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New lift openings + Back to ski school + An A-to-Z of our mountain loves + Snow wear + Technique on ice + Off-piste powder-hunting + Fitness + Helmets + Resorts + Best of the web + Dates for your diary
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EDITOR Colin Nicholson firstname.lastname@example.org
DEPUTY EDITOR Harriet Johnston email@example.com
This is the time of year when we, as skiers, start praying to the weather gods — particularly those of us who have booked a break over the Christmas period. It is a ritual that, for me, dates back as far as the mid-1980s, when I went on school trips to France in December. But then, if the snow didn’t materialise, we would, at best, take a coach to a resort that did have a couple of lifts open… or play cards. How things have changed. With today’s snowmaking, a poor start to the season is often just a matter of aesthetics for piste skiers. Generally, resorts can cover most of their runs in winter whatever the weather. The spider’s web of white lines on a russet landscape may look funny, but is nonetheless fun. All this is thanks to the miracle that is modern snowmaking, as well as the demigods driving the all-important vehicles to push it to the right spots. Now all we need to pray for is sub-zero overnight temperatures — and in some cases even they are not needed. The science that goes into these snow factories is amazing and is all done to minimise energy and water wastage. Resorts are justifiably proud of their facilities and some take guests on guided tours. Should the one you visit not offer such a tour, on page 26 we take you around one of the newest snow factories, and find out how they make our winter dreams come true, starting with such simple steps as ensuring pipes don’t freeze. Even if it rains on the white ribbons they create, all is not lost. Far from it, as one representative explained to me. When this happens and the sodden snow freezes overnight, the icy road created makes a great base on which soft, new snow can settle, and this will last well into late spring, even as flowers pop up all around. Staying with the theme of getting the most out of pistes, you can find out the 23 best piste performance skis on page 62, as tested by Ski+board’s strongest test team ever. On any other publication someone like me would be a valued tester. But our team roll their eyes when I can’t remember which model I skied on from one trip to the other. Some jobs are best left to professionals. However, I will point out one thing that I did notice. This season’s piste skis are on average £50 to £60 a pair cheaper than last year’s. This is despite sterling’s slide (as long as you buy in the UK of course) and the fact that, as you will read, they have seen significant improvements. Similarly with boots, none of the models we cover are more expensive than last year and some are significantly cheaper. So if you want to sweeten the pill of that higher exchange rate, why not start by visiting your local ski shop?
ART DIRECTOR Nicole Wiedemann MEDIA SALES Madison Bell madisonbell.com 020 7389 0859 OVERSEAS MEDIA SALES Martina Diez-Routh firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 7508 382 781 PUBLISHER Ski Club of Great Britain London SW19 5SB skiclub.co.uk | 020 8410 2000
With today’s snowmaking a poor start to the season is often just a matter of aesthetics for piste skiers
DISTRIBUTION Jellyfish Print Solutions Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Independently audited circulation of 19,722 (January to December 2015) Issue 194 © Ski Club of Great Britain 2016 ISSN 1369-8826
Cover photo: Val d’Isère/Andy Parant
Ski+board is printed by Precision Colour Printing, Stirchley, Telford TF7 4QQ
Colin Nicholson Ski+board Editor
All material is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the prior written permission of the publisher. All prices are based on information available at the time of going to press. Opinions expressed in Ski+board are not necessarily those of the Ski Club of Great Britain, nor does the publisher accept responsibility for advertising content.
Contents November 2016
8 EXPOSURE Don’t try this at home! Let our photographers amaze you with action shots and their back stories
16 YOU SAY A call for guidance on and offpiste, criticism of crazy stunts, plus how green is the magazine?
17 SKI CLUB NEWS Freshtracks holidays prove popular with newbies, awards open and insurance sales soar
21 NEWS Brits still mad about skiing, brands at risk, and on-piste snow depths beat global warming
FEATURES 26 INSIDE A SNOW FACTORY We take a behind-the-scenes tour to discover why skiers needn’t fear a slow start to the season
34 NEW LIFT OPENINGS It was the summer of the six-pack with scores of new lifts being built ahead of this winter
43 BACK TO SKI SCHOOL How would you fare learning to instruct, tackling a halfpipe, telemarking or snowshoeing?
50 AN A-TO-Z OF LOVES We give an alphabetical social commentary of all that is good on the slopes. But do you agree?
THE INSI DE EDGE
France’s snowmaking facilities open their doors
54 SNOW WEAR Ooze sophistication with the deep browns and purples of this season’s ski wear
62 SKI TESTS Lay down a big edge angle and let yourself go with the latest and best in piste skis
Photo: Ski Arlberg/Flexenbahn
An in-depth look at all the new lifts starting to roll
72 BOOTS Both racers and recreational skiers are catered for in our reviews of piste ski boots
76 TECHNIQUE Holiday on ice as a top instructor guides you on tricky snow conditions
Photo: Aspen Snowmass/Ben Eng
How an old-fashioned map can help you find powder stashes in the backcountry
Learn some new tricks by heading back to ski school
80 FITNESS There’s no better time to get your ski legs ready with our strengthening exercises
82 GEAR The jury’s still out on the Judge Dredd look of new integrated visor helmets
Photo: Alpe d’Huez/Laurent Salino
The ABC of all that we love about winter holidays
Our expert reviews the latest piste boards, which also work well as entry-level kit
92 RESORTS Ski a different slope every day of your holiday in some of the biggest ski areas Ski+board
SKIER Fabian Linge LOCATION Hellskarnuten, Norway PHOTOGRAPHER Hamish Frost
Scottish photographer Hamish Frost and Norwegian engineer Fabian Linge woke up to gale force winds and heavy rain in Norwayâ€™s Lofoten archipelago in March this year. Their mood was decidedly low at breakfast, but on the tenuous promise of a late afternoon respite, they toured up to Hellskarnuten at 643m. It was still raining, but gaps in the cloud were appearing. And their spirits were bolstered by a firm, spring-like snowpack, which the high winds and heavy rain had made look like a creamy dessert that Fabian finally enjoyed on their sunset descent. Hamish is entering the photo for the Kendal Mountain Festival this month â€” in a town that knows all about rain.
SKIERS Team DC LOCATION Méribel, France PHOTOGRAPHER Andoni Epelde
You know that feeling when you’re coming in on the home run? You may have had a vin chaud and be paying less attention than usual… when you hit a big bump. Well, it’s likely the riders at the unfortunately named DC Hit and Run competition, held in March in Méribel, were a little better prepared as they hit this kicker — as was Spanish photographer Andoni Epelde, who caught them mid-air. French resorts offer snowmaking tours — Page 26
SKIERS Samuel Anthamatten LOCATION Grandvalira, Andorra PHOTOGRAPHER Jeremy Bernard
The Freeride World Tour will once again be visiting Andorra this winter in a bid to find the top freeskier. This year the competition will be held in the Vallnord-Arcalís sector, home to the resorts of Pal and Arinsal, but Jeremy Bernard took this shot of Swiss skier Samuel Anthamatten in the Grandvalira sector, using a fisheye lens, with an exposure time of just 1/4,000th of a second to capture the action.
SKIERS Various LOCATION Geilo, Norway PHOTOGRAPHER Emil Eriksson
Smaller ski areas can breed some of the best freestyle talent, as skiers and snowboarder head to the park to hone their skills. In this case photographer Emil Eriksson caught these two freestylers on a tandem jump in Geilo, making us wonder â€” will synchronised skiing be an event at the next Winter Olympics? Learning to telemark in Geilo â€” Page 45
SKIERS Various LOCATION Arlberg, Austria PHOTOGRAPHER Josef Mallaun The Arlberg valley is making headlines with the new lifts and pistes created, but it remains one of the most popular destinations for off-piste skiers. Josef Mallaun’s image reveals why. Austria leads the way in new lifts — Page 34
SKIERS Various LOCATION Adelboden, Switzerland PHOTOGRAPHER Christof Sonderegger
“Oh no, I’ve torn my corduroys…” Skiers often talk about the joy of skiing fresh powder, but don’t underestimate the pleasure of skiing fridge-fresh piste. Photographer Christof Sonderegger caught two skiers’ evident delight, as they christened the carefully prepared pistes of the Adelboden-Lenk ski area, with the Sillerenbühl mountain in the background.
SKIER Unknown LOCATION Aspen, Colorado, US PHOTOGRAPHER Zach Luchs
Aspen has seen some good early season snowfall in recent years and Zach Luchs has hit it lucky on more than one occasion. The photographer had just come back from covering ski resorts in Argentina when he found the Colorado resort already decked in snow. Learning the halfpipe in Colorado’s resorts — Page 46
That moment when you know you’ve made the perfect choice
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All those photos of stunts and extreme skiing are making me jumpy
Could you ensure your technique pages don’t go too far off-piste?
I don't identify with the photos of extreme skiing. I sometimes struggle because of the number of people who think they own the piste. They don't observe piste etiquette, such as looking behind them before they rejoin a piste to see who's coming, and set off regardless, making people swerve or, in one case I observed, causing an accident.
As an instructor working in the UK and abroad, I do think there could be more emphasis on tips about how to ski well. My partner and I skied with the club in January in Italy and had a great time with the Italian instructor Alessandro and our guide Garry on alternate days. Popularising this kind of Freshtracks Development holiday and backing it up with articles about learning to ski well would be great. I’ve seen just one tiny article on carving technique, but page upon page about skiing off piste — the place poor technique gets masked.
Ski+board survey respondent Ski+board writes: We sympathise with your experience of inconsiderate skiers. However, the photos on the Exposure pages are carefully set up (sometimes over a period of days) either in isolated spots on the mountain or in areas reserved for jumps and competitions.
Ski+board survey respondent How to ski icy pistes – Page 76
Does powder mask poor technique? If so, try the club's Freshtracks Development holidays
How heavy is the magazine on its environmental credentials?
The Exposure pages of Issue 2 last season
More survey responses…
You may not like this comment — Ski+board is very well produced in a good format on glossy, high-quality paper, but… as a result it is quite heavy to carry around. So it is not suitable for taking to read on the train. And surely printing on high-quality paper is not good for the environment? I appreciate that you have high standards, but might not lighter and
The magazine is much improved in layout and printing this year — don't change too much! Ski+board has improved greatly andis now much more than a club 'insider' magazine. Keep up the good work! I would enjoy articles about off-piste skiing and maybe some information on easily accessible runs in major European and North American resorts. Off-piste — Page 79
You can read an electronic version of the magazine at skiclub.co.uk/skiandboard
less glossy paper also make it a cheaper magazine to produce?
Ski+board survey respondent Because it's good I always pass a copy on to someone so they can enjoy it too.
Ski+board survey respondent Ski+board writes: We are proud of the fact that Ski+board is printed on Forest Stewardship Council-approved sustainable paper. And we are delighted that many of you pass on copies to friends, raising awareness of what the club has to offer. I'm not conscious of getting an electronic version of the magazine — if one is available. I am of an age where I like to sit and hold the printed page (easier to go too and fro when reading) but a PDF on the iPad means I can transport myself to the mountains while rammed on the daily commute.
Ski+board survey respondent
Got something to say? Share it with us at: @TheSkiClub
Ski Club of Great Britain, The White House, 57-63 Church Road, Wimbledon Village, London SW19 5SB Or email: email@example.com
Is it possible to buy the publication independently of being club member? I don't think that many of my friends are members of the Ski Club. Ski+board writes: Anyone can read the latest issue at skiclub.co.uk/skiandboard. Members can read back issues there too.
Photo: Melody Sky
SKI C LU B NEW S
Survey reveals high satisfaction with Freshtracks holidays
The popularity of the Ski Club’s Freshtracks holidays lies in the shared experiences offered
Photos: Melody Sky
The Ski Club receives regular feedback from members about its Freshtracks holiday programme, and with over 80 per cent of bookers returning, we know satisfaction levels are very high. To get feedback specifically from new bookers, we sent a survey to those who went on their first Freshtracks trip last season. The results were encouraging. Most respondents said they were very likely to book another Freshtracks trip in the next three years. One said: “I had an excellent experience and thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt my skiing improved.” When asked about the reasons for booking a Freshtracks holiday, the top three answers were: to improve my skiing; to ski with people of a similar standard; and to ski with a Leader, instructor or guide that knows the resort. Some 63 per cent of respondents said
the holiday completely matched their expectations — and just seven per cent said it didn’t at all. One said: “It was even better than expected.” Another: “It really was exactly as advertised — and then we all got on with making it even better!” Some 57 per cent have been in contact with people on the trip since the holiday, emphasising just how good the trips are for making new skiing friends. One said: “I live in Australia, but ski most northern winters in the Alps, mostly solo. The Freshtracks concept suits me well. I imagine I’ll do it again and again.” Another said: “There’s always something to choose from — challenging and exciting holidays with good prices and organisation.” If you want to share feedback about a Freshtracks holiday, or anything else, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sales of new insurance policies soar as skiers seek no-strings cover The Ski Club launched its new insurance range in September 2015 and — just over a year later — it is safe to say that the club has a roaring success on our hands. The number of policies sold has trebled on the previous year's total, with over 10,000 policies purchased. Not only has this stood the club in good stead financially, it has provided Ski Club members and the wider community of snowsports enthusiasts excellent cover — especially for off-piste, older and frequent skiers — at competitive prices. The insurance is also helping the club attract new members. See skiclubinsurance.co.uk.
Four Council candidates are vying for your vote Voting has opened for the election of a new member of the Ski Club Council. This year four members are standing for the place that has become vacant. You can find out about them and vote online at surveymonkey.co.uk/r/scgbagm2016. The Council is made up of volunteers with a range of skills. They represent members and provide guidance to the chief executive. Our thanks go to Patrick Usborne, who is standing down, having served on for the Council for four years. You can also vote in person at the Annual General Meeting on Thursday November 17, at 7pm at the White House. Please email email@example.com.
Application for awards now open
Places still available on popular Leaders’ course
Applications for two of the Ski Club’s six ‘Inspire’ awards are now open. The Thomas Lang Schools Bursary offers funds of up to £1,000 to help secondary
A few slots are left on the Ski Club Leaders’ course in Zermatt in December. It offers a fantastic fortnight developing mountaincraft skills in the Swiss resort. Advice includes managing a group, on and off-piste technique, snowcraft and learning avalanche safety procedures. The £2,899 price includes return rail transfers from Geneva, four-star halfboard accommodation on a twin share basis, technique instruction by Basi trainers, further training by mountain guides, an Eider Leader’s jacket and a 13-day lift pass. To learn more call 020 8410 2011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the bursaries helps schoolchildren discover the magic of a snowsports holiday
school students discover the magic of snowsports. The money was bequeathed by club member Thomas Lang, who was greatly involved with the club. University clubs offer a great way for skiers and snowboarders to continue their passion at a financially hard stage of their life. The Student Bursary is a new initiative from the club and offers universities up to £1,000 to develop their snowsports club, be that by organising taster sessions at a skidome or helping students afford ski holidays. You can find details of all the awards and application forms for the two bursaries at skiclub.co.uk/inspire. Ski+board
from our low prices in January! Choose your dream holiday home out of a selection of over 80 different apartments & chalets. Are you fed up with high-price skiing? Contact us! GriwaRent AG Holiday Apartments & Chalets Dorfstrasse 118 . 3818 Grindelwald Tel. +41 33 854 11 40 email@example.com www.griwarent.ch
Report says skiers will pay a third more for trips, but is it really that bad?
Val Gardena in Italy was one of the five most recommended resorts in the survey
British intend to carry on skiing despite Brexit currency woes Harriet Johnston
Photo: Melody Sky
The currency turmoil following the EU referendum has had no effect on British skiers’ desire to keep skiing, according to a new study from the Ski Club of Great Britain. Its annual consumer research report collected responses before and after the vote, and found no discernible difference between the responses of regular winter sports fans. However, newcomers to the sport said they would be less likely to try skiing after June 23 and the resulting collapse in the pound. Perhaps surprisingly, the most popular age to start is when people are in their 30s and 40s. The survey, now in its fourth year, is the only one of its kind in the industry
and is sent to over a million people. It garnered a record 17,000 responses on ski habits, intentions and attitudes. Loyalty to the sport appears strong, with 97 per cent of those who skied last season looking to ski again this winter. Skiers are also loyal to their favourite countries, with 74 per cent of those who skied in France on their last trip saying they would go there for their next one, 61 per cent stating Austria and 49 per cent US and Canada. The top resorts for recommendations were Whistler and Sun Peaks in Canada, Breckenridge, in the US, Val Gardena in Italy, and Val d’Isère in France. For a copy of the report email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skiers will pay up to 30 per cent more at ski resorts across Europe this winter, according to research by the Post Office. The survey of 26 resorts worldwide blames local price rises combined with the weak pound, saying average prices in French resorts have risen by 26 per cent, while in Austria the figure is 20 per cent. However, while the fall in sterling is well-known, some commentators have questioned the study’s findings about how much the local cost of food, drink, ski passes, hire and lessons has risen. The report claimed the cost of a trip to Tremblant had risen 95 per cent even before mid-October’s fall in the pound.
...and Tesco reckons Italy’s costlier than Switzerland Tesco’s debut in the world of ski surveys has raised a few eyebrows. Tesco Bank’s money-saving guide branded three Swiss resorts as offering the best value for skiing, while rating Italy’s the lowest. It arrived at the counter-intuitive findings by dividing the length of piste by the cost of a six-day adult lift pass, to find that Champoussin, Les Crosets and Champéry came out top and Sestrière, Sauze d’Oulx and Sansicario bottom. Nicola Lowry, Tesco Bank’s Corporate Affairs Assistant, told Ski+board: “We measure affordability rather differently.” Top value resorts at skiclub.co.uk/news.
Ski lift industry turns a corner
Aldi pledges to kit out a family of four for £200
Resorts are building faster, more efficient and comfier ski lifts than ever before — and such is the industry’s success, cities want a piece of the action. Urban gondolas relieve congestion and speed up commutes at a fraction
of the cost of building underground railways. Medellin in Colombia opened its Metrocable system in 2004. And in the next few years, there will be ten lines over La Paz in Bolivia, while a new system has been built in Mexico City. In the US, New York, Washington Chicago and Austin are all looking to build urban gondola networks. Meanwhile ski resorts are focusing on luxuries, such as leather seats, and innovations. There are plans to create gondolas that can turn corners, without having to detach from the cable, which requires big lift stations.
After Aldi’s affordable skiwear range sold out in days last autumn, the German supermarket is promising customers that they can pre-order online a week ahead. The range includes pants, jackets and accessories that can kit out a family of four for under £200. A full adult’s outfit can be bought for less than £60. The range comes out in stores on November 27 but is available to pre-order online on November 20. There are also tips online about how best to buy the snow wear. James Wainwright, a spokesman for Aldi, said: “Customers have got to be quick as once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
New ski lifts — Page 34
Snow wear — Page 54
Les Deux Alpes silent on purchase of La Grave as lease on lift nears ends
Fears for ski brands as $15 billion corporate merger sparks sell-off
Les Deux Alpes representatives have declined to confirm or deny whether the resort will buy its neighbour, La Grave. The future of La Grave is uncertain, as the lease on its ancient cable car is coming up next year and no buyer has been announced. The lift, which opened nearly 30 years ago, provides access to wild, ungoverned terrain, giving La Grave its status as a freeride mecca. Many are worried that if the lease can’t be renewed, the resort will cease to operate, and have looked to neighbouring Les Deux Alpes. But a spokeswoman there said: “There is nothing more to say here, because the rumours are just rumours.”
Snowsport Scotland has launched a series of new instructor courses. It is also bringing back its ASL and Ski Instructor Conversion courses. The Scottish national governing body will run a three-day foundation course to becoming an instructor. Participants will be able to work with beginner skiers and snowboarders at artificial slopes and mountain facilities. The Assistant Instructor course has already proved popular with those looking to get on the instructing pathway. More than 30 people have successfully completed the course.
Though K2 and Völkl are familiar names to skiers, Jarden and Newell Rubbermaid are not. However, as a result of a merger between the two, several leading ski and snowboard brands are up for sale, with some fearing closure. Over the years, US firm Jarden has built a portfolio of snowsports brands including Full Tilt, K2, Line, Madshus, Dalbello, Marker, Morrow, Ride and Völkl, in addition to household brands, such as Breville and Yankee Candle. On December 14, 2015, another consumer products firm, Newell Rubbermaid, said it would acquire Jarden for over $15 billion of cash and stock. Newell owns brands as diverse as Parker, Waterman, Papermate and Krazy Glue. Ski insiders soon questioned whether skis and pens were natural bedfellows and if the new firm would try to exit the outdoor segment. As predicted, Newell has announced its outdoor portfolio is for sale. It said it “hopes to complete the divestiture of the assets within the first half of 2017”. Worryingly, Michael Polk, head of Newell, said of ‘non-key’ brands: “Ideally I would like to sell these assets versus simply walking away from them.” Speaking at the Global Consumer Staples Conference in early September, he went on: “Some are the kind of businesses that would be difficult to sell and therefore we should just shut down because they create no value and
Fund for athletes is now open for donations
Eurostar adds four half-term trains
New snowsport instructor courses launched by Scots
The British Snowsports Fund is open for donations to help aspiring athletes and to boost involvement in winter sports. The body behind the fund, British Ski and Snowboard, has also received a boost with the recent appointment of Dan Hunt as performance director. He brings with him more than 13 years’ experience of working as director of performance for the Premier League and with Team Sky in British cycling. The fund’s partners include the Ski Club of Great Britain — which will donate 50p for each member household — Ski Esprit, Crystal and Ellis Brigham. Readers can contribute at bssnf.uk.
The Ski Train runs between London and Bourg-St Maurice on Fridays and Saturdays
K2 is one of the brands that Newell is disposing of, following a recent merger
are a distraction for us.” Subsequently a Newell spokesman has said: “The decision to pursue a sale of our winter sports businesses (inclusive of Völkl and K2) was part of a recent strategic review. “We do not plan to shut these down, but intend to sell them to a buyer at a full and fair value. We are confident we will achieve a successful sale to an owner who shares our interest in unlocking their full potential. Newell will retain and continue to operate these if no suitable buyer is identified.” The range of Jarden’s snowsports portfolio means it might be hard to find a single purchaser. While bigger brands such as Marker, K2 and Völkl will find buyers, niche marques may be under threat in the long term.
Eurostar is laying on four more trains during the peak school holiday period over February half-term 2017. The extra trains will leave at the same time as the usual ones — on February 11 and 12, returning on February 18 and 19 — with return fares from £309. Meanwhile booking has opened for early season tickets on French trains, including the high-speed TGV, as well as some international services. From November 4, it will also be possible to book for the peak ski season — February 3 to March 5, 2017. Tickets for travel from March 6 to 30, 2017 will become available on December 11.
Photo: Ross Woodhall
Tour operators point to the educational value of term-time ski trips Harriet Johnston Tour operators are still struggling with stricter rules on taking children skiing in term-time, despite a recent court ruling that will make it harder for head teachers to issue fines. More than 90,000 parents were fined a total of £5.6 million in the 2014-15 year. Holiday prices often double during school holidays, deterring many parents. So Ski Esprit has launched a programme emphasising how ski school can develop physical, social and cognitive skills, and boost confidence, fitness and health. And a new firm, Study and Ski, has launched revision holidays for GCSE this winter, but only during school holidays.
Natural snow cover falls, but piste depths remain steady Chris Madoc-Jones
Photo: swiss-image.ch/Stefan Hunziker
Hugely trendy in the 1980s, monoskiing was once said to be about to overtake skiing in popularity, before itself being overtaken by snowboarding. Now it’s making a comeback, as Ski+board revealed last season. Val Thorens’ Ecole Ski Cool (ski-cool.com) is introducing lessons for €49 an hour for two people or €59 an hour for three to five, with one-piece suits not obligatory.
Researchers have found that there are 38 fewer days of natural snow each winter in the Swiss Alps than in the 1970s. The study, by the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, was released in September and looked at 45 years of data from 11 sites. It found that every decade the first major snowfall arrived three days later and melted six days earlier, as temperatures rose by as much as 0.8°C every ten years. Happily, the Ski Club’s own snow depth data reveals that, with the arrival of artificial snow-making, resorts aren’t having to cut the length of their season. Rather than look only at natural snow, the club shows depths on piste. And for Davos, one of the Swiss sites, maximum depths have remained fairly constant. This is despite the fact that the Swiss scientists found maximum natural snow depths at every station to be between
Nevis Range turns to hydroelectric power
Take a lift to London’s loftiest peak
Monoskiing is making a comeback in Val Thorens
The Nevis Range ski area is nearing completion on the building of a 1,100kilowatt hydroelectric dam that will power its gondola, offices and café. The development has been in the planning for years, but the £4 million capital was only agreed earlier this year with a loan from Close Brothers Leasing. The dam is being built at 580m in the ‘Back Corrie’ of the ski area, with buried pipe and two turbines. The project means that hardy skiers at the resort can console themselves that they are indirectly benefiting from the bad weather which can so often hinder Scottish skiing.
You may have ridden the gondola over the Thames, but a chairlift? No, it’s not Photoshopped. This arresting image was created by Rich McCor, whose intricate card cut-outs, when silhouetted against
Davos has seen natural snow cover fall, yet is able to open earlier thanks to snow-making
40cm and 100cm less in the 2010s compared with the 1970s. In fact, the 23 seasons of Ski Club data for Davos also reveals that, if anything, the season is lengthening, especially in the early months of the winter, as the resort joins the rush to open for guests in November. During this period, Davos did not open its first lifts before the first week of December until the winter of 19992000. Yet this season it aims to open on November 18, while last winter, the Parsenn Mountain opened on October 31. Some 40 per cent of Davos’s slopes are covered by snow machines, including all of the vital resort runs. Ski Club members can see on piste snow depths for their favourite resort at skiclub.co.uk/snowreports/historical.
Inside a snow-making factory — Page 26
landmarks, have made him an Instagram sensation. The 29-year-old gave up his job at the BBC to turn his hobby into a career and work with the likes of Lonely Planet, Visit Dubai and Netflix. In this instance, Rich captured this shot of the London skyline at sunrise — complete, of course, with an early riser on the first chair to the top of the Shard. The Ski Club’s online team met McCor at the Café Royal, where the Ski Club was founded in 1903, and were so taken with his designs that they will feature them on the club’s Instagram account. So keep an eye on instagram.com/ skiclubgb as more images come online.
South Tyrol seeks dolce vita skiers. South Tyrol seeks you.
a ch 4
Discover South Tyrol – the Alps’ best-kept secret. You’ll find 1,000 km of perfect pistes in this stunning winter wonderland, where the sun shines 300 days a year. And when you’re finished skiing for the day, bask in the midst of the Dolomites while you sample some of the area’s sensational food and drink. www.suedtirol.info/dolcevita
12/18/11 4:46 PM
1/4/12 10:29 AM
MAY THE PISTE BE WITH YOU SNOW-MAKING FACTORIES ARE SHOWING SKIERS WHY THEY NEEDN'T FEAR A SLOW START TO THE SEASON, SAYS ABIGAI L BUTCHER
Photo: Alpe d’Huez/Laurent Salino
Photo: Val d’Isère/ Christophe Hassel
al d’Isère is throbbing, but not tubes and 650 cannons that cover 40 per just in the après-ski bars packed cent of Val d’Isère’s vast ski area. with skiers talking excitedly One question we have for him is why a about their day’s adventures. The French resort sitting at 1,850m — with slopes that resort has another beating heart, and it is reach up to 3,300m — needs artificial snow hidden in an unassuming building carved at all. Many resorts have a much more into the rock face. Here, pipes and pumps pressing need for snowmaking facilities. whir night and day, feeding a network that The next two Winter Olympics will be stretches right over the slopes from which held in South Korea and China, in resorts those skiers have just come. that often rely entirely on artificial snow. This is the control room of Le Snow The answer, Mattis explains, lies in the Factory. Installed two years ago, it is length of the season that the resort can a state-of-the-art facility, and one of the guarantee. This year, Val d’Isère will open biggest in Europe, on November 26 and using the latest LE SNOW FACTORY COULD after that it needs technology to to be assured of snow produce 1.6 million COVER THE WHOLE OF THE for the Critérium de cubic metres of la Première Neige on BELLEVARDE MOUNTAIN snow a season — at December 9, an early a cost of €5 million. THAT TOWERS ABOVE IT IN event in the World It could cover Cup series. The resort LESS THAN A WEEK the whole of the only plans to close Bellevarde mountain that towers above it in early May. As one of the most popular in less than a week. And Val d’Isère is destinations in France, Val d’Isère had so proud of it, it runs tours for the public. 1,323,642 ‘skier days’ last winter, up 3.5 per It is not alone in this. Alpe d’Huez cent from the season before. And for that also offers free weekly visits to its facilities, it must guarantee opening and closing dates while Serre Chevalier combines a tour with a €29 piste-basher ride. Being curious, my group signed up to Val d’Isère’s tour, which is done in both English and French. So, having changed out of our ski boots, we bypass the bars, hotels and restaurants to which skiers flock, and approach the unremarkable building by the Olympique lift, where skiers start and end their day. We kick the snow off our boots, step inside… and wonder if we haven’t walked into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Before us is a breath-taking array of machinery, all gleaming pistons and huge, awe-inspiring pumps — with a control room at the centre that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi movie. Our guide is Pierre Mattis, who has run Val d’Isère’s snowmaking operation for the past 20 years. As he shows us around his Val d’Isère is one of a number of French resorts to underground empire, it is clear his passion offer visitors tours of its snow-making facility. The explanations are given in both French and English is undimmed. Mattis oversees the 70km of
Photo: Alpe d’Huez/Laurent Salino
Photo: Office du Tourisme Val d’Isère/Andy Parant
upon which businesses and skiers rely. So Mattis and his team start early in the autumn, creating a base layer that makes the natural snow settle quicker and last longer, to cope with the everchanging weather patterns. We spent the previous two days whizzing around the Espace Killy — the 300km of piste that Val d’Isère shares with Tignes. And we noticed that, despite the late start to the season, there was not a bare patch in sight this January, whether we were flying down ‘La Face’ — the resort’s scarily steep Olympic run — or cruising the blues and reds on the I HAD SPENT THE Solaise, where we had found PREVIOUS TWO DAYS our ski legs on the first day. Even though I had spent DODGING THE ICY those two days dodging the SPRAY OF CANNONS cold, icy spray spewing out of cannons dotted along the piste, I would never have guessed how much water they used. Mattis explains: “We use 500,000 to 800,000 cubic metres of water a year to produce double that amount of snow.” Our group is naturally concerned about the impact of using that amount of Each cubic metre of snow water on the environment, but Mattis, costs €2 to €3 to produce
FRIENDLY BACTERIA? The bugs that help resorts make snow Since 1987 an American firm has been able to help resorts make snow more efficiently at temperatures as high as –2.5°C. However, its method has proved controversial, as it involves introducing a foreign substance into the water. For water to freeze, enough energy must be removed to allow the molecules to slow down and align in a latticed hexagonal array. Snowmax Technologies speeds up this process by putting an ‘ice nucleator’ in the water that attracts the molecules and creates the lattice sooner than otherwise. The nucleator is a protein derived from a bacterium called pseudomonas syringae. Snowmax, which is based in Denver, grows this in a controlled environment, then freeze dries it to yield the protein. The company points out that the bacteria are present in nature, and that its product has been approved for use in Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as Chile, Argentina and Australia. However, its use is not sanctioned in Austria or Germany, and is still being considered in France. Colin Nicholson
Val d’Isère wants to offer skiers the longest season possible
a tall, capable-looking, practical man in his early 40s, explains how we saw the source in the giant Lac du Chevril, which we passed on our way into the resort. “Even if we took all the water used over a season out at once, the level of the lake would drop by just 40cm,” he says. And the hydroelectric power station in the dam that holds back the lake provides the answer to our next question — surely using so much power is itself not good for the environment? He says: “We have a contract ALL THE ENERGY with our energy USED COMES distributor that FROM RENEWABLE guarantees our electricity comes SOURCES from renewable sources. We use high-performance technology and variable speed drives for our pumps, which do not pollute the environment.” Mattis talks as we walk around the pristine station, with vast tanks pumping water around the system. In addition to this ‘engine room’, there are nine pumping stations around the ski area. As the water is drawn from the lake
it is filtered by sand to stop any particles getting into the system that would cause a blockage further down the line. “How much snow is needed depends on the season and temperature,” says Mattis. “We can start producing snow at temperatures of –2°C or below, but the colder it is, the easier it gets. When it’s colder, the cannons make snow faster. If it’s only –6°C they can’t be on full speed, as the water won’t freeze fast enough.” But issues arise if the mercury falls too low. The cannons work at temperatures down to –15°C. Any colder and the water freezes in the cannons’ pipes. But why doesn’t the whole system start freezing up at 0°C? Mattis explains: “After the water is pumped through the pipes, air is pushed through so it doesn’t freeze beneath the ground.” Whether or not to make snow is not down to Mattis deciding it’s time for a
Photo: Alpe d’Huez/Laurent Salino
Many piste-bashers have radars to detect the depth of snow underneath them
top-up. Each piste-basher has a radar beneath it that measures the snow as they groom every night. And every Monday, Val d’Isère Téléphériques, the company that owns the lifts and snowmaking system, meets the mayor of Val d’Isère at the town hall to decide what snow is needed where, and if any extra snow is needed for upcoming events. “It costs between €2 and €3 to make one cubic metre of snow and we make up to 1.6 million cubic metres of snow a season, which WE MEET THE MAYOR costs up to €5 million. So EVERY MONDAY TO we need to be DECIDE WHAT SNOW precise. The price goes up when IS NEEDED WHERE the temperatures are high and when the cannon is far from the factory and at altitude,” says Mattis. Although the tour of Le Snow Factory is entirely inside, Mattis has a cannon on hand for demonstrations. And while we’re talking he switches it on. The cannon instantly starts to pump out frozen spray, cooling the air around us swiftly. He tells me, proudly, that Le Snow Factory can produce enough of the white stuff to fill Wembley Stadium to
a depth of half a metre in just an hour. In the control room, Mattis and his team of 12 — all men bar one woman — can monitor each cannon, operating them individually if needed. They can also view a satellite image of the area and monitor the entire system as it works to keep us on skis for half the year. It’s a 24hour operation. During snow production, the workers split into teams of two — six on a day shift, six on a night shift — always monitoring the entire process. Yet for all the high-tech nature of the operation — snowmaking has come a long way since the first cannons were introduced in Val d’Isère in 1986 — the ethos behind Le Snow Factory flows in the veins of this historic, quintessentially French community, from those meetings with the mayor to Mattis’s family heritage — he comes from one of the oldest families in town. In fact, looking at all those tubes in the control room, it is an organic analogy that comes to mind. I feel I am at the base of an oak tree, its branches stretching over the land, its trunk planted firmly in the ground. That’s all we see. But, beneath the surface of the earth, its network of roots is as complex as its branches — hidden from sight,
feeding and watering the system — a life force that keeps it in fine working order. And it is this eco-system of trails buried deep under the snow that allows us to continue to enjoy the sport from which we gain so much enjoyment — whatever climate change may throw at us. So the next time you ski past the snow cannons, remember that what we see on the surface is only part of the story. What lies beneath is far more intricate.
COLD STORAGE How two perfect pistes were created before a single snow cannon was fired You may think that this recent picture of the Norwegian resort of Geilo shows the power of snowmaking, but it doesn’t. Resorts often emphasise the importance not just of producing snow, but of storing and shifting it over winter. In many cases, natural snow builds up in drifts, while exposed areas of the mountain are left bare. So vehicles must move it to where it’s required. But Geilo goes one step further. It builds up a mound of snow throughout the winter at the top of the mountain, which is less than 1,200m above sea level. When spring comes it covers it with reflective blankets, losing just 25 per cent over summer. In autumn it spreads it down the pistes below — as well as under the drag lift — and so can claim the title of being the first non-glacier downhill ski resort in the Northern hemisphere to open for winter. This season it opened its first pistes on September 30 and hopes to open the rest in November. The practice of storing snow is used in other resorts, but more often to cover cross-country trails, as is done in the French resort of Les Saisies and the Italian resort of Livigno. Colin Nicholson
Le Snow Factory runs free tours at 3.45pm on Thursdays in English and French for a minimum of five and maximum of 20 people. You must register with the tourist office by 3pm the day before. Children must be over seven. See valdisere.com and click on events for more details. Abigail travelled as a guest of Crystal (crystalski. co.uk; 020 8939 0726), which offers a week’s half-board at the Auberge St Hubert from £732 per person (based on two sharing) including flights to Chambéry and transfers. For more on skiing in France visit france-montagnes.com.
This picture, taken in September this year, shows how the Norwegian resort of Geilo uses snow that it has stored under a reflective blanket over the summer to provide coverage come autumn
Give your ski holiday an extra lift A flurry of mountain upgrades mean fewer queues and faster transit times, writes Chris Madoc-Jones
Austria Austria is again leading the way in infrastructure improvements, with a historic link-up and fast lifts popping up everywhere For years, piste skiers in St Anton have only been able to gaze down on snowy Lech-Zürs in wonder. Though the two share a lift pass, a trip between them started and finished with an unseemly scramble to climb aboard a crowded bus. However, this season piste skiers will be able to do what was previously the preserve of freeriders — swooping from one to the other. In the biggest development in the Alps this season, four new high-speed, ten-seater gondolas have turned the Ski Arlberg area into Austria’s largest
with 87 lifts and 305km of linked pistes. Running from Stuben and over the Flexenpass to Trittkopf, the new lifts also provide access to some of Zürs’ finest off-piste and make the link to Lech easily skiable. By following the new ‘Run of Fame’ you can circle the entire area in one, leg-burning 65km ski day. The Arlberg may have stolen the SkiCircus’s crown, meaning its claim to be the largest linked area in the country lasted only a season, but investment in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, now linked to Fieberbrunn, continues apace in its ambitious project to replace all old, slow lifts. The total spend since 2000 has hit €432 million thanks to two new ten-seat gondolas, including a replacement for the Schönleitenbahn gondola — the key access lift into Vorderglemm. And Saalbach’s planned connection
to nearby Zell am See has taken a big leap forward over the summer with the building of the first section of the Zell am See Xpress gondola. It drops down towards Viehhofen, which sits on the edge of the SkiCircus, but not all the way — the final lift will only be built in 2018-19, returning the title of Austria’s biggest linked area back to Salzburgerland. If you can’t wait until then, get a sneak preview by heading down the new itinerary that has been created from the base of the lift
into the valley of Saalbach and take one of the frequent shuttle buses back to Zell. Another of Austria’s big spenders in recent years, Sölden, has also been busy over the summer. When its replacement for the workhorse Giggijoch gondola opens in December, it will become the highest capacity lift in the world — usurping the Colosses chair in La Plagne which can transport 4,400 people an hour. The Giggijochbahn will have 134 ten-seat cabins (all fitted with high-speed wi-fi) and will whisk 4,500 people an hour from Sölden town centre to the heart of the area. Increasing capacity is firmly in the plans of Ischgl too, which is building yet another eight-seat chair. The new Flimjochbahn will replace an old four-person chairlift above Idalp and increase capacity on one of the most important lifts in the region to 3,200 skiers an hour. In a quirky statistic, Ischgl’s lift company says its third pylon (shared with another eight-seater chairlift, the Höllbodenbahn) has the potential to see 6,900 people pass over it every hour — a world record. Despite the huge investments mentioned so far, the most expensive project of the summer belongs to the Stubai Glacier — where €60 million has been pumped into the new Eisgratbahn 3S gondola lift. It climbs almost 1,200m in just under 11 minutes — half the time of the old lift. A new off-piste ski route is set to open under the lower section of the gondola, although to
ski it, you must be with an instructor or a mountain guide. The world’s first ‘D-Line’ chairlift from Doppelmayr, its latest model, has been built in the Waidoffen sector of Hochfugen. The D-Line features 205 technical innovations, 14 of which required new patents, making it Doppelmayr’s largest and most complex project in the Austrian firm’s 124-year history. Technical director Christoph Hinteregger says the D-Line brings “unique comfort, low noise, top performance and easy maintenance”, along with a sounder environmental footprint — the new station design is smaller and the lifts are more efficient. After spending an incredible €51 million last season, the SkiWelt may have halved its expenditure ahead of 2016-17 — but the €27 million invested over the summer is still more than most resorts manage in a decade. Much of this has been spent on 100 new snow machines, taking the total to 1,700 — all of which are powered by Tirolean renewable energy. The only lift project of the summer was at Söll, where the new Salvenmoos gondola will make the
family-friendly Hochsöll area even more accessible for children. Elsewhere in the Alps, the building of a new, fast eight-seat chairlift would be headline news. In Austria it feels like a footnote in history. That said, the new Schmiedingerbahn on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier at Kaprun will be a big help. Similarly at Schladming, home to the world-famous night World Cup slalom each January, the new Burgstallalmbahn will significantly improve access to the summit of the iconic Planai peak. Further west, above St Gallenkirch in the Silvretta Montafon ski area, the Silvrettabahn, the region’s fastest eightpack has been built over the summer. Look out for a brand new ten-seater gondola at Gerlos in the Zillertal. It’s one of Austria’s big ski areas but as yet is undiscovered by most British skiers. It makes getting to its neighbour Zell im Zillertal easier than ever. Rauris in the Pinzgau region has also installed a new, ten-seater gondola, which is set to whisk skiers towards the summit of this pretty, family-orientated resort. Another of Austria’s hidden gems, Galtür, which lies just along the valley from Ischgl, is also getting a new ten-seat gondola. The Breitspitzbahn extends the skiing on offer at the eastern edge of the ski area and makes the resort an even more attractive day-trip option from Ischgl — especially when the snow is good.
france The joy of returning to Val d’Isère, and an unknown ski lift manufacturer starts revolutionising La Plagne The much needed upgrade to the Solaise Mountain is finally complete in perennial Ski Club favourite Val d’Isère. A swish new gondola with heated seats will whisk skiers in seven minutes from the town to the Tête de Solaise, which has been completely redesigned with beginners in mind, with covered magic carpets to create a snowsure, learnerfriendly area at 2,560m. Avoiding the notoriously steep runs back into the resort will be easy now, as queues are
unlikely, given that the lift is able to carry 3,600 skiers per hour. Over in La Plagne, the Envers lift has been installed in phase two of its €220 million, ten-year development plan. Keen to make up for Sölden stealing its crown as owner of the world’s highestcapacity ski lift, new kid on the block LST build the chair. This is the first of its new generation of detachable chairlifts. Its striking look has been designed with the environment in mind, with smaller stations and an energy-efficient design. In Alpe d’Huez, a second chondola has been constructed as part of an overhaul of the floodlit Signal race pistes. The hybrid lift (a mix of eightseat chairs and ten-seat gondolas) stretches to the Signal summit and is capable of shifting a whopping 3,300 skiers an hour. The Grand Sûre chair has also been replaced by a new quad. In Le Corbier some €30 million has been invested in two new six-seat chairs, a quad and a T-bar, transforming access out of town and into the impressively large Les Sybelles ski area.
Once again, the Three Valleys, and in particular snowsure Val Thorens, have continued apace with its lift upgrade programme. Two new high-speed, six-person chairs have been built — the iconic white chair and pylon design will remain. A replacement to the Stade draglift has improved access to the Yannick Richard race run, while the new Boismint chair will increase capacity towards Cime Caron and Les Menuires. Those heading to the Chamonix valley this winter should look out for the high-capacity, fast Parsa chair in the Brévent-Flégère sector. It replaces a slow quad and should improve access to one of the most snowsure beginner areas. Elsewhere, it has been the summer of the six-pack, with numerous resorts installing these high-capacity lifts. In Les Carroz, the Saix Express is set to improve access towards Flaine and Samoëns, while Chamrousse built the Casserousse, and the Arcellins chair at Val Cenis will transform the middle sector of the mountain.
italy An improved link for the Sella Ronda and two new eightseat chairs — a first for Italy Before this winter, there were no eight-seater chairs in the Italian mountains. This summer, in the province of Südtirol, two resorts have built headline-grabbing, eight-person chairlifts to change that. Both are equipped with seat heating and protective bubbles, so look out for the new Enzian
chair at Ratschings and the Gran Paradiso lift at Val Gardena in the Sella Ronda. However, this is not the only improvement on the Sella Ronda circuit. A new ten-seat gondola to Portados above Arabba is set to further speed up the circuit and improve access to some of the area’s toughest terrain. Three Italian resorts are also getting new ten-seat gondolas. The hidden gem of Alpe Lusia, to the south of the Sella Ronda, is one of them, as is Brixen’s local ski area in Südtirol. So is less Roccaraso in the Apennine
Mountains, just inland of Rome. Another resort in Südtirol, Obereggen, has built a six-seat chair/ eight-seat gondola. The chondola should plug a crucial gap in its lift system and will also serve a new toboggan run. In addition, look out for a new six-seat chair at Carezza in the Val di Fassa.
switzerland In the country that gave us a rotating chairlift, Andermatt grows and there’s new access to Saas-Fee and Crans-Montana The headline in Switzerland is the continued development of Andermatt, where two more six-seat chairs have been built over the summer. As a result, the new Calmut and Unterstafel lifts are bringing the ‘Ski Arena’ connection to neighbouring Sedrun a step closer. With a completion date set for the 2018-19 season, only three more lifts are needed to plug the gap and link the two resorts — which will make it one of Switzerland’s biggest linked areas. After a few quiet summers, Saas-Fee has been busy building a new ten-seat gondola to Spielboden in preparation for the 2016-17 winter season. The lift will transform access to the glacier — look out in coming years for an extension to the Langflüh mountain. Nearby Zermatt is pressing forward
with the transformation that has seen almost 20 new lifts springing up in the mountains above the town in the past ten years. The new Gant-Blauherd lift replaces an ancient gondola — whose 50 cabins were sold to the public for 500CHF each at the end of last winter, and will doubtless be serving as greenhouses now. Another big mover during the summer months was Crans-Montana, where two new lifts are set to spin when the season kicks off. The old lift from Montana via Arnouva to the Cry d’Er has been replaced at the lower section by a tenperson gondola and for the second half by a fast six-pack chairlift. Journey times to the top will be cut significantly, meaning plenty more time to enjoy some of the resorts’ most popular runs. To the west of Crans-Montana, in the Bernese Oberland, Les Diablerets saw two new lifts built over the summer. The new fast chairs in the Laouissalet sector strengthen the link between Diablerets
and neighbouring Villars, reducing queues and speeding up a journey that previously included T-bars. Two new lifts have also sprung up in the 4 Vallées, one in Verbier and the other in Veysonnaz. The slow old triple chairlift at La Chaux has been replaced by a fast six-seater, making lapping the resorts’ park easier than ever. At the other end of the ski area, access out of Mayens de l’Ours towards Thyon 2000 has been significantly improved by a new ten-seat gondola. In St Moritz, which will host the World Championships this winter, a fast six-seat chair has replaced the old Curtinella lift to bolster the link between the Corvatsch and Furtschellas ski areas. Another fast sixperson chairlift, which uses lasers to assess the height of people getting on and so can adjust the seat level, has been built in the Schaffürggli area of the Madrisa mountain above Klosters. And Pizol, by the border with Liechtenstein, is set to get its first six-pack from Schwamm to above Pardiel.
Germany, Slovakia, Poland, Russia New lifts in Germany, Eastern Europe continues to expand and Russia reaps the rewards of the 2014 Olympics Two major new lifts have been built at the German resort of Obertsdorf. The new Olympiabahn at Ifen may be on the Austrian side of the border, but it will make a big difference to the snowsure ski area, as will the heated Bierenwangbahn in the Fellhorn/Kanzelwand sector on the German side of the border. Despite a tricky season last winter, development continues apace in Eastern Europe. A new 15-seat Doppelmayr gondola has been installed at Jasná in Slovakia, on the southern side of the Chopok Mountain. Ski+board
Meanwhile three new fast six-seater chairs have been built in up-and-coming Poland, at the resorts of Kasina Wielka, Czarna Góra and Szczyrk. The Polish-Slovakian bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics may have been pulled at the last minute due to local doubts about the value of hosting the Games, but Rosa Khutor, in Russia, continues to reap the rewards of staging events at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, with no fewer than three new lifts (two gondolas and a chairlift) being built over the summer in the Ober Khutor sector of the mountain.
US and Canada Big Sky lives up to its name, there’s a sweet new access gondola at Jackson Hole and why not join the Bachelor party? The biggest spender in North America is Montana’s resort of Big Sky, which is splashing out on a heated bubble chairlift. Although commonplace in Europe, heated bubbles are pretty new to the US and Canada. The Bowl lift will only be the sixth in the whole continent and should transform access at midmountain. A new Challenger chair has also been built and the resort has ambitious plans which should make it of more interest to British skiers. Across the state line, the legendary resort of Jackson Hole has built its second gondola. The Sweetwater lift will serve some of the best beginner and intermediate terrain on the mountain and can shift 25 per cent more people,
bEST OF THE REST
in much greater comfort, than the old chairs it is replacing. Solidifying its claim to be the fifth largest US ski resort, the headline-grabbing Cloudchaser chair has added 635 acres to Mount Bachelor, providing access to the best of the mountain for advanced skiers. Elsewhere, the Arizona Snowbowl offers 700m of vertical drop on Agassiz Peak, which is now accessible from its new high-speed six-seater chair. Two key lifts have been built in Colorado. Vail has improved access to the Sun Up area with another high-speed quad. And the new Elkhead Express at Steamboat
Springs is also set to speed up the transit time through what has been one of the mountain’s worst bottlenecks. New quads, although not fast or detachable, have been built at Grand Targhee and Sundance. A few new lifts have sprung up in New England, with Sunday River in Maine installing a three-person chair, and Suicide Six in Vermont building a quad. In upstate New York, Cascade Mountain has put up both a fast and a slow four-seater chair, while the midWestern resort of Wilmot Mountain was purchased by Vail Resorts, which promptly built three quad chairs. It’s been quiet in Canada, with a high-speed six-pack at Le Relais in Québec being the only major project of note.
Triumph in Trysil, Kläppen sees Sweden’s biggest development and Japan gets its first hybrid lift, complete with glass floors
of Kläppen has seen the country’s biggest project — a brand new ten-seat gondola from Doppelmayr. If you’re visiting the powder-mecca of Niseko, in Japan, keep an eye out for a record-breaking chondola. The six-seat chair/eight-seat cabin combination is the country’s first hybrid lift, and will be one of Japan’s first fast lift to have six-seat chairs. The gondola cabins will also have a glass floor.
Up in Scandinavia it has been quite a quiet summer. Norwegian family favourite Trysil has bucked the trend in building its Skihytta six-seater fast chair, which is set to transform the southern sector of the resort. The Swedish resort
For stockists information call: 01572 770900
Vorarlberg: Sepp Mallaun/ Vorarlberg Tourism
great skiing and snowboarding - Vor everyone!
View of Lech village
Ludwig Berchtold/ Vorarlberg Tourism
Sepp Mallaun/ Lech Zürs Tourism
There’s a good reason why British skiers flock to Austria: many reasons in fact. The snow is reliable, even on the lower slopes; the scenery is simply jaw-dropping; accommodation is invariably high quality; and the Austrians are very strong on “Gemütlichkeit” - the special friendly, feel-good atmosphere you’ll find in so many pubs and bars in just about any Vorarlberg ski resort. “Something for everyone” is a phrase we often hear, but in Austria’s most westerly province, on the borders of Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany, it’s undeniable. Vorarlberg provides a truly magical mix of mountains, pastures, forests and quaint little villages – along with everything you could want from a spectacular winter holiday on the slopes. Apart from the world-famous ski area of Lech Zürs, this picturesque region perhaps is less well-known than its famous neighbour Tirol, but it includes six separate ski regions offering family-friendly skiing, impressive off-piste, high-altitude ski touring and extensive networks of cross-country skiing and winter walking. The resorts here regularly boast some of the best snow in the country – and in much of the Alps as a whole. The various regions provide an incredible variety of skiing, with slopes that are ideal for beginners and intermediates, along with challenges galore for more hard-core skiers and snowboarders. You can chose from the Bregenzerwald region with DamülsMellau and Warth-Schröcken which is linked to the Arlberg region. Then there’s Lech Zürs, a favourite among celebrities, royalty and gourmets alike.
There are direct flights from the UK to Friedrichshafen, Munich-Memmingen, Zurich and Innsbruck
For more information:
bregenzerwald.at/en │ lechzuers.com │ Vorarlberg.travel/en
Snowshoeing through Andelsbuch
Sepp Mallaun/ Vorarlberg Tourism
Lech Zürs am Arlberg
Christian Rescher/ Lech Zuers Tourism
Freeriding in Lech Zürs
A sophisticated Austrian ski village whose main street is packed with attractive shops, tearooms and bars, Lech — which once boasted: “Our guests are kings, and kings are our guests” — is rated by many as the crème de la crème of Austrian skiing. It may be “exclusive” (though not snooty). In Lech’s upper satellite of Oberlech, cars are banned in winter and guests may get to their hotel via lift or cable car. On the eastern edge of Vorarlberg, Lech Zürs am Arlberg, with recently opened links to Warth-Schröcken, was once a firm favourite of Princess Diana (and Prince Charles sometimes skied undetected). Thanks to an exciting new gondola (one of four new ones to open this winter) you’ll actually be able to ski across the Tirolean border to neighbouring St Anton instead of hopping on a bus between them. This finally enables skiers to bridge the gap between these iconic ski areas and the huge network of slopes each resort is a gateway to. With 305kms of slopes served by 87 lifts, the region will now provide more continuous skiing on one lift pass than anywhere in Austria. Famously, the Weisse Ring (“White Ring”) — the 22km clockwise-only Lech Zürs circuit between the Rüfikopf, Madloch and Kriegerhorn areas — provides some beautiful on piste trails and superb off-piste terrain for stronger skiers and snowboarders, combined with breathtaking scenery. As well as being the capital of Gemütlichkeit, Lech Zürs is also a haven for lovers of good food, with many award-winning restaurants.
Adolf Bereuter/ Bregenzerwald Tourism
Cooking in the Gourmet Village Lech Zürs
Bregenzerwald Charming local architecture in the Bregenzerwald
Adolf Bereuter/ Bregenzerwald Tourism
For those skiers and snowboarders searching for a more intimate Vorarlberg scene, Bregenzerwald, with its 22 idyllic villages, has much to offer, with a wide-ranging complex of less well known resorts such as Damüls-Mellau, Diedamskopf in Au-Schoppernau and WarthSchröcken. Thanks to the area’s location on the northern edge of the Alps, Bregenzerwald enjoys well-above average snowfall, keeping everyone from novices and intermediates to ski tourers and other offpiste enthusiasts happy. All skiing areas are covered by the 3-valley ski pass, which is also valid on ski buses, and offers discounted day tickets for the Arlberg area. Skiers can access Lech Zürs on the Arlberg with the ‘Auenfeldjet’. All skiing areas on the Arlberg are connected for the first time this winter, enabling skiers to move from Warth-Schröcken via Lech Zürs to Stuben and St Anton. One of Bregenzerwald’s most prized showpieces is the area’s outstanding architecture. The region is renowned for the design and craftsmanship of its buildings, featuring carpentry using timber from the abundant local forests. The buildings are an intriguing mix of contemporary and traditional yet exude impeccable quality and functionality. The combination takes first-time visitors by surprise. Fascinating architectural tours such as the Umgang Bregenzerwald village walks (lasting anything from 90 minutes to four or five hours) provide après ski with a difference! There are specially marked paths through the villages, highlighting homes, public and commercial buildings, and information columns with details about features of the cultural landscape, including artistic and culinary attractions.
Skiing in the Bregenzerwald
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Our passion for the mountains may be undimmed, but to relive that first frisson on the slopes, a team of Ski+board writers, went to find some new challenges
If you’re blasé about blues and over-ready for reds, perhaps it’s time you looked down and studied your toes for a second. The landscape could look radically different if you swapped your usual skis or snowboard for a pair of telemark skis or snowshoes. In the third instalment of its popular ‘back to ski school’ series, Ski+board sent four writers to try out activities that would transform the way they experienced the mountains. One of the unexpected benefits of suddenly becoming a newbie all over again is that you also get the rush of excitement that comes with the sheer fear you may last have experienced moons ago. For those ready for a complete mind-warp — or piste-warp — then how about trying to master the halfpipe? No, not just sliding down the sides a little, but learning it properly with an instructor. And what better way to learn than by learning to become an instructor yourself? In Canada you can do a month-long course that will qualify you to instruct tiny tots by half-term. So while going back to ski school may not be free, it might just pay its way in all the rewards it offers.
A course in Canada offers the chance to start instructing in weeks. Harriet Johnston tried it out
Teachers rightly bridle at the saying ‘those who can’t do, teach’. A more accurate adage is that if you can’t explain something, then you don’t understand it. So when I enrolled on an instructor programme in Mont Tremblant, Québec, it was as much to teach myself how to ski better as others. Gap-year instructor courses often get a bad press for costing a lot and earning students little. But Ski Le Gap is one of the few to offer an intensive course that qualifies you to teach in four weeks. That’s the theory. But if you qualify mid-season most jobs at the ski school will have been taken. So I opted for the three-month course, taking the financial hit in exchange for the promise of skiing all day, every day, fully catered accommodation, and fun activities such as race training, trips to Québec City and ice hockey on the rink outside the Ski Le Gap dormitory. There were 70 of us living, skiing and partying together in what some describe as a Disneyfied resort. I prefer to think of its brightly coloured, fairytale-like houses as providing a blend of French charm and Canadian cool. We were split into groups according to ability and given improver courses before we embarked on learning the art of teaching. In some exercises I found myself carving on one ski down the slope, and regularly heard the cry of “spread your legs” to dispel that old school European technique. Our trainers were some of highest qualified in Canada, and also gave us classroom lessons in the physics of skiing and the science of angulation and inclination. It did not take long to gain the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA) Level 1 qualification, the one offered at the end of the four-week course. Taken over two days, it’s fairly easy. But it only allows you to teach the youngest tots. Level 2 requires better teaching skills and a higher level of skiing, scrutinised over a week from every angle. The weather, which had been bitterly cold until then, as only Eastern Canada can be, was soggy by the time of the exam. We were sloshing around, trying to impress the examiners, as sleet splattered our red jackets and beads of rain clung to the edge of our helmets. To be told, hours later, sheltered in the cinema room of our lodge, that I had passed and was now qualified to teach at an intermediate level was not only a relief, but a credit to the trainers — and my own very British ability to endure terrible weather. So how did my actual teaching go? I was lucky enough to get on to the slopes — some of my peers were stuck in a crèche area with toddlers for a whole day. I assisted
a young female instructor with her class, aged between eight and ten, and found them adorable. That is, until she left me with a boy who refused to ski. I skied with him between my legs the whole day, and he held on to my pole, which I rested under my knees. There is no greater leg work-out than snowploughing for five hours while holding up a child who, at the very mention of skiing, would burst into tears and go as limp as a doll. It ended up being my least favourite day of the programme. I’d heard rumours of tips, and was holding out for at least a beer from the parents, but the instructor ended up keeping it all, though she did express her thanks for helping with the trickiest child she’d ever had. I may not have instructed since then, but Louise, whom I shared a bunk with, is about to travel to Whistler to teach. And another friend, Cam, never left Canada. I continue to be friends with many of those that I met, despite the fact we are now scattered across the globe. And my skiing has improved exponentially. I am often asked for pointers on technique by friends, family and my partner, though I’ve concluded it’s worth keeping love and instructing separate. Instead, I feel I’ve learnt so much more than simply how to manage moguls or treat frostbite. It was the first time I’d been away from home, living in a new country and experiencing a new culture. Unlike our goggle tans, which soon faded, Ski Le Gap will forever hold a place in my heart.
The Ski Le Gap (skilegap.com; 020 7731 5432) Intensive Ski Training course runs from January 8 to February 4, 2017 and guarantees a job interview at the local snow school, as well as advice and help on finding employment elsewhere. It costs £3,895. The Ultimate Ski Experience course runs from January 8 to March 18, 2017 and costs £7,985.
Photo: Fredrik Schenholm/visitnorway.com
As we near the 150th anniversary of the sport, Colin Nicholson tries this most elegant form of skiing
Some 150 years ago, a new, more sporty form of skiing was born in the Telemark region of Norway. A cable around the heel, and hourglass shape to the skis allowed users not just to cross-country ski, but also to slalom and jump. It was such a pair that pioneers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle transported from Norway to Switzerland, thus beginning the tradition of Alpine skiing. Although skiing has evolved hugely since then, the telemark technique, first recorded in 1868, still has many enthusiasts. And recent safety improvements have made it much safer. Even so, clipping the wire loop around the back of my heel, I felt transported back in time. I was in Geilo, one of Norway’s larger resorts just a few kilometres north of Telemark, on a warm day in early April and my instructor Jørgen was willing to let me loose, as telemarking didn’t look too hard to my untrained eye. So I attempted some gentle genuflections down the slope. “Nice,” said Jørgen, “but those aren't telemark turns.” It was a phrase I was to hear a lot. I gave it another shot, kneeling further each time, like a persistent suitor. Jørgen looked puzzled. Then he chuckled: “I was thinking ‘what’s wrong?’ before it clicked. You’re bending the wrong leg!” It was time to go back to basics. So Jørgen had me doing snowplough turns, each followed by a little dip. I wobbled on the steeper sections of one of the two small-ish ski areas that rise up either side of the town. “Is this really a green?” I demanded, checking the piste map to convince myself. Geilo has 34km of pistes — 17km green and blue, 13km red and 4km black, with the two areas linked by a ski bus. To encourage me to be less tentative, Jørgen got me to hold my poles, which were already shorter than regular ones, halfway down. At first I could only hold my balance for half a second, then one second, then three seconds, by which time I was pining for a different slope — the blue running from the top of the mountain. From here, you can see the lakes that surround the town, which sits on the train line from Oslo to Bergen. I swooped into the valley with Jørgen following me like an anxious parent chasing after a toddler. To get a sense of why telemarking is difficult, consider pushing someone over while they’re tying their shoelaces. It’s far easier than if they’re standing up because they have less balance. Which begs the question — why telemark? “It’s the only chance you'll get to ski chest-deep powder,” say the wags. Jørgen gave me a different reason. As a fit 27-year-old he found it more active and sporty than Ski+board
conventional downhill skiing. And I can confirm that after two hours the top of my thighs felt solid. It was time to stop. While Norwegians tend to stay in log cabins, foreign visitors mostly check into Geilo’s six big hotels, which have swimming pools and saunas to rest overworked limbs like mine. Norway is particularly popular with families, with husky rides a big draw. But grandparents like the combination of large lounges, where you can sit around the fire reading, and high altitude winter walking trails. These are at the top of lifts, which the ever-friendly attendants will slow down for you. There is also a huge network of cross-country skiing trails, where I stretched some different muscles. The next morning a blanket of powder had fallen — not chest deep admittedly, but enough to work my new-found technique. Here Jørgen got me to really hold my front heel down and get on the toe of the back foot, rotating my shoulders to face down the slope and rounding them like a goalie, or as if I am holding a big beach ball, as Jørgen puts it. This time we opt for the intrigue of the slopes that roll down the back of the mountain. These lead to a seemingly endless expanse of rolling hills covered with pines that stand up like the hairs on a boy’s crewcut head. Then we round a corner to be met with the familiar view of the lakes again. For Jørgen, the other appeal of telemark is its elegance. Elegant is a word virtually banned among instructors today, who talk of power and performance. But many of us were brought up striving to look elegant on the slopes. And even young Jørgen, slim and softly spoken, took it up at the age of 19, because he loved the feeling of satisfaction of looking back over a run of beautifully carved turns. Perhaps that was what I was trying to do when I took my first, gentle tumble. Still, I had done better than Kirk Douglas. The Heroes of Telemark star needed extras lying on the snow out of camerashot to bring him to a halt. But there was no stopping me.
Colin travelled as a guest of Visit Norway (visitnorway.com) and Geilo (geilo.no). He stayed at the Bardøla Hotel (bardola.no), which charges 690NOK b&b per person based on two sharing. Private lessons cost 625NOK plus 230 NOK per extra person. skiclub.co.uk
Wannabe freestyler Abigail Butcher learns how to have fun yet stay safe in Colorado’s parks
The last time I hung out in a park was when I did a season. Twenty years and a couple of knee surgeries later might not seem the moment to revisit the experience. But I still envy the ease of freestylers. So on a Colorado road trip, with no recent powder to enjoy, I dropped into Telluride’s beginner freestyle area, and coopted instructor Kim Macken to talk me through the basics. Telluride may be in the Wild West (it’s where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank), but the resort is welcoming, locals chat on the lift and there was no attitude in the park — well, I was surrounded by schoolchildren. “Safety is key,” says Kim. Freestyle instructors use the initials ATML with first-timers. A is for approach. Look at setting up a line and your trajectory over a box, say. T is for take-off. As you go up a ramp, flex your legs and keep your hands forwards. M is for manoeuvre. Are you going to do a trick? L is for landing. Pick your spot before take-off. “Do a pre-ride scope, then a ‘re-ride’, working out a good speed,” explains Kim. “Only once you’ve been through a few times and feel confident, is it time to throw a trick.” On our first run, we prod and poke the features, looking for sharp edges, raised nails on boxes, or dodgy take-offs on the jumps, which look much bigger close up. The second time we go for air. But just a little, always focusing on staying centred over the skis. We follow the etiquette of waiting in turn, then letting fellow freeriders know when we’re about to drop in. Kim says: “If you think you’ll fall, get your feet below you, if you can, and get down low.” In my three-hour lesson, we didn’t even start on rails and finished by practising 360s on the snow, keeping the skis aligned and very flat. But leaving Telluride, there was one challenge I felt up for — the halfpipe. That’s the way to do freestyle without leaving the ground, so I thought. I’d arranged my trip to finish in Aspen, where I’d seen freestylers do the superpipe in the X-Games, looking as chilled as ever. I like a little adrenalin, but as I found myself teetering on the edge of the giant halfpipe on Buttermilk Mountain, my instructor Mladen Tasen had to reassure me. “I’ve damaged my knee too,” he said. “You can still jump, you just need to absorb the impact when you land.” I had two operations after flipping my knee inside out when I caught a silly edge on a red run two years ago. It’s
repaired, but I now ski more conservatively. As I stare down the barrel, Mladen cheerfully continues: “Don’t be put off by the size. A 22ft halfpipe is easier than 12ft. You have more time on the transition and the curve is more gradual. You’re less likely to shoot out the top.” We drop off the edge to stake it out slowly, looking for icy patches in the walls towering over our heads. Mladen works hard to get me to loosen up on a little hill not dissimilar to a pipe, where I can practise that vital quick movement on flat skis right at the top of the turn. “Carve, pop, twist and ski down,” says Mladen, before my first real run. It works. I feel I am going higher each time, even if Mladen’s photos prove I am far from the top. Buoyed by my new-found bravery, the next time I keep my skis on edge for just one moment too long and have that awful, “oh crap” moment before falling from top to bottom. I fall head first, landing painfully on my shoulder. Mladen urges me to carry on, saying: “Get more of a curve in and stand up. You look like you’re on the loo.” The next two attempts improve, but I am relieved when, before the fifth go, we find the halfpipe roped off, as a huge Zaugg snow machine prepares it for the next day. That was my final trip last season, but I’ll be back in the park this winter. In fact, now I know my knee won’t hurt if I absorb the impact properly, I’ll jump at the chance.
Abigail Butcher was a guest of Telluride (telluride.com), Aspen (aspensnowmass.com) and Colorado Ski Country (coloradoski. com). British Airways (ba.com; 0344 493 0787) flies to Denver from £515 return. A full-day’s lesson in Telluride costs $725 and a half-day in Aspen $625 for up to five skiers in both cases.
Photo: Jeremy Swanson/aspensnowmass.com
Photo: Tom Zuccareno/aspensnowmass.com
Photo: St Sorlin d’Arves/Les Sybelles
A guided tour is a great way to see the mountains, but it’s not an easy option, says Lara Dunn
Looking down the steep sides of the valley, I could see the chamois chewing on sparse shoots of grass, enjoying the warmth of the spring sun. We had walked just ten minutes from the top of the Plan du Moulin chairlift above St Sorlin d’Arves, with its sturdy stone houses and baroque church strewn with funeral wreaths. Yet the valley stretched wild and unblemished ahead of us, the jagged peaks of the Aiguilles d’Arves looming above. I should perhaps say I waddled, rather than walked, as attached to my feet were snowshoes. A far cry from the old-fashioned wooden ‘raquettes’ — so aptly named — these were both hinged and spiked, providing excellent grip and manoeuvrability. I needed both, as I handed the binoculars back to our guide Patrick. “Just walk,” Patrick urged, and I tried to emulate his relaxed technique — to little avail. Although my fellow snowshoers, most in their 30s or 40s, were probably fitter than I, they were more interested in the wildlife than a ‘workout’. Snowshoeing may appeal to skiers seeking a day off, but its greatest attraction is to nonskiers wanting to enjoy more of the mountain. If the landscape beyond the slopes was untouched, the pistes were pretty deserted too. Even over this Easter weekend there were just a few skiers and snowboarders cruising the sun-drenched slopes. The ski area of Les Sybelles is relatively unknown even among the French, given that a link in 2003 out of St Sorlin made it one of the bigger ones in France. So from the custom-built 1960s resorts of La Toussuire and Le Corbier, filled with amenities, you can reach villages such as St Jean d’Arves, St Colomban des Villards and Les Bottières, whose Frenchness is enhanced by local staff in shops and bars, rather than seasonnaires. Disappointed he had not been able to point out an eagle or other birdlife, Patrick packed away the binoculars and we set off once more. Following the contours of the mountainside, we could see signposted trails leading off into the unfolding landscape. But I was happier ploughing through untrammelled snow looking for wildlife. My technique soon evolved, incorporating sliding and skidding, as well as walking Ski+board
with a slightly wider gait than usual, barring the odd tumble. The sunshine plus the effort of lifting my feet in the deep snow meant I was glad to be in a T-shirt. A slow transition took us steadily back into a more groomed landscape, where we blended our tracks with the swooshes of on and off-piste adventurers, and here and there the paw prints of small furry things. Patrick told us the owner of each, pointing out the different movement of hares and foxes. They certainly moved more gracefully and effectively over snow than we did. By now my muscles, pre-tired from skiing from La Toussuire and St Sorlin to reach the start of the expedition, were really starting to complain. My legs were struggling with the strange angles and my feet were sliding inside my hiking boots, when we spotted our destination — a mountain restaurant. As we scrambled towards it, I felt pleased to have explored the area at a slower pace than usual. Without skis on, I felt able to stop and observe the landscape. Plus, I had earned my beer and tartiflette. Had we continued, we could have gone all the way down to the village below, but at this point it was faster and more fun to don skis again for the descent. Snowshoeing may have opened my eyes to the wilderness just over the edge of the piste. But, the next day, my aching quads and calves reminded me that skiing is oh so much less effort.
Lara travelled as a guest of Peak Retreats (peakretreats. co.uk), which offers seven nights in La Toussuire from £202 per person including Eurotunnel crossing, based on four sharing a two-bedroom, self-catered apartment. A 90-minute introductory guided snowshoe trip costs €12 per person (saintsorlindarves.com) with dogs welcome. skiclub.co.uk
DOLOMITES – TRENTINO – ITALY
fun in the snow with 270 km of slopes and 97 ski lifts Breathtaking landscapes, stunning snow-covered stretches of land, amazing mountains, perfectly groomed slopes…plus the magical atmosphere of winter in Val di Sole. In Italy, right in the western part of Trentino, you’ll find an incredible valley called Val di Sole. Known for spectacular peaks that break through the sky at a height of over 3000 m, and even more so for the numerous days of sunshine throughout the year, it’s definitely the perfect destination for those who love to ski or snowboard in gorgeous bluebird conditions.
Can’t get enough of thrilling freeride or downhill skiing? Want to feel the energy rush as you tackle crystal-white slopes? Or are you looking for natural surroundings for a fantastic vacation with your family? Val di Sole is the largest ski region in the western part of Trentino. In Val di Sole’s three ski areas there’s definitely something for everyone: — Folgarida Marilleva — Pontedilegno Tonale — Pejo
FOLGARIDA MARILLEVA SkiArea Campiglio Dolomiti di Brenta GiulianoBernardi
A ski area with 150 km of slopes that provides fun and excitement on the snow, in a paradise for downhill skiers. The wide range of accommodation available, which is often located directly on the slopes, gives guests the chance to choose the best possible location for their ski holiday. This ski area has direct ski access to Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo. It’s part of the SkiArea Campiglio Dolomiti di Brenta, Val di Sole Val Rendena, which has 150 km of slopes that are all connected with a single ski pass. The Folgarida Marilleva slopes can also be reached by taking the Dolomites Express, a train that stops right at the Daolasa gondola lift. Don’t miss!
FAMILY PARK FOLGARIDA The Malghet Aut area (1.855 m) in Folgarida is the perfect place for the entire family. The Family Park has a learning area with two button lifts, a beginners area with two magic carpet lifts, the Bamby chairlift, snow tubing slope, merrygo-round, playground with slides, spring-toys and other fun equipment for younger children.
in harmony with nature Pejo, the oldest tourist resort in Val di Sole, has been known since 1650 for the beneficial effects of its thermal springs. A renowned spa resort, skiers can enjoy fantastic slopes surrounded by the best known summits of the Cevedale mountains and endless fun in the snow in front of breathtaking views. Pejo has seven lifts and 20 km of serviced slopes. Regarded as the most “natural” of the three ski resorts, it’s a good winter sports destination for families with children where they can relax in this enchanting mountain landscape. The Thermal Spa Centre was completely renovated in 2012, and offers relaxation for both body and soul. Don’t miss!
THE NEW SARODEN CHAIRLIFT The new four-seater “Saroden” chairlift will open for Christmas 2016 and will see the opening of two new red runs starting from here: the “Saroden” and the “Beverina” slopes.
a paradise for freeriders
HOW TO REACH VAL DI SOLE Reaching the slopes in Val di Sole is quick and easy thanks to the FLY SKI SHUTTLE service, a special transfer that connects the following airports to Val di Sole: • the Milano Linate airport; • the Orio al Serio airport in Bergamo; • the Villafranca airport in Verona. Visit valdisole.net/EN/Ski-Areas to discover more.
The Pontedilegno Tonale is a holiday paradise of 30 modern lifts and 100 km of slopes with a particularly long ski season that begins in late autumn and continues until into the spring, made possible by the Presena Glacier which towers up to an impressive height of 3000m. Passo Tonale is also famous for its legendary black run, the Paradiso slope. It’s a beautiful, long run known for giving skiers a boost of adrenaline. A few years ago, a long red slope and a modern gondola lift were installed to connect Passo Tonale with the mountain town called Ponte di Legno, at a height of 1.200 m. After a day on the slopes, Passo Tonale is also a great place to find après ski, with a wide selection of popular pubs or clubs. Don’t miss!
THE NEW PRESENA LIFT The almost 500-metre-climb from Passo Paradiso (2.585 m) to Passo Presena (3.000 m) can now be easily achieved with the new Presena gondola that takes skiers from Passo Tonale up to the very top of the glacier. At 3.000 m, you’ll be able to enjoy a fabulous view of the Adamello and Presanella mountains.
An A-to-Z of what we What are your greatest joys and pet peeves about skiing? Are GoPros on helmets, Wi-Fi in chalets and DJs on piste a boon or a bore? We asked Ski Club staff to give us their views, starting with the positive
Bubbles on chairlifts to keep the wind out
Austrian après-ski, where you can dance in your ski boots without staying up till the wee small hours Escalators — okay we feel like we’re on the Tube, but it does beat carrying skis up stairs
Cake and tea waiting for you back at the chalet
Dalliances — perhaps it’s due to the legendary aphrodisiac qualities of skiing
Faux fur because it brings a bit of the glamour back to skiing
Gorgeous instructors (Bend ze knees? You make us go weak at the knees)
Hot chocolate — but with cream or without? Igloo bars and ice bars — cool!
Lunches al fresco... one of the less painful aspects of global warming
Kir royal before dinner — cassis makes even cheap bubbly taste nice
Jacuzzis and spas to ease our aching limbs
Mogul runs to warm us up on cold days
LOVE about ski resorts
Pristine pistes of pure parallel lines that are a pleasure to carve on
Neat piste maps with card backs and fronts that are easy to open and close Off-piste, or at least a few cheeky runs through the trees
Quaint villages that feel like they haven’t changed in centuries
Tobogganing — but we’ll make do with a plastic bin liner
Snow making — even if the rest of the mountain is bare at least we can ski
Racing down real red runs
Untracked powder and first lines in fresh snow
Vin chaud or will that be a beer?
Xmas decorations that light up the village all winter When the piste basher has just been, leaving perfect corduroy
Yellow areas marked on the piste map to show safe freeride zones
Zzz at the end of another glorious day
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The inside edge As the snow starts to fall in the mountains, our guide will make you feel at home on any type of piste
Early research is a great way to find your off-piste Shangri-la
Gear Safer, lighter, cheaper — new helmets reviewed. Plus could a built-in visor work for you?
Boards We review the best new piste boards for anyone who’s just getting started on the slopes
Resort Insider Our three-page guide to picking resorts that give your more miles for your money
Snow wear Give garish colours a miss this season and look to nature for inspiration
Fitness Avoid jelly legs and start strengthening your Achilles tendons and calves now
Boots Do you race down runs or just cruise the pistes? We cover the best boots for both
If you’re skittish when skiing on ice, Mark Jones can offer a helping hand
62 Cut the corduroy with the best piste skis, as picked by the Ski Club’s top testers
Ski outfits come back down to earth Forget the clashing colours of just a few years ago, this season’s look takes its inspiration from more natural hues, writes Harriet Johnston Just a few years ago we were told to mismatch our ski gear to create the look of the season. But where once the outfit of choice would be clashing and garish, things have calmed down a bit. Rich jewel tones and the hues of backcountry terrain set the mood for this winter. Deep pinks and purples ooze sophistication, while not abandoning the fun feel of seasons past. Dave Whitlow, the buyer for Ellis Brigham, says: “In men’s skiwear, bold colour-blocked jackets from
brands such as Spyder continue to be popular, but these are really resort-only styles. We are seeing solid, more understated colours from brands such as Goldwin, Schöffel and Eider, with the added advantage that these deliver slope-to-street wearability.” You can expect some bolder colours such as blue and orange to make a re-appearance this winter, but in blocks rather than patterns. The best way to wear colour now is by keeping it simple — to highlight
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Will wears Burton MB Folsom jacket (£210) with Burton MB Cargo pants (£160), Burton Pyro gloves (£45) and Anon M2 goggles (£180). Ashley wears Burton WB Hazel jacket (£165), Burton WM Chance pants (£150) with Burton profile gloves (£35), Anon Aera helmet (£75) and WM1 goggles (£160)
Will wears Armada vision pants (£170) and Armada Chapter GoreTex 2I jacket (£230)
a stand-out item by mixing it with toned down pieces, such as dark ski pants. The earthy, backcountryinspired tones can create an eye-catching contrast to more exuberant colours too. Whitlow says the growing popularity of backcountry skiing has also given ski wear a more high-class look. Terrain-saturated, earthy hues come with a resurgence of brown tones, with the deepest — dark chocolate — featuring highly, alongside olives and leafy greens.
The darker colours are particularly popular in women’s skiwear, with a clear trend to monochrome pieces. These can be combined with more wild and adventurous safari pieces, picking up leopard-skin print, zebra stripes or fun, space-like prints, to create a truly stand-out ski outfit.
For advice from a Ski Club expert on how to wash outerwear, visit bit.ly/washouterwear
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Ashley relaxes outside the Ice Q restaurant on the Gaislachkogl, at 3,048m, retracing the steps of James Bond in Spectre. She wears Burton WB Hazel jacket (£165), Burton WM Chance pants (£150) with Burton profile gloves (£35), Anon Aera helmet (£75) and WM1 goggles (£160)
Will wears O’Neill Jeremy Jones Rider shell (£160) and Neff beanie (£10). Ashley wears Picture Chloepuff jacket (£130) and Dare2b beanie (£12)
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ON TRIAL –
BURTON HAZEL JACKET The Hazel has been specifically designed to combine sharp streetwear looks with functional ski wear features, and does a good job of this. Though available in a wide range of colours and patterns, the picante burnt orange hue is exactly on trend with the colours of this season, and looks great with the matching Burton Chance pants. The military style fittings will remain timeless, working from season to season, making this jacket a great investment piece. It uses Thermolite insulation, which is 40 per cent recycled and ‘body mapped’, so it’s heavier in the body than the arms to allow greater freedom of movement. This also retains and releases excess heat in central areas to keep internal comfort at the highest level. It has a soft, tactile, cosy feel, as does the taffeta lining, all giving a warm, snug sensation to the Hazel as soon as you slip it on. Perfect for bitterly cold Alpine weather. This is enhanced by the lined, helmet-compatible
and adjustable hood with its removable faux fur trim, along with a high, microfleece-lined collar. Despite the street looks, the Hazel has many skispecific features including zipped armpit vents, a powder skirt, a large internal pocket for goggles or a mobile device, and an internal lift pass holder. The two handwarmer pockets and small chest pocket have zips, and the handwarmer pockets also have flaps with poppers, so there’s little chance of snow getting in. The cuffs and hem are adjustable to keep the weather out. All in all, it should survive any storm that the winter throws at you. There’s a jacket-to-pant interface, seams are sealed and the offset front zip adds a touch of style. The Hazel is an eco-friendly Bluesign approved product, so you’re getting a very versatile, welldesigned jacket at a great price here. Alf Alderson Great all-rounder at a reasonable price Day-Glo fans will find the colour range muted
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Oline wears Patagonia L/S Cap Daily T-shirt (£35) and Will wears O’Neill Jeremy Jones base T-shirt (£75)
ON TRIAL –
EIDER BROOKLYN JACKET The Eider Brooklyn is packed with features and will also keep you warm and dry. It combines Eider’s Defender Discovery shell fabric which is waterproof and breathable with a mix of 50 per cent white duck down and 50 per cent polyester insulation, along with a warm polyester lining — the perfect partner for long, cold chairlift rides. This means more weight and bulk, of course, but this doesn’t really hamper the ease of movement the Brooklyn offers, and you can reduce the weight by taking off the removable, adjustable hood, which I did since it wasn’t especially ergonomic. The stack of features on the Brooklyn includes two
zipped handwarmer pockets, two chest pockets (one zipped, one with Velcro flap), a large zipped internal pocket and huge internal goggle pocket with a goggle cleaner. I especially liked the cavernous, forward-facing opening which is really easy to use. There are dual-zipper, mesh-lined armpit vents, hand gaiters and a snow skirt, a snug, microfleece-lined collar and adjustable cuffs and hem, all of which help with temperature regulation and keeping the weather out. Add to this the cool look of the Brooklyn and you could easily wear it around town too. Alf Alderson Loads of features; warm and snug; versatile Heavy and bulky compared to shell-style jackets
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MAJOR BRITISH RETAILERS Snow+Rock: snowandrock.com Cotswold Outdoor: cotswoldoutdoor.com Ellis Brigham: ellis-brigham.com Surfdome: surfdome.com TSA: snowboard-asylum.com The retailers above offer Ski Club members ten per cent off full-priced products, apart from Snow+Rock and Cotswold Outdoor, which offer 15 per cent CONTACTS Anon: anonoptics.com Armada: freezeproshop.com Burton: burton.com Dare 2b: dare2b.com Eider: eider.com Neff: neffheadwear.com O’Neill: oneill.com Ortovox: ortovox.com Patagonia: patagonia.com Picture: ellis-brigham.com Poc: pocsports.com
Tony wears Eider Brooklyn jacket (£260) and Kingston pants (£175) with Ortovox Freerider gloves (£115) and Poc Fornix helmet (£125)
Fashion editor Rachel Rosser Production manager Ben Clatworthy Photography Melody Sky Hair and make-up Jemma Barwick Models Ashley Crook Anthony Wilson Will Siggers Oline Antonsson
Stunning modern architecture and mountain scenery combine to create quite the impact on Sölden’s high slopes. The resort shone on the big screen last autumn as one of the locations in the James Bond film Spectre, and its popularity continues to grow. With three peaks above 3,000m, two glacier ski areas at Rettenbach and Tiefenbach, a state-of-the-art lift system and 146km of pistes to explore, the skiing is varied and snow-sure. The village has a stylish restaurant scene and lively nightlife to keep everyone entertained. Daily scheduled and charter flights are available to Innsbruck from many airports across the UK. Alternative airports include Zurich, Munich and Friedrichshafen. For more information on Sölden visit: soelden.com/en, to find out about the Austrian Tirol region see visittirol.co.uk Ski+board
Volvo Car UK has been in partnership with the Ski Club of Great Britain for just over one year. Its vehicles support the team on their overseas trips, thanks to the innovative four-wheel drive technology and large luggage capacity in Volvo’s range.
Ski Club Freshtracks 2016-17 Solo skier? Look no further than Ski Club Freshtracks We all know that ski holidays are a perfect way to spend time with friends and family, enjoying what you love best – great snow, fresh air, delicious food and beautiful scenery. But sometimes you need that snow fix and there’s no one else available to go with you – and that’s where Freshtracks can help. Our tried and tested formula is perfect for solo skiers – you choose the trip based on the type of skiing you’re after and the resort you want to ski in, and we’ll put you together with a group of like-minded skiers of similar ability, who are all looking for the same thing – good times on snow! We know that there’s a great demand for solo holidays – the Ski Club’s recent consumer research showed an increase in the number of people travelling on their own, and Freshtrack’s own solo skiers have increased by 26% in the last 2 seasons. In fact, our single room holidays now account for 30% of our overall bookings. What’s more, in a recent survey that we sent to last season’s first-time Freshtracks bookers, a whopping 57% said that they’ve been in contact with the other members from their trip since they returned – emphasising just how good our holidays are for making new friends.
Here are just a few of this season’s holidays that include single rooms with no supplement – to perfectly suit solo skiers… Davos Dash The perfect weekend getaway 15-18 Dec or 23-27 Mar £799 including flights, transfers (and 3-day lift pass for the December trip)
Wengen Fun A Peak Experience trip for the over 55s 4-11 Jan (£1,350) or 12-19 Mar (£1,299) Prices include flights and transfers With no traffic allowed in the picturesque valley and a wonderful array of intermediate pistes, Wengen, Switzerland is a peaceful retreat for a relaxing ski week. With links to neighbouring resorts Grindelwald and Mürren, Wengen lets snowsports enthusiasts enjoy its extensive slopes in style. The skiing fits perfectly with the town - it’s a relaxed atmosphere on the slopes. Your Ski Club Leader will show you the best slopes followed by a hot chocolate in the best mountainside restaurants around.
If you want to get the maximum out of a short ski break, with full-on skiing through the day to fun après-ski in the evening, then this trip is tailor-made for you. Davos has miles of superb pistes, beautiful scenery and a buzzing nightlife. The extensive Parsenn ski area offers a great range of runs that cater for skiers of all abilities and your Club Leaders will take you to all the best spots. The Sunstar Alpine Hotel Davos comfortably earns a 4* rating thanks to its gourmet cuisine and excellent wellness centre where you can pamper yourself after a day out on your skis. Melody Sky
REFER A FRIEND! £50 worth of Ellis Brigham vouchers up for grabs when you refer a friend to a Freshtracks holiday! All you have to do is ask your friend (whether they’re a Ski Club member or not) to give us your name and membership number when booking their first ever* Freshtracks trip over the phone, and we’ll send both of you £50 worth of vouchers – and don’t forget that Ski Club members get a 10% discount at Ellis Brigham as well. Plus, there’s no limit to the number of people you can refer – you’ll get the vouchers each time someone books. This offer only runs until the end of October, and we only have a limited number of vouchers available – so tell all of your friends about Freshtracks now and get your season off to a great start. *Offer only applies to people booking a Freshtracks holiday for the first time.
Deux Alpes Development
Nendaz Singles Off Piste
The bad-habit buster
Breath-taking scenery, amazing skiing
8-15 Jan (£1,150), 26 Feb-5 Mar (£1,175) or 5-12 Mar (£1,150) Prices include flights and transfers
7-15 Jan or 25 Feb-4 Mar £1,150 including rail transfer from Geneva to Nendaz
With over 100 marked runs, ranging from the wide open pistes up the top to the steep, narrow, challenging pistes lower down, Les Deux Alpes provides the opportunity to broaden your skiing repertoire extensively. The BASI ski instructor will ensure your skiing moves on to the next level, banishing those bad habits as you explore this snowsure ski resort. With five full days instruction, you’ll have the time both to learn and to practice new skills!
From Nendaz you can find some of the world’s most renowned off piste - including the routes down the back of the Mont Fort, boasting great views of Mont Gelé. Skiing with mountain guides from Neige Aventure, you’ll enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the Rhône Valley whilst exploring the wide variety of terrain within Mont Fort, Verbier, La Tzoumaz and Bruson. You’ll be staying at the centrally located 3* Hotel Mont-Fort.
Austrian Off Piste Explore Galtür to the full 16-23 Dec (£1,299) or 19-26 Mar (£1,499) Prices include flights and transfers During the week, alongside your local mountain guide, not only will you explore all that Galtür has to offer, you’ll also have access to the huge ski area of Ischgl. With a further 238km of well-kept pistes and a multitude of thrilling off piste runs, you’ll never have a dull moment. If you have the stamina, then the après is amongst the best in Austria. Alternatively, if this all sounds too tiring after a full day’s skiing, then simply return to the calm of the family run Hotel Post 4* where you can relax in the fantastic wellness area. To find out more about these holidays, and the full Freshtracks programme for this season, visit skiclub.co.uk/freshtracks or call 020 8410 2022
Racy models that aren’t too hot to handle
SIDECUT This is the width of the tip, waist and tail of the ski, given in that order. A wider ski floats better off-piste, while a narrower ski will grip better on piste
Featuring cutting edge race technology this season’s piste skis also make cruising the blues a delight, says Mark Jones Are you into big edge angles and high speeds on piste? Then you’ll pleased to hear that gone are the overly heavy skis that felt tough to turn. This season’s piste skis allow for really strong turns on the slopes without the bulky feel. Our crew used all their race experience to test this year’s batch — five are past members of the British Ski Team. But it’s noticeable how easy these skis are to use and turn. Even intermediates will find they don’t bite back, which will really help them improve their technique and learn the joy of high-speed carving. Piste performance is the arena which the big manufacturers throw all their firepower at, with many of the technical highlights of these skis derived from top end race construction. Essentially many offer the same levels of grip, stability
at speed and ability to smooth out vibrations on hard snow as a race ski. Happily, they are not constricted by race rules on sidecut, so the shapes, profiles and flex patterns make them easier to use, with a reactive turn shape that can be enjoyed at slower speed. But be in no doubt, when speeds ramp up, these skis can deliver huge levels of performance and prove a blast on piste. If the piste category is too niche for you, in the next issue we will look at popular all-mountain models, which allow for forays in fresh snow. And having covered freeride skis for pure powder hounds in Issue 1, we will cover freetour skis in Issue 4 of Ski+board.
See star ratings and the testers’ video reports at skiclub.co.uk/skitests CAMBER
Traditional camber effective edge
If a cambered ski is laid on a flat surface its centre will be raised. Camber is now often combined with some level of rocker. Reverse camber (full rocker) is where a ski curves up from the centre to tip and tail
Camber with front rocker effective edge
Camber with front and tail rocker effective edge
TAPER This is when the widest point of the ski is brought back from the tip or tail, reducing weight and making the skis easier to handle off-piste. On a tapered ski you may feel like you are using a shorter length
Reverse camber (full rocker) effective edge
ROCKER E A I B
We rate each ski by the type of skier it would suit. So in the example on the left, the ski would suit upper intermediate to advanced skiers, but it’s not so well suited to beginners or experts. Generally, the skis tested are aimed at those who have skied before.
Rocker, or early rise, is where the ski has a slight rise before it gets to the tip or tail. Off-piste, this helps lift and floatation. On piste, it aids turn initiation and release
Meet the jury
SKI CORES A ski’s performance is affected by the materials used and how they are arranged in the core. Cores are normally wood or synthetic, combined with other layers, such as resin (usually epoxy), fibreglass, basalt, carbon, aramid and metal
RADIUS This is the radius of the theoretical circle that a ski will naturally make in the snow when tilted on its edge. A small radius produces tight turns. The radius varies with ski length: the length tested is given in bold
SYNTHETIC CORES Synthetic or foam cores are traditionally used in lower end skis, being cheaper, lighter and more forgiving than wood. We are now seeing more hightech synthetics in upper end skis to keep weight low and enhance performance
WOOD CORES Wood cores tend to be made from strips of wood, glued side by side in a laminate construction. Their characteristics vary greatly: paulownia is light; beech can deliver power; poplar offers a smooth flex, and there are many others
The Ski Club’s test team is made up of top skiers who can offer unparalleled insights into a ski’s performance. MARK JONES Director of ICE training centre in Val d’Isère and trainer for Basi icesi.org AL MORGAN Ski Club head of Member Services and former ski service manager skiclub.co.uk CHEMMY ALCOTT Four-time Olympian who runs CDC camps with husband Dougie Crawford cdcperform.com DEREK CHANDLER Director of Marmalade ski school in Méribel and trainer for Basi skimarmalade.com DOUGIE CRAWFORD Manager and owner of CDC Performance, which runs coaching camps cdcperform.com PETE DAVISON Ex-action model who now owns retailer LD Mountain Centre ldmountaincentre.com STEPH EDE Instructor in Val d’Isère, France, nearing highest level of qualification firstname.lastname@example.org
SIDEWALL A wall of plastic, typically ABS (the stuff Lego is made of), running from the metal base edge of the ski to the topsheet. It drives power to the metal edges, protects the core and can also help absorb vibrations
LYNN MILL Ex-British champion who now owns Target ski training and race coaching targetski.com
CAP This is where the topsheet and other layers roll down over the side of the ski to the metal edge. The benefit of caps over sidewalls is they often make skis lighter, more forgiving and more resistant to damage
ROWENA PHILLIPS Highly qualified ski school director at Matterhorn Diamonds in Zermatt matterhorn-diamonds.com AMANDA PIRIE Basi trainer in Val d’Isère, running training programmes and race camps targetski.com BELLA SEEL Fully certified in the French, Swiss and UK systems, she runs concierge service ALS alsprivate.com
COMBO Cap and sidewall can be combined in several ways, by having sidewall underfoot with cap at tip and tail, say, or cap rolling down to meet sidewall for the length of the ski. Each affects the ski’s performance
Core Topsheet Reinforcement Edges Sidewall Base
AARON TIPPING Owner and director of Supreme ski school in Courchevel supremeski.com
MEN’S PIST E SKIS: I N TERM EDIATE TO A DVAN CED
What’s new in men’s piste performance skis?
Photo: Ross Woodhall
The category of men’s piste skis is very focused. The vast majority deliver high levels of grip and reaction, even on super-hard snow, but it’s worth reflecting on the type of turns you love before choosing. Sidecut is all-important here. Some models are zeroed in on tight, slalom-like turns, while others favour big, fast, drawn-out arcs. Also, many skis are lighter, yet still able to deliver a thrilling performance. But heavier skiers may want to consider how much the skis can handle the pressure on rougher pistes. If you get a chance to try a pair then take it. Overall this is an inspirational category, with any one of the skis we tested having the ability to turn a blue run into a thrilling ride.
Scott Black Majic £450 without bindings
Salomon X-Max X12 £550 with bindings
Cap & sidewall combo/Titanal elliptic wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 122-78-112 RADIUS 16m (177cm) LENGTHS (cm) 157, 167, 177, 184 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,850g for 177cm
THEY SAY Back for a second season with an elliptic sandwich construction and exceptional torsional stiffness. WE SAY Every tester noted how smooth it was. It has many traits of Scott’s ‘The Ski’, matching a sensitive touch to a silky ride. The narrow waist makes it faster edge-to-edge, giving it far more agility than the award-winning all-mountain model. The smooth ride comes from its soft flex, which has huge benefits at low speeds, but makes it less secure at a fast pace on hard snow.
THEY SAY The new Salomon X-Max X12 is the true multiradius ski for long endurance performance. WE SAY With good edge grip as soon as it’s tilted, this ski holds the snow and carves a tight arc. It feels reactive on edge and full of energy. The ride quality is better than previous Salomon piste models, with a smooth, vibrationfree flex. The model we tested was grabby edge-to-edge, which may have had to do with tuning. But if well prepared, this would work well as an all-round performer.
THEY SAY Part of the most technologically advanced and thoroughly designed collection of groomer skis ever built. WE SAY The new Quattro feels very different to Blizzard's previous piste skis. It’s an absolute featherweight, which makes it manoeuvrable and very easy to link turns. As a result it’s accessible to entry-level carving skiers. The Quattro’s downside is that it felt less competent at absorbing vibrations on hard snow, and it didn’t feel superstrong at high speeds.
Smooth and easy through all turn shapes, but if pushed hard it feels soft (Pete Davison) Smooth, stable, skied well in long and short turns (Aaron Tipping)
Smooth, sensitive, unique character Softer flex loses grip on hard snow
Sidewall/carbon & Titanal wood core/standard camber SIDECUT (mm) 116-69-100 RADIUS 16m (174cm) LENGTHS (cm) 153, 160, 167, 174,181 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & titanium wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 120-73-99 RADIUS 17m (175cm) LENGTHS (cm) 155, 160, 165, 170, 175 WEIGHT (per ski) 2,057g for 175cm
Blizzard Quattro 6.9 Ti £625 with bindings
Didn’t pick up easily but a strong end to the turn (Aaron Tipping) Grippy and reactive on the edge, lots of energy, always ready to go (Mark Jones)
Grippy, full of energy, smooth ride Grabby edge-to-edge
Very light, manoeuvrable, easy to move from turn to turn (Derek Chandler) Good for long turns, juddery on hard snow (Dougie Crawford) Very light, exceptionally easy to use Lacks power and stability at speed
M EN’S PISTE SKI S: I N TERM EDIATE TO EXPERT
Sidewall/carbon wood core/ tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 122-74-103 RADIUS 14m (167cm) LENGTHS (cm) 153, 160, 167, 174 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,800g for 167cm
THEY SAY Light, TOP SKI efficient ski for experts 2015 who love speed but VA E LU know how to relax too. WE SAY The lightness is evident as soon as you put in the first turn, making carving effortless. The ski always feel like it is on your side and easily engages into a new direction. As the speed ramps up, it feels solid in all turn shapes with high levels of grip, and good rebound and pop coming out of turns. Overall, a hard ski to fault, delivering strong performance despite its weight.
Club is an 20 17 2015 independent, KI not-for-profit CLU C O.U B. organisation, so we can vouch for the impartiality of our reviews and choice of awards. Second, our team of 12 testers are all ski professionals — former racers, elite instructors and freeride experts — so they are uniquely able to relate what they feel under their feet to the performance of the ski. We sit tight on the results until we reveal the awards for top performance and top value in Ski+board. And the seal means a lot in the industry. We typically get three testers to try each ski. Those that may win an award can have six or more people ski them, but it’s always clear which skis are winners. S
It’s easy to get excited by all the shiny new skis, glinting in the shops this autumn. But how to choose the right pair for you? By looking at these pages you’ve started at the right place. The Ski Club provides the most in-depth, accurate ski tests available to British buyers. Our team of testers are faced with 843 different models of ski at the annual event held in the Austrian resort of Kühtai in February. But before that, we narrow them down by talking to the 20 manufacturers present to pick the 99 best performers in the four categories we cover: freeride, all-mountain, piste performance and freetour. It is when our testers get on these skis that the advantages of the Ski Club’s tests really become clear. First, the Ski
EST AWA IT
You could be buying a pair of prize-winning skis
Fischer Progressor F18 £460 with bindings
IN ITA OF GREAT BR
IN ITA OF GREAT BR
Awesome fun in short turns, quick edge-to-edge, easy to initiate turns (Pete Davison) Easy to ski, good rebound and pop, stable, strong (Dougie Crawford)
Light, yet strong in all turn shapes Felt less sure on super-hard snow
MEN’S PISTE SKIS: I N TERM EDIATE TO EX PERT
Rossignol Pursuit 700 Ti £500 with bindings
Head Supershape i.Magnum £535 with bindings
Atomic Redster XTi £550 with bindings
Cap & sidewall combo/Titanal wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 127-73-109 RADIUS 14m (170cm) LENGTHS (cm) 163, 170, 177, 184 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,900g for 170cm
Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & Titanal wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 131-72-110 RADIUS 13.1m (170cm) LENGTHS (cm) 149, 156, 163, 170, 177 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
Sidewall/Titanium wood core/ tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 117-72-104 16.4m (176cm) RADIUS 157, 164, 169, 176 LENGTHS (cm) 2,170g for 176cm WEIGHT (per ski)
THEY SAY A dedicated on-trail carver, this all-new ski is loaded with power, precision and hard snow performance for experts. WE SAY Another exceptionally smooth performer, particularly in long turns, this always feels secure and stable on piste while offering high levels of grip. It delivers the performance strong, technical skiers crave, covering all the characteristics required in any type of turn shape. It was hard to fault, though some testers felt it could have been more reactive in shorts turns.
THEY SAY A precision tool for turning speed into pleasure with embedded Graphene. Go as fast as you want all day long. WE SAY The Supershape always does well in our tests, so we were keen to try the new version. It felt easy to use, being very light, effortless to steer into turns and needing nearly no effort at low speed. It felt stable and vibrationfree, while the sidecut appears beautifully judged for mediumsized arcs. At higher speeds and in longer turns it felt good, but lacked grip due to tuning issues.
THEY SAY A great high-end option, the Atomic Redster XTi is the perfect fusion of a Slalom and Giant Slalom ski. WE SAY Strong and grippy on edge, the XTi feels comfortable in all turn shapes. It has lots of rebound and accelerates out of turns. Particularly in the tail, it grips hard and works really well in medium arcs. It’s a high energy ski that instantly feels ready to go. It doesn’t have the ultimate grip of more race derived skis, but compensates by feeling relatively light, and being very easy to use.
Excellent whatever the pace or slope, but really performs at speed (Al Morgan) Great piste ski, does what it needs to. Lacks a bit of spark (Derek Chandler)
Smooth, stable and grippy in all turns Could be more reactive in short turns
Stable and felt like it had potential, but needed better tuning on edges (Dougie Crawford) Light, easy to use, but lacked grip at speed (Mark Jones)
Light, easy to use, smooth ride Needs more grip at speed in big arcs
Dynastar Speed Zone 12 Ti £550 with bindings
THEY SAY With TOP SKI its racing roots, this 2015 RF all-new ski delivers OR M power and precision. WE SAY Wow! This instantly feels special. One of the Speed Zone’s standout traits is its incredible smoothness on the edge. Even cranked right over on hard snow it has an amazing ability to soak up vibrations and lay out powerful, reactive, grippy turns. However, it is actually very light underfoot, easy to steer and effortless to use. A fantastic all-new ski from Dynastar.
THEY SAY The K2 Super Charger carves up corduroy faster than you can carve up a Christmas turkey. WE SAY The new Super Charger is immediately easy to ski, with good grip, especially in short turns. Like a lot of the K2s tested, it’s a super smooth ride, making it easy to use on hard snow. It has strong edge grip when cranked on edge, and in long turns on hard snow it handles speed with ease. Some testers felt it needed more rebound coming out of turns, but overall a fantastic new ski.
IN ITA OF GREAT BR
Grippy, well damped on edge, light, but strong performance (Mark Jones) Solid but lively, responds to effort, fluid edge grip and release (Derek Chandler)
Powerful, well damped on the edge Hard to fault
Sidewall/carbon & Titanal wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 127-76-107 RADIUS 17m (175cm) LENGTHS (cm) 161, 168, 175, 182 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
Derek is a director of Marmalade ski school, a specialist school in France’s Three Valleys that has gained an impressive reputation, due in no small part to the great team that Derek has surrounded himself with. He is also a trainer for Basi and has worked worldwide as a coach and instructor. A natural freeskier, Derek loves skiing in all conditions and regularly runs specialist clinics in moguls training for instructors working through the Basi system. skimarmalade.com
Titanal, synthetic & wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 121-72-106 RADIUS 15m (174cm) LENGTHS (cm) 158, 166, 174, 182 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
Loads of rebound, easy to use Lacks ultimate grip on hard snow
K2 Super Charger £580 with bindings
BUILD Visco-elastic, Titanal & ABS sidewall/
Good all round shape. Strong grip, well judged sidecut (Mark Jones) Good in long turns, lots of punch and rebound (Derek Chandler)
E A I B
Felt soft at first, but forgiving. Nice for short turns, strong in longs (Dougie Crawford) Smooth, easy to use, good edge grip, best for long turns (Mark Jones) Smooth ride, high levels of grip Could be livelier in shorter arcs
MEN’S PISTE SKIS: A DVA N C ED TO EXPERT
Völkl Code Speedwall S UVO £650 with binding
Cap & sidewall combo/Titanal wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 126-76-106 RADIUS 14.5m (168cm) LENGTHS (cm) 1 50, 156, 162, 168, 174, 180 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
Sidewall/Titanium wood core/ tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 122-74-104 RADIUS 16.5m (173cm) LENGTHS (cm) 159, 166, 173, 180 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,605g for 173cm
Sidewall/Titanal wood core/ standard camber SIDECUT (mm) 118-70-100 RADIUS 16.5m (176cm) LENGTHS (cm) 168, 176, 184 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,900g for 176cm
THEY SAY Made for on-trail enthusiasts, it has a full wood core with two sheets of metal and loves to rip hard snow groomers. WE SAY Another great ski with a strong character, it has a lively, reactive temperament, which makes it instantly feel full of energy and ready to go. For short to medium arcs it is brilliant, with high levels of edge grip and nimble releasing into new turns. At very high speeds in long arcs it feels a bit softer and less secure, but for smaller arcs on the groomed runs it is superb.
THEY SAY Gives a TOP super-smooth blend SKI 2015 of quickness and allRF OR M mountain versatility. WE SAY You instantly feel the strong construction. It’s powerful and ready to take on high speeds and big edge angles. It has an easy-to-predict sidecut that loves banging out perfectly round arcs. On hard, groomed terrain it feels secure and has lots of energy in short turns, while still giving a smooth, stable ride. But consider the longer radius L as well as the slalom-like S before buying.
THEY SAY A modern, frontside ski with precise edge control and high speed stability allowing for nimble handling. WE SAY This is one of the most powerful skis we tested in this category and the one closest to offering real race performance. As speeds rise it feels more at home and is comfortable with big edge angles. It is solid and stable, with incredibly high levels of grip. At slower speeds and in tighter arcs it feels a bit more like hard work, however speed fanatics will love it.
Lots of grip in short to medium turns Less solid at high speeds in long arcs
Nordica GT 76 TI EVO £460 with binding
Easy to initiate turns, light, nimble with smooth radius changes (Pete Davison) Superb for those looking to up their game on piste. Great snow feel (Al Morgan)
IN ITA OF GREAT BR
A joy — like floating down the piste. Preferred the L’s more versatile shape (Derek Chandler) Strong, lots of grip, stable, smooth on hard snow (Mark Jones)
Powerful, grippy, smooth and stable Focused on shorter turns
£829 with binding
Put a smile on my face — unbelievably solid, awesome at high speeds (Aaron Tipping) Solid and stable at speed. Great grip on firm snow (Pete Davison) Incredibly high performance, fast, stable Harder to use at slower speeds
WOMEN’S PISTE SKIS: I N TER M ED I ATE TO A DVA N C ED
What’s new in women’s piste performance skis?
Photo: Ross Woodhall
In terms of technical improvements, women’s piste skis have seen all the advances apparent in men’s skis. The skis have become much lighter with the use of the latest materials and construction methods, while their performance remains at the same high level. The choice available to women is now huge, and this is especially true of the piste performance skis we tested. Some skis we trialled were very easy to use and would suit aspiring carving skiers, while others behaved more like fullblown race skis. This is in contrast to the men’s skis, which felt more focused on one level of skier. Although this is a good thing, it does mean you should make sure you match your ability with the characteristics we highlighted within this test. Rossignol Famous 6 £375 with bindings
Nordica Sentra S5 EVO £430 with bindings
Cap & sidewall combo/ lightweight wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 126-74-110 12m (156cm) RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) 142, 149, 156, 163 1,550g for 156cm WEIGHT (per ski)
THEY SAY This all-new, women’s on-trail ski delivers exhilarating yet accessible hard snow performance. WE SAY Every tester said it had lots of life and felt easy and playful to use. It’s liveliest in shorter turns, where it has loads of energy and really pings you out of the curve. It’s easy to initiate turns and once into the arc grips hard and has lots of energy. At higher speeds in bigger arcs it copes well, but stronger skiers will want something more hefty and stable.
THEY SAY Designed for smooth and effortless all-day carving, the Sentra series sheds new light on high performance. WE SAY The S5 loves to rail on its edges and follow the sidecut of the ski, feeling at its best in shorter arcs. With a light balsa core, it takes little effort to steer. At high speeds on harder snow, it still feels easy to use but there are more vibrations, making it less confidence-inducing if pushed hard. We also tested the S6, which felt stronger and more of a powerhouse of a ski.
Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & lightweight wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 124-76-104 RADIUS 14m (162cm) LENGTHS (cm) 144, 150, 156, 162, 168 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
Steph Ede Steph is preparing for the tough race element of the Eurotest and is close to completing her Basi Level 4 exams. She is a phenomenal skier, who is incredibly light on her feet, very accurate and has a great feel for how a ski works as her plentiful quotes reveal. Based in Val d’Isère, France, Steph dedicates much of her time to training and getting closer to achieving her goal of becoming a full-time instructor in the resort. email@example.com
Good price, nice looking ski. Very easy to use, easy entry into the turn and smooth exit (Steph Ede) Nippy and feels good. Great value (Bella Seel)
Great fun, playful and lively Less stable and strong in long turns
Good strength-to-weight ratio. Super-stiff, juddery on hard snow (Rowena Phillips) At its best with limited edge tilt at low speeds (Amanda Pirie) Easy to use, light, quick on to the edge You feel vibrations at high speeds
WOMEN’S PISTE SKIS: I N TER M ED I ATE TO A DVA N C ED
Fischer Progressor F18 W £445 with bindings
Head Super Joy £490 with bindings
Salomon W-Max 12 £550 with bindings
Sidewall/carbon wood core/ tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 122-74-103 RADIUS 14m (167cm) LENGTHS (cm) 153, 160, 167 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,750g for 167cm
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/lightweight
THEY SAY A light Razorshape and Airtec wood core conserve energy, giving power when you want it, comfort when you don’t. WE SAY It feels comfortable in all turn shapes and is at its best when skied through the front of the ski, where it engages quickly, drawing the skier into the new arc. It has a nice mix of stability and liveliness and likes to be driven by the skier. A good choice for a mix of turn shapes. Some testers took a while to find its sweet spot and get the balance right to realise its full potential.
THEY SAY Our racing flagship ski is enhanced by our ultra-light Koroyd construction, delivering carving performance perfection. WE SAY The Super Joy has an incredibly smooth character. It rides out vibrations with ease and effortlessly irons out any hard conditions. It is best suited to longer arcs, where that smooth ride and high level of grip come together. In shorter turns it feels less lively and had less energy and acceleration coming out of the turn compared with other skis we tested in this category.
THEY SAY The Salomon W-Max 12 is a long endurance performance carving ski inducing maximum confidence. WE SAY This gives a superreliable, easy-to-predict turn shape at medium speeds, making it a great choice for those getting into carving and learning how carving turns work. You feel the ski’s solid construction, in that it’s stable on the edge and gives a good level of grip. We struggled a bit with the tuning on the test skis, which made them tricky to re-adjust through the arc.
Did what I told it to. Moved easily from long to short turns. Nice mix of stability and liveliness (Chemmy Alcott) Grippy, easy to ski, good all-rounder (Bella Seel)
Good all-rounder if driven from front Could be more reactive
Kästle LX72 £569 with bindings BUILD
Cap & sidewall combo/Titanal wood core/standard camber SIDECUT (mm) 117-72-99 RADIUS 14.5m (162cm) LENGTHS (cm) 146, 154, 162, 170 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,470g for 162cm
THEY SAY Outstanding handling, especially in varying piste conditions and in deeper snow. WE SAY The LX72 felt traditional in shape, coming without a pronounced shovel — it’s the skier who must lead it into the turn. But once into the apex you feel the ski gripping and holding the line. It feels super-light and so is no effort at low speeds. But many testers wanted more from the front of the ski and would have liked more engagement through the top of the turn.
Looks good but tough to ski as the tip seems too soft to engage (Chemmy Alcott) Comfy, light, but traditional in shape, best in short turns (Lynn Mill)
Light, easy to use, great grip mid-arc Less reactive at the start of turns
Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & titanium lightweight wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 120-73-103 RADIUS 14m (165cm) LENGTHS (cm) 150, 155, 160, 165, 170 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,839g for 165cm
honeycomb, carbon & wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 128-75-108 RADIUS 12.5m (163cm) LENGTHS (cm) 143, 148, 153, 158, 163, 168 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
E A I B
Smooth ride on soft, slushy snow, helped by wide shovel (Amanda Pirie) Damping means you don’t get much spring back if you ski it hard (Rowena Phillips)
This is a solid, reliable ski. Every turn is easy to predict (Amanda Pirie) Reliable ski, no surprises, pretty solid and you can work it hard (Steph Ede)
Smooth ride Lacks energy and response in short arcs
Solid, grippy, good in medium arcs Could be more reactive
Ski test sponsors With thanks to Scott, Eider, Planks and Salomon, who provided gear for our test team.
WOMEN’S PISTE SKIS: A DVA N C ED TO EX PERT
Cap & sidewall combo/titanium & synthetic core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 128-74-104 RADIUS 11m (156cm) LENGTHS (cm) 142, 149, 156, 163 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,710g for 156cm
Grippy, smooth, fun in all turn shapes Not as agile and playful as lighter skis
SIDECUT (mm) RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) WEIGHT (per ski)
Solid, good at speed in long turns, easy to control (Chemmy Alcott) Great in long turns, likes going fast. A smooth, progressive ride (Amanda Pirie)
Smooth, fast and stable in longer arcs Less lively in shorter turns
E A I
Völkl Flair SC UVO £550 with binding
Cap & sidewall combo/Titanal & lightweight wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 121-74-107 RADIUS 12.5m (160cm) LENGTHS (cm) 146, 153, 160, 167 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
THEY SAY It is TOP fuelled to crank out SKI 2015 high precision, with RF OR M unmatched agility. WE SAY Wow! This got fantastic feedback from our testers. It’s a lively, fun ski that’s full of life. At slower speeds it’s easy to use and engages well with the snow, giving direct feedback. In bigger arcs and at higher speeds it grips well and holds its own when pushed hard. Even in short turns it works well, with great edge hold, loads of punch, while still being easy and fun to use.
THEY SAY Light TOP from core to bindings, SKI 2015 it saves you energy RF OR M through the turn. WE SAY It starts by feeling very easy to initiate turns while giving a super-forgiving smooth ride. As the speeds ramp up it feels solid, reliable and holds an edge well, even on very hard snow. Indeed, it is really at high speeds that this ski comes alive fully, feeling like it craves speed and just wants to push you on. Overall, a fantastic ski, which piste experts will love — out testers certainly did!
Sidewall/carbon & lightweight wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 122-72-105 RADIUS 14m (165cm) LENGTHS (cm) 150, 155, 160, 165 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,320g for 165cm
IN ITA OF GREAT BR
The most fun ski I have tried. Ideal for good skiers who love short turns (Chemmy Alcott) Playful, full of life and fun. Easy to use for the expert (Steph Ede)
Fun, easy, yet offers high performance Not the cheapest
Grippy, stable, powerful in long turns Less playful in slower, shorter turns
K2 Luv Machine 74Ti £540 with binding
Stable at speed, great in long turns, stiff tip, so less reactive at low speeds (Chemmy Alcott) Recreational skiers will find it stable, grippy, reliable (Lynn Mill)
Several retailers attend the ski tests and many offer Ski Club members savings on full-price items. They include:
Sidewall/lightweight wood core/tip rocker 117-74-100 13.5m (162cm) 144, 150, 156, 162 Not available
THEY SAY Made for skiers who love lapping groomed runs, carving on firm snow, or sliding through mogul runs. WE SAY The Quattro gives great edge hold that bites from the tip right at the start of a turn. Once into the arc, it gives a high level of grip and always feels stable. It is at its best in long turns, where the sidecut and construction give it a high level of performance. It really comes alive when speeds are ramped up and the skier gets active. At low to medium speeds, it feels less lively and less playful.
THEY SAY An all-new ski for advanced skiers with smooth on-trail power, precision and comfort in versatile turn shapes. WE SAY This is great for long, fast turns with fantastic stability, high levels of grip and a smooth ride on the edge. It has an easyto-predict, smooth entry into the turn and is easy to read. Strong skiers will love its ability to feel stable, grippy and confident at speed. In shorter turns, it copes well and maintains grip, though it feels less lively coming out of the turn. Great for technical skiers.
Where can I buy a pair of those?
Absolute Snow: 15 per cent off absolute-snow.co.uk Craigdon Mountain Sports: 15 per cent off craigdonmountainsports.com Ellis Brigham: 10 per cent off ellis-brigham.com Freeze Pro Shop: 10 per cent off freezeproshop.com Glisshop: 10 per cent off glisshop.co.uk Lockwoods: various discounts lockwoods.com Ski Bartlett: 10 per cent off skibartlett.com Snow+Rock: 15 per cent off snowandrock.com Snow Lab: 10 per cent off, 15 per cent for servicing snowlab.co.uk Surfdome: 10 per cent off surfdome.com Finches Emporium: 10 per cent off finchesemporium.com
BUILD Visco-elastic, Titanal & ABS sidewall/ synthetic and wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 120-73-104 RADIUS 14m (160cm) LENGTHS (cm) 146, 153, 160, 167 WEIGHT (per ski) Not available
IN ITA OF GREAT BR
Great price for such an enjoyable model. It skis well in all conditions (Amanda Pirie) Very smooth. Nice and stable due to its stiffness (Lynn Mill)
Blizzard Quattro 7.4 W Ca £440 with binding
THEY SAY Makes TOP SKI turning a breeze and 2015 step-down sidewall VA E LU helps with edge grip. WE SAY Given its performance, this is fantastic value. It is grippy, solid and has lots of life through the turn. As well as giving a strong, reactive performance, it is a smooth ride and it’s supereasy to initiate the turns. For an easy, peppy performance in all turn shapes, it works well. At high speeds on hard snow, it starts to feel less solid, but a good choice for those getting into carving. SK
Dynastar Intense 10 £385 with binding
Atomic Cloud Nine £350 with binding
IN ITA OF GREAT BR
Love this ski, great all round power and control (Chemmy Alcott) It likes speed, definitely for the expert skier. It has just one gear, but rides well (Bella Seel) Punchy, holds edges, loves speed Slightly catchy tail
reinventing a classic Volvo Cars reveals stylish and versatile new V90 estate The eagerly awaited Volvo V90 was revealed in Stockholm, Sweden. The stylish and versatile V90 is the latest in the premium car maker’s top-of-the-line 90 series, sitting alongside the award-winning XC90 SUV and the recently launched S90 premium saloon.
great cargo space, providing the right kind of functionality – whether through connectivity or cargo and storage solutions,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President for Design at Volvo Cars. The new V90 delivers cutting-edge Pilot Assist semiautonomous drive technology, the most advanced standard safety package on the market, including Large
Building on Volvo Cars’ indisputable heritage in the estate segment, which began more than 60 years ago with the Volvo Duett, the new V90 takes the premium estate a clear step forward in terms of aesthetics, materials and finish, while living up to the ultimately practical nature of any true estate. “We have a very strong position in the estate segment,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars. “In many people’s minds we are known as the definitive estate brand. While the Volvo brand today stands for more than estates, we are proud to carry forward this rich heritage with the V90.” The new V90 is the third car unveiled in Volvo’s top-ofthe-line 90 series, all of which are built on the company’s specially designed and fully modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which has opened up a range of new opportunities in terms of how Volvos can be designed, built and equipped. “The modern premium estate is all about the intriguing combination of a luxurious experience with the functional origins of the estate silhouette. The sophisticated ambience of our new Volvo interiors is combined with a
Animal Detection and Run-off Road Mitigation, and classleading connectivity, including smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay. Volvo Cars has also worked tirelessly on driving dynamics in the new model, to deliver a totally new and refined driving experience characterised by a sense of engaging control and predictability. “We have a very strong offer in the V90. Our PowerPulse technology is designed to deliver a distinct performance boost to our diesel engine, while the T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid will deliver around 410 hp and a pure electric range of around 31 miles,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President of Research & Development at Volvo Cars. Ski Club members can save 10% on the new V90 this season, to find out more visit skiclub.co.uk/ discounts.
TO FIND OUT MORE VISIT SKICLUB.CO.UK /DISCOUNTS OR CALL T YSON COOPER ON 01473 873 000.
B O OTS
Designed to keep your feet warm and comfortable, some are standard, while others can be custom-fitted to adopt the shape of your calves and feet
Look at the top of your foot and you will see a maze of blood vessels and tendons. A badly shaped tongue compresses these… and that’s painful
FLEX Boots come in a range of flexes. The flex is the theoretical force in Newtons needed to decrease the angle between cuff and clog by ten degrees, and is given after the name of the boot. High performance boots are stiffer, but often less comfortable. The flex reviewed is given in bold
PRICE Generally, the stiffer the flex, the more expensive the boot, which is why the prices are given as ranges
POWER STRAP The power strap acts as a vital extra buckle around your leg, and is usually closed with Velcro, but some high performance boots use a metal closure. Don’t forget to do it up!
SHELL Most shells are two-piece and combine a cuff, on top, attached by a hinge to a lower part, often called a clog, below. Three-piece models also have an external tongue
CUFF Performance skiers rely on support from the rear of the cuff. Rivets or bolts replace the walk mode and control the flex of the boot
BUCKLES These are used to fasten the boot. Buckles should wrap the shell evenly around the foot, keeping it snug without creating pressure points
CANT ADJUSTMENT With many boots you can tilt the cuff slightly towards the big toe or little toe side of the clog, making you feel more balanced in the boot
FOOTBED SIZE All sizes are given in Mondopoint. Men’s boots usually come in sizes 24.5 to 30.5, which corresponds roughly to UK sizes 5.5 to 11.5. Women’s boots usually come in sizes 22 to 27.5 or roughly UK sizes 5 to 10.5
This is a trainer-type insole that comes with the boot and sits inside the liner. A customised footbed is recommended to improve stability and give better foot-to-boot contact
LAST BOOTBOARD Hidden in the shell, it sits under the liner and acts as a shock absorber. Harder bootboards gives more control, but a harsher ride. The bootboard also determines how much the heel is raised in the shell
This is the template around which the plastic shell of boots is shaped. It is measured in millimetres across the widest part of the foot, with 100mm being about medium. Generally the narrower the last, the higher the performance
Chris Exall (skipress.co.uk) describes himself as being 40 years into an 80-year apprenticeship in skiing. He is a member of the governing body of the International Federation of Ski Instructors and has written widely on snowsports safety.
Janine Winter is the buyer at specialist fitter Profeet (020 7736 0046; profeet.co.uk), having spent 11 seasons fitting boots with the Boot Doctors in Telluride, Colorado, four seasons in New Zealand, and one in Australia.
A race apart — the two types of piste skier You should know where you stand when buying boots for groomers, says Chris Exall There are two different groups of skiers who buy piste boots. Some are race-like in their technique, skiing fast and with precision, while others are recreational skiers with little desire to go off-piste. The trick is knowing which group you fall into. False modesty will leave you wobbling in wellies, but overselling your prowess will see you clamped in leg irons. Piste performers look for a lowvolume, high-precision boot that has some race DNA in its heritage. Recreational skiers want a comfy boot that feels good at the end of the day. Most expert skiers will find their home in piste performance boots within the 100 to 120 flex range, depending on
their weight, speed and strength. Many recreational skiers will fall into the 80 to 100 flex range. Where performance boots rely on a close-fitting shell, recreational skiers can find boots that keep their feet cradled in comfortable, thicker, heatmoulded liners. The recent addition of softer flexing shells to traditional designs makes these a great option. That is why we are now covering not just soft race boots but, over the page, feature models that will suit the recreational skier too. Some are unisex, others come in male and female versions, with the latter pictured inset.
How to store boots. See bit.ly/skiboots
Rossignol Hero £275-£385
Nordica Dobermann £280-£400
FLEX 110, 130, 140 SIZES 24-30.5
FLEX 100, 110, 130 SIZES 24-31.5
FLEX 90, 110, 120, 130 SIZES 21.5-29.5
Since Lange’s first design broke cover in the mid-1970s, the trademark RS collection has been an evolution of style and technology. It’s simple, low-volume and one of the most anatomically lasted boots on the market. The bootboard is designed so that your big and little toe sit directly on the shell giving the great snow feel that’s associated with Lange’s designs. The neutral, upright stance provides efficient power transfer and less quadricep fatigue. For most skiers the 110 flex model is more than enough, precise when you lay it on to an edge but flexible enough to soak up bumps. It comes in a 97mm and 100mm fit; you’ll know which is best when you put it on. Precise yet flexible enough for rough terrain Simple design which many skiers may not like
Rossignol’s Hero models are bombproof ski boots — some versions are so robust that they don’t even carry published flex ratings, instead they are referred to simply as ZA, B and C. Unless you are a professional racer, they are to be avoided at all costs. Even if you do race occasionally, the 130 remains a very high performance ski boot with a low, though not crushing fit. Most advanced non-race skiers will be happy looking at the 110 flex model. Available in a narrow and medium last, it might be the ultimate all rounder with enough flex for a strong skier and not too much for a competent recreational skier who values fit and snow feel.
The Dobermann has a stripped down shell design available in a range of flexes from rock hard to cool and comfy. Being bolted together means that it is easy to modify and the cuff fits a range of leg shapes and alignments. It also sidesteps the tricky entry and exit process by coming with a softer plastic on the instep area. As with all high-performance Nordica models, the liner is filled with a cork and gel mixture that takes the shape of your foot. It does take longer to mould instore than some systems, but the fit is superb. The 110 flex is the best allrounder for most skiers, however the 90 flex works well for lighter skiers.
Strong performance on piste Robust in the flex — very much a race boot
Easy to modify, good all-rounder Not the cheapest or fastest to buy
B O OTS
Salomon X Max £320-£400
Atomic Hawx Prime £240-£350
Fischer RC Pro £380-£420
FLEX 100, 120, 130 SIZES 24.5-29.5 70, 90, 110 FLEX SIZES 22–27.5
FLEX 90, 100, 110, 120, 130 SIZES 24-31.5 FLEX 80, 90, 100 SIZES 22-27.5
FLEX 110, 120, 130 SIZES 22.5-29.5 90 FLEX SIZES 23.5–27.5
Salomon pioneered the use of plastics that, when heated, soften and wrap around the skier’s foot — and the X Max is no exception. Out of the box, the boots are narrow with a snug ankle area. Heating the boot, the custom shell stretches and allows enough extra space for all but the largest feet. The men’s 130 is as versatile as a 120 and the flex index of 100 can be managed by any weekend warrior. The women’s X Max is ideal for narrow, flat feet, with roomy toe box and narrow cuff for slender lower legs.
Renamed Hawx Prime, Atomic’s Hawx collection is the world’s best selling line of medium-lasted ski boots, thanks to the generally good prices, snow feel and fit. Atomic maintains performance and last while keeping snow feel by adding a degree of flex into the sole. Both the liner and shell are heat mouldable. The Hawx 130 offers a lot of ski boot for your buck, with the 100 flex version having a slightly snappier feel. Fits a range of feet with good heel hold, generous volume in the instep and works for a wider calf.
Fischer’s RC family has two unique features — Soma Tec shells and vacuum fit. The Soma Tec shells realign the foot, so skiers can assume a more natural V-shaped stance even on skis that are parallel. The vacuum fit squeezes the heated shell around the foot, rather than relying on the foot to push it out. The men’s RC collection runs from the 130 flex shell via the 120 version to an all-round 100 flex version. Comes in a generous medium last, so easily fits a wider foot generously, with a comfy, plush liner.
Great for those with slender feet or legs Skis a little softer than the flex suggests
Instant comfort out of the box Not as responsive as others
Head Raptor £265-£435
Tecnica Mach 1 £210-£400
FLEX 120, 140 SIZES 22-30.5 FLEX 90, 110 SIZES 22–27.5
FLEX 90, 100, 110 120, 130 SIZES 24-31.5 85, 95, 105 FLEX SIZES 22–27.5
Head’s Raptor is a bare bones design; it’s got what you need and nothing more. It’s easy to modify and can be softened by tinkering with the rear bolts which secure the cuff. Also Head’s Spine-Tech buckle system uses cables to close the boot so the shell wraps around the foot. The men’s 140 is too much for almost everyone. The 120 flex model has most of the characteristics of its muscle-bound big brother but is more manageable. The Raptor fits close to the foot making it very responsive for quick edge-to-edge movements. Easy to modify and offers close fit All the flex options are relatively high
Tecnica’s Mach 1 has 14 different models, giving enough choice for even the pickiest skier. It tends towards a svelte foot, though with space over the instep. The stretchable liner comes anatomically shaped for great fit and with dimples over tough fit hot spots. The men’s 130 is robust but the majority will prefer the softer 110 or 120. The 90 is perfect for a recreational skier who wants a forgiving boot. Great initial fit. The shell has dimples in sensitive areas so it can be easily customised. Good fit in tough areas Not the best for those with wider feet
Vacuum fit ensures a close fit Some find they must relearn how to stand
Dalbello Krypton/Avanti £325-£400 FLEX 100, 120, 130 SIZES 24-29.5 FLEX 75, 85, 95 SIZES 22–27.5
The Krypton sends power straight to the edge of the ski with little movement. The Pro uses a three-piece shell with a ribbed, external hinged tongue which controls the smooth forward flex. This also means the boot is easy to enter and exit. At 98mm, it is a little snug. With a flex of 130, it can be adjusted with interchanging tongues. The Rampage and Fusion offer the same power with softer 100 and 120 flexes. At 99mm wide, the Avanti features a narrow heel pocket, wider forefoot and lower cuff spoiler. Easy to enter and exit, plenty of flex options Could be considered more of a freeride boot
B O OTS
Photo: Melody Sky
Uncomfortable boots? Put a sock in it By picking a boot that doesn’t sacrifice comfort for performance, such as the three listed to the left, you go a long way to guaranteeing yourself pleasurable days on piste. But you also need to think about what socks you wear to keep your feet well insulated while still giving good snow feel. When buying boots, be sure to bring the ski socks you will actually be wearing. As a rule, the thinner the sock, the more feedback from the boot and the higher the performance. Some racers don’t even wear socks. However, a thin sock will often not insulate the foot as well. To close the circle, many manufacturers, such as Falke and Wigwam, make socks that are both thick where comfort matters, such as at the shins, but thin in the toes and ankles. If that is not warm enough for you, Therm-ic offers the PowerSock IC1200. True they cost £129, but come with a built-in heating system that will warm your toes quickly. They may not be as effective as the heater packs you can attach to boots, but are more versatile.
...KEEPS YOU SKIING LONGER Olympic Mogul Skier Laura Donaldson with her ski~mojo
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POWERFUL SPRINGS OFFLOAD WEIGHT FROM KNEES
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Keep it nice on ice Few areas of ski technique are more misunderstood than how to handle steep, icy slopes. Mark Jones explains Ice is most piste skiers’ biggest fear. That feeling of lack of control as you slither down a steep slope is not easily forgotten. Also falling on a hard surface that won’t arrest your slide can be risky. Yet, of all the many snow conditions, ice is the one where even seasoned skiers hold the greatest misconceptions. Most of the nuggets of ‘wisdom’ floating around will only propel the hapless skier into a hair-raising slide. Happily, skiing ice well is not a black art, it’s just a question of employing some simple skills. So here are the key points to make ice something you skate over with confidence before, hopefully, you come across a better stash of snow. EDGING This is the main area of misunderstanding for many skiers. A common belief is that you need to get your skis on to a big edge angle and rely on that to grip the ice. Like many myths, it has a kernel of truth. A ski’s edges stop you skidding sideways. However, there is a time and a place for everything. If you go for big edge angles on ice from the start, it will result in rapid acceleration rather than deceleration. This is fantastic news if you’re a racer trying to eliminate every skid over an artificially iced giant slalom course. Indeed you may feel you’re on a pair of rails racing over the piste. But as a non-racer, who doesn’t need to shave seconds off their time, this can get you into a difficult situation very quickly. Instead try to use your edges in the following way: • At the start of the turn, twist both skis quickly so they are moving at an angle to your direction of travel • Don’t use too much edge at this point. Using relatively low edge angles will make it easier for the skis to rotate against the snow. It will also allow them to scrape rather than grip. This is not a bad thing • Once they are scraping sideways,
Use the pole plant to rebalance as you exit the old turn
it is time to build up edge angle. As long as the skis are scraping sideways, you can increase the edge angle to slow yourself down. If, however, you increase the edge angle while you are still moving forwards, you will speed up. SKIDDING Using the above technique creates the skid at the start of the turn. Skidding is a technique that is hugely underrated. Many skiers labour under the illusion that skidding means they have a low level of skill, so will avoid it at all costs. Actually, skidding is a very useful tool, and nowhere more so than on steep slopes and narrow, icy paths. By letting the skis scrape sideways you decrease your speed in a tight area. All skiers use this technique in such conditions. So when on ice, cast aside your prejudices and let your first reaction be to twist the skis quickly to set up a skid. BALANCE There are other aspects to focus on. Ice will challenge your balance. The initial increase in speed can throw you off kilter, and handling the rapid change between braking and accelerating may be a battle. Make sure that at the instant you hit the ice you are in an athletic, ready-for-action stance. So when you spy the tell-tale green or grey glint ahead of you, set yourself up in the following way: • Make sure your feet are at least hip width apart. This will give you a wider base of support, which will result in much greater stability • Keep your main joints — hips, knees and ankles — nicely flexed. This will get your centre of gravity lower and make it easier to deal with fore/ aft acceleration from the skis • Look up and forward, keeping your hands away from your core and in front of you, not by your side
Stay centred over the middle of your feet on the transition
Feel for the outside ski and move on to the edge
Use a solid pole plant. This will give you stability when making the transition from turn to turn Make sure you are standing on the lower, outside ski. Don’t rely on the inner ski for support. If there is one scenario where your inner ski can slip and ‘take out’ the other, this is it. A good way to ensure your weight is on the outside ski is by reaching out with your outside hand.
TEC HNIQU E
Drive the skis through to the end of the old turn to control speed
Stay balanced on the outside ski and steer to the end of the turn
MENTAL APPROACH The technical points above will make a big difference, but your mental approach to ice is also crucial. If you are defensive, you are likely to get too low, and shift too much weight on to the inner ski. The stance you need is an assertive one that requires a positive mental attitude. However, being super-aggressive is not the answer. Any big, physical inputs trigger a loss of balance and will also
overload the skis and cause them to break away. Take charge, but be accurate in the moves you are making. Finally, try to find gentler slopes with icy sections to practise on, before venturing on to steeper slopes. In the next issue, continuing my series on handling nightmarish conditions, I will look at flat light — and explain how far from being the bane of our skiing holidays, it can be a great learning tool. Ski+board
Mark Jones is a director and trainer at ICE (icesi.org), a centre in Val d’Isère, France, that trains and certifies instructors, and offers courses and off-piste coaching. He is also a trainer for Basi and has represented Great Britain at the annual Interski convention.
SKI CLUB BENEFITS
Ski with the Club One of the great things about being part of a club is getting together with others and doing what you love best. And in the case of the Ski Club that means being in the mountains and having a great time on the snow with fellow members.
SKI CLUB LEADERS Get more from the mountain If you’re tired of looking at your piste map, join a Ski Club Leader group and get straight to the best slopes the mountain has to offer. Our volunteer Leaders can take you to the best snow, and help you meet people of similar ability to ski with. Leaders also host a social hour each evening, where you can relax with other members and recount your stories of a hard day’s skiing. Pick the days and times which suit you best, as each weekly programme includes a variety of options for skiers of different abilities.
The Leader programme exceeded our expectations - we ended up skiing with Chris all week and joined the club in resort. Tony Harris
Ski Club Leaders are in 18 resorts in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Andorra, USA and Canada.
Find out more at skiclub.co.uk/leaders
The best way to get around French resorts this season Last season, more than 1,000 members used our new Instructor-led Guiding service in France, and we received some fantastic feedback. So this season it’s back! Instructor-led Guiding is running in 11 major French resorts – with full-day and half-day sessions each week to suit different skiing abilities. We’ve teamed up with ski school Evolution 2 and other top skischools, whose instructors will take you to the best snow and show you around the resort. Ski Club members can also get 10% off privately booked lessons with Evolution 2.
The instructors will be operating in resorts from December to April. Advance online bookings: £30 full day / £15 half day* Direct bookings with instructor in resort: €45 full day / €25 half day *Online bookings can be made up to 3pm on the Friday of the previous week.
Find out more at skiclub.co.uk/instructors
Had a great time and found some lovely snow. No need to look at the piste map for 1.5 days. Awesome value. Daniel Smith
Start mapping out your backcountry plans now
Nigel Shepherd is safety adviser to the Ski Club. He qualified as a full guide in 1979 and was president of British Mountain Guides from 1993 to 1996. He has climbed, skied, taken photographs and guided all over the world and has contributed to several books.
The contour lines on paper maps reveal the aspect and steepness of a slope
hang back and look for gaps where good lines can be found. But if, after all your research, the avalanche hazard is too high, don’t be tempted to push beyond slopes steeper than 25 degrees. And if the weather is really evil, head for the trees, where at least you’ll be able to see the terrain on a white-out day. But tree skiing has its own hazards, including some you may not know of such as tree wells… or getting arrested for skiing in a fenced-off plantation. I shall reveal these in the next issue.
Read snow reports that are updated daily at skiclub.co.uk/snowreports
give ‘real time’ positioning to help keep you on track. But be circumspect when using them and back up what they tell you with sound mountain knowledge and navigation skills. You may be happy to rely on sat-nav in a car, but to venture into mountain terrain blindly following just a navigation app is foolhardy at best — just ask any mountain rescue team. Anyone serious about electronic navigation will own a GPS device, such as Garmin’s Oregon, Montana and GPSMap handsets. These can be loaded with Garmin’s own maps, which show contours and major features, or fully topographical maps from Ordnance Survey, Swisstopo, and IGN in France. These three national mapping agencies also provide apps for Apple devices, and some for Android phones, with live GPS positioning — as well as paper maps. I mention the latter because you must, in general, be wary of relying on spoonfed information. When you ride the backcountry you must be responsible for your actions and decision-making processes. Those decisions need to be based on sound knowledge of snow, how avalanche hazards develop, experience of recognising danger signs and routefinding skills in mountainous terrain. In this respect, as your trip nears, you’ll want to keep a sharp eye on the weather and snowfall. The key things to take note of are the amount of snow, and wind direction and strength. Used alongside webcam information this is invaluable information-gathering that will maximise your time in resort and allow you to make quicker decisions about where to head for the best powder. If there has been a mad stampede for certain descents after a big snowfall,
Your holiday is booked, you may even have bought a new pair of freeride skis and an avalanche backpack, and your bank account is — ouch — marking the spot. Now, how to find the best off-piste runs in your chosen resort? Hmm. Start by doing some detailed research into where to find your Shangri-la. There are many ways to scope things out in advance, saving you time on the ground. Many major off-piste resorts and areas have guidebooks outlining where the classic lines can be found, how to approach them, the slopes’ length and aspect (the direction they face) and how to get back. A few reveal danger spots on the way and the sort of conditions in which runs should be avoided. Along with a guidebook, consult a piste map to work out which lifts to take to reach a run. For riders in the backcountry, that is about as far as you should trust a piste map, as they offer a highly simplified version of reality that gives little idea of terrain or aspect. Details of particular runs can only be gleaned from a proper map. Contour lines give information on the shape, angle and aspect of a slope. They also show altitude, which can help reveal your position if you use an altimeter. There are apps, such as FatMap, that
Photo: Ross Woodhall
Early research using some decidedly old-fashioned methods may help you find the best lines, says Nigel Shepherd
Give your fitness a leg-up Strengthening legs protects your tendons, calves and knees, says Craig McLean Continuing this year’s theme of strengthening areas of your body that are vital for skiing, I turn to legs, having considered shoulders in the last issue. This is not just about protecting your knees, you will also want to strengthen your Achilles tendons and calves. These are also vulnerable in many situations, such as sudden decelerations, such as if you hit a cat track, or ski into something (or someone), or just get into a tangle.
So follow the exercises below. If you suffer from knee pain, simply reduce the height you jump off the ground. And do read a top surgeon’s advice, below. In the next issue, I will focus on exercises to strengthen the back and core, and in the final print issue of the season I will focus on hands and wrists.
Read Craig’s stretching tips in back issues at skiclub.co.uk/skiandboard
1 SPLIT SQUAT SCISSOR JUMP A Start with one leg backwards and the other forwards, with your front knee over your ankle.
Craig McLean is a chiropractor and fitness expert. He has worked in the ski industry for over 15 years, helping Olympians such as Chemmy Alcott and Graham Bell recover from injury without surgery. He also consults for the Warren Smith Ski Academy.
B Jump up and, while mid-air, scissor your legs so that you land with the opposite leg forward. You’re doing it wrong if… You feel unsteady on landing. Try to stay strong by engaging your core.
2 DOWNDOG YOGA POSE A Place both feet and hands on the ground. Bend your knees slightly if it’s more comfortable. Hold for 60 seconds.
B Bend one knee, making sure your stretch the calf muscle on your straight leg. Breathe deeply. You’re doing it wrong if… You’re arching your back — try to get your arms and torso in the same plane.
Should you ski if you have dodgy knees? A leading surgeon gives his answer:
As we ski on flexed knees, this puts a lot of strain on the kneecap. The rotational force that a ski can apply is intense, with the anterior cruciate ligament being most vulnerable. In some case a dramatic twisting also tears the meniscus — the lining and shock absorber in the joint. On the plus side, with skiing you
are less likely to suffer injury from overuse than with other sports. And most skiing is non-impact. So those with mild to moderate osteoarthritis can often ski, even if they can’t do impact sports like tennis and running. Prevention is better than cure, so begin your exercise regime well in advance. If you aren’t fit, focus on the
F ITN ESS
A Try to skip for 60 seconds non-stop, jumping with both feet together. You can also try two sets of 30 seconds. B
B Skip on one foot, trying to jump for 30 seconds each side. Repeat all three sets three times. You’re doing it wrong if… Your posture is slumping. Keep upright, with your head up and looking forward.
4 SQUAT JUMP
A Start in a crouched ski racer position, legs slightly bent, knees and ankles shoulder-width apart. B Squat further, then launch yourself skyward, landing back on the spot you started. Repeat ten times in three sets. You’re doing it wrong if… On landing you collapse. Hold your posture and stop your knees from falling inward.
5 ONE-LEGGED JUMP
A Assume a tuck position on one foot, keeping your other foot up behind you. Use your hands to provide balance. B Jump forward and land on your other foot and continue this so your feet follow an imaginary straight line ahead of you. You’re doing it wrong if… You lose your balance or over-bend the leg you are landing on.
quadriceps, with regular lunges, and work on your cardiovascular fitness. Fitness aside, having seen my fair share of injuries, I can report that the most common causes are collisions, poorly adjusted bindings, tricky conditions (such as ice and low visibility) and people travelling at speeds beyond their capability.
Don’t be afraid to go to the rental shop to check your bindings are set correctly, only do runs within your capability, and moderate your speed, especially in flat light and on icy runs. If you are hurt, you can tell if the injury is serious by the level of pain. And rapid swelling of the injured area often indicates a more serious injury. Ski+board
But if you train in advance and play it safe on the slopes, you should have an injury-free winter sports holiday. Simon Moyes (simonmoyes.com; 020 7323 0040) is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon specialising in minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery for knees, shoulders, feet and ankles. He is also a keen skier.
This usually refers to the bulk of the helmet in between your head and the shell. This should not be confused with what is sometimes called the lining, which is the fabric layer between your head and the liner, and can sometimes be removed for washing
A Multi-directional Impact Protection System separates the shell and liner with a low friction layer. Many accidents involve oblique impacts, resulting in rotation of the head, to which the brain is especially sensitive. Mips reduces those forces by letting the shell slide relative to the liner
EPS LINERS Expanded polystyrene is a common liner. Itâ€™s a good shock absorber, but after a big impact stays compressed, so the helmet should be replaced
EPP LINERS Expanded polypropylene liners, in contrast to EPS liners, can take many impacts, so suit riders who expect to take a few knocks, such as snowpark addicts
ABS SHELL ABS or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is what the hard plastic shell on many helmets is made of. It is the same material used to make Lego
VISOR These are a substitute for goggles and may help spectacle wearers. Confusingly, some brands refer to peaks as visors
EAR PADS STRAP This is usually secured with a clip or ratchet, but some helmets now have magnetic buckles
Certain helmets have ear pads, which are useful in cold, windy conditions. Some ear pads are removable, which is helpful if it turns warm
Most helmets have a Boa dial at the back and bottom of the helmet, which you turn to loosen or tighten the cradle holding your head. Certain brands have a small manual pump, which you use to create a snug fit
Oh no! What have we lifted the lid on?
This fuses a helmet’s outer shell with the impactabsorbing liner to create a light helmet resistant to direct impacts.
Once the preserve of rich Russians, helmets with integral visors are here for good, writes Alf Alderson
VENTS These can be opened and closed on certain helmets and in some cases are mesh-covered, keeping snow out
Love them or loathe them, helmets with visors have this season come to stay. Sure, Swiss brand CP, which is new to Britain, offers cashmere linings and Swarovski crystal coatings, playing to the ‘rich Russian’ stereotype. But its Cuma model also has a useful over-the-glasses (OTG) fit, as does Sinner’s Crystal. Both come with interchangeable, lenses, as does Bollé’s Backline, for which a photochromic option is available, as it is for the Cuma. Plus you don’t need an oligarch’s wallet to buy a helmet with a visor. You can pick up the Crystal for just £130. In other developments, straps have been developed to avoid chin rub
Find out how to get a good fit with a visor helmet at bit.ly/experthelmets and read more reviews at skiclub.co.uk/news
Bollé Backline Visor
The Crystal is a practical helmet with great peripheral vision, perfect for those looking for an over-the-glasses (OTG) fit. It comes with interchangeable colour lenses for different conditions. The helmet uses Sinner’s ambitious Air Pump Fit System, by which you apply pressure to a pump at the rear of the liner to inflate for a snug fit, with a small button to deflate. The thick layer of foam around the cheeks is comfortable and helps to keep the weather out. It has four well-sized but nonadjustable vents and both the lining and pump can be removed for cleaning. Given the innovation that’s gone into this helmet, it’s also decently priced.
CP is new to the UK and, as you might expect from a Swiss brand, quality and attention to detail is impressive — hence the price. You can even get CP helmets with cashmere linings or embedded with Swarovski crystals. There is a choice of visors, including a photochromic option, which are all OTG fit and can easily be changed. Peripheral vision is superb through the polycarbonate, abrasion-resistant lens. A two-layer foam sits comfortably on the cheeks and the removable ear pads are soft and warm so it’s a pretty cosy fit. It also has great temperature control, with two adjustable front vents and 26 mesh-covered vents.
The Backline is well built with an easily changeable visor — just unscrew the two aluminium dials on each side. There are a variety of lenses to go with it, including a photochromic option. The field of view is superb — wider than many ski goggles — with two-layer face foam and vents on the underside, making it comfy and secure. The helmet has eight vents, the front six of which are adjustable, an injected ABS shell, removable ear pads and a hypoallergenic lining. Fit is adapted by a rear dial and ratchet system chin strap. The biggest criticism is its weight. At 650g, it’s more than twice as heavy as the lightest helmets reviewed here.
Alf Alderson is an award-winning adventure travel writer who divides his time between the Alps and Pembrokeshire. He is co-author of the Rough Guide to the Rocky Mountains and other ski guides. He is an experienced gear tester for the ski press.
Innovative, over-the-glasses fit Air pump doesn’t work as well as dial system
rash, while others come with magnetic buckles, so you can take your helmet off with your gloves on. For ski tourers, this season’s version of Salomon’s lightweight and fully vented MTN Lab is £20 cheaper than last season at £120. And though a recent BBC study found that helmet cameras don’t compromise safety, you can now get breakable mounts to ensure a helmet’s performance isn’t affected if you fall. We also cover issues around children’s helmets on pages 86 and 87.
Great fit, great build, great design Not that aesthetically pleasing
Superb build quality; excellent visor Pricey and heavy
Picture Creative 3
Bern markets the Weston at ‘50-plusdays-a-year’ riders who just want a good value ‘workhorse’, and it’s hard to argue that this lid doesn’t offer just that. At 400g, it’s one of the lightest helmets reviewed, helping in the comfort stakes — it’s easy to forget you’re even wearing it. The Weston uses Bern’s ‘Zipmold’ technology, which offers a higher strength-to-weight ratio than in-mould systems, so it’s a good option for those who want extra padding round the head. The fit is easily adjusted via a rear dial, plus the snug, fleece-lined ear pads are removable. There are a total of seven vents, but these aren’t adjustable.
The Creative 3 is a mix of technical and eco-friendly design. The helmet fuses EPS foam directly to the shell. This gives better head protection in direct impacts with a stronger design, lighter build (460g) and a more precise fit. The liner is made out of recycled foam collected from Japanese car-makers, and the detachable ear pads are made from recycled polyester. The Creative 3 comes with eight top vents, eight at the rear, two at the sides and one at the front, of which the front and top are adjustable. It feels pretty unobtrusive and fit is easily adjusted via a rear dial. It also comes in different colours.
The Auric will appeal to skiers looking for a durable helmet for many seasons of service. It does require a certain level of set up, however. The goggle clip has to be installed with an Allen key, and the six vents on top can only be opened and closed by rotating the interior padding. There are also two non-adjustable front and rear vents. The fit can only be changed by altering the velcroattached padding. The Auric is also quite heavy, coming in at 500g. On the plus side, it has an ABS shell and an EPP liner that is thicker in the most exposed areas. The design is also compatible with a beanie.
Lightweight and good value Vents not adjustable; liner can’t be removed
Innovative design, eco-friendly Lining not as snug as some
Great build quality; hard core looks Adjusting vents is a faff; limited fit adjustment
M O U N T A I N H E A V E N
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Anon Helo 2.0
Cébé Contest Visor
Salomon MTN Lab
Weighing in at 370g, the Helo 2.0 is Anon’s lightest helmet. However, it’s easy to build up a head of steam, due to the limited and non-adjustable four mesh top vents and two small back vents. A redeeming feature is that the lining, ear pads and neck warmer are all removable for washing. A Boa system dial at the rear adjusts size and the chin strap has a Fidlock magnetic buckle, which makes fastening and unfastening the strap easy, even if you are wearing gloves. The in-mould design, which fuses a polycarbonate shell with an EPS liner, will keep your noggin safe. The matt colours make the look understated.
Cébé’s Contest Visor is a cool helmet that won’t break the bank but will look good on the slopes — and with a weight of 390g you’ll forget you’re wearing it. It features a small removable peak (this is the ‘visor’ that Cébé refers to), held in place by three small screws and an integrated ventilation system in the Cébé logo which is, sadly, not adjustable. The detachable, machine-washable liner has 3D mesh panels for improved breathability, and the ear pads can also be removed. Size adjustment is quick and easy via a dial at the rear of the helmet, above which is a generously sized goggle retainer. It comes in sizes up to XL, so everyone is catered for.
This helmet was made for ski tourers and freeriders, for whom weight and breathability are important issues. Besides its light weight (300g), the helmet has excellent ventilation, with 12 ports. It includes a removable liner with merino wool for fast drying. In addition, it has a lightweight shock absorbing EPS liner, which exceeds official safety standards for impact norms. It’s easy to adjust with the single dial on the rear, and there are useful features such as a glove-friendly goggle attachment and a headlamp retainer. The venting is good, although non-adjustable, and the ear pads aren’t removable. It also comes in grey.
Lightweight; comes with magnetic chin strap Limited venting options
Neat, compact design; good value Venting system not adjustable
Super-light, well vented Ear pads not removable, vents not adjustable
Ski Club discounts
Save money and make the most of your membership Make back your membership fee in just a few clicks, or by visiting the high street! The Ski Club has teamed up with hundreds of partners to bring our members the best savings possible. You can save money on holidays, travel, clothing and equipment, UK slope time, car hire – and loads more.
Up to 60% off equipment hire*
£25 off all direct flights between the UK and Switzerland*
15% off full-priced items in-store and online*
Up to 12% off winter and summer holidays*
10% off winter and summer holidays*
£75 off holidays booked after 31 October*
Here are just a few of our top discounts – you can see the full list at skiclub.co.uk/discounts
I’m always telling non-members to join, if only for the discounts – Blacks, Snow+Rock, Ellis Brigham, etc. and for holiday bookings, insurance, etc, etc. The list goes on. Mike Allchin
*Visit skiclub.co.uk for full details and terms and conditions of all discounts.
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Poc Receptor Bug Adjustable 2.0
There’s a clue in the name as to how this helmet is different to the Poc Auric — you can adjust it with ease via a slider at the back, ensuring a close fit. It uses Poc’s overlapping shell system, with an ABS outer shell to protect against sharp objects in the event of a fall and an in-mould EPS inner shell for shock absorption. There’s ventilation through eight vents, but you need to remove part of the liner to open and close them. The ear pads and neck roll can both be removed on warmer days. The helmet also comes in 11 colours, from eye-watering acid green to more muted browns and blacks.
If you have problems controlling your temperature, the Vantage is for you – it has a mammoth 21 vents, of which the 12 upper vents are adjustable. The build is complex, featuring MIPS, a protective shock-absorbing core structure, and a ‘Hybrid SL’ construction that fuses an ABS upper with a lightweight in-mould lower. Koroyd is used with Smith’s ‘Aerocore’ design to allow better airflow. The Boa F360 fit system is commonly used in high-end cycling shoes and allows 360-degree adjustment. You can also remove the audio-compatible ear pads and mesh lining. With 11 colours to choose from, it’s a versatile helmet.
The Park is the cheapest model we’ve reviewed and, for those on a budget this season, it’s pretty much all you could need from a ski helmet. Though it has 12 vents, only the front two are adjustable on the go as the others use foam inserts which have to be removed by hand. It has a removable liner and ear pads, goggle retainer and a dial adjuster at the rear. It also comes with a cloth storage bag. In use, the velour liner is soft and warm. Yes, it feels bulky compared to some more expensive rivals, but this is a good value ski helmet, which comes in both children’s and adult sizes, with all the essential features.
Excellent build quality; fully adjustable Vents can’t be adjusted on the go; quite heavy
Good value, available for children Plain looks and non-adjustable vents
Good construction, adjustable, nice look Expensive
Oakley Mod 5
Giro Zone MIPS
This helmet is not just extreme in name — it comes in some pretty extreme colours too. These are perfect for anyone looking to make a statement on the slopes; fortunately, less shouty options are also available. But it’s not just about being bright. It has lovely furry vented earpads and removable liner, and the fit is easily adjusted with a dial at the rear. There are 18 small vents in total, with 16 of these being adjustable. One of my favourite features of the Xtreme was the chin strap, which operates on a ratchet system that’s far more effective than a buckle for getting a quick and easy secure fit. Great chin strap system Bright colours may not appeal
The Mod 5 helmet works with your goggles through the ‘Modular Brim System’, which channels the hot air through the brim and lid to stop fogging. There are only five small vents on the helmet, but these are easy to adjust even with gloved hands. Fit is good, with adjustment via a Boa system. Despite the almost military style, the whole lid feels light and unobtrusive. This is assisted by removable ear pads, which put zero pressure on the ears for more comfort and better hearing. The mesh liner can be removed, and I liked the magnetic buckle system which is a cinch to fasten and unfasten. Works with any goggles; looks great Could have more, bigger vents
You can tell this is a top end helmet from the fit and feel. The Zone uses MIPS and ‘Hybrid Construction’, which blends the hard shell upper with an in-mould construction lower to offer good protection. Adjustments to fit can be made vertically and horizontally. Things can be kept warm or cool thanks to 11 vents, the upper five of which are adjustable. The liner and ear pads are removable, and I liked the Fidlock magnetic chin strap, which is very easy to open and close. You also get an integrated camera mount with the Zone, and it’s compatible with all Giro goggles as well as Giro Audio Systems. Top design and build; very comfy Pricey
Photo: Melody Sky
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Vital protection for young minds Many resorts now insist that children wear helmets — and rightly so. While wearing one may be a question of choice for adults, the protection is critical for young minds, particularly as children are more likely to fall. In Italy, you must wear one up to the age of 14, while in Slovenia and Norway the limit is 13. Though not obligatory in France, Andorra and Switzerland, ski schools encourage them. Rules in Austria vary by region. Some resorts in Tirol or Vorarlberg have no rules, while those in Salzburgerland ask that children under the age of 16 wear a helmet. Similarly there’s no law in Slovakia, Spain or Sweden, though they may offer incentives. In Sweden, children in a helmet ski for free up to the age of seven. Many hire shops offer free helmet rental for children — just one of the models reviewed here, the Manbi Park, comes in children’s sizes. Those anticipating rules for adults have little to fear. While some snowparks insist you wear a lid, the only pistes where forgoing a helmet could land adults in trouble with the piste police are in Nova Scotia, Canada. Harriet Johnston
SKI CLUB BENEFITS
Choosing Ski Club Travel Insurance has always meant that you’re getting the specialist cover you need, with policies designed by experts for skiers and snowboarders. And our policies aren’t just for skiing – they’re the perfect accompaniment to all of your travel adventures, on and off the snow.
HIGHLIGHTS: • Off piste skiing and boarding, with or without a guide • All policies include Fogg Medi-card as standard, to get you off the mountain with no up-front costs • Single trip cover up to the age of 85 (75 for multi-trip)
15% OFF for Ski Club Members
• Children FREE up to the age of 18 on all family policies (or under 24 if you have Ski Club Platinum membership) • Up to 45 days’ winter sports cover each year with Ski Club Platinum Membership • Winter sports equipment cover including goggles, helmets, boots & gloves as well as the usual cover for skis, poles and snowboards • Cover for lack of snow, and avalanches
For a quote, visit skiclubinsurance.co.uk or call 0300 303 2610
• Heli skiing, glacier skiing, backcountry skiing and ski touring all covered as standard
SNO W B OA R D S
Topsheet Core Edges Sidewall
Board lengths are measured in centimetres from tip to tail. Longer boards suit powder; shorter ones are best for freestyle
The distance between the two contact points on either side of the snowboard
BASE Extruded bases are cheap, easy to repair, and ideal for beginners. Sintered bases need more care and cost more, but are faster when waxed
CAMBER A board with a camber profile rises up between the rider’s feet and has contact points at each end — at the nose and tail ends of the effective edge
WIDTH A ’W‘ following a length means the board comes in wide, and so is suitable for riders with larger feet — UK size 11 and over
ROCKER A board with a rocker profile has its main contact point between the rider’s feet, while the ends of the effective edge are lifted
FLEX This is graded from one to five, with one being soft — making a board easy to turn — and five being stiff, for high-speed piste performance
FLAT PROFILE A board with a flat profile is flat under the feet, with the board rising only at the tip and tail
Camber effective edge
Rocker effective edge
COMBO A board with a combo profile combines elements of both rocker and camber boards
Flat profile effective edge
Camber and rocker combo* *Camber and rocker combo profiles vary
Cheap tricks and powder-light prices
SHAPE Directional boards have a setback stance, twin boards have a centred stance and an identical nose and tail, while directional twin boards combine elements of both
Entry-level piste boards are a cost-effective solution if you’ve yet to decide between parklife and off-piste, says Tristan Kennedy
Tristan Kennedy is editor of action sports and adventure website mpora.com and former deputy editor of Whitelines snowboarding magazine. He tested these boards exclusively for Ski+board at the Snowboard Spring Break event in Kaunertal, in Austria.
Most snowboarders aspire either to riding powder or learning tricks, and will often start trying one or the other from their first week on snow. If you’re unsure which direction you want to take, entry-level piste boards tend to be great all-rounders. So new riders can experience piste, park and powder in equal measure. Just because these boards are aimed at novices doesn’t mean they’re low quality. An old truism held that entrylevel boards were heavy, unwieldy things. However, thanks to new building materials and construction techniques ‘trickling down’ from more advanced
FLEX PROFILE Rocker SHAPE Directional twin LENGTHS (cm) 139, 145, 151, 155, 158, 160; 157W, 160W, 164W PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
Burton has been producing an entry-level board called the Clash for over a decade. And the principle has remained the same — to make the best beginner stick possible at a beginner-friendly price. But the board has improved with each season, as technology and materials tested in pricier models trickles down the Burton range. This year’s Clash features Burton’s ‘Flat Top’ profile, a variation of the conventional rocker shape. It has a flat section between the feet as opposed to a continuous curve, making it more stable than many rocker boards at speed. Good value, stable, great for learning on Advanced riders will find this too soft
models, today’s entry-level boards are a pleasure to ride, while remaining remarkably reasonably priced. While the Clash is more expensive than last year, its price has risen by only £5, while the Agenda is £15 cheaper. On average the men’s boards featured here are £28 cheaper than last year’s selection, while the women’s models are £20 cheaper — if you buy in the UK of course. Ironically, though they are made in the US or on the Continent, buying there will cost more. So what are you waiting for?
For advice on choosing boards and snowboard boots visit skiclub.co.uk/kit
FLEX PROFILE Rocker SHAPE True twin LENGTHS (cm) 147, 152, 156,
FLEX PROFILE Camber SHAPE Directional Twin LENGTHS (cm) 142, 145, 149,
152, 156, 160, 163; 158W, 162W
159; 153W, 157W, 161W
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
The Ride Agenda is the latest update of this long-running model aimed at entry-level riders, and has been improved by the ‘trickle down’ effect in board building techniques. The sidewalls are made of urethane, the same material as skateboard wheels, absorbing vibrations and giving you a smoother ride. Slimewalls now feature in a range of boards, from high end to those costing little over £250. Elsewhere, construction is simple but solid. Features such as the tough extruded base mean it can handle a beating from beginners.
There’s an interesting shape to this year’s Salomon Pulse. Rather than opt for a beginner rocker shape, it features the flat out camber, which means there is camber between the bindings, offering some snap, but the profile flattens out towards the tip and tail, making it harder to catch an edge. The combination works well, but that’s no surprise — it’s popular on more expensive models in the Salomon range. Other updates include a new directional twin shape and adding ‘bite-free’ edges, both of which make it excellent for cruising the pistes.
Great for riding switch and trying tricks It’s less easy to ride in powder
A great beginner all-rounder at a good price It lacks stability at really high speeds
SNO W B OA R D S
FLEX PROFILE Rocker SHAPE True twin LENGTHS (cm) 150, 153, 156, 159, 162; 156W, 159W, 162W PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
FLEX PROFILE Camber SHAPE Directional twin LENGTHS (cm) 138, 142, 147
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
The Rush is a strong, piste-riding package, with a forgiving rocker profile that makes it very easy to learn turns, yet difficult to catch an edge. Described as “a wonderful springboard for the world of snowboarding”, this is a great option if you’re want to build confidence on piste and speed up your learning curve. As with most entry-level boards, the soft flex means it’s prone to feeling skittish at high speeds, but the true twin shape means you’ll have no problem learning to ride switch or trying out your first rail tricks on the boxes in the snowpark.
The Head Pride is an old school piste board. Designed with women in mind, this gives you everything you might want from your first snowboard without any extra frills. Its directional twin shape is perfect for learning turns, and means the board performs reasonably well in powder. Head has combined this with a camber profile, which gives the board a decent bit of pop, even though the flex is quite soft. The advantage of that soft flex is that the board feels very forgiving. All of which makes it a perfect beginner package — especially for the price. Great value for money It’s not the best at high speeds
Rocker profile makes it easy to learn on It lacks stability at speed
FLEX PROFILE Rocker SHAPE Directional twin LENGTHS (cm) 147, 152, 155, 158, 161; 155W, 159W, 163W
FLEX PROFILE Rocker SHAPE True twin LENGTHS (cm) 138, 143, 147
FLEX PROFILE Rocker SHAPE True twin LENGTHS (cm) 138, 142, 147,
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
It might be called the Standard, but this K2 board is far from boring. Rather, it sets the standard by which other entry-level boards should be judged. It features a ‘Catch-Free’ rocker profile, which makes the board very easy to learn your turns on. There’s also the directional twin shape with a slightly setback stance, helping you ride powder easily should you venture off the side of the piste. The profile means it’s never going to break records for stability at speed, but if you want a great board for playing around on the piste then this may well be it. Playful and forgiving — ideal for learning on piste It struggles at high speeds
The Ride Rapture is not only one of the longest running models in the brand’s range, it’s also one of the oldest women-specific boards on the market. If Burton were the first brand to start making boards that were made to suit the way women’s weight is distributed, then Ride were a close second. The Rapture features a rocker profile, making it easy to turn. It has an extruded base so it’s not the fastest down the mountain, but then when you’re just cruising the pistes, you don’t really need to be going at Mach 10. Great for learning turns Not the fastest, especially in powder
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
Burton reckons the Genie is as easy to fly on as a magic carpet. For beginners, Burton is not far wrong. This board has everything you need from a beginner stick — it’s easy to turn, the flex is forgiving, and the true twin shape means you can ride switch if you fancy. It’s not so good at handling high speeds, but that shouldn’t bother most beginners. Anything built by Burton is made to high standards, and this board is no exception. If you’re after that kind of quality from your first snowboard, you could do a lot worse than conjure up a Genie. Fun on the piste, excellent build quality Not the most stable at high speeds
Photo: Melody Sky
Photo: Vail Resorts
Go large in a host of ever bigger areas WRITERS Alf Alderson, Neil English, Sheila Reid, Chris Madoc-Jones, Colin Nicholson, Arnie Wilson
HOW OUR GUIDE WORKS CHALLENGE Our infographic shows how resorts grade pistes according to difficulty, showing what percentage are black, red, blue or green (however, note that Austrian, Swiss and some Italian areas don’t have green runs). PISTES We list the combined length of
all the resort’s pistes, as claimed by the tourist office. We include linked areas that are also covered by the lift pass. LIFT PASS Lift pass prices are for a six-
day adult pass during high season.
If you love cruising different runs on every day of your holiday, each season brings new cheer in the form of resort link-ups. Most of these have been in Austria, though France still has the biggest ski areas. However, the claims of some to be the fourth or fifth biggest ski area in a country should be taken with a pinch of salt. As Ski+board revealed in 2013, many exaggerate the extent of their pistes. It may be worth looking at the number of lifts to gauge the true size of a ski area, though even this is not foolproof. A resort where the chairlifts are old and slow will require more of them than one with modern quick chairlifts. Here we set aside that debate, and focus on resorts less heard of, sometimes because they have only just started offering access to decent-sized piste networks.
To read guides to more than a thousand resorts see skiclub.co.uk/skiresorts.
Serre Chevalier Some slow chairs at altitude
The varied slopes give a real sense of travel Why there? Nestling in the southern Alps, Serre Chevalier consists of three rustic villages — Le Monêtier, Villeneuve and Chantemerle — and the town of Briançon. Their cobbled streets and traditional restaurants have a lovely French feel. The mountain suits all, ranging from
ungroomed blacks to wide greens — with cruisy blues and thrilling reds for intermediates. There are delightful wooded runs — perfect on snowy days. On clear days, there are breathtaking views from the top of the Grand Serre lift. Fast gondolas whisk you up the mountain and queues are rare. The lift pass allows you a day in each of the neighbouring resorts of Montgenèvre, Les Deux Alpes, Alpe d’Huez and Puy-St Vincent. Coaches are often offered by tour operators. Can’t ski, won’t ski Guided tours round the ramparts and churches of World Heritage site Briançon are a must. Les Grands Bains thermal spa complex in Le Monêtier is a perfect chill-out spot. Walking is good on 25km of prepared trails and each village has an ice rink and cinema. Travelling around is easy on the frequent bus service. SR
Snow Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste Lift pass
Piste height: 1,200m-2,735m
Photo: Serre Chevalier Office De Tourisme/Flickr
Friendly and traditional feel
R ESORT I N SI DER
St Gallenkirch Huge variety of skiing with peaceful feel
Photo: St Gallenkirch
May be on the quiet side
At the centre of what were unconnected resorts Why there? St Gallenkirch is part of a group of 11 relatively unfashionable but good, enjoyable resorts. Located high in the Montafon valley, it has that classic ski village charm minus the hefty queues. Above is the Silvretta Montafon ski area, where the skiing is extensive — 37 lifts serve 115km of pistes. The newest lift this season is a fast eight-pack, helping access to runs well within the grasp of most. Can't ski, won't ski Lots of hiking trails, ice-skating and indoor pools. You can be a passenger on a snow-grooming snowcat and drive one under supervision. AW
Epic 4 Vallées off-piste Why there? If you’re looking for a less costly introduction to the 4 Vallées, then Veysonnaz is ideal. There’s a new flight to nearby Sion and the village has an authentic feel. This season, a ten-seater gondola will take you to the heart of the 4 Vallées fast. Snowmaking has also been improved on the tree-lined Mayens de l’Ours run under it. There is another new lift at Verbier, at the other end of 28% the area’s claimed 412km of pistes. Can’t ski, won’t ski There are 33 marked trails for snowshoeing. CMJ
Photo: Aline Fournier
Piste height: 700m-2,430m
New links to Sella Ronda
It's still an expensive option
Lifts Queue-free Food
Charisma Ski schools
Access to Incredible off-piste
Low budget Off-piste
Charisma Ski schools
Why there? Whether doing the orange clockwise route or the green anticlockwise tour, the 38km circuit of intermediate pistes known as the Sella Ronda can be done in a day. But exploring its satellite resorts will take you longer. Arabba is a good base to start your expeditions from. Its north-facing blacks and strong reds are a test of nerves and ski edges. But a new gondola means skiers on the orange route need no longer tackle the Porta Vescovo wall back to Arabba. The Marmolada glacier is easily accessed, and the descent and views are breathtaking. Can’t ski, won’t ski The village is fairly limited, but there are regular, cheap bus links to neighbouring resorts. Buses also go to the Marmolada cable car, which offers a First World War museum, restaurant and great views. The food is superb. NE Snow Lifts
Piste height: 1,500m-3,330m
Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools
Plenty of options for non-skiers to enjoy the area Natural snow in this area can be limited
Low budget Off-piste Lift pass
Piste height: 1,600m-2,480m
R ESORT I N SI DER
Park City Supercostly lift pass
Part of the biggest linked ski area in North America Why there? In Park City not only can you ski miles of pistes, but you’ll probably be blessed with Utah powder. It can come down so heavily that if you repeat a run your tracks may be snowed under the second time around. And since the resort was linked to The Canyons last season, City Airport. With new Delta flights from you’ve got the biggest stash of featherHeathrow this season, now is the perfect light powder in North America at your time to go — if your wallet can handle it. disposal. As you might expect in the US, the runs have a remote feel and include a Can’t ski, won’t ski The town is big, so wide range of terrain to suit all abilities, 52% you can spend hours taking in the from easy intermediate cruisers to classic Wild West architecture and classic backcountry skiing. Queues visiting the sassy selection of and crowds are rarely a problem. Park bars, restaurants and hotels. City’s town is a blend of old and new You can also visit the Utah and is just 32 miles from Salt Lake Olympic Park. AA
Photo: Val Resorts
Miles of big terrain
Snow Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste Lift pass
Piste height: 2,075m-3,050m
Peisey-Vallandry Well placed and less costly than its neighbours Quiet at night
Local charm with prime access to Paradiski Why there? The giant Paradiski area was created 13 years ago when the doubledecker Vanoise Express linked PeiseyVallandry, an outlying village of Les Arcs, to La Plagne. The charming village makes a good base for exploring both, and any skier would be pushed to ‘bag’ all Paradiski's runs in a week. The local skiing is mostly tree-lined, with a mixture of gentle and more challenging slopes.
CHALET FOR SALE Morgins, Portes du Soleil
Lifts Queue-free Food
Charisma Ski schools
Piste height: 1,200m-3,250m
Photo: OT Peisey Vallandry
Can’t ski, won’t ski Village life is quiet, but under the sleek Vanoise Express is an ancient lift that takes you down to the village of Nancroix, where buses take you to walking and 14% cross-country skiing trails. CN
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SKI C LU B O NL INE
Lift stations are clad in solar panels at Laax, which aims to become the first self-sufficient resort
Let it snow, let it snow
Calling student bloggers! Line-S wants you
Find out how one Swiss area is combating climate change at skiclub.co.uk and check the latest snow reports for your destination
If you’re reading this from student digs — or perhaps your empty nest now your children are off at uni until the Christmas holidays — then you’ll want to check out the Ski Club’s little sister. The Line-S website at line-s.co.uk has some great bloggers, wicked competitions and a wide range of discounts, making it the number one stop for student snowsports. If you fancy yourself as a writer and are mad keen on skiing or riding, then drop us a line and you could be the next Line-S contributor. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In September, a research paper revealed the alarming shortening of the natural snow season in the Swiss Alps. Last winter saw 38 more snowless days than in the 1970s – a decline scientists attribute to snow melting earlier than before, as global warming sees spring temperatures rise by 0.8°C per decade. But resorts such as Laax are fighting back with its Greenstyle initiative. The Swiss freestyle mecca aims to become the world’s first entirely self-sufficient ski resort — a big ask given the energy demands of lifts, snowmaking, grooming and the thousands of visitors each day.
Our online coverage shows how lift stations are coated in solar panels, hybrid piste bashers use less fuel and a big wind farm is planned. Plus discarded water bottles are history as drinking fountains are all over the mountain. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, so read more at skiclub.co.uk/news. And if you fear another slow start to the season, check out snow reports updated daily at skiclub.co.uk/snowreports and the Ski Club’s 23 years of historical snow data at skiclub.co.uk/snowreports/historical — where you’ll find the odds for early snowfall are actually quite good.
Snowboxx partnership is music to skiers’ ears The Ski Club online team are excited to announce a partnership with Snowboxx Festival — the annual musical pilgrimage to Avoriaz, France. This winter’s event takes place from March 18-25 and the Ski Club will be there to provide ski lessons to revellers. Look out for tons of exciting content in the run-up to the event at skiclub.co.uk/news.
To find out more visit
Photo: Geoffrey Hubbel
Although Ski+board’s ‘Resort Insider’ pages cover a series of different ski areas, that’s just a drop in the ocean compared with the wealth of information that you can find at the Ski Club’s website. With over 1,000 resorts to choose from, the Ski Club’s online guides cover resorts from Andermatt to Zell am See, and countries from Austria to the US. All major resorts are profiled in-depth by the experts from the guidebook Where To Ski & Snowboard. So if you are looking for a hotel or ski school recommendation this is the place to go. And, if you still can’t make up your mind, our cunning comparison tool allows users to compare vital statistics for up to five resorts at a time. You can find it at skiclub.co.uk/skiresorts.
Photo: Laax/Gaudenz Danuser
You’ll be spoilt for choice — we help you compare over a thousand resorts
SKI C LU B VID EO S
Widen your horizons on Ski Club TV There’s a mass of fascinating and informative videos, including features on lesser known resorts, at the Ski Club’s YouTube channel
How good are those skis? Hear some word-of-mouth accounts from testers If you’re in the market for a new pair of skis then you can’t beat an impartial, word-of-mouth assessment of how they performed immediately after a run.
Photo: Ross Woodhall
Photo: Nigel Shepherd
Stunning footage of the Nevis Range forms part of Ski Club TV’s ‘resorts under the radar’ series
As part of its ‘resorts under the radar’ series, Ski Club TV made a 1,000-mile round trip to the Nevis Range in March this year. So now you can witness Scottish skiing at its best from home. Despite an ominous weather forecast, the stars aligned and the team were rewarded with the best conditions of the season, and found a blossoming community of passionate freeriders. This group is building the Nevis Range’s reputation as the UK’s freeride capital. Sitting on the north face of Aonach Mòr within a stone’s throw of Ben Nevis, the resort has Scotland’s answer to the Aiguille du Midi. Yes, the Back Corries have terrain that leaves top riders quaking in their ski boots. Its closeness to the Atlantic means the Nevis Range benefits — and suffers — from heavy precipitation and strong winds blowing snow into its corries. Though this presents challenges for the resort and ski patrol, when the snow conditions are good the descents can be as stunning as they are challenging. Watch the full episode (and others in the series) on the Ski Club’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/thesnowcast.
Dougie Crawford on this season’s freeride skis
And in February this year the Ski Club brought together some of Britain’s finest ski professionals to provide just that. In all, they tested a hundred pairs of skis at the annual Snowsport Industries of Great Britain’s Ski Test in Kühtai, Austria. From former British racers to the best instructors in the business, this year’s team could not have been better qualified for the job. All their detailed written reviews are included in the print issues of Ski+board magazine. But if you want to see and hear first-person accounts of how the skis perform then you’ll be glad to hear that Ski Club TV has made a series of videos of our testers’ favourite skis in each of the three categories covered from piste to all-mountain and freeride. To watch the reviews, visit the Ski Club’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/thesnowcast. Ski+board
The course is a chance to learn snowcraft skills
Are you a born Leader? Take your skiing to the next level by becoming a Ski Club Leader. The training for this is a course in Zermatt, Switzerland, in early December. To see and hear what the course is really like before you commit, or if you’re just curious, you can’t beat Ski Club TV’s coverage of the fortnight.
Get the bigger picture at…
In your next issue… Is it time to switch destination? With the pound getting lighter by the day, we look at countries and regions that offer greater value for money
Ready for take-off Our reporters spread their wings to try speed riding, kite skiing and wing jumps
Northern Exposure Action shots in stunning settings from our team of pro photographers
Classy and classic Our snow wear team offer tips on how to achieve timeless elegance on the slopes
All-mountain skis The Ski Club’s top testers put the most popular category under the microscope
Ski Club members can read back issues of Ski+board online at skiclub.co.uk/skiandboard
Dates for your diary UNTIL NOVEMBER 23
Henry’s Avalanche Talks
Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Show London
As part of the Ortovox Avalanche Awareness Tour, Henry Schniewind explains how to have fun and stay safe while riding off-piste this season. The first night is an ‘essentials’ talk, and in some cases is followed by a second night of more in-depth learning. The evenings start at 7pm and cost £12.50, with a £3 discount for Ski Club members.
October 31-November 1 Mendip Snowsport Centre, Sandford November 2 Soar at Intu Braehead, Renfrewshire November 2-3 Racks Bar & Kitchen, Bristol November 8 Ellis Brigham, St Paul’s, London November 10 Snowdome, Tamworth November 11 Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff November 16-17 Ellis Brigham, Cambridge November 23 St Mary’s Hall, Fort William
Battersea Evolution, London
The Ski Show returns to Battersea Park with its unique blend of retailers, resorts and tour operators. The Ski Club can be found at stands 213 and OC43. Times vary; £20 per day. NOVEMBER 4-5
British University Dryslope Championship Hillend, Edinburgh
This is the place for student skiers and snowboarders to show off their freestyle and racing talent. Find out more at line-s.co.uk.
music. Tickets cost £18.50, Ski Club members get a 10 per cent discount. NOVEMBER 17
Ski Club of Great Britain Annual General Meeting The White House, Wimbledon Village, London
Members can have their say at the yearly meeting of the Ski Club of Great Britain. The event begins at 7pm. DECEMBER 1-3
Ski Club Leaders’ Course Warm-up Zermatt, Switzerland
For those yet to find their ski legs, this is the chance to warm up before the course. DECEMBER 3-16
Ruin and Rose
Ham Yard Theatre, London Screening of Matchstick Productions’ latest film, showcasing the best skiers, stunning landscapes and awesome
Ski Club Leaders’ Course Zermatt, Switzerland
For anyone wanting to become a Ski Club Leader, this promises lessons in technique, snowcraft and safety. Find out more at skiclub.co.uk.
VA L D ’ I S È R E |
G S TA A D
Z E R M AT T CORTINA
KLOSTERS & MORE
I T ’ L L TA K E Y O U L O N G E R T O PA C K , THAN TO GET THERE
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