Monday, October 31, 2011

Where To Ski and Snowboard In November

After two months with less than two dozen ski areas open in the northern hemisphere, the past few days have seen the 2011-12 ski season really take off with the first non-glacier ski areas open following heavy snowfalls in North America and more ski areas opening in the Alps. Over the next month hundreds of ski resorts will open for winter 2011-12. With the opening of five centres in the US at the weekend it now has nine ski areas open, equalling Austria.
Austria currently has eight glacier ski areas open along with a 1km long run at Schladming/Planai. Austria can also claim the deepest snow currently to be found north of the equator with 1.7m (nearly six feet)n on the country’s highest slopes at Pitztal. Good snowfalls in the country during October have kept conditions good. Skiinfo reports that the Dachstein, Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn (above Kaprun), Molltal, Solden, Stubai and Tux glaciers are also open. Grossglocker/Heiligenblut on the 12th and then Obergurgl and Obertauern expect to open on the 17th.
The ski season never ends at Zermatt (Switzerland), Europe’s highest ski centre, and Saas Fee has also been open since July and will remain so to late spring 2012. Engelberg and Laax have recently opened their glacier ski areas, the latter at weekends only through November. The Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz is also reported to be operating. Full resorts are scheduled to start opening on the 17th/18th November including Crans Montana and Davos – the latter offering free ski passes with packages up to Christmas. Les Diablerets is due to open at the weekend.
Only Tignes is currently open in France. Other resorts may open in the latter half of November, particularly Chamonix, if conditions are good and Val Thorens, Europe’s highest resort, plans to begin its 40th year anniversary season on the 19th.
Cervinia (Italy) opened at the weekend for weekend skiing and boarding through November. Passo Tonale is also due to open and join summerski areas Val Senales and Passo Stelvio. Most other Italian areas will open on the last weekend of the month although Madesimo expects to open on the 12th.
Warmer than usual temperatures have delayed the usual start to the Scandinavian ski season. Ruka in Finland began snowmaking in the middle of October but had to stop again and it looks like this will be the first year for more than a decade when the resort – which kept a run open to last June, hasn’t opened in October. Norway’s Kvitfjell is also waiting to open and it’s due to be joined next weekend by Bjorli and Hemsedal as well as Are in Sweden and Levi and Pyha in Finland.
US resorts normally rely on low temperatures to enable snowmaking guns to run and thus open a few trails, but this autumn the country has been surprised by several feet of snow falling on parts of the West Coast and most recently around a foot of ‘unseasonable’ snow in New England on the East. As a result, around nine centres are already open – more than any other country at the start of November - including Boreal in California; Loveland, Arapahoe Basin (picture attached) and Wolf Creek in Colorado, Timberline in Oregon, Killington in Vermont and Sunday River in Maine. The small area of Woodbury in Connecticut also announced it would open last weekend.
If conditions remain good most of the country’s resorts will open over the next four weeks in time for the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of the month. Resorts due to open soon include Copper Mountain on 5th November and Breckenridge, for its 50th season, on 11.11.11 – both in Colorado.
Nakiska near Calgary was the first ski area to open in Canada for the season on 29 October. It’s due to be joined by Lake Louise on November 5th
Southern Hemisphere
The last ski area open in the southern hemisphere for the 2011 ski season is believed to be Turoa on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand. It is scheduled to stay open until this Sunday, November 6th.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Utah Earns Top Spot in Ten of Twenty SKI Magazine Reader Survey Categories

Utah ski resorts topped the charts of the 2011 SKI magazine reader survey. Leading the charge, Deer Valley Resort earned the overall number one spot for a remarkable five years in a row. Joining Deer Valley on the top twenty list, Park City Mountain Resort was ranked number six, Canyons Resorts ranked 16th and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort landed the 20th position.
Utah resorts received the top rating in half of the category divisions including Alta for "Overall Satisfaction", "Character", and "Snow"; Powder Mountain for "Value"; Deer Valley for "Weather", "Grooming", "On-mountain Food", "Dining", "Lodging", and "Service".
"Utah’s resorts are committed to enhancing our natural strengths as a destination", said Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. "Year after year, these rankings positively reinforce that our efforts are improving the Utah ski experience for local and destination visitors alike".
Along with incredible representation in the overall rankings, Utah resorts dominated the categories Ski Utah considers its greatest assets - snow, access and value. Famous for its trademarked Greatest Snow on Earth, six of the top ten listings for "Snow" were Utah resorts: (1) Alta, (3) Powder Mountain, (4) Snowbird, (6) Brighton, (7) Solitude, (10) Deer Valley.
Additionally, seven of the top ten resorts listed in the "Access" category were in Utah: (2) Deer Valley, (3) Park City, (4) Snowbird, (5) Canyons, (6) Solitude, (7) Brighton, (8) Alta.
"Value", another vital component of Utah’s wintersports product, had four Utah resorts in the top ten: (1) Powder Mountain, (7) Brighton, (8) Alta, (10) Solitude.
Utah ski resorts also scored highly in the lifestyle awards with Alta ranked "Top Skiers Mountain", Park City Mountain Resort named "Best Resort to Ski with your Kids", and Deer Valley acclaimed for "Top Ranked Food and Dining".
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, October 18, 2011

Zermatt's IDE All Weather Snowmaker in Full Swing

Zermatt is playing its trump card – the Snowmaker – so that skiers and snowboarders can take to good pistes in the early days of winter as well. The snow machine produces snow regardless of temperature, even above freezing point. And so a good snow base can be laid in early autumn to ensure perfect pistes in winter.
Zermatt Bergbahnen was the first ski resort to order a new kind of artificial snow system: the IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker. Later Pitztal Gletscherbahnen was the second Company to order, following Zermatt’s footsteps, the 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.
CEO Zermatt Bergbahnen Christen Baumann explains how it works: "To put it simply it works like a freezer. The temperature of the surrounding air is irrelevant. In a closed container with a diameter of 3.2m and a height of 10m, water is exposed to a vacuum without any additives. A small portion vaporizes, the remaining water freezes to snow, which is afterwards expelled at a rate of about 40 cubic metres every hour. The snow produced has the consistency of a wet spring snow".
The technology is based on a principle of physics whereby water placed in a vacuum will immediately partly evaporate – without having to reach boiling point. However, the energy needed for evaporation must come from somewhere. In this case, the evaporating water extracts this energy from the remaining water, which is appreciably cooled and thus crystalizes. This crystalized water is thus snow, similar to spring snow, and is used for piste preparation. A transport spiral shoots the snow out to the waiting snowcats. These then distribute the snow in early autumn, as for example between the Theodul Glacier and the summit station of Trockener Steg.
The Snowmaker is used for around 14 days in early autumn for about two to three weeks. Then it is in operation around the clock. The machine is also used systematically in winter and spring, depending on weather and snow conditions.
Kurt Guntli from the Zermatt Bergbahnen AG is the project manager for the huge machine. "Thanks to the Snowmaker we can guarantee the route from the Theodul Glacier to Trockenen Steg from as early as the beginning of October".

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Alpine Ski World Cup starts next Weekend in Sölden

Next weekend (22-23 October) Sölden (Tirol, Austria) again hosts the ultimate FIS Ski World Cup Races. As every year, the Women's Giant Slalom opens the new World Cup season.
On Saturday the FIS World Cup opens with the Women’s Giant Slalom on the Rettenbach glacier in Sölden. The FIS Women's and Men's Alpine Ski World Cup is held for the 14th time in the Tyrolean ski resort.

22.10.2011 Women's Giant Slalom
23.10.2010 Men's Giant Slalom

Starting times:
09:45 am: 1st run
12:45 pm: 2nd run

On Friday the FIS Forum Alpinum – the Information Session for Ski Journalists – will take place in the Freizeit Arena in Sölden. At 6:30 pm, the Krone World Cup Party will be held in the Postplatz square in Sölden village center.
Sölden is a municipality located in the Ötztal valley of Tyrol, Austria. With tourist bed nights running at over two million per year, the municipality is second only to Vienna as an Austrian tourist destination. The main village of Sölden is located at 1,368 meters above sea level. The highest peak is the Wildspitze which is at 3,768 meters the second highest mountain in Austria after the Grossglockner. Sölden is a very popular ski resort.
The first FIS Alpine Ski World Cup race of the year traditionally takes place on the slope located on the Rettenbach glacier, a high-quality icy track with the starting gate situated over 3,000 meters in altitude.
Sölden offers the marvelous BIG 3, Austria's only ski area with 3 mountains higher than 3,000 meters which are accessible by lifts or gondolas. From November trough May thanks to the ski area's high-Alpine location (1,350 - 3,250 m) and the modern snowmaking system (covering all slopes lower than 2,200 m) snow is guaranteed in Sölden.
Markus Mayr, the FIS Race Director in charge of the ladies' technical events, has given green light for the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Glacier Opening in Sölden. "The course is in probably the best condition it has ever been at this time of the year. We are very pleased with the preparation work by the Organizers", said Mayr. "So much so that the course will remain open for all nations to train there until Saturday and we will only begin the race preparations on Sunday. It is looking excellent for the season opening giant slalom races in Sölden on 22nd-23rd October".

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Forbes Announces 10 Best Ski Resorts for Families

Forbes Magazine recently announced their list of the 10 Best Ski Resorts for Families in the U.S. and Canada.
"The best (ski resorts) offer excellent group and private instruction geared towards children of all ages, plus dedicated teaching areas on the slopes. Many have free or discounted lift tickets, equipment rentals, and even lessons for children. For non-skiing members of the family, they should have day care or supervised kid’s camps with a variety of activities. Ski resorts and towns can also be family friendly off the slopes. There should be a variety of family entertainment options for evenings, nights, and non-ski days. While posh boutiques and glamorous cocktail hours attract many to resorts like Aspen, these are not nearly as big selling points for families as having a mountain coaster or zip lines. There should be a wide variety of reasonably priced family restaurants, and ideally, lodging that caters to families, like condos with multiple bedrooms and a kitchen for eating breakfast in, a touch many families appreciate".

Forbes Top 10 Ski Resorts for Families:

  1. Beaver Creek, Colorado

  2. Crested Butte, Colorado

  3. Deer Valley, Utah

  4. Northstar-at-Tahoe, California

  5. Okemo, Vermont

  6. Mt. Tremblant, Quebec (Canada)

  7. Snowmass, Colorado

  8. Steamboat, Colorado

  9. Vail, Colorado

  10. Stowe, Vermont

Colorado Resorts Opening

Three Colorado resorts have opened or are opening in the next 24 hours.
Normally there is a snowmaking race to see which resort is first, but this season heavy snowfall across the state last weekend led to resorts being able to open with real snow.
The biggest fall – of some 44 inches or 110cm - was in the state’s southern San Juan Mountains and Wolf Creek Ski Area there opened with a 45cm/18 inch base on Saturday 8 October with 1500 excited skiers and boarders on the slopes.
Top the north Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area, two of the world’s highest and traditionally among the first to open in the US each season, will start operating today, and tomorrow, October 13th and 14th, respectively.
"Warm weather delayed the start of snowmaking, but cold temperatures settled in and our snowmaking crew has done a great job making up for lost time", said Rob Goodell, Director of Business Operations. "We still have some work to do, but the mountain looks great and we will have eighteen inches of snow from tree-to-tree for skiers and riders on Friday morning".
Loveland will offer lift served access to one top-to-bottom run. Skiers and riders will drop one thousand vertical feet (330m) in a little over a mile (1.6km) via the trails Catwalk, Mambo and Homerun.
"When the cold temperatures settled in, we were able to make a lot of progress very quickly", said Eric Johnstone, Snowmaking and Trail Maintenance Manager. "We started last Thursday and have been running non-stop with the exception of a short stoppage on Tuesday. Our snowmaking crew has done a tremendous job and opening day skiers and riders are going to be very happy with the conditions".
Elsewhere in the US, Las Vegas ski area in Nevada opened last week and Timberline ski area in Oregon, which is open almost year round, re-opened after a few week’s annual maintenance closure in late September.

Monday, October 10, 2011

2011 Free Radicals: The Sunny Side

Free Radicals is a loosely knitted group of free riders that is often referred to as Scandinavia's foremost. The history of Free Radicals begun in 1987 when three legendary Swedish freeskiers started the Free Radicals ski workshop. The idea was to help good free riders to find sponsorship to be able to develop as skiers and be good role models for new generations of riders (1987!!).
In the 90's snowboarding made it's big break through and there were few heroes on skis. The Free Radical group felt it was time to change that. In 1997 the first film about the Free Radicals was produced. The success was a fact and many of the starring riders could get their sponsorship and make a living off freeride skiing. Most of Scandinavia's big names in freeriding have had a sequence in a Free Radicals film, like Henrik Windstedt, Jon Olsson, Kaj Zackrisson, Sverre Liliequist, Jesper Rönnbäck, etc.
2011 Free Radicals The Sunny Side is the 12th Free Radicals film! It will premiere 21 October in Gothenburg, Sweden. Freeride fans will be able to see it through film tours, festivals and TV-runs all over Europe and the US. The original idea still persists: The established riders draw the audience with their star quality and the young stars-to-be get a chance to show their stuff.
Later on in December the entire film will be available through streaming.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Colorado's Wolf Creek Ski Area Opens Today

The Denver Channel reports Colorado is getting its first snow storm of the season, and it's enough for one ski resort to open.
Wolf Creek Ski Area opens today and tomorrow with more than 3 feet of snow; 3 lifts; $33.00 lift tickets! Seniors and Children will be $19.00. Treasure, Bonanza and Nova will be operating from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM servicing beginner, intermediate and expert terrain, including Alberta Face and Treasure Falls. Alberta Lift, Alberta Peak, Waterfall Area, Knife Ridge and Horseshoe Bowl are all closed.
Wolf Creek Ski Area is on Highway 160 between Pagosa Springs and South Fork. The ski area is about 250 miles from Denver.
This early opening is a record breaker for Wolf Creek, with the prior earliest opening being October 27, 2006.
Closer to Denver, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Loveland turned on their snow guns Thursday afternoon. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland typically open in October.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Where To Ski and Snowboard In October?

With snow falls of up to 60cm (two feet) reported by Skiinfo in the Alps in September and ski areas already starting to open for the 2011-12 ski season, excitement is building for the coming winter – although you can get on the snow today if you want to!
Many areas organise special new season gear testing events as well as offering heavily discounted ski-and-stay packages to attract skiers and boarders so why wait? Families will find more space and better value skiing in the October school holidays rather than the busy and expensive February ones.
Austria is the leading country for October glacier skiing with the Hintertux, Kaunertal, Molltal, Pitztal, Solden and Stubai glaciers already open and due to be joined by the Dachstein and Kaprun’s Kitzsteinhorn glacier on the 9th. The fresh September snow here has led to great conditions.
After a month with no resorts open in France, Tignes will re-open its glacier slopes on Saturday and stay open to next May. It will be the only French resort open until late November except for an end of October ski and board festival at Les 2 Alpes from the 22nd.
Glacier ski areas Val Senales and Passo Stelvio will be joined by more glacier ski choices in Italy at the end of the month October with Cervinia and Passo Tonale open from the 29th.
In Switzerland Engelberg is scheduled to join Saas Fee (open since last July, picture attached) and Zermatt (always open) when it re-opens on the 8th, conditions permitting. The Diavolezza glacier near St MNoritz will be a fourth choice by the end of the month, opening on the 22nd.
The northerly latitude of Finland, Norway and Sweden get the cold temperature and thus the snow earlier than most. Ruka in Finland aims to re-open on Friday 14th having only closed last June, to begin it’s near 250 day 2011-12 ski season. Kvitfjell in Norway will join it on the 29th.
Timberline in Oregon is currently the only ski area open in the US but snowmaking is scheduled to begin imminently one some of the world’s highest ski slopes in Colorado as the annual race to be first in the state is staged between areas like Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain and Loveland.
The 2011 season is winding down south of the equator but some resorts in Argentina, Chile and New Zealand look set to stay open through October. Particularly promising is Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand where the snow was lying more than three metres (10 feet) deep at the start of the month and the area has a record of staying open at least to ‘Snowvember.’