In A Hurry? Here Are Some Of Ski’s Current Top Stories ...
10-YEAR-OLD SKIS ALL 7 CONTINENTS
A 10-year-old girl has become the youngest to ski on all seven continents. Kiera Nicole Lipp of Golden, Colorado, in the USA, completed her achievement at Portillo in South America.
ANDORRA TO BECOME ONE SKI RESORT
All three of Andorra ski areas will be on the Grandvalira Pass from this winter, the country’s largest ski resortoperator, Grandvalira, has announced.
A YEAR-ROUND SLOPE FOR STOCKHOLM
Neveplast, which made the dry ski slope used on a Copenhagen power plant, has worked with Scandinavia’s biggest ski company, SkiStar, on a new slope in Sweden’s capital.
NEW SCULPTURE ABOVE VAL DI FASSA
A new sculpture depicting the “Signora di Dolèda”, the protagonist of some local legends, created by artist Andrea Dorigatti, has been installed at Col dei Rossi (2,382m) in the Dolomites.
RIDE ON THE CABLE CAR ROOF IN THE DOLOMITES
A new cable car at Carezza in Italy’s Dolomiti Superski is the first in the country with an “outdoor balcony” where users can ride up outside the cabin, similar to lifts at the Dachstein and Tignes.
CHINA OPENS MASSIVE INDOOR HALF-PIPE
China has unveiled a huge, year-round, indoor half-pipe located in the Chongli District, which staged most of the skiing events during the Winter Olympics earlier this year.
DOWNHILL CHEESE CHASING
New Zealand’s Broken River ski area staged its annual Barrys Bay Cheese Roll event last month with competitors chasing a cheese to win some cheese while raising funds for charity.
A MOVABLE SKI TOURING HUT
SERMA, the Avoriaz lift company, has a new shelter complete with table, benches and a solar panel for electricity that can be moved around the ski touring pistes to where needed.
WORLD RECORD RAIL RIDE … AT 127TH ATTEMPT
Freestyle skier Jesper Tjäder has set a new Guinness World Record for “Longest rail grind on skis” managing 154.49m down a long pipe in Åre, Sweden.
75 YEARS IN BUSINESS
Iconic French ski company and the worldwide leader in winter-sports equipment sales, Salomon, is celebrating 75 years in business.
US SKI RESORT ADDING OBSERVATORY
Snow King ski resort at Jackson in Wyoming is building a planetarium and observatory at the top of its lifts, believed to be the first observatory located above a ski resort in North America.
Greetings once more from InTheSnow, back for another winter and excitedly hoping that the upcoming winter 2022/23 will FINALLY be one that plays out as normal for the first time since 2018/19.
True, we have got a cost-of-living-crisis to contend with for any of us to afford to actually get out there, and the travel chaos stories over the summer haven’t exactly inspired confidence, nor have the scaremongering articles implying that ski resorts in the Alps might not be able to afford the power bills skyrocketing there as here and might have to turn their lifts off.
But as we go to press with our first issue of the autumn, I’m seeing webcam images of heavy early autumn snowfall up high in the Alps, ending the long, hot summer, and ski resort bosses are stressing they really, really won’t be shutting down their lifts or raising lift pass prices. At the same time ski holiday companies are promising me business is the best it has been since before the pandemic, thanks to all that pent-up demand. So perhaps this is the time to hold your nerve and be optimistic for the season ahead.
We’ve certainly got plenty of news to bring you for the coming winter. As usual, you’ll find the magazine chock-full of it and if you’re still not sated, remember we add more daily to our website and feed through to our social media channels, so sign up, follow, like and all that if you want still more.
96-YEAR-OLD SKIS 96 DAYS
96-year-old Junior Bounous, one of the world’s oldest living skiers, skied 96 days last winter, finishing his season at Snowbird resort in Utah, which he helped create in the 1970s.
For now though I’ll be trying to forget the various issues with travel over the past three years and will focus on what’s important: snow! I’ll be keeping a weather-eye on the webcams and hoping for lots and lots of it (though not too much) arriving on mountain slopes over the next few months. Then if we can just get rid of the manmade problems that threaten our skiing and snowboarding, it will hopefully be a brilliant season!
best accommodation & lift pass rates and a friendly, professional
Ski holiday companies are hoping for the first “nearly normal” ski season in four winters, and several of the biggest tour operators say that business is at record levels, indicating that skiers and boarders are hoping for the same thing too.
“As we know, skiers want to ski! Throughout, Inghams’ bookings for the coming season have not wavered. We remain significantly up on where we were at this point in the lead-up to winter 2019/20, the last booking period that came before the pandemic,” said John Mansell, Inghams COO. Most tour operators are saying that despite the various negative factors influencing our lives at present, skiers and boarders are determined to get back on the snow if they possibly can.
“We’re seeing record numbers of new bookings for the upcoming ski season. Skiers and snowboarders alike are eager to get back to the slopes, especially if they’ve missed out on ski trips for the past couple of years as a result of the pandemic. Our projections for this upcoming season indicate we’ll take away the same number of customers as we did pre-pandemic and we are continuing to scale up our product offering to suit all customer needs, with some exciting
new destinations on the horizon,” said Scott Britton, Head of Commercial at Crystal Ski Holidays, the UK’s biggest operator.
“Nobody is Asking About Covid Anymore”
Some ski holiday companies have been reporting that as most ski nations have dropped all Covid travel restrictions, most customers are no longer asking about the likely impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their future ski trips when making booking enquiries.
“It’s true nobody is now asking about Covid when they book,” says Nick Edwards, boss of ski travel agency Snowfinders, who adds, “I firmly believe that the demographic of skiers means that 99% have been fully vaccinated and they know that booking through an agency means they will get their money back in the event that borders are closed or resorts are closed. We are also insisting that clients have adequate insurance so they should be covered in the event of contracting Covid and being unable to travel.”
Richard Sinclair of ski specialist SNO said the fact that the most recent high wave of infection passed with much less impact on everyday lives than the previous waves has further boosted confidence
overall, commenting, “Bookings are at record levels and customer confidence is very high now, especially after the last big wave of infections in the early summer passed by without anyone seeming to care.”
First French Xmas SKIING For Brits in THREE Years
Although skiing in Europe was possible for much of last winter, particularly for those already vaccinated, France closed its borders to Brits for about a month including over Christmas and New Year weeks. As a result, many people held over their holiday bookings, and some that had held them over the winter before are still waiting to travel.
“We had a lot of clients booked for Christmas and New Year 2021 and when Omicron prevented these from happening, many clients decided to either go later in the season or postpone to December 2022,” confirmed Xavier Schouller, boss of French ski specialists Peak Retreats and Ski Collection, who added, “We are finding that the New Year week is generating a lot more interest than we expected despite most schools going back on the 3rd, and this may be due to much lower prices than normal New Year weeks.”
UK FLIGHTS TO KLAGENFURT RETURN
Ryanair are resuming flights to Klagenfurt this ski season. The airport is a gateway to ski areas in the southern half of Austria like Nassfeld, Schladming and Bad Kleinkirchheim, more distant from Innsbruck or Salzburg, and close to the Slovenian resorts like Bled and Kranjska Gora. The service will run twice weekly from London Stansted and weekly from Manchester.
MBES FOR BEIJING PARALYMPIC BROS
Skiing brothers Neil and Andrew Simpson from Banchory in Scotland were made MBEs in the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee birthday honours list. Para alpine skier Neil, 19, with his brother Andrew, 21, his guide, became the first male Team GB skiers to win Paralympic gold while competing in the Super-G in Beijing.
“TRIPLE-DIP” LA NINA COULD BE GOOD SNOWFALL
The World Meteorological Organization has announced an expected La Nina pattern for the Pacific Ocean this winter, which might mean more snowfall for Japan and North America. La Nina means a largescale cooling, and it’s the third year in a row it has been predicted, hence the prediction of a rare “triple-dip”. Three years in a row has only happened three times since the 1950s.
WELSH DRY SKI SLOPE DAMAGED BY FIRE
One of the most popular dry ski slopes in Wales has been serious damaged by fire. A spokesperson for Pontypool Ski Racing, who run the slope said, “We were devastated to see the mindless vandalism at the top of the slope. We’ve worked so hard to make our facilities better; it’s really sad to see what’s happened. Our slope is such a brilliant community asset.”
NEW GONDOLA AND CHAIRLIFT FOR WHISTLER
Whistler Blackcomb in BC, Canada, North America’s largest ski area, will have two new lifts this winter.
Whistler’s Big Red Express high-speed quad chairlift will be upgraded to a sixseat version, and the Creekside Gondola, currently a six-seater lift, will be upgraded
to a new high-speed eight-person gondola.
“The upgrade will significantly improve wait times and increase out-of-base uphill capacity by 35% in the Creekside area, especially on high-volume days,” a spokesperson said.
With a focus on improving speed, comfort and uplift capacity in the resort’s Creekside
area, the new lifts are part of a massive US$300 million (around £283.66m) spend on upgrades announced by owners Vail Resorts for 14 of the company’s 40 ski centres.
Whistler Blackcomb’s 2022/23 season is due to kick off on 24 September and continue for six months through to late May next year.
AKSEL LUND SVINDAL SWITCHES FROM SKI TO MOTOR RACING
After a legendary alpine skiing career that saw him win two Olympic gold medals, five World Championship titles and two overall World Cup titles, Aksel Lund Svindal has swapped his skis for four wheels, making his rallycross debut on home soil at the
iconic Hell venue in Norway.
It’s the latest stage in a new motor racing career for Svindal, whose brilliance on the slopes made him one of the all-time greats thanks to his stunning success across 17 seasons with nine World Cup discipline
titles, 36 wins and 80 podiums added to his other major accolades. He is also the only man to secure three major global downhill titles, and his Olympic gold at Pyeongchang in South Korea in 2018 made him the oldest winner at the age of 35.
UNDERWATER SNOW “RISING” ON EUROPA
A new study, published in the journal Astrobiology, has projected that Jupiter’s icy moon Europa has pure snow that rises underwater to generate the moon’s icy crust, rather than falling from above.
“Underwater snow” is not an entirely extra-terrestrial phenomenon but is already a known fact on earth, where “fluffy accumulations of ice crystals” also rise up beneath ice shelves.
Europa, which has deep oceans crowned with ice sheets, is seen as one of the best potential destinations for a future manned space mission. The additional good news from the study is the finding that the ice probably has a lower salt content and is more pure ice than had been previously thought, in line with ice formed from underwater snow on earth.
A new NASA mission, the Europa Clipper, will head off to study the moon in 2024.
WORLD’S OLDEST SKIER TURNS 105
George Jedenoff, the world’s oldest living skier, celebrated his 105th birthday in the summer. Mr Jedenoff began skiing more than six decades ago after a move to Utah and was still skiing there until at least age 103. However, he told Stanford Business School, from where he graduated more than 80 years ago, that he’s had to move from the area.
“I’ve been able to ski consistently for 61 years, including a few runs this year at Sugar Bowl, but I can no longer ski at my favourite resorts in Utah because I can’t handle the altitude. I still do my 45 minutes of exercise every morning to keep limber, and that helps my mind, too,” he told Stanford’s journal.
George’s words of wisdom: Age is just a number; Always be kind to others; Don’t let life’s problems overshadow the good in life; And above all, never give up.
VAL THORENS ANNOUNCES GRANDE PREMIERE TO SEASON IN NOVEMBER
Europe’s highest ski resort of Val Thorens in France has announced they’ll kick off this winter with an opening weekend festival on 19 and 20 November.
Known as the “Grande Première” the festival attracts thousands of skiers and boarders each winter eager to be among the first in the world to get on the slopes.
It will feature a test village at the heart of the resort in Place Caron where skiers and boarders can test out the latest gear from more than 50 companies and brands including Atomic, Armada, Black Crows, Blizzard, Black Diamond, Burton, Dynafit, Dynastar, Faction, Fix, iFLOW, GNU, Goodboards, Jones, Karakoram, Lib Tech, Nidecker, Nordica, Rome, Rossignol, Roxy,
Scott, Salomon, Stöckli, Union, Wed’ze and YES.
There’ll be lots of activities offered throughout the weekend as well as a fun area (mini snowpark), live DJ, quizzes and gifts to win. Other après-ski fun will include a Raclette Party followed by a fireworks display as well as the “Grande Première Séance” with the projection of mountain films, on Saturday evening.
But if we were to think outside the box a little, what might we wish for? Guaranteed snow perhaps? Lower prices? Great quality? Oh, and perhaps a very short transfer after a quick flight to a quiet and efficient airport?
Well, the good news is it’s all here waiting for you! The Innsbruck region around the beautiful capital city of the Austrian Tirol is also a major ski destination in its own right.
There’s a remarkable regional lift pass covering no less than 13 ski resorts that lie in the mountains surrounding the city. Between them, they offer 308km of pistes served by 111 lifts and cable cars. They also include Austria’s highest resort, Kühtai, situated at over 2,000m above sea level, as well as glacier skiing at the Stubai.
Thirteen ski areas means you could stay a fortnight and ski a fresh area every day if you wish. Several were venues when Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics on multiple occasions, and there are some that suit novices and beginners, others with plenty of long cruisers for better skiing. The city’s ski slopes also include areas famed for their challenging freeride terrain as well as renowned World Cup racecourses that anyone can ski outside race day. This isn’t any old lift pass that just limits itself to the ski slopes either. Known as “The SKI plus CITY” pass, it includes 40 attractions beyond the snow –entry to public swimming pools, many museums, historic buildings and even a city sightseeing bus tour are all included on the pass, which, by the way, costs less than many for ski areas around Europe of comparable size.
How come? Well, Innsbruck is a busy city with summer tourism but battles to maintain visitor numbers in winter, hence the generous terms to encourage more people to visit when the snow is here.
DECISIONS, DECISIONS …
So you can choose a ski and city break staying in the city or up slopeside in the mountains and get the same access to the incredible range of skiing and services on offer across the Innsbruck region whichever you opt for. You could, for example, perhaps stay up on the slopes in a ski area like Kühtai, or base yourself in the city itself. On the one hand, you can get away from it all in an intimate, high Alpine mountain village and dip into the many attractions of Innsbruck city itself, or you can stay in the bustling city and be right next to the many shops, bars, restaurants and attractions, then take the free bus to one of those ski areas each morning to hit the slopes. The choice is yours.
THE WELCOME CARD
Even before you consider buying your SKI plus CITY pass, if you stay in the Innsbruck region, including at Kühtai, you’ll be given a free Visitor Card by the majority of accommodation providers when you stay for two nights or longer.
The free-of-charge Welcome Card includes services such as free public transport in the city and region, some free lift rides up in the mountains and a wide variety of leisure activities even before you get on the slopes! (With a stay of three nights or more at our partner establishments, you receive the Welcome Card plus, which includes four free trips on selected lifts and cable cars. This includes four free trips on selected lifts and cable cars.)
If you’d like to try something different for a day or even half-day, or perhaps have some non-skiers in your group, the Welcome Card gives you access to hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or ski touring on beautiful, scenic routes, some with free guiding by professional guides included as well.
As the Welcome Card also includes free use of public transport including ski buses, it means a mixed party of skiers and non-skiers can each choose their card and meet up at the base of the ski areas for lunch or at any time the non-skiers want a break from the shops, cafés and other city
attractions while the skiers want to take a breather from their exertions too.
Besides public transport and guided hiking, the Welcome Card has more to offer as well, with many discounts for holders on other winter-sports activities, family attractions, swimming pools and wonderful urban cultural attractions.
Kühtai, with its pristine, high-Alpine environment, is a stunning place to stay, and for skiers and boarders that altitude means snow-sure conditions from the start to end of the season.
The fabulous AlpinLodges Kühtai are a wonderful base from which to explore the slopes, and indeed the entire Innsbruck region if you wish.
Comfortable, modern, light and airy, they offer ski-in/ ski-out accommodation and much more besides. The spacious apartments boast generous bathroom space as well as a large balcony from which to take in the marvellous mountain views. Technology may not be the priority here, but in fitting with the crisp, modern, Alpine design, you’ll find flat-screen smart TVs and high-speed internet as well as those little bonuses that make a big difference, such as fresh bread rolls delivered daily. If you opt to self-drive from the UK or rent a car in the Tirol, you have an underground parking space waiting for you here too. Some of the apartments even feature a private sauna and an open fireplace.
If you’re not getting enough exercise already on the slopes, the AlpinLodges Kühtai also boast their own fitness studio, and to make the most of the whole area, there’s also a shuttle service provided down to Innsbruck.
For even better value, the AlpinLodges are offering free lift passes for those arriving in the first three weeks of December, before Christmas week, and staying for three nights or more.
WHEN BOOKING OUR ANNUAL SKI TRIP, WE OFTEN TEND TO GO FOR THE SAME WELL-KNOWN DESTINATIONS, TYPICALLY FAMOUS RESORTS WITH BIG SKI AREAS.
STEAMBOAT SPENDS $200M ON 60TH
Steamboat in Colorado, famed for its Western heritage, celebrates its 60year anniversary this winter and is undergoing a $200 million (around £186 million) renovation which this season will see the opening of the lower leg of the new Wild Blue Gondola (the longest gondola in North America and the fastest 10-person gondola in the country) and a new ice skating rink.
A NEW CHAIRLIFT IN ICELAND
Iceland’s largest ski area of Bláfjöll, located only 30km from capital Reykjavik, is currently working on the construction of a new quad chairlift due to open this winter, its first for nearly two decades. Iceland has about a dozen small ski areas, most with just a few surface lifts. Bláfjöll offers about 15km of slopes served by 15 lifts, again most of them drags and two existing double chairlifts.
WINTER 2023/24 SKI SEASON FLIGHTS ON SALE ALREADY
Jet2.com has put its full programme of ski flights for the winter after next on sale. The announcement that you can already book a flight for Easter 2024 follows a trend that grew through the pandemic to offer holiday bookings years ahead. Jet2. com will operate flights to seven European “ski airports” from nine British regional airports.
KIM KARDASHIAN TAKES TO INDOOR SNOW
Social media has got very excited at billionaire Kim Kardashian taking to the slopes of Big Snow, the only indoor snow ski and boarding centre in North America. The 41-year-old mother of four posted a TikTok video of herself on the slopes, winning positive reaction to her skiing skills and the fact that she was skiing in a crop top.
ARTIST CREATES HUGE IMAGE ON SKI MOUNTAIN
The Franco–Swiss artist Saype created a huge fresco on a mountain slope above the ski resort of Villars in Switzerland during the summer.
The image, created with bio-degradable paints which harmlessly dissolve over a
period of two to three weeks, depicted a young girl placing rocks on a pile of books. The picture, which covers around 2,500m2, is located on the Petit Chamossaire hill and is best observed from the Grand Chamossaire, which can be reached via chairlift from Bretaye or from the Lac de
Bretaye, a few minutes’ walk from Bretaye train station. Saype has worked on a number of pictures in the region before as well as at world-famous locations including beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris and on a platform in Venice.
TIGNES EXPANDS MEGA DANCE VENUE
In a further sign that the era of social distancing is (hopefully) behind us, Tignes has announced that its new Le Strike venue, which was first unveiled at the end of last season, will be bigger and better still this winter. The huge party venue spreads across 1,200m2, and includes four
bars, a finger food corner and a VIP area located on an American school bus.
Run by Les Étincelles hotel group and entirely dedicated to music, the venue has successfully created a colourful scene inspired by street art and is already very popular among partygoers in Tignes. This
coming winter, après-ski entertainment will include live bands and resident DJs on Tuesday evenings. Unlike the nightclubs in the Alps of old, Le Strike is free to enter and will operate Tuesdays to Saturdays from 7pm to 3am once it opens for the season on 18 November. le-strike.com
“NEW AGE” OF SKI LIFTS
Doppelmayr, the world’s leading ski lift manufacturer, has unveiled a new kind of lift we’ll all be riding in the years to come. The first one is currently being built at the Swiss ski resort of Hoch-Ybrig.
The company’s new TRI-Line “pushes all the limits of modern ropeway technology (and) heralds the next ropeway age”, a company spokesperson enthused.
Essentially, TRI-Line combines the benefits of two of the company’s recent advances, the proven D-Line system, which provides a much smoother ascent, and the tricable (3S) system which uses three support cables to provide a more stable uplift and enables more people to be carried in each cabin.
Combining the two means TRI-Line lifts will offer spacious cabins for 20 people (12 seated, 8 standing) and boast a huge uplift capacity of 8,000 skiers per hour.
Lifts will be entirely barrier-free with level walk-in and exit and electrically operated doors on two sides. The lift can also work with Doppelmayr’s recently unveiled autonomous operating system, which allows remote operation of lift stations.
WHERE TO SKI OR BOARD THIS MONTH?
After a long summer in the Alps which saw all-time record temperatures, late September and early October have seen a return to colder weather and there are about a dozen ski areas open where you can hit the slopes already. Why wait?!
About half of the open areas in the Alps are in Austria, where terrain parks are already open, new-season gear tests are underway and even Oktoberfests are back! The resorts to try include the Hintertux, Kaunertal, Pitztal and Stubai glaciers as well as Sölden, all in Tirol region.
In France, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes are due to open mid-October, and in Switzerland, the Diavolezza Glacier near St Moritz as well as the glacier slopes of Engelberg and high runs at Andermatt are due to open in October, joining already-open Zermatt. Looking north, the Finnish ski resorts of Levi and Ruka have already embarked on their 2022/23 seasons, and over in North America, the annual battle is underway to be the first to open there, the winner usually running its lifts by the end of the month.
SKI AREAS WORK FOR GENDER EQUALITY
The New Zealand ski areas on Cardrona and Treble Cone have launched a campaign to encourage equal representation of women in snowsports. “Our team took stock of gender representation in our social media content,” says Laura Hedley, General Manager of Experience for the two resorts. “It quickly became clear that we were perpetuating gender stereotypes, often reducing women to ‘lifestyle’ content.”
The research revealed the resorts’ social media audiences consist of nearly 45% women, but during winter only 29% of skiing and snowboarding content featured women in any way. Posts showing women actively participating was even less, at just 15%.
Cardrona and Treble Cone have worked to tip the balance back with more than 50% of their social media content now featuring women. They have also created a short documentary, “All In”, available on YouTube, about women’s experience in snowsports including interviews with Kiwi snowsports stars like Freeride World Tour champion Jess Hotter and Olympians Cool Wakushima and Janina Kuzma.
“We know that this is just a good start,” says Hedley. “We’ll listen, we’ll learn, and we’ll keep making change.”TROY TANNER CARDRONA
After the past few years, the top priorities for most skiers booking their next holiday are knowing that their booking is secure and that there’s flexibility too when it’s needed. It’s also nice to keep it all simple.
The difficulty with booking elements of your ski trip directly can be that you’re dealing with lots of different companies separately, and you’re not quite sure where you are if things go wrong with any one of them.
Fortunately, though, there is a way to book everything through one company and have financial security as well. Booking a complete package in one place means you’ll also save money as well as time.
Sunweb offers total flexibility when you book your package through them. It’s easy to add any elements you like – ski equipment hire, lessons, even your flights and transfers. The only thing you don’t need to add, as it is included in the base holiday price, is your lift pass!
The initial accommodation and lift pass already provides a discount on buying these yourself, separately, and the same goes for whatever you
SECURITY SIMPLICITY & SAVINGS
choose to add on in Subweb’s completely flexible ski holiday package building.
Booking a Sunweb package doesn’t automatically include your travel to and from the resort, so if you wish to self-drive, book your flights separately or take the train, that’s up to you.
Safe & Secure
Booking a holiday package also means you automatically qualify for added protections so you’ll also find an extra level of security. Sunweb is an ABTA member meaning that if anything doesn’t go to plan with your holiday, you have the practical and logistical support and financial backing of ABTA, something independent travellers don’t enjoy if things sadly go wrong for them.
As well as ABTA security, Sunweb also participate in a scheme called SGR which sits alongside ABTA’s holiday security, extending it to cover flights too.
Sunweb have been taking Europe’s skiers off to the slopes of the Alps and Pyrenees for more than 25 years and are now trusted by more than a million people to
take them on their holidays each year.
The company offer a vast choice of holiday destinations – far more than most other companies – with more than 200 ski resorts in France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Andorra available.
They cover all the biggest ski regions like Les 3 Vallées or the Paradiski region around La Plagne and Les Arcs and the best-known ski resorts of course, but also lots of less-well-known but in many was equally excellent resort choices that other operators don’t offer. Many of these have very competitive pricing.
If you run into any issues while on holiday, Sunweb also have helpful reps working in most of the resorts as well as the backing of a customer service team available for additional support.
Package It Up
All in all, with prices seeming to be rising on everything almost everywhere, it makes sense to lock in the most affordable and financially secure ski holiday you can bag by typing your dream ski trip wish list into Sunweb’s app or site and start building your fully flexible package for the slopes this winter!
FIRST GUIDED SKI TRIP TO UZBEKISTAN
Mountain Heaven has built a reputation as a leading provider of great ski holidays in the French and Swiss Alps over more than 15 years. However, company founder Nick Williams has always been intrigued by ski destinations that are more off the beaten track for Brits and began arranging guided group ski holidays to fascinating ski areas beyond Europe’s borders.
First was Iran, then Georgia, and for this coming winter a Ski Explore Group Trip will be flying further east yet to Uzbekistan, making them the first British ski holiday company to organise a trip there. As with the trips to Georgia and Iran, the idea is to offer a full immersion in Uzbekistani life. As well as discovering the best skiing that this country, located on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean, has to offer, participants will enjoy plenty of sightseeing as well as trying local cuisine and other Uzbek experiences. Setting off in late January, the 10-night trip will begin with a flight to Uzbek capital Tashkent, some 5,310km east of the UK. It’s a fascinating city mixing an ancient history with the brutal concrete
architecture of the Soviet era, and some gleaming modern developments created in the three decades since it regained its independence. The first day in Uzbekistan will be given over to touring the city, starting with the Khazrati Imam Architectural Complex, the religious centre of the city and place of worship for Muslim pilgrims. Next will be the Kukeldash Madrasah, one of the most monumental religious buildings in the whole of Central Asia, followed by the Chorsu Bazaar, the oldest market in Tashkent, to shop for local snacks and crafts. After lunch there’s a visit to the Museum of Applied Arts, then Mustakillik (Independence) Square and finally Amir Temur Square, dedicated to the 14th-century undefeated Mongol conqueror who is widely regarded as one of the greatest military leaders and tacticians in history. The next three days will be spent on the fastdeveloping ski slopes of Uzbekistan. The country had only rudimentary ski areas until recently but employed Canadian resort designers Ecosign, whose global success grew out of creating Whistler Blackcomb back in the 1980s, to create a blueprint for the future. The slopes are still limited, but with €100 million (around £88.45 million) invested,
Amirsoy (two days of skiing) is the most developed and fastest expanded, while nearby Beldersay (the third day), which dates back to the Soviet era, is also earmarked for a big upgrade with French investment. The remainder of the trip will go on to explore Uzbekistan’s ancient capital city of Bukhara that has over 300 mosques, and finally the famous desert city of Samarkand over the remaining four days.
The Ski Explore Group trip to Uzbekistan runs from 27 January to 5 February 2023 and costs €2,300pp (around £2,035pp) based on twin occupancy or €2,600pp (around £2,300pp) if single occupancy. The price includes most holiday costs (all accommodation with breakfast, full board [eight dinners + five lunches], a litre of mineral water a day, comfortable AC transport and rail travel on the “Afrosiyob train”, a professional English-speaking guide, entrance fees to the monuments and lift passes). It excludes flights, the Uzbekistan visa fee, ski equipment, tips for guide and driver (suggested £5 each per day).
SKI HOLIDAYS BY RAIL FROM AMSTERDAM THIS WINTER
The Dutch division of TUI, Europe’s largest holiday company and parent of Britain’s biggest ski holiday company, Crystal, has announced they’ll be running a new overnight train service to some of Austria’s biggest ski resorts from Amsterdam this winter. The TUI “Ski Express” will depart from Amsterdam at 5.30pm every Friday arriving in the Austrian Alps on Saturday morning.
NEW INDIAN SKI AREA UNDER CONSTRUCTION
A new ski area is being built at Sonamarg, a hill station located 2,730m up in India’s Kashmir Valley. The resort is already a popular summer hiking destination, and the J&K Cable Car Corporation, which also runs the region’s famous Gulmarg ski area, is now adding a new POMA drag lift as well as modern building to house ski rentals and other facilities.
BILLIONAIRE PAYS $39.6M FOR SKI-IN/ SKI-OUT HOUSE
One of America’s 500 richest men, Russell Weiner, the billionaire that created the Rockstar Energy Drink, is reported to have paid $39.6 million (around £37.1 million) for a yet to be built house that offers ski-in/ski-out access to Park City Mountain Resort, the largest ski area in the USA. The price is a new record for a Utah home.
NEW ERA FOR HIGHALTITUDE SKIING IN LA PLAGNE
An ambitious project, which will be completed in 2025, will move the gondola arrival station off the permafrost above La Plagne to another high-altitude peak (3,060m) a little further south. The goal is to offer easier access to the highest slopes from the 2023/2024 season on. The project will see 35 pylons and nine buildings removed, replacing four lifts with one.
LAAX TO ADD A FIFTH TERRAIN PARK – “FREE60”
Laax already has one of the planet’s strongest reputations with boarders and freestyle skiers, including, it claims, “the largest half pipe in the world” … but rather than rest on its laurels, the Swiss resort says it will be adding a fifth
terrain park this coming winter.
The new “Free60” Natural Snow Park’s main selling point will be minimal intervention in whatever the natural conditions are.
Located between Crap Sogn Gion and Plaun, there’ll be a total of 18 obstacles,
but with the onus on keeping things natural.
“The special feature: the elements lie in unprepared terrain … including ramps, rails, bridges, pillows and pale jams made of wood and covered naturally with snow,” a resort statement explains.
WORLD RECORD RAIL RIDE … AT 127TH ATTEMPT
Swedish freestyle skier Jesper Tjäder has set a new Guinness World Record in the category “Longest rail grind on skis” by completing 154.49m down a long metal pipe in Åre, Sweden.
It took him three days and 127 attempts to land the new Guinness World Record,
jumping on the rail at a speed of about 77kph and landing with the leading ski on the rail 8m in.
The idea for this project was born six years ago when Tjäder found out that the American freeskier Tom Wallisch had set a new world record in riding the
longest rail at 129.2m.
“Being the official Guinness World Record holder feels pretty cool. I have dreamt about it since I was a kid. This rail was a hard challenge, and my guess was that it would take about 525 attempts, but it went way easier than I expected,” Tjäder added.JUDITH
Austria’s Tirol region is home to dozens of fantastic ski areas, both world-famous resorts and hidden gems. It’s also very easy to reach from the UK with a short flight to the compact airport at Innsbruck. Choosing which ski area to visit first is perhaps the trickiest part of booking your holiday, so here we introduce some locals in some of Tirol’s top resorts with their insider tips to pass on.
The best Kiachl in Tirol
The capital of the Austrian Tirol is an amazing place to base yourself for a ski and city break. As well as all the amenities you’d expect in a small city, the architecture is magnificent and the setting, surrounded by Alpine peaks, is spectacular. A local lift pass covers no less than 13 ski areas surrounding the city, some only 20 minutes from the city centre, as well as public transport and other attractions around the city.
Helga Dengg‘s family were the first to sell Kiachl (an Austrian cross between a croissant, a Yorkshire pudding and a doughnut) at the Christmas market, and they’re still selling them 46 years later. She and her partner Reinhold run the restaurant Dengg Pause in the oldtown area.
“When I visited my grandma’s she would always cook Kiachl with runner beans followed by fruit compote. At the first Christmas Market, not many people bought our Kiachl as many still made it at home, but as the years went by, ever more people came to our stand, as today eating a Kiachl invokes memories of childhood.”
St Johann in Tirol
The sommelier on the slopes
If you’re looking for a place to take your family where you can all experience a real winter like “back in the day”, St Johann is famous for its friendly ski area, first-class ski schools and great selection of family hotels you can walk from to the slopes.
Annemarie Foidl runs the Angerer Alm hut on the Kitzbühel Horn mountain with her daughter and son-in-law. The restaurant, by the Harschbichlbahn cable car, is simple to reach and also offers ski-in/ ski-out accommodation. The fabulous menu uses locally sourced seasonal ingredients, but the restaurant is most famous for its wine list. Since 2008 Annemarie has been president of the Sommelier Union Austria.
“In 1989 I started developing my first wine list. It went down really well with the guests. The wines are often in better condition thanks to the temperature, humidity and air pressure in the mountains. Years ago, I told people that they should
walk up to the hut at night because it is so beautiful. The snow crystals sparkle in the moonlight – it’s amazing. Now we have our own skidoo, so I don’t need to walk anymore, but I still like to when I can.”
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental
The world’s longest ski tour
One of the largest, most modern and sustainable ski regions in Austria, SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental includes 70 peaks over 3,000m and hundreds of wide slopes. Fortunately the region has 80 cosy huts and restaurants waiting for you whenever you need a break. SkiWelt local Janine Gugglberger says, “People often ask me, ‛Why the SkiWelt area?’ and I just say: ‛You don’t have this variety of pistes anywhere else’”. The KitzSkiWelt Tour connects the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental with the KitzSki ski area. Never go on the same lift twice on this 88km-long tour and be challenged by slopes of all skill levels. From Going it goes on perfectly groomed slopes across the Kitzbühel Alps to Hollersbach and back. Of course, the circular tour can also be started from any SkiWelt location.”
Fantastic for live music
Ischgl is the perfect place for active travellers as well as those looking for a more leisurely holiday. One of Austria’s largest ski areas, it has snow-sure slopes from late November to early May, and more 4★ and 5★ hotels and highly rated restaurants than any other.
Dominik Walser, a film and TV producer, interviews the stars performing at Ischgl’s Top of the Mountain concerts which start and close the winter season each year, with big stars like Robbie Williams, Elton John, Katy Perry, Pink and Kylie performing. “Mariah Carey was really cool. Before the concert everybody was saying how difficult she is, but she was actually really nice and self-deprecating. I am never nervous when I meet the performers. I see it this way: they do their job, I do mine. Maybe I earn a bit less than they do – in fact, a lot less – but I always try to talk to everyone as equals.”
Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschonau
Award-winning cuisine in a spectacular location
The Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau was created only a decade ago when the two historic ski areas were linked. Located less than an hour from Innsbruck, it has retained all the original, down-to-
earth charm we love.
Stfan and Daniela Thaler own the GipföHit hut, located 1,900m up by the mighty cross atop the Schatzberg mountain. There are majestic views of the Zillertal Alps, the Wilder Kaiser Mountains and the Kitzbühel Alps … as well as fabulous food from their own farm.
“You never have enough of the mountains. Every time the sun shines onto the slopes I think, ‘Wow, that looks amazing.’ I always dreamt of being my own boss, and everything has gone so well we’ve agreed to carry on for 10 more years. Up here, we are in charge.”
St Anton am Arlberg
Some of the world’s Best skiing
Skiing has been part of everyday life in the Arlberg, often dubbed the “cradle of alpine skiing”, for more than 100 years. The region is home to world-famous St Anton and high-altitude St Christoph as well as Stben, stylish Zürs and the gourmet’s delight of Lech, and together they form one of Austria’s biggest ski regions, famed for its fabulous freeriding too.
Patrick Bätz is a fully qualified off-piste guide with the Skischule Arlberg.
“The Valluga peak, the highest in our resort, is pretty tough – not everyone can ski down there. You need a head for heights and, in order to even ride the gondola to the top, you have to be accompanied by a qualified guide. If you grow up being outdoors a lot as I did, then it is something you need in life, including in your job. I couldn’t imagine working in an office. Even on my days off I like to go skiing.”
Home to Austria’s highest craft beer brewery
With its many traditional, family-run hotels and inns, a ski holiday in Zillertal feels a bit like visiting old friends. Perhaps this is also due to the region’s snow reliability, lack of lift queues and relaxed atmosphere, plus there’s always a cosy hut nearby.
Tim Jones founded Austria’s highest craft beer brewery, 1,280m up in the village of Tux, better known for having the world’s only remaining glacier ski area that’s open 365 days a year.
“I asked Sally to marry me in the Eggalm hut. I thought, ‘If she says no then at least I will have a good ski back down.’ She just said, ‘Why not?’
Eighteen months later, I heard there was a house for sale in Tux, opposite the ski lift. The day before the auction, my son was born in England. I drove straight from the hospital to the airport and won the auction in Tux. After spending winter here, we never went back. Later a friend was making good homebrew beer, and we ended up making beer properly, now making five varieties.”
SKI HOLIDAYS IN THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS
We all love to our ski holidays and are so addicted we’re prepared to do whatever we can to get on the slopes each winter. There’s never been any denying that skiing and snowboarding aren’t cheap though, and this season we seem to have a perfect storm of rising costs to deal with at home, while the cost of ski holidays are hit by everything from rising fuel costs to the weak pound. But we’re probably all going skiing anyway, so here’s some advice on how to make the financial pain less severe.
AIM LOW (SEASON) … IF YOU CAN
Timing is key for low prices with pre-Christmas, much of January then springtime typically cheapest. Of course, for families tied to school holidays, they may not be options, but Ski Solutions boss Craig Burton advises “Consider looking at pre-Christmas or Easter as opposed to New Year and February half-term when slopes are at their busiest, and prices highest. At Christmas, some schools will break up early enough to squeeze a bargain early-season trip in before the festivities begin. Breaks at Easter are typically at least 25% cheaper than the same holiday at February half-term.”
SELF-DRIVE, SELF-CATERING IS USUALLY CHEAPEST
If you’re prepared to drive to the Alps, you’ll usually save money if you have a full car, particularly if you have your own equipment you can carry as well, saving on rentals or carriage on a flight. The fewer in the car the saving per person diminishes on, say, a midweek low-season flight booked way ahead –assuming you can keep airport transfer and the other add-on costs down. Apartment holidays cooking for yourself usually cost the least, again so long as your party fills the apartment. Companies that specialise in this kind of holiday include Erna Low.
DO YOU NEED TO BE IN A FAMOUS RESORT?
Typically, you pay more to stay in a “world-class” resort and less to be based somewhere less well known. If you don’t actually need hundreds of kilometres of slopes, perhaps consider a smaller place – you’re likely to get a higher-quality holiday for less. If you do need hundreds of kilometres of slopes, you can usually compromise by staying somewhere cheaper linked into the same circuit (although probably not on the lift pass cost – unless you stay in Cervinia to ski the area shared with Zermatt. La Tania, St Martin de Belleville and Brides-les-Bains are usually more affordable bases for a Les 3 Vallées holiday for example. Companies that specialise in this kind of holiday include Peak Retreats.
INCLUDE EVERYTHING … OR NOTHING
Sometimes you can save money by buying a holiday package with all elements included and discounted for the “bulk buy” – other times you save by avoiding buying things you don’t need.
“Try to find companies that sell the basics such as accommodation, with the option of upgrades and bolt-ons, such as transfers, catering, driver service, stocked bar, shopping, cleaning, lift passes, ski hire and even flights, etc. This way, you can pick and choose what services you want and tailor your package to suit your needs and budget,” advises Jamie Purkhardt of Ski Peak, who offer just that. There are fixed-price all-inclusive options to consider too of course, which can include food, drink and all other costs, so you can feel like you’re on holiday rather than worrying about the euros every time you stop for a snack.
“Consider areas where drinks or lunches on the mountain are much cheaper, as in Italy and Andorra, or hotels where drinks and lunches are all included in the holiday price,” says Melvin Westlake, Inghams’ Head of Winter Product Manager.
LIMIT THE LIFT-PASS PRICE
Lift-pass pricing is a very big part of your total ski holiday cost, and the prices have never been more “fluid”. It’s hard to give clear advice, but look out for online deals, consider buying early as some offer discounts if you book months before winter or just shop around.
“Resorts such as Le Grand Bornand in the Aravis and Combloux in the Evasion Mont Blanc are good choices, but there are plenty of other resorts without the price tags of places like Val d’Isère,” says Tim Andrews, founder of chalet rental specialist OVO Network. Resorts even offer free or heavily discounted passes in very low season to encourage visitors, and some tour ops offer discounts to encourage bookings. For families it gets much more complicated as different resorts offer free tickets or discounts starting and ending at different ages, as does the size of the discount offered. We really need some sort of live calculator …
“Val d’Isère has just recently announced that children aged up to seven years qualify for a free lift pass; previously it was up to aged five. At some resorts, those from 60 or 65 might also qualify for a free or discounted pass,” Craig Burton adds.
There’s lots more to consider too of course, the options on rental vs purchase of your gear, ski school or guiding, childcare, insurance and whether to buy your skiwear cheaply at the supermarket, perhaps better quality but last season’s from TK Maxx, or even forget buying and rent high-quality from ecoski.co.uk It’s always going to be a maze of options to work through, but once we make it onto the slopes it should all feel worth it; we just need to renew our focus and effort to get there as affordably as we can.
22–23 OCT 22
World Cup Opening
Sölden | Austria
The new World Cup tour kicks off with the traditional Giant Slalom races for both men and women in Austria. This year’s tour will see the most changes in decades, but it starts as usual in the Tirol. soelden. com/skiworldcup
29–30 OCT 22
World Cup Speed Opening
Cervinia | Italy & Zermatt | Switzerland
In a big shake-up to the World Cup calendar, speed races will start a month earlier than before with four descents for men and women on a new course that’s the world’s highest and crosses a border. speedopening.com
4 JAN 23
Garmisch-Partenkirchen | Germany
The new year has started in recent years with slalom races at a venue in Croatia, and the women will be there for the Snow Queen trophy again. For the men though it’s a new race in Germany. skiweltcupgarmisch.com/en/race
CALENDAR BIG RACES
13–15 JAN 23
Wengen | Switzerland
Despite the World Cup calendar changes this season with Zermatt becoming the first Swiss stop on the tour, the Lauberhorn remains one of the great classics, back for its 93rd staging in 2023. lauberhorn.ch
16–22 JAN 23
Kitzbühel | Austria
The biggest ski races in the world are back with two days of downhills and then a slalom planned. That was the race where Dave Ryding scored Britain’s first-ever win, so fingers crossed for a repeat. hahnenkamm.com
21 JAN 23 Inferno Mürren | Switzerland
The world’s longest race for amateurs only, first staged in 1928, will return for its 79th edition in January. As usual the 1,850 places available were quickly snapped up last summer. inferno-muerren.ch
27–29 JAN 23
Aspen | Colorado | USA
The biggest winter action sports contest sees nearly 100 athletes competing in 14 disciplines including Men’s and Women’s Ski and Snowboard SuperPipe, Slopestyle and Big Air. xgames.com/aspen
6–19 FEB 23
Alpine World Championships Courchevel-Méribel | France
After staging the World Cup Finals as a test event last March, the biggest event of alpine ski racing this season are these Championships, which incorporate the exciting new “Eclipse” course. courchevelmeribel2023.com
25–26 FEB 23
World Cup & Giant Slalom
Palisades Tahoe | USA
The men’s tour is crossing the Atlantic twice this season with the first races in California for some years. It’s a big winter for Palisades, which also sees a long-planned gondola link its two bases. worldcup. palisadestahoe.com
FIRST CROSS-BORDER WORLD CUP RACE IS GO FOR THIS AUTUMN
A long-planned ski race on a new course that crosses the Swiss–Italian border has been confirmed to go ahead this autumn.
Christened the “Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening”, racers will descend from one of Europe’s highest liftserved points at Gobba di Rollin at an altitude of around 3,800m above Zermatt and cross the border into Italy, finishing at Laghi Cime Bianche above Cervinia. The races will take place just after the first giant slalom races kick off the World Cup 2022/23 tour, as is tradition on a glacier above Sölden in the Austrian Tirol on 22–23 October 2022).
There will be two downhill races each for men first on 29 and 30 October, then for women the weekend after on 5 and 6 November. Normally the “speed tour” part of the Alpine Skiing World Cup begins in late November in North America with races at Lake Louise in Canada and Beaver Creek in Colorado, so it means the downhill racers will be starting a month earlier than they have previously (see also 10 Mins with Pirmin Zurbriggen).
18-YEAR-OLD AIMING TO BE YOUNGEST UP ALL 8,000M PEAKS
A young climber and competition ski racer, Alasdair McKenzie (18), has entered the Guinness Book of Records for being the youngest person to have climbed Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world, when aged 17. Alasdair is now attempting to reach the summit of all fourteen 8,000m peaks in the Himalayas – a challenge only 39 people have achieved.
Alasdair, who learnt to ski at the Lecht Ski Centre with his Scottish father before moving to Tignes and has dual British/French citizenship, is setting out to become the youngest person to have climbed all of the “eight-thousanders” and hopes to do so within the next 12 months.
“Becoming the youngest person to climb Lhotse was a special moment for me, and I now aim to be the youngest to climb 14 of the world’s highest mountains. I know it will be a lot of hard work, but I am up for the challenge. Being on the mountains has become my life,” said Alasdair.
JAPAN TO ALLOW INTERNATIONAL SKIERS TO RETURN THIS WINTER
The Japanese government has re-opened its borders to international travel, ending two and a half years when Japan’s borders have been closed to most leisure travellers, making it possible for skiers and boarders to return this winter.
The precise rules were still being confirmed as we went to press, but it appears those with proof of vaccination will not need to take a Covid test. Unvaccinated visitors can enter with a recent negative PCR result. However, it’s important to check the current rules before making any travel plans. All travellers are required to complete a prearrival questionnaire, which can be filled in before travel to Japan via the country’s Fastrack system.
Other news from Japan that may interest travellers planning to ski there this winter were first analysis of global currencies showing the yen as one of the worst performing of major international currencies at present. This is good news for foreign arrivals from most countries, who should find they get more for their money. It’s also predicted to be a cooler, snowier winter than average.MASSIMO
InTheSnow’s James Bishton and friend Tom decided to turn left when they reached Europe via Eurotunnel, and rather than following the crowds down the toll motorways to the French Alps, headed to the Austrian Tirol instead.
James and Tom opted to drive for a number of reasons, but first up was cost – they calculated a Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Flexiplus ticket, combined with fuel and other costs, would be a lot less than airfare with transfers and the other add-on costs too. They wanted to just pop their skis in the car rather than rent or pay extra for carriage so that again made sense on cost, but also cut out any time wasting as they travelled to and between ski areas. It was also much easier to pack all the gear they needed without needing to worry about baggage size and weight rules. James and Tom also wanted to cut the CO2 emissions of their trip, and again the car was much less than the flight equivalent. On both price and CO2 emissions if they’d taken another few friends, the CO2 and monetary costs would have been divided further, meaning the perperson cost would be lower still. Here’s James’ report:
opening up a whopping 300km, all just a quick, car journey away.
RESORT TWO GURGL
After an easy 75-minute drive we rolled up to the stunning resort of Gurgl, which sits at the top of the Tirol’s snow-sure Ötztal Valley. Thanks to its high altitude, Obergurgl is the first non-glacier ski area in the region to open its slopes each November and stays open to early May.
On the slopes a must-see is the Top Mountain Star bar, an architectural masterpiece perched on a rocky crag at 3,080m above sea level and boasting 360° views of the area’s endless white peaks and 110km of beautifully prepared ski slopes. The Top Express gondola will get you from Obergurgl to Hochgurgl in just nine minutes so you’re free to flit back and forth to enjoy the two ski areas.
RESORT THREE STUBAI GLACIER
The drive up to the Stubai Glacier the next morning was one I was happy to be in the front seat for. As the Alpine road skirted along its foothills, the glacier stood proud and pictureperfect in the distance.
The Stubai is the largest glacier ski resort in Austria, with terrain that’s a comfortable mix between steep pitches and wide, empty groomers that intermediate skiers will relish.
RESORT ONE GALTÜR
Situated in the heart of the Silvretta mountains, the picturesque mountain village of Galtür is the highest ski resort in Tirol’s Paznaun region. The streets are lined with timber-clad chalets that immediately immerse you in the traditional Austrian Alpine charm. It’s immediately clear to see why Galtür is a family favourite. It has a separate children’s nursery area and themed runs, as well as interactive mountain experiences which bring endless entertainment to meandering blue runs. That said, Galtür offers a number of more difficult red and black runs which, coupled with access to the off-piste, means that the resort caters for more advanced skiers and snowboarders too. Plus, if you fancy covering more ground, you can upgrade to a Silvretta Area Pass to explore neighbouring Ischgl’s ski area,
Sitting at 3,020m above sea level, the glacier is also home to the Stubai Zoo – an extensive snowpark littered with features and kickers big enough to keep Tanner Hall himself satisfied. You can imagine where Tom spent most of his day …! Children and families are a big priority at the Stubai Glacier, so it is no surprise that the resort is considered one of the most family-friendly in Tirol. Children can enjoy interactive on-piste games and snow obstacle courses, and there’s even a special children’s restaurant.
As the sun dipped below the peaks, we unclipped from our skis, knocked the snow off our boots and set off on the 45-minute drive to Innsbruck, where we’d be spending the next two nights.
RESORT FOUR AXAMER LIZUM
Dubbed the “White Roof”, Axamer Lizum is just 19km from Innsbruck (around half an hour’s drive) and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect resort to dash up to on a powder day. It’s small but perfectly formed, with 10 lifts, 40km of piste
and a well-kept snowpark. Red runs make up 70% of the resort, but there are a sprinkling of blues and blacks too to cater for all levels. For powder hounds, the real pull of Axamer Lizum is the easy access to the backcountry. When the snowstorms hit, be sure to head to the Birgitzköpfle Area in particular for untouched, waist-deep powder. Even late in the season, the snow quality was superb, and though we weren’t graced with a powder dump, we could easily see why this is such a popular spot for freeride fans.
RESORT FIVE NORDKETTE
After four days of hopping in the car, we’d already established that the Tirol is the perfect spot for those looking for easily accessible skiing. However, we were about to find out just how convenient it can be.
Nordkette can be reached in just over 30 minutes from the city centre, via a funicular and two cable cars. The ski area not only offers fabulous views but has gained a reputation as a first-class freeride destination, drawing skiers from across the world to its steep slopes and challenging couloirs.
Nordkette, Stubai, Axamer Lizum and more nearby ski areas are included in the City PLUS Ski pass, which also covers three swimming pools and 22 cultural attractions across the area.
Sadly, our epic five-day, five-resort road trip had come to an end, and it was time to point the car north.
After the trip, Tom and I reflected over a beer, and the only thing we could talk about is when we are coming back. Sure, we’d certainly fitted a lot into five days, but the Tirol has so much to offer, and we hadn’t even touched the snowy surface. Having a Eurotunnel Flexiplus ticket had taken any risk of stress out of the journey by having the freedom to turn up and board anytime, on our booked travel day, with priority boarding and access to the lounge. More generally, driving allowed us to take the trip at our own pace, rest when we wanted, set off when we wanted and drive back when we wanted. Then, once in Tirol, the multi-area lift passes meant we could ski areas close that would have been trickier to reach without our own wheels.
SKI MORE FOR LESS
It’s the dream that seems too good to be true. To spend more time on the slopes but take less days of annual leave doing it (so that you can, if you like, do it all again and STILL have leave to spare for the rest of the year!).
Well, holiday company SkiWeekends (who, despite their name, also do much more than weekends, midweeks and full weeks to begin with), have come up with the answer to make your dreams come true. They reckon they’ll even save you money in the process.
SkiWeekends have long been “disruptors” of the standard ski holiday model and couldn’t accept that skiers needed to stick to a Saturday to Saturday ski week, getting six days on the slopes and needing to take five days of leave to get that.
In the worst cases people are asked to
get up in the middle of the night to make an early morning flight on the Saturday and still not get on the slopes until the next day.
SkiWeekends looked at all aspects of a standard ski holiday and looked at the ways they could improve on the flaws we are all aware of. Their findings:
Æ Why not ski on the afternoon you arrive? If lift tickets, rentals and everything else you might need are pre-arranged, why wait until the next morning?
Æ Avoid weekend travel – pay less to travel midweek when airports are also quieter and more pleasant to travel through. You can also ski Saturdays when the slopes are empty while everyone else is doing ye olde changeover day routine and standing in huge queues at overwhelmed airports or stuck in traffic to/from the airport and/ or resort. Even transfers are cheaper and easier midweek than at weekends.
On the return trip when you’re waking in resort, why get up early to go home? Why not ski as long as you can then take a late afternoon or evening flight?
Æ Well, as you can see, it’s not rocket science.
SkiWeekends simply focus on midweek flights at times that allow you to get at least half a day on the slopes on the way out or the way back.
This reverses the traditional ski holiday model of lots of days in resort/travelling and a big chunk of annual leave taken for it for six days on the slopes to spending more days on the slopes for less time off work – with a lower cost and much more pleasant travel experience added bonuses. SkiWeekends also focus on holiday efficiency so that everything you need to get skiing or boarding straight away is waiting for you as you arrive in resort. They ensure there’s somewhere to leave your bags and get changed so you’re straight off, with 90% of their guests skiing on the
day they arrive. Many hit the slopes by as early as noon on arrival day and then on the last day of the trip some get to ski until 4.30 (that’s pm not am!) before getting their transfer home. They even welcome you on the free transfer minibus with tea and cake then hand out cake again for the ride back at the end of your stay. So that can be 3.5 days skiing on a three-night holiday taking only two days of annual leave. Result! Take two threenight holidays and that’s seven days’ skiing for only four days off work. But you get similar benefits on four or seven night stays too.
SkiWeekends have chalets in the world’s largest ski regions, the Portes du Soleil and the Les 3 Vallées, in the top resorts of Avoriaz, Morzine and Courchevel, where you’ll enjoy great catering and unlimited wine. They also have a wide range of hotel options, with total flexibility for travel, to leading resorts in Austria, France, Spain and Switzerland.
SNOWSHOEING WITH DOGS
A new activity for animal lovers is being offered in La Plagne this winter. Cani-raquettes (snowshoeing with dogs) will see participants click on their snowshoes, team up with a friendly four-legged friend and explore the beautiful snowy paths and woodland around the resort.
“This alter-ego of the Cani-rando dog treks offers an additional pretext to encourage new clients in the form of dog lovers, even those who might usually shy away from this type of activity like perhaps kids or teenagers,” a La Plagne spokesperson confided, adding, “The experience adds a playful and emotional level by creating a real complicity with the dogs. The husky dogs, which usually pull sleds, love the opportunity to vary their fun and get out for a walk in the forest.”
Walks start from L’ecrin de Baloo in Montchavin Les Coches, and participants are provided with snowshoes, harness, lead and dog.
GLIDE LIKE HARRY POTTER’S OWL
Popular French ski resort Morzine has invested €200,000 (around £179,000) ahead of the coming season to improve its recreational areas for children and novice skiers, aiming to make them more educational and fun. Guests new to skiing or snowboarding can glide down the remodelled beginner slope called La Chouette (meaning owl).
“Named with Hedwig, from Harry Potter, in mind, guests can also meet Hedwig’s ‘niece’, and other birds of prey, at restaurant Les Aigles du Léman,” a spokesperson for Morzine explained.
Youngsters should also love the giant xylophone, totem poles, arches and more at the Pinguin Parc, and the statues of mountain animals, and new information panels and signposts, at the Chemin des Zouzous. Morzine has also recruited two extra members of staff to keep these new areas in perfect condition throughout the ski season.
A selection of handpicked Catered & Self-catered Chalets and Apartments in the French and Swiss Alps
North America is famous for its wideopen spaces and empty ski slopes. Skiers travel across oceans to visit, drawn also by everything from spacious accommodation and generous dining to pristine slopes, great childcare, almost no lift queues and perhaps above all very high service standards.
With hundreds of ski areas to choose from, it can be tough narrowing down the choices, but if you want to really go big, while ticking all the other boxes, Park City in Utah can’t be beaten. This classic ski town and 2002 Winter Olympics venue is not only one of the easiest ski resorts in the world to get to; it also boasts the biggest ski area in the USA. And that’s just one of its ski centres; besides Park City Mountain, there’s also Deer Valley, which has won endless awards for its exceptional service standards, as well as having great skiing too.
Deer Valley is known as the ski resort that revolutionised ski-area service … quite an achievement in itself as anyone who has skied in North America expected great service as the norm anyway. But here they’ve managed to go still further with every possible potential inconvenience in your ski day spotted and neutralised. There are smiling staff to carry your gear (the famous ski valet service), open every door, a super-efficient lift network to whizz you to the top of the mostly empty slopes and happy mountain hosts everywhere to help with any query or issue. For those used to battling onto a ski bus or queuing for everything from rentals to the lift, it’s like you’ve landed on another (much better) planet.
One of the world’s newest resorts, Deer Valley, only celebrated its 40th birthday in 2021, but it quickly built a reputation for its service standard and manicured slopes, grabbing the ski world’s attention far beyond US shores. The slopes are nestled in Utah’s picturesque Rocky Mountain Wasatch Range and extend over a huge 809 hectares of varied terrain spread over six mountains.
To quickly get to grips with all that’s available, four complimentary Mountain Host tours are offered each day, departing from the top of the Carpenter Express chairlift, suited to skiers of intermediate and expert ability. You’ll not only learn about the resort’s terrain and discover the best runs, including descents through beautifully gladed aspen forests and secret powder stashes, spending time with the locals who ski them, but also some history and trivia while you ride the lifts back up. To prevent even the slightest concern of overcrowded trails or lifts, Deer Valley limits the number of skiers on the mountain and at peak times may reach capacity.
There is, in short, something for every skier … but famously in ski circles, nothing for any
snowboarder. Deer Valley is one of just a couple of resorts left worldwide still banning boarders. The Deer Valley experience doesn’t start and end on the slopes; the resort is also renowned for its luxurious lodging and great evening dining options. One of the most enjoyable for many is the chance to take a horsedrawn sleigh ride up to Empire Canyon Lodge for Fireside Dining with an Alpine-inspired menu.
PARK CITY THE SKI AREA
Park City Mountain is the largest ski area in the USA and the second biggest in North America by official figures (one cartography expert who measured both areas using online digital maps reckons Park City is actually a little bigger than Whistler). In any case, both areas are owned and operated by Vail Resorts, now the biggest ski resort operator in the world. In 2015, the company spent $50 million (around £43 million) to merge the formerly separately run Canyons and Park City Mountain ski areas together to form this huge world-class ski area providing over 3,000 skiable hectares of diverse terrain suited for every skier and rider.
PARK CITY THE SKI TOWN
Once a silver mining settlement, historic Park City is today one of the world’s great ski towns. Nestled in the valley flanked by Park City Mountain Resort on one side, and Deer Valley on the other, Park City’s Main Street is the heart and soul of this mountain town and is now a centre for culture, fun, shopping, dining, partying and much more besides.
The town has endured booms, busts, fires and freezes down through the decades, but its adventurous spirit has never dimmed. Having been established as a raucous silver town, it nearly faded into history as a ghost town before the plentiful snowfall each winter was turned into “white gold” with the rise of the ski holiday business.
Main Street is home to over 200 unique businesses including more than 100 independent boutiques and at least 50 one-of-a-kind restaurants. There are spas, nightclubs, art galleries and even a distillery, all close at hand, although you can jump on the free Town Trolley bus if your legs get weary.
PARK CITY APRES
A big part of Park City’s appeal is the après-ski scene and, as with the ski slopes, there’s a huge and eclectic choice.
The No Name Saloon, reputedly Utah’s busiest bar, is a must-visit with its old-time cowboy vibe. The home of the Buffalo Burger and centrally located on Main Street, No Name Saloon has global and
local nostalgia covering the walls and ceilings.
The High West Distillery was founded in 2006 by a former biochemist. The distillery has been a huge success, opening several off-shoots across Utah, but the original saloon close to the base of the slopes continues to operate as a must-visit gastrodistillery with dining next to the first still.
The Alpine Pie Bar is another Park City institution, also located on Main Street. Its theme, as the name suggests, is pies – locally made, fresh and hot. They do tend to sell out early most days so, as it’s open from 3 to 9pm, it’s a good stop straight off the slopes. But beyond the pies, this is also a micro-distillery serving up craft cocktails like Old Fashioned or Gin Bramble.
It’s worth noting that public transportation is efficient and comprehensive around Park City as the resort town aims to have its operations completely carbon neutral by 2030. Park City was the first mountain town in the United States to operate a zero-carbon public transportation fleet including a fleet of buses that travel an express route to connect passengers from Main Street around Park City and out to Deer Valley a few miles away.
TRAVEL TO PARK CITY
Park City is one of the easiest resorts to reach, just a short transfer from Salt Lake City, just 40km away via a modern, four-lane highway. You can travel here on most transatlantic airlines, usually with one connection, although Delta Airlines operates a direct service from Heathrow. The airport is in the middle of a multi-year $4.5 billion (around £3.8 billion) renovation that will see five terminals become two, the first of which is already open, and it’s become one of the world’s great airports of the 21st century. At the time of writing, the USA is only allowing nonUS citizens who have proof of Covid-19 vaccination to enter the country; however, this ruling could be dropped at any time.
A longer version of this feature is available online at InTheSnow.com
Europe’s highest ski resort is also one of the continent’s youngest, reaching its big 5-0 this season. When it opened, it was seen as something of a “moon base” – only appealing to serious skiers wanting instant access to the highest slopes in Les 3 Vallées from the doorstep each morning, but not much else.
Some questioned its viability. Fast forward 50 years, and with climate change, building a ski resort 2,300m up seems a very forward-thinking decision back in the 1970s. Val Thorens has also grown one of the most vibrant après-ski scenes in the French Alps.
Don’t Miss The Season Start & End Parties: Val Thorens’ altitude makes it one of the most snow-sure destinations in the Alps, and it celebrates its almost six-month ski season with festivals at the start and end of its long season. La Grande Première will kick
things off on 19 and 20 November this autumn; then it will be full on until La Grande Dernière next May.
Have A Pint In Europe’s Highest Pub: The Frog and Roastbeef has been serving pints and full English Breakfasts since 2007. It claims to be Europe’s highest pub …
Cruise Down Lory Into Les 3 Vallées’ Fourth Valley: Val Thorens has terrain for all abilities, but most skiers love the Lory valley descent, which begins the run down into the region’s fourth valley, Maurienne, connected by fast gondola lifts up from the village of Orelle. The valley Lory runs through was off-piste only, and there are plenty of places to jump off into the freeride terrain all around. As one of the highest parts of the Les 3 Vallées, the snow here is often the best for longest.
Check Out The New Sports Centre: Val Thorens has splurged €40 million (around £34.65 million)
on a news sports centre, Le Board, opening for the 2022/23 season. The rooftop event space can cater for 3,000 people, and there are loads of cool new spaces indoors too.
Visit The Best Mountain Restaurant: Val Thorens has more than 70 restaurants, so making the top spot on Tripadvisor is quite something, but Chez Pépé Nicolas on Piste de la Chasse has achieved that crowning glory. It’s a simple recipe of fabulous food, affordable prices, attentive service and a spectacular location.
Ride Europe’s Highest Zipwire: Europe’s highest zipwire, themed on an eagle’s flight, opened above the resort in 2014 (another over the resort opened in 2018). Starting at 3,230m at the top of the Bouchet chairlift, the ride lasts 105 seconds and you reach speeds of over 100kph.
UK’S OLDEST SKI HOLIDAY COMPANY TURNS 90!
Erna Low, the UK’s oldest ski holiday company, is celebrating 90 years since Miss Erna Low, after whom the company is named, led the first group ski trip to Sölden in Austria following her placement of an advertisement in the London Times
The company, now part of the NUCO group, plans pop-up 90th birthday celebrations in their most popular resorts throughout the season and are offering a £90 holiday credit voucher on all bookings made throughout October.
Today Erna Low’s core market is self-drive ski holidays to France, and they’re adding 30
new self-catering chalets there this winter. “I’ve been at Erna Low for half my lifetime, so if you cut me in half, I would have Erna Low written down the middle like you would with a stick of rock! I love the history of the company, and the pioneering spirit of Miss Low herself is an inspiration to me,” said the company’s Jane Bolton.
FREESTYLE MOGULS ADD TO OLYMPICS
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that there’ll be two new-to-the-Olympics competitions at the 2026 Winter Games in Milano-Cortina. Women’s Freestyle Skiing Dual Moguls and Men’s Freestyle Skiing Dual Moguls were added to the programme, and Ski Mountaineering has also been added as a new discipline.
ROSSIGNOL ANNOUNCES “HIGHLY RECYCLABLE” SKIS
Rossignol are launching what they call their first “highly recyclable” ski, The Essential, this autumn. The move is part of their goal of developing one-third of their ski ranges through a sustainable and circular economy approach within the next six years. The all-new ski, designed to be easily recycled, will initially be available in limited quantities in France.
20/21 SEASON WORST OF 21ST CENTURY FOR SKIER NUMBERS
This 2022 edition of the International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism 2022 by Laurent Vanat, the main annual global ski industry survey, reports, unsurprisingly, that skier visit numbers worldwide in winter 2020/21 were the worst this century, beating the previous worst, the season before, curtailed as it was by the start of the pandemic.
NEW MOUNTAIN ACADEMY FOR 6–12-YEAR-OLDS
Specialist family ski holidays company Esprit will launch a new afternoon children’s’ club, the Mountain Academy, this winter.
The Mountain Academy is available in all of Esprit’s French ski resorts for children aged 6 to 12 years and complements the ski lessons that they have in the mornings.
Families staying the New Year week in La Rosière will have a chance to meet Olympic skier Ollie Davies, who’ll be there on 5 January 2023, sharing his passion for winter sports with Esprit’s younger guests. During a Mountain Academy week, children will get the chance to learn fun new skills like orienteering on
snowshoes and hide and seek with rescue transceivers, and they will take part in lots of snow-related challenges like building igloos.
“I can’t wait to help some younger skiers to improve their skills and maybe teach them a new trick or two,” said Ollie, who himself learnt to ski with Esprit.
Sweden’s biggest resort, Åre, is upgrading its old two-seater WC lift to a new six-seater, the Stjärnliften express, this winter. The resort claims it’s the first of its type to open in both summer and winter in Sweden. The resort is also adding a new SkiStar Snow Park, with the help of ambassador and Olympic medallist Jesper Tjäder, as well as a ski cross track in Åre Duved.
World’s Biggest SkiTurnsAreaWORDS: PATRICK THORNE
“All skiers dream of virtually endless slopes and trails … The Trois Vallées is about as close as anyone can come to that dream of a chance to wake up each morning and choose a different village to explore, mountain to schuss or scenic vista to capture. If it is the call of an endless ski safari that you hear, then the epicentre of that siren song is France’s Trois Vallées region.”
So wrote author Charles Leocha in his book Ski Europe as he tried to sum up the incredible extent of the world’s biggest ski region that has connected the lifts and slopes above the Courchevel, Méribel and Belleville valleys, the latter home to St Martin, Les Menuires and Val Thorens, for 50 years this winter. Actually, the precise date the region was created is open to debate with some arguing it began earlier than winter 1972/73, but that was the season that Europe’s highest resort, Val Thorens, fully opened and with it the first 3 Vallées connection, linking Méribel to Val Thorens with the aptly named Les 3 Vallées chairlift. The legend was born.
Becoming TheWorld’s Biggest
Quite when Les 3 Vallées became known as the world’s largest ski area is also a little uncertain.
In his book The Story of Ski-ing published in 1976, American author Raymond Flower does not mention Les 3 Vallées but talks about the ski area around Courchevel and Méribel having grown to 300km. Flower ponders whether this is the world’s biggest area or whether it might be the Arlberg around Lech and St Anton or Engadin around St Moritz?
Seven years later, the 1983/84 Macmillan and Silk Cut Ski Resort Guide (yes, cigarettes could sponsor ski guidebooks in the 1980s) does list the “Trois Vallées” noting that it has grown to 400km of piste served by 170 lifts with a combined uplift capacity of 130,000 skiers per hour.
The late 1980s and early 1990s were a time of intense competition to offer more terrain, and by the time Arnie Wilson’s Thomas Cook International Top 50 Ski Resorts book was published in 1989 we had reached 500km.
The 600km stat appears to have first been announced in the early 1990s. It’s in the World Ski & Snowboarding Guide (1996), the book noting there are now over 200 lifts.
600km Becomes AMarketing StatisticAhead of a Factual One
Having reported on news from Les 3 Vallées every year for more than 30 years, I notice a new run or two is announced most winters, perhaps adding two to five more kilometres of slopes each time, yet that 600km figure never changes, never grows. Querying this, I was told that the 600km was not intended to be a precise figure but a number that
illustrated this was the biggest and not something the area wanted to tweak every time a kilometre or two was added. The claimed size of all ski areas has long intrigued (and in some cases infuriated) skiers, and it was about a decade ago that the German ski expert Chris Schrahe decided to use newly available digital mapping to precisely measure all the large ski areas. In almost all cases he found exaggeration. This caused great trauma on the German-speaking side of the Alps, where new, precisely accurate stats were immediately created. It was not much of a big deal in France or Italy though. Chris still checks ski area sizes and most recently put Les 3 Vallées at 553km, more than a third bigger than its nearest competitor by an accurate measure of combined piste length.
The Fourth of theThree Valleys
Along with sticking to 600km, however many kilometres of piste there may actually be, Les 3 Vallées has stuck to three valleys even though its ski lifts and runs have long extended into a fourth. In 1988, the first lift connection into a fourth valley, Maurienne, was completed, and in 1995, one of the world’s longest-ever gondola lifts, Les 3 Vallées Express, was inaugurated up from the village of Orelle in the valley floor, a nearly 5km, 15-minute ascent. The lift was upgraded last winter with a new version shaving two minutes off the ascent time.
Les Trois Vallées, ThreeValleys or Les 3 Vallées?
The precise name preference for the region has evolved over the years. The earliest reports of its existence almost all have it as Les Trois Vallées, and that seems to have stuck right through to the early 2000s, but in more recent years, the first French word has become a universal numeral and the region refers to itself as Les 3 Vallées, the official website les3vallees.com
After doubling in size in the first half of its existence, Les 3 Vallées has spent the past few decades prioritising ever higher quality of experience. Having peaked at over 220 lifts, for example, that number has dropped by almost a third to less than 160. But that smaller number are bigger, faster, more comfortable lifts that can now carry nearly 300,000 skiers per hour between them. Everything else – hotels, bars, restaurants, off-slope experiences and facilities – is of a much higher range and standard than it was back in the day. But still, the key thing, that vast, snowy playground for skiers and boarders unlike anything else the world has seen, remains unchanged. What Charles Leocha wrote is as true today as it was would have been when Les 3 Vallées first began five decades ago: “On paper, the area is overwhelming, in person it’s mind-expanding.”
AttentionDraw to Canada
s Second Biggest Ski Area
When it comes to ski holidays in Canada, the same old names keep coming up, but one resort has crept under the radar a little, quietly growing to become the country’s second largest in terms of skiable terrain.
Sun Peaks in British Columbia likes to keep things low key, despite its incredible 4,270 acres of terrain spread across three mountains, surrounding the pretty pedestrianised alpine village at its heart, this is no ‘mega resort.’
Instead the emphasis has always been on the community feel here, both for year round residents and everyone who visits, and is quickly welcomed like a local.
Sun Peaks has been designed and built from the start with skiers in mind. The compact ski-through village is home to great restaurants, authentic coffeeshops and friendly bars, as well as a selection of shops and plenty of ski-in, ski-out accommodation. The vast amount of terrain here means you’ll find
the slopes quiet when they’re at their busiest and pretty empty the rest of the time. There’s rarely a wait to board a lift, so you can spend more time actually skiing.
There’s every kind of terrain here - wide novice trails, long corduroy-smooth cruisers, steep and deep, glade zones and powder stashes. At the top of every lift there’s always a choice of terrain for different abilities so mixed groups can take different lines if they like and meet up at the bottom. It’s possible to ski all three areas in one day or just focus on one mountain at a time, the choice is yours, but with 138 runs to choose from it’s going to take a while whichever way you cut it. Complimentary Mountain Hosts are on hand to show you the best runs of the day and you can also sign up for lessons with the excellent ski school if you wish. There’s also a great slope side nursery for the youngest kids. Sun Peaks has a great natural snowfall record and is one of the first in BC to open for the season each November. It averages six metres (20 feet) of light, dry, powder snowfall annually.
The relaxed, family-friendly ambience of Sun Peaks continues off the mountain with lots of winter activities and events beyond skiing offered, both on and off the slopes. There are 34km of groomed and set Nordic tracks if you fancy some cross-country skiing through the forest, or if you’d rather be pulled along rather than having to push yourself with ski sticks, there’s a great dog team ready to take you on a ride. Enjoy snowmobiling or a sleigh ride and new this winter is the exciting discipline of axe throwing! Sun Peaks keeps the focus on value for money and convenience. The après ski scene is relaxed and with your slope side accommodation, everything is within a short walk from your door. There’s a good choice of bars and restaurants, offering a selection of cuisines, from burgers and pasta to sushi and the Canadian classic ‘Poutine’.
Sun Peaks is easy to reach too, just 45 minutes transfer from Kamloops Airport, reached via Vancouver or Calgary. Just don’t tell anyone, let’s keep those slopes beautifully quiet so we keep Canada’s second biggest ski area to ourselves.
SAUDI’S BID TO HOST ASIAN WINTER GAMES AT UNBUILT SKI AREA
Saudi Arabia has submitted a bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at a ski area it plans to build in the Sarawat Mountains, about 50km east of the Red Sea coast. However, work on the ski area has not yet commenced.
Trojena Sports City has been promoted as an “all year ski village”, but it remains unclear how this will be achieved. The Sarawat Mountains, which peak at 3,666m over the border in Yemen, are a little cooler than the surrounding area and occasionally see a dusting of snow in winter, but it seems too warm for conventional snowmaking. Promotional videos for the project, which appear to show animations of skiers skiing uphill into a blizzard, have not helped shed any light on what’s planned.
The ski area is part of the massive, futuristic $500 billion (around £486.54 billion) carbon-neutral NEOM mega-city project, the brainchild of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, due to open in 2025, although media report there’s been little construction so far.
FRENCH RESORT MOVES TO QUASH LIFT FEARS
There have been a number of reports recently that ski areas might either be required to limit/stop using electricity as part of a kind of rationing to beat supply limitations caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or that the high cost of energy will close ski resorts down unless they dramatically increase lift pass prices.
One French media report focused on the SATA group, which runs the lifts at Alpe d’Huez and Les 2 Alpes with company bosses telling French media they currently faced a 10-fold energy cost increase from about €2 to 20 million (around £1.79 to 17.90 million) for the season.
The ski lift operators are clearly aiming to put pressure on governments to help, but the publicity of the issues has made some skiers nervous.
Now SATA’s boss, Fabrice Boutet, has stressed resorts will stay open and lifts run.
“I would like to reassure you that it is out of the question that our resorts will close during the season; they will stay open,” he said.
JOIN THE “SHEPHERDESS OF THE STARS” ON A FRENCH CHAIRLIFT
The ski resort of Le Collet d’Allevard, located in the Isère region of France but little known to the UK market, is a good choice for skiers who like to get active at night, not just in the après-ski scene.
Firstly, Le Collet offers one of the largest night ski areas in Europe, having developed a vast network of floodlit runs over the years. Nowadays, 10 pistes with a total of 15km of slopes are floodlit with new, energy-efficient LED spotlights. They are open every Friday from 8pm to 10.30pm and on Tuesdays too during the winter holidays. You can ski from the top of the resort at 2,100m via the Claran chairlift down 700 vertical metres to the bottom of the station at 1,400m and the base of the Tufs chairlift.
You can also use the chairlifts for night-time stargazing with the “shepherdess of the stars”, Nadège, who shares her passion for astronomy with families. Jump on the Claran chairlift up to 2,100m and far from any light pollution, for a 90-minute telescope viewing under the star-strewn sky.
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2022/23 SEASON PREVIEW
The new ski season is coming up fast, and ski resorts, tour operators and all of us skiers and snowboarders are hoping we’ll finally get a normal one with plenty of snowfall and no lockdowns or other travel restrictions. We’re keeping everything crossed.VLAD CHEȚAN
But what’s new and what’s different? Here’s a quick lowdown on some things to be aware of for the upcoming 2022/23 season.
The chalet market has got quite complicated after it was hit first by EU employment law changes making it harder to work long hours, then by Brexit making it impossible for Brits to work all season, and then the pandemic making the idea of a mixed group of people eating together less appealing. The result is that the number of companies offering a complete catered chalet holiday
package has dropped considerably and lots of variations are on offer this winter to get around the high cost and/or postBrexit chalet staff working restrictions.
These include Ski France offering “contactless catering” where you arrive to find your fridges and cupboards stocked with ready-to-cook meals and drinks but no in-house staff. The team are in resort, though, so available if needed, and they pop in midweek to resupply and do a clean.
Many companies are offering the choice of having traditional catered chalets if you can afford it or the option of self-catering, and a lot also offer full flexibility so that you can selfcater some days and have food delivered or prepared in your chalet on others.
CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay) fall on Saturdays at the end of 2022, which is also the day when most of us go skiing or return home. The consequence is, tour operators say, that prices are lower than usual for these two weeks for those prepared to travel on these days. Other companies are switching their departure days away from weekends, which means some interesting five-night options emerge as they go from midweek back to weekend departures after New Year.
“Both Christmas and New Year are very busy, partly because we chose Tuesday departures as nobody wants to travel on the big days, whatever some other operators may
return earlier than usual, on 3 January, so it’s not possible to get the full New Year week in. Some families can, however, squeeze in an early pre-Christmas week at the other end of the holidays.
As we go to print it has just been announced that we’ll be able to travel to Japan again this winter to go skiing and boarding for the first time in three years (see our separate news story on this). The country’s ski slopes have been open to locals throughout the pandemic; it’s just that like New Zealand in 2020 and ‘21, no one has been able to get in.
There are mixed messages as to which countries are rising in popularity and which are falling for skiers this winter. Canada, Finland, Italy and Switzerland have all been named
or the Spanish Pyrenees, was still checking vaccination status and requiring recent negative test results for the unvaccinated for non-EU citizens like Brits. The next renewal date for these rules was late November so they may go there too before the season starts. The US was still banning unvaccinated non-US citizens from entering, and Canada was doing some random testing of arrivals, although everyone could still enter. As mentioned above, Japan’s entry rules appear to be easing.
In previous winters we were warned that there were lots of people with holidays held over from the previous winter (and sometimes the one before that!) due to lockdown which meant, we were told, that combined with pent-up demand availability would be limited. No one seems to be saying that this winter, though. One operator said that about 5% of their bookings were in that category – people who had booked holidays to France over Christmas/New Year last winter before it closed its borders to Brits for a month as the latest variant of the virus back then surged here.
claim,” says Nick Morgan, boss of Le Ski, adding, “We revert to Sundays with a fiveday short break 3–8 January that is almost sold out too.”
The UK’s largest operator, Crystal, say they are offering departures to Andorra and Italy on a Tuesday in December, with a five-day break possible in January as they too revert to weekend flights.
Another factor pushing down prices over New Year, usually one of the most expensive times of the year, is that many schools
by different holiday companies. Switzerland has apparently done well as it is the most trusted of the big four Alpine nations to actually stay open to Brits, and Canada is seen as benefitting from pent-up demand with 2022/23 hopefully the first full season here since 2018/19. Inghams say their Canadian bookings have almost doubled compared to the last prepandemic winter, but others say they have not seen such dramatic growth in interest.
COVID CONCERNS LINGER
It would not be wise to say that Covid is definitely behind us, but at the time of writing in late September travel was open and unrestricted to most destinations in Europe. Only Spain, for access to ski areas in Andorra
The worst of the pandemic is, hopefully, behind us, but it seems the aftershocks will continue for some time with travel systems still not running as smoothly as we’d like and other factors like the weak pound and high energy costs across Europe set to challenge us this winter.
But we skiers and snowboarders always seem to find a way to get on the slopes unless borders are completely closed and the lifts shut down (and sometimes even then), so, hopefully again, winter 2022/23 will be a piece of cake compared to recent seasons.
MODERN LUXURY MEETS ALPINE COSINESS IN ZERMATT
Swiss skiing is famous for its highquality and seamless service, but many ski area hotels are of the longestablished “classic” variety rather than something created especially for the 21st-century skier and snowboarder.
So visitors to Zermatt quickly realise there’s a hotel that’s different, with a cool design merging lifestyle and architecture with nature, when they first see the Hotel Matterhorn FOCUS … either as a guest or just passing by on their way to or from the slopes, looking enviously in.
The 4★ Superior Hotel offers modern luxury while still presenting that touch of Alpine cosiness we all love on our ski holidays. What’s more, it has been designed to present spectacular views of what many consider the planet’s most remarkable mountain, the Matterhorn. It’s also in the perfect location for skiers, one of the best in the skiing world, right by the “Matterhorn glacier paradise” valley station, where lifts are ready to
whisk you up to the year-round ski area, linked across the border to the slopes of Cervinia in Italy.
Hotel guests enjoy an indulgent balanced breakfast to fuel up for the day. Once back in the embrace of the hotel, the luxurious spa area boasts warm loungers, a sauna, a steam bath and a heated indoor swimming pool with an outdoor hot tub to fully relax in.
Everything in the hotel has been shaped by the creative design of renowned Zermatt-based architect Heinz Julen. Not just the building itself either, but the 30 individually furnished suites, family rooms and doubles, as well as the public areas of the hotel, saw Heinz Julen design interior fittings like sofas, lighting, beds and other furniture. Children up to nine years of age can stay free of charge in their parent’s room. The hotel’s cosy lounge has a warm fire, and if you ever get weary of looking at those stunning Matterhorn views (unlikely), or just want to share them digitally, the fast free wi-fi is ready when you are. In the meantime perhaps an afternoon tea or straight to an aperitif?
Given the superb location, stunning design, fabulous mountain views, that amazing spa and luxurious individually styled rooms, it’s no surprise that the Matterhorn FOCUS has quickly established itself as one of the ski world’s great hotels and that many guests return year after year to enjoy its modern luxury with warm Alpine hospitality.
FAMOUS SNOWBOARD FROM BOND MOVIE IN MUSEUM
The Bond movie franchise has provided many memory moments in skiing, but one scene that is regarded as particularly significant in snowsports was in 1985’s A View to a Kill when Moore apparently takes one of the front sleds on a destroyed snowmobile and starts to snowboard on
it. The scene is popularly regarded as the first-time snowboarding appeared in a mainstream film and credited with helping to popularise the then-young sport. The person stunt doubling for Roger Moore was a very famous name in the early decades of snowboarding, the late Tom Sims.
Sims’ family donated the board recently to the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail, who are running an exhibition focused on the snowboarding pioneer. Sims had been snowboarding world champion in 1983 and set up his own snowboard manufacturing company. He died in 2012.
SKI AND SNOWBOARD CROSS WORLD CUP STARTS IN OCTOBER
The glacier at Les 2 Alpes in France has got the goahead to stage the opening stage of the FIS Ski and Snowboard Cross 2022/23 World Cup Tour on their glacier this October.
“Ski Cross is a recent discipline in ski racing. It’s a timed race event on a course which includes big-air jumps and high-banked. There are two highlights in the race. The first round in which each skier’s ride downhill is timed. Only the 32 fastest men or the 16 fastest women qualify for the finals. Then, the finals, where four skiers compete in each race, of which the first two qualify for the next race,” explained Sylvain Miaillier, coach of the French team and former racer.
The Snowboard Cross World Cup including test event, training, qualification and finale will take place between 26 and 29 October; then from 2 to 5 November the Ski Cross World Cup, also including test, training, qualification and finale, will be staged. The glacier is also open to the public around these dates.
NEW BLACK RUN IN THE SWISS ALPS TO HAVE 265M TUNNEL
A new ski run with over 1,000m of vertical and pitches of up to 42° is set to open at the Glacier 3000 ski area near Les Diablerets and Gstaad this winter.
But what makes the 3km-long run even more exciting is that the centre are having to bore a 265m-long tunnel through a mountain to connect its upper and lower sections.
The new run, into what the resorts describes as the “mythical” Pierres Pointes sector, begins from Cabane (2,525m) and passes through the 265m-long tunnel before emerging on the other side of the mountain and plunging straight into its steepest section.
Most of the huge 1,000m+ vertical is then continued down to the treeline, ending in the valley below from where a cable car ascends back up to Cabane. The run is expected to open this December.
8 Catered Chalets
• Arrive Monday
REPLICA “THE THINKER” STATUE INSTALLED AT SKI AREA
A replica of the Rodin sculpture “The Thinker” was installed at the New Zealand ski area of Mt Hutt with the intention of making skiers and boarders think safety when making decisions about their day on the slopes. The idea has come from an organisation known as ACC, New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme, who say that injuries to skiers and snowboarders cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each winter.
Over the five seasons to 2021, ACC report it looked after a total of 48,000 skiers and a further 32,000 snowboarders, paying compensation of NZ$32 million (around £16.75 million) last year alone. But it says research found that 90% of injuries are not random events, but predictable and therefore preventable.
Besides the statue itself, the safety bars on Mt Hutt’s chairlifts carry the message, “Have a hmmm ...” with the intention of encouraging anyone who is heading to the mountain to take time to assess the risk, then make smart choices that keep them injury-free and having fun.
MORE THIS WINTER
Maximise your time on the slopes this winter!
Couples, friends and groups
Ski on your travel daysJOE DESOUSA
The past few seasons have seen a focus on just keeping holidays going to the main ski destinations, but 2022/23 looks set to see a return of a wider choice of ski areas to ponder over, including some never offered by tour operators before, or at least not recently.
Among these is Iso-Syöte, one of Finland’s leading ski resorts but less well known to the international market. It was offered by one of the big ski tour operators about a decade ago when the choice of destinations in Finland from the UK briefly hit double figures but has been out of favour since, until now. Iso-Syöte sits adjacent to the Syöte National Park, approximately 150km from the Arctic Circle, and is located in the Finnish region that gets the most snow. The centre has 17 pistes – linked by nine lifts – catering for all abilities. There are also three snowparks for freestyle skiers and snowboarders, a parents-and-children section, and a mogul field.
Iso-Syöte has a reputation for quiet ski slopes, but thanks to their northerly latitude normally excellent snow conditions due to typically well below freezing winter temperatures. All importantly for Northern Lights hunters, there’s little or no light pollution, upping your chance of seeing the spectacular aurora borealis.
That’s the key factor for the company that’s rediscovered it, The Aurora Zone, a tour operator which specialises in taking people to see the Northern Lights.
So after exploring the pristine runs during the day you can go hunting for the Northern Lights in the evening with an expert guide, provided as part of the holiday by The Aurora Zone. As darkness descends, head into Syöte National Park with snowshoes, and keep an eye out for the aurora. A second aurora quest during the stay switches from snowshoes to snowmobiles.
When not skiing or aurora hunting, guests can go dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing for giant spider crabs on frozen lakes, snowshoeing or join in with a reindeer safari.
A four-night Downhill Skiing and Aurora Adventure to Iso-Syöte, departing between 8 January 2023 and 23 March 2023, costs from £1,385pp (two sharing) and includes return flights (London to Rovaniemi), return transfers, accommodation at KIDE Hotel, four breakfasts, and four dinners, plus a two-day lift pass to Iso-Syöte, two days of ski/snowboard hire, two aurora hunts and the services of an expert English-speaking guide throughout as well as 24/7 in-destination support.
Regional departures are available on request, and Aurora Zone are also offering similar packages to another Finnish ski resort, Saariselkä, a destination already included on the programmes of big operators Crystal and Inghams this winter.
WORLD’S LARGEST SKI RESORT OPERATOR TO LIMIT SKIER NUMBERS
Vail Resorts, which operates more than 40 ski areas in the USA, Australia, Canada and now Andermatt in Switzerland too, say they’ll be limiting the number of people allowed on the slopes at each of their North American resorts every day of the coming ski season. “Lift tickets will be limited every day, across every resort, during the 2022/23 season in order to preserve the guest experience at each resort,” a company spokesperson explained.
Limiting guest numbers is not new; resorts like Lech in Austria have done so for decades to preserve the quality of the experience, while all ski areas have safety limits on skier numbers too.
“Guests planning to visit this winter – whether one day or every day – are encouraged to purchase their lift access in advance – whether it is a lift ticket, Epic Day Pass or season pass,” the Vail Resorts statement continues, adding, “Availability of lift tickets will be visible on resort websites in the coming weeks. If tickets are sold out online, guests will not be able to purchase them at ticket windows.”
A “NEW” BLACK RUN IN LES 3 VALLEES
A new black run has been created on the slope of an old one at Méribel-Mottaret in Les 3 Vallées.
The run, christened L’Ibex, is a steep and completely natural slope, 600m long but descending 300 vertical metres in that distance.
“Older skiers will remember this piste; the former black piste under the old Plattières 3 gondola is back!” a spokesperson for the area revealed. Accessed from the top of the new Bouquetin chairlift, at 2,700m above sea level, it’s possible to watch those heading down the slope before you as you arrive on the fast lift.
SWISS SKI REGION INCLUDES “EAGLE FLIGHT” ON LIFT PASS
Switzerland’s spectacular Jungfrau ski region is tweaking its regional lift pass, The Jungfrau Winter Sport Pass, this winter. For 2022/23 the old divisions into sub-regions are gone, and Grindelwald-Wengen and the Mürren-Schilthorn are included in the one pass.
The lift company is also including free descents on its adrenaline-fuelled zip lines on First Mountain, the First Flyer and First Glider, for pass holders. With speeds up to 85kph and spectacular views of the Eiger, these 800m zip lines can now be experienced on a first-come, first-served basis by anyone with a lift ticket.
3 X M
“This is one of our ‘Vertical Experience’ pistes where you can challenge yourself on a steep couloir which has, of course, been avalanchecontrolled,” the spokesperson added.
The region hopes that the run will be added to the list of must-ski steeps for expert skiers in the world’s biggest ski region, alongside existing descents like Couloir Tournier or the Grand Couloir at Saulire for even more of an adrenaline rush.
The Eiger Express cable car takes skiers and snowboarders onto the slopes and connects visitors to the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe station with improved speed, shaving up to 47 minutes off the old journey time. The new Männlichen Gondola from the same starting point improves the efficiency to the main ski area between Grindelwald and Wengen. This is the most modern tri-cable car in the world and has revolutionised the skiing area of Grindelwald.
Back in the day, rail was the main way to reach ski resorts, and with the climate emergency an omnipresent concern, more skiers are going back to using train travel to reach their resort.
Today the only direct service to the Alps from the UK is currently a charter train, the Travelski Express, between London and the French Alps. It sells highvalue packages including transfers, accommodation and lift passes to top French resorts, but won’t sell you a train ticket on its own.
But ski resorts all over the Alps can easily be reached by regular train
services with just one or two changes. Daniel Elkan of SnowCarbon.co.uk highlights some of the best routes to the slopes.
Eurostar, Ice + Nightjet
The name sounds like an overnight aeroplane, but Nightjet is actually a network of sleeper trains, accessing destinations all over Europe, including resorts in Austria’s Tirol region. The service is run by the Austrian national rail operator, OBB, and there is a choice of six-, four- and three-berth couchettes as well as a light breakfast delivered to your cabin.
Travelling from the UK, take a Eurostar
to Brussels. There, your ICE train departs from the adjacent platform and speeds you to Cologne. If you haven’t already enjoyed a meal in the restaurant carriage of the ICE, there’s time for dinner or beers at the Gaffel am Dom brewhouse and restaurant, just opposite the station and cathedral, before you head overnight to your resort.
Potential ski trips based on taking the 15:04 Eurostar, changing at Brussels to an ICE and at Cologne to the Nightjet.
Kirchberg (Kitzbühel ski region): You’ll arrive at Wörgl at 08:36 from where you take the local train to Kirchberg station, which is in the village.
Söll (SkiWelt ski region): You’ll arrive at Kufstein at 08:26 from where it’s a 20-minute bus or taxi ride.
Alpbach (Ski Juwel region): You’ll arrive at Jenbach at 08:53 from where it’s a 20-minute transfer by bus or taxi.
Eurostar + T GV
The combination of Eurostar to Paris and TGV train from there means a vast range of ski resorts are easily accessed by high-speed journeys, in comfort – with a café bar on board each train too. As well as to all parts of the French Alps, TGVs can whisk you to a few Italian resorts and – combined with onward
RAIL PLANNING AND BOOKING
The Rail Map of Europe (£12 from europeanrailtimetable.eu) is great for planning rail journeys.
Rail booking agents such as The Travel Bureau (rail-travel.co.uk/; 01902 326 662) and Trainseurope (trainseurope.co.uk; 01354 660222) can help you book any rail journey.
You can book online with online ticket agents such as Rail Europe (raileurope.co.uk) and Trainline (trainline.com).
Travelski Express rail-ski packages are booked directly with Travelski (uk.travelski.com/travelski-express).
trains – some Swiss and Austrian resorts too. Services run every day of the week, often with several departures per day.
While you’ll need to switch stations in Paris (between Gare du Nord where your Eurostar arrives and Gare de Lyon where TGVs depart), Alpine transfer company Ski Lifts offers a platform-toplatform taxi service, so there’s no need to haul your cases or skis across the Metro — unless you want the exercise.
Example ski trips based on departing London on the 09:31 Eurostar and changing stations in Paris:
Morzine (Portes de Soleil ski region): You’ll take a TGV from Paris and then
TER train from Bellegarde, arriving at Cluses at 18:52. From there it’s 40 minutes by bus or taxi.
Sauze d’Oulx (Milky Way Ski Region): You’ll take a TGV from Paris arriving at Oulx at 19:23. From there it’s 15 minutes by bus or taxi.
Alpe d’Huez (Les Grandes Rousses ski area): You’ll take a TGV from Paris arriving at Grenoble at 17:46. From there it’s 50 minutes by bus or taxi.
The Tarentaise Region Of France
If you’re happy to buy a complete ski holiday package as you would a ski
holiday by air, the simplest way to the slopes by train is the Travelski Express. This direct service means you can step on board, relax and enjoy the scenery glide by and eight hours later alight at the foot of the mountains, with a coach or minivan waiting to take you to your accommodation door.
That transfer, along with your train tickets, accommodation in resort and lift pass, is all included in the holiday price you pay – usually working out a lot less than buying each element separately.
The journey out is by day, the return overnight (carriages have seating only, no beds) – giving you an extra day’s skiing at the end of your holiday.
Example resorts and journeys by Travelski Express, all based on departing London St Pancras on the 08:20.
Les Menuires (Les 3 Vallées ski region): You’ll arrive at Moûtiers at 16:45. From there, it’s a 40-minute transfer provided by Travelski Express.
La Plagne (Paradiski ski region):
You’ll arrive at Bourg St Maurice at 17:23. From there, it’s a 25–40-minute transfer provided by Travelski Express.
Tignes (Tignes–Val d’Isère ski region):
You’ll arrive at Bourg St Maurice at 17:23. From there, it’s a 30–45-minute transfer.
Ski DESTINATION LIKE NO OTHER
Serre Chevalier Vallée Briançon is a destination like no other: it is the only place in France where a ski resort and a historic mountain town with a population of over 10,000 inhabitants are back-to-back. This means that there’s an incredibly wide variety of activities on offer, along with a unique heritage, spectacularly well-preserved landscapes and the best weather conditions.
With 250km of pistes and 410 hectares of groomed slopes, the Serre Chevalier Valley is one of the largest ski areas in France. The ski area got its name, more than 80 years ago, from a summit at 2,480m and has since grown to be one of the largest in France.
From Briançon to the top of the Galibier pass, the valley is 30km long and it passes through the three main villages of Saint Chaffrey, La Salle les Alpes and Le Monêtier les Bains, where the natural hot
springs are renowned for their healing powers, plus 11 unspoilt hamlets, with their chapels, churches and sundials, until it reaches the base of the Les Ecrins National Park.
The huge ski area includes a lot of high-altitude, snowsure terrain above the treeline. In fact, 80% of the pistes are above 2,000m in altitude, which guarantees quality snow all winter long. But there are also lots of beautiful long descents down into the forest. Numerous fun zones have been created on the slopes offering the chance to try different activities like a giant zipwire or mountain karting. After a busy day on the slopes, that feeling characterised as ‘la Dolce Vita’ in nearby Italy takes over the mountains of Serre Chevalier Vallée Briançon, and skiers can meet over drinks in one of the lounge bars, wine bars or cocktail bars of the valley, then move on to festivities till the wee small hours! There are art shows, theatre, cinemas, bowling and even a casino to visit.
The resort’s superb sunshine record, one of the best in the alps, helps with that feel-good, relaxed
atmosphere of the Southern Alps. Briançon is the highest town in France and its picturesque architecture and fortifications are UNESCO World Heritage site listed. Briançon has been a health resort since 1914 and a World Health Organizsation (WHO) classified “healthy city” since 2010, with a reputation for its pure clean air. Preserving this pristine environment for future generations is a major priority, and Serre Chevalier Vallée has become the first ski area in the world to produce its own electrical power, combining three renewable energy sources on site – solar and wind – and will cover 30% of its energy needs from on-site green power in 2023, with plans to keep growing this percentage towards 100% in the years ahead. Easy to reach, night trains run between Paris and Briançon every evening so you can wake up directly at the foot of the slopes. All of the sleeper carriages on this line were totally renovated earlier this year. Turin Airport is only 90 minutes away and connected by fast TGV trains to Oulx, followed by a shuttle bus to Serre Chevalier Vallée Briançon.
NEW UPHILL SKI TOURING ROUTE OPENS ABOVE LIVIGNO
A challenging new uphill route has been created from the high-altitude Italian ski resort of Livigno, climbing 1,000 vertical metres.
The new route in the Carosello 3000 area is completely off-piste, away from the groomed runs, initially ascending through
sections of forest with a steep climb, before reaching a wide backcountry area and continuing on up to the top of the mountain. Christened the Ski-Alp Track, the run begins from the flat area in between the Carosello 3000’s gondola station and Plaza Placheda. For the descent, the
resort recommends using terrain close to the track and asks tourers to note that all slopes close at 5pm. Freeriders should ensure they have backcountry training and carry an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel and that they check the avalanche bulletin before setting out.BY PATRICK THORNE
FINLAND’S “FIRST GLACIER” AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
A plan to create an artificial “glacier” at the leading Finnish ski resort of Levi is running “weeks ahead of schedule” the resort claims.
Levi announced earlier this year that they planned to “create a glacier” with the potential to offer snowsports yearround with a new high-speed chairlift, the
“Glacier Express”, next to the “glacier” on Levi’s Front Slope.
Creating the “glacier” is a development of the snow-farming technique in which ski areas stockpile the previous season’s snow under covers that insulate it from the summer heat, then spread it back out on
the slopes the following autumn. Rather than stockpile the snow, it will be laid in a permanent location on the front slope so it is permanently snow-covered. As part of the establishment of their “glacier” Levi say they have moved around 2,000 truckloads of soil to re-profile the slope.
TOP EURO RESORTS SWITCH GROOMERS TO BIOFUEL
The Compagnie des Alpes Group, Europe’s biggest ski areas operator, is stepping up its initiatives to fight climate change. The company, which runs the ski areas of Paradiski (La Plagne, Les Arcs), Tignes and Val d’Isère, much of Les 3 Vallées (Méribel and Les Menuires), Serre Chevalier, the Grand Massif (Flaine) and holds stakes in the ski areas of Megève, ChamonixMont-Blanc, Avoriaz, La Rosière and Valmorel committed last year to achieving Net Zero Carbon (NZC) by 2030.
Most of the company’s ski lifts already run on green electricity, but this winter their 130 piste bashers will all switch to synthetic biofuel HVO (vegetable oil hydrotreated water produced from waste).
“Grooming represents the primary remaining source of greenhouse gas emissions from the Group’s mountain activities. Reducing our consumption and getting out of fossil fuels on this item is therefore a priority subject for the CDA,” said Dominique Thillaud, Managing Director of Compagnie des Alpes. The fuel used is of 100% renewable origin and made from waste fats and used vegetable oils, and palm oil free. The diesel substitute reduces the CO2 and 65% fine particles emitted, and the move will mean a reduction of 9,900 tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year, equal to 72% of direct carbon emissions from mountain activities other than electricity.G
Albania, a country which hugs the Adriatic Coast across from Italy, sandwiched between Greece to the south and Montenegro to the north, is a country little known to most of us in Northern Europe.
Like its neighbours, it’s a country full of beautiful scenery and stunning mountain ranges, peaking with Mt Jezerca, at 2,693m in the Dinaric Alps and a little higher still with Mt Korabi (2,751m) in the Morava mountains. Like its neighbours again, it also usually gets plenty of winter snowfall, despite its southerly latitude. But are there any ski areas?
Part of the reason why it’s harder than it ought to be to find the answer to this is that Albania was Europe’s most secretive state for much of the latter half of the last century, with a hardliner communist dictatorship. Rumours of ski areas sometimes slipped out, but it was hard to discover if there was a ski lift and whether you could enter the country anyway. Thankfully, since the turn of the century, Albania has become a more normalised society. We now know there are a few rudimentary ski centres, but nothing as developed as the centres in neighbouring nations. The largest is still pretty small, Ski-Pista Bigëll, which has two lifts (one of them donated by Courchevel apparently),
serving about a mile of ski runs and less than 100m of vertical. It’s located in the far south of the country close to the Greek border (facebook.com/ SkiPistaBigell).
The ski resort Bigëll – Dardhë is located in Albania. For skiing and snowboarding, there are 1.3km of slopes available. Two lifts transport the guests. The wintersports area is situated between the elevations of 1,585m and 1,663m. But if you want a fast introduction to all that Albania’s mountains have to offer in winter, there’s now a heli-ski operation, simply known as Heliski Albania (heliskialbania.com).
“Heli-skiing in Albania is a really unique experience, with some breathtaking
views of a wild, rugged mountain range that few have had the chance to ski in. From the rolling alpine bowls to the steep chutes, there’s something to offer skiers of any type. The deep coastal snowpack resembles what you might find in BC or along the west coast of the USA, creating pillows and spines not usually seen in most of Europe,” a Heliski Albania spokesperson enthused. The company has access to a remarkable 1,500km2 of mountains, with nine different zones. The Prokletije area, a subrange of the 1,000km-long Dinaric Alps, has a steep topography and glacial features with vertical descents of up to 1,800m possible in the Valbona, Grbaja and Ropojani and Cijevna Valley.
SOME SKI DESTINATIONS FOUND TO BE CHEAPER FOR BRITS
The news has been full of bad news stories on government policy leading to a drop in the value of the pound.
In fact, the fall against most major European ski nations has been quite small as all are suffering against the mighty US dollar, but
research by travel money specialists No1 Currency has found eight destinations worldwide which have actually performed even worse than the pound over the last year, meaning your money goes further there this winter.
“Thankfully, there are still some countries
where your money goes much further this year than last,” said Simon Phillips, Managing Director at No1 Currency. The pound is up 4% against the Swedish krona and by 9% against the Japanese yen. The biggest leap though is in Turkey where the pound buys 76% more.
LES ARCS IMPROVES SLOPE ACCESS
To improve access to the ski slopes from Arc 1800, this winter there will be new escalators and a lift to take skiers quickly and easily to the bottom of Transarc gondola (itself due to see a big upgrade by the 2024/25 season). A new reception, advice and sales area will also be opening at the bottom of the slopes this winter with a display about the importance of the water cycle.
DECADE SINCE SHEFFIELD SKI VILLAGE DESTROYED
It’s 10 years since Sheffield Ski Village, which delivered a number of Team GB’s greatest ski and snowboard stars, was progressively destroyed in more than 50 arson attacks over four years, which began in 2012. The centre, which claimed to have Europe’s largest network of dry ski slopes, was less than 25 years old.
ASPEN SNOWMASS REVEALS NEW BUTTERMILK BASE
New this season, the Buttermilk base at Aspen Snowmass will be transformed complete with a new 2,740+m2 fully electric skier services building, a renovated and rebranded Buttermilk Mountain Lodge restaurant and an expanded bar and outdoor patio, newly named The Backyard. The aim is to create a more seamless experience for skiers heading onto the mountain.
UNDER-8S SKI FREE AT TIGNES & VAL D’ISERE
SLOPESIDE APARTMENTS ON SALE LESS THAN HALF AN HOUR NORTH OF LONDON
In the property world, Welwyn Garden City has been described as “… quickly becoming a hotspot for those wanting to be within touching distance of London but surrounded by acres of green space.” It’s also home to the Gosling Ski Centre, one of the UK’s leading dry ski slopes, and
now shared-ownership property business
SO Resi’s have launched a development of new one-, two- and three-bedroom homes through shared ownership next to the ski centre, with prices starting from £68,750 for a 25% share.
Along with the dry ski slope, there’s
also a cycling velodrome, golf driving range and athletics track, alongside two large lakes providing opportunities for water sports next to the development in the 51-hectare Gosling Park, which is a 29-minute train journey from London King’s Cross.
Most French resorts ask children to pay for lift passes from age 4 and 5, and many ask they pay the full adult price from age 12 or 13 (family discounts may be available). Val d’Isère and Tignes are making a move to make skiing more affordable for families with younger children this winter offering free passes to children aged 7 or younger.
THE CENTURY IN SKIINGBY PATRICK THORNE
100 YEARS AGO
The famous French ski resort of Megève was established in the early 1920s. The ancient village was transformed into a ski resort by the Rothschild dynasty with Baroness Noémie de Rothschild opening the first purpose-built French ski resort, the Hôtel du Mont d’Arbois, in 1921. In 1923 the Megève Sports Club was inaugurated, which later saw great champion Emile Allais join.
50 YEARS AGO
The 1972 Winter Olympics took place in Sapporo, Japan. Six nations won medals in alpine skiing with Switzerland leading the medal table winning a third of them, including three gold, two of which went to Marie-Theres Nadig and the men’s downhill win to Bernhard Russi, who has designed many Olympic downhill courses since.
25 YEARS AGO
A new speed skiing world record was set at Vars in France. Frenchman Philippe Billy became the fastest man on earth, without motorised propulsion, reaching 243kph on the Chabrières track. A year before, he had become the first person to ski in excess of 230kph. His record held for almost a decade.
10 YEARS AGO
The 2012 Crystal Ski Industry Report reported that the decline in the number of British skiers heading to the slopes that had begun after the financial crash of 2008 had almost finished. After dropping nearly 30% from a high of just under 1.1 million in 2007/08, the fall was less than 2% on the previous winter to 895,000. France was the most popular destination with 34.8% of the market.
FAMOUS COMEDY FESTIVAL MOVES TO THE ALPS
The famous Montreux Comedy Festival will take up residence in the French ski resort of Les Gets from 14 to 21 January 2023.
It joins the existing Altitude Comedy Festival that’s staged each spring in Mayrhofen to increase the options for
skiers and boarders who enjoy a bit of après live comedy in the mountains.
Les Gets promises “a crazy week of riotous laughter (with) top performers from the French and British stand-up scene”, and with both French and English acts on separate days, “there will be something to
make everyone laugh”. The French-speaking performances will be on the 17th/18th and English-speaking on the 19th/20th in the Salle de la Colombière with Tom Houghton headlining. There will also be a fringe festival in venues around Les Gets. MontreuxComedyfaitduski.com
WORLD’S FIFTH-HIGHEST PEAK SKIED
American ski-mountaineer Adrian Ballinger has completed the first ski descent from the summit of Makālu, the fifth-highest mountain in the world at 8,485m. It was Ballinger’s third attempt to ski the mountain, sometimes known as “Big Black”, after unsuccessful attempts in 2012 and 2015.
The peak is one of the world’s 14 “eightthousanders” – mountains that are more than 8,000m in height above sea level and considered to be sufficiently independent from neighbouring peaks. In Makālu’s case, that’s 19km southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet.
After a 10-minute rest at the summit, Ballinger climbed back down 15m of an exposed ridge before clipping on his skis to start his descent in whiteout conditions, which ultimately totalled around 2,500 vertical metres from the summit, with some sections of sheer cliff face needing to be rappelled down.
ENJOY A CONTACTLESS CATERED CHALET THIS WINTER
In the eternal battle to enjoy a high-quality ski holiday but at a price that doesn’t break the bank, Ski France has hit on the winning idea of the contactless chalet.
The aim is to provide the ease of a hotel, but with meals already waiting for you to heat up. In fact, your contactless chalet awaits with all the food and wine you’ll need included for your stay. As this is all delivered at very affordable prices, it’s much easier to budget ahead on your holiday costs.
You will arrive at your Ski France chalet to find delicious food in the fridge, chilled beer or wine ready to drink, a supply of firewood and newly made beds. Dinner, prepared by our own chefs and local Savoyard
delicatessens, is made up of dishes ready to pop in the oven or heat on the stove, fresh salad ingredients to put together and tasty desserts to enjoy.
“We believe that with the rising costs of living and the pinch people are feeling because of this, contactless catering should provide an excellent alternative to classic catered chalets, as you can enjoy beautiful properties at a more affordable price tag, but still with the great food and drink all included in the cost,” a Ski France spokesperson explained.
While Ski France’s staff are not actually in your chalet during your stay, they are in resort with you and easy to reach with a quick call to answer any questions and help whenever needed. Halfway through the week, the chalet team will clean
your accommodation from top to bottom, replace towels and re-stock the fridge and cupboards with more goodies.
In addition to food, skis or snowboards can be reserved at the local hire shop, and lift passes can be booked as required.
Ski France has been in business for more than 30 years and has grown to offer 58 properties, including selfcatering apartments and hotels, in more than 20 mountain destinations across France.
The company’s contactless chalets are located in Courchevel, Tignes, Méribel, La Tania and La Plagne, with five new contactless chalets added this year in Alpe d’Huez and Val d’Isère. skifrance-classic.co.uk 0203 475 4756
There’s always something new to try on the slopes somewhere each winter, and this year we have the “Fat Trott” scooter.
Advances in electric motor power have been behind a lot of new devices unveiled for over-snow travel and fun in recent winters, and this all-terrain electric vehicle is in the same vein.
“With little effort, noise free and zero pollution, the Fat Trott is an activity that anyone can try,” its backers enthuse.
It’s available to snow-test at the resort of Auris-en-Oisans, part of the giant Alpe d’Huez ski region in the southern French Alps.
Visitors can test drive a “Fat Trott” on the village’s Piégut
forest trail, and for added novelty “Ze Trott” has developed a new special kind of biathlon combining an electric Fat Trott on snow and shooting with a laser rifle. Different options are available, including shooting with an optical camera rifle. The activity costs from €30 (around £27) per person per hour.
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BlackIbexKAUNERTAL I AUSTRIA Whatmaybetheworld’ssteepest groomedskirun,withanaveragepitchof41.3° (87.85%gradient),openedattheAustrianglacier skiareaofKaunertalon22February2022,just weeksbeforethepandemicclosedeverything.
Mostofthemyoucanprettymuchresolve,after afewroundsobviously,withhardstatsyoucan findonyourphones.
True,ifwe’retalking“biggestareaintheworld”, therearedifferentwaysofmeasuring,and differentrulesyoumightapplytoyourselection whichcouldchangetherunningorder,butstill, youcanusuallycreatesomeconsensussothat everyonesleepssoundly.
Butthesteepestslopeismoredifficultto pindown.Firstly,arewetalkinggroomed, markedrunsoranydescent?Ifthelatter,do weincludeaverticalcliffjumporperhapseven anoverhangsothegradientisinvertedbelow you?Probablynotoritgetsabitsilly.That’sthe separate“What’sthebiggest-evercliffjump?” debateafterall(althoughifwe’regoingwithout aparachute,I’llgoforthelateJamiePierre’s 78mdropatGrandTargheeinWyomingin 2006).
Similarly,TortinatVerbierisusuallyavastmogul fieldthatgetstougherandsteeperasyoudescend. Ofcourse,slopeconditions–freshgrippysnow orsheetice–areabigfactorinhoweasyitisto skiwhateverthegradient.Anyonewhohastried skiingthesteepstartofaniced-upWorldCup downhillrun,orjusttryingtostanduponone, knowsthat.TheStreifcourseforKitzbühel’sannual Hahnenkammracesisagoodexampleofthat: “Afterhurtlingdownthe160m-longand 51%gradient“Starthang”,racersreachthe “Mausefalle”inonly8.5seconds.Thisis followedbythefirstjump,whichisalsothe longest.Athletesflydistancesofupto80mover thesteepestsectionoftheStreif,whichhasan 85%gradientandwherespeedsaccelerateup to110/120kph.Beforeenteringthe“Steilhang”, the“Karussell”determinestoalargeextent betweenvictoryanddefeat.Here,athletesare forcedtoendurecentrifugalforcesof3.1g,”a Hahnenkammspokespersonexplained. Otherclassicracecourseswithparticularlysteep sectionsincludetheKandaharatGarmischin Germanywithamaximum92%pitch,andthe LauberhornatWengen,whichreaches85%.
MAYRHOFEN I AUSTRIA
Withits78%gradient(37.95°),thishas successfullyembeddeditselfinpopularculture asAustria’s/Europe’s/theworld’ssteepest groomedslope,abitlikealotofpeoplestill thinkSkiDubaiisthebiggestindoorsnow centreintheworldalthoughtherearenow aboutadozenbigger.Opinion,asinso manythings,isdividedastohowtough theslopeistoski.
OthersteepAustrianslopeswith intimidatingtitlesincludetheDiabolo skiareainMontafon,whichhasa 70%slope,andBlackMambaat theKitzsteinhornglacier,which pitchesat63%.
Next,wehavethe(surmountablebutannoying) issuethatsomeslopesarenamedwitha percentagegradient–usuallyanimpressivesoundingstatinthehigh70sor80s%,othersin degrees,whichworksoutatalessimpressivesoundingnumberabouthalfthatofthe percentage,butoftenassteeporsteeperthan thebiggernumber%.Forty-fivedegreesequals a100%maximumgradient.
LaFaceatVal-d’Isèreispronetogettingicyand crowded,andatitssteepestpointisanalarming 35.4°(71%),butoverallitsaveragepitchisa moremanageable17.8°(32.1%).
Soafterallthatpreambleandhavinggotallmy excusesoutofthewayinadvance,whichARE thesteepestslopes(fromtoptobottom)?Well, annoyinglythejuryisstilloutreally,buthereare threeofthetopcandidates:
Anotherbigareafordisagreementis,arewe talkingabouttheaveragegradientoftheentire slopeorthesteepestsection?
ThestartofthenewWorldCupdownhillcourse atStMoritz,whichopenedin2003,forexample, andhasthedescriptivename“FreeFall”is45 degrees(100%),butitsaveragegradient,like allrunswithverysteepsections,ismuchless steep.Similarly,theGrandCouloiraboveCourchevel oftenmakesthesteepestrunlistsonline,thanks toits88%maximumgradient.
NOTCH, VERMONT I USA There’sALOTofdisagreementastothe steepestslopeinNorthAmerica,butmanyof thecandidatesputforwardbytheirsupporters havesolidgradientdatatobacktheclaims up.TheungroomedBlackHoleisagladed runwitha53°(133%)pitchandscatteredwith bumps,treesandrockyoutcrops.It’sclaimed that“Skiingdownthisrunmaygiveyouasimilar feelingofbeingsuckedintoaBlackHole.” Youcouldofcoursealsobuildacasefor Corbet’sCouloiratJacksonHole(among plentyofothers),commencingasitdoes witha6mfreefallontoa60°slope.But aswithmany,itdoesgetaloteasier afterthatstart(whichhastheadded intimidationwehaven’tmentioned yet–loadsofpeoplewatching youdropin).
Wecanthengetdowntomorepetty considerationssuchasistherungroomable, usuallybya“winchcat”–apiste-basher suspendedbyametalcabletoaconcrete anchorpointatthetopoftheslope,allowing ittogroomwithoutfearofslidingoffdown themountain?Orisitungroomed,likethe infamousWallrundowntheFrench/ SwissborderinthePortesduSoleilregionnearAvoriaz,wheremassive
HOLIDAY COMPANY WITH A PROVEN REPUTATION
When you’re planning your next ski holiday, finding the perfect destination is only half the battle. You also need to find the best company to deliver your holiday, to the highest standard and at the best possible price.
Well, if there’s one sign that you’re doing things right in travel, it’s managing to stay in business and stay popular season after season, with many companies appearing one year and gone the next. Ski Olympic, established in 1986, is fast approaching four decades in business, so they have clearly hit on something that people love.
Choosing the right destination was another smart move for long-term success, and Ski Olympic has operated from different resorts over the years, working through the pros and cons of each location. Today they offer three incredible properties in the heart of the traditional village of Vallandry, part of the world-famous Les Arcs ski area, itself part of the still bigger Paradiski region connected to neighbouring La Plagne to create one of the world’s three biggest ski areas.
Here the company offers three fantastic, high-value chalets and chalet-hotels with ski-in/ski-out accommodation finished to a very high standard. Free wi-fi is the norm of course with the flagship Chalet
Hotel La Foret also offering in-house private ski and boot hire, and its own restaurant and bar. The smaller chalets Eve and Isabelle can be booked catered or self-catered.
If you opt for catered in Hotel La Foret, you’ll enjoy welcome drinks and canapés on your first and final evening, four “Olympic” cooked breakfasts during the week (plus two continental breakfasts and a “light breakfast” on departure day), afternoon tea with freshly made cakes, fresh bread and conserves on all seven days of your stay, a three-course evening meal with wine on six evenings and lounge tea and coffee facilities between 7.30am and 11.30pm daily. Rooms are spacious with flat-screen satellite TVs and most have balconies. Two bedrooms that have been specifically designed to be wheelchair friendly are available, and there’s also secure indoor parking available for those who self-drive.
Part of Ski Olympic’s success goes right back to the family-run company’s foundation when they began with the right ethos of “taking guests skiing simply for the love of skiing”. Over 30 years later, more than 20,000 skiers have
travelled to the Alps with Ski Olympic. More than two-thirds return every year. Taking everything into their own hands rather than relying on third parties is another company strength. Ski Olympic operate their own chalets, train their own staff and run their own charter flights from Gatwick or Manchester and airport transfers, so have complete control of the whole holiday process, perfecting it over decades. They are not agents selling other companies’ holidays branded as their own, and they don’t outsource any aspect of your holiday. Finally, with the ups and downs in life over the past three years, it is reassuring to know that Ski Olympic is fully secured by the CAA under ATOL and ABTA licences which guarantees complete financial protection and peace of mind when you book. Not all holiday companies offer this level of security, and it’s always worth double-checking when you consider the options.
All of this boils down to one overriding element in the Ski Olympic ethos: a top value, professional service. Getting that right from your first telephone call to their UK office to the very end of your ski trip is the key to their decades of success.
AlpinLodges Kühtai 6183 Kühtai 16 a Tel. +43 5522 / 71 555 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.alpinlo dges.com
Y O U R B O X S E A T W I T H A V I E W O F B O U N D L E S S B E A U T Y
One last turn in the glistening p owder snow and you´re standing r ight at the door of the AlpinLodges! Skiing for the whole f amily couldn´t be more convenient.
The exclusive premium apartments are located directly on the ski slope. In t he midst of the fascinating Tyrolean mountains at 2,000 meters above sea level, the white splendor is assured. 41 kilometers of slop es in one of the most family-f riendly ski areas in Tyrol are at your feet and make winter fun an unforgettable adventure.
L L O T S O F P R I V A C Y I N A P L E A S A N T L Y R E L A X E D A M B I E N C E
Va cations can be t his generous! Because whether you are traveling a s a couple or in a group – our a parments offer plenty of space. A perfectly arranged a lpine lifestyle with all the amenities of a 4-star resort.
Including fu lly equipped kitchen a nd in some apartments also with sauna and fireplace. Here you can make plans, put your feet up and recharge your batteries. And every morning we spoil
‣ Free breakfast pastries daily
‣ Underground car park (free of charge)
‣ Shopping and concierge service
‣ First-class furnished apartments measuring up to 160m²
‣ Sauna and fireplace in some apartments
‣ Heated ski and boot rooms
‣ Smart-TV in apartment
‣ Free Wi-Fi
‣ 10 % discount on ski school and ski hire
US SKI SITE STARTS PUBLISHING FIRE & SMOKE FORECASTS
The American site SnowBrains.com, which issues regular snowfall updates, has started issuing regular reports on wildfires in the USA, using government data. The move follows a sad trend in recent years of more wildfires across North America and the entire world, getting bigger, lasting longer, threatening ski areas and starting year-round, not just in “fire season”.
RIDE A ZIESEL IN SWITZERLAND
Swiss ski resort Hoch Ybrig has launched an unusual new après-ski activity, Ziesel rides. A Ziesel is an electric tracked vehicle which allows almost silent driving through the snowy winter landscape. It is steered with a joystick, and the seats are heated. The ski resort in Central Switzerland is offering 40-minutelong tours including an introduction to Ziesel driving.
SOLAR-POWERED SKI PRODUCTION PLANT
Ski manufacturer Elan has unveiled a new production facility that is 100% solar powered at its base in Begunje, Slovenia, about 30 minutes from the ski resort of Kranjska Gora and 10 minutes from Bled. The move follows the company’s switch to sourcing 100% green energy earlier this year and means that it will also now selfproduce 12% of that green energy via the new plant.
ROME CELEBRATES SNOW IN SUMMER 1,664 YEARS AGO
Annual celebrations took place in Rome in the summer to celebrate a miraculous snowfall that, according to legend, took place nearly 17 centuries ago. According to tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared in separate dreams to two faithful Roman Christians and asked that a church be built in her honour on a site where snow would fall in Rome that very night in August 358.
ZIP-LINE COASTERS THE NEXT NEW THING
Downhill coasters at ski resorts have been with us for decades now, using ski lifts to reach the top of a downhill mountain (roller) coaster.
So have zip wires, which keep breaking records for being ever longer or steeper.
Now a genius in Quebec, Canada, has come
up with the idea of combining the two. “As its name suggests, the Zipline Coaster experience is similar to a roller coaster turning through the trees, sometimes spiralling up to 450°, as well as offering climbs and drops, one of which is a 5m drop over a length of 12m. The speed is amplified by the vertical drop and by
centrifugal force,” enthused Nadya Baron of Mont Sutton ski area, where the Zipline Coaster has been installed.
Seated in a harness, visitors travel under the treetops for what Nadya terms “an extraordinary experience” over a distance of 700m.
HUGE DRY SKI SLOPE OPENS IN UKRAINE, DESPITE WAR
A huge dry ski slope has opened near the western Ukranian city of Lviv, despite Russia’s invasion.
The 19,000m2 slope is part of the 5★ Hotel Resort Emily and has been designed so that it can also be used in winter when the area on Vynnyky Mountain is often snowcovered.
There are two 460m-long dry slopes with surface supplied by German ski slope surface manufacturer Skitrax World, which lead skiers down to the lakeside, where a modern Doppelmayr quad chairlift takes them back up to where a mighty red lion greets skiers, the mascot of the Ukrainian soccer club RUKH,
whose owner also built the hotel and leisure complex.
“The population of Lviv is thrilled to have received such a professional sports and recreation complex. Everyone is anxious that this unique facility will not fall victim to the current war,” a Skitrax World spokesperson said.JOCELYNE TRUDEAU
Ski holiday company Peak Retreats has made a name for itself over two decades with the genius idea of offering holidays to the smaller French ski resorts that are less well known in the UK but share access to some of the world’s biggest ski areas. Peak Retreats covers both famous regions like Les 3 Vallées, but also regions that are less wellknown to the British market, like the Les Sybelles circuit.
These more obscure resorts typically offer an authentic, intimate holiday base and fast access to the same ski slopes as the famous neighbouring resorts.
To celebrate their 20th season, Peak Retreats wanted to complement its original selection of traditional resorts and add those famous French high-altitude resorts that make the French Alps a world-class skiing destination, catering for those who prefer a different style of holiday base. The result is that Peak Retreats now offers an incredible 75+ French ski resort options and the choice of a “small but mighty” traditional resort or
a “high and mighty” altitude destination designed specifically for skiers. To illustrate the choice this expansion means, Peak Retreats suggested some alternatives for three big French regions.
PARADISKI – One of the largest lift-linked ski areas in the world with 425km of slopes, 70% of it above a snow-sure 2000m altitude. The small but mighty choice is Peisey-Vallandry, in the heart of the ski area, where you can choose L’Orée des Cimes, 4★ self-catered apartments with a pool right by the Grizzly chairlift. The high and mighty choice is Arc 2,000, the highest part of Les Arcs, with direct access to the highest and toughest skiing, as well as gentle slopes for beginners. Here you can stay at Chalet Altitude, spacious 4★ apartments just 50m from the slopes and lifts.
THE GRAND MASSIF – With 265km of slopes, a great snow record and one of the shortest, easiest drives from Calais (or Geneva) as well as fantastic panoramic views of Mont Blanc. The small but mighty choice is the atmospheric village of Samoëns, where a fast gondola lifts you from the village centre to high on the slopes. Stay at La Residence Club (new this season) with modern, mountain-style apartments, a heated swimming pool with a south-facing terrace, a sauna and a
steam room. The high and mighty choice is Flaine with doorstep skiing and a car-free centre, staying at Le Centaure, a ski-in/ski-out property with access to an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room.
ALPE D’HUEZ GRAND DOMAINE SKI – Located in Isère, the heart of the French Alps, with 250km of slopes, and a top height of 3,300m, the variety of terrain is impressive from glaciers to forests and wooded valleys. Small but mighty Vaujany has facilities well beyond what you’d expect from a small ski village with an impressive sports centre and a fantastic pool. Stay at Le Saphir with its spacious apartments offering superb views of the surrounding mountains. Or stay high and mighty in Alpe d’Huez itself, at Le Cristal de l’Alpe apartments which boast an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room.
All holidays include travel by Eurotunnel, with a free FlexiPlus upgrade on most dates. Accommodation only and travel by ferry and train can also be arranged.
Peak Retreats’ award-winning team know its resorts inside out and can guide you to the ideal resort for your ski holiday. Book all these resorts and properties and discover even more online with Peak Retreats or call their team for a chat on the details below.
HOLIDAYS WITH HORSES
The 5★ Naturhotel Forsthofgut’s latest venture is a riding stables, opening ahead of the upcoming ski season in the hotel’s forestry and farm estate.
These are located beneath the breathtaking Leogang Mountains, and facilities include a large indoor arena, an outdoor manège, a spacious working yard, a comfortable riders’ lounge and above the arena, a new studio exclusively for children and teenagers. There are six horses and four ponies for riding morning and afternoon, Monday to Saturday, yearround. Two guest stables are available for those who prefer to bring their own horse. Leogang is part of one of Austria and the world’s biggest ski areas connected to Saalbach-Hinterglemm and Fieberbrunn in Austria’s SalzburgerLand region. The hotel is ski-in/ski-out and 200m from the nearest lift. It operates a ski nursery and in-house ski shop/equipment hire.
The Forsthofgut Stables Manager, Elke Hechenberger, has a team of multilingual instructors offering group and private lessons in pony and lunge riding, cavaletti and pole work, and trekking and hacking. Longer rides with an instructor are available, and there’s a dedicated children’s programme.
The stables complex has its own mini-zoo where two alpacas, a donkey, babydoll sheep and rabbits all live and pygmy pigs, rabbits, Shetland ponies and goats enjoy a happy life in the miniGUT, the hotel’s miniature replica of a traditional Pinzgau farm. Younger guests are encouraged to
help with caring and feeding. At Forsthofgut, the welfare of the animals ranks as highly as the happiness of guests. Not only is Sunday a rest day for the horses, but there is also a horse solarium with infrared waves to warm them up in winter. The owner of Naturhotel Forsthofgut, Christoph Schmuck, the latest of many generations of the Schmuck family who have managed the area since 1617, believes he is as much a farmer as a hotelier: “Riding is a complete bond between man and nature,” he says. “It is entirely natural to have horses working on the land. I’m happy to have closed that circle by bringing them back.”
The stables add to Naturhotel Forsthofgut’s fabulous facilities, which include the world’s first forest Spa: Lakehouse Spa for adults and waldSPA Family & Kids for families, as well as extensive water features, multiple pools, saunas and treatment rooms including an Onsen bath and washhouse, infinity pool, floating Finnish sauna and natural plunge pool.
The hotel, located an hour from Salzburg Airport, also offers exquisite dining with sustainable, organic (produce from the hotel’s farm), vegan and Japanese menus. There’s also a Speciality cocktail bar, weekly wine tastings and free daily childcare (9am to 9pm).
Rates: Double Rooms from €550 (around £469) per night (based on two sharing three-quarters board for a minimum of five nights or more) with family Suites from €880 (around £750) per night (based on two adults/two children to nine years). @naturhotelforsthofgut | #Ilovefhg
A DECADE OF SKIJUWEL
The Ski Juwel (or Jewel) region in the Austrian Tirol celebrates 10 years this winter. It was created by linking the long-established Alpbachtal and Wildschönau regions to create one of the country’s 10 biggest ski areas.
Ski Juwel is celebrating by spending on a new
detachable six-seater chairlift above Alpbach where the new upper station “Top of Alpbach” will feature an observation tower and a platform with a fabulous panoramic view.
On the Wildschönau side, the new Schatzberg Zwergenland will open at the Schatzbergbahn mid-station above Auffach. This large learning and snow play area
will feature a new children’s ski school/ beginners’ area including a snowball playground, Big Schatzberg IGLOO, ski carousel, photo wall and three magic carpet lifts. The fun area will include a ski course with small bumps and fun elements and also be the location to start a toboggan run down to the valley.
INDOOR SNOW CENTRES OFFERED A HAVEN IN HEATWAVE
The UK’s six indoor snow centres proved a haven in the summer heatwave as temperatures topped 40° Celsius in England for the first time as the climate crisis continues to take hold.
ITV made a film of skiers at the Chill Factore centre near Manchester switching from T-shirts and shorts to thermals as they experienced a 40° drop in temperature from the high 30s outdoors to -4°C indoors.
“It’s not what the North West
is used to, and systems are working a lot harder,” Head of Facilities Management Luke Penrose told them.
At The Snow Centre Hemel Hempstead, staff posted on social media a suggestion that overheating home workers come and work remotely there. “Come and base yourself in The Lodge at The Snow Centre with free parking, free wi-fi, proper coffee and a balcony to cool down on, overlooking our -2°C slope!” they enthused.
MERIBEL LAUNCH SKI TOURING TRAIL
Méribel has created what they call “a new introductory ski touring trail” for the inexperienced ski tourer wanting to give it a try. Le Roc runs next to the ski area, starting at the top of the Chalets gondola, with an easy 2km ascent on your skins with a 370m climb towards the Chalet du Lac. Have a break and enjoy the views from the chalet before heading on down.
FIS ADD “SNOWBOARD” TO ITS NAME
The International Ski Federation (FIS) is now, finally, the International Ski & Snowboard Federation, although the shortened form will remain “FIS” for simplicity’s sake and not become FIS&S. Describing the move as “a ground-breaking decision”, the body’s General Assembly noted that it has been staging Snowboard World Cup competitions since 1994.
RUKA POSTS RECORD SKIER NUMBERS
Ruka ski resort in Finland set an all-time record of ski days recorded passing the half-million for the first time in its history last winter. The resort has one of the longest seasons for a non-glacier ski area in the world, using snowfarming to open in early autumn then staying open to the following May. It is already open for its 2022/23 ski season.
COUPLE GET ENGAGED ON INDOOR SNOW SLOPE
A couple got engaged on the indoor snow slopes of The Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead, north of London, earlier this year. The question was “popped” during a snowboard lesson, the Snow Centre reported. The answer was “yes”. One wag posted on social media, “It’s all downhill from here”.
Considering that it’s the smallest region in Italy, the Aosta Valley really punches above its weight when it comes to its ski areas. Located in the high Alps in the northwest of the country, bordering France and Switzerland (you can even ski over to both on a day trip if you like), the Aosta Valley boasts spectacular scenery as well as world-class skiing and snowboarding.
Located at the heart of the Alps, the Aosta valley is surrounded by some of the highest peaks in Europe: Cervino (also known as the Matterhorn to the Swiss), Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso and the king of them all, Mont Blanc, which at 4,809m is the highest mountain in Western Europe, the roof of the old continent.
There are several dozen ski areas to choose from including world-famous destinations like Cervinia and Valtournenche (which share a huge ski area with neighbouring Zermatt); La Thuile, which also shares a cross-border ski region, this time over to France and La Rosière, the incredible Monterosa region home to delightful ski villages like Champoluc and Gressoney; and then there’s fabulous Courmayeur with its ancient centre and spectacular skiing on the other side of Mont Blanc from Chamonix.
Then there are the dozen or so smaller, enticing Aosta Valley ski areas and villages where you can have a very special holiday, perhaps not hearing another British voice during your stay, but with the Aosta Valley regional pass you can opt to ski in one of the bigger areas whenever you like.
Whichever ski area you choose to visit first, throw into the mix an excellent snowfall record, the fabulous food there of the highest quality and a history stretching back to Roman times, and you begin to see why the Aosta Valley is so special. A final piece of good news is that with Turin, Milan and Geneva Airports all within easy reach, the Aosta Valley resorts are among the easiest to get to from the UK.
The Skiing and Snowboarding
With more than 20 resorts, over 800km of slopes, 10 snowparks and a single international electronic ski pass for direct access to all runs, Aosta is home to an array of skiing possibilities.
There are ski areas of all sizes from small, authentic and unspoilt off-the-beaten-track ski villages to some of the world’s biggest, most famous ski destinations. Whatever standard of skier and snowboarder you are – from absolute beginner to the most experienced – you’ll find something for you here. We must not forget the hundreds of kilometres of cross-country ski tracks, the world-famous off-piste freeride terrain and even the ski mountaineering and heli-skiing opportunities for the most experienced.
There are perfect, quiet beginner areas for first-timers, and some of the world’s most challenging steeps, even the option of heli-skiing, for experts. For everyone else, there are hundreds of kilometres of fabulous blue and red cruisers.
Whatever level you’re at, we all enjoy the same spectacular scenery, wonderful snow and superb food when it comes to
stops in mountain huts and all at much better-value prices than most other Alpine destinations.
The cross-border ski area shared by Cervinia and Valtournenche beneath Monte Cervino is one of the world’s largest with over 322km of inter-connected slopes and another 38km of ski routes available. More than 50 state-of-the-art high-speed lifts are available, and the region is so snow-sure it is open from 1 October 2022 till 7 May 2023, accessing Europe’s highest ski lifts. This autumn, it also hosts the first-ever cross-border FIS World Cup Downhill ski races for both men and women.
Courmayeur is one of the world’s most famous and most loved ski destinations. The historic heart of the resort, lined with boutiques, cafés and enticing restaurants, is a year-round draw. The ski slopes have something for everyone but are particularly famous for the freeride terrain that local guides can lead expert skiers and boarders to.
The Monterosa region, including the villages of Champoluc and Gressoney, is another that once skiers have visited the first time, they end up returning to year after year, so be warned: you will be hooked! Again, it is the authentic nature of this spectacular region, the fabulous food, welcoming locals and the great snow and skiing.
Pila is an unusual option, in that you can choose to stay in the ancient city of Aosta below, with its beautifully preserved Roman ruins, and take a gondola lift up to the ski slopes and back down in the afternoon, or you can choose to stay on the mountain and use the gondola for a day trip to Aosta. Either way, it’s a great family ski area with over 70km of slopes and lifts climbing high to 2,740m, helping its great snow record.
La Thuile is another of the Aosta Valley’s most famous resorts, with a big ski area, the Espace San Bernardo, stretching across the French border. There is wonderful skiing for all abilities on the wooded slopes above the village. They include though one of the world’s most famous World Cup Downhill ski slopes, the Franco Berthod, a must for good skiers to test their skills on.
Then besides these internationally famous resorts, there are smaller villages with their open small ski areas, perfect for firsttimers or those who just like to have a ski area to themselves. Choose one of these but buy the full Aosta Valley ski pass and you can ski everywhere in the valley whenever you like. There is something to discover for everyone in the Aosta Valley, from beginners to experts. Everyone is made to feel welcome in this land of abundant snowfall, majestic mountains, wonderful food, low-cost accommodations and clean air to regenerate your body and mind.
Skiing the Aosta Valley
Most of the UK’s largest holiday companies, including Crystal, Inghams and ski travel agencies and several smaller niche companies offer holidays to most Aosta Valley ski resorts. There are routes to the Aosta Valley’s ski areas from most UK regional airports on airlines including BA, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Alitalia and Swiss to Turin, Milan or Geneva Airports. You can also reach the Aosta Valley by train, changing in Paris and Turin, in around 11 hours, or self-drive in a similar time, plus stops.
Baselayers are one of the most important pieces of kit we need to wear on the slopes. It’s the layer against our skin, and we wear it all day long. The key to Heat Ultra’s warmth on the very coldest days is down to the D Tex Therm fabric that feels like a second skin. It captures body heat and retains it, with any sweat wicked away – ensuring odour-free warmth. So let’s stay warm and odour free, because nobody likes a smelly après buddy.LONG JOHN
Ensuring your legs stay warm on the slopes is as important as the upper body so long johns are essential, especially if you’re wearing shell pants. Made from the same fabric as the tops, but with an elastic waistband, ankle cuff and front opening for those moments when convenience is required, the men’s Long John is great value. RRP £34.95
Heat Ultra’s best-selling top for men, the classic crew neck with long sleeves is soft and super comfortable. High performance D-Tex Therm fabric provides fantastic heat retention and a 360° stretch. RRP £34.95
Available for both men and women, the mock neck top is great for colder days as it helps to keep the neck warmer and therefore helps the body stay warmer. The four-way stretch and D-Tex Therm fabric ensures optimum body heat retention.
RRP £29.95 (WOMEN), RRP £34.95 (MEN)
This three-button top for men works really well when worn under a jacket or even a shirt. It has definitely got a bit of style about it and looks great while retaining all the technical features you’d expect including the D-Tex Therm fabric. RRP £39.95
This soft and comfortable head scarf made from D-Tex Therm fabric is great for those cold days when you need to really wrap up. It can be worn under the helmet and pulled down if needed. It’s suitable for men, women and children. RRP £16.95 CREW NECK
RETURN OF LONDON SKI SHOW POSTPONED AGAIN
The London Ski & Snowboard Festival, which had been due to return after a three-year gap this autumn, having been postponed last year when the first Birmingham show went ahead, has been postponed for a second time, this time to 2023, new show organisers Smart Group have announced.
360° VIEWS ABOVE VERBIER
Work got under way in the summer at the summit of Mont-Fort above Verbier to construct a secure panoramic viewing platform, 3,330m above sea level. Opening this winter, visitors will be able to take in incredible 360° views over the entire Alpine mountain range from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn.
RUSSIA’S ONLY INDOOR SNOW CENTRE SHUT DOWN
Russia’s only indoor snow centre, Snej.com near Moscow, is reported to have been shut down over safety concerns. The city’s prosecutor’s office checked the safety of the facility at Krasnogorsk following “numerous concerns reported by visitors to the complex” and uncovered 30 health and safety violations.
40+ INDOOR SNOW CENTRES OPEN
The new edition of the China Ski Industry White Book which is updated each year reports that the country now has 42 indoor snow centres – about a third of the world total. “The indoor ski resort business has exploded in China,” says report author Benny Wu, who notes that by contrast the number of conventional ski areas open has actually declined in the pandemic.
ROCK THE PISTES RETURNS
After its triumphant posthopefully-worst-of-pandemic return last year, the Portes du Soleil is preparing for the 11th edition of their Rock The Pistes from 12 to 18 March next year.
The Festival’s format sees acts playing afternoon gigs on the slopes across the huge ski area which straddles the French–
Swiss border with 600km of slopes.
Festival goers can literally ski from one performance to the next, and with entry to the concerts free to lift pass holders, revellers can enjoy the freedom to party where they please.
The festival will comprise five live concerts and more than 30 après-ski concerts in multiple resorts, with attendees able to
base themselves on the French or Swiss side of the border.
Music fans from across Europe are expected to descend on the region with Morzine the main host of this winter’s edition with the announcement of this year’s line-up hotly anticipated. rockthepistes.com
HYDROELECTRIC PLANT TO POWER NEW GONDOLA
The Austrian Tirol ski area of Axamer Lizum is installing a new gondola system next winter and has plans to build a hydroelectric system that will cover its electricity needs.
The new hydroelectric power plant to be built on the Axamer Bach river near
Axams will generate so much clean green electricity – 3.83 gigawatts – that it should cover all of the centre’s electricity needs.
The new 10-seater gondola will be in operation this winter, replacing three old lifts, the Schönboden and Hoadl I+II chairlifts, one of which dates back to 1969.
The new Hoadlbahn gondola will feature 75 spacious cabins, each able to carry 10 people up to the ski area’s summit in just six minutes. The lift’s base building at 1,558m will house ski and rental shops and offices and be located next to bus and car parking.
THE SKI SCHOOL USING TECH TO IMPROVE YOUR TECHNIQUE
There are ever more apps and gizmos designed to help you ski better, but it is still hard to replace human expertise and the benefits of on-the-slopes instruction.
Boomerang on Snow combines the best of both by making all their ski camps and programmes “Tech2”. That means they as incorporating the latest and best technology when working to improve your skiing technique.
Boomerang on Snow always uses in-helmet communication to give instant feedback on the slopes,
increasing time moving and learning and meaning more skiing and more learning. They also use Carv, the world’s most advanced digital coach, providing the data that helps you better see the results of your training.
Combining technology with latest instruction methods and methodologies allows Boomerang on Snow to create a continuous development environment for guests which actually continues well past their time on ski camps or programmes. Post-training video analysis support is provided and, if
you decide to continue using Carv you will always have a ski instructor with you.
Boomerang on Snow is from Australia (hence the name) but offer training in the leading Romanian ski resort of Poiana Brasov with future plans to extend in the 2022/23 season “Is not as fancy as France or Switzerland but it is affordable,” said Boomerang on Snow’s Alex Jereb, who is from Romania but spent the last 20 years in Australia, adding, “Train smarter with us so you can explore the big resorts with confidence.”
A snowboarder who fell into a glacial crevasse while boarding alone off-piste above Saas-Fee says he is reassessing his life and that he will never snowboard alone again.
New Zealander Tim Blakey, who lives in London, fell 5m into the crevasse injuring his ankle but landing on a fragile snow bridge that stopped him from plummeting further. Mr Blakey used his iPhone, which
he reported had 3% battery left, to send an emergency signal, remembering that pressing the power button five times in succession sends a distress call and your location to rescue services. A Swiss mountain rescue team using helicopter support duly arrived at his location and had him out of the crevasse and heading back down the mountain in the chopper within 45 minutes.
JEWISH GAMES RETURN TO GERMANY
An organisation for Jewish athletes, Makkabi Germany, said that the Makkabi Germany Winter Games will take place in the ski resort of Ruhpolding, Bavaria, on 2–9 January 2023. The original Makkabi club, established in 1898, was destroyed by the Nazi regime in the 1930s, and the last Jewish winter-sports competition staged on German snow was in 1936.
NEW GONDOLA & PISTE FOR TIROL’S PAZNAUN VALLEY
See, a resort in the Paznaun Valley and neighbour of world-famous Ischgl in the Austrian Tirol region, will see the inauguration of a new eight-person gondola, Furglerblick, this winter and a new blue run. This new lift is designed to ease the pressure on the area’s existing quad chairlift, cutting down queueing times and making getting up the mountain easier.
NEW CHAIRLIFTS FOR MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN
Two of the main lifts at Mammoth Mountain in California are being upgraded, with work getting underway this summer, although the replacement lifts won’t be operational until winter 2023/24. Canyon Express (Chair 16) at Canyon Lodge and Broadway Express (Chair 1) at Main Lodge will be upgraded to high-speed six-pack chairlifts.
SWISS MOUNTAIN RESTAURANT DESTROYED BY FIRE
The famous cube-shaped Botta mountain restaurant at the Glacier 3000 ski area above Les Diablerets appears to have been largely destroyed by a fire. The restaurant was designed by famous Swiss architect Mario Botta and was opened in 2001 at a cost of CHF17 million (around £16.08 million). However, the centre will still open on 12 November for the season.
NEW BOOK FINDS WORLD’S MOST INTERESTING SKI RUNS
A new book, Around the World in 50 Slopes, has been published, detailing some of the most interesting ski runs on the planet.
Compiled by InTheSnow’s editor, Patrick Thorne, who has been researching ski resorts for more than 30 years, the book covers ski runs in 30 countries on six continents around the world, including the planet’s most northerly, southerly and remotest (in Africa).
“In Around the World in 50 Slopes I was not so interested in covering the world’s toughest slopes, which you can find listed all over the internet, but on more off-thebeaten track ski runs with a story to tell, the kind of place I’ve tried to highlight in InTheSnow over the years,” said Patrick. The stories behind the runs include slopes connected to The Beatles, gold mining, the most successful ski racers in history, indigenous rights, cheese, true love, seismic activity, James Bond, the Taliban, Emperor Hadrian and his elephants crossing the Alps, the first chairlift, Franz Klammer, Kim Jong-un, St Patrick, Christianity, climate change, Santa Claus and many more.
Patrick’s last book, Powder, was the bestselling ski title on Amazon for more than five years.
Published in hardback by Wildfire Books and the perfect Christmas gift, Around The World in 50 Slopes is available from all good booksellers.
SUICIDE SIX SKI CENTRE RE-NAMED
A Vermont ski area formerly known as “Suicide Six” has changed its name to Saskadena Six. The name change is the latest of several US resort name changes designed to remove “insensitive business titles” and follows the renaming of the famous Californian ski area “Squaw Valley”, which is now “Palisades Tahoe”.
The word “squaw” is now considered a racist slur by many people and using “suicide” considered insensitive when
the number of people taking their own lives in Vermont is at a record high. Saskadena, which means “standing mountain”, recognises that the land was originally inhabited by the Abenaki people before Europeans took it. Saskadena Six is one of North America’s oldest ski resorts dating from 1936. The story goes that the man who installed the original lift joked that “skiing the steep pitch would be suicide”, and the name stuck.
Blaster Asym is made to tackle the whole mountain with precision while allowing for a more tweakable ride than the Fullwrap option. Everything on the Blaster can be easily adjusted for a custom fit, making this the ideal binding to tear up the park, cruise the resort or poach some lines. £289.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Quantum III LS Zip Hoodie
Ready for technical mountain adventures, the Quantum III Long Sleeve Zip Hoodie is a slim-fit mid-layer that helps regulate your body temperature during highoutput days. Harnessing the natural benefits of its 100% merino wool fabric, the Quantum stretches with you, breathes efficiently and resists odours. £164.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Burton Good Company
You’re in good company if you like the tried-and-true feel of a traditional camber twin board. The Burton Good Company Snowboard is here to give you what you want with a classic twin shape and a refined construction that focuses on strength, speed, and pop. £389.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
DX3 OTG Goggle
Clean styling, modern lines, and a modern fit breathe life into the DX3 OTG goggle. A no-frills, no-nonsense frame, the DX3 OTG fixates on comfort and quality with the added benefit of our Lumalens Colour Optimisation and Over The Glasses compatibility. £53.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Patagonia Powder Town Jacket
Fully PFC-free, featured for versatility and focused on mobility, the Powder Town Jacket has an H2No® Performance Standard 2-layer shell for waterproof/ breathable and windproof protection, an articulated fit for freedom of movement and a smooth mesh liner for comfort and easy layering. £319.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
Burton Photon Step On Snowboard Boot 2023 Explore. Experiment. Charge. The men’s Burton Photon Step On® Snowboard Boots let you step on and go with a precision fit and responsive feel that encourages you to push further. From out-of-the-box comfort to the BOA® Fit System, the Photon has your back when it’s time to explore and push your skills. £389.95 sputniksnowboardshop.com
Imagine a ski that can carve down a piste, have fun in the park and jib on any side-hit you see whilst playing down the mountain. If you’re a freestyle-minded skier who wants to ski with this kind of mindset on all terrain all over the mountain, with all levels of skiers, then these truly are an ultimate one-ski quiver £599.95 | skibartlett.com
Faction Agent 4 POW Collab Skis
Fully PFC-free, featured for versatility and focused on mobility, the Powder Town Pants have an H2No® Performance Standard 2-layer shell for waterproof/ breathable and windproof protection, an articulated fit for freedom of movement, and a smooth liner for comfort and easy layering. £229.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.comA special limited-edition project built in collaboration with ‘Protect Our Winters’ (POW) featuring recycled sidewall, base and top-sheet material; a sustainably sourced wood core and a plant-based resin. The unique graphic is designed by Swiss-based Faction & POW ambassador and artist, Simon Charrière, who will use this ski as part of a special animated film project coming out in autumn 2022… buy a part of art and style. £729 | skibartlett.com Bataleon Blaster Patagonia Powder Town Pants
Lexa Re:Flex Women’s Snowboard Bindings 2023
Boasting legendary all-terrain performance. Experiment with the hi-back’s zero forward lean for a more playful feel. Crank the straps for a supportive fit that cradles the foot and works with the hi-back for the consistent, responsive feel that earned this all-mountain binding its pro-level reputation. £259.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Arcade Ironwood Belt
The belt webbing is made of 85% recycled REPREVE® polyester, the leading brand of recycled performance yarn. By repurposing post-consumer plastic, bottles that would have gone to the landfill now get a second life. The performance stretch and low-profile buckle means you can’t even tell you’re wearing a belt! £119.95 sputniksnowboardshop.com
Heli Pro 20L Backpack
Enough room for big missions if you pack light or smaller ones if you bring extra gloves, an extra layer, an extra chocolate bar – you get the idea. A small, do-it-all pack with features demanded by backcountry or slackcountry exploration, including purpose-built snow tool sleeves, a large fleece-lined goggle pocket, and hydration sleeve that doubles as laptop storage off the mountain. £99.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Dragon’s groundbreaking Swiftlock 2.0 has been augmented with magnetic contact points coupled with the one-sided release lever to create a secure and quick lens-changing solution. Add in OTG compatibility, expansive Lumalens Colour Optimised technology, Dragon’s Patented Frameless Design, and you’ve got one heck of a goggle. £209.95 sputniksnowboardshop.com
Atomic Backland 95 Touring Skis
A superb lightweight ski touring ski that has a great ski-everywhere feel for both hard-packed snow and soft floaty powder. Its HRZN tech-tip technology gives you increased float in powder and power to charge through choppy snow. This may be a lightweight ski, but it doesn’t compromise on its skiability on piste, on a tour, or in soft snow – a superb lightweight one-ski option. £449.95 | skibartlett.com
Oslo Wavecel Helmet
The Anon Oslo Wavecel helmet comes complete with In-Shell 360° BOA® Fit System which offers a micro-adjustable fit, fleecelined warmth, and a lightweight feel with the latest impact-absorbing safety technology. WaveCel technology distributes impact energy to help reduce direct and rotational impact forces to the head. £194.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Jones Twin Sister Women’s Snowboard 2023
The Twin Sister is a premium all-mountain board for riders who want a playful board that excels in any terrain or snow condition.
Featuring a True Twin shape, CamRock profile and friendly flex, the Twin Sister offers amazing float in pow, turns on a dime, and is easy to ride, switch or take into the terrain park.
£489.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Atomic Bent 90 Skis
One of the best 90mm skis to come to market in years. Strong and stable, poppy and lively. A very playful ski that would be at home in the park, on the piste, off the piste or out on a tour. A great freestyle ski but also a fantastic all-mountain ski. They’re light and playful, allowing you to really feel in control and at the same time feeling like they’re heading out for some fun. Bouncing and popping off everything in sight, these will make you smile whether you put a touring or alpine binding on. £399.95 | skibartlett.com
The Amundsen Peak Anorak
Stretch waterproof – Tested in Antarctica. The Amundsen Peak Anorak is our first anorak, which has been perfected over the last decade. The anorak is ideal for ski touring and expeditions small and big. The combination of stretch, waterproof and breathing capabilities ensures a combo of full protection combined with the comfort you need. £549 | ecoski.co.uk
The North Face
Waterproof Women’s Boot
The lightweight, waterproof Women’s Thermoball™ Lace-Up Boot is a securefitting winter boot with a durable recycled ripstop upper and toasty ThermoBall™
Eco insulation. It has a grippy rubber outsole for increased traction when walking in snowy conditions. A true winter essential. £114.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
More at sputniksnowboardshop.com
Sputnik is one of the UK’s largest independent snowboard shops. We offer great choice and service to all our customers. Whether you are beginner or expert, we can kit you out to ensure you have a great day on the mountains.Thermoball Lace-Up
Rossignol Hero 65
Junior Ski Boot
The starter junior race boot with scaled-down fit, control and precision for the youngster striving for podium performance. Anatomically shaped and specifically scaled proportionally to fit junior feet. Now with GripWalk® rubbery soles for grippier traction and a more natural walking motion. A great boot for keen young racers and good recreational skiers.
£184.95 | skibartlett.com
Pure Mission 98 Ti
An all-mountain freeride weapon inspired by big mountain skier Jérémie Heitz’ skis. A very accessible freeride ski that’s built for all-mountain, all-conditions adventures. Whether you want to cruise or charge off-piste, or flow fluidly from edge to edge on piste, these are totally forgiving and flattering but also work superbly for an expert freeride skier.
£579.95 | skibartlett.com
backpack. Combined with longer tail straps for more adjustment.
From £169.95 | skibartlett.com
More at skibartlett.com
With their renowned reputation for specialist expert advice, combined with their carefully selected and tested range of products, it’s no surprise that Ski Bartlett’s word-of-mouth reputation over the last 50 years has made them the UK’s most popular independent ski shop!
Black Diamond Coefficient Hybrid Hoody
A light insulated primaloft, breathable, woven front panel gives you warmth against the elements while the Polartec® Power Grid® fleece on the rest of this hoody increases wicking performance and increases breathability. The perfect layer for high-output activities, whether you’re heading out on a ski tour, a hike, a run, or just for everyday comfort.
£139.95 | skibartlett.com
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
Scott Superguide Freetour Touring Ski
The holy grail of backcountry skiing – a ski that’s light and agile for the skin up, with a nocompromises approach to their downhill performance.
Carbon/Aramid fibres stiffen the ski for performance and grip without adding weight ,and their three-dimensional sidecut gives you a versatile feel for all types of terrain.
£619.95 | skibartlett.com
Ski Touring Boot
The lightest hybrid ski boot featuring a GripWalk sole on the market, compatible with GripWalk bindings for downhill skiing and ski touring. A lightweight performance-packed hybrid ski touring boot with lightweight Bio-Grilamid plastics and a huge range of cuff movement for your days out touring.
£649.95 | skibartlett.com
Buff Buff Polar Neckwarmer
The most versatile Multifunctional Neckwear for cold weather, made from recycled plastic bottles and offering lofted warmth with PrimaLoft® fleece. Flip it, twist it, fold it, you can wear Polar as a neck warmer, hat, balaclava and more to keep you warm while doing all your favourite outdoor winter activities.
£26.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
One of the first big innovations in transceivers for years, the world’s first avalanche transceiver with integrated voice navigation to help you locate a buried companion faster. Clear, simple spoken instructions tell you step by step what to do during every phase of your search. Combined with an easy-to-read screen making it easy to see in any light conditions. When time is of the essence and you’re truly under pressure, the Diract Voice will help you stay calm and act faster, essential when your partner’s survival is of the utmost importance.
£324.95 | skibartlett.com
Yeti Rambler 12oz
Colster Can Insulator
The 330ml size is perfect for sparkling water, soft drinks, and good oldfashioned beer, all kept straight-fromthe-cooler cold while kicking back in the backyard, at camp, or wherever good times are going down.
£24.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com Rossignol React 6 CA Skis with bindings A superb, easy-feeling piste ski for intermediate to advanced level skiers. These will allow any intermediate skier to progress steadily and any advanced level skier to feel they have a lively feel good everyday ski under their feet. A very forgiving and predictable ski that will keep you in balance and help you develop positive turns from edge to edge. A great confidence-inducing ski for those of you who still need a little help with their skiing. £414.95 | skibartlett.com Ortovox Diract
Light Snow Roller
If you regularly chuck your gear in your truck and hit the road in search of the best snow, then the Snowroller Light is a bag you need in your life. Designed to carry up to two pairs of skis, this is the slimmer, lighter version of our original Snowroller. We’ve taken learnings from other products like The Bunker, and applied them here. There are now foam inserts on the top of the lid for added protection and two-handle external attachments for even weight distribution when carrying. Welcome to winter’s answer to the weekend escape bag.
£200 | theboardbase.com
eco SKI RACE PRO Compression sock Designed by professional boot fitters looking for the ultimate, ultra-thin compression ski sock. Designed with a precision fit in mind. The RACE PRO Compression is perfect for those who prefer a much thinner, tighter ski sock providing better muscle stability, blood flow, less fatigue and faster recovery. £26.95 Tekoforlife.co.uk
A man’s moguls shouldn’t move as he moves around moguls.
Zero G Tour Pro Ski Touring Boot
Strong downhill performance combines with lightweight construction and huge touring range of movement for the best of both worlds. This awardwinning boot with best-in-class performance to weight ratio will be your dependable partner in the backcountry. Used by mountain guides, race coaches and the world’s most accomplished ski mountaineers around the world. If you’re after lightweight uphill and downhill performance then take these on your next seeking adventure.
£649.95 | skibartlett.comTecnica
Down Sweater Hoody
The perfect warmth for just about everything, Patagonia’s classic, newly redesigned Down Sweater Hoody is lightweight and windproof with a shell made of NetPlus® 100% postconsumer-recycled nylon ripstop made from recycled fishing nets to help reduce ocean plastic pollution, and insulated with 800-fillpower 100% Responsible Down.
£279.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Atomic Maverick 88 Ti skis
A great all-terrain ski that feels really balanced and easy to ski, but packing a little punch for those blue sky days when you want to charge hard with friends! Whether you pair this with a traditional binding for all-mountain skiing, or a hybrid Shift binding for days when you feel like touring, these allow you to ski the entire mountain and have fun doing so.
£574.95 | skibartlett.com
Hi Speed Pro 100 MV Ski Boots
OOSC Yeh Man
Ski & Snowboard Jacket
The OOSC Yeh Man Ski and Snowboard Jacket has serious rider-driven detailing. Built from 100% recycled durable nylon, it has a 20,000mm waterproof and 20,000gm2 breathability rating. Topped with ZERO carbon durable water repellent keeping you dry, warm and comfortable. £295 | oosc-clothing.com
Redster Q5 Skis with binding
Punching way above its station, these skis will cruise with flow down the pistes, eat up choppy snow for lunch and grip like they mean it on ice. Whether you ski slow and steady as an intermediate skier or wind these up to high-speed carved turns, you’ll find it hard to out-ski these skis. A superb all-mountain ski that will be forgiving and developing at a lower level.
£469.95 | skibartlett.com
Powder Town Beanie
Made with 100% recycled polyester fleece with a textured knit construction, this timeless beanie is itch-free and quick-drying. £41.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
A new edition to the Rossignol line-up with more space in the lower part of the boot to allow your foot to sit comfortably in the boot. Combine this comfort with its Dual Core construction which absorbs vibrations and gives you a more dampened but lively feel to the boot.
Various models available in different widths – low volume, medium volume and high volume for all foot shapes. £274.95 | skibartlett.com
Pure Pro 90 GW Women’s Ski Boot
High-performance skiing meets all-day comfort in a forgiving flex. The super-plush fur liner is not just for good looks but allows you to slide easily into the boot, and with its merino wool insulation it helps insulate from the cold. Utilising the impressive Rossignol anatomical fit, these will feel amazing as soon as you put them on.
£334.95 | skibartlett.com
FW Catalyst 2L
Women’s Insulated Jacket
Freestyle expression meets superior technicality in the all-new W CATALYST 2L Insulated Jacket. This garment is waterproof, breathable, and 100% seam-sealed to keep the elements at bay. 60g of Primaloft® Black Eco Insulation in the body and 40g in the arms ensure you‘ll stay comfortable and warm even when the mercury drops way down low.
£329.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Microdini 1/2 Zip Women’s Pullover
Combining two of our favourite materials, Micro D and Houdini, Patagonia created a lightweight fleece that provides everyday warmth and comfort with an added touch of outdoor style. Ideal for on mountain use as well as everyday wear.
£119.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Burton Step On Re:Flex
Snowboard Bindings 2023
Magna 85 Women’s Ski Boot
The new wider-fitting Hawx Magna is for those of you who have struggled to get a boot wide enough to fit your foot and high enough over the instep. Built to still perform, but with a more relaxed fit and style now you can be comfortable all day – whether skiing or relaxing in the restaurant over lunch!
£259.95 | skibartlett.com
HALF ZIP & LOGO LEGGING
The number one base layer that provides maximum body heat retention at prices affordable to the many, not just the few. Super soft fabric with excellent wicking properties, it fits like a second skin, With 4way stretch comfort there is no need to work up a sweat. Heat Ultra keeps you warm the moment you step outside. £39.95 & £32.95 | heatultra.com
Locator 104 skis
A very lightweight freeride touring ski for those of you who want a dependable, doanything-kind-of-playful touring ski. Taking you on tours to hidden huts or through pillows of pow. Roll them on an edge and slash them sideways, these lightweight playful skis will give you predictable performance in all conditions with a soft-snow focus.
£644.95 | skibartlett.com
An intuitive boot-to-binding connection for riders seeking convenience and performance. Three connection points, two at the toe and one at the heel, deliver unmatched simplicity, security, and board control. Toe hooks 2.0 offer responsive entry and a quick-release lever on the hi-back makes for a clean exit.
£269.95 | sputniksnowboardshop.com
Hawx Magna 130 S GW Ski Boot
A wider, higher-volume ski boot built for strong powerful skiers who demand comfort combined with performance. Built off of the award-winning design of the Hawx Ultra and Hawx Prime ski boots giving you their great anatomical fit in a larger volume foot shape. Reinforced areas of the shell also give you burly flex and direct power onto the edge. Now whatever your foot shape, you can have power and performance, combined with allday-long comfort. £469.95 | skibartlett.com
BREATABLE MESH 2 Pack
Bright, bold and exceptionally breathable, Volt is a performance powerhouse designed to increase airflow when you are active. Constructed using a pin dot mesh, this pair fights odor, wicks sweat and provides premium support. Featuring a wide range of photorealistic prints made possible by a sublimation printing process, you’ll be packing serious personality in your pants. So, whether you’re on the slopes or doing après, show up and glow up in the mountain-ready Volt. Abominable Snowman/Black | £49 | snowandrock.com
Black Diamond Impulse Glove New athlete-level leather upper glove from backcountry specialists Black Diamond come with Gore-Tex protection, PrimaLoft gold insulation and accordion construction preventing loss of circulation. There’s a neoprene insert so you won’t get sticky hands when removing them to build jumps –BD have thought of everyone, once again. £150 | blackdiamondequipment.com
Brand-new free tour ski boot with 60-degree range of motion for freeride skiers looking to access terrain when touring uphill. The Pro 130 flex version suits expert, aggressive skiers that need full support and responsive control on big mountain terrain.
£675 | Lockwoods.com
Useful as a mid-later on colder days or outer for high-intensity workouts, Oslo-based Amundsen makes stylish and functional clothing for the outdoors, and the 5 Mila is one of its standout tops. The Merino wool blend is breathable, lightweight and temperature regulating, but its looks are just as impressive too.
£89.99 | Snowtrax.co.uk
Declivity 92 Ti
Looking for an all-mountain bundle of fun for your piste and powder missions? The 92mm underfoot
Declivity 92 Ti carves smooth lines on piste and powers through the choppy stuff with ease. The Caruba wood core is backed up by Titanal banding producing a powerful, responsive ride suited to advanced and expert skiers.
£559.99 | ellis-brigham.com
Versatile Merino wool sweater that can be worn on the slopes under a shell jacket or around town on aprèsski bar crawls. Apparently the Nuyarn Merino fabric is five times faster at drying, but also highly durable and full of warmth. You’ll never know the sun has even gone down.
£180 | artilect.studio
SQI is a new fashion brand that makes winter jackets for around town that work well on the slopes too.
The Women’s Foret is an insulated, waterproof ski jacket with a fake fur hood in a pullover half-zip style. Ideal for skiers that take fashion seriously.
£245 | wearesqi.com
The Mirus Cor doesn’t just turn brilliantly, it turns heads too. The funkylooking piste-freestyle hybrid ski with the fish tail that does nothing except look cool is underneath it all a super-highperformance fun machine that carves up the whole mountain with ease.
£720 | black-crows.com
Sweet Protection IgnitEr
Athlete-inspired, race heritage helmet from Sweet Protection, this high-end model comes with new tech like “variable elasticity plastic” that’s harder in some areas and softer in others. This protects where needed but flexes more in other areas, creating extra comfort.
The two-layer MIPS insert has been used in the race helmets, but you can now enjoy it too.
£209.99 | snowandrock.com
This Merino-built base layer is designed to keep you warm on colder days while maintaining comfort at higher activity levels.
The mix of nylon and elastane helps the wool keep its shape and prolongs the garments life too.
The six-colour options mean you’ll have a different top for every day of the ski week to show off back in the bar at the end of a powder day.
£109.99 | absolute-snow.co.ukCascade LS Men’s
Line Pro 30
Freeride skiers looking for a touring backpack might find the LITESHIELD PLUS protection technology built into the Evoc Line Pro 30 helpful, especially if you have a crash.
Designed to carry skis yet open fully without removing them, it’s packed full of features including insulated sleeves for your hydration needs.
£230 | evocsports.com
AVA Litric Tour 30
High-tech airbag from ORTOVOX with a new system charged like a mobile phone meaning no more gas canisters and flight issues. Two deployments per charge is possible, meaning double safety in the event of a second avalanche issue. This 30-litre version is perfect for ski tours and off-piste adventures.
£1,025 | Ortovox.com
This women’s specific ski is designed for on-piste performance and skiers that like to carve turns on groomed slopes and suit intermediate to advanced riders. The tip and tail rocker make turn initiation super easy, and the wood core with steel layer produces a stable ski that can handle higher speeds.
£580 with bindings skibartlett.com
Originally a snowboard brand, Level now make gloves used by top-level alpine skiing athletes, and this leather off-piste model is a durable and warm friend for your fingers on the coldest powder days. Also comes as a trigger finger version.
£155 | snowandrock.com
Winter Insole Unisex
Ski boot insoles aren’t optional extras; they are essential for comfort, performance and, in this case, warmth too. Two versions of this new insole include a thicker (for comfort) and thinner (for performance) option, and they are suitable for ski and snowboard boots.
£50 | superfeet.com
Maier Sports Narvik
Strong, light and waterproof freeride and ski touring shell pants from the company that promises a perfect fit. The 20,000 mTEX fabric ensures protection against the elements while offering high breathability and the fabric is recycled PES yarn, hugely ticking any ecofriendly boxes.
£229.95 | maier-sports.com
Hanwag, Blueridge ES
Lightweight walking boots can be a great option for winter sports holidays because you don’t always want something too heavy.
The Blueridge ES from Hanwag are fully waterproof and breathable boots with a leather upper that look super smart and won’t get too sweaty indoors.
£170 | hanwag.com
The first magnetic lens goggles from Dragon that can also fit over glasses. They have the brand’s classic styling and come with LumaLens® Optimised Colour technology for enhanced vision. A top choice if you want to see clearly in all weather conditions and change lenses quickly.
£190 | absolute-snow.co.uk
Leki Airfoil 3D
Ski pole specialist Leki has upgraded its trigger system to allow for 220 degrees of release, meaning more protection in the event of a fall. The Airfoil version is more aerodynamic and helps to dampen vibrations. Lightweight and strong, these poles look great and surely that alone will make you a better skier?
£105 | ellis-brigham.com
The best-seller from Helly Hansen and for a reason. You get all the features you’d expect from the Norwegian outdoor behemoth for a sensible price, including fourway stretch, pro-grade membrane, H2 Flow venting and it’s highly waterproof and breathable too.
£440 | hellyhansen.com
Mons Royale, Cascade Mock Neck Women’s Funky designs combine with high-performance Merino wool fabric that’s woven in with nylon and elastane for extra movement and durability. Mons Royale once again takes base layers to the next level with warmth and style in the Cascade Mock Neck top and with the built-in thumb loops, your wrists stay warm even when you jump for joy.
£119.99 | skibartlett.comDragon RVX OTG MAG
Pirmin Zurbriggen is one of the most successful ski racers in history, with four overall World Cup wins, Olympic Downhill gold and nine World Championships medals.
Today he is an ambassador for “Speed Opening” – the highest and first cross-border downhill races on the World Cup calendar, taking place on 29/30 October and 5/6 November, from Zermatt down to Cervinia. Iain Martin of theskipodcast.com caught up with him.
What do you consider your greatest achievements in racing?
PZ When you have a career as I had, there are so many moments that are important to you, but winning the World Cup overall is the biggest and best. It’s something unforgettable.
How has racing changed since your day?
PZ It changes all the time. Most recently they have put in more turns because the speeds are getting faster. It’s not so bumpy now, but the speed is incredibly high. The other part is that when we competed you could have a private life, but today with social media you have to portray yourself all the time.
The Speed Opening course has been designed by another Swiss Olympic
Downhill gold medallist, Didier Défago. What do you think of it?
PZ It could be a very interesting downhill. Didier Défago has done a wonderful job. What’s most important is how they are going to set the course. It’s a long, wide slope, but you can do different things with it. I think it will be spectacular.
Do you think that 4km length of course will be tough, especially starting at such a high altitude?
PZ We had longer downhills in our time. Today races are shorter, but they need more power. So, it’s going to be interesting to see what the current set of athletes think of it. It’s good that in this first year we’re not going to start right from the top to give the athletes a chance to try racing at this high altitude.
What advice would you offer young skiers keen to make a career out of racing?
PZ It’s important to remember that snowsports can be dangerous and you can easily pick up injuries. My first tip for everyone thinking about racing is to try to learn something besides your sport. Aside from that, it’s important to let yourself enjoy it. Racing is something unbelievable, from the feeling of the snow to trying to be the fastest and pushing yourself to your limits: it’s just a super experience. Do it!