Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great Conditions In The Alps After Sun Re-appears

After the snow deluge that blanketed Europe for much of December up to Christmas, the snowfall has eased to a more regular rate and conditions have stabilises. That is particularly good news in the French and parts of the Swiss Alps where the huge snowfalls led to travel problems and piste closures while lifts were dug out and runs made avalanche safe. However the off piste avalanche risk remains high at many resorts in Europe.
In Austria, Sölden has reported the most new snow in the past week with an impressive 1.1m (just under four feet) of new snow with Lech in the Arlberg in second place with 75cm (2.5 feet) which gives both well groomed trails and great off piste conditions. After four months the country’s deepest snow depths are no longer on the glaciers but now both Ehrwald and St Anton have reported a 2.3m (7.6 feet) base. There is a high (grade 4) danger of avalanches in Serfaus Fiss Ladis and a extensive danger (grade 3) in Berwang, Fieberbrunn, Pitztal and Seefeld. Skiers have to be extremely careful in off the slopes.
In France ski resorts have seen the most of the snow of anywhere in the world over the past few weeks and now have some of the deepest snow bases anywhere – which bodes well for the rest of the winter. The Chamonix Valley – which had to largely close its slopes for three days before Christmas due to operational difficulties and avalanche danger caused by the massive snowfalls, is now full open again and reporting the deepest snow in the country at 3.1m (10.3 feet). But conditions are great across the country.
Resorts in the Aosta Valley continue to dominate Italy’s snow stats with 2.3m (7.7 feet) at Cervinia and snow depths in Monterosa between 1.8 and 2.1m (6-7 feet). La Thule, Courmayeur and Pila are also among the top 10 in the country for snow depth. Snowfall has been limited over the past week with the most snow in the south of the country including more than 30cm in the Apennines. More than 1000km of piste are now open in the Dolomiti Superski region.
Switzerland had good snow falls over the last week. Laax reports 80cm for the last seven days, Gstaad 70cm and Verbier 125cm (4 feet). Over the Christmas Weekend many resorts got fresh snow around 10cm-20cm. Resorts like Engelberg, Lötschental, Gstaad and Verbier could offer a white Chrsitmas with good snowfalls. The best snow depth in Switzerand can be found in Saas Fee with 325cm (11 feet) at the mountain station. Second are Gstaad and Lötschental with 300cm each. Moderate snow falls can be expected for Friday and Saturday.
Conditions have improved dramatically in the Pyrenees a fortnight after resorts in the region could hardly open due to a lack of natural snowfall and temperatures too warm for snowmaking. Baqueira Beret in Spain has a 150cm (5 feet) base and Vallnord / Arcalís in Andorra has up to 140cm base depth and Grandvalira is getting closer to opening its full 205km of piste available this winter (the first time a resort in the Pyrenees has offered more than 200km of lift served terrain). On the French side of the border Cauterets is up to 130cm (4.3 feet) and Piau Engaly 120cm (4 feet).
There have been some good snowfalls in Scandinavia in the past 24 hours with the region’s largest resort, Are in Sweden, issuing a powder alarm today (Wednesday 28 December) for 20cm of snow in the past 24 hours and Oppdal in Norway also issuing an alarm for the same accumulation yesterday.
After the good start to Scotland’s winter in mid-December, the double digit Christmas temperatures have taken their toll and all five centres have had to cease winter sports operations as snow cover has thawed away. On the West Coast Glencoe and Nevis Range are expecting fresh snow later today (Wednesday 28 December) and Nevis range hopes to re-open on Thursday.
Conditions remain good in Western Canada where most resorts in Alberta and British Columbia are sitting on healthy bases of around 2 metres/7 feet and most are receiving a few centimetres of fresh cover to keep conditions top notch. Whistler issued a powder alarm for 20cm of new snow on “6 December. On the east Coast conditions are less spectacular but resorts in Quebec reported fresh snow for Christmas. On 22 December Mont-Sainte-Anne went from 6 open trails to 22 as a result, and the Canadian weather service is expecting 15cm of new snow to fall in the east over the next 24 hours.
US media continues to bemoan snow conditions that range from ‘below average’ in Colorado (But still perfectly good in most cases) to ‘very challenging’ at other areas. The Denver Post reports that snow depth averages in Colorado are the lowest this century - Vail, for instance, measured a meager 19 inches — compared with a Christmas Day average for the 2000s of nearly 33 inches.” That’s 48cm compared to 83cm. It’s a similar picture in most other regions except for Washington state and Alaska where snow depths are among the world’s greatest (as usual) at 3-4m. There has however been some good snowfalls in the past week with Stowe in Vermont on the East both reporting around 25cm in 24 hours on December 25th/26th dramatically improving conditions, particularly on the east.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Freeride World Tour announces new three-year partnership with Swatch and a new global Freeride rankings system

With typical Swiss precision and impeccable timing, Swatch has signed a new three-year deal to become title partner of the Freeride World Tour. In a ground-breaking deal that will ensure six elite level Freeride events over the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons, Swatch confirms its commitment to the thriving action sports sector.
Swatch President Arlette-Elsa Emch says: "A passion for sport is one of the long-established pillars of the Swatch ethos. With this in mind, we are extremely proud to confirm our support of and commitment to the Freeride World Tour, as its title partner. During the next three years, working alongside the Freeride World Tour, Swatch wishes to build upon the existing excitement surrounding Action sports by increasing and promoting its significance globally, in order to enrich the experience of those participating in and those watching these amazing events".
The 2012 Swatch Freeride World Tour season will now see events in Revelstoke (Canada) and Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc (Italy) adding to the already confirmed stops in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Røldal, Fieberbrunn and Verbier.
The Revelstoke event will also mark the next step in a rapidly evolving partnership between the Freeride World Tour organisers and American Freeskiing and Freeriding organiser Mountain Sports International (MSI). This evolution will include a co-organised event and a new global ranking system in which all results from the new Swatch Freeride World Tour, Freeride World Qualifiers, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding and Subaru Freeskiing World Tour will be included.
Freeride World Tour founder, Nicolas Hale-Woods says: "With strong support from Swatch, the 2012 season will be the next step in globalising the sport. We're really pleased to have a new event in Courmayeur-Mont -Blanc which presents us with a superb range of Freeride competition options and we're working ever closer with MSI to further align our events and activities in 2013". MSI founder and CEO Adam Comey says: "Combining the Freeskiing and Freeride competitions structures in the Americas with those in Europe is inevitable and we will continue to discuss and work together in order to create a common platform for riders and fans alike".
Revelstoke Mountain Resort Chief Operating Officer, Rod Kessler says: "Although Revelstoke Mountain Resort is expanding into the family market, our heart and soul is big mountain skiing and riding. The combination of the Swatch Freeride World Tour and the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour marks a historic event amongst the Snow Sports industry. Revelstoke Mountain Resort and the Revelstoke Accommodation Association is excited to host the world’s top big mountain ski and snowboard athletes in January 2012. Our goal is to deliver an unforgettable experience to both athletes and guests alike, while showcasing Revelstoke’s unparalleled terrain, snow conditions, and hospitality".
Gioachino Gobbi, president of the of the Courmayeur-Mont-Blanc Funivie says: "We are honored to host a stop of the Freeride World Tour, giving a chance to all Freeride lovers to see the best athletes in the world competing on our grounds! I would like to underline that all this is possible thanks to a joint operation and collaboration between Società delle Funivie, the association of hoteliers, the association of high mountain guides, the town of Courmayeur and the Regional regency of Valle d'Aosta".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Countdown to the 2012 Swatch Freeride World Tour in Chamonix Mont-Blanc

The date (21- 27 January) of the 2012 Swatch Freeride World Tour (FWT) is coming closer and closer. The Tour will once again stop in the famous French resort of Chamonix, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Mont Blanc, and widely considered as the Mecca of Freeriding.
The 5th season of the FWT promises again to become a competition full of suspense with the world’s best freeriders competing for the prestigious Swatch Freeride World Tour Champion title. Some exciting new riders from the 2011 Freeride World Qualifiers (FWQ) will join this year’s competition.
One of them is Ludovic Guillot-Diat, who won the men's 2011 Freeride World Qualifiers (FWQ) snowboard tour and at the same time his ticket for the FWT 2012. He competed for many years in the French boarder cross team and is looking forward to his first season on the Tour: "I am fortunate this year to be part of the dozen riders who will compete for the title. My main goal for this season is to acquire a maximum of experience. For that I will compete on the FWT and the FWQ to learn as much as I can. The program will be intense. A very good season for me would be to finish in the top 3 of a FWT and a victory of a FWQ stop. My long-term goal is to to become one day Freeride World Champion. The Freeride World Tour until last year was for me a childhood dream, I am now a big kid who will fulfill his dream!".
Kevin Guri won the 2011 FWQ ski competition. He comes from a Freestyle background and will be, at just 22 years old, the youngest competitor on the Tour: "I will have a very busy winter with a lot of competitions and also some shootings for films. I am looking forward to be at the start of the Freeride World Tour with a lot of very famous riders. I hope to learn a lot from them but also to bring a new and young vision to the Freeride World Tour with freestyle tricks in the faces".
On the side of the women the tour welcomes back to the ski competition Lorraine Huber from Austria who was absent in 2011 and is ready for the new season: "Competing in the Freeride World Tour has been my major source of motivation to get my body in shape again this year. It was very tough coming back from chronic illness and a long-term knee injury but I'm feeling stronger than ever now. I haven't competed since 2010 and I don't want to put too much pressure on myself by setting my sights on a win, so my main goal is to enjoy the skiing and ski consistently".
The 2012 Freeride World Tour (FWT):

1. Freeride World Tour, Chamonix Mont-Blanc 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 21- 27 January; Location: Chamonix (FRA)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

2. Freeride World Tour, Røldal 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 25 February - 01 March; Location: Røldal (NOR)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

3. Freeride World Tour, Fieberbrunn 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 09 -15 March; Location: Fieberbrunn (AUT)
Disciplines: Men's Ski and Snowboard

4. Freeride World Tour, Verbier 2012 by Swatch
Dates: 24 March - 01 April; Location: Verbier (SUI)
Disciplines: Men's and Women's Ski and Snowboard

Freeride World Tour stops in Rosa Khutor-Sochi (Rus) and North America are to be confirmed.
The Freeride World Tour was launched in 2008 and after four full seasons is now recognized by riders, the ski industry and the media as the competitive pinnacle of the sport. In 2012, the best Freeriders - men, women, skiers and snowboarders - will once again visit some of the world’s most iconic ski resorts in pursuit of the world title. The Freeride World Tour is supported by Freeride World Qualifier events around the world where the same criteria for event organisation, choice of locations, security, contest format, and judging is applied.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Huge Snowfalls In The Alps

Skiinfo reports the Alps, Scandinavia and Scotland are all looking ‘mostly good’ after moderate to large snowfalls since the start of December. Up to 1.5m (five feet) of snow has fallen in parts of the Alps over the last week, most Scandinavian resorts have had big falls too and all five Scottish ski areas expect to be open this weekend. It’s not 100% good news however as some low elevation ski area in the Alps still need more snow and the Pyrenees are still waiting for a good snowfall and/or consistent cold weather for snowmaking.
After the great snowfalls of November in North America there’s been much less fresh snow in December and no snow at all reported in the USA in the past week. This is not a problem at resorts in the West where many resorts were running well ahead of seasonal averages anyway, but in the East it has been challenging with resorts struggling to open just a few runs when it’s been cold enough to make snow at night.
Around half of all Austrian ski resorts are open now, the remainder should open before Christmas or in some cases, New Year. Resorts have reported excellent falls over the past week including over three feet at St. Anton (95 cm), and great accumulations too at Lech Zurs (80 cm) or Pitztal (79 cm). The best snow depths in the country can still can be found at the glaciers Molltaler (150 cm), Tux (140 cm) and Kaunertal (132 cm) but that’s less of an issue once the main resorts have begun to built up adequate bases as now.
It’s been a December so far for snow in the French Alps and it’s till snowing with resorts including Avoriaz and Meribel reporting 30cm+ of new snow in the past few days and much more is expected later this week too. 60 to 80cm more fresh snow should fall on Savoie, Haute Savoie and Isère from 1400m above sea level. In the Southern Alps, large high-altitude resorts (Serre Chevalier, Vars / Risoul, Montgenevre or Orcières ...) are also preparing to welcome guests and already offer substantial snow depth at the top of the slopes (155cm in Serre-Chevalier ...). However at lower altitudes, small villages resorts still lack snow to be able to open their slopes. However, new falls (from 25 to 40cm) are expected Thursday and Friday which should improve things markedly.
New snow in Italy too has helped further improve conditions there. On the West side of the north of the country there have been powder alarms for heavy snowfall at Courmayeur and the Aosta Valley while on the Eastern side almost a third of the Dolomiti Superski’s 1280km are now open and the Sellaronda opens on Saturday 17th December after 10-25 cm of new snow fell on Monday night. The 40km track around the Sella mountains and the region expects to have more than 500km of slopes open then. Everything is also ready for some of the biggest events of the season with the slopes described as, "perfectly prepared" for the Ski World Cup 2011. On Friday and Saturday, the athletes will fight for victory in Super-G and downhill in Val Gardena then on Sunday and Monday it’s the turn of technical disciplines with a GS and a slalom in Alta Badia.
It may be hard for some to believe that after being the subject of a mainstream media ‘There’s no snow in Switzerland’ reporting frenzy less than two weeks ago, Swiss resorts have been seeing the greatest snowfalls of all over the past week with the greatest falls reported by Gstaad and Elm of 1.35-1.45m over the past 7 days. In addition Les Marécottes reported 120 cm and Crans Montana 80 cm including 40cm on Sunday/Monday so the powder is fresh there. It is still snowing in Switzerland and yesterday (Tuesday) ski resorts reported fresh snow at Zinal (20 cm), Zermatt (15 cm) and Andermatt (10 cm). Saas-Fee has greatest snow depth in the Alps at 245cm (over 8 feet).
Conditions are less promising in the Pyrenees where there has still been little or no snow this autumn and temperatures were in double figures again yesterday afternoon. No French resort has been able to open (although Cauterets aims to open upper slopes this weekend) there yet and while the two Andorran ski areas are open, they have very limited terrain available with machine made snow. Grandvalira is closed at Soldeu but reports 10-35cm of cover at its highest sector in Pas de la Casa.
Conditions are good across most of Scandinavia now after the warm October and early November. In fact the resort of in Norway reports the most snowfall in Europe over the past seven days with 125cm (just over four feet), 50cm of it over the past 24 hours!.
All five Scottish ski areas were due to open after fresh snowfall last week but storm force winds damaged lifts and buildings at the two West Coast areas, Glencoe and Nevis Range, preventing them from joining Cairngorm, Glenshee and the Lecht on Saturday. 400 skiers and boarders were reported at Cairngorm making first turns of the season. Glencoe was ready to open still afrer hard work by staff but was thwarted by a wait having electrical supplies restored. All five centres hope to open this weekend, with fresh snow forecast, marking a second year when all five have been open before Christmas.
In Canada Western ski areas continue to be in great shape following the November snow deluge and as well as being well ahead of seasonal snowfall averages for this early in the season, have had fresh snowfalls too to freshen things up. In the East it’s been a more challenging start to the winter but most areas are now open with limited terrain. Tremblant and Mont Sainte Anne are both open, Mont Sutton opens this Saturday, December 17th but due to the warm weather temperatures of the last few days, only the Cascade trail and chairlift II west of the Family Zone will be open.
Resorts in North Western US like Mt Baker in Washington state and Eaglecrest in Alaska are still reporting among the world’s greatest snow depths at present (around 2.4m) but much of that dates back to November and resorts are mostly waiting fresh snow.
On the East coast the situation is not so good as there’s been little snow and temperatures too warm for snows making in some areas, although resort further north such as Sunday River in Maine have had some fresh snow. Attitash in New Hampshire, for example, one of New England’s leading ski areas, has been closed but reopened yesterday after snowmakers took advantage of the past couple of days' cold temperatures and dry humidity. Limited intermediate/advanced skiing is available and unfortunately more mild weather is expected later this week.
On the West Coast resorts are still benefitting from early season snowfall accumulations. Last season Mammoth in California was deluged with several metres of snow in the week before Christmas and they must be hoping for more big falls – currently base depths are 45-60cm. It’s currently sunny there but cold and there’s hope of fresh snow at the end of the week.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Share comments and ski photos with Skiinfo iPhone App

A new version of the "Skiinfo Snow Report" was released for iPhone, and it is now possible to both take and share your photos which can then be displayed on Skiinfo ​​and Facebook. Same goes with comments. If you are on the slopes, you can share your comments in the largest ski community in Europe to help fellow skiers find the best conditions.
When you are among the trees in deep powder above your knees, you may like to share your spot and powder snow with the whole world, but perhaps only to the 10 million Skiinfo users in Europe, or just to your best 500 friends on Facebook? Anyway, there might be times where you like to share your skiing or snowboarding experience with other, to tell its great, or take a picture and tell its not like you expected. You can either log a ski day and explain the conditions by a short comment, or you can upload a photo that says it all.
Through the new Skiinfo app for iPhone you are able to share, and at the same time let others know about true snow conditions in the various ski resorts in the world.It is valuable for other users to read about fresh snow, and for many of us it is pure porn to see fresh photos of powder skiing. Skiinfo is ​​focusing more and more on direct updates from the users for the users, so it is possible to give fellow skiers to choose “Should I stay or should I go” with the right expectations in mind. Using Skiinfo app before you go skiing:

  • Check weather conditions in the 1600 ski resorts in Europe

  • See updated webcamsCheck out the snow report

  • See 3 day snowforecast and weatherforecast.


Additional information from other users:

  • See new images taken by the last visitor

  • Read users' recent comments about the snow conditions

How to use the app while you are skiing:

  • From the cabin or hotel room you can check webcams and see if there is foggy / sunny on top of the mountains.

  • See trail maps and weather

  • Take a picture and share on Skiinfo ​​and Facebook

  • Logg your ski day

  • Write a comment in the app and guide fellow skiers where to go

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Huge Snowfalls In The Alps

What a change in 48 hours!. The long awaited snowfalls in the Alps began at the weekend and have gathered pace with the biggest yet reported over the past 24 hours with some of the biggest accumulations including 60cm in 24 hours at Meribel and 70cm in 24 hours at both Les Arcs and St Anton.
Although the heavy snowfall in central Europe has taken the emphasis of the great start to North America’s season a little, conditions there, particularly in the west of Canada and the USA, remains excellent, with snow depths well above the (generally impressive anyway) norm for this time of the season.
In Northern Europe, some resorts in Scandinavia have in fact had more snow than either the best in the Alps or North America in the past week and at least two of Scotland’s ski areas plan to open at the weekend.
Parts of Austria have, like the rest of the Alps, been seeing big snowfalls in recent days, particularly the last 24 hours to 7 December, and the snow is still falling. Indeed St Anton reported one of the biggest 24 hour accumulations of 70cm (28 inches), its neighbour Lech reporting 40cm. The snow line has now dropped to between 400m – 800m during the week and around 20 ski resorts are open in Austria. Among the many fresh snow beneficiaries across Austria, those already open in the Tirol with powder to enjoy include Kühtai: 30 cm of fresh snow in the last three days; Ischgl: 20 cm of fresh snow last night, total snow height: 50 cm; Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis: 25 cm of fresh snow last night, total snow height: 40 cm; Obergurgl: 10 cm of fresh snow last night, total snow height: 70 cm; the Kaunertal glaicer: 25 cm of fresh snow last night, total snow height: 123cm and the Pitztal glacer: 13 cm of fresh snow last night, total snow height: 146cm – and the snow is still falling. Although the country’s highest snow depths are still on the glaciers, half a dozen of which have been open since September and October, resorts like Obertauern, Serfaus Fiss Ladis and Ischgl have prepared their slopes well and the latter has more than 80km (50 miles) of runs open.
There have been big snowfalls in the French Alps over the past 24 hours, building on significant falls that began earlier this week. Today (December 7) has so far seen about 10 to 20cm in South Alps (Serre-Chavalier, Orcières 1850, Praloup) and as much as 60cm at Méribel, 50cm at Les Saisies and 40cm at La Plagne/Paradiski (picture attached) all reported over the past 24 hours. "After a particularly dry and warm autumn which severely disrupted the opening of ski resorts, the snow has finally appeared on the Alps", said Stéphane Giraud of Skiinfo France. "Since Saturday, weather systems have started to stick over the country bringing with them valuable snowfalls: initially 20 to 30 cm at 1800m altitude, and locally from 50 to 80 cm around 2500m". Initially it was mainly the ski resorts in the Northern Alps and the Jura that benefitted from the snowfalls but they’ve now spread across much of France. While so far only eight ski areas were open, the new snowfall should allow about 30 ski resorts to quickly start their ski season: Alpe d'Huez will open its slopes on Thursday (December 8), Avoriaz, Chamonix, Flaine, Les Arcs, Vars, Risoul, Montgenevre and twenty other resorts will welcome skiers from Saturday (December 10). "The weather in the next days is expected to bring more new snowfall. From 30 to 60cm of fresh snow should fall over the next three days, enough to bring smiles to the managers of ski resorts", says Stéphane.
Resorts in western Italy have seen the most snow in the past week with Sestrie, clavier and Sauze d;’Oulx in the 2006 Olympic vebnues of the milky way recording 20cm accumulations.
Italy’s biggest ski area, the Dolomiti Superski, will see most of its dozen separate sectors opening at least some runs over the next 24 hours with 124 Lifts and 210km of slopes will be open in nine of Dolomiti Superski’s ski regions. The skiable slopes are in Alta Badia (30 of 130 km), Val Gardena/Alpe di Siusi (60 of 175 km), Cortina d’Ampezzo (5 of 140 km), Kronplatz (60 of 114 km), Val di Fassa/Carezza (10 of 133 km), Sextner Dolomiten/Alta Pusteria (20 of 77 km), Val di Fiemme/Obereggen (20 of 156 km), San Martino di Castrozza/Rolle-Pass (3 of 60 km)and the Trevalli (2 of 100 km). More lifts and slopes will open for the coming weekend of the 10th/11th December.
Switzerland has had its share of good snowfalls in the past week with Anzere topping the table with a metre of new snow. Saas Fee has had more than 60cm (two feet) and has one of the world’s deepest snow bases up on its glacier at around two metres. Conditions are looking increasingly good at most other Swiss resorts with ski areas in the Portes du Soleil issuing powder alarms for 20cm in 24 hours yesterday (6 Dec). Laax which is open this weekend reports it has had up to 25cm in the last two days with 75cms on the Vorab Glacier.
Norway has had the most snow in Europe since the start of the month and that’s now the most snow in the world as Strandfjellet became the first ski area outside North America to post the biggest weekly snowfall total - 1.4m – anywhere, over the past seven days, earlier this week.
The Lecht and Glencoe have announced they will open this weekend, starting the Scottish ski season. Nevis Range are yet to decide, Glenshee has not had enough snow and Cairngorm also say they need more snow – but it is still falling.
Conditions are superb in Western Canada which has had one of the best starts to the season of any region in the world. Typical is Marmot Basin in Alberta which has already received half of its average annual snowfall and there is still over five months of skiing and snowboarding remaining in the season. 200cm of snow had fallen up to December 5 compared to 111cm last year at the same time. Prime, mid-winter conditions exist throughout the entire ski area. Comments on Facebook and Twitter are rife with superlatives from Marmot skiers and snowboarders recounting glorious powder-filled days of perfect skiing; and it is not yet even mid-December.
Although the recent snowfall in the Alps has finally given some European balance to the epic early-season conditions in Western North America, Wolf Creek in Colorado is only 5cm off being able to report the most snow in the Western World over the past seven days with 1.35m (4.5 feet) accumulated. Alyeska in Alaska has had another 90cm (three feet) and Telluride, Colorado (USA) another foot (30cm).

Swiss ski resorts "must diversify to survive"

Simon Bradley from reports swiss winter resorts must improve the quality of their offer and focus more on niche markets like mid- and budget-range holidaymakers to remain competitive. These are the main conclusions of a Credit Suisse report that compares 31 Swiss winter resorts. Already plagued by the strong franc, Swiss resorts are also struggling with the lack of snow caused by unusually warm, dry weather.
According to the comparative study published on Tuesday, Swiss resorts face major challenges for their long-term survival. "We realise that the competition, especially Austria, has not slept on its laurels like Switzerland. They have cheaper offers which on the whole better meet the needs of modern tourism", Sara Carnazzi Weber, head of Credit Suisse’s economic research department for French-speaking Switzerland, told Between 1993 and 2011 the number of overnight stays increased by six per cent in Austrian resorts, compared with a 12 per cent drop in Swiss resorts to just under 13 million. Weber said the Swiss tourist industry, which contributes some five per cent to gross domestic product, had been penalised by the recent surge in the Swiss franc, which rose by more than 20 per cent against the euro earlier this year. Overnight stays from foreign visitors are forecast to drop by 4.2 per cent, according to the BAK Basel Economics research institute as tourists shun the Swiss Alps for cheaper destinations.
Promotional avalanche
But Weber pointed out that even when taking into account the recent exchange rate fluctuations, the prices in Swiss hotels and restaurants were on average 20 per cent higher than in France, Italy, Austria and Germany due to high personnel and product costs. To lure price-conscious skiers to the slopes and stop locals crossing the border, this season Swiss resorts have come up with an avalanche of promotional offers such as free lift passes, ten-per-cent-off holidays, discounted ski lessons and ski hire. Grächen in canton Valais is offering guests an exchange rate of SFr1.35 to the euro, compared with the current rate of SFr1.24. But cutting prices is not a viable option in the long run, said Weber. "In general Switzerland cannot compete with its neighbours on price so it has to focus on quality", she said.
While Swiss resorts were well positioned in the luxury, four- and five-star hotel segments where they enjoy an international reputation, they had much catching up to do in the mid- and budget segments, the authors stated. "Consumers who keep an eye on the prices are willing to make concessions on comfort but also want functional, clean and modern rooms and currently many cheaper Swiss hotels do not meet these criteria", they wrote. Those resorts targeting the middle classes should try to develop a clear niche, such as families or sport enthusiasts, and major investments are necessary, they continued. "In general there has been a rise in investments in new construction and transformations in the tourism sector in Switzerland after blockages after the 1990s", said Weber. "But they are mostly concentrated on big cities and less in Swiss resorts. Zermatt, for example, invests only SFr1,500 per bed which is much less than Zurich or Geneva". Veronique Kanel, spokeswoman for Switzerland Tourism, said she generally agreed with the report’s conclusions, "which support what we have been saying for some time, that is, focus on quality, cooperation between resorts and innovation". "Our big problem in Switzerland is the mid-range resorts which have not found their niche and don’t have sufficient resources to position themselves differently or invest in greater quality", she told
In the study Zermatt and St Moritz came out on top in terms of best overall winter offers and the highest demand from tourists. Davos, Verbier, Crans Montana, Celerina/Schlarigna and Gstaad were also ranked highly in terms of the activities and accommodation they offered winter holidaymakers. The resorts that generated the most demand included Gstaad, Engelberg, Grindelwald, Sils im Engadin and Villars/Gryon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Timeline Project: This is my winter (full movie english version)

Ice or snow, you’ll find here Xavier de le Rue best sessions. "At this time of the year last season, with my friends Guido, Tero and Matthieu we’ve decided to create our own movie production company called TimeLine Film.
With the support of my partners we have released a web serie during the season. We’ve tried to document more than just the action and show people what it takes as effort, luck and commitment to get the best possible big mountain video part in TB20 from Standard Films. Although the snow conditions were terrible in Europe last winter we hoped all season long we could have enough unseen action and interesting backstage material to come up with a movie and have a chance to share our experience. Here it is, THIS IS MY WINTER !", Xv de le Rue.

Xavier de le Rue's Timeline Project: "TimeLine will get you behind the scenes access to exclusive footage of my season. You’ll discover what it takes to film a big mountain video part, to compete on the Freeride World Tour and what is happening during trips to Canada, Japan, Norway or Alaska. It will show you team efforts of passionate friends to seek the best lines and best snow and use the best mountains as our playground, Guido Perrini as filmer, Tero Repo as photographer and myself along with my friends".

Friday, December 2, 2011

Unforgettable winter holidays in the Free Republic of Holidays Saas-Fee!

Those who only associate Saas-Fee and the Saas Valley with skiing, snowboarding and après-ski are missing out. The resort offers a wide variety of other activities that make any winter break in the "Free Republic of Holidays" an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Those longing for pure mountain air, bright blue skies and a snowy winter wonderland surrounded by lofty mountains will love the Saas Valley. Eighteen 4,000-metre peaks – some of the highest in Switzerland – encircle its four rustic mountain villages, and with sunny days 80 percent of the year, a 100- percent chance of snow in winter and the prospect of ascending 4,545 metres above everyday life, there’s no better place to go on holiday than the "Free Republic of Holidays". Skiers, snowboarders and Telemark skiers can whizz down over 140 km of slopes, while cross-country fans can explore the 26 km route between Saas-Balen, Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell or glide along Saas- Fee’s 5 km route. But the Saas Valley has plenty more winter activities on offer, both on and off the slopes.
To give you an idea of just how much is on the activity and events calendar in Saas-Fee and the Saas Valley, here are some top tips for the coming winter.
Those who want to take some time out after their exertions on the pistes can enjoy a range of other winter activities. For adventure-seekers there are the sledging runs in Saas-Fee and Saas-Almagell and the 11 km sledging slope in Saas-Grund. Or how about racing down the Feeblitz toboggan run? Those who like even more action can try adrenaline-pumping activities like ice climbing or snowtubing, and sporty types can visit Bielen leisure centre for a swim or to play tennis or badminton. But the Saas Valley also offers plenty for those who are looking to take it easy. For example, guests can stroll along the well-signposted trails though the picturesque winter landscape – with or without snow shoes. The Saas Museum is well worth a visit too, thanks to its enchanting exhibits that bring the valley’s past to life. There is also a variety of wellness hotels where you can let go of all the stresses and strains of everyday life.
To ease the burden of holiday planning, the Saas Valley also offers numerous guided activities. The guided village tours are a great way to familiarise yourself with the resort. They also feature lots of interesting information about the history of the Saas Valley. During magical torch-lit walks through the snowy forests, visitors can enjoy views of the twinkling villages below, and wine-lovers can discover the fruits of Valais vineyards at various tastings.
Thrill-seekers will love the Gorge Alpine, where they can make their way from Saas-Fee to Saas-Grund via zip-lines, ladders, rope "vines" and suspension bridges, kept safe all the while by a mountain guide and via ferrata safety kit. The gorge is particularly impressive in winter when snow and icicles adorn its walls. The particularly bold can even cross the gorge by night. This extremely cool experience is followed by a warming mug of mulled wine and a cheese fondue.
If you’re not feeling quite that daring, you can enjoy a Nordic walking or snowshoe tour and leave your tracks in the snow on the sunny slopes of the Hannig.
Visitors to Saas-Fee and the Saas Valley can also look forward to a variety of concerts and events. Here are some of the highlights from this winter’s programme:

  • Ice Climbing World Cup/Ice on Tour, Saas-Fee (14-21 January 2012).
Also in 2012, the Ice Climbing World Cup will take place in the glacier village. The 30 meter high ice wall is located in the parking garage. In a unique atmosphere, guests will experience the world's best ice climbers. In addition, there will be exciting week-long competitions under the title Ice On Tour (incl. the Ice Climbing World Cup): Ice Climbing Youth Championship, nighttime ski touring race, a.m.

  • Glacier Bike Downhill, Saas-Fee (24 March 2012).
On the 24 April 2012 the spectacular Glacier Bike Downhill race will be held again in Saas-Fee. At the Glacier Bike Downhill the adrenalin in the glacier village Saas-Fee purely flows. The Downhill Mountainbiker go not like used on land or tar routes, but on ice and snow. On this unusual material, the riders have to master 1800m elevator. After the mass start on 3500m it approaches to the valley in a high speed.

  • Migros Grand Prix Final, Saas-Fee (30 March-01 April 2012).

Starts like Didier Cuche and Lara Gut in the biggest youth ski running of Europe! The biggest ski running of Europe for youths between 8 and 15 years offers an unforgettable experience on the ski run for every skier! Whether beginner or ski crack: Completely after the motto "the start is the aim" everyone is welcome to the Grand Prix Migros.

  • 15th Schneegaudi at Kreuzboden, Saas-Grund (08 April 2012) .
One of the best parties of the year, surrounded by the mighty Saas Mountains. In the afternoon the keyword is FUN and at night it's PARTY!

  • 30th Allalin Races, Saas-Fee, Saas-Fee (13-14 April 2012).
Ski & Snowboard: The Mittelallalin open downhill races are the highest races on a glacier in the world. Participants from all over Europe compete in various disciplines. On the 13 & 14 April 2012 the races take place again in the glacier village.

Big Snow Again Out West While Europe Battles To Open Slopes

Resorts in Europe continue to struggle to provide adequate snow to be able to open and an increasing number are postponing their opening for the ski season. St Anton has decided to delay opening for at least a week, and the Skiwelt to the 15th December. It’s not all bad news as resorts in Scandinavia have reported up to 55cm of fresh snow in the past week, Zermatt says it has 117km of pistes open and a 1500m+ vertical on the Italian side and Ischgl spend €1m on snowmaking last week to create 81km of piste. Solden reported 24cm of fresh snow during the 24 hours to Wednesday, 30th November.
In Austria despite challenging conditions and some resorts having to delay their openings, others are managing to open on time, most notably Ischgl with its 81km (50 miles) of piste open for around 18,000 fans at the Roxette season opening concert at the weekend, nearly 15,000 of whom had taken to the slopes during the day. Further good news is the fresh snow reported at Solden and that Serfaus Fiss Ladis can start as planed at the 2nd December, with enough artificial snow the resort will be prepared for the first skiers. Nassfeld Hermagor is also optimistic to start next weekend. Snow machines are running all the time and the valley run is already prepared.Otherwise the country’s 8 or so glacier areas continue to offer good skiing. The Pitztal Glacier has the most with 1-1.55m but you can also ski now at Kaprun, Kaunertal, Tux, Dachstein, Molltal, Solden and Stubai and non-glacier Obergurgl has up to 60cm of snow cover.
Conditions remain very challenging in France with four areas now open, mostly with man made snow at high altitude, ranging in depth at up to 60cm. The options are Isola 2000, Tignes, Val Thorens and Val d’Isere.
Around 15 resorts are now open in Italy which continues to have one of the deepest snow bases in Europe with the Presana Glacier above Passo Tonale reporting a 2m base – deeper than anywhere else. Cervinia is also doing well with a 1.45m (nearly five foot) base and runs are open all the way down to Valtournenche – a vertical of over 1500m, the biggest in the Alps and one of the biggest in the world at present. Many of the country’s biggest resorts are now open like Bormio, Cervinia and Livigno are already open with 50cm bases. Many more ski areas including resorts in the Dolomiti Superski area are scheduled to open from this weekend onwards.
It remains largely glacier ski slopes that are open in Switzerland but Davos Klosters has now opened and has a free skiing offer up to Christmas Eve and a Facebook competition running too. Saas Fee, which has been open all summer and autumn, claims the deepest snow depth at 165cm, but Zermatt, Glacier 3000 (above Gstaad/Diablerets) and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz in the Engadin are all open and the slopes of Laax are open at weekends. Samnaun opened with its linked partner resort Ischgl across the border last weekend too and has a 20cm base.
Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly resort, was the first in Spain to open last weekend and reports a snow base of 50cm, made up partly of machine made snow and partly of 30cm (a foot) that fell in early November. Otherwise, after good early snowfall early this month the Pyrenees are facing the same challenging conditions as much of Europe. Grandvalira in Andorra has delayed opening planned this weekend. It says it has some snow built up on its pistes but wants to preserve and enhance it ready for more important dates in December when Spain has bank holidays.
Half a dozen resorts in Norway have reported at least 50cm of new snow in the past week, the most at Strandafjellet which says they’ve had 55cm. Coastal Voss has had 3-cm (a foot) in the past few days.
In Canada Sunshine ski area, one of the three Banff areas has had the most new snow in the country this week with 99cm whilst Lake Louise, venue for this week’s World Cup competitions, has had 66cm and further west in BC, Whistler is in the top five for snowfall this week with 75cm in seven days. Most other resorts in the region are now open or opening next weekends, some early including Fernie, Panorama and Revelstoke. Marmot Basin has opened their new quad chairlift. On the East Coast Mont Sainte Anne and Stoneham near Quebec City both opened at the weekend.
Conditions are great in the US– particularly the North West where Mt Baker in Washington state has reported 119cm (four feet) of snow in the past seven days, keeping up its reputation as one of the world’s snowiest resorts. Alyeska in Alaska, another resort with a reputation for big snow, has had 64cm (over two feet). In Colorado, Copper Mountain has become the first resort to open a Super Pipe. It’s not bad on the east coast either with heavy snowfalls at many areas, Cranmore in New Hampshire reporting the most with 60cm, nearby Bretton Woods has had 40cm.