomplishment brought their grand total to 33:50:06.0 hours spent on their feet.
The Senior Master category, where the cumulative age of team members must add up to at least one hundred years, sported other spectacular performances, such as the times of last year’s champions Gerald Blumrich and Jörg Schreiber of Team Trail Magazin who ended up claiming second place overall.
Also on the podium for today’s stage race and their overall time were Axel Zapletal and Peter Sandmeier of Team Pax Feldafing 100, who celebrated a much-deserved third place.

Symonds and Lennox claims seven stage victory at the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2011

Joe Symonds and Jethro Lennox of Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear delivered the evidence today that the hitherto dominant Spanish leaders of the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run are not entirely invincible. The Scottish racers mastered today’s stage from Mals to Schlanders across the infamous Rappenscharte (3,012 m) in 3:42:52.8 hours – quite a feat since the course packed no less than 36.90 kilometers and a whooping vertical gain of 2.063 meters. Already in second place in the overall ranking, Joe Symonds and Jethro Lennox took a huge bite out of the Spanish dominators’ sizeable lead today reducing it by nearly 14 minutes. Yet, it is far too early to write off today's third ranked Miguel Caballero Ortega and David Lopez Castan (3:56:34.2) who may have shown a chink in their armor but still book nearly one half hour over Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear with only one short stage to go.
Second to arrive in the midday heat of Schlanders were German Philipp Reiter and French Julien Chorier of Team Salomon International (3:55:46.6) who had certainly tried but did not manage to keep up with the pitiless pace of Symonds / Lennox. The latter had clearly decided to pursue the uncompromising mission of dethroning the Spanish leaders at least once in the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. By the time they reached the first catering stop (1,824m), the Scottish racers indeed had distanced themselves quite successfully from the strong vanguard posse of podium contenders booking a lead of four minutes. In fact, they managed not just to carry that principle across the legendary Rappenscharte, but even to enlarge it modestly. Symonds and Lennox were clearly exulted that their risky strategy to go full out paid off as planned. "We knew that it was going to be a very steep ascent and kept our focus on maintaining our lead. After reaching the pass we gave all on the descent to keep ahead", revealed Symonds, clearly touched by the triumphant finish. Lennox, at 34 years of age the senior teammate of the two, shared "Actually our objective for the last two stages was to defend our second-place position. But it’s very rewarding that we were able to claim a stage victory after all". Symonds added "It’s good to know that we’re still up to it because we came here to win the race. The two Spaniards (Caballero and Lopez) really surprised us. May be we’ll manage next year".
Things clearly didn’t go according to plan, when professional athletes Mireia Miro (ESP) and Stephanie Jimenez (FRA) realized at today’s start that the tendonitis in Miro’s right foot had not improved any over night. After owning the race to date with already six stage victories and only two more to go, the dominant Women’s team decided to give it at least an honest try. However, to no avail since a pain-stricken 23-year-old Miro simply could not carry on upon reaching the first food stop. This misfortune brings what were well-founded title aspirations to an abrupt and unexpected end. A disappointed Miro shared "Of course, I knew already last night that something was wrong. But naturally I wanted to see if I could get by". The unexpected withdrawal of the leading Women team ultimately benefited Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell of Team Shettletrot who had repeatedly run formidable times over the course of the last stages but had always trailed the leaders with little hope to outrun them. Today, they finally were first to arrive in Schlanders in 4:56:57.7 hours claiming the overall lead as well. Jubilant about their first stage victory, they were still saddened by the unexpected withdrawal of the leaders. Gordon revealed "We had no idea that they had to quit. We were convinced that they got taped up at the catering stop. Mireia and Stephanie so much deserved winning this race after their performance so far".
Second to cross the finish line in Schlanders were Brigitte Eggerling and Daniela Nusseck of Swiss Alpinrunner Team (5:18:08.7) who were overjoyed to make it onto the podium on such a tough day. Third place went to Germans Gerti Ott and Sabine Kraus of Orthomol Sport Team Lautrach (5:46:13.2).
Roaring applause from the many local spectators in the finish area announced the arrival of Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn who call Val Venosta home and had made it their duty to claim today’s stage as victors. Little over four hours was the final time the two Italian runners of Team Schlanders (4:00:58.6) needed to make it to sun-soaked Schlanders. Despite the best of intentions, an overjoyed Anton Steiner ended up being a bit surprised by their tremendous performance "Of course, you try to give your best on a stage that takes you home but we didn’t count on a victory. This morning I still suffered from an upset stomach but then it surprisingly got better".
Roughly five minutes after the local victors, Dr. Thomas Miksch and Anton Philipp of Berglaufteam Haglöfs-Gore (4:05:42.2) arrived in their Green Leader Jerseys. It was yet a few more minutes before Christian Stork and Steffen Walk crossed the finish line securing the third podium position for Master Team Salomon/Sport Reischmann (4:08:28.1).
One more stage victory is all that separates Swiss Gaby Steigmeier and Austrian Seppi Neuhauser from an untainted overall victory in the Mixed category. The two have repeatedly participated in the Transalpine Run but in the recent past have never been so close to fulfilling their coveted ambition of winning. Today’s victorious time of 4:24:28.4 hours extended their already sizeable lead by over 20 minutes.
They may not have had it in them to touch today’s victors but Austrians Sonja and Andreas Irendorfer have run a remarkable race overall so far. Today’s performance across the renowned Rappenscharte proved once more to the competition why they have to be considered serious podium contenders.
Team Innenausbau Irendorfer raced to Schlanders in 4:46:53.2 hours just ahead of second overall Andrea and Uli Calmbach of Team Salomon Deutschland (4:48:26.1) who – short of calamity – are sure-bet candidates for a podium position.
Rudi Schöpf (GER) and Hans Hörmann (ITA) of Team Latsch/Mountain Heroes leave little room for improvement in regards to their flawless race performance to date. They are ever so close to completing their quest to win the race among teams with a cumulative age of 100 years and didn’t miss a beat today either. The international centurion team continued its victorious streak crossing the finish line first after 4:39:26.4 hours on the trail.
Gerald Blumrich and Jörg Schreiber of Team Trail Magazin (4:55:08.8) arrived with some delay on the leaders but their time was good enough yet for second place in the Senior Master category.
Axel Zapletal and Peter Sandmaier of Team Pax Feldafing 100 made it to third position with their time of 5:17:39.3 hours between Mals and Schlanders in Northern Italy’s sun-drenched Val Venosta.
For many racers, today’s objective simply will be to make it through the day en route to the finish line in Latsch, Italy. For some, however, it’ll provide the last opportunity to improve their ranking – possibly even make it onto the podium. As such, the 30.2 kilometers and 1,807 meters of vertical ascent of the ultimate stage promises lots of excitement. The racers will climb to a picturesque ridgeline overlooking the western expanse of the Ortler Range, the seventh and final mountain chain to get across in eight arduous days of racing. The highest point of today’s stage will be the Göflaner Scharte at 2,369 meters from where race participants will finally take sight of their ultimate destination Latsch. A single, long descent from the scenic crest will complete this year’s 273.3 kilometer long GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run that packed no fewer than 15,436 meters of vertical gain.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Goodbye Lifts, Hello Back Country

While the groomed runs of your local resort are great, finding some adventure off the beaten path can add an entirely new aspect to your skiing experience. Aren’t you sick of reading ‘tips up’ on every single chair-lift pickup? While heli-skiing is by no means cheaper than a day pass to your local mountain, it’s well worth the experience.
Beginning in the 60’s, Hans Gmoser is credited for starting heli-skiing in the Bugaboo Mountains of British Colombia. As a mountain guide and Canadian immigrant, Gmoser was able to use a helicopter to access otherwise impossible locations to ski. Since then, heli-skiing has become far more structured and safer. In fact, heli-skiing locations are constantly examined by guides to ensure your runs will be on the best snow.
Simply put, there is a reason that heli-skiing has become so popular in recent years. With new turbo-shaft helicopters and trained professionals, skiing remote locations has never been easier. New adventure tours are created every year, which makes it tough to find a heli-skiing service that caters to your specific needs.
However, FindTheBest recently created a heli-skiing comparison that’s actually really useful. There are several filters that allow skiers to narrow search results and find a perfect heli-skiing company that fits their skill level and trip length.
Stepping outside your comfort zone on the mountain can be incredibly dangerous. However, using the services of heli-skiing companies allows skiers to discover new terrain and develop new abilities. Making plans for the winter is always fun, so check out FindTheBest and weigh your options!

By Woody Robinson. Woody is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara and skis at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe

Six in a row - Miguel Caballero and David López Castán don’t waste any time getting to Italy

Day after day, Miguel Caballero Ortega and David Lopez Castan keep demonstrating their dominance in the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. The two Spaniards of Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex made it to Mals in the Italian Val Venosta in no more than 3:14:26.9 hours – a stunning accomplishment given the distance of 37.02 kilometers and 1,332 meters of vertical gain en route. Possibly, their performance had something to do with runner-up Team Salomon International who challenged the leaders for much of today’s stage relentlessly rushing them on to the finish line. However, second-placing Julien Chorier and Philipp Reiter (3:15:24.6) eventually ended up trailing the leaders by a single minute after courageously taking the lead for much of the day.
Third to call it a day were Tofol Castaner Bernat and Miquel Capo Soler of Team TransMallorcaRun who added to Spanish runners’ pride by claiming the remaining podium position after 3:19:30.2 hours.
The two Scottsmen Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds surprised spectators in Mals arriving as the fourth Mens’ team, for the first time missing a beat in their quest to claim podium positions on each of the eight race days. They finished the day in 3:23:37.0 hours after their plan to distance themselves from the leading posse right off the start in Scuol backfired leaving them worn out for the latter part of the stage. The two Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear Team members had tried to wear out the Spanish leaders of Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex with repeated, unexpected accelerations to a pace of 3:30 minutes / kilometer all the way to precipitous Uina Canyon. However, in a twist of irony it was not the Spaniards but them who ultimately had to declare defeat as Joe Symonds shared: "Unfortunately, our strategy didn’t work since Jethro’s legs had not recovered sufficiently from yesterday’s sprint race".
Unlike the unlucky Scottish initiators of the attack on the leaders, the French/German Team Salomon International benefited from the frequent change in pace early on in today’s stage. Given the relatively undemanding nature of today’s stage, it was probably the most suitable day to launch a strategic attack on the dominant Spaniards.
Philipp Reiter was clearly surprised when the Scotsmen suddenly fell back and their team found itself in the lead. "That was pretty amazing". The 20-year-old trail talent from Germany immediately used the opening gap with running partner Chorier (FRA). They even managed to gain a lead of almost three minutes over the hitherto dominant Spaniards Caballero/Castan upon reaching Plantapatsch (2,261m). However, they may have underestimated Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex who let the attack play out refusing to be lured into a premature chase. With less than 13-kilometers to go, they finally took the bait and calmly played out their tremendous downhill skills. Reiter was impressed but still satisfied with running to second place, his team’s best stage ranking to date. "I guess I underestimated yesterday’s stage which cost some strength. We were unable to keep up with the Spaniards’ furious pace on the descent. They really are very strong".
In the end, the stage didn’t deliver much of an upset and the Spaniards productively responded in trademark cool and collected manner to the challenge thrown at them. David Lopez was modest about his team’s accomplishment: "Today was very hard. We took quite a beating during the rapid changes in pace early on in the stage. We are pretty happy that we were able to close the gap towards the finish and that we ended up winning today".
Without having expressed their objective explicitly, the two victorious members of the Spanish Trail Running National Team continue to be on track regarding their ambition to win every one of the eight stages in the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine Run.
It came as a suprise and probably tore at the nerves of the overall leaders in the Master Men category. Marco Schneider and Holger Finkelmann of Main Ausdauershop Trail Team (GER) launched a successful assault on Dr. Thomas Miksch and Anton Philipp of Berglaufteam Haglöfs-Gore on today’s stage from Switzerland to Italy. Main Ausdauer Trail Team managed to stun the competition today with their triumphant time of 3:27:54.8 hours across the High Divide of the Central Alps. On account of two meager performances early on in the eight-day stage race and their unpresumptuous seventh place ranking overall, the duo Schneider/Finkelmann had not raised much attention to date. However, they came back to regular form today and rejoiced accordingly. "It’s crazy. We had played with the thought of attacking on today’s stage and had prepared ourselves mentally for it during the last two days. But didn’t dare to think that we would be keeping the leading teams in check", Marco Schneider exulted. No newbies to the Transalpine Run, 41-year-old Schneider mused that his intimate knowledge of the course between Scuol and Mals played a big role in leading to success. "Four years ago we arrived in 3rd place on this stage".
Second to arrive in Bella Italia were Germans Steffen Walk and Christian Stork of Team Salomon/Sport Reischmann. Their time of 3:33:06.0 hours was sufficient to relegate Italians Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn of Team Schlanders (3:35:56.4) to third place and also reduced the latter’s lead in the battle for the second place in the ranking to five minutes.
Women’s Team Salomon International simply proves unbeatable
With already five decisive victories under their belt, they were clearly the favored team to win today’s stage. Yet, Stephanie Jimenez (FRA) and Mireia Miro (SPA) of Team Salomon International also made the unthinkable possible when reaching Mals, Italy, in well under four hours. Their astonishing time of 3:49:57.2 hours left little doubt that they may be difficult to beat at their game at this point.
Their most immediate competition was once again the Scottish Team Shettletrot. However, Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell were unable to stay below the magic four-hour mark but still claimed a hard-earned second place with a final time of 4:05:54.6 hours.
Gerti Ott and Sabine Kraus of Orthomol Sport Team Lautrach (4:29:37.9) arrived with a delay of more than 20 minutes on the Scottish ladies, a performance that was still good enough for the remaining place on the podium and testimony to a deserved third place in the overall ranking.
Having experienced much misfortune during the 2009 and 2010 Transalpine Runs, the forever-dominant Mixed team around Gaby Steigmeier (SUI) and Seppi Neuhauser (AUT) is inching closer to reaching their long-held goal of overall victory. Team Salomon covered today’s 37 kilometers through breathtaking Uina Canyon and across scenic Schlinig Pass in 3:48:28.2 hours and appears to be untouchable at this point in the race.
While Spaniards Leire Elosegui and Xabi Lekue of Team Leire_Xabi were not too far off with their performance of 3:56:10.1 hour, they had to make do with second place, which they had already achieved in yesterday’s mountain sprint. Chasing them, but to no avail, were Andrea and Uli Calmbach of Team Salomon Deutschland (3:57:527) who still rejoiced over a well-merited third place.
Rudi Schöpf (GER) and Hans Hörmann (ITA) of Team Latsch/Mountain Heroes continue to raise eyebrows given the extensive lead they have accumulated over their competition by now. The two leaders of the Senior Master category arrived in Mals after 4:03:38.2 hours, almost ten minutes ahead of their British age peers of David Jelley and Matrin Gabriel of Team Ripon Runners (4:13:46.7), who in turn were jubilant about their first podium ranking.
Axel Zapletal and Peter Sandmaier of Team Pax Feldafing 100 once again rounded off the podium trilogy with their performance of 4:15:05.3 hours.
Today runners will reach the zenith of the Western course of the 2011 Transalpine Run on tomorrow’s penultimate stage. As the crow flies, the distance between Mals and Schlanders may be less than 15 kilometers but the racers will have to detour via the Rappenscharte at 3,012 m elevation, an infamous highlight of the annual race. The ascent of the lofty mountain saddle leads through mostly trail-less terrain and a vile boulder field testing the runners’ surefootedness with every step. The descent across seemingly endless alpine meadows, in turn, may prove a relief at first but, nonetheless, requires a lot of technical competency. The stage skirts the Southern Ötztaler Range and sports the longest continuous descent to Schlanders via the picturesque Kortscher Alm.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Doppelmayr's New Lift on the Italian side of Mont Blanc

Doppelmayr Italy scores the biggest order of their corporate history with an order value of EUR 105 million. Doppelmayr Italia GmbH was awarded the contract for the construction of the new ropeway on the Mont Blanc. This is the biggest order so far for the South Tyrolean company with headquarters in Lana.
The new, spectacular installation replaces the old ropeway from the 1940s and 1950s. The installation is located on the Italian side at the foot of the Mont Blanc and connects the tourist resort Courmayeur with the Pointe Helbronner.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the model project took place at the beginning of April with the first preparatory works for the building site. The procurement took place after three months of evaluating the bids. In order to take part in the tender several companies merged in a consortium. Under the name of "Cordée Mont Blanc" renowned companies participate in the construction of the new jig-back ropeway: the ropeway manufacturer Doppelmayr Italia and several building contractors, such as PAC SpA from Bolzano, Valdostane Cogeis SpA, Costruzioni Stradali B.G.F. Srl, I.V.I.E.S. SpA, and another building consortium from the Aosta Valley.
Operator of the ropeway installation is the company "Funivie Monte Bianco", in which the autonomous region Aosta is considerably engaged, and eventually gave preference to the consortium "Cordée Mont Blanc" for the construction of the ascent installation.
The future ropeway to the Mont Blanc scales the Pointe Helbronner at approximately 3,500 m above sea level in two new sections. The three line sections of the old installation will be demolished upon completion of the building works for the new ropeway. Glass and steel will set architectural highlights for the station buildings and the futuristic cabins. The stations are spacious and allows for views over the impressive mountain scenery by means of observation platforms.
The cabins have a round shape, are completely glazed and rotate about their centre axes. Doppelmayr has already implemented this advanced technology in other famous locations: for example in Cape Town, Palm Springs, at the mountain Titlis in Switzerland or at the Monte Baldo at the Lake Garda. But it is still a challenge for Doppelmayr: Never before has a rotating cabin been used in such height.
In each section a total of 4 carriers with a capacity of 80 passengers each is planned. The overall line length is 4.3 km and a difference in height of 2,140 m is overcome with an operating speed of 9 m/s (approx. 30 km/h). The track ropes are approximately 7 cm thick.
The drive consists of two electric motors with an output of 600 kW each. Per hour 800 and respectively 600 passengers (section 1 and section 2) can be transported.
The new cabins are a show piece of aesthetics and innovation. Thanks to the panorama glazing, the passengers can enjoy the 360 degree view without interruptions. The interior fittings are of state-of-the-art design: heating elements integrated into the cabin floor and walls, sound system, and video screens. On these screens pictures made by the camera that is attached to the outside of the cabin floor are shown through a wireless connection. In addition, the screens show information such as weather data and event tips. Other features the high-tech cabin offers are air conditioning, adjustable LED lighting and intelligent sway dampers – to only name a few.
The new bottom station is built in Pontal d'Entreves – opposite the ropeway "Val Veny". Despite being an aesthetic and spectacular eye catcher, the construction blends in perfectly with the overall view. The station can be easily reached via the motorway and provides enough parking spaces – a present problem of the existing station.
The mid station will be constructed near the old station and only be displaced by a few meters. Conference rooms and a restaurant complex are planned to find space inside. Nearby in Mont Frety, the legendary botanic garden can be seen – the most elevated in Europe.
At a height of 3,500 m above sea level and near the Pointe Helbronner, the new top station will be built – equipped with a huge observation platform and a breathtaking panorama view on the Mont Blanc massif: Dente del Gigante, Grandes Jorasses, Vallée Blanche and the Mont Blanc (4,810 m above sea level). Due to the restricted space conditions, the station is designed in terraces.
From the top station, a new elevator in the rocks leads downwards to the mountain shelter "Rifugio Torino". Up until now, the shelter could be reached by means of a small ropeway and a tunnel with stairs. The construction of the new elevator and the connecting tunnel is a work-intensive effort: the elevator well has a diameter of 7 meters and a difference of height of 70 meters. Ultimately, 130 meters of rock must be drilled through.
While building the new ropeway, special attention is paid to efficiency and sustainability in order to keep the energy consumption as low as possible. Thus, materials with high thermal insulation capacities are used, as well as photovoltaic installations and a heating system with heat pumps for heat recovery. This shall approximately reach the standard of a zero-power building.
The bottom station in Pontal d'Entreves even fulfills the criteria for a so-called "active house": More energy is generated than consumed.
The construction period of the new ropeway on the Mont Blanc is four years, the start-up is scheduled to take place in 2014.

Miguel Caballero crushes previous stage record in mountain sprint

Miguel Caballero Ortega grew wings in today’s uphill race from Scuol’s town square to the plateau of Motta Naluns (2.130m) high above the Swiss spa community. His time of 38.57,6 minutes beat the previous GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run two-year-old record of Italian Michael Fischer by nearly a full minute. By the end of the day, the new record secured Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex first place in today’s stage. Race partner David Lopez Castan had not been in the best shape today finishing the race himself in 44:01.2 minutes. However, no other team managed to beat the Spaniards cumulative time of 1:22:58.8 hours.
The victorious Caballero clearly benefited in today’s 6,19 kilometer uphill sprint race from fellow countryman Tofol Castaner Bernat, the 2010 Sky Running World Champion. Castaner, who claimed second place today with teammate Miquel Capo Soler of Team TransMallorcaRun (1:25:38.7) had served as an ideal, albeit unintentional, pacer for Caballero. Today’s staggered start required Castaner to race right ahead of Caballero who, in turn, never lost sight of his predecessor. "Naturally that was good for me since I was perfectly able to use Tofol for orientation" Caballero, victor of this year’s Stava Skyrace, explained. "I’m very happy that I won today". Castaner from the Mediterranean isle Mallorca, in turn, was not displeased with the turn of events that left him in second place despite his blistering time of 39:41.4 minutes. He shared his assessment "It’s quite all right. In the beginning I did very well. But when the terrain got steeper, Miguel had a clear advantage using poles. I’m from an island where you don’t use something like that".
It may have been a spur of the moment decision for Miguel Caballero Ortega to use the benefit of having Castaner as his unintentional pacer. In the end, that circumstance offered him a unique opportunity that was simply too hard to pass up – and Caballero knew full well how to use it to his advantage.
Only yesterday, today’s victor had expressed different intentions altogether hoping to use today’s sprint race as a welcome opportunity to regenerate rather than exerting himself too much. Today, the Spanish Club Champion of 2010 retracted and commented tongue in cheek "I guess in hindsight and by definition I lied then".
The third team on today’s podium were Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds of Scottish Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear (1:26:18.2). Symonds also claimed 3rd place in today’s individual ranking, racing up the 936 m of elevation gain in blistering 41:36.3 minutes.
The fastest woman today, Mireia Miro of Spain, may have frightened the odd male racer today as she passed a long line of competitors along the steep ascent to Motta Naluns at mind-blowing speed. In the end, she finished the race day in first place among the Women, trailing the victorious Caballero by only 6:45 minutes. Suffering from an aching hip on yesterday’s stage, the 23-year-old trail running and ski touring talent, showed little sign of weakness today. In the end, she required only 45:43.1 minutes to reach Motta Naluns which also put her in 15th place in today’s overall ranking.
Miro’s French teammate of Team Salomon International, Stephanie Jimenez (53:39.4), also put in a formidable performance today reaching the finish at 2,130 meters elevation in under an hour’s time. The two leaders were, in turn, able to slip on another set of leader jerseys for the upcoming stage from Switzerland into Italy.
Second-placing Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell of Scottish Team Shettletrot again lived up to repute en route to today’s hilltop finish by adding no more than 1:42:48.4 hours cumulative time to their race tally.
Isabel Sanjuan Tabuenca and Nuria Dominguez Azpeleta of Trangoworld Gore-Tex (1:54:28.1) returned to the podium today putting an early end to what some competitors may have mistaken as a bout of weakness on yesterday’s stage.
In contrast to the leading teams of all other categories, the vanguard Master team had to accept a setback today. Italians Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn of Team Latsch (1:34:01.6) finally managed to advance to the very top in today’s stage ranking abandoning what had become a trademark second-position after four days of racing.
Their cumulative lead, however, turned out to be merely eight seconds over Anton Philipp and Dr. Thomas Miksch of Team Haglöfs-Gore (1:34:09.8).
Trailing these two teams by more than two minutes were Stephan Tassani-Prell and Oliver Steiniger of Team Salomon Deutschland, who jubilantly celebrated their first podium ranking with a cumulative race time of 1:36:29.6 hours.
Local Gaby Steigmeier (SUI) literally feels right at home in Scuol and had no more than a few footsteps to the start area. She and team partner Seppi Neuhauser of Austria made the most of it and delivered a victorious ‘home run’ with a cumulative time of only 1:38:29.3 hours.
The two veteran racers in the Transalpine Run Series claimed a fifth consecutive stage victory and start into the second half of this year’s race from a most comfortable position.
Spaniards Leire Elosegui and Xabi Lekue of Team Xabi_Leire (1:44:48.1) delivered the second-best time of the day rejoicing over a first podium position. Overall second-ranked Team Salomon Deutschland around Andrea and Uli Calmbach had to resort to third place as their time added up to 1:45:25.0 hours.
What may seem as a snide heading, in fact speaks of great respect for the Grand Masters of Transalpine Run(ning). Rudi Schöpf (ITA) and Hans Hörmann (GER) of Team Latsch/Mountain Heroes once more outpaced their international centurion competitors.
The Senior Masters will continue to be clad in black (leader jerseys) on tomorrow’s stage to Bella Italia as their cumulative time of 1:46:02.8 hours beat the second-best Team Elbland Sachsen (GER) by nearly three minutes.
Hans-Dieter Jancker and Jörg Schmoltz of the latter team yet were greatly satisfied with their respective time of 1:48:44,6 hours, possibly also since they managed to relegate podium regulars Gerald Blumrich and Jörg Schreiber of Team Trail Magazin (GER, 1:51:00,6) quite unexpectedly to third place.
Three scenic highlights await the international field of racers on today’s stage across the international border to Italy. Uina Canyon, Schlinig Pass and finally the high trails to Plantapatsch should provide sufficient motivation to give it all on the 6th of eight days of trail running in the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. The stage ranks among the easier days in the race week with 37.02 kilometers and a single climb that packs ‘merely’ 1,332 meters of altitudinal gain.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

López Castán and Caballero prove unbeatable four days into the Transalpine-Run

It almost seems a daily routine by now that David Lopez Castan and Miguel Caballero Ortega lead the field of racers into the finish area at the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. For the 4th day in a row, the two members of the Spanish National trail running team clearly dominated the race, reaching Scuol almost seven minutes ahead of the second-fastest team. Castan and Ortega, recognizable by their bright blue leader jerseys by now, covered today’s 39,93 kilometers and 2,339 meters of altitudinal gain en route to Switzerland in 4:06:46.8 hours.
Their most immediate threat, Scottish Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear, took 4:13:40.6 hours on the trail between Galtür and Scuol (SUI). Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds’ attempts to break the dominance of the Spaniards all seem to have failed to date. Third to arrive in the spa community of Scuol were once again Julien Chorier (FRA) and Philipp Reiter (GER) with a time of 4:19:54.7 hours.
The overall leaders López Castán and Caballero Ortega have by now accumulated a cushy lead of roughly 35 minutes over the scond-ranking Scotsmen Symonds and Lennox. As such, the Spaniards enjoyed the unheard-of luxury of taking in the breath-taking scenery on today’s Futschölpass (2.768m) and Piz Clünas (2.793m) without feeling too rushed.
Bluebird skies, coolish temperatures in the morning and racy singletrack en route to Switzerland left little to be desired for the field of racers. Twenty-nine year-old David Caballero Ortega shared: “This was by far the most beautiful stage to date and we took some time to savor it.”
An experience that clearly motivated the overall leaders enough to chance a surprise dash on the first lengthy descent towards Alp Valmala (1,980m). Yet, the Spanish leaders were not entirely oblivious to their competitors from Scotland. Caballero Ortega from Segovia, Spain, recalled, "The two kept the pressure up but we managed to run our race. It was on the first downhill that we noticed that we were stronger and decided to increase our speed to get away for good".
Their strategy panned out once again, which Joe Symonds had no problem acknowledging: "Both are extremely strong on the downhill. They simply get along better with conditions on the descents than us. Unfortunately, I’m still somewhat handicapped by my fall on the second day and I may still be a little too cautious at this point". Such hesitance would seem plausible given that Symonds’ lacerated leg required several stitches at the end of Stage Two.
The younger brother of previous year’s victor Andrew Symonds is planning to use tomorrow’s relatively short vertical race to Motta Naluns (6.19 kilometers, 936 meters of vertical ascent) as a kind of interlude for regeneration. Most racers will welcome tomorrow’ shorter itinerary as it should allow preparations for the final three days of racing.
Women Leaders shake off competition – again
Like the leading Mens team, Stephanie Jimenez (FRA) and Mireia Miro (ESP) managed to break away from the field claiming their fourth consecutive victory. The team that has been dealt openly as the top favorite for victory in this year’s GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run took no more than 5:01:53.0 hours to make it to Scuol, a charming resort town in Switzerland’s sunny Engadin region. However, their impressive dash across the international border took its toll on the two female racers who themselves had gone into this race with high expectations for top podium positions. Miro admitted "We may have started out too fast on the first three days. The result of that today was Stephanie experiencing some problems, then me, so that eventually we decided to take a several-minute-long break for stretching". That disruption did not keep the whirlwind team from reaching the finish line on the medieval village square roughly 18 minutes ahead of their Scottish competitors of Team Shettletrot. Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell once again ran a formidable race but their time of 5:19:51.0 hours in the end was only good enough for second place given Team Salomon International’s invincible performance. Miro recognizes her team’s overwhelming lead: "Clearly, that is a huge lead that we now want to manage over the course of the next days and hope to defend successfully to the final finish in Latsch". While Miro / Jimenez have become regulars on the podium by now, Team Craft around Stefanie Felgenhauer and Kathrin Höfler (5:36:42.3) celebrated that distinction for the first time today in the 2011 Transalpine Run.
Trail runners Dr. Thomas Miksch and Anton Philipp clearly are on a very special mission: Winning three consecutive leader titles in their category. Their team, Haglöfs-Gore, may push a cumulative age of more than 80 years but the two Germans never seem to waste undue time or energy on the trail and always manage to stay ahead of their competitors. After 4:25:20.5 hours on the trail, they had not only secured first place in the Masters category for the fourth time in a row in this year’s event but also claimed 4th position overall.
Second across the finish line today were Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn of Team Schlanders (4:40:11.7) who took 15 minutes longer than the leaders to cross into Switzerland. They had a few minutes to put their feet up before Cristian Doliana and Fabio Varesco of Team La Sportiva/Gore-Tex Footwear (4:46:51.5) followed suite and called it a day.
Both teams had moved up a notch after the originally second placing Christian Stork and Steffen Walk had received a time penalty of 15 minutes for a short cut moving them back into fifth place. Gaby Steigmeier (SUI) and Seppi Neuhauser (AUT) don’t need to worry much about getting their laundry done during the weeklong race event. The two exceptional trail runners have grown accustomed to claiming a fresh set of leader jerseys at the daily flower ceremony by now. Team Salomon, a regular at the Transalpine Run for many years, extended its comfy lead further today.
On top of that, the two veterans stayed under the five-hour mark for today’s stage (4:55:56.2). Managing their lead to the end of the ultimate stage at the end of the week would seem to be their primary worry at this point.
Andrea and Uli Calmbach of Team Salomon Deutschland (5:07:06.1) came in second place today, more than four minutes ahead of the Austrian Team Innenausbau Irendorfer. The couple Sonja and Andreas Irendorfer claimed a deserved third place with their time of 5:11:20.4 hours.
Team Latsch/Mountain Heroes: A different kind of Senior lifestyle
Rudi Schöpf and Hans Hörmann, the seemingly untouchable Senior Master leaders, proved to be in a league of their own as they not just dominate their race category but keep on ranking among the top ten-percentile of race participants. The German – Italian team raced to Scuol in 5:17:44.8 hours, also claiming a fourth consecutive victory in this year’s Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run.
Somewhat slower, but still clocking a highly commendable time were their closest competitors of the previous days. Gerald Blumrich and Jörg Schreiber of Team Trail Magazin (5:32:28.7) came in second place- as has become customary by now, a comfortable position to start the second half of the race week from.
Their fellow countrymen Axel Zapletal and Peter Sandmeier of Team Pax Feldafing 100 (5:45:18.2) once more claimed the third position on today’s podium.
Next stage on the Western course of the Transalpine-Run is routinely dedicated for some R&R of the special kind: Race and Relax. The challenge of the fifth of a total of eight race days is a relatively short sprint race exacting a single climb of 936 meters of vertical gain. The vertical race will start at the old village square in Scuol and for some racers can be expected to finish in under an hour. The finish is located at the summit station of the Motta Naluns funicular on a plateau just above treeline with a spectacular view over the Central Alps. An apt setting for the halfway point of the eight-stage trail run across the Alps!. While tomorrow’s race is short, the steep ascent over mostly trail less terrain will require much in terms of technique and stamina – not exactly how most would define a rest day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vail Resorts Re-Imagines the Vacation Photo Experience With the Second Generation of EpicMix

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what it's worth if we take your perfect vacation photo, deliver it to your computer or mobile device for free and then combine it with the most important information and memories from your trip.
On August 31th, Vail Resorts announced the next generation of its popular ski and snowboard application, EpicMix which will revolutionize how guests take and share photos at all six of the Company's mountain resorts when it launches this season. Upon request, the Company's photographers will take portrait and action photos and automatically deliver the images to the guest's EpicMix account by quickly scanning a guest's RF-enabled lift ticket or season pass.
Using this RF technology, EpicMix photographers will seamlessly deliver an image to everyone in a group picture and kids' photos will be sent to their parent's secure account. The most revolutionary part is that Vail Resorts will provide these professional photos free to guests, in a "low-res" format for sharing on Facebook and Twitter, while a high-resolution image can be purchased online allowing guests to print unlimited copies at the vendor of their choice or on their own.
In addition to professional images, guests will be able to take their own photos and combine them in one place together with their vertical feet, digital pins and memories of other special moments of their visit through the new EpicMix platform. They'll also be able to create a "Remix" collage, a singular snapshot (or jpeg) customized with their digital information that captures their entire mountain experience.
EpicMix allows all of these images and information to easily be shared on Facebook and other social sites, or uploaded to popular photo storage sites such as Flickr, Snapfish and Shutterfly. Facebook estimates that more than 250 million photos are uploaded each day, making photo sharing one of the most popular activities on Facebook.
To broaden the engagement of EpicMix and provide an improved experience to all of its guests, Vail Resorts announced that it will eliminate nearly all paper tickets for the 2011-2012 winter season by providing guests with a reusable and durable card loaded with their daily lift tickets or season pass. The upgraded and smarter lift access card, which will be provided at no extra charge, will come enabled with RF technology and allow for a hassle-free "easy scan" process at the lifts meaning that there's no need to show a ticket or pass to the Vail Resorts lift scanning employees.
In addition to the integration of photo capabilities, the next release of EpicMix will be faster and will include hundreds of new pins and a new interface showing guests the pins they can earn.
"Last year's introduction of EpicMix was truly revolutionary in how it brought together the digital and physical experience of skiing and riding without anything getting in the way of truly enjoying the outdoors", said Rob Katz, Vail Resorts chief executive officer. "This season we're re-imagining how guest photos are taken, stored and shared at our resorts and delivering a groundbreaking way for skiers and riders to capture their experience on the mountains. Our six resorts will be offering something not available at any other ski mountain or other resort destination. Through EpicMix we're allowing people to remember their vacation - and photos are one of the most critical ways to create and share those memories".
When Vail Resorts launched EpicMix last year experts called it a "game changer" and "one of the most ridiculously cool ..." mobile strategies. Six months after it debuted, it won a "People's Voice" Webby award in the Experimental and Innovation category for mobile devices.
The true innovation is that the app and online site allows guests to selectively share stats and information via Twitter and Facebook without requiring skiers or snowboarders to do anything different other than enjoy their skiing and snowboarding experience. Instead of manual check-ins, the RF-enabled pass or ticket allows for automatic check-ins at each lift at all six resorts, which then tracks the vertical feet and rewards guests for accomplishments like riding every lift in one day to earn the Conqueror pin.
Nearly 100,000 guests activated their EpicMix accounts last ski and snowboard season which equated to a 15-percent adoption rate and resulted in 275,000 social posts on Facebook and Twitter and more than 35 million social impressions (based on Facebook's estimate of 130 friends per person).
EpicMix will be available to all Vail Resorts guests who purchase any lift ticket or season pass this year. Almost every ticket and pass will be enabled with RF technology and allow guests to participate in EpicMix and the new photo sharing functionality starting in mid-December 2011.
Once guests get their RF-enabled pass or lift ticket, they can simply log on to and activate their EpicMix accounts and download the free EpicMix mobile app for the iPhone, Android or other smart phone.

European Team Dominates Big Mountain Competition at the Swatch Skiers Cup

Under a blazing South American sun at 3900m, 16 members of the world’s freeskiing cream battled it out today in the expansive helicopter-accessed wilderness adjacent to Valle Nevado resort. When the powder settled, Team Europe had overwhelmed Team Americas six wins to two in a series of 8 man-to-man ski-offs on the Big Mountain course.
Chilean Chopo Diaz (28 years old) brought down the house early in competition, bettering France’s Seb Michaud with an enormous air towards the top of the venue. This put Team Americas on the scoreboard, followed by Oakley White-Allen (USA) who would gain them yet another point today in his duel with Australian Chris Booth.
Their glory was short-lived, however, as Team Europe would blast each of the remaining six heats in today’s Big Mountain competition. Of particular note was seasoned Big Mountain powerhouse Henrik Windstedt (Sweden) whose solid skill shone throughout the 400m descent, dropping several cliffs and ousting Canada’s James Heim. Team Europe would send no better into the fray than Italy’s Markus Eder (20 years old) who took opponent Josh Bibby to the cleaners by heading to skier’s left for a line only visible from the helicopter that took him to the start gate. Eder would drop a series of couloirs and 10 to 15m cliffs in a high-speed charge to the finish. A strong Team Americas contender, Dana Flahr (Canada) was expected to deliver but instead fell attempting a 360 off a 15m drop. His rival, Kaj Zackrisson, would give it his all in this high altitude event, storming to victory for the last run of the SWATCH SKIERS CUP Big Mountain.
Time restrictions today limited competition to a single round of 8 heats however, as skiers were given time to inspect the features of the 30-35-degree face. Results from today’s single round will stand as the Big Mountain results and will now be carried-over to the Backcountry Slopestyle event.
Backcountry Slopestyle Yet To Come: Legendary features shaper David Ny has been hard at work sculpting the Backcountry Slopestyle course for the final day of competition at the SWATCH SKIERS CUP is scheduled for Friday, September 9th. Team Americas, bristling with high-powered freestylers, must now step up to the challenge presented today by Team Europe. Which team has what it takes to hold aloft the SWATCH SKIERS CUP?

Complete results of first day of competition: Big Mountain

Team Americas 2 vs. - Team Europe 6

Chopo Diaz (CHI - 28) 1 - 0 Seb Michaud (FRA - 38)
Oakley White-Allen (USA - 32) 1 - 0 Chris Booth (AUS - 23)
Matt Margetts (CAN - 23) 0 - 1 Nicolas Vuignier (SUI - 20)
James Heim (CAN - 29) 0 - 1 Henrik Windstedt (SWE - 28)
Josh Bibby (CAN - 28) 0 - 1 Markus Eder (ITA - 20)
Rory Bushfield 0 - 1 Richard Permin (FRA - 26)
Dylan Hood (USA - 27) 0 - 1 Sverre Liliequist (SWE - 39)
Dana Flahr (CAN - 29) 0 - 1 Kaj Zackrisson (SWE - 27)

Third consecutive victory for Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex Spain at the Gore-Tex Transalpine-Run 2011

David Lopez Castan and Miguel Caballero Ortega once again ruled today’s field of runners! As on both previous stages of the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run, they managed to distance themselves from any immediate competition halfway into the day and from then on simply ran their own race. The two Spanish talents put the full marathon distance between Schruns and Galtür behind them with seeming ease in the mind-blowing time of 3:49:47.7 hours. While today’s course had been changed to account for potential thunderstorm activity and avoided any exposed ridgeline trails in favour of a lower elevation route, the day still packed a punch.
Trailing the Spanish leaders by ten minutes were - as would have been expected by now - Jethro Lennox and Joe Symonds of Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear. The Scottish missed staying under the four-hour mark by a mere second with their time of 4:00:01.6 hours, but still rank second overall at this point.
Third to cross the finish line in the Austrian resort community of Galtür were Tofol Castaner Bernat and Miguel Capo Soler of TransMallorcaRun Team (4:09:09.9) with just a hair’s lead over their friends Julien Chorier (FRA) and Philipp Reiter of Team Salomon International (4:09:10.2). The four indeed leapt across the finish line in single file for a photo finish, a gesture implicit for the cordial race spirit in the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run series.
Conditions on today’s trails were anything but perfect. At higher elevations temperatures barely kept above freezing. Driving rain soaked the racers intermittently, while gusty winds pushed low-lying clouds around to obscure visibility at times. As such, opting for the alternative route turned out to have been a wise choice.
Race director Wolfgang Pohl was clearly relieved that most runners had enjoyed the new course despite the inclement conditions. "The original track would have been too exposed to the elements over a distance of nearly 18 kilometers. Subjecting over 600 racers to such a risk wouldn’t have been a responsible thing to do". The alternative route proved to be sufficiently challenging as it stood, which victorious Miguel Caballero aptly summed up: "It was very wet and cold, which made running a lot harder for us". Still, running in the clouds must have held something mystical for most runners – something many runners commented on - as they made their arduous way across two mountain passes at elevations of 1932 m and 2271 m, respectively. The strategy of race duo Castan/Caballero, both members of the Spanish National trail running team, to ‚up the ante’ only half way into the day’s single 29-kilometer long climb, clearly had a demoralizing effect on all other vanguard teams. Soaking wet but elated, 29-year-old Caballero explained: "We decided to increase our speed from one moment to the next and indeed managed to get away relatively easily. Let’s see what the next few days hold for us. We take itstage by stage".
Joe Symonds, once again relegated to second place, concurred with the victorious Spaniard: "It was indeed very exhausting. The climb just didn’t seem to end. Then, between the first and second food stop, they got away from us".
Every day Berglaufteam Haglöfs-Gore (GER) around Anton Philipp and Dr. Thomas Miksch seems to get a little closer to the ambitious goal of claiming a third consecutive victory in the Masters category at the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run. So far, their race approach goes to plan as the two race veterans were once again the first Masters to cross the finish line in just 4:14:59.1 hours. That time also proved good enough for a deserved sixth place overall in today’s stage.
Steffen Walk and Christian Stork of Team Salomon/Sport Reischmann (GER) ended up trailing the leaders by over seven minutes but still entered the finish area in well-known ski town Galtür with the commendable time of 4:22:40.5 hours. The two German racers comfortably managed to stay ahead of Anton Steiner and Klaus Wellenzohn (ITA) of Team Schlanders who – once again – claimed third place on the podium with their time of 4:24:34.0 hours.
Stephanie Jimenez (FRA) and Mireia Miro (ESP) once more demonstrated both physical and technical prowess with seeming effortlessness. With only 4:39:51.8 hours on the trail, the two not only managed to come in first with a sizeable lead of 23 minutes over their most immediate competition, but also claimed 18th place in today’s overall ranking.
Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell of Scottish Team Shettletrot mustn’t have spend any time sight-seeing alongside the trail either, as they ran the marathon mountain stage between Schruns and Galtür in just 5:03:20.1 hours. That performance afforded them a sufficient lead over third-placing Germans Gitti Schiebel and Simone Philipp of Team Mountain Heroes/Salomon (5:15:52.8).
Gaby Steigmeier (SUI) and Seppi Neuhauser (GER) of Team Salomon clearly form a perfect match as a race team winning their third consecutive set of leader jerseys on today’s stage. Veterans of several in the 7-year series of GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Runs, they ruled their category yet again in trademark form with the victorious time of 4:43:03.4 hours.
Kasia Zajac (POL) and Christian Zimmer (GER) of Team Salomon Polen Deutschland came in second trailing the dominant leaders by only ten minutes (4:54:17.4). The two racers actually arrived clasping hands with Germans Andrea and Uli Calmbach of Team Salomon Deutschland (4:54:17.5). The latter stayed a nose-length behind the international race team and graciously accepted third place for today.
As in all other categories, the leaders of the Senior Masters were unwilling to relinquish their coveted vanguard position. Rudi Schöpf and Hans Hörmann (ITA) of Team Latsch/Mountain Heroes crossed the finish line after 4:59:55.7 hours on the trail extending their lead further over the ever-second German Team Trail Magazin around Gerald Blumrich and Jörg Schreiber (5:08:57.2).
The third centurion team on the podium were Axel Zapletal and Peter Sandmaier of Team Pax Feldafing 100, who didn’t exactly dilly-dally en route with their time of 5:28:07.5 hours.
Today's stage won’t afford the racers much of a break yet with a distance of almost 40 kilometers and a cumulative vertical ascent of 2,339 m. After warming up on a gently rising forest trunk road up the Jam Valley, racers will get back on racy singletrack trails that lead up to and subsequently down from the Futschölpass (2,768 m), which also forms the Swiss-Austrian border. Crossing into Switzerland also marks the beginning of the first descent to Alp Valmala before rising back up to an elevation of 2,370 m at Piz Clünas. From there, it’s going to be pretty much all downhill to the Swiss thermal spa community of Scuol.