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Action shots + Letters + News + Racing technique + Off-piste tips + Fitness + Snow wear + Freeride gear + Resort insider + Discounts + Web news
IT’S GAME ON FOR TEAM GB Why Britain’s athletes are well placed for medals... and when to see them
WAR AND PISTES
FEEL THE PULL OF THE POLES
We go to Kosovo to find resorts that are buzzing in Europe’s newest nation
Touring across Poland’s Tatras mountains — using a little horsepower
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his is your moment. You’re at the start gate and your heart is pumping so hard you think your chest is about to explode. Out of the corner of your eye you see your nemesis preparing, as the voice of the announcer booms out. Your hands tighten, the beeps start and on the third pip you drop your hips back ready to shoot yourself forward... There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of the Winter Olympics, but these are going to be a strange Games for me — the first I’ve ever watched. For the past 16 years, my life has been geared towards making myself a better, faster, stronger racer. Of course, it was a great privilege to take part in the past four Games, clad in my Union Jack catsuit representing Team GB. I had just two minutes to show the world what the hard work of the preceding four years was all about. Exciting as it was, it left me precious little time to sit back and enjoy watching all the wonderful events that will fill our screens for two weeks in February. Since role reversal is the order of the day, I decided with the Ski+board team to set you, the reader, a challenge. How would you feel if you were the Olympian? So for our cover story we sent four recreational skiers and snowboarders & Board Chemmy Editorial Ski to take part in some ofs was the Olympiceveryo events you ne English Language. As ite A Level classe favour my of one to put my thoughts on down, taking the time At school I loved writing ly prefer sitting way for me to I actual butat It was a Rockies. dovery resorts in You race diary.and great talker my postAlps inthe knows I am acan ssive expre mum, a and t hones was achievements. With being paper. As an athlete I and even celebrate my now but my tions, disappointment time is very precious TV work, my vent my frustra s and they can find how fared on appearance key board. 20. And in my page my publicout away and escape behind running our business, more time for me to tap aside set to is year aim this and . I loved sharing my stories Mark able Jones’s excellent technique column on of Ski & Board to guest edit this issue So it was a dream to be knowledge with you. to able be to h enoug page 44, you can learn how to do a giant slalom, I was lucky event. Sports r , Winte t better a f hosts the bigges towards me making mysel Every four years the world Olympic of my life was geared that start gate in the last 4. Over 16 years to stand in you partake in the I lived had 2 out. with full details where canretry that i this d ski racer.of accomplishe GB. I lived for the pressu faster, stronger, more for. I lived to catsuit representing Team been jack had union years my 4 in last Games. Clad my hard work over the (maybe too what all everyone an Edie the Eagle wasn’t mind. not had my feet What with being - that Iup, minutes to showI’ve the best both be nting could I prese that ics, press the Olymp convince the public and other side. I will be at from this year I stand on the made a quick transition aggressive) And now In my retirementai have s in the BBC. a mother and running ski coaching business, bubble at the Game on site for the still, inside there from Manchester and being but so sports fan ever, be racing - I always will, athlete to biggest winter moments of pining to ibly talented group of true. I will deﬁnitely have incred y, come hungr a dream a is onto Korea the baton time feels more than ever. Then there is and I passprecious been stage. has g time sportin my t time bigges worlds at the same
the presenting work for the BBC. In retirement, I’ve become the biggest winter sports fan ever and look forward to being inside the Olympic bubble in Korea. Of course, I will have moments of pining to race — I always will. But my time has been, and I pass the baton on to a group of hungry, incredibly talented British racers ready to push themselves to the limit on winter’s biggest sporting stage. And I’ve loved tapping away at my keyboard (with Mont Blanc wallpaper for inspiration) for Ski+board, writing about why the young Team GB athletes stand a better chance than ever. On page 28, I’ve given what I hope is an amusing and informative account of some of the factors involved. I’ve also tried to answer the
I will be pining to compete, but it’s time to pass the baton on to a group of young, hungry, talented British racers
British ski racers ready
to push their own limits
question of how injured athletes are able to recover so fast, which may serve as inspiration if you’ve been hurt — I speak from experience. During those periods of injury and in my post-race diary, writing was a way for me to vent my frustration, air my disappointments and celebrate my achievements. So it has been a dream to guest edit this issue of Ski+board. I have loved sharing my stories and knowledge with you — and I very much hope you will enjoy reading them too. The cover shows what Olympic mogul skiers and snowboarders face. But you too can give many Olympic disciplines a go — see page 20
Chemmy Alcott Ski+board Guest Editor Ski+board
DEPUTY EDITOR Harriet Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR Amanda Barks MEDIA SALES Madison Bell madisonbell.com email@example.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 7JY skiclub.co.uk | 020 8410 2000 DISTRIBUTION Jellyfish Print Solutions Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Independently audited circulation of 20,879 (January to December 2017) Issue 200 © Ski Club of Great Britain 2018 ISSN 1369-8826 Ski+board is printed by Precision Colour Printing, Telford TF7 4QQ 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.
8 EXPOSURE Jump in with this season’s most unique shots, from some of snowsport’s most original photographers
13 YOU SAY What Brexit means for chalet holidays, a plea for feedback, more on-piste tours in the Dolomites and how to help Team GB
14 SKI CLUB NEWS Meet the Ski Club’s new chief executive, how members bring camaraderie to a French resort and an editor remembered
17 NEWS Is this the last winter to be a seasonnaire? Plus Britain’s Olympic charge, and how equipment sales beat sterling’s slump
20 BE AN OLYMPIAN From bumps to boardercross, biathlon to skeleton, we send four novices to test their nerves in four Olympic disciplines
28 ATHLETES LAID BARE We uncover why British skiers are well placed for the Games, plus an extensive guide on which Brits to watch and when
36 WAR AND PISTES In the final part of our Balkan trilogy, we head to a freeride haven in Europe’s youngest nation — Kosovo
40 THE PULL OF THE POLES Our writer is blown away by the comfort of a hut-to-hut ski touring holiday through Poland’s Tatra mountains
Photo: Snow Njeri
THE INSIDE EDGE 44 TECHNIQUE If the Olympic fever is making you itch to try a giant slalom course for yourself, we reveal how to do it... and where
47 OFF-PISTE Taking his last bow, Alpine expert Nigel Shepherd looks to the future and how apps can help guide us in the mountains
48 FITNESS Improve your skiing overnight with our bedtime stretches. They’re so easy you’ll be able to do them in your sleep... Photo: Chris Wellhausen/Winter Park
50 SNOW WEAR How big brands are helping skiers hold on to their favourite garments for longer with their make do and mend approach
Photo: Mountain Tracks
SKI TESTS With touring on the up, our experts give their verdict on the best skis to balance power with lighter weights for climbs
66 BOOTS Make sure the only thing that’s blistering is your performance with this season’s new batch of dedicated touring boots
70 GEAR Prepare for every eventuality in the mountains, with the latest gizmos to keep you safe away from the crowds
72 SNOWBOARDS Buy only the best backcountry boards, as our expert reviews this season’s crop of big mountain models and splitboards
76 RESORT INSIDER Cut corduroy and prices as our reviewers cover seven budget resorts, all of which have new lifts this season Ski+board
LOCATION Salzburg, Austria PHOTOGRAPHER
Guy Fattal SKIER
Dorian Konrad For most skiers, Salzburg is an airport they pass through on the way to a resort. But when you have a good winter, even the city you fly into can offer potential slopes, as Israeli photographer Guy Fattal and Austrian skier Dorian Konrad found when they visited on a ‘city-and-ski’ break with a difference. With snow accumulating at even the lower heights, they set their eyes on the old town for a ‘back street’ rather than ‘back country’ session. And the heavy snowfall created a unique opportunity for Fattal to capture this image of Konrad ‘airing’ a 360 over a stone wall at the Hohensalzburg castle.
M OST SN OW SE CU RE SK I RE SO RT IN TH E AL PS SA A S - F E E
SA A S - G R U N D
SA A S - A L M A G E L L
| SA A S - BA L E N
R M AT I O MORE INFO
w w w . s a a s - fe
Lech-Zürs, Austria PHOTOGRAPHER
Josef Mallaun The Arlberg is Austria’s biggest linked ski area with more than 300km of runs. But, as is often the case in resorts that have recently been connected by lifts and pistes, you could be forgiven for feeling you are in uncharted territory skiing from one to the other. The swathes of open mountainside between Lech and Zürs are a case in point. As Austrian photographer Josef Mallaun shows, coming across fresh tracks in the snow can be a reassuring source of delight in this mountain wilderness. You can read more about skiing in the Arlberg region on pages 69 and 77.
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Will next winter spell the end of the catered chalet holiday?
The Dolomites offer skiers any number of on-piste adventures I enjoyed reading the article about onpiste Dolomite tour holidays in the last issue, but I should say that Neilson is not the only company offering such trips. Small firms have been running ski safaris for a number of years, as the Dolomites are perfect for this kind of trip. Where else can you enjoy a view like the one from the Lagazuoi rifugio sauna? I went with Inspired Italy, but should say I have no link with it other than as a satisfied customer. Indeed it was recommended to me by another Ski Club member on a Freshtracks trip in Colfosco.
Andy Spicely Currently tour operator staff can work in the Alps under European Union freedom of movement rules
I read with interest in the last issue of Ski+board how the legal process surrounding the on-piste hosting service formerly offered by tour operators in France had reached its unsatisfactory (but not unexpected) conclusion. It made me think this may just be the tip of an impending iceberg. If freedom of movement ends in March 2019 it will surely be a double-edged sword. I think it very unlikely that the French and other authorities will hand out work permits for the small army of chalet hosts, resort reps and support
I was filled with sadness at the news of the death of Elisabeth Hussey, long-time editor of Ski+board’s predecessor Ski survey, as covered in the last issue. When I was the ‘new boy’ in the ski magazine business 28 years ago, it was a bit of a closed shop, but she was one of the few people who made me feel instantly welcome. I heartily concur with Arnie Wilson’s warm tribute, overleaf.
Your chance to shape Ski+board In February, Ski+board will once again be asking a randomly selected sample of Ski Club members to tell us what they think of the features and regular sections in this season’s magazines. Whether you are largely happy with Ski+board in its current format, or if there are things you would like to see changed, we are keen to hear from you. So if you are among the one in eight Ski Club members to receive an email asking you to take part in the survey, we can promise you that your input will be used to help us keep improving the magazine. The survey will include links to the relevant features to jog your memory and should take no longer than ten minutes to complete.
Ski journalism has lost one of its doyennes
staff bussed in every season from the UK, especially given unemployment in similar local age groups. No-one seriously expects holidaymakers to be turned away at the border post-Brexit, and people who make their own independent travel and accommodation arrangements may well see little difference. But for those of us who buy package ski holidays — particularly to take advantage of the catered chalet experience — will the 2018-19 season mark the end of an era?
You can, of course, tell us what you think at any time using the email and postal addresses to the right. You can use the same addresses to request any hard copies of Ski+board you have missed in the past five years.
Feed our Olympic fever In the run-up to the Olympics it might be nice to know how our top athletes are doing and what we can do to help them.
Survey respondent Ski+board writes: Indeed… and you may be helping them already (see overleaf).
Got something to say? Share it with us at: @TheSkiClub
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SKI CLUB NEWS
Ski Club members give £8,150 to help athletes reach PyeongChang
Introducing the club’s new chief executive — Darren Neylon
With the help of its members, the Ski Club has raised £8,150 to help British winter athletes, including those heading to South Korea for the Olympics. The fundraising has been achieved as part of the British Snowsports Fund, an initiative set up by the club and the wider ski industry last winter. The fund works by asking for a small donation when skiers book a trip or buy ski gear. In the club’s case, roughly 50p of each household’s subscription goes to the fund. This totalled £8,150 for the financial year 2016-17.
Few people can say that skiing has had as seminal an influence on their lives as the Ski Club’s new chief executive, Darren Neylon. During a stint in London in the late 1980s, he took a last-minute, cut-price ski trip to Tignes-Val d’Isère. There were just seven people on the rickety bus that left Waterloo, but one was life-long skier Juliette, who later became his wife. Travel and sport have played a major role in his life. Darren Neylon joins the club in mid-March having spent the past year as managing director of London’s largest sightseeing bus operator, The Original Tour. He was also on the boards of the New York and Paris operations. Before that, he led the short trip tour operator, SuperBreak, for six years, focusing on expanding its London and European city break programme. Born in Australia, he began skiing at Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek while studying economics at the University of Melbourne up to 1982. He started his career in accounting and investment banking at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), and it was during a two-year stint at Schroders in London that he did that life-changing ski trip. After marrying in the UK, the couple spent seven years in Australia before returning in 1997 with their three children, two of whom have since worked as seasonnaires in Courchevel.
Win a winter holiday for four in Les Arcs The Ski Club is offering a group of four people a week’s ski holiday in Les Arcs during the French resort’s annual Great British Celebration from March 24 to 31. The prize includes accommodation in a two-room apartment in Arc1800, four six-day lift passes covering Les Arcs and Peisey-Vallandry and six days’ entrance to the Mille8 aquatic centre. Go to skiclub.co.uk/competitions to enter. There you will also find full terms and conditions. Entries close in late February, but on the same page you will find a host of other great competitions running throughout the season.
In 1999, he made the switch from banking to retail and travel. A keen cyclist as well as skier, he has been on the committee of cycle clubs and is a member of the Institute of Sports Management. He is looking forward to bringing this experience to the Ski Club. He told Ski+board: “I am very excited by the prospect of joining the Ski Club of Great Britain in a sector that I and my family are passionate about. I’m keen to apply my experience to the benefit of the club, including a focus on value for members, commercial expansion, enhancing participation at home, and sustaining the club’s marvellous legacy.”
Darren Neylon comes to the Ski Club with an extensive background in travel and sport
A tribute to Elisabeth Hussey, editor, 1929-2017 By Arnie Wilson Elisabeth Hussey, former editor of the Ski Club’s magazine
Elisabeth Hussey, who died on December 2 at the age of 88, was a key figure at the club, editing Ski+board’s predecessor Ski survey from 1974 to 1992. She bridged the gap between two eras, working first with Sir Arnold Lunn then extending the magazine’s reach beyond members.
She became a renowned global expert on the history of skiing and worked for the International Ski Federation (FIS) on its media strategy. She was also president of the Ladies’ Ski Club from 1978 to 1981 and vice-president of the Kandahar Ski Club. In 1989 she was awarded the Pery Medal. She would ski any slope — green, blue, red or black — in any snow, but the inevitable tumbles never deterred her. Frank Baldwin, editor of Skier & Snowboarder, said: “I was skiing with her in Vail when she took a massive fall, tumbling over and over again. After coming to a stop, she picked herself up
and dusted herself off, looked back up the mountain, littered with her poles, skis, hat, goggles, and said: ‘Oh look, I’ve created my very own yard sale.’” In a eulogy for British Ski and Snowboard, Jenny Shute said: “Elisabeth was a journalist who fell rather unexpectedly into the world of British and international skiing. Forever smiling, she was an intrepid, hard-working, modest, energetic English lady who loved her work in skiing with a passion. She was known affectionately and universally throughout the FIS as ‘Auntie’.” A full tribute is at skiclub.co.uk/hussey.
Resort Facebook groups help more members to team up This season has seen more people join the Ski Club’s resort Facebook groups, launched last season to help members arrange to ski together. They also allow members to share photos and videos, and ask others for advice. The club has groups for all 30 resorts in which it has Leaders or Instructor-led Guiding, plus Whistler in Canada, the Brenta Dolomites and Courmayeur, in The Ski Club’s members in Val d’Isère organise meet-ups every morning so they can ski together
Social skiing lives on in Val d’Isère Since the French authorities banned the Ski Club’s Leader service in France, the club has replaced it with its Instructorled Guiding (ILG) programme. This has proved incredibly popular, and nowhere more so than in Val d’Isère, France. But some members who spend much of the season in the resort have also volunteered to organise a daily meetup to complement the six ILG sessions a week, allowing members to ski and socialise together on a less formal basis. These morning meet-ups have gone from strength to strength and regularly see up to 50 people finding like-minded skiers of similar ability to ski with. The rendez-vous is at 9.30am every day by the piste map at the base of the Olympique lift. Generally, at least 20 people show up — mostly club members and their friends. The most intrepid set off for off-piste areas (conditions and avalanche safety advice permitting). The rest head up the Bellevarde or Solaise lifts, and reassemble at the top, with an arrow left at the base to show latecomers where they have gone. Then one or two members help the skiers split into groups of six to ten. There is no grading, and all the groups usually meet for a coffee mid-morning so people can switch between groups if they feel their fellow skiers are too fast or too slow. Generally, many of the regulars are strong skiers who have skied in Val d’Isère for several years. The groups decide on the route to be taken and where to stop for lunch. And the socialising doesn’t stop
when the lifts do. The group’s base is the Alex Bar. It even has a Ski Club corner with a notice board, and members get seasonnaire prices on beer and wine. When a change of scene is needed, the group visits other bars. On Friday nights in particular, members like to meet somewhere that offers live music. A key tool for the organisers is the Ski Club’s local Facebook group (see above, right), which allows them to advise members of the alternative venues. Though not many places can rival Val d’Isère in terms of the number of members who spend a season in resort, the club would welcome it if this informal but very popular arrangement was replicated in other resorts. If you spend a significant amount of the season in one resort, and are interested in setting up informal social skiing groups, please send an email to skiers@ skiclub.co.uk putting ‘social skiing’ in the subject line. In the meantime, the club would like to say a big thank you to all its members who put so much effort into maintaining such a vibrant community in Val d’Isère.
Something to celebrate: the Club has a board at the Alex Bar on which it can post coming events
Italy, and Morzine, in France. To find a group, search on Facebook for Ski Club of Great Britain, followed by the resort name.
Are you a serious racer or up for a hare chase? The Ski Club aims to enter three teams in the 11th Amateur Inter-Club Team Championship to be held in Méribel, France, on March 8 and 9. If you would like to register your interest please email firstname.lastname@example.org by February 7. To find out more, see skiclub.co.uk/events. There you will also find details of a rather less serious event — the March Hare Treasure Hunt in Wengen on March 14 hosted with the Downhill Only Club. It is the second year of the event, where teams of up to four race to uncover hidden clues across the Swiss resort.
Line-S sets a fun test for student skiers In the peak weeks for student ski trips, the Ski Club’s student brand Line-S went on the road, hosting rail jams and races in the Tarentaise valley. It organised five sessions in Val Thorens, Tignes and Val d’Isère in collaboration with Nuco Travel. The student tour operator took a total of nearly 6,700 students to the three resorts in the two weeks in December and January when the events took place. Hosting accessible and informal competitions is key to fostering interest in snowsports — a major aspiration for Line-S and the club. Keep an eye on line-s.co.uk for future events.
Foto: Michael Werlberger © Kitzbühel-Schriftzug-Design: Alfons Walde 1933/VKB Wien
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‘You may be the last generation of seasonnaires’ says chalet boss
Tour operator lambasts lax rules for airlines as Powdair goes bust
The managing director of Alpine Elements, one of the largest independent ski operators, has told his 300 staff: “Feel privileged — you may be among the last of a generation of seasonnaires being able to work winters in this way.” James Hardiman delivered the message to his employees in resorts in response to changes tour operators are expected to make ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union. The company said it was testing ideas and implementing key operational changes “just in case” its model was forced to change. Currently, thousands of young Britons go to the Alps to work as chalet staff, many on gap years before and after university. But their right to work on the Continent may come into question next season if, as scheduled, the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019. In many resorts the season is not due to finish until Easter Sunday on April 21, 2019, though many lower ski areas are likely to close before then. Hardiman said of Brexit: “It may have an impact on our ability to post staff overseas in the traditional way, which has been operating for the past 30 years and underpins many operators’ models.” Chalet holidays are almost unknown to other nationalities, but are enjoyed by the British for their sociability and their
A tour operator has asked why airlines can be set up with no bonding, after Monarch, Air Berlin and Powdair failed. Nick Morgan, head of Le Ski, said: “I’m all in favour of new airlines and routes, but why don’t they cover consumers against failure, as we do?” Investors pulled out of Powdair two weeks before flights were due to set off from six UK airports to Sion, Switzerland.
Many seasonnaires are gap year students
value for money, as prices are often allinclusive of meals and drink. But Hardiman was relatively upbeat about the consequences for customers, arguing: “On the plus side, what will come is a more professional industry. “We have new ‘Brexit-proof’ products in the wings and are confident our clients will end up with a far tighter, bettercontrolled product. But sadly, what will potentially come are fewer seasonal jobs for hopeful young staff looking to do a gap year. “Times are changing and the skichalet model has to change with it. The industry will contract... it has to.”
Aspen gives avalanches the boot As snow continues to fall across the Alps, over on the other side of the pond one North American resort has been using an effective, if slightly old-fashioned, means of avalanche control. Unlike in many resorts, explosives are not used to shift unstable snowpacks in Aspen. Instead, roped patrollers and spotters walk up and down in ski boots, covering all parts within the boundary of the ski area that cannot be reached by piste grooming machines. This technique, called boot packing, breaks the snowpack’s basal layer, bonding it to the ground. It has proved
The snow is packed down by foot in the US resort
so successful that Aspen’s snow safety team has been training staff in other resorts to pack the snow in similar ways.
Mont Blanc study finds decrease in snow cover A study to measure winter snow cover has shown it to have shrunk by 23 days in the past 50 years confirming a Swiss study last year. Scientists studied 70 sensors around Mont Blanc over 13 years and found there were 23 fewer days of snow cover than in the 1960s. While snowmaking has helped skiers, the study found that 90 per cent of rock ptarmigan, above, risk losing their habitat by 2090.
Scottish resorts get all weather snowmakers Three of Scotland’s five big resorts plan to offer guaranteed skiing by using snow machines that can work in up to +32°C, as Ski+board revealed in its October issue. Glencoe, which was only able to offer 32 days of skiing last season, has raised £57,000 of the £430,000 price tag for one of TechnoAlpin’s Snowfactory machines. It is leasing one to the end of this season. CairnGorm is using one to the end of February on a trial basis, after which the machine will be moved to the Lecht for three months, so the resort can host Nordic events for the rest of the winter.
Sheffield ski village promised £22.5m facelift by developer
Bulgarian expansion plan attracts criticism Environmentalists took to the streets of Sofia in January this year in protest against expansion to the resort of Bansko. They say the Bulgarian resort plans to build an astonishing 333km of new slopes and 113km of lifts through a Unesco world heritage site. If true that would make Bansko, which has about 75km of slopes, one of the biggest ski areas in Europe. The 400sq km Pirin National Park is one of Europe’s best preserved homes for bears and wolves. The World Wildlife Fund said the plan was “disastrous” and would open a door to commercial logging.
Mystery surrounds missing webcam A row has broken out about why a webcam on CairnGorm mountain was removed. It is one of several operated by Winter Highlands to show conditions. It was rumoured that the camera at the Scottish Ski Club hut was removed as it had shown controversial work to dismantle the Shieling ski tow lift. “We had discussions with the Scottish Ski Club before its removal. We recognise webcams are often consulted by skiers,” CairnGorm Mountain said. Winter Highlands reported the loss to the police and it has since been replaced.
Team GB is aiming for a record haul in South Korea as its ‘on-snow’ athletes start the winter in good form
Britain targets five medals as chief names Olympians to watch Harriet Johnston The target has been set for what Dan Hunt, performance director of British Ski and Snowboard, thinks could be the country’s best Olympics ever. The goal of a minimum of five medals was unveiled a month before the 23rd Winter Olympics were due to start in PyeongChang on February 9, with two or three of those medals expected in onsnow events. This would be an increase in Great Britain’s current record of four medals, which was achieved in Sochi in 2014, as well as in the first Winter Olympics held in Chamonix in 1924. Dan Hunt, who was hired by BSS a year ago on the back of his success with cycling’s Team Sky, is optimistic that Britain could set a new medal record. He said: “We’ve got to get to the Olympics first with a healthy, happy squad that is reasonably injury-free, but we have the potential to have the best Olympics ever in terms of our key athletes to watch.” He oversees athletes in many Olympic disciplines, including those in the Alpine, Freestyle and snowboarding categories. Athletes he singled out as medal hopes include Slalom racer Dave Ryding, who is Britain’s greatest hope in Alpine events. He also pointed to three Freestyle skiers — Izzy Atkin, James Woods and Rowan Cheshire. Among the snowboarders, he highlighted the chances of Katie Ormerod and Billy Morgan, who will be competing in snowboarding’s Freestyle events. Ski+board has featured the athletes
to watch in its Olympic schedule of International Ski Federation (FIS) events, which starts on page 32. British athletes have continued BSS director Dan Hunt to push the boundaries of snowsport in the past few years, following an injection of cash after the Sochi 2014 Games. Woods and Atkin both won World Championship medals last year, with Woods also grabbing a gold in the X-Games in 2017. Katie Ormerod, Dave Ryding, Freestyle skier Katie Summerhayes and crosscountry skier Andrew Musgrave have also all had fantastic starts to the season. Both Woods and Freestyle skier Rowan Cheshire were tipped as medal hopes for Sochi 2014, but were injured in training. Hunt said: “At the end of the day, the competitive sports we do are high risk.” The haul from Sochi could still rise to five, with the men’s four-man bobsleigh team in line for a bronze, following the disqualification of two Russian teams for doping. Russia is appealing against the decision but, if it is upheld, the British sled team, piloted by John Jackson, will be awarded the medal. Four years ago they thought they had finished in fifth place. Britain only won its first onsnow medal at the Sochi Games, when Freestyle snowboarder Jenny Jones won slopestyle bronze.
Photo: Sport in Pictures
The owner of a travel TV channel has been appointed to give the derelict Sheffield Ski Village a £22.5 million facelift. It was the world’s largest dry slope complex with four runs and is known as the birthplace of British Freestyle skiing, having nurtured Olympians James ‘Woodsy’ Woods and Katie Summerhayes. But in 2012, arsonists burnt down part of the main building, and the site has attracted dozens more attacks, most recently in October 2017. In November 2017, Sheffield City Council appointed Extreme Destinations, owner of the Extreme TV channel and organiser of international events, among other things, to revamp the site. It is due to reopen in 2019.
Isn’t it about time you upgraded yours?
British ski retailers see sharp rise in sales Colin Nicholson British retailers of ski hardware recorded a sharp rise in sales in the financial year 2016-17 as word got out that there were huge savings to be made on prices abroad. As Ski+board repeatedly advised readers, sterling prices for the season were set before the pound fell after the vote to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016. This meant UK prices were often 20 per cent cheaper than on the Continent, where most skis are made. But Snowsport Industries of Great Britain, which carried out the annual survey, offered some cheer to buyers this season, noting that at present buying in the UK was sometimes still cheaper than buying abroad. SIGB noted a like-for-like rise in sales of Alpine skis of eight per cent to 31,982 pairs. The figures reveal wholesale sales to UK retail and rental operations so do not necessarily reflect actual sales to consumers. Ski boots continued to be the strongest selling item of hardware, with a ten per cent rise to 64,796 pairs sold. Snowboard boots saw a rise in sales, to 19,963 pairs but snowboard and helmet sales saw a decline. SIGB attributed this to both not being replaced as often. Damon Street, joint-president of the SIGB, said: “The survey shows the UK is the best place to pick up new winter sports equipment, both in terms of pricing and customer service, fitting and advice.”
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Photo: Ross Woodhall
Britons bought a far higher number of skis in the last financial year
Touring’s on the move As the popularity of ski touring grows, bindings are changing radically. The shake-up began when Marker launched its Kingpin binding in 2015, but competition is hotting up. Fritschi has improved its Vipec binding, and also offers the new Tecton. Both offer lateral toe release and a new toe bumper to ease step-in, but the Tecton has a heel piece more like a downhill binding. Dynafit now has the ST Rotation 10, which solves issues the Radical ST had going into ski mode. Looking to next season and Salomon has announced the launch of its S/Lab Shift — a hybrid binding you step into like a downhill binding for skiing, while for touring you flip the toe lever to reveal the pins. Also out next season is Marker’s Alpinist, reviewed on page 71. The Ski Club’s touring ski tests are on page 58.
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Photo: Chris Wellhausen/Winter Park
B E A N O LY M P I A N
M O V I N G M O G U L S Looking to bump up your freestyle technique? There are plenty of courses that will show you how Words by Ben Clatworthy
hey have some unconventional ways of teaching in the States, at least when it comes to moguls. “Come on Ben, f*** the wedge,” hollers Bob Barnes from the bottom of the piste. Other skiers around me stop in their tracks, seemingly alarmed by the screaming from below. Welcome to Winter Park and, more specifically, Bob’s Mogul Camp, which, despite the rather brusque instruction, is one of the resort’s most popular classes, led by Barnes, the ski school
supremo. I’d signed up because, though I am a good all-round skier with a stint of racing under my belt, I am useless at bumps. I never saw their appeal. Then I skied with some friends who insisted on skiing moguls. I was missing out, so decided it was high time to learn. If you think the Alps have big moguls, I can ensure you — with bruises to prove it — they’re not a patch on the monsters that lurk on the Mary Jane side of the Colorado resort. I am tempted to let out a few expletives myself when I see them,
but I have met my match. In a nation where many people still say “oh my gosh” rather than “oh my god” for fear of causing offence, Bob has no such hangups, belonging to the Donald Trump school of linguistics (though Bob is a far nicer person). So when I do a brief snowplough (known as a wedge across the pond) he registers his displeasure. “There is something about moguls that separates the sexes,” Bob explains in the classroom on day one of the threeday course. What on earth is he going to
say next? “Men always think they can ski them; women always think they can’t.” In reality, Bob tells us, no one is very good. You just have to watch most skiers from a chairlift to see that they hack their way down in an unwieldy fashion, by hook or by crook. As do I. “Ben, skis parallel. Come on, super parallel,” Bob screams at me as I descend Derailer, a black diamond run that’s littered with giant mounds of snow. While many skiers push their legs too close together in moguls — especially those who learnt in Europe in the 1980s — as a twentysomething I am splaying mine too far apart. This makes me more stable, but a sight more ungainly. As ‘crash courses’ go, Bob’s Mogul Camp is up there with the toughest of them. We make unlikely classmates — me, my snowboarding friend and three middle-aged women from New York who own property in the resort. They’re good piste skiers, advanced intermediates, but say they have booked on to the course in a bid to hit moguls without fear. And hit them we do, spending the days lapping lifts on Mary Jane, named after a local prostitute, and flying down the bumps. We do run after run until we’re exhausted and our brains can’t take any more information. When we finally ski a groomer at the end of the first day, my knees, legs and back are all grateful. Winter Park has an impressive ski area with cruisy blues on the front side of the mountain and the mega-bumps of the blacks on Mary Jane. The resort’s policy is to groom only green and blue runs. There are just a handful of apartments at the base, and only a few bars and restaurants, so nightlife is quiet. Many people go back to Denver at night, so it’s a ski-hard, bed-early kind of place. That night I have my best sleep in a while. It’s cruelly deceptive. The next morning, I feel like I can hardly move, but back to the school it is for another pounding. The day is a struggle from the start — make no mistake, these are whopper moguls — and Bob wants to see progress. We are not just to get down the runs, but aggressively ski the zipper line. This is the most difficult way to ski moguls. You must allow your knees to flex over the bumps rather than turn around them. It’s a challenging and high-speed tactic that requires a strong core and lightning fast reactions. For encouragement, Bob has yet more unconventional wisdom, especially
given the female members of the group. “Soapy tits, think rub and release!” he shouts at me as I take another pounding. “Appreciate the cleavage, Ben!” Bob is relentless, but he knows his bumps. By the end of day two I’ve skied more moguls than in the rest of my life and we’re all showing real signs of progress. Still, every afternoon it’s back to the classroom for the daily debrief, with new diagrams scrawled on the whiteboard and more theory lessons — although this time accompanied by wellearned beers and snacks. We need them. On the last day, things are really looking up and my legs have even stopped hurting. “That’s because you’re strengthening muscles you don’t use much,” Bob says, with a glint in his eye. The New Yorkers also say their legs are feeling better. Today, however, Bob says I will need to ski with a paper plate in my mouth to keep my head up and looking forward at my line down the mountain, another vital part of bumps technique. I laugh, but he’s serious and after a few runs with the plate clamped between my teeth, we’re back to more demands to ski parallel — “Super parallel!” I continue to work on bringing my legs closer. Plus I am told in no uncertain terms that this shouldn’t mean in an A-frame position with knees together. Progress we have made. By the end of the day we’re flying down the ‘zipper’ line and looking good. People even stop to watch us as we tackle some of the biggest bumps on the hill, having committed Bob’s ‘bumps basics’ to memory. Heaven knows what he said to the three women, but they say they’ll return for another camp next winter. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to that. But my technique has come so far that I’m a new-found bumps fan. And, whatever I think of Bob’s unconventional pointers, I won’t forget them. Though I probably won’t repeat them out loud in the Alps.
Ben travelled as a guest of Winter Park Resort (winterparkresort.com), which offers the six-hour Bob’s Bump Jamboree for $119 on January 28, February 11 and 25. Bob’s Mogul Camp costs $549 for three six-hour lessons, starting on January 31 and March 2. Norwegian (norwegian.com) flies direct from Gatwick to Denver from £360 return. In Europe, Snoworks (snoworks.co.uk; 0344 543 0503) offers the five half-day Master the Moguls course for £365 in Tignes, starting on April 15. All prices are course-only.
LEONIE GERKEN SCHOFIELD 19 MOGULS
Career highlight: Leonie, whose twin brother Thomas and younger sister Makayla also compete in the British Ski and Snowboard team, won gold in Prato Leventina, Switzerland, last season as well as another Europa Cup podium place, also last winter. Leonie says: A lot of skiers struggle with moguls, just like Ben. Aim to keep your knees not too far apart — which sounds like Ben’s issue — your legs straight, and to meet moguls with your skis on edge. You want to go over the mogul, absorbing it, rather than skiing into it. This sounds like the ‘zipper line’ Ben learnt about. And you do indeed need to be fast. The quicker your knees go down and forward, the more able you are to absorb the next mogul. Ben mentions his back hurting as well as his knees. Bumps are not as hard as they look on knees... if you absorb the moguls properly. There’s more impact on the back, thanks to your body angle. I prefer moguls to be close together. It’s easier for me to keep my legs close and knees up, giving me more confidence. Generally, men prefer moguls to be further apart, as they’re attacking them at a faster speed. You need a lot of strength in your quads and must stand tall. In that way it’s a lot like carving, but competitive events mix in a freestyle element, which I love. It’s five moguls, then a jump, then another 40 moguls until the next jump, then five moguls to the finish line. If things go wrong with the jump you just have to come back as fast as you can. You need all your energy for the moguls. In summer we spend a lot of time learning the jumps — training using a water jump as well as trampolining.
Photo: Miha Matavz
B E A N O LY M P I A N
B O A R D E R S K I R M I S H When push comes to shove, it’s worth trying boardercross, the most dramatic of snowboard races Words by Tristan Kennedy
ou might think that boardercross is an Olympic discipline best left to professionals — that the excitement it offers is best experienced from the safety of your sofa. But nothing could be less true, according to Jerome Dautherives, a snowboard instructor with the Ecole du Ski Français in Val Cenis. Val Cenis is not a place where you’d expect to find Olympic-sized kickers or the high banked turns my overactive imagination is conjuring up as we sit together above the start gate. It’s one of
the largest resorts in France’s Maurienne valley, but with just 125km of pistes, it pales in comparison with the superresorts of the Tarentaise valley. The slopes are uncrowded and the picturesque village unspoilt, with its traditional farmhouses and wood-clad chalets. A week’s lift pass will set you back just €175. The resort is popular with French families. But increasingly visitors include freeriders wanting to get off the beaten track. It also aims to attract a younger crowd — hence the boardercross course,
which is open to all-comers, free of charge. Now if there’s one thing I know about boardercross, it is not to show off. At the sport’s Olympic debut in Turin in 2006, Lindsey Jacobellis was so far ahead she threw a cheeky trick on the penultimate jump, grabbing her board. But the American landed on an edge and crashed, so could only watch in horror as Switzerland’s Tanja Frieden, who was 43 metres behind, cruised past to take gold. Subsequent years have proved that drama is the rule in this discipline. Like
its younger cousin skier cross (which followed it into the Olympics in 2010) it takes its inspiration from motocross, where riders race head-to-head through gates, around steeply banked turns and over huge jumps, which almost inevitably provides spills as well as thrills. The Sochi 2014 event saw so many injuries that the BBC’s Today Programme hosted a debate on whether it was too dangerous. The key to learning it safely, Jerome explains, lies in preparation. He says: “Course inspection is really important. Make sure you know every turn.” So on the first run down we’ll be taking it slowly. Which suits me just fine. Thankfully, I soon discover my fears are unfounded. Boardercross courses vary wildly. For World Cup and Olympic races there’s a minimum vertical drop and stipulations as to the size of the jumps. But this course is relatively easy. Val Cenis has designed it specifically for learners, and its banked corners, turns and whoops would be perfectly do-able by anyone who’s happy riding a red run. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to learn here. In fact, having a course that looks easy is almost ideal, according to Jerome, as it allows you to perfect your technique, rather than worrying about getting down in one piece. Our inspection run complete, I have visions of myself nailing it first time. But frankly I am drifting left, right and centre, as Jerome observes. Rather than race me, he rides down to a halfway spot where he can best see me. His aim is to coach me, tweaking my technique as an advanced rider, rather than get me to follow him in the old-fashioned ESF way. As we ride the chairlift back up in the warm spring sunshine, he offers some tips. “First it’s about the line,” he says. “If you just want to go fast and don’t care about the line then you’re going to crash.” To maximise speed, he explains, “you come in wide and then cut in on the corners” — much like you would do on a giant slalom course. He illustrates this by drawing the crucial S-shape in the snow. You also have to try, as far as possible, to avoid getting air over the jumps. While seeing riders get big air is part of the fun of watching a race, they are trying to minimise their time airborne. “Stay as much as you can in contact with the snow,” Jerome advises, as this will allow me to retain control over my board. And this becomes doubly important when you introduce other
racers into the equation. He warns: “As soon as you hit someone in the air, that’s game over. You can’t push off anything so you start going all over the place.” I’m ready to give it another go and this time I feel his advice is helping. I am no longer tempted to ‘do a Jacobellis’ and try a big jump to impress my friend Abi who is waiting with her camera next to Jerome half way down the course. Instead I put in a fairly tight performance. After the next ride up on the chairlift, I feel ready to attack the course properly. When I say attack, I’m not suggesting that Jerome and I will be elbowing each other out of the way. Of course contact between riders is a big part of what makes boardercross a spectator sport. But while it seems like there’s lots of barging, the rules are actually relatively proscriptive. In top races, riders are sometimes disqualified by a video judge, even if they’ve already crossed the line. The best way to pass rivals is on the corners. Jerome says: “If you’re wide at the beginning you can really accelerate as you cut in and make sure you overtake.” It’s this advice that’s ringing in my ears as I drop in for the fourth and final run of our lesson. Having got to know the course, I feel noticeably more comfortable and confident. Where I was scrubbing speed, and getting airborne accidentally, I’m now digging my edge in, following the racing line, and flexing my knees. As I round the final turn, I’m absolutely gunning it, and whooping involuntarily in exhilaration. Okay, I think Jerome could still beat me by a country mile. But even riding just the two of us like this has proved a lot of fun. And I can’t wait to try out the techniques I’ve learnt against my friends, since many resorts have courses now. I’ll just have to remember not to become too cocky. Because, as Lindsey Jacobellis would surely agree, that’s not the way to win a race.
Tristan’s lesson was provided by the ESF (ski-school-valcenis.co.uk; +33 4 79 05 92 43), which offers boardercross coaching on request, as part of private lessons, which start at €39 for an hour for one to two people, or €76 for two hours. He travelled as a guest of France Montagnes (france-montagnes.com), and stayed at the Hotel La Clé des Champs in Lanslevillard (hotel-lacledeschamps.com) where a standard room costs €68 B&B. He travelled by train from London St Pancras to Modane with the SNCF (voyages-sncf.com). Return fares start at £116.
ZOE GILLINGS-BRIER 32 BOARDERCROSS
Career Highlight: Representing Great Britain at three Winter Olympics and mounting seven World Cup podiums. In Sochi, she narrowly missed out on competing in the final after a photofinish placed her in fourth place by just a few centimetres. Zoe says: The greatest thing and the worst thing about boardercross is the unpredictability — it could go well or it could go badly. You just never know. It’s not the safest of sports. To get into it you have to like adrenaline. But Tristan may be well placed, as boardercross tends to attract older riders who have experience in the mountains and in life. The track itself is a bit like every part of the mountain stuck together. Plus once you’re racing five others, you must think where you’re going to pass them. Plan what you can, but in a race the plan can go out the window. You’ve got to grab opportunities. If someone takes a wobble, take advantage of it. Don’t think about it. It’s more of an instinct. A big thing is knowing if your rivals are goofy or regular. And position is important. Whoever is in front often dictates the line for everyone else. I find that passing on the inside works well. As Tristan says, you’re not allowed to push or pull other athletes. But you can get in other people’s way all day long. You can guess where they are heading. Nobody wants you to fall over, but be sure not to be pushed off your line. And you have to be fast on corners. It’s corner jumps that see the most crashes. You’re not likely to crash over jumps or rollers because you’re going in a straight line. But if you do crash there, it’s likely to be bad, because you’re falling from such a height.
B E A N O LY M P I A N
S H O O T F I R S T. . . There’s no better way to test your fitness at cross-country skiing than by giving biathlon a shot Words by Colin Nicholson
hey are hardly the words you expect to hear after a wonderful skiing lesson… “Let me go and prepare the weapons.” We had swapped our slalom skis for cross-country ones to visit Seefeld’s Nordic area, a short walk from the lifts. The Austrian resort has two modestlysized downhill areas, but is best known for its cross-country trails, having hosted the Nordic elements of Innsbruck’s Olympics, both in 1964 and 1976. On the Gschwandtkopf mountain you
can race the ski jumpers on the 75m and 109m ramps next to the pistes. And at their base you can speed around the cross-country routes that surround the village’s landmark church. A 256km network of trails links Seefeld to its neighbouring villages. But nicest of all is this sunny plateau, where the trails run alongside steaming streams, and which is perfect for improving technique. This is what we were doing, before our instructor Andreas let out those ominous words. I had read that Seefeld had a fully
electronic biathlon range, and assumed that beginners like us would train with laser rifles, which some biathletes use in practice sessions, or at least air rifles. So I was taken aback when Andreas laid out a .22 calibre rifle and announced he had 600 bullets, “which should be enough”, he added cheerfully. Lying on a mat on the snow, I squinted at the five tiny holes 50 metres away. I would need a plentiful supply of rounds, I realised, as I recorded two hits… and three misses. Moreover, I was grateful
for the electronic range, which meant the targets reset themselves after 20 seconds, making taking aim easier. Meanwhile, my husband Anthony had managed three out of five. I knew I would have a battle royal on my hands, but the joy of biathlon is that skiing is the great equaliser. As a better crosscountry skier than Anthony, I reckoned I could beat him at this game. I am also fitter, which is a double bonus. The fitter you are, Andreas told us, the more you can control your breathing to slow your heartbeat as you approach the targets. If you miss a target you have to do a penalty loop, which is what makes biathlon so much fun to watch. It’s easy for a team to suddenly throw away their advantage in the final minutes of a race. And because so many people watch biathlon on the Continent, there are more people keen to give it a go at sessions like the one we were doing. Another trick we were taught was to pull the trigger slowly in the fraction of a second after you breathe out, when the sights are steady. With those words of wisdom in my head, I sprinted off on my skinny skis to do a short loop set by Andreas. But, with all the exertion, on my return the three circles before my eyes were looking as carefully superimposed as the Olympic rings. After five cracks of the rifle, only two were followed by the satisfying metallic ping which meant I had hit the target. Would that be enough to beat Anthony? I was 20 seconds faster on the skiing, but when he lay down he hit first one target, then — oh, joy! — he had jammed the rifle in his haste, as the clock ticked down. Sadly, this was not enough to stop him hitting four more targets. So I now knew what I had to do to win... plant a .22 calibre bullet in his backside as he scuttled off on his skis, and claim gold and glory for myself. Aside from not being entirely within the Olympic spirit, there was another flaw to my plan. The second round in biathlon involves firing five shots standing. This is far harder than the prone position, and this time my sights and the target appeared to be spinning faster than the roulette wheel in Seefeld’s casino, where my success that night was infinitely greater. The only hit I achieved was to a paper target to the side — much to Andreas’s surprise. Though he explained I was doing better than the Innsbruck
policeman who had rather worryingly shot off one of the signs by accident in a group session the previous weekend. Anthony managed one hit at this, meaning I had to settle for second place. Lest you think that meant the wooden spoon, I reckon I was better than Andreas’s mother, who came along while walking the dog, and gave it a go after us. Most importantly, I beat Anthony comprehensively on the timed giant slalom run on the bigger of Seefeld’s two downhill areas, the Rosshütte. Seefeld is a delightful resort, not offering enough downhill for most intermediate skiers for a week, but plenty for a short break (it is half an hour from Innsbruck airport). And what it lacks in pistes, it makes up for in charm and other activities, such as the biathlon. Its curiously positioned church in the middle of the trails is the hub of all the events. It was built by monks, who flooded the plateau around it to create a fish farm (and de facto moat). Even now Seefeld is criss-crossed by streams, such as the one running under the Hotel Eden, which we passed over every evening on the way to the spa. And the plateau is where you can go curling, ice skating, winter walking, or — for many fur-draped residents — simply enjoy the sunshine with a coffee… far less strenuous than all that cross-country skiing, ski jumping and biathlon going on around them. Personally, I found the biathlon great fun. But I didn’t feel quite right firing a rifle in a public space — I would have felt far more comfortable using a laser gun. As, I’m sure, would the other skiers around me… particularly if they’d known what an awful shot I am.
Colin travelled as a guest of the resort of Seefeld (seefeld.com), the Austrian National Tourist Office (austria.info/uk) and Visit Tirol (visittirol.co.uk). He stayed at Hotel Eden (eden-seefeld.at), which offers rooms from €65.70 per person per night B&B based on two sharing. Return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck start at £47 with easyJet and transfers were with Four Seasons Travel (tirol-taxi.at). Private lessons were with Cross Country Academy (xc-academy.com/en/) and for cross-country skiing cost €65 per hour for one person or €80 for two. The introduction to biathlon costs €65 per person for one hour. For four people or more the session lasts two hours. Downhill equipment rental was with Sport 2000 (sport2000rent.com)
AMANDA LIGHTFOOT 30 B I AT H L O N
Career highlight: Britain’s top female biathlete and only the second to compete at the Olympics (in Sochi, 2014). Last year she finished in the top third of 99 entries in the 15km individual event at the World Biathlon Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria. Amanda says: As Colin found, biathlon is hard. You have these tiny targets, far away, and you’ve just sprinted 5km. A huge element is learning control and building confidence. Perhaps with more skiing Colin would have done better, as it sounds like he did a very short loop. Biathlon events go up to 20km for men and 15km for women. The penalty for a miss is a 150m loop. The skiing is harder to predict than the shooting. As every cross-country skier knows, the wax on the base of your skis makes a huge difference. There are, say, 3,000 different products for countless different types of snow. If you pick the wrong wax, it won’t matter how fit you are. If you watch biathlon you’ll see that some skiers are fast out of the gate and ahead straight away. That’s often thanks to the right combination of ski and wax. Biathlon isn’t well-funded in the UK, so our achievements, when they come, are well earned. We may only test five waxes, while other nations have over 75. I got into it in the military after a sixmonth tour in Iraq. I had never skied or even really seen snow, and I thought I would be downhill skiing in Norway. So it was a great surprise. But I love a challenge, and biathlon is certainly that. In summer, I’m practising on roller skis and, of course, there is a lot of target shooting. It sounds like I could help Colin with that.
S I S T E R S L E D G E Tackling Whistler’s wall of death proves a scream for Ski+board’s most plucky correspondent
Words by Harriet Johnston
hear it first — a low rumble, growing in volume. Then, with a whoosh, the sled and rider come into view clinging to the side of the sheer ice face, appearing part-human, part-machine. And then she is gone, hammering down a track that coils around the mountainside like a giant serpent. I had blithely signed up to a skeleton ride for the last day of my holiday in Whistler, wanting to end it on a high. I proudly told my friends what I had done. “So do you like rollercoasters?” asked one quizzically. “No,” I replied. “Bungee jumping?” Never tried it. My friends looked bemused. I spent the next days with them on the slopes, my sense of dread growing. Come the day, and we were having a wonderful time. “We’ll just carry on enjoying the powder here then,” they said cheerfully. What had I done? I trudge to Whistler’s Sliding Centre, 15 minutes’ walk from the mid-station of the Excalibur gondola — the same track where a young luge athlete from Georgia died on the day the 2010 Games opened. The skeleton’s ominous name comes from the bony sleds first used in the St
Moritz Olympics of 1928. Unlike the luge, which came to the Olympics in 1964, you lie on your front, head first, which is safer than going on your back, feet first. As I’m checked in, I ask how late I can back out. Stewie, who will be our guide, suggests I should take it as far as I can. I feel like a child being bribed with sweets. “And you get two tries — so if you don’t want to do it again, you don’t have to,” says Stewie in his lilting Irish accent. “Didn’t someone die trying this?” I ask, noticing the tremble in my voice. “Well, yes,” Stewie admits, not batting an eyelid as he fills out details of my next of kin. “But he went right from the top. You’ll go from a third of the way down.” He smiles. “You’ll be fine.” Soon there’s a nervous group of six mostly young, English guys, filling in disclaimer forms, and just one other woman. But Becky seems more gung-ho than the boys, having persuaded her boyfriend Tom, a Ski Club member, to join her. I’m the only one in ski gear. Have I given this enough thought? During the safety briefing, I perch at the back, hoping to melt into the wall
behind me. We’re talked through the mechanics of the sled, the treatment of the track and the details of the run. We’ll start at Maple Leaf corner, speed around the Shiver bend, before plunging down the Gold Rush Trail, spin around the Thunderbird hairpin bend before rocketing up into the braking outrun — and it will all be over in 30 seconds. Whistler’s track is the fastest and steepest in the world. Stewie concludes: “I’ve tried not to put you off, but they’ll never make a track as fast as this again.” This doesn’t sound good, so I ask my next question in a roundabout way. If Brits have a strong record on this track, with Amy Williams reaching 143kmh, would I be anywhere close to that? Stewie assures us that if we reach 100kmh we’ll be doing well. Riders’ speed depends on their weight, aerodynamics, sprint start, and skill as a pilot. But while pros use tiny adjustments and shifts in weight to steer the sled, we’re warned against trying anything like this. In fact, Stewie tells us, that’s when things are likely to go wrong. The more we can behave like a sack of potatoes, the better. Nonetheless, everyone else is excitedly trotting alongside Stewie as we head up the hill, asking how they can make sure they are the fastest. Arriving at the start line, the boys strip off layers to be more aerodynamic, but I cling to my ski outfit. And we’re each given goggles and a helmet with visor and chin guard. I am pondering these, when, before I know it, someone’s handing me a heavy sled, and Stewie’s checking my helmet. No matter what they said, it doesn’t feel like there’s any backing out now. I rest my sled on the starting line, with my chin sticking out over the front, centimetres from the ice, my toes pointed backwards, and hands clenched tight around the handles at the side of the sled. I’ve been warned that it’s vital to maintain a strong grip and, believe me, I have no intention of letting go. We are spared the sprint start, which would make it hard to achieve such a good position and line. Instead someone grabs my legs, my new gang of friends begin cheering and, with a gentle shove, I am tossed into the barrel of the track. For the first few seconds, I shunt along at a gentle speed. But soon the pace rises and my once quiet mutterings of “oh my god” are not so quiet any more. My sledge swings around the corners, and as much as I try to focus ahead, the
Photo: David McColm/Whistler Sliding Centre
B E A N O LY M P I A N
G-force pushes my head down and all I see is white ice dashing past below my chin. Try as I might to fight the force, my helmet hits the ice more than once, and the reverberations shake my body. At times I feel my toes knock into the track behind me. I can barely hear my screams above the thundering of the sled as I plunge around the Thunderbird corner, convinced I’ll fly from the track. But before I know it, my sled is ricocheting along the outrun, and I remember to breathe again. As I feel the sturdy hands of the track crew grab the sled, I struggle to my feet. I am grinning from ear to ear... as are the staff. It turns out my screams were audible above the din of the sled. I skip up the side of the track to the leader board, where I watch the timings for the rest of the gang flood in. Though I was the slowest, at 33.96 seconds, I have managed to rack up a top speed of 94kmh. That’s 60mph — but you don’t go down A-roads with your chin 5cm from the tarmac. Tom, it turns out, was fastest, at 32.76 seconds, so it’s not long before I’m at the start line again for a second try. This is not quite so frightening and the noise of track no longer feels so thunderous, but like a kind of pulsing that I can imbibe through my veins. Perhaps I should have a few more tries to truly get the hang of it? No need, the crew assure me, I have set a new track record. Not, admittedly, for speed. I was far from the fastest that day. But I certainly was the noisiest.
Airports Verona 1h Venice 1.45 h Bergamo 2 h Malpensa 3 h
Only 4 hours away from any London Airport
EST F ITALIAN ALP AMIL S Y EXP ERIEN
Harriet was a guest of Tourism Whistler (whistler.com). The two-hour Lightning on Ice session (whistlersportlegacies.com) is held on Friday and Saturday afternoon and costs C$179 plus tax. UK
AMY WILLIAMS 35 SKELETON
Career highlight: Winning gold at the Vancouver Games in 2010 — making her the first Briton to win an individual gold in the Winter Olympics in 30 years.
Amy says: Like Harriet, you will be apprehensive the first time. Will you ever stop? The second time is even more scary, so all credit to Harriet for giving it another go. I once actually bit the end of my tongue off. You have to let the sled do the work. Subtle changes in your body make a huge difference. That’s why as a beginner you are told simply to keep still. But you do need to keep your head low, shoulders down and legs together. Soon you learn to apply pressure with your shoulders and change the angle of the sled with your feet to get the shortest line through the corners. As you’re unable to see straight ahead, it’s all done through feelings and peripheral vision. The relationship with the sled is vital — you become one with the sled. Of course, what beginners don’t experience is the sprint start. If you are a sprinter, which is how I got into the sport, it’s just a case of learning how to drive.
W FA T BIK
Find out the offers: www.alpecimbra.it
WHY BRITAIN IS IN THE PERFECT POSITION FOR MEDALS Factors such as aerodynamics and technical innovations, which the British excel at, stand Team GB in good stead to mount the podium at the Olympics Words by Chemmy Alcott
arginal gains’ are what Britain is relying on in its quest for medals at the 2018 Games. These are the tiniest tweaks, from clothing to tuck position to hairstyles even, that can steal the lead from a rival. If you’ve ever done one of those speed traps by the side of a piste where your speed is displayed on a board at the end, you’ll know the difference a good tuck makes. But, next time, see how much faster you go if you take your jacket off. If it sounds optimistic to hope for medal glory on the basis of such minor factors, ask Dan Hunt, who joined British Ski and Snowboard as its performance director a year ago. He is credited with transforming British competitive cycling and making Team Sky the dominant force in a sport that Britain never excelled at before. He told Ski+board: “What we’re good at as a nation is sport science, strength and conditioning, technical innovation, and understanding fabric, airflow and friction.” So you see, we Alpine racers aren’t just wearing catsuits to show off our bodies!
In fact, the importance of aerodynamics increases at higher speeds, whereas the importance of having well-waxed, fast bases on your skis decreases. Of course, there is no substitute for good technique. But when you have several racers all at the top of their game, the details really start to matter.
Chemmy Alcott often used wind tunnels in her racing career to optimise performance
How that tuck really matters
Adopting an aerodynamic position is vital at high speeds. The figures to the right show the drag of various positions measured in Newtons, and the percentage difference between those and the best tuck. Other positions, not illustrated here, such as when skiers catch air and have their arms out, or if they are simply standing, have an even greater effect at 107 per cent and 226 per cent respectively, making a huge difference in overall times.
Mid to high tuck
Drag at 100kmh: 88.8N Difference from best tuck: 0 per cent
Drag at 100kmh: 104.4N Difference from best tuck: 17 per cent
Pre jump/ arms in
Drag at 100kmh: 119.7N Difference from best tuck: 35 per cent
Marginal gains became the buzz phrase after England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003. Sir Clive Woodward, who is now also heavily involved in the future of Alpine skiing, was known for his attention to detail. For any sporting performance to be as near perfect as possible all cogs must be aligned with absolute precision. These factors include the obvious, such as physical and mental condition, lifestyle, tactics, health and skill. But they also embrace the more obscure, such as the extended plastic helmet in speed skiing that helps break the gap between your neck and your back. Some aerodynamic techniques are well known. The ‘egg’ shape that racers adopt with their hands tucked just under their chin and backs rounded is an obvious advantage. Keeping your elbows in tight to minimise surface area to cut through the wind when skiing at speeds of up to 160kmh (100mph) in Downhill events is imperative. Most athletes hone this body position at sessions in wind tunnels. And British
Drag at 100kmh: 147.1N Difference from best tuck: 66 per cent
athletes will be doing this more often now, with Dan Hunt’s background in aerodynamics having helped Team Sky win the Tour de France so many times. Britain is not alone in this. The US ski team has appointed Troy Flanagan as its director of high performance. He has a PhD in aerospace engineering and, after wind tunnel tests, the team is using the aerospace industry to design its suits. In years past, the mantra was ‘skin to win’. Yes, despite the freezing temperatures you would often find ski racers sporting as little as possible under their suits. But this myth has now been dispelled. Britain’s own Graham Bell was even said to have gone naked into a wind tunnel, arguing that if it were true, then surely no suit would be quickest of all. At least the experience sounded slightly more comfortable than some of the other stories of what he did as a young ski racer. I am told his parents drove around with him on top of the car, his skis strapped to the roof-rack, so he could experiment with the efficacy of different tuck positions.
I asked Graham if he really went naked into the wind tunnel. These are, after all, giant circular tunnels where giant fans and funnels drive air through a small opening at speeds of up to 160kmh. He replied that he hadn’t gone fully naked because of “scrotum drag syndrome”. I think I let out a giggle, because he warned me: “You may need to watch out for ‘mammary displacement’ yourself.” Honestly, I didn’t have it in mind to try wind tunnels even semi-nude for myself. Not least because Graham’s test showed birthday suits to be the slowest of all suits tested. The ‘skin-to-win adage’ proved false because his muscles, when not contained, moved too much. Under our catsuits, we wear a huge amount of kit, both for protection and aerodynamics. I once made a video where I peeled off the layers, describing the need for every bit of equipment. It wasn’t hugely exciting and so didn’t gain as many views as the sponsor had hoped. A few years later, as I was searching on YouTube for something else, I noticed that the video now had clocked up more
than 96,000 views. Were my rivals on my case? No, I soon realised. It was just that the marketing guys had changed the name of the video to ‘Chemmy Alcott gets her kit off’, which was attracting quite a different type of viewer. Nonetheless, the aerodynamic secrets that can make the difference between winning gold or winning nothing are closely guarded. At one point the Swiss team appeared in new, faster catsuits that actually whistled when these racers skied past us. What could be happening? It took us a while to find out. Catsuits used to be plombed with a small, circular, metal tag to confirm that they passed a permeability test. The material must allow at least 30 litres of water per square metre per second through it at 10mm of pressure. If this sounds arcane, it’s actually a safety measure to minimise slide on snow after a high-speed fall. If skiers slide too fast they suffer severe injuries when they hit course barriers and fences. What the Swiss had done was to create a double layered catsuit. The outer suit passed the tests to let air through, since it had tiny holes. These holes, however, were filled when worn with the plastic undersuit as the lower layer had tiny protruding circles that slotted into the holes, with a side-effect being the telltale whistling or humming noise. In such a competitive world, these secrets quickly get out and are copied. It’s a constant battle to stay ahead of the
game, and undersuits, even underwear, became used more widely to break air flow. The Swiss team itself complained about Tina Maze’s underwear, asking the International Ski Federation, skiing’s governing body, to look into it. Indignant at the request, the Slovenian champion was famously photographed at the finishing line with her catsuit unzipped, and the words ‘Not Your Business’ penned on her sports bra. I had my own brush with illegal underwear. As a 15-year-old I had a nasty accident in slalom where a gate rebound and hit my chest at speed. I had some scary swelling and the doctor said I must absolutely prevent this from ever recurring again. So I found some kung-fu chest protection, which I wore for all my training and races. All my fellow racers commented on my new curves, but it really was just for protection. To prevent any cheating in equipment there is always an FIS-approved tester on the World Cup finish line. The officials will test everything from how much air flow there is through your catsuit, to the height and width of your ski — I was disqualified from the Olympic Combined event at the Turin Games in 2016 for having skis that were 0.5mm too narrow. Freddy, the tester, also noticed my new silhouette at a finish in Lake Louise Canada. After I removed and explained the need for the protective cups he told me they were totally not allowed under FIS rules. How embarrassing…
Other techniques are more secretive, inventive and controversial. During bib draw, on the night preceding a race, top athletes would randomly be assigned bibs as part of the process to determine the running order the next day. Overnight, a few of the big teams would ‘treat’ the bibs to prevent air flow by spraying them with silicone. Now, surprise, surprise, the men are not allowed to keep their bibs the night before. Back in the 1990s, Picabo Street was at the top of women’s Downhill skiing. The American was rumoured to be testing a back protector that popped into an enhanced armadillo shape when she went into her ‘egg-shaped’ tuck position. And, a few years ago, athletes even started wearing gum shields in speed events to manipulate their jaws, so that the upper back and neck could be curved even further, producing an even faster aerodynamic position. With every hundredth of a second crucial, even your hairstyle plays a crucial role, as it fills the gap between your helmet and back protection, which would otherwise increase drag. Interestingly, the mullet, once popular in the 1980s, is one of the best at this. So the next time you see one of those speed traps by the side of the piste, give it a go… in a catsuit, wearing a mullet, not to mention fancy underwear. Or, if that sounds embarrassing, leave it to the professionals at PyeongChang and hope it gets Team GB on to the podium.
Our expertise on artificial snow is ideal for the new Olympic on-snow events
But if you’re one of the thousands of skiers who have raced on Britain’s dry slope scene you’ll already know this. As a nation we have been using this format in our weekend races for decades. It was certainly the highlight of my time on artificial snow. Unlike all the time spent honing myself as an individual racing machine, I really got to feel part of a team. I knew one mistake would let my fellow countrymen and women down, but one great run would help us all. So when I was planning my Olympic schedule with the BBC, I begged to stay for the National Team Event, because
The Alpine events at the Olympics will conclude with the new, thrilling National Team Event. This is a mixed team event raced in parallel. It is full of drama, with teams working in pursuit of glory. And visually it’s dramatic too.
this is something I know our young team, led by the very experienced Dave Ryding, will excel at. With none of the expectations that the big winter sports nations face, our team should be able to demonstrate skills honed by years of racing at home. Dave Ryding says: “It
will be exciting and intense. Anything can happen. We will go there with a team that can compete with anyone.” It is hard to predict which British athletes will qualify for the National Team Event, but we have a huge pool of talent in the technical disciplines. This is a real chance for Britain to sneak through the early rounds and show the big players that there is a place in sporting history for those who learnt to ski on what has been described as a series of upturned toothbrushes! And it’s not the only new on-snow discipline being introduced in 2018. The other is the Snowboard Big Air competition, a discipline in which Katie Ormerod excels, she too having learnt to jump on Sheffield’s dry slopes. PyeongChang could yet be the Winter Games where plastic proves fantastic for Britain. Chemmy Alcott
Will this spell an end to Britain’s dry run?
How to avoid a bad hair day – go for a mullet
The hairstyle of racers has evolved over the years, but it has as much to do with aerodynamics as fashion. The best hairstyles, like the mullet, fill the gap between the helmet and back protector. It’s vital to fill this space, as otherwise it creates turbulence, so increasing drag.
Braids (these are the worst for drag)
Pony tail (slightly better, but not great)
Pony tail with neoprene cover (this is the female version of the mullet)
Small bun with hair tucked into helmet (like Swiss racer Lara Gut)
…and while you’re thinking about looks
What a comeback! How Olympians can ski just nine weeks after surgery A torn anterior cruciate ligament for most recreational skiers means nine months away from the sport. And back surgery often spells a year of rehab. So how is it that Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, who tore an ACL at speed, and American Ted Ligety, who had back surgery, are competing again already? Athletes ‘fast-track’ rehab as safely as they can with daily help from an array of doctors and physiotherapists among others. Having suffered many injuries myself, I constantly had to explain to friends that time off the slopes was no
Even a slightly loose fitting outfit can increase drag by 5.2 per cent (or 0.19 of a second over 250m of straight gliding on a Downhill course). So great is the effect that when comparing a Giant Slalom padded suit with a more streamlined unpadded Downhill suit, the drag is 7.1 per cent higher.
holiday. After my first big injury, a friend bought me a guitar, thinking I’d like to take up new hobbies in my ‘spare’ time. If only! An injured athlete’s schedule is no less demanding than training. You spend hours plugged into various machines, travelling to and from physio, doing endless lengths of aquatherapy, jogging from one end of a pool to the other. Up and down, up and down. Light relief comes from hitting the gym to do upper body and core work. And let’s not forget the tea breaks. Well, not tea but something that resembles pond scum. It’s the darkest green smoothies (no fruit mind, only veg) that have the best anti-inflammatory effect. Even in this era of social media, few athletes catalogue this tedious routine. And given the mind-numbing details people post, that’s saying something! At best it’s monotonous, at worst it’s
incredibly painful as your body is manipulated and contorted to improve the flexibility of the injured joint. But, gradually, you do see movement. A chart shows the glacial improvement, and finally you allow yourself the luxury of imagining being back on snow again. When you finally do those first turns, with none of the pressure of a race, they are wonderful. No Lycra. No protection. So why not leave it at that? Now fully fit, why not switch to recreational skiing? Why risk it all over again? How little you understand! For once again you are hooked, ready for speed, ready to race, ready to find your limits. Ready to do anything for Olympic glory. And the guitar? It’s not quite true to say I haven’t touched it. After years of rusting behind the sofa, it looked rather quaint, I thought. So I hung it on the wall as a work of art. Chemmy Alcott
Top events at the Olympics and the Brits to watch ALPINE SKI
Introduced Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936
Sunday 11th at 02:00am
Wednesday 21st at 02:00am
Thursday 15th at 02:00am
Saturday 17th at 02:00am
Tuesday 13th at 02:30am
Friday 23rd at 02:00am
M GIANT SLALOM
Sunday 18th at 01:15am
W GIANT SLALOM
Monday 12th at 01:15am
From left to right, Dave Ryding, Alex Tilley and Charlie Guest
SLALOM What is it? Alpine skiing was introduced at the 1936 Games (‘Hitler’s Winter Olympics’) with the discipline of Slalom introduced in 1948 at St Moritz. Men are allowed skis up to 165cm in length (women 155cm) and face between 55 and 75 gates (45 to 60 for women) which are spaced anything from 75cm to 13m apart. There are two runs.
Introduced Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936
Introduced 1988 Calgary
Introduced Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936
Introduced Oslo 1952
Who to watch: Slalom racer Dave Ryding had a stellar 2016-17 season. The 31-year-old, from Lancashire, became the second British man to mount a World Cup Alpine podium when he came second in Kitzbühel, Austria, and finished the season in eighth place worldwide. He says: “The Olympics is one day in four years. Anything can happen.”
Alex Tilley, 24, from Aberdeenshire, is Britain’s top female Alpine skier. She is a regular at World Cup events and was sixth at the Europa Cup Giant Slalom in Zell am See, Austria, in 2015. She says: “We have a plan, but it won’t be drastically different.” Charlie Guest, 24, from Perth, broke her back in 2014, but staged a remarkable recovery and is now one of the top 100 female slalom racers in the world.
Thursday 22nd at 01:15am
Wednesday 14th at 01:15am
ALPINE TEAM EVENT
Introduced St Moritz 1948
Saturday 24th at 02:00am Introduced PyeongChang 2018
FREESTYLE SKI AERIALS What is it? Athletes are thrown up to six metres in the air and perform a single, double or triple inversion with a full twist or double full twist rotation. Five judges rate them
Introduced Calgary 1988 on a ten-point scale — 20 per cent for performance (take off, height, length), 50 per cent for form (style, execution, accuracy) and 30 per cent for landing. Their score is then multiplied by the difficulty of the manoeuvre.
Saturday 17th at 11:00am
Thursday 15th at 11:00am
Sunday 18th at 11:00am
Friday 16th at 11:00am
Friday 9th at 02:45am
Friday 9th at 01:00am
Monday 12th at 10:30am
Sunday 11th at 10:30am
(QUALIFICATION) (QUALIFICATION) (FINALS)
Who to watch: Lloyd Wallace, 22, from Bath, is a former gymnast. He recovered from a severe head injury only six months ago and says: “The Olympics has always been the main aim. Just to get there is an honour.”
(FINALS) (QUALIFICATION) (QUALIFICATION) (FINALS) (FINALS)
Introduced Lillehammer 1994
Introduced Albertville 1992
Photo: Mo Guile/Zoom Agency; Vanessa Fry
Photo: Ross Woodhall
SKI CROSS What is it? Four athletes tackle a course of jumps, banks and rollers at the same time, meaning thrills and spills are assured.
PARK AND PIPE
Photo: Sam Mellish Photos: Tommy Pyatt
What is it? Park and Pipe skiers compete in the Slopestyle or Halfpipe events, or both. Slopestyle is done on a course with six obstacle sections, on which athletes do a minimum of three jumps. Halfpipe is less prescriptive, but they will generally do seven jumps. In both events they are judged on their performance on grounds of height, turns, technique and difficulty from a total of 100 by five judges. There are two runs for each event.
Who to watch: Emily Sarsfield, 34, will be at her first Olympics. The Durham native missed out on the 2010 Games after tearing all the ligaments in her knee shortly before, and
M SKI CROSS
Wednesday 21st at 02:30am
W SKI CROSS
Friday 23rd at 02:30am
Introduced Vancouver 2010
Who to watch: All eyes will be on James ‘Woodsy’ Woods, 26, from Sheffield. Last year he won golds in Big Air at the X-Games and Ski Slopestyle at the World Cup in New Zealand. In Sochi he battled to fifth place despite injury. He says: “I want to be as good as I can, performing at full fitness.” Katie Summerhayes, 22, like Woodsy, grew up in Sheffield. In Sochi she came seventh in Slopestyle, and this season came second in a World Cup event in Stubai, Austria. She says: “The Olympics
Tuesday 20th at 04:00am
W SKI HALFPIPE
Monday 19th at 01:00am
M SKI HALFPIPE
Thursday 22nd at 02:30am
W SKI HALFPIPE
Tuesday 20th at 01:30am
M SKI SLOPESTYLE
Sunday 18th at 01:00am
W SKI SLOPESTYLE
Saturday 17th at 01:00am
Introduced Sochi 2014
(QUALIFICATION) (QUALIFICATION) (QUALIFICATION)
are crazy — more manic than I expected.” James Machon, 27, was another regular at Sheffield’s freestyle skiing park, and will hope his top 25 in Halfpipe at Sochi will stand him in good stead this time. It took Rowan Cheshire, 22, two years to recover from injury, but she says: “It made me grow up. Now, the goal is a medal.” Izzy Atkin, at 19, is our youngest ‘oneto-watch’ having won gold in Slopestyle at a Swiss World Cup event last season, and bronze in the Slopestyle World Championships in Spain too.
M SKI HALFPIPE
From left to right, James Woods, Katie Summerhayes, James Machon, Rowan Cheshire and Izzy Atkin,
fell out of the world rankings ahead of the 2014 Games. She says: “Sarsfield and the Olympics haven’t gone hand-in-hand in the past. But being a ski cross athlete is what I love.”
Introduced Sochi 2014
Introduced 1924 Chamonix
M SKIATHLON (30KM)
Sunday 11th at 06:15am
W SKIATHLON (15KM)
Saturday 10th at 07:15am
M W CLASSIC SPRINT
Tuesday 13th at 08:30am
Introduced Vancouver 2010
From left to right, Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young
Wednesday 21st at 08:00am
M INDIVIDUAL FREE (15KM)
Friday 16th at 06:00am
W INDIVIDUAL FREE (10KM)
Thursday 15th at 06:30am
M MASS START CLASSIC (50KM) Saturday 24th at 05:00am W MASS START CLASSIC (30KM) Sunday 25th at 06:15am
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING What is it? Races are in the classic technique or fast but tiring freestyle (skate-skiing) style.
M RELAY (4 X 10KM)
Sunday 18th at 06:15am
W RELAY (4 X 5KM)
Saturday 17th at 09:30am
Who to watch Born in Dorset, Andrew Musgrave, 27, is hoping to be Britain’s first Olympic crosscountry medallist, having taken a World
Cup bronze in Toblach, Italy, this season. Andrew Young, 25, from Aberdeenshire will hope competing in two Winter Games puts him near pole position in Korea.
Introduced Chamonix 1924
M NORMAL HILL
Thursday 8th 12.30pm
M NORMAL HILL (FINALS)
Saturday 10th at 12:35pm
W NORMAL HILL (FINALS)
Monday 12th at 12:50pm
M LARGE HILL
Friday 16th at 12:30pm
M LARGE HILL (FINALS)
Saturday 17th at 12:30pm
M TEAM EVENT
Saturday 19th at 12:30pm
Introduced Innsbruck 1964
Introduced Sochi 2014
Introduced Chamonix 1924
Introduced Lillehammer 1994
M NORMAL HILL
Wednesday 14th at 06:00am
M LARGE HILL
Tuesday 20th at 10:00am
M TEAM EVENT
Monday 22th at 07:30am
Introduced Nagano 1998
M BIG AIR (QUALIFICATION)
Wednesday 21st at 00:30am
W BIG AIR (QUALIFICATION)
Friday 19th at 00:30am
M BIG AIR (FINALS)
Saturday 24th at 01:00am
W BIG AIR (FINALS)
Friday 23rd at 00:30am
Saturday 10th at 01:00am
Sunday 11th at 04:30am
(QUALIFICATION) M SLOPESTYLE (FINALS)
PARK AND PIPE What is it? Park and Pipe snowboarders compete in Slopestyle, Halfpipe and Big Air events. Snowboard Slopestyle was introduced in 2014, when Britain’s Jenny Jones won bronze, and features a course with six obstacle sections, on which athletes do at least three jumps. As with Snowboard Halfpipe, athletes are judged on height, turns, technique and difficulty. With Big Air they jump just once, but fly higher and further, doing rotations, flips and grabs.
Introduced Sochi 2014
Sunday 11th at 01:00am
W SLOPESTYLE (FINALS)
Monday 12th at 01:00am
Thursday 15th at 04:30am
Friday 16th at 03:15am
Introduced Torino 2006
Who to watch: Katie Ormerod, 20, from Sheffield, is one of Britain’s best medal hopes. She won gold in the World Cup Big Air event in Moscow, and Slopestyle bronze at the X-Games, both in January 2017. She says: “I believe I can bring a medal home, as everyone has been super-supportive.” Jamie Nicholls, 24, from Bradford, is Ormerod’s cousin and the first British male snowboarder to win an FIS World Cup event. He says: “You can be at your best, but it all comes down to the day. ”
It’s not Billy Morgan’s first rodeo. The 28-year-old from Southampton was the first person to land a quad cork 1800. And Big Air could be his event. He says: “Because it’s just one shot every four years, it’s pretty crazy, but I’ve a lot left.” Park and Pipe snowboarder Aimee Fuller, 26, from Kent, landed a fourth place in FIS World Cup Big Air in Milan in 2016 and will also be looking to the Big Air event to help her chances. She says: “At the end of the day, it’s just another competition with the same people but in front of the world.”
Tuesday 13th at 04:00am
Monday 12th at 04:30am
M HALFPIPE (FINALS)
Wednesday 14th at 01:30am
W HALFPIPE (FINALS)
Tuesday 13th at 01:00am
M W PARALLEL GIANT SLALOM
Thursday 22nd at 03:00am
M W PARALLEL GIANT SLALOM
Saturday 24th at 03:00am
From left to right, Katie Ormerod, Jamie Nicholls, Billy Morgan and Aimee Fuller
Introduced PyeongChang 2018
Introduced Salt Lake City 2002
Photo: Tommy Pyatt Photos: Tommy Pyatt; Matt Georges
A LAND OF WAR AND PISTES Our correspondent visits the resort in Kosovo that until days before the 1984 Olympics looked set to host the Games
osovo is one of those places they warn you about when taking out travel insurance. Not explicitly, but to tell you that you’re not covered if you travel against Foreign Office advice. The FCO still advises against visiting parts of Kosovo for all but essential travel. My travel was essential: I wanted to ski Europe’s youngest nation, even if it is still patrolled by Nato soldiers. Indeed we met a ‘KFor’ peacekeeper from Bavaria as we climbed from the Macedonian resort of Popova Sapka up the Sar mountains that form the border with Kosovo. We enter Kosovo by official channels, however, driving to the border crossing, where the blue and beige flag of the infant republic flutters in the breeze and the border guards are welcoming. We are heading to Brezovica, which nearly became a household name in the UK back in 1984. The resort, with its long, steep descents and north-facing slopes, is very snowsure. So when Yugoslavia opted to host the 1984 Winter Olympics, Brezovica was the government’s Plan B. So preparations commenced to stage the Alpine events there in case Sarajevo had no snow, which it didn’t until a fortnight before the Games began. But snow it finally did in Bosnia. As a result Brezovica was pretty much mothballed. One new lift, which we admired, never opened. Many others no longer operate. The resort is always struggling to pay its electricity bills and I could see no evidence of a much-touted multi-million pound investment. In 2013 it was taken
off the grid for a whole season, despite enjoying the “winter of the century”, though this does not deter skiers. We arrive to find roads full of haphazardly parked cars, mostly VW Golfs of all vintages. This is the car of choice in Kosovo and Albania, with many coming from Skopje too, Macedonia’s capital being as close as Kosovo’s capital Pristina. In fact, Brezovica attracts aficionados from all over the world. There are Swiss, French, Italians. I even meet another Austrian in the ‘Che Fox’ pub, where the in-crowd gathers — beautiful young people in the latest ski gear, sipping cool drinks and listening to hip music. Many have come with elephant-sized skis or powder boards, attracted by Brezovica’s affordable hotels, restaurants and bars — and of course its great snow. There are nine lifts advertised, but two chairlifts and a T-bar would be closer to the truth, accessible with a €18 day pass. There’s no snowmaking, though it’s largely unnecessary, or grooming, which makes Brezovica a freeride mecca, along the lines of France’s La Grave. A local catski operation, Dane, charges €100 a day for up to 12 rides. And for runs, you can chose between intermediate and freefall in the steep Sar mountains. Metodi, our guide, is known all over the resort. He is greeted with smiles, hugs and high fives. But the 37-year-old has a special greeting for Brother Georg, a snowboarding priest, with a big beard and bigger smile. He is the last Serbian orthodox priest in Prizren, an Ottoman
Photo: Snow Njeri
Words by Andreas Hofer
“BREZOVICA IS A FREERIDE PARADISE ALONG THE LINES OF LA GRAVE” Previous page: The ski area at Brezovica Above left: Touring up to the Black Rock Above right: Prizren’s church behind barbed wire Below: An abandoned lift at Brezovica
city in the valley below, with its maze of ancient merchant houses and spindly minarets at the foot of the sprawling Kalaja fortress. His dwindling flock come to his Romano-Byzantine church, adorned with frescoes. But it has been surrounded by barbed wire since former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters set fire to the altar and choir stalls in 2004. The Che Fox is getting crowded as more of Metodi’s friends appear. We meet Nol, a 23-year-old ski racer and daring freerider. His father, a professor at the University of Pristina, is head of the Kosovo Ski Club and is out training adolescents, whose stylish blue and green ski suits and fluorescent racing boots can be seen all over the slopes. Nol, who spent most of his childhood here, takes us to Black Rock, a short hike from the top station at 2,522m, where we see Pristina in one direction and Skopje in another. After taking in the view, we spend the day skiing couloirs to the west. The snow is wind-blasted, but as we enter the forest it is light and powdery. So how do we do it, given the lack of lifts? This is where the Golfs come in. Nol has a car pick us up each time we reach the valley. Not cat-skiing but car-skiing. Ski touring is another of Nol’s passions and we decide to scale the Bistra peak the next day. At 2,609m, it is more than a thousand metres above the Prevalac
pass, where we park. Prevalac is also a ski resort, of sorts, with a T-bar carrying children on skis and sledges up a gentle slope teeming with families. But that is not the only difference with Brezovica. Unlike the predominantly Slav ski resort just a few miles away, here the girls wear headscarves and the men Muslim caps. As soon as we leave this happy scene, it starts to snow, the sleet slapping our faces as the wind gusts fiercely. We have climbed to 2,200m, but can see next to nothing. Metodi’s goggles are blown away. After an emergency descent we seek refuge in a pizzeria back in the resort. It is a far cry from the Che Fox, serving Turkish tea instead of beer. And there is a delay on the pizzas, as the staff withdraw for midday prayers. But the amiable patron can be persuaded to dish up some raki, though he carefully closes the door to the main dining hall when he does so. We huddle around the open fire as the snowstorm picks up strength. Metodi, who is Orthodox, tells us how like other young people he was taken unawares by the ethnic clashes of 2004, the worst violence since the war of 1999. “For us they came out of the blue,” he says. “Now there are scars which will heal only slowly. Maja, my girlfriend, and I were denied a flat in Skopje because she is Muslim. Crosses are being erected on summits where before there were none.” Nol chips in: “I would put a message on my door declaring I am Muslim but happy to invite all my new neighbours over for a shot of raki and a pork roast.” “So you do eat pork?” I ask. “No,” he replies, “but for the sake of good neighbourliness I would.”
Andreas funded his trip independently. He travelled with Macedonia Experience, (macedoniaexperience.com) on a threeweek journey through Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo that costs €6,500 per person based on single room, full-board occupancy accommodation in the best available hotels, ski passes, ski guides and private transfers. For more on skiing see snow.njeri.net
Top left photo: Marco Zaffiri
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For ski tourers, Polandâ€™s Tatra mountains can offer as many challenges as the Alps, as our writer discovers Words by Robert Borgerhoff Mulder
Photos: James Nott and Robert Borgerhoff Mulder
descent through untracked powder had brought us down into Slovakia and we had reached the Kondracka Pass, passing back into Poland after another hour’s steady climbing. We were on the High Tatras of Poland and Slovakia tour run by Mountain Tracks, and the descent to the Kondratowa hut, scheduled to take 90 minutes, had turned into a marathon when forest paths had changed, trees had fallen and recognisable features had vanished. But what might have been a nightmare was turned into an adventure thanks to our unflappable guide Guido Candolini’s expertise, confidence and unswerving good nature. We arrived at the hut in good heart, good humour and good time. The huts in Poland’s Tatra mountains are welcoming, warm and clean. We had a tasty dinner of chicken (pork was the other staple) with beer in plentiful supply. And the dormitory and washing facilities were as good as the best in the Alps. The only drawback was breakfast. While it was delicious (eggs, sausage, bacon and coffee) it wasn’t served before 8am, limiting what could be done in a day. The romp in the woods had formed the third day of our traverse of the Tatra mountains. We had started in the west, riding in horse-drawn carriages from Zakopane, the resort at the foot of the Tatras, up a long and winding valley thick with fir forest to a point where the road gave out. From here we had walked, grateful for the kilometres already covered in the carriages, and then donned our climbing skins. We started in a range of high hills and open valleys. These got progressively steeper as we moved east. Crossing pass after pass, we finally, on the fourth day, reached a land of seemingly Alpine peaks, steep and rugged, which we climbed in crampons, with skis on our backs, until we reached the Zawrat pass. Here the sun burst out and presented the whole High Tatras for our delight. We clambered, roped up, to Zawratowa Turnia at 2,247m for the full 360-degree
panorama. That morning we had woken to thick fog. Now we sat in the sunshine high above the world, triumphant. It lulled us into a false sense of security. The descent from the Zawrat pass to the Five Lakes hut was challenging: breakable crust which demanded skilful skiing, strong muscles and steady nerves. Conditions were not ideal. It had been blowing a gale as we entered Zakopane. Though the wind abated, it left extensive wind-slab and the avalanche risk was high. At times we were skiing on snow with heather poking through. But this did not stop Guido from finding us north-facing powder every day. We positively bounced down some runs. One thing we didn’t face was tracked snow. All week the slopes were free of traces. It seems Poles prefer to walk, and we came across many friendly hikers as we skinned up or skied down. There was only one other group of skiers: four Frenchmen from the Pyrenees travelling without a guide. “Forza Italia” we sometimes found etched in the snow when they had got away ahead of us. Guido was generous with his advice to them, and this was their thank you to the Italian. We were all male too. Four of us aged well over 60, one nearly 40 and one 23. The less young showed great form; the younger incredible forbearance, which we greatly appreciated. Guido, a consummate guide, showed us how ski touring should be done. And do it we did. The wind was soon to cover our tracks on the Tatra mountains. But it could not eradicate the memories of a week in such good company, in such a beautiful setting. Nor could it diminish the pleasure of partaking in such a great sport.
“all the slopes we skied were free of tracks. it seems poles prefer to walk and we came across several friendly hikers”
re we going to get out of here before darkness falls?” we wondered. We had spent the past two hours ‘combat skiing’ — pushing through thick fir forest, scrambling over logs and under branches, teetering on slippery stepping stones as we crossed fast-flowing streams, all the time trying to keep our climbing skins dry. We had just a little respite in the few open glades. But all of this seemed to have brought us no closer to the promised hut. The day had started with a long, steady climb up Poland’s side of the Tomanowa Pass under a cold, steely-grey sky with lowering cloud. From the pass, a clear
Robert Borgerhoff Mulder funded his trip independently and travelled with Mountain Tracks (mountaintracks.co.uk; 020 8123 2978), which runs the High Tatras of Poland and Slovakia tour from March 3 to 10 for £1,295 per person half board, including guides’ fees, but not flights or airport transfers.
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THE INSIDE EDGE 44 TECHNIQUE Beat your friends to the finish line with advice from top instructor Mark Jones on how to tackle a giant slalom course
47 OFF-PISTE In his last column, the Ski Club’s outgoing Alpine safety advisor Nigel Shepherd says goodbye to the old, and hello to a new app
48 FITNESS Stretching before you hit the hay helps with a good night’s sleep, so try these moves to keep you fresh for the next day
50 SNOW WEAR Don’t toss out snow wear before time, as this season brands are offering more help on patching up rips and zips
SKI TESTS If you like to earn your turns, our experts reveal the touring skis that offer the best combination of power and lighter weights
66 BOOTS Couple your touring skis with the perfect touring ski boots to make both climbing up slopes and skiing down them a breeze
Escape to the mountains, but keep technology close to your chest with the latest backcountry safety equipment
72 SNOWBOARDS As the popularity of hiking for your turns gathers pace, snowboarders are breaking on to the touring scene with splitboards
76 RESORT INSIDER Keep your purse strings tight but set your skis free with seven well-priced resorts that all invested in new lifts this season Ski+board
Calling all would-be racers…
Come out wide enough so you can engage the skis’ edges at the right time and attack the gate
Get a solid platform on the outside ski and lean into the turn to increase edge angle
If the buzz around the Olympics makes you dream of trying a race for yourself, there are many ways you can get the thrill of ‘doing gates’ on your holiday. At nearly every French resort, the Ecole du Ski Français runs weekly races for all comers. Simply ask at the ESF office where and when the ‘flèche’ takes place. They are most frequent during school holidays. You reserve a place by paying €6 to €10, then rock up at the designated piste — usually a blue or red run. Alternatively, many Austrian and Italian resorts have race tracks, as marked on the piste map. No booking is needed. You queue up at a starting gate with an electronic timer and your time is displayed at the bottom so can compare yourself against other skiers. Aside from giving you the adrenaline rush that professional skiers experience, learning to handle a giant slalom course improves your overall technique. Race courses are where strong, technical skiers are made, whether they be freeriders, ski tourers or instructors. Tactics and technique are key to unlocking a great race performance. With the timer running, it’s fascinating
Mark Jones is a trainer for Basi (the British Association of Snowsport Instructors) and part of the National Education Team that represents Great Britain and Basi in global events. He is also a director and trainer with ICE (icesi.org), a training centre in Val d’Isère, France.
Photo: Chris Haworth/vanessafry.com
If you’ve always fancied giving slalom a go, here’s how to make sure that you’re not late at the gate
The trick is to set yourself up so you have enough space to turn above rather than at the gate
to see how altering one or the other will affect your speed over the course, while raising your mental threshold for speed. TACTICS To start with tactics, there’s an old saying that goes: “If you don’t get the line, you don’t get the time.” And it’s so true. Making the right decisions on your choice of line through the gates can be more important than pure technique. The classic error is to go direct for a gate, make a hard turn, then fight to get across to the next one. This braking and rapid deceleration will mean you struggle both to balance and maintain momentum through the course. The solution is to aim high coming out of the old turn so you find yourself well above the new gate as you release your skis into the new direction. This will give you room to create a smooth, round arc — a turn shape that will make it easier to maintain your speed and balance. If you get it right, you’ll find you have already pretty much changed direction as you come level with the gate, allowing your skis to power you across the hill,
so you accelerate out of the turn, rather than skid as you fight to get more grip. Aim to achieve your biggest edge angle as you ski the fall-line. This will generate maximum grip coming out of the turn, as you allow your feet to be driven underneath your body. TECHNIQUE Skiing a Giant Slalom course well is all about getting big edge angles, managing high pressure through your skis and making smooth, effective transitions. You can only achieve all this if you are well balanced, with an athletic stance. This means being alert, ready for action and flexed in all your main joints, staying solid with feet hip-width apart. yy Transition The moment of moving from one turn to the next is key on a race course. There are lots of ways to handle the transition, but the goal is to get an early platform, create a steering angle, then get the maximum power from the skis to shoot you across into the start of the new turn. This can be tricky, so start the new
TEC HNIQU E
At this point go for maximum edge angles, while aiming to keep tight to the gate
For big edge angles and to move fast into the next turn you need to counter balance with your torso
Coming out of the turn start to load pressure on the top ski to create the new platform
turn by feeling for the top ski, which will become your outside ski, and maintain contact with the snow, using the outside ski as a solid platform as your body dives down the hill. In this freefall moment, your body goes with the external forces and your torso moves fast laterally across your skis. With the new outside ski set up as a platform you have many options. If the slope is not too steep, and the course is fairly easy, you can balance against the outside ski, build up edge angle and carve through the whole arc. But if you are on a steep pitch with tightly set gates, you need to set up a steering angle on the transition. In this case, as your skis pass under your body, allow them to be light. You still need to feel for the platform with your feet, but without pushing so hard against it. Quickly steer the skis into the fall-line while your weight is off. With the skis set in the right direction, balance against the outside ski and engage. There’s a lot of new thinking about transitions in ski racing. Do you
get low or stand tall in this phase of the turn? To keep things simple, I recommend you stay low enough to maintain contact with the skis. Any excessive up or down movement in the transition will mess with your balance, particularly at race speeds. yy Creating grip Once you move out of the transition and engage with the outside ski you need to generate the maximum grip from your edges. This means quickly building up to a big edge angle, then managing the pressure. As you can see on the photo montage, at the point of contact with the gate I’m at maximum engagement with the skis. This means cranking the skis to the maximum angle, without sacrificing grip or balance. This isn’t easy and takes time to learn. The first part, getting a big angle to your skis, is fairly easy. Just tip them over hard and fast. Staying in balance and moving fluidly on to the new turn is another story. As you crank the skis over, try to get just your lower legs and hips close to the snow. If you go full
tilt with your whole body you will feel your skis grip, but it makes it very hard for you to move into the new turn. By allowing your legs and hips to go down while counterbalancing with your upper body you still get edge angle, but it’s easier to balance at full attack, then flow into the new turn. This skill is called lateral separation and is crucial for getting maximum performance coming out of the turn. So how will you know when you’ve nailed it? Well your times should improve. But because they reset the gates on piste-side courses regularly, you will only be able to measure yourself against your friends. An advantage of the ‘flèche’ is that each course is ‘opened’ by an instructor with a racing handicap. So the organisers can calculate how long it would take the world champion, and will calculate your time objectively as a percentage of his. So it’s with some truth that you can say you raced against the world champion!
READ MORE OF MARK JONES’S TIPS HERE
Leader Resort Spotlight:
Davos/ Klosters Davos & Klosters comprise one of the oldest ski areas in Switzerland. The railway up the Parsenn was one of the first built for skiers (in 1931), and the first draglift was built on the Bolgen nursery slopes in 1934. The extensive area includes some superb, long pistes away from the lifts, and plenty of accessible off-piste terrain, with several marked itineraries. If you like the sound of the mountains around Davos but prefer the idea of a traditional-style village with equally good access to the Parsenn, then Klosters is your perfect solution. Our Leader groups from the two resorts often meet on the mountain for skiing and enjoying lunch together, so there’s the chance to meet even more members.
Instructor-led Guiding Resort Spotlight:
La Plagne & Les Arcs (Paradiski)
Davos • Sunday meeting point: 10am, bottom of the Parsenn train, Davos Dorf • Social Hour: Sunstar Park Hotel, 6.15pm – 7.15pm Leader tel. no: +44 (0)7540 048 552
Klosters • Sunday meeting point: 9am, Klosters Platz Station • Social Hour: Silvretta Park Hotel, 6.15pm – 7.15pm Leader tel. no: +44 (0)7540 048 532
To find out more, and to preregister to ski with a Leader in Davos or Klosters, visit skiclub.co.uk/leaders
La Plagne and Les Arcs are both fantastic ski resorts in their own right – but together they make up Paradiski, one of France’s largest ski areas. Both sides of the valley offer huge variety, with hundreds of kilometres of pistes and some great off piste terrain. Our Instructor-led Guiding programme in Les Arcs is run by Evolution 2, and in La Plagne by Oxygene Ski School. Both are long-standing, highly regarded ski schools who provide an excellent experience. As with our other ILG resorts, the weekly programme includes both on and off piste sessions. ILG is running in La Plagne and Les Arcs until 11 April. • Prices: Members – full day £35 / half day £20 Non-members - full day £70 / half day £40 To book Instructor-led Guiding in La Plagne or Les Arcs, or 10 other resorts, visit skiclub.co.uk/ilg
Photo: Elina Sirparanta
Photo: Melody Sky
SKI CLUB PROMOTION
Photo: Josef Mallaun/Lech-ZÜrs Tourism
If you feel lost with no phone... ...try a freeride app to help skiers navigate, like our expert did As a mountain guide, I have embraced the phenomena of handheld GPS devices and maps I download to my smartphone. Nonetheless, there will always be a paper map and compass in my backpack. Call me ‘old school’ if you will but, if batteries fail, these will never let you down. The free Fatmap app, though marketed as a navigational tool, is nothing like a handheld GPS or cartographic mapping. For a start, it’s not a map, but photos that are three-dimensional in that you can twist, shrink and rotate the image to view a mountain from all conceivable angles. For the ski version (there are others for hiking and mountain biking) this image is overlaid with colour-coded pistes and lifts. The difference between Fatmap and other apps, such as Skadi, is that Fatmap emphasises its off-piste potential. Trying out Fatmap in Zermatt in
Nigel Shepherd is the outgoing 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.
The Fatmap app, which is aimed at off-piste skiers, covers 70 areas including Austria’s Arlberg region
early December I found that most, but certainly not all, itineraries and freeride runs were shown. From a planning point of view the info on each run is succinct and there’s a ‘fly through’ option to give an idea of terrain. Do check the run you choose is legal as the app does not show Switzerland’s ‘zones de tranquillité’, which are strictly no-go areas. Rather surprisingly, there were a few extreme ski descents marked. Given that many of these will only be achievable by a handful of skiers, one assumes they are only included for interest. At least I hope users realise this before launching themselves into an abyss of extremity from which they might never return. Granted, there is a pop-up dialogue box that prompts you to check you are ready to ski off-piste when an itinerary run is clicked. But not all the route descriptions of non-pisted runs I tested were entirely accurate. And don’t expect the app to help if you venture outside of the ski area, as there all detail is lost. The additional overlays are useful. One shows the flat bits for snowboarders to avoid, another steepness of slopes. Yet another reveals the aspect of slopes, with cool colours for north-facing inclines and warm colours for south-facing ones The steepness and aspect overlays
combine to give an ‘avalanche’ overlay, showing which slopes are most risky. But it’s vital to interpret this in combination with an up-to-date avalanche bulletin. As a piste map, Fatmap is very good (despite listing the Gornergrat railway and cable car to the Klein Matterhorn as express chairlifts), especially as it reveals the real-time closures of lifts and pistes. Clicking on a run brings up a brief description with an option to click for more detail. And the live positioning is handy when it’s misty and you’re trying to find a mountain restaurant. Plus the app didn’t seem to eat its way through charge like some digital mapping does. As long as you remain aware of its limitations, particularly off-piste, I can recommend streaming the free version in the ten French, nine Austrian, seven Italian and six Swiss resorts covered, as roaming fees have been suspended in most of Europe. The 20Mb of data I used in ten days of on-and-off use hardly ate into my monthly allowance. For the 38 US and four Canadian resorts, it’s best to download maps, using a premium subscription for all resorts for £29.99 a year. An update for the app is on its way.
READ SNOW REPORTS THAT ARE UPDATED DAILY HERE
Sleep easy with bedtime stretches Many things play havoc with a good night’s rest in the mountains from altitude to raclette, but these stretches will help you kip It’s easy to flop into bed at the end of the skiing day, exhausted, only to wake up after a restless night feeling both groggy and stiff as a board. One of the keys to a good night’s sleep (apart from avoiding over-indulgence on fondue and wine) is stretching, focusing on the muscle groups most used in skiing, including those in the lower back, hips, thighs and calves. This will
not only relax the muscles, but may also help you unwind mentally. With that in mind, this issue of Ski+board will cover the best stretches to do both before and in bed, having covered morning, post-lunch and après exercises in the previous three issues.
READ MORE OF CRAIG’S TIPS IN BACK ISSUES HERE
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.
1 KNEES TO CHEST A
A This is a great one to do in bed before nodding off. Lying on your back, bend your knees. B Pull your knees to your chest as far as you can. Either hold for ten seconds or very gently pump this action ten times.
You’re doing it wrong if... You’re lifting your head and shoulders off the ground. Stay relaxed.
2 PIGEON STRETCH
A From all fours, straighten one leg backwards and bend the other. Slip your front foot out to one side. B Let your body subside and your head near the floor, feeling the pull in your buttock. Hold for up to three minutes.
You’re doing it wrong if… You don’t cross your bent leg under your body — this will only stretch the wrong places.
What’s it like to use...? fitness apps
I’m bent double grasping my foot high behind my bum. In this position I’m glad my trainer can’t see me. He’s on the phone — my pocket instructor! The stretch I’m attempting is one of the most intense of Neil MacleanMartin’s four-phase SkiFit workouts. The physiotherapist launched the app in October last year for those unable
to attend his Chamonix classes. While it’s not the only such app (SkiWorkout, is a free, daily, 12-minute challenge) it’s the one skiers are talking about. Fitness apps are very handy. I’m preparing for the 75th Inferno ski race, but I travel for work a lot, which could affect my fitness. Thanks to the app I have been hopping, arching,
F ITN ESS
3 HAMSTRING STRETCH
A Start sitting with an upright back and feet together out in front of you. Place your hands by your side. B Bend forwards, stretching your hands towards your feet, feeling a pull behind your knees. Hold for up to a minute.
You’re doing it wrong if… You’re over-stretching or over-bending your spine. All pulling should be gentle.
4 CALF STRETCH
A Using a stool or wall for support, bend one knee and straighten the other until your heel touches the ground.
B A variation that stretches the deeper soleus muscles is to keep your heel off the floor, but bend the front knee more. You’re doing it wrong if… In the first version of the exercise you let your back heel rise off the floor.
5 CHILD’S POSE A Kneel down, sitting on your feet and maintaining a straight back. Now let your arms hang by your side. B Bend your body forwards, letting your head rest on the floor, if you can. Hold for up to a minute. Breathe normally. B
You’re doing it wrong if… You have to reach out to make your head touch the ground. Go as low as is comfortable.
hip swinging, squatting, thrusting and lunging the world over. The eight-week course caters to all levels of skier and features over a hundred 25-minute workouts two to three times weekly. You can download it to a desktop, tablet or smartphone to follow Neil’s demonstrations, including warm-up,
co-ordination, core work, circuits and stretch down. All are well explained, easy to follow, and videos are accompanied by descriptions and images, explaining why they are useful. Plus it times and logs each of your workouts. You just need a mat. Split into four phases, it aims to build key muscle strength, flexibility
and balance. Neil, a specialist in musculo-skeletal sports injuries, explains: “Each phase builds on the previous one. But if you don’t have eight weeks, don’t fret. You’ll still see gains in just a few weeks.” Louise Hall Go to your app store or befitapps.com/skifit to download a free trial or the full version from £9.99.
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SCOTT ULTIMATE DRYO 20 PANTS £190 The jeans-style fit of these ‘strategically’ insulated pants looks good, and they offer a well-considered range of features — fully taped seams, inner thigh vents, an ergonomic cut, two zipped hand pockets, one rear pocket, and an adjustable waist and boot gaiters, plus reinforced hems. All the essential features in a neat package Colours might not be to everyone’s taste
Annie wears Scott Ultimate Dryo 20 jacket (£275) and pants (£190), Picture McPherson mittens in camel (£90), Smith I/O goggles (£200) and Atomic Revent helmet (£80)
Top brands embrace ‘make do and mend’ If a much-cherished garment becomes worn or torn, it is now far easier to have it repaired Words by Alf Alderson and Harriet Johnston Is it just us, or do all keen skiers feel a pang of regret when they have to throw away that favourite ski jacket? Well, this season leading brands are offering a way to prolong the lives of much-loved items. All credit to them for reducing their environmental impact, but there’s a commercial argument for this approach too. By offering such guarantees, they give us a reason to invest in what are admittedly expensive pieces of kit. Patagonia has an online guide to help you repair damaged items. And the brand’s Worn Wear policy means that if one of its garments needs to be repaired, they’ll do it for free, even for older items. If an item has really given up the ghost they will help you recycle it. Black Diamond and Arc’teryx offer similar services, with Arc’teryx (like Patagonia) pledging to cover return postage costs. The service covers faults and general wear and tear. If an item is deemed irreparable, both companies may replace it, provided the damage is deemed to be not due to improper use. So if that tear in your jacket pocket is proving an embarrassment, there may be a way to fix it without reducing the weight of your wallet.
Red wears Oakley Timber Biozone Shell jacket (£240) and Oakley Arrowhead Biozone Insulated pants (£145) with Bern Watts helmet (£90) and Dragon NFX black goggles (£110) and Oakley Factory Winter gloves (£65)
READ MORE OF OUR REVIEWS HERE Ski+board
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Red wears Mammut Alyeska Pro HS jacket (£500) and Picture Uncle hat (£30)
MAMMUT ALYESKA PRO HS JACKET £500 This is one for serious freeriders. The loose fit, big pockets (and plenty of ’em), detachable powder skirt, helmetcompatible hood, armpit zips, wrist gaiters and innovative zipped neck/chin baffle all combine to provide maximum comfort in the harshest conditions. Super-comfortable, great design Hardly a flattering fit
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Tom wears Arc'teryx Rush jacket (£450) and Smith I/OS goggles (£200)
ARC’TERYX RUSH JACKET
£450 Good design sees all the vital features of a ski shell in the Rush, from fullyadjustable helmet-compatible hood to armpit zips and powder skirt, all created from super-weatherproof and breathable fabric. Looks great to boot. All the features you need, none you don’t Not cheap
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ORTOVOX FLEECE MELANGE HOODY £120
ORTOVOX PIZ BOVAL JACKET £240
A superbly snug blend of merino lining and soft polyester outer make this a go-anywhere item that you can use year-round. Features include small upper arm pocket, storm hood and thumb loops.
This reversible top aimed at ski tourers can also be used as an outer layer, as the mix of a breathable and windproof Pertex outer with eco-friendly ‘Swisswool’ lining keeps you comfortable in all conditions. It has two front and two inner pockets.
Warm, snug, good looking Obviously no substitute for a jacket, despite the price
Light, packable, reversible No hood
ORTOVOX GUARDIAN PANTS £520
ORTOVOX GUARDIAN PANTS £520
For female freeriders, the Guardian’s elasticated waistband and huge Velcro adjusters ensure a great fit. Features include burly cuff protection, four zippered pockets and side vents. A light merino wool lining means they also wick efficiently.
The men’s Guardian pants have a merino wool lining that means they wick efficiently, especially as you won’t need thermals with them in most conditions. And they come with all the features of the women’s version, reviewed left.
Excellent design if you like technical kit Freeride-specific cut won’t be for everyone
Great option for serious freeriders Not cheap
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On the opposite page, Annie wears Ortovox Fleece Melange Hoody (£120) with Ortovox Guardian shell pants (£520). Tom wears Ortovox Piz Boval Jacket (£240) with Ortovox Guardian shell pants (£520)
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 686: 686.com Anon: anonoptics.com Arc’teryx: arcteryx.com Atomic: atomic.com Barts: barts.eu Bawbags: bawbags.com Bern: bernunlimited.com Burton: burton.com Coal: coalheadwear.com CLWR: snowtraxstore.co.uk Dragon: dragonalliance.com Mammut: mammut.com Oakley: oakley.com O’Neill: oneill.com Ortovox: ortovox.com Patagonia: patagonia.com Picture: ellis-brigham.com Planks: planksclothing.com Scott: ellis-brigham.com Smith: smithoptics.com
Fashion editor Harriet Johnston Photoshoot director and illustrator Amanda Barks Assistants Rebeca Gonzalez Jonny Cass Photography Steven Haddock
Rosie wears Patagonia Hyper puff jacket (£270) with Patagonia Descensionist trousers (£320) and Coal Rosa hat (£28)
Hair and make-up Naomi Serene Models Red Rainey Rosie Nelson Annie Tanton Tom Ashton
Get to know...
Bruce Goodlad As the new Alpine Safety Advisor to the Ski Club, Bruce Goodlad’s work will be cut out for him - his predecessor Nigel Shepherd was in the role for 18 years. Yet, Bruce is more than qualified, as ex Technical Director of British Mountain Guides, and co-owner of avalanche education business, Avalanche Geeks.
What are your first memories of being out in the mountains? Growing up outdoors ignited my passion for being in the mountains. As a child my parents took us sailing round the West of Scotland for six weeks each summer. I started rockclimbing with the Scouts and just kept climbing bigger and bigger mountains. I knew I didn’t want a conventional job and have always tried very hard to avoid being stuck in an office or being forced to wear a tie.
Chat us through your career up to this point - it’s been so extensive! I graduated with a degree in geography from University of Glasgow in the early 90s, and became a trainee instructor at Glenmore Lodge. From there, I was a field guide for the British Antarctic survey, before getting my UK mountaineering qualifications and deciding I wanted to be an international guide. I qualified from that in 2001. I started to get involved with the training of guides in 2005, and began running the ski part of the guides’ training, before becoming technical director for British Mountain Guides in 2012. That finished off in December 2016. I also co-own my business, Avalanche Geeks. I was heavily involved with developing off piste ski guide training – when I first qualified there wasn’t a huge amount of work, but it has vastly changed with time.
Off-piste skiing does seem more popular than ever - why do you think that is? Thanks to cheap airlines, it’s now relatively inexpensive to go to the mountains. There’s been a true evolution in skiing and the British have become a big skiing nation. Secondly, ski technology has come on in leaps and bounds. In terms of touring and off piste, people can go without anywhere near as much experience thanks to great boots and skis, and other tech. I think people overall have just become more adventurous.
Where’s your favourite place to ski? My favourite place to ski and explore has to be the west coast of Norway – there’s that juxtaposition of sea and mountains there. It really combines my childhood passion with the sea and my job of skiing. It makes it truly unique.
What’s your job like day to day - best parts and the worst parts? Getting to share really cool places with clients. I get them to go places and experience things which they wouldn’t normally do if they weren’t with you. I suppose if there was a worst part, it’s that everyone thinks it’s really easy, that you’re just messing about in the mountains, skiing powder and that that’s that. Nobody sees the hard work that goes in the night before – the hours of looking at snow reports or avalanche information. My job is to make it all look smooth and easy. If you’re really good at your job, it should look effortless for clients on the snow, even if every lift you thought you’d take is closed and there’s not as much snow on the slopes as you’d hoped.
In a career spanning almost three decades, what’s your career highlight? My best achievement is a skiing and sailing trip I took with friends to Antartica. We chartered a yacht from South America to Antarctica and went ski touring there. Because I’m a sailor at heart, sailing the South Ocean was like the Everest of sailing for me. I’d been twice before, but with full support crews. This time it was just 9 friends and me on a yacht, self supporting. It felt like a proper adventure, and it was pretty out there. We were away for a month. It was truly excellent skiing, really good snow, despite being fairly early in the season – and it wasn’t that cold. Only minus 10. If I could ski again anywhere, I would go straight back to Antarctica – skiing down a mountain with icebergs floating in the bay is pretty unique.
SKI CLUB PROMOTION
Sailing to Antarctica and then skiing past icebergs has to be a highlight - I wasn’t even that cold! You can find me here... The skiing along the West Coast of Norway is amongst the most unique and special in the world; an exceptional backdrop of gliding skiable slopes and expansive fjord and ocean. Bruce’s years of sailing and skiing experience across the world make him the perfect guide for the area. Freshtracks run a holiday to the rugged landscape of Narvik, located on the North West coast of the country. Visitors will be staying in the Trollviken Lodge. The fjordside lodge overlooks Ofotfjord, from which there are hundreds of ski touring
possibilities across the mountains. The seven night tour sets off on February 25 until March 4, with six days of skiing. It’s the first time Freshtracks have run this trip. In order to take on the Narvik Northern Lights ski tour, you must be an advanced off piste or expert off piste skier. The skiing itself is some of the best in Scandanavia, with some of the largest drop heights down to the water’s edge. It’s the perfect trip if you’re looking for a challenge - and Bruce is the ideal guide to the area.
Holiday details can be found online at skiclub.co.uk/freshtracks or in your Freshtracks brochure.
This winter’s touring skis are on the up Brands no longer have a mountain to climb when it comes to balancing power with lighter weights Words by Mark Jones Touring is still unfamiliar to most British skiers, but demand is growing fast as more of us forgo lifts to hike up the hill. There is now a huge range of freetour gear, and the choice can be daunting. Before setting your heart on a ski, consider boots and bindings, as all three need to work together effectively. This is why we don’t give freetour skis top performance awards, as we do for freeride, all-mountain and piste skis, covered in previous issues. So a light ski needs to be paired with a
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
light binding and a light boot. A heavyduty freeride boot will overpower the ski and binding and will feel unbalanced. Light goes with light, heavy with heavy. To decide which is the right set-up for you, ask yourself what sort of touring you do. If you climb for two hours at a time, and are not super-confident in mixed, tricky snow conditions go for a stronger, heavier boot, a wider ski, and a binding with a good range of release options. If you go on hut-on-hut tours, and are confident in your skiing, you will be able to handle a lightweight combo that will be a joy on those long ascents. In the search for the holy grail of a ski that is light yet has great user-ability in all conditions, brands have created many skis listed here that are a delight to use in powder, while being effortless on the up.
SEE VIDEO FOOTAGE OF OUR TESTERS ON TOP SKIS
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 as if you are using a shorter length
Reverse camber (full rocker) effective edge
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 all experts. Generally, the skis tested are aimed at those who have skied before
ROCKER 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
SKI CORES 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
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
Meet the jury 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, France, and Basi trainer. See page 60 icesi.org AL MORGAN Ski Club head of Member Services and former ski service manager. See page 62 skiclub.co.uk
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 high-tech synthetics in upper end skis to keep weight low and enhance performance
EILIDH MCLEOD Former British Ski Team member coaching under16s for international races kandaharracing.com JOHN TAYLOR An instructor with Stoked in Zermatt, Switzerland, he runs its corporate events stoked.ch
SAM PARKES Instructor with Summit Ski School in Zermatt who just passed Basi Level 4 exam summitskischool.com
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
PETE DAVISON Ex-action model who now owns retailer LD Mountain Centre. See page 61 ldmountaincentre.com TESS SWALLOW Independent Basi Level 4 instructor in Val d’Isère and Basi trainer tradski.com
SIDEWALL This is 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 instructs in Val d’Isère and is a coach for British Parasport valdskiinstructors.com ROWENA PHILLIPS Basi Level 4 instructor at Matterhorn Diamonds in Zermatt matterhorn-diamonds.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
NICKO BRAXTON Basi Level 4 instructor with TDC in Val d’Isère who runs his own telemark courses tdcski.com
BELLA SEEL Fully certified instructor now running ski concierge service ALS. See page 65 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
NATASHA EDWARDS Basi Level 3 and ISIA rated instructor who is brilliant on groomers. See page 64 www.skinewgen.com
M EN’ S F R EETO U R SKIS
Brands have been trying new ways of constructing touring skis this winter, with the latest materials allowing them to achieve greater torsional stiffness in super-lightweight skis. When they were in KÜhtai, Austria, for the annual ski test, our team found significant variations in performance for various models. However, that is to be expected given the range of touring possibilities they cater for. If you have the chance, do test them yourself before you buy, and look carefully at boots and bindings before you make your choice. The good news is the performance of these skis overall has moved on this season, and many are awesome at floating through powder, while still helping you battle up the slope to find that elusive stash in the first place. And many shops offer discounts to Ski Club members — see page 80.
K2 Wayback 96 £430 without bindings
Dynastar Mythic 97 £665 without bindings
Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & lightweight wood core/tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 128-96-118
Sidewall/carbon & lightweight wood core/tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 133-97-113 RADIUS 15m (177cm) LENGTHS (cm) 171, 177, 184 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,450g for 177cm
RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) WEIGHT (per ski)
21m (177cm) 170, 177, 184 1,550g for 177cm
THEY SAY Versatile and light, the Wayback 96 has tip and tail grommets to speed the transition from climbing to descent. WE SAY This brilliant ski has the width to comfortably ride out big arcs in deep powder. That width and its rocker also give instant float. The Wayback 96 is easy to use and its softer tip profile allows for a quick entry into the turn, while being adjustable at all times. This ski works well at slow to medium speeds, however it struggles to engage at higher speeds on hard snow.
Mark Jones A very experienced member of the team, Mark manages it while testing takes place in resort. He is a trainer for Basi (the British Association of Snowsport Instructors) and holds the highest Level 4 qualification. Mark is the director of ICE, which delivers ski instructor training and performance courses in Val d’Isère, and has represented Great Britain at the Interski congress many times. He loves all skiing but is focusing on technical piste skiing just now. However Kühtai’s snow meant he was tempted on to the latest freetour skis. icesi.org
E A I B
THEY SAY The Mythic 97 blends modern freeride elements with an innovative, ultra lightweight construction. WE SAY A strong all-rounder, the Mythic feels the true freeride ski in this group. It’s solid and stable at speed, while the fat tip floats with ease in deep powder. On hardpack it’s solid too, making super-smooth arcs. It feels like it can handle a hard charging ride — this may have been influenced by the binding, which was set up to suit strong riders. But we could definitely feel its quality.
Surprisingly nimble for its width. A solid ski with early float (John Taylor) Easy to make tighter turns by pressurising the tip. A very easy ski (Al Morgan)
Light, easy and floaty in powder Tip is less engaging on hard snow
Solid and stable in variable terrain. Heavier than others on the climb (Pete Davison) Smooth in long turns, plenty of float in powder (Nicko Braxton) Smooth ride; solid; feels bulletproof Heavier than some models tested
Photo: Ross Woodhall
What’s new in men’s freetour skis?
M EN’ S F R EETO U R SKIS
E A I B
Atomic Backland 95 £425 without bindings
Rossignol Seek 7 £665 with bindings
Sidewall/carbon & light wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 127-95-115 RADIUS 18m (177cm) LENGTHS (cm) 169, 177, 185 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,370g (177cm)
THEY SAY Ideal for Alpine touring, the Backland 95 has the best all-terrain downhill performance in our touring range. WE SAY The Backland is really impressive in two ways. The first is its agility — it feels effortless on the climb and featherlight for making short turns. The second is that it also has high levels of edge grip and would make any skier feel confident on even the steepest slopes. The drawback is that it feels torsionally stiff, which sometimes makes it grabby on variable snow.
THEY SAY With its narrow waist, the new Seek 7 is an ultra lightweight touring ski designed to move deeper into the backcountry. WE SAY This is a fantastic first effort by Rossignol. Very light underfoot, the Seek feels fast on the up. When skiing turns it’s nimble, playful and great fun in any type of backcountry snow. Its light weight makes it supremely easy to use in most snow, but the downside of its lightness and narrow waist means it might get battered about in deeper snow. But overall, it’s a great ski.
Good edge grip in long turns, especially at speed, but very stiff (Pete Davison) Construction has been improved giving it more performance and grip (Al Morgan) Light yet strong; grippy on hardpack Can be grabby because of the stiff flex
Cap & sidewall combo/synthetic & light core, honeycomb tip/tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 122-86-108 RADIUS 21m (182cm) LENGTHS (cm) 154, 162, 168, 176, 182 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,250g (182cm)
E A I B
Nimble and light; feels quite skinny for tricky snow (Sam Parkes) Great looks; playful and nimble, very light (Nicko Braxton) Light and nimble; playful Deep snow could be a problem
Pete Davison Pete Davison is a long-standing member of the test team. He is in the rare position of being a very capable, strong skier who also has a wealth of knowledge about hardware by virtue of owning a ski retail business. This makes him an invaluable member of the Ski Club’s team since not only can he accurately test skis, he can also work out what suits the buying public’s needs. He is a talented freerider and always manages to be in the most explosive photos — his previous career as a model for ski action shots helps... ldmountaincentre.com
M EN’ S F R EETO U R SKIS
Movement Alp Tracks 94 LTD £699 without bindings
Blizzard Zero G 95 £590 without bindings
Scott Superguide 95 £500 without bindings
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & light
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & light
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & Kevlar
wood core/tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 130-94-119 RADIUS 19m (177cm) LENGTHS (cm) 169, 177, 183 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,120g (177cm)
wood core/tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 128-95-112 RADIUS 21m (178cm) LENGTHS (cm) 164, 171, 178, 185 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,280g (178cm)
THEY SAY The new Alp Tracks is the result of precise handmade construction and high density carbon fibres. WE SAY The high quality Alp Tracks is a supremely well engineered ski that would work well for true touring enthusiasts. It has superb all-round balance, which makes it easy to pivot and predict through the turn — exactly what’s needed in backcountry conditions. On hardpacked icier snow it has strong edge grip and feels like a ski that you would trust for challenging slopes. E A I
THEY SAY With a carbon fibre frame, lightweight paulownia wood core and 95mm waist, the Zero G 95 is a versatile ski. WE SAY This is another wellbalanced touring ski. The sidecut and profile are well-judged, which makes it easy to adjust through the arc. It’s also brilliant for quick changes of direction. Levels of grip are strong and the ski always feels rock solid on hard, icy pitches. The Zero G also gives a smooth ride, which helps it perform in chopped up snow. Overall, a ski that’s hard to fault.
Well balanced, solid, great edge grip. Would be awesome for challenging steeps (Mark Jones) Good design, light and floaty; good grip for a light ski (Nicko Braxton)
Quality ski; strong; high edge grip Hard to fault, barring the high price
A I B
THEY SAY It’s light for uphills thanks to a carbon/Kevlar wood core construction; Scott’s sidewall construction gives downhill power. WE SAY The Superguide 95’s sidewall construction is the same as on Scott’s freeride skis and gives sensitive feedback to the skier. You really feel what’s going on underfoot, which is a great asset in tricky, touring snow. It’s very light, pivoty and playful, especially in short turns. On hard, icy snow it lacked the high-end edge grip of some of the other models tested.
Confidence-inducing from the start. Great balance; high levels of grip (Mark Jones) Smooth; handled chopped up snow well for a light ski (Nicko Braxton)
Well balanced; smooth ride; good grip Heavier than some of the lightweights
Black Crows Orb Freebird £530 without bindings
Salomon MTN 95 £520 without bindings
Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & light wood core/tip rocker SIDECUT (mm) 122-91-109 RADIUS 18m (178cm) LENGTHS (cm) 166, 172, 178, 183 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,375g (172cm)
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon, flax &
THEY SAY This light, moderately wide and seriously skiable touring ski has a new shape and core. WE SAY The Orb Freebird is a very strong ski that strikes a good balance between performance and light weight. Very easy at slow speeds, it has lots of grip when pushed hard, and it steers beautifully into the turn, making it easy to control through the arc. The ski-snow contact is outstanding, which helps with different turn shapes in variable conditions.
THEY SAY Get more backcountry with a ski that’s light for less effort going up, and stable and predictable for coming down. WE SAY With enough width to feel comfortable in deeper powder, the MTN floats up quickly, allowing you to focus on where you’re turning rather than on the ski’s reaction. It’s well balanced and easy to turn and has strong edge grip on hardpack. We skied it in a stronger, heavier Guardian binding, which worked well, but the team felt a lighter binding would make a better combo.
elliptic light wood core/tip rocker 128-95-116 21m (178cm) 168, 178, 184 1,450g (178cm)
SIDECUT (mm) RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) WEIGHT (per ski)
Playful and well balanced. Strong on the edge and in tricky snow (Nicko Braxton) Light, easy to use, great connection with the snow; pivoty (Mark Jones) Amazing ski-snow connection Less grip on hardpack and ice
wood core, honeycomb tip/tip & tail rocker 131-95-117 19m (184m) 169, 177, 184 1,390g (177cm)
SIDECUT (mm) RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) WEIGHT (per ski)
Easy to use, reliable in all snow; feels nimble and smooth (John Taylor) Great float in the deep; great hold on the steeps; nice all-round ski (Pete Davison)
Well balanced; strong in all conditions Hard to fault; less grip on hardpack
Wide enough to allow skiers to enjoy decent performance in powder (Sam Parkes) Strong edge hold on ice — a floaty charger (Nicko Braxton) Floaty in powder; grippy on hardpack A lighter binding would work best
Al Morgan Al is the main organiser of the ski tests for the Ski Club of Great Britain, where he works full time and leads the Member Services team. He loves skiing on freeride skis, and touring is his main passion. A strong skier, he is powerful and impressive in all conditions. This year he loved trying out some of the new super-light freeride skis, as well as the freetour models. The snowy conditions in Kühtai helped with this, and Al was always first in the queue to give another pair of skis a test run. skiclub.co.uk
THE PEAK OF PERFECTION. Switzerland‘s most famous resort brings every Alpine cliché to life, from its views of the Matterhorn, the world‘s most photogenic mountain, to narrow streets lined with traditional chalets. Thanks to its huge variety of restaurants and the natural charm of village life, Zermatt is a real “winter wonderland”. As a ski destination, Zermatt is up with the best. It has slopes with guaranteed snow cover and several high-altitude mountain stations. With its 52 state-of-the-art lifts serving 360 kilometres of perfectly groomed pistes, the highest skiing area in the Alps is also one of the largest and best-equipped ski arenas anywhere in the world. With an unrivalled combination of professional skiing facilities, vast scope, stunning scenery, an irresistibly warm welcome and sophisticated technology, Zermatt prides itself on offering genuine value throughout the season, starting early in November. Zermatt comes into its own from February onwards, when the sun is higher, the challenging off-piste slopes of the Stockhorn open and the restaurant terraces beckon. Heliskiing is good to try in March and April, when the crevasses on the glaciers are well filled. Spring also brings Zermatt Unplugged, the resort‘s music festival, which takes place in April each year.
slopes. For example, the free “Skiguide Zermatt” app offers pinpoint navigation in the international skiing arena around the Matterhorn. On the Skimovie piste, two cameras film skiers and snowboarders from start to finish line and record the time taken. Seconds later, you can analyse your run free of charge on the Skiline website. The Skiline photopoints in the Matterhorn ski paradise are perfect for panoramic shots. Show yourself from your best side with a breathtaking mountain landscape as backdrop and get your souvenir photo. Within seconds, you’ll find your photo on the Skiline website. Download your ski movies and photos free of charge and share them with your friends by e-mail or post them on Facebook. After a great day of skiing, you can check out how many miles and vertical feet you have skied, and which lifts you have ridden. Are you ready for adventure? On the Matterhorn ski safari, you can cover between 10,000 and 12,500 metres of altitude in a single day, without using the same lift twice. Or join the badge hunt in the Matterhorn ski paradise and compete with other athletes for some great prizes: a skiing holiday in Zermatt, a season pass for the Matterhorn ski paradise, and one day’s skiing with five friends are just a few of the top prizes waiting to be won.
Bringing the digital world to the piste Guests can surf the web and post their social media status reports across almost the whole area as there is free WiFi access at all the lift stations. And the free WLAN enables you to order a range of useful extras directly from the
Zermatt is truly a ski resort with something for everybody. To learn more about skiing in Zermatt, visit matterhornparadise.ch
WO M EN’ S F R EETO U R SKIS
Women’s touring skis have seen similar developments to men’s, with new materials cutting weight without sacrificing performance. Many have the same design as the men’s models, but have cut weight in different ways. Women’s touring gear is a category that is expanding rapidly. Two years ago Ski+board didn’t even have a dedicated women’s freetour section in the magazine, such was the dearth of women-specific freetour skis. There are still fewer skis here than in the men’s section, reflecting their limited representation among the 799 different types of ski available to the British buyer across all categories, (covered over all four issues). But that is changing, and we think readers will find the capabilities of these new skis astounding. For Ski Club member discounts see page 80.
Salomon MTN Explore 88 W £470 without bindings
Scott Superguide 88 W £450 without bindings
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon, flax &
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon, Kevlar
wood core, honeycomb tip/tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 123-88-109 RADIUS 18m (169cm) LENGTHS (cm) 153, 161, 169 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,200g (161cm)
THEY SAY The MTN Explore 88 combines the balance of touring efficiency with downhill performance in an 88mm ski. WE SAY You get a smooth ride with this ski, which works in its favour in chopped up snow. Its generous platform provides strong floatation in deep snow. Combine that with its ease of use and you get a great combination. Like a lot of Salomon skis we tested this winter, its easy character lets you focus on playing with the terrain, rather than worrying about the ski’s performance.
Natasha Edwards Natasha ‘Tash’ Edwards already has the Basi Level 3 ISIA qualification and is training hard to achieve the highest tier in this tough system. She enjoyed being a member of the women’s team and being given the chance to ski hard with some of the UK’s strongest riders. Tash is an exceptionally strong skier herself and technically brilliant on groomed runs. She loved trying out the latest piste skis and working out what her next purchase would be. But she also enjoyed trying out more powder-orientated models. www.skinewgen.com
& light wood core/tip rocker 121-87-110 16m (160cm) 154, 160, 168 1,200g (160cm)
SIDECUT (mm) RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) WEIGHT (per ski)
E A I B
Smooth and floaty; very easy to turn (Bella Seel) It’s a solid ski that, at medium speeds, will tear through crud and lumpy snow (Rowena Phillips) Smooth and floaty; easy to use Tail can wash out on hardpack
THEY SAY The Superguide feels remarkably light going up and confidently sound when coming down. WE SAY This is a fun ski that’s ideal in short turns, where it feels quick edge to edge and whips into the arc, so it’s great on steeps. The start of a turn is easy to predict and the ski gives sensitive feedback underfoot, making it easy to judge correct edge angle in tricky terrain. On longer, faster arcs it’s less stable and harder to adjust, though the pair we tested were given a large base bevel to enable easy pivoting. E A I B
The start of the turn is smooth and easy (Rowena Phillips) Playful but stable and well balanced in variable terrain (Eilidh McLeod) Easy to predict in short turns Grabby and less stable in long turns
Photo: Ross Woodhall
What’s new in women’s freetour skis?
WO M EN’ S F R EETO U R SKIS
Blizzard Zero G 85 £510 without bindings
Movement Vista £479 without bindings
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & light
BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon & light
wood core/tip & tail rocker SIDECUT (mm) 116-85-100 RADIUS 19m (171cm) LENGTHS (cm) 157, 164, 171, 178, 185 WEIGHT (per ski) 1,100g (171cm)
wood core/tip & tail rocker 119-84-108 18m (169cm) 153, 161, 169 1,250g (169cm)
SIDECUT (mm) RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) WEIGHT (per ski)
THEY SAY You need a ski that excels in any and all conditions. Enter the Blizzard Zero G 85. WE SAY The Zero G is a high quality, well-thought out, welldesigned touring ski that can cope with a mix of conditions. It’s very smooth and easy to predict throughout the turn, but also has high levels of edge grip. At higher speeds it feels stable, reassuring and solid in all conditions. It’s slightly narrower underfoot but still feels playful in soft, deep snow.
A I B
Feels like an extension of my feet; they go anywhere I want (Eilidh McLeod) One of the longer skis tested in this category, but didn’t feel it. Grippy (Bella Seel) Suits a range of abilities; high quality Hard to fault, but could be wider
K2 Talkback 88 £460 without bindings BUILD Cap & sidewall combo/carbon, flax &
light wood core/tip & tail rocker 126-88-113 14m (160cm) 153, 160, 167 1,175g (160cm)
SIDECUT (mm) RADIUS LENGTHS (cm) WEIGHT (per ski)
THEY SAY The Talkback 88’s trimmer 88mm waist and lighter core makes for effortless ascents and extra hip swivel in the glades. WE SAY For a touring-specific ski the Talkback is surprisingly solid and reassuring. It feels totally engaged on the edge, while the complex construction gives an exceptionally smooth ride. The 88mm underfoot, wide tip, and rocker also give it great floating qualities in deep powder. For all its capabilities, it still manages to feel very light and would work well for long climbs. E A I B
Great for deep, untracked snow. Wide tip doesn’t suit piste so stay on the side (Lynn Mill) Brilliant, doesn’t feel like a touring ski (Tess Swallow) Solid in all snow, yet still lightweight Width and tip can make it slower
THEY SAY With its new twolayer carbon construction, the Vista is aimed at skiers looking for all-round performance. WE SAY This is another ski that feels smooth through the turn even though it’s very light. In short turns it feels superb, with its light swing weight allowing it to be pivoted quickly into the new direction. The light, soft construction makes it forgiving, yet quick to react in these tighter arcs. In longer, faster turns the tip feels as if it could flap, but overall it’s great for tight, technical descents. E A I B
This is a dreamy ski when it comes to more tight, technical descents. Its softness makes it accessible to many levels of female skier (Lynn Mill) Light and quick into the turn Tip can flap in long turns
Bella Seel Bella is the founder and director of ALS, a ski concierge business based in London. Her work takes her on many interesting trips in search of the latest undiscovered venues where she can take clients. She was based in the Alps for many years, where she worked as an instructor, and holds the highest Basi Level 4 qualification. A keen freerider she loves fresh powder. So when the test team arrived in Austria after a huge snowstorm and she was given several pairs of fat skis to try, there was no one happier on the mountain. alsprivate.com
Sponsors With thanks to Planks and Salomon, both of which supplied clothes, and Scott, which also supplied goggles and poles.
Photo: Ross Woodhall
• All policies cover off piste without a guide • Single trip policies up to the age of 85 (75 for multi-trip) • Children under 18 covered for FREE on family policies
15% OFF for Ski Club Members
B O OTS
Designed to keep your feet warm and comfortable, almost all those that come with modern boots 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
PRICE Generally, the higher the flex index, the more expensive the boot. Models made with lighter, more high-tech materials will also be more costly
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 10 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, with the price of that flex also given in bold
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!
WALK MODE This is also known as climb mode or cuff release. Touring or freeride boots have a switch which releases the cuff to allow flexibility when walking. The cuff’s range of movement in walk mode is expressed in degrees
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
BUCKLES These are used to fasten the boot. Buckles should wrap the shell evenly around the foot, keeping it snug without creating pressure points
FOOTBED 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-toboot contact
BOOTBOARD Hidden in the shell, it sits under the liner and acts as a shock absorber. Harder bootboards give more control, but a harsher ride. Angled bootboards raise the heel in the shell
PIN BINDING INSERTS
Most sizes are given in Mondopoint — the length of your foot in centimetres. Men’s boots usually come in sizes 24.5 to 30.5, or roughly UK sizes 5.5 to 11.5. Women’s boots usually come in 22 to 27.5, which is approximately 4 to 9.5
Pin binding inserts make the boots compatible with lightweight touring bindings, which have two pins at the front and back to hold the boot in place. Some touring boots are also compatible with traditional alpine bindings, but check compatibility before you buy to ensure your safety
You’ll be gripped by these touring boots
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
Those who prefer climbing to taking ski lifts will find a wider range of options than ever Ski lifts started to spring up shortly before the Second World War, but before then all skiers had to hike up and steer down through soft, ungroomed snow. The boots they used were essentially climbing boots adapted to fit into a binding. They were just about soft enough to climb in, with a sole designed to grip on icy rocks, and just about stiff enough to send instructions to skis. Touring boots have come a long way
perfect for a long tour, but tricky on downhills, and others offering close to all-mountain performance at the cost of greater weight and reduced cuff mobility. All boots on these pages have pin inserts for touring bindings. Some, such as the Lange XT, also work with alpine bindings. But do check binding compatibility to ensure your safety. Flex ratings are less relevant here, as some radical designs feel stiffer than
since then, but all share this ‘hiketo-turn’ design DNA. When buying, consider how much you want to climb, weighed against how much stability you need on turns. Touring boots vary greatly, with the most specialised being
their stated flex. A higher price usually goes with higher performance, and a stiffer but lighter shell.
RECEIVE UP TO 20% OFF FULLPRICE BOOTS HERE
Tecnica Zero G Guide Pro
Scott S1 Carbon/ Celeste 3
FLEX 130 PRICE £540
Fischer Transalp Thermoshape FLEX PRICE
Not available £470
FLEX 120 PRICE £365
FLEX Not available PRICE £470
Most touring boots release the cuff with a switch at the rear of it, but Scott’s new S1 has a release on the instep which is easy to reach and can’t be activated by accident. The hinged external tongue is attached in front of the ball of the foot and acts as a lever to send power directly to the ski edge. The S1 is light at about 1,300g and with carbon inserts on its sides, it is powerful edge to edge. It’s also easy to put on and take off. Designed for women’s feet, this wider boot is lightweight and agile. The safe new Ergal hook walk system provides strength on descents and mobility on accents.
With lace-up liners and a customisable shell, the 1,500g Transalp borrows from Fischer’s alpine line. The ‘vacuum fit’ is a misnomer as, after the shell is heated, inflated airbags squeeze it tightly around your foot as it cools and sets, giving a good, bespoke fit. The shell material is trimmed to keep weight down and, with 54 degrees of cuff motion, this is for skiers who want a great fit and need to hike, but still want performance on downhills. This wider-fitting touring boot has a good range of motion. The cuff and liner are women-specific and the fit can be changed via the vacuum technology.
The Zero G Guide Pro has Tecnica’s orange peel shell for easy modification and a cuff release on a beefy rear spoiler. It doesn’t have the snuggest heel pocket, but it’s good at most things, which is what most of us need — a boot that’s light enough to hike in but beefy enough to carve in. And Tecnica’s Power Light Design shell material is two and a half times stiffer yet 30 per cent thinner than alpine equivalents. The new women’s model is ideal for touring. Its Grilamid shell makes it strong but light (1,540g in size 26) and it has 44 degrees of mobility through the cuff. A great all-rounder Too heavy for hard-core mountaineering
Rosie Young graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in sport biomechanics and, having spent a season working in France, now works as a ski boot technician at specialist ski boot fitter Profeet (020 7736 0046; profeet.co.uk)
Easy to put on and take off; powerful feel No easy cuff alignment adjustment
Fantastic, versatile fit The outward-pointing toe stance is not for all
B O OTS
Lange XT Freetour/ XT LV Freetour W
Salomon QST Pro/ MTN Explore W
Atomic Backland Carbon/Backland W
FLEX 110, 130 PRICE £450, £500
FLEX 90, 100, 120, 130 PRICE £285, £335, £375, £435
FLEX Not available PRICE £570
FLEX 110 PRICE £450
Not available £500
Looking very like a piste boot, the XT Freetour has Lange’s two-piece, fourbuckle design with cuff release and soles that adapt to pin or alpine bindings. It has a smooth, progressive flex that masks the high flex rating and 43 degrees of motion for climbing. At 1,700g per boot it’s one of the heavier in this category, but if you want a boot with near race levels of performance that you can climb in too it’s hard to find anything better. This lightweight boot has a lower cuff shaped for women’s calves. The WTR soles and Dynafit certified inserts allow great downhill and uphill performance.
Salomon’s new QST series comes with swappable soles for touring and alpine bindings. The open throat design has a soft tongue covering a cutaway over the top of the foot. The liner connects to this insert so that any forward movement is directed to the ski edge. The fit is average volume save for a narrower toebox, but the liner can be heated to iron out problems. The smooth flex makes it feel less burly than its 130 rating. The 63 degrees of motion makes climbing easier while the carbon spine technology allows for accurate power transmission on the way back down.
Skis like a race boot, but you can tour in it too Less suitable for hard-core tourers than others
Touring architecture but with an alpine feel You’ll want to stick to the stock liner supplied
Not available £500
Weighing in at a little over 1,000g and with a cuff range of around 74 degrees, the Backland Carbon is happiest when climbing, but it can cope on groomers too. The Free/Lock 2.0 system is an alloy bar that connects the cuff to the clog, but can be easily released for climbing. The cable closure system and removable tongue can take getting used to, but the fit is snug and the heel pocket has alpine levels of hold down. This light women’s boot has a lower cuff and memory fit plastic for best fit. The frictionless pivot and quick-click tongue make touring efficient. Light and powerful Buckles and tongue can be fiddly
Used by elite athletes, coaches, instructors and recreational skiers of all ages and abilities
Used by elite athletes, coaches, instructors and recreational skiers of all ages and abilities
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Photo: Josef Mallaun/Lech-ZŰrs Tourism
SKI CLUB FEATURE
‘Arl’ be back The Ski Club is in St Anton am Arlberg again, renewing a near century-old friendship
happy to discuss the safety of my planned route for the day. “I was lucky to have a jolly adventurous crowd to ski with. Many regulars seemed to turn up annually for my slot.”
Words by Arnie Wilson The Arlberg region fashions itself, with some justification, as the cradle of Alpine skiing. But, as the Ski Club’s outgoing chairman Rob Crowder points out, the club’s relationship with St Anton goes back a long way too. It was in 1909 that Hannes Schneider abandoned the telemark method and started teaching stem turns and ‘Christianias’, introducing the celebrated Arlberg technique. One of his visitors in 1927 was the Ski Club’s Arnold Lunn, father of the modern slalom and longtime editor of the club’s publications. “Before I left St Anton,” Lunn would later say, “I bought a small cup in the village, and set a slalom on the nursery slopes for the small boys of the village.” Schneider felt this was the best way to test a ski racer’s skill at avoiding rocks and tree-stumps. Together, Schneider and Lunn planned a combined slalom and downhill race to be run in 1928. It would be called the Arlberg-Kandahar – the first combined event in Alpine racing history – and would prove a forebear of today’s World Cup races. But then, in the dark days of 1939, Schneider was imprisoned by the Nazis for supporting Jewish friends. He managed to get out of Austria and set up a ski school in New Hampshire. Today his story is recorded in St Anton’s exquisite museum, which appears in the 2011 film Chalet Girl.
Former St Anton rep David Ross, far right, and Arnie Wilson, second right, meet other members in front of a statue of Hannes Schneider
Happily, the club’s connection with St Anton didn’t end with Schneider’s departure. Says Caroline Stuart-Taylor, former Ski Club chief executive: “St Anton was an important destination for us in the second half of the 20th Century. Ski Club ‘reps’ were based there to meet and ski with members, who lodged at comfortable B&Bs – and will fondly remember the dinners, music and camaraderie of the Rosanna Stuberl hotel and later the Sporthotel.” During a visit to St Anton this season I was lucky enough to sample something of the good old days when I bumped into the delightful David Ross, a veteran Ski Club rep and holiday leader for almost 20 years, who served in St Anton every winter between 1979 and 1995. Together, we retraced many of his old routes around the Arlberg region, taking new lifts such as the Flexenbahn and Trittkopfbahn, which let us ski the 305km of pistes shared by St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben, Lech and Zürs without getting on a bus. As David and I skied, he said: “When I first came to rep here in 1979, I was immediately struck by the friendliness of everyone, including Heinrich Wagner and his staff at the tourist office. And the Arlberg Ski School was always
Says Wagner, the popular director of the St Anton tourist office until 2005: “The co-operation between the Ski Club and St Anton over many decades was always a special one. Many of the Ski Club reps became good friends, not only to members of club, but with locals too, and still come to St Anton today.” The repping service in the resort didn’t survive much into the 21st Century. But this season the club introduced its Instructor-led Guiding alternative to St Anton – which has proved popular in France – giving members a chance to ski together once more. So David and I signed up for a session the next day, keen to experience St Anton’s off-piste potential. Sadly the avalanche risk was too high to venture away from the runs and safety is always paramount, so we spent another wonderful day on-piste. As we said our goodbyes, David looked a bit misty-eyed and turned to me to say: “You can’t imagine what a pleasure it’s been to return here, renew some old friendships and to ski these wonderful slopes again – after a 20-year break.” Arnie travelled as a guest of St Anton (stantonamarlberg.com) and Tirol (visittirol. co.uk), staying at the central Sport Hotel (sporthotel-st-anton.at), which offers rooms from €225 per person per night B&B based on two sharing. Return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck start at £47 with easyJet and transfers were arranged with Four Seasons Travel (tirol-taxi.at). St Anton’s museum (museum-stanton.com/en) is open daily from noon to 6pm during winter. Entry costs €4.
We love the might of timeless mountains, but we and our kit are frail and need up-to-date protection Ah, to be in a true mountain wilderness — far from lifts, crowds, a mobile phone signal even. Of course, the sense of being away from it all is what we love about going deep into the backcountry. But technology can help ensure your off-piste adventures don’t end on a downer. There are numerous gizmos on sale, some for less than a tenner, that can help you do repairs on the go — handy if you are far from a ski shop. And apps such as Fatmap, which is reviewed on page 47,
can make your day in the backcountry more interesting. While Luddites might be tempted to leave their mobiles in the chalet, it can play a key role as a safety device (call 112 in Europe, 911 in North America). And smartphones can help rescuers find you. ABS packs with their rapidly inflating airbags are also a vast improvement on the lengths of pink ribbon off-piste skiers used to tie to their ski boots in the old days to help pinpoint them if they were buried in an avalanche. Admittedly, ABS packs are costly, but they are available to rent in some freeride-focused resorts. However, none of these items act as a replacement for the staple of transceiver, shovel and probe (see box, below right).
READ MORE GEAR REVIEWS HERE
photo: Ross Woodhall
Keep it together on a backcountry mission
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.
£5.95 adhesive £6.50
Scott Alpride 24 ABS Pack
Sidas Traction Device
Stormsure Tuff Tape; Stormsure Repair Adhesive
At 1,240g, this is one of the lightest ABS bags. The shape of the airbag protects your back and head and offers great floatation — and you can ski with the bag open if you need to get off the mountain fast. It uses two cartridges of compressed argon and liquefied CO2, based on the same technology as airline lifejacket ones. The activation handle is stowed inside the left-hand shoulder strap, but you can wedge it proud of the shoulder strap when you’re in avalanche terrain. It inflates the 150-litre airbag in three seconds. Safety buckles on the chest and waist and a leg loop provide security, and the pack feels well-balanced in use. The main pocket will hold spare clothes (with the gas cartridges and inflating mechanism) and there’s a shovel and probe pocket, a goggles pocket and helmet attachment.
Everyone knows how tricky it is walking in ski boots, especially on icy surfaces, but this device from Sidas makes it easier and safer by providing an effective grip on snow and ice. It also helps prevent
Ski wear can be costly so it’s worth looking after your kit, and if you get rips and holes Stormsure Tuff Tape and Repair Adhesive will help you do just that. Tuff Tape is a super-sticky, flexible
wear on your boot soles. (If boot soles become badly worn the performance of your bindings may be compromised.) Made from flexible but resistant rubber with small spikes for grip, it has a tapered shape at the tip to make the movement of your foot easier. Its asymmetric crampon design also helps your gait, and there’s an inner ‘frame’ to provide a better grip on the boot sole. The device is easily adjustable with one size fitting all boots. It could even be used if you end up having to make long hikes over rocky terrain in alpine boots without rubberised soles.
repair tape for tears and holes in fabrics. Used by itself it will make a repair that will hold for extended use and 30 washes before you need to replace it. Or you can use Tuff Tape along with the adhesive to fix the problem permanently. The adhesive is available in tubes and as repair tape. It is easy to work with and normally ‘cures’ on exposure to air in ten hours. But if you’re in a rush, it can work in as fast as 20 minutes if mixed with a little moisture. When cured, the adhesive remains flexible, so repairs bend with the fabric, rather than working against the material and flexing off.
Easy-to-use; airline-friendly No hydration sleeve
Makes walking on snow, rock and ice safer Tricky to fit if you’ve already got your boots on
Helps keep your ski gear going for longer Quite a long cure time
G EA R
Black Diamond Binding Buddy Multi-Tool
Marker Alpinist binding
Mammut Barryvox S
The Black Diamond Binding Buddy is lighter (at 120g) and easier to use than a traditional multi-tool, although it doesn’t have the same range of features — but then it only costs a tenner. It comes with a selection of Phillips (cross-head) and flat-head bits that slot into an ergonomic hollow handle and can be stowed within the handle when not in use. It’s small enough to be easily tucked into a rucksack or jacket pocket. Snowboarders, in particular, will appreciate the Binding Buddy since they often have to adjust their bindings. However, anyone heading into the backcountry should consider carrying one, because if your equipment fails miles from those screwdrivers they provide at the top of lift stations you need to have some means of fixing it. Small, lightweight, easy to stow Limited range of tools
There are many new touring bindings (see page 18), so it seems unfair to single out one. But Ski+board’s Al Morgan had an exclusive UK invite to try out this super-light pure touring binding, out next season. At 335g with a brake (245g without), it’s far lighter than some rivals, making climbs easier. And it’s cheaper. The unique five and nine degree heel rise angles feel natural on uphills and it’s easy to switch between them (as well as the true touring zero degree rise). Going down, the Alpinist skis well, both in powder and on firm snow. The elasticity in the heel soaks up bumps nicely, so you needn’t fear popping out. And the anti-icing plates at toe and heel are simple but effective. It comes in two Din ratings — four to nine, and six to 12 — and takes standard crampons.
The new Barryvox S transceiver widens avalanche rescue searches with a 70m search strip and 70m reception range (up to 50m is more usual). Plus it’s capable of dealing with single or multiple burials, the latter even when signals overlap. It replaces the Barryvox Pulse and has a revised user interface, which is easier to use and read. Intuitive, acoustic menu prompts let you operate it quickly and efficiently. The display is backlit and the keys can be operated with gloves. It can also be opened one-handed, wearing gloves. The carrying system is lighter and easier to adjust than the previous version. Add in shockproof, ‘unbreakable’ casing and a battery life of 300 hours in ‘send’ mode and one hour in ‘search’ mode, and the Barryvox S is one of the best transceivers around.
Lighter and cheaper than rivals Step-in not as easy as some; only out next year
Easy to use, covers wider search area Relatively expensive
Pay homage to the Holy Trinity I had a conversation with a friend at the start of a day’s off-piste skiing last season which left me wanting to hit him. I asked him where his backpack with his avalanche gear was, and he said not to worry — he was wearing his transceiver, he’d be okay. Indeed, I replied, but how was he going to dig out anyone else — like me — if they were caught? “Ah,” he replied. “I hadn’t thought of that.” Setting aside the sheer thoughtlessness of his approach, the point is that ‘avy gear’ consists of, at a minimum, transceiver, probe and shovel (with some means of carrying them all). They are, quite simply, the freeride ‘Holy Trinity’ and if you don’t carry them when skiing off-piste then you’re a danger to yourself and others. The outlay on this kit can be substantial, but think of it as an insurance policy (and, like an insurance policy, it’s something you never want to use). Plus it’s possible to buy all three items in ‘sets’, such as the Ortovox Avalanche Rescue 3+ which, at £300, can work out cheaper than buying all the items separately.
Technophobes needn’t worry. Obviously the shovel and probe require minimal instruction, but the latest avalanche transceivers are more intuitive than ever. Modern three-antennae versions work far better than the two antennae versions of five or ten years ago and as a result are actually quite fun to ‘play’ with. And it cannot be over-emphasised how important this practice is if you are going to be able to conduct a search fast in a real-life situation. Many resorts have ‘avalanche parks’ where you can practise using your transceiver, or you can get your ski buddy to hide theirs and search for it. If you don’t want to spend precious skiing time doing this you can also practise at home. Remember, if in doubt, employ the services of a guide or instructor, learn as much as you can about snow safety and always err on the side of caution. The mountains will always be there next winter. Just make sure you are too. Alf Alderson
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
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
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
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
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
Ride the backcountry boom Big mountain models have been revamped this winter as more of us demand a second board for powder The powder boards on these pages are some of the most exciting releases of this season. Big mountain boards used to look dull, being aimed at established riders, and came in unremarkable shapes. Only big brands bothered to make powder-specific models, as they cater to a niche within a niche. But backcountry boarding is enjoying a boom. The fastest growing segment of the market for the past few seasons has been splitboards, according to SnowSports Industries America, and the States are where many boards are made.
Splitboards can be separated, allowing riders to use them like skis to tour uphill. As snowboarding matures, there’s also an increasing number of riders who have the disposable income to afford a second board — one designed for powder. A penchant for boutique brands has allowed new firms to enter the market. Backcountry-focused brands that didn’t exist ten years ago, such as Jones Snowboards, are now big players, and the onus is on all manufacturers to make their product stand out from the crowd. The other trend this winter is greater experimentation with width (look at the stubby K2 Cool Bean, overleaf). Today’s designers have accepted that it’s not the length of a board that helps it float in powder, it’s the surface area. All this means there are plenty of new options to try. And for riders who love powder, that is exciting news indeed.
The Ski Club has copies of its DVD Snowboarding Skills: Beginners & Beyond to give away. To receive a copy, simply email your postal address to email@example.com, putting ”Snowboarding DVD” in the subject line. 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, Austria.
Jones Explorer Split £600
Venture Odin Splitboard £705
Burton Dump Truck Split £750
FLEX PROFILE SHAPE LENGTHS (cm)
FLEX PROFILE SHAPE LENGTHS (cm)
FLEX PROFILE SHAPE LENGTHS (cm)
Combo Directional 152, 156, 159, 162, 158W, 161W, 164W,
160, 165, 174
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
Founded by legendary big mountain rider Jeremy Jones, this snowboard brand has a reputation for building some of the best backcountry boards on the market. But while it makes high-end, full carbon boards, we’ve picked a more modest model. No splitboard is entry-level, but this is the closest you’ll get to it. The flex is fairly forgiving, so you can pop an ollie easily and the tail is shaped in such a way that you can ride switch. And then there’s the price — £600 might sound a lot, but it’s pretty cheap for a board that lets you tour up as well as ride down. High performance; low price Not as stable as some at high speed
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
Venture specialises in making backcountry boards and the Odin is one of its top-of-the-range models. Featuring the long nose, tapered tail and setback stance you’d expect from a pure powder gun, this board was designed with input from legendary Swedish pro-rider Johan Olofsson. The Odin is available in a solid model, but we’ve chosen the splitboard version because Venture excels at making splits — its zero tolerance policy in the manufacturing process means that all the splits slot together perfectly and perform almost as well as conventional boards on piste. The two sides fit together beautifully Heavy compared with some powder boards
Combo Directional 159, 165
As the name suggests, this board is designed for dumps — deep dumps. Built shorter and wider than conventional powder boards, it has a stubby nose which still floats like a dream in deep snow. The tapered tail and combo profile, with camber underfoot and rocker rising towards the nose, add to its planing abilities. The splitboard version is featured here, so if you’ve got skins and splitboard bindings, which Burton also makes, you can go touring on it. No splitboard is cheap, but for this price you’ll get a hard-wearing, hard-charging model that will last for years. Turns easily because of its shorter length Some splitboard bindings don’t work well on it
SNO W B OA R D S
FLEX PROFILE Combo SHAPE Directional LENGTHS (cm) 164
Burton Story Board
FLEX PROFILE SHAPE LENGTHS (cm)
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
All Korua’s boards have strange shapes and the Puzzle is no exception. The pointed, boat-like nose, setback stance and narrow pin tail mark it out as a powder board. It’s very wide — the waist is broad but the nose is even broader — so much so that instead of marking the length on the topsheet, Korua has written the surface area in square centimetres. Thanks to this, it
Just a few seasons ago, you’d have been hard pressed to find a womenspecific big mountain board in most snowboard shops. Now that is being reversed with Burton leading the charge. The Story Board is new to its Family Tree line and, like its stablemates, is all about the backcountry. Its long, wide nose helps it float in powder, and a slight cutaway at the tail helps it sink
floats beautifully in soft snow, and the pin tail means it turns like a dream. Perfect for tree runs or slashing up fresh snow, it’s one of the most fun powder boards you can ride — and at a good price.
naturally. The core profile is designed for women riders, with the flex made for their lighter body weights. If you’re looking to ride more powder this winter (and have more fun) this is a great bet.
Floats beautifully; turns easily Not so stable on hardpack, only one length
Floats like a boat in powder; turns well on piste Pricey for a big mountain board that’s not split
Bataleon Love Powder £395
Jones Solution Split £770
FLEX PROFILE Combo SHAPE Directional LENGTHS (cm) 138, 144, 150
FLEX PROFILE SHAPE LENGTHS (cm)
FLEX PROFILE SHAPE LENGTHS (cm)
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
K2 Cool Bean
The Cool Bean is available in three lengths — short, shorter and even shorter. It’s so small lengthwise that you might struggle to believe it’s a powder board at all. But step on one in deep snow and that impression will soon be dispelled. What it lacks in length, the Cool Bean makes up for in width, so its total surface area is still big enough to keep you afloat in even the softest powder. Its short length also makes quick turns easier and is perfect for tree runs. On piste, it handles well too, with its stiff flex giving a snappy, responsive carving experience. Floats well in powder; snappy on piste Might be too short for some riders
Camber Directional 148, 153
The name tells you who this board is designed for. Love powder? Then this is for you. Taking its trademark triple base technology with ‘side bases’ that are angled slightly upwards as a starting point, Bataleon has added a powder-specific tweak. The side bases are angled more steeply at the nose, which, when combined with a setback stance and a cutaway in the tail, means it’s almost impossible to nose the Love Powder under in the deep stuff. The flex is relatively soft for a powder board, so it turns easily and feels forgiving on piste as well as off. Easy to ride; floats brilliantly in powder For pure speed riders may want a stiffer board
Combo Directional 148, 152, 156
PISTES POWDER JUMPS RAILS
Jeremy Jones didn’t invent the splitboard, but he helped put splitboarding on the map with his films Deeper, Further and Higher. The Solution was the first splitboard he started selling under his name and now it’s the world’s best-seller. Its combo profile with camber underfoot helps it feel stable on piste, while the lifted nose helps reduce back-leg burn in powder. The stance is set back, so you can ride switch. This year’s model has notches on the tail to allow you to attach Jones’s ‘quick tension’ tail clips, which make putting skins on and taking them off quicker. Stable on piste; easy to put skins on Expensive
Photo: Philip Kammerer
SKI CLUB PROMOTION
Photo: Peter matthis
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE READY FOR THE WORLD'S HIGHEST SKI PEAK Through the mountains on the other side of the ancient Silk Road route, lies the world’s highest ski peak. Muztagh Ata also happens to be one of the easiest 7,000m peaks in the world to climb, thanks to it’s gentle Western slope and relatively dry weather. The mountain is in China’s Xianjiang province in the far western section of the Pamir Mountain Range close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. From the nearby Karakul lake, its heights are reflected in near the water. At times the ascent is akin to a high altitude walking route, with the inclination never more than 40 degrees and skinning possible
from Base Camp to summit. It’s a relatively straightforward trip - over a period of four weeks, a small group of mountaineers will begin in Bishkek, Krygyzstan before moving on to climb the mountain, which is also known as the Father of Ice. But don’t be fooled into thinking the route is simple – though the trip may be considered easier than other 7,000m peaks, anyone wishing to take on the expedition must have a high level of fitness plus previous experience of arduous treks and multi-day glacier skiing with a heavy pack. Mountain Tracks organise a fully supported trips across some of the greatest mountains in the
world, with experienced IFMGA guides on hand to assist at all times. The Muztagh Ata Trip is the only trip that Mountain Tracks runs to peaks over 7,000m. Over the course of almost three weeks, camps will be built at 5,400m, 6,000m and 6,800m throughout the trip to allow for acclimatisation. Departing in July, the trip begins and ends in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan. It's a realistic option for experienced ski tourers who want to ski the highest skiable peak on Earth.
Look at what's on offer at C mountaintracks.co.uk, or give Mountain Tracks a call E on 020 8123 2978
Photo: Sepp Mallaun/Lech-Zürs Tourism
Don’t budge on your budget Words by Ben Clatworthy, Chris Madoc-Jones, Harriet Johnston, Colin Nicholson, Sheila Reid If your budget is tight, you will think about where you ski carefully. But you may be surprised at just how much prices vary according to resort and country. According to research by Post Office Money, which looked at 22 resorts in Europe, the most expensive was Zermatt, in Switzerland, while the seventh cheapest was Cervinia, in Italy — yet the two share the same ski area. The study, which was released in the autumn, added together the cost of ski passes, equipment hire, lessons and food and drink on the slopes. These came to £839 for a week in Zermatt, but just £443 in Cervinia. Italy remains one of the cheapest countries, with four resorts in Post Office Money’s top ten, a feat repeated in its December survey of ‘family-friendly’ resorts. But the winners in both surveys were in eastern Europe — Kranjska Gora, in Slovenia, and Bansko, in Bulgaria. It’s worth taking the results of such surveys with a pinch of salt, but they do help work out the cost of extras, especially if you are going on a package holiday to keep costs low. Package holidays range from selfcatering, to bed and breakfast, to half-board. But if you find drinks and restaurants are still swallowing up your budget, try chalet-board holidays. These usually include a cooked breakfast, plus cake with tea in the afternoon so you can have a light lunch on the slopes. They also include wine with dinner, though chalet staff normally have one night off a week, when you have to eat out. The resorts detailed on the pages that follow are
not necessarily the cheapest overall. As in the past three issues of Ski+board, we have focused only on the most news-worthy resorts, namely those that have new lifts this season. However, we think that our selection includes some of the most affordable of those resorts.
FIND REVIEWS OF RESORTS WORLDWIDE
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. We list the percentage by kilometre. 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 Prices are for a peak season six-day pass. SKI CLUB Ski with other Ski Club members where there
are Freshtracks holidays ‘F’, Leaders ‘L’, or Instructor-led Guiding ‘ILG’. For Warth-Schröcken they’re in the linked resort of St Anton.
R ESORT I N SI DER
Piste height 1,305m-2,650m / Lift pass £242 / Lifts 88 / Pistes 305km
Photo: Widok Z Małego, Skrzycznego
Photo: Alex Filz/Val Senales
Photo: Sepp Mallaun/Lech-Zürs Tourism
Why there? The past few seasons have been tricky in Europe. One Austrian resort, however, close to the German border, has consistently received the most abundant snowfall in the Alps for three years on the trot. Warth-Schröcken clocked an impressive 925cm last season (its long-term average is 1,060cm) and, though you might not have heard of it, it’s part of the Arlberg ski area. The Arlberg made the headlines last season when a new gondola between St Anton and Lech-ZÜrs opened, creating Austria’s biggest linked ski area and providing a welcome alternative to the bus that connects the two. Warth-Schröcken itself was only linked by lift to Lech in 2013, and this year, thanks to the opening of the Dorfbahn Warth gondola, is even more attractive. The €3.5 million lift is only 420m long, but it means you no longer have to take a bus from the village of Warth to its local slopes. From there you can ski 305km of linked pistes, though keep an eye on your watch, lest you miss the last lift home. The Arlberg area itself needs little introduction. The terrain is brilliant, with a huge variety of slopes, from the manicured groomers in and around upmarket Lech to the more gnarly descents in the St Anton area. Hard-core skiers should hire a guide when the snow is good to fully explore the great off-piste routes. One, the itinerary run from the top of the Valluga into Zürs, is only accessible with a qualified guide. Can’t ski, won’t ski: There’s a toboggan run, and dog sledding can be arranged. There are a clutch of bars and restaurants, but this is a base for gung-ho skiers looking to maximise time on the slopes.
New gondola links village of Warth to slopes directly Proven track record of plentiful snowfall
Quieter than St Anton and cheaper than Lech
Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste
As a base, it is tiny with just a few hotels and bars At the far end of linked area, so you must head back early Not enough locally for confident intermediates
Piste height 2,110m-3,210m / Lift pass £180 / Lifts 12 / Pistes 35km
Piste height 524m-1,260m / Lift pass £92 / Lifts 17 / Pistes 40km
Why there? This is one of Italy’s most snowsure resorts and, though small, is a great choice for intermediates, with blue slopes dominating the mountain. And it’s good on price too. Stop for lunch at the self-service restaurant in the Glacier Hotel Grawand, which at 3,210m is one of the highest hotels in Europe. Day trips can be made to the Schnals Valley Glacier, six minutes by car from Kurzras, the village at the base. This season the resort’s first gondola opens, replacing the Lazaun lift. It serves two popular red runs and the Lazaunhütte restaurant. Can’t ski, won’t ski: There are nice winter walking routes and you can do a day trip to the Via Monachorum monastery, but there’s not much else.
Why there? You could be forgiven for not having heard of Szczyrk, Poland’s largest ski area, but this could soon change. Last summer, one of the biggest lift building projects was completed by the Leitner lift company, transforming the resort. The area now boasts three new six-seat chairlifts with bubbles along with a ten-person gondola. This doesn’t make it a big resort by any means, but for learners on a budget, Poland is a good choice. It doesn’t have the crowds of Bulgaria, but does have fairly lively après-ski. Blues rule here, along with a few easy reds, and one black — don’t expect to be terrified, though. Can’t ski, won’t ski: Options are limited. This is a place for if you are still learning to ski.
Snow Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste Snowsure slopes and reasonable prices Experts will find the area a bit limiting
Snow Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste Great for learning to ski and for beginners Too limited for intermediates and experts
R ESORT I N SI DER
34% 25% 27%
The extensive slopes are high and sunny You can ski to linked villages, which are more traditional
The vast nursery slopes are sunny and gentle
Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste
Many expert runs are high and exposed Some runs get too much sun, making them slushy The main village of Alpe d’Huez is quite spread out
Madonna di Campiglio
Piste height 800m-2,505m / Lift pass £210 / Lifts 61 / Pistes 150km
Why there? This decent-sized resort is an intermediate’s dream, with an impressive and efficient lift system, and plenty of easy-peasy blues with some good reds to progress to. The lift network has been further improved this winter with the installation of the Sonne six-seat chairlift designed to better serve one of the most popular, high-altitude beginner areas on the mountain. For experts, there are a handful of blacks, including the Piculin, which, with a gradient of 72 per cent (or 35 degrees), is one of the steepest runs in Italy. Can’t ski, won’t ski: There’s sledging, snowshoe routes and sleigh rides, along with plenty of bars and restaurants in which you can hunker down and admire the scenery.
Why there? Sitting at the head of a wooded valley, Madonna is a charming resort dwarfed by the stunning Dolomites that tower above. It’s lift-linked to Folgarida, as well as Marilleva and Pinzolo, and has lovely wide runs that give intermediates a sense of travel. This season, a new six-seat chairlift has reduced queues to the Monte Spolverino sector, which has varied blues and decent reds. There are few blacks — one or two in each area — and many could be classed as reds. Most are well groomed if you want to tear around the mountain. Can’t ski, won’t ski: Nonskiers are not well catered for. There are excellent winter walking routes, but little else to do. However, the Oberosler hotel has a good spa.
Snow Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste Efficient lift system serving a good range of slopes Experts could get bored after a few days
Photo: C Baroni/Madonna
Piste height 935m-2,275m / Lift pass £240 / Lifts 32 / Pistes 119km
Snow Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste Extensive, varied slopes in the stunning Dolomites Not very much to do off the slopes
Photo: Alex Filz/ Kronplatz
Why there? Alpe d’Huez sits in a sunny bowl with the pistes fanning out across the mountain. It’s not a pretty village, but offers a lot of piste for your money. With the area’s 2016-17 expansion and extensive snow making, it’s good for mixed ability groups. Head to the summit to the start of the 13km Sarenne piste, said to be the longest black run in the Alps. It’s hardly a true black — except at the top — so most experienced skiers should be able to tackle it. The Tunnel is a more serious challenge, though it can be closed due to poor snow. The glacial runs from the summit of Pic Blanc are fun, as are the off-piste options. To avoid the crowds, head to one of the prettier, outlying villages, such as Oz-en-Oisans or Vaujany. These cheaper, rustic locations are ideal if you like to stay away from hustle and bustle. Oz-en-Oisans has a handful of restaurants, a ski school and a few hotels and it only takes half an hour to ski to Alpe d’Huez. And at Vaujany this season the key Enversin gondola, linking the village to the bottom of the La Fare black run, has been replaced with a sleek new Porsche gondola, cutting queues at peak times. There are plans to spend €350 million on infrastructure in the next five years, including a link to Les Deux Alpes. The mountain restaurants suit most budgets. Chalet du Lac Besson, set back off the Chamois red run, is great for lunch, serving traditional mountain fare as well as fresh seafood cooked on an open grill. Can’t ski, won’t ski: Take advantage of the resort’s sunny location with al fresco lunches and afternoon walks. There’s a nice indoor-outdoor swimming pool, as well as an Olympic-sized ice rink and sledge run.
Photo: Alpe d’Huez Tourisme
Piste height 1,110m-3,330m / Lift pass £228 / Lifts 80 / Pistes 250km
Isn’t it about time you upgraded yours?
Photo: Österreich Werbung/Ascher
Height 1,000m-2,025m / Lift pass £181 / Lifts 19 / Terrain 59km
Have you improved since you bought your current boots? Are they still comfortable?
Why there? Little Alpbach is an age-old favourite with the British, thanks to the charming village and cosy places to stay. And British ski races were held here for many years. But it was the linking in 2012 to next-door Wildschönau, and with it the creation of the Ski Juwel area that really put it on the map. This year the skiing has got even better with the installation of a 4km-long Doppelmayr D-Line access gondola from the village of Auffach at the Wildschönau end of the area. It hasC double the capacity of the old Schatzbergbahn. The mainly red slopes best suit strong intermediates, as M there are no blue runs back to the valley. Despite the link- Y up, the area doesn’t feel huge. Ski Juwel’s 109km of slopes CM include smaller areas such as Niederau and Reith, which are a bus ride away. And even if you restrict your skiing to the MY 59km of pistes in the main Alpbach-Wildschönau area, you CY still have to catch the shuttle to and from the lifts, which are a CMY ten-minute drive from the village of Alpbach. There is some accommodation in Inneralpbach at the base of the lifts. K An alternative journey to the slopes is to head off in the opposite direction to Achenwirt and the Wiedersbergerhorn gondola, which gives you access to the north-facing slopes. But Alpbach is a good budget base; meals at mountain huts are good value for traditional fare, while off the slopes beer is reasonably priced — typically no more than €5 for a large one. Can’t ski, won’t ski: Wallow in the warm waters of the outdoor spa at the four-star Romantikhotel Boglerhof, head out on winter walks in the snow-covered forests or hole up in one of the cute cafés. Also worth a visit is the Swarovski Kristallwelten at Wattens, a 36km drive away. 24%
Charming traditional village, popular with British skiers
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Strong intermediates will like the slopes
Good budget base with plenty of après-ski
Lifts Queue-free Food Charisma Ski schools Low budget Off-piste
The village of Alpbach is a shuttle bus ride from the lifts The linked area is still relatively small Blue run skiers will struggle to ski back to the valley
FREERIDE | FREESTYLE TOURING | TELEMARK | RACE | RECREATIONAL Uxbridge Road, Hillingdon, West London, UB10 0NP T: 020 8848 0040 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.SkiBartlett.com
SKI CLUB BENEFITS
The Ski Club offers its members a host of discounts at a variety of organisations to help save money both before and on your holiday. To claim your discount visit skiclub.co.uk/discounts where you will also find full terms and conditions.
TOUR OPERATORS AND TRAVEL AGENTS Absolutely Snow 15% Absolutely Villas 15% Alpine Action 5% Alpine Elements 11% Balkan Holidays 15% Club Med 10% Crystal Ski Holidays 5% Different Snow 5% Erna Low 6% Esprit Ski 5% Frontier Ski 5% Headwater 5% Iglu.com 5% Inghams 5% Jasna Adventures 10% Lagrange Holidays 5% Mark Warner 10% Mountain Heaven 10% Mountain Paradise 5% Neilson Up to 7.5% Nonstop 5% Premiere Neige 10% RocketSki 15% SB Ski 10% Ski Amis 10% Ski Independence 5% SkiLine 5% Ski Peak 5% Ski Solutions 5% Ski Total 5% Ski-Val 5% SkiIceland 5% SkiLapland 5% SkiNorway 5% SkiSweden 5% Skiworld 10% Ski Weekends Various discounts SNO ski Holidays 5% Snow-wise 10% Snowcoach 5% Snowscape 5% SnowTrex Various discounts Stanford Skiing 10% Sunweb 10% The Oxford Ski Company 5% Travel Club Elite 6% VIP Ski 10%
ACCOMMODATION WORLDWIDE PowderBeds.com 5% Serviced Apartments Worldwide 12%
FRANCE Alpe d’Huez Chalets 5% Alpe d’Huez Alps Accommodation 5% Samoëns and Morillon Auberge & Chalets sur la Montagne 10% Sainte Foy Clarian Chalets Portes du Soleil 10% Fresh Tracks Oz En Oisans 10% Oz-en-Oisans Le Chateau d’Oz 10% Oz-en-Oisans Méribel Ski Chalets 11% Méribel Nomadic Ski Holidays 5% Chamonix Ski Cuisine 5% Méribel Ski France 20% Various locations Ski Talini 5% St Martin de Belleville Snow Retreat 5% La Tania SnowChateaux 10% Various locations Snow Trippin 10% St Martin de Belleville The Tasty Ski Company 10% Morzine and Le Grand Massif Valloire Reservations 12% Valloire SWITZERLAND Chalet Apartment Rentals 15% Verbier Design Hotel Matterhorn Focus 7% Zermatt Ferienart Resort & Spa 10% Saas-Fee Fun & Spa Hotel Strass 5% Mayrhofen GriwaRent 5% Grindelwald Hotel Beau Site 10% Adelboden Hotel Belvedere 10% Wengen Hotel Bristol 5% Saas-Fee Hotel Schweizerhof 12% Pontresina Hotel Silberhorn 10% Lauterbrunnen Hotel Wengener Hof 10% Wengen Hotel Alpenroyal 10% Zermatt Silvretta Parkhotel 10% Arosa Sunstar Hotels Group 10% to 15% Arosa, Davos, Flims, Lenzerheide, Grindelwald, Wengen, Zermatt, Klosters, Saas-Fee Swiss Quality Hotels 10% Resorts in Switzerland and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany
Verbier Rentals 10% Verbier
ITALY Alpen Hotel Eghel Folgaria 10% Folgaria Livigno Ski Holidays 10% Livigno Muu Village 10% to 20% Folgaria NORTH AMERICA Holiday Whistler 10% Whistler Leavetown 6% Alberta, British Columbia, Québec Summit Vacations 20% Breckenridge UK AND IRELAND Britannia Hotels 10% Caledonia House Ireland 15%
FINANCIAL Caxton Fx £10 balance on registration WeSwap £10 Free travel money Eurochange Various discounts
AIRPORT PARKING, HOTELS AND LOUNGES APH Airport Parking & Hotels Up to 27% Cophall Parking Gatwick 20% FHR Airport Parking and hotels Up to 25% Holiday Extras Up to 15% Looking4parking Up to 20% Skyparksecure Up to 16% Stress free parking Up to 22%
LIFT PASSES Cairngorm Mountain 10% Folgaria, Italy Up to 20% Glenshee Mountain Up to 20% Lecht 10%
GYM, FITNESS AND LEISURE Arthur Beale: London’s Yacht Chandler 10% Alpine French School £25 off Focus Study Tours £100 off JK Physiotherapy 15% M D Physio 15% Serena Stubbs Orthotist 10% SkiA Ski Trainer 15% Skifitness 20% Ski-Mojo 10% Step-Inside Yoga for skiers 15% RYA 50%
SHOPPING Absolute-Snow 15% Aquapac International 20%
Banana Moon Clothing 10% Bawbags 20% Big Balls Collective 15% Blacks 20% Burnt Custard 20% Cotswold Outdoor 15% Craigdon Mountain Sports 15% Cycle Surgery 10% Drift Innovation Action Cameras 20% Drysure 15% Elliot Brown watches 10% Ellis Brigham 10% Ember 15% Finches Emporium 10% Freetime Mountain Sports Various discounts Freeze Pro Shop 10% Friski Wear 15% Futureproof.Life 15% Glisshop 10% GO Outdoors 10% Hardnutz 20% Kora 10% Lifesystems 15% Little Skiers Up to 15% Lockwoods Up to 25% Loqski 10% Mountain Warehouse 15% Nature Shop 5% Nevisport 10% Off Courses.net 10% Paul James Knitwear 15% PIQ 20% Planks 15% PlayBrave Sports Apparel 20% Profeet Ski Boot Lab 20% Runners Need 15% Ryft Goggles 15% RxSport 10% Sail and Ski 10% Ski Bartlett 10% Snow Lab 10% to 15% Snow+Rock 15% Snowfit 10% Surefoot 10% Surfdome 10% Sunglasses Shop 20% Techniblock Sunscreen10% Thirsty Various discounts Trixski 20% Ultimate Outdoors 20% Wolffe Pack Summit 20% Yoodo Movie Maker 20%
FOR CARS Volvo Various discounts Polar snowchains 15% Sanef Tolling France Free registration The Roof Box Company 10%
SKI LUGGAGE BagSOLO 10%
Loqski 10% Piste of Mind 10%
TRANSPORT Jet2.com 5% Snow Express 10% Swiss £25 off flights
CAR HIRE Rhino Car Hire 15% Zest Car Rental 5%
TRANSFERS AlpyBus 10% Ben’s Bus 5% off return transfers from Grenoble airport Cham Van 10% Holiday Taxi Innsbruck Airport 5% Le Taxi Savoyard 10% Looking4Transfers Up to 15% Mountain Rescue 10% on Saturday transfers PowderCab Airport Transfers 10% Sea-Lifts 10% Ski Lifts 10% Whiterides Airport Transfers 10%
SKI SCHOOLS AND GUIDES EUROPE New Generation Ski and Snowboard School 10% Ongosa 10% SkiBro 5% to 10% AUSTRIA A-Z Ski School 10% Piste to Powder 5% FRANCE British Alpine Ski School Les Deux Alpes 10% ESI First Tracks Ski Coaching Up to 10% Evolution 2 10% iSki Val d’Isère 15% Magic In Motion Courchevel, Méribel 10% Momentum Snowsports 10% Oxygène Ski School La Plagne, Val d’Isère Up to 10% Ski Progression Up to 15% Skimckay.com Val d’Isère Up to 20% Skispeziali.com 10% Snow d’Light 10% Supreme Ski & Snowboard School 10% TDC Val d’Isère 10% The Snow School 15% Ultimate Snowsports Tignes 10% SWITZERLAND Adrenaline Ski and Snowboard School Verbier £10 discount Alpinemojo Ski School 15% to 20% Element Ski School 10%
European Snowsport 10% Schweizer Schneesportschule Davos 10% Stoked Snowsports 10% Summit Ski & Snowboard School 10% Swiss Ski and Snowboard School 10% Vivid Snowboarding Verbier 10% ITALY Echo Travel 10% Scuola Sci Sauze Sportinia 10% Scuola di Sci del Cervino Various Discounts Ski School Cristallo-Cortina 10%
SNOWSPORTS INSTRUCTOR COURSES Alltracks Academy Various discounts Altitude Futures Various discounts Basecamp £250 off 11-week courses Basi (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) 10% off Level 1 courses EA Ski and Snowboard Training 25% We are Sno £400 discount
TECHNIQUE COURSES AND CAMPS Core Ski & Snowboard Camps 10% Inside Out Skiing £50 off first ski clinic at Hemel Snow Centre Marmalade Ski School 10% Nonstop Ski & Snowboard Various discounts Powder Extreme Various discounts Pro Ride Snowboard Camps Various discounts
RESORT SHOPS, RESTAURANTS AND ACTIVITIES WORLDWIDE Skiset Up to 60% Skadi 20% ANDORRA Restaurant Parador Canaro Soldeu 10% AUSTRIA Horny B St Anton 10% FRANCE Arc 1950 Freeride Up to 55% Bighorn Bistro Chamonix Various discounts Bananas Various discounts Val d'Isère Huski 10% Various resorts Farenheit Seven Restaurant 10% Courchevel & Val Thorens La Boite Pizzeria 10% Courchevel La Moraine Various discounts Chamonix Le Vallon Blanc Up to 30% Tignes Le Basilic 10%
Chamonix Polaire Star Up to 25% Bourg St Maurice White Storm Up to 55% Various locations Yogamala 10% Chamonix ITALY Al Solito Posto 10% Cervinia Cervinia 2001 15% Cervinia Heliski Cervinia 5% Cervinia Lino Bar Cervinia Free shot Cervinia Les Skieurs D’Antan 10% Cervinia Maison Jean Bich di Pers 10% Cervinia Morange Sport 15% Cervinia Rifugio Maison Vieille Courmayeur 10% Yeti Bar Happy hour all day Cervinia SWITZERLAND Azzura Sport 10% Various locations Andrist Sport 15% Various locations Bayard Sports 10% Zermatt Bar z'alt Hischi Up to 25% Zermatt Craniosacral Therapy 10% Mürren Edwards Bar 10% Zermatt Glacier Sport 15% Zermatt Hotel Silvana Mountain Spa 10% Various locations Schweizerhof Kamin Bar 10% Zermatt Stäger Sport 15% Mürren Snowline Sport Shop Up to 25% Portes du Soleil Matterhorn Glacier Paradise 20% Zermatt Matterhorn Sports 10% Zermatt Whymper Stube Various discounts Zermatt NORTH AMERICA Alpenhof Lodge and Bistro Jackson Hole 20%
ARTIFICIAL SLOPES Ackers Outdoor Activity Centre 10% Alpine Snowsports Aldershot 10% Bassingbourn Snowsports Centre Up to 25% Bearsden Ski & Board 10% Bowles Snowsports Centre 10% Bracknell Ski Centre 20% Brentwood Ski & Snowboard Centre Various discounts Bromley Ski Centre 10% Carlisle Snowsports 10%
Chel-Ski 20% Chill Factore Up to 30% Dorset Snowsport Centre 50% Exeter & District Ski Club 20% Firpark Ski Centre 20% Folkstone Ski Centre 10% Glasgow Ski Centre 10% Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre 10% Gosling Ski & Board Centre 10% Llandudno Ski and Snowboard Centre 10% Mendip Snowsport Centre 10% Newmilns Dry Ski Slope 10% Norfolk Snowsports Club 25% Plymouth Ski Centre 10% Runcorn Ski Centre Junior rate for adults Sandown Ski Centre 10% Ski and Snowboard Centre Cardiff 20% Ski Rossendale 10% SkiEasy Chiswick 20% Snowtrax — Outdoor Activity Centre 10% Snozone Castleford and Milton Keynes 10% Southampton Alpine Centre 10% Suffolk Ski Centre 15% Sunderland Snowsports Centre 20% Swadlincote Ski & Snowboard Centre 10% Tamworth Snowdome £15 discount The Snow Centre Hemel Hempstead 10% Torquay Alpine Ski Club 10%
OTHER ABC Safety Training 20% Alpine Angels Childcare 10% DrySure 15% Profeet Ski Boot Lab 20% Shredder Experiences 20% Ski Chics Free Hydroflask Spice Adventure 3 months free membership Off Piste Awareness Tour Various discounts All discounts are based on information available at the time of going to press. All are subject to partners’ terms and conditions and are subject to change without prior warning. See skiclub.co.uk/discounts for further information or call Member Services on 020 8410 2015
IN YOUR NEXT ONLINE ISSUE Send in the Paras! With the Paralympics starting on March 9, the online-only issue of Ski+board will focus on Britain’s golden girls and boys
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Follow the Olympic action on the Ski Club’s website Dan Loots With the Winter Olympics and Paralympics upon us, and the potential for British athletes to have their most successful Games yet, the Ski Club has added a PyeongChang 2018 section to its website. There you will find far more extensive information than it’s possible to include in a printed magazine such as Ski+board, including a full timetable of events, detailed information on athletes and full explanations of what each discipline involves. You can also watch video interviews with Team GB Olympic hopefuls, as they describe their preparations. And the site will be updated regularly to include news and results from the Games as the action unfolds. In addition, the club has put together features on Olympic history, and our favourites resorts to have staged the Games. It’s all at skiclub.co.uk/pyeongchang2018.
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Resort insider Ski+board’s fifth and final issue is, as always, available online only, but the four regular print issues will be back next winter. You can see back issues at skiclub.co.uk/skiandboard
Photo: Oliver Kraus
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Work on online upgrade continues apace The Ski Club’s online team has been busy ticking off its ‘to-do’ list, as the monumental task of migrating content from the old to the new website continues unabated. Progress made since the last edition of Ski+board came out in mid-December means that users can now use resort search filters. They can also download piste maps and connect to webcams for some of the biggest resorts, including all those with Leaders and Instructor-led Guiding. The UK slopes search is now working too. Behind-the-scenes areas, such as the Leaders’ Centre (vital to our 200 volunteers) and affiliate renewals are also up and running. And by the time this edition of Ski+board goes to print in late January, the team expect to have information on 1,200 ski resorts on the site — far more than the 800 or so that were on the old site. To check how work is progressing for yourself, visit skiclub.co.uk.
Letâ€™s Go Somewhere With 15% Off Winter is unpredictable and challenging. Based on sound advice and thorough understanding, our winter protection range will help make the adventure possible and enjoyable. Your exclusive Ski Club GB discount is available in-store and online at cotswoldoutdoor.com using code AF-SKIGB-M5
Full T&Cs apply. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Selected lines are exempt. 10% discount only on bikes. Only valid upon production of your Ski Club GB membership identifi cation in-store or use of valid discount code online. Offer expires 31.08.18.