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Ski Season Begins To Wind Down But More Big Snowfalls Reported

April 8th, 2010

New snow over the Easter holidays has given a great powder base for many of the resorts still open in the Alps, while across the Atlantic the latest round of huge snowfalls on the west of the North American continent has left more resorts extending their seasons with waist-deep April powder. Conditions remain good in Scotland and Scandinavia too.

There were heavy snowfalls in the German speaking areas of the Alps over Easter with Andermatt seeing over a foot (35cm) of new snow. This was part of a total one metre (40 inch) fall in the past seven days, the largest in Switzerland. The Andermatt-Gotthard region also reports the biggest snow depth in the country at present with 3.5m (nearly 12 feet) on upper slopes.

St. Moritz also reported 15cm (six inches) of fresh snow on Sunday. Martin Berthod, the resort’s sports and events manager, said, “The snow conditions are still excellent all over the Engadin.”

The 4 Valleys has also reported good snowfall in the past week, with 75cm (2.5 feet) of new snow and Laax has had yet another 60cm (two feet) taking its snow depth to 220cm (7.3 feet).

Glacier ski areas currently have some of Switerland’s deepest snow with Engelberg reporting three metres (ten feet) and Saas Fee a few centimetres/inches less with 289cm.

The snow depth in the French Alps is very good for the end of season with 183.6cm (6.2 feet) average on the top of the slopes in the Northern Alps and 229.6cm (7.6 feet) average for the Southern Alps

It has snowed a lot the last week in the French Alps with Skiinfo posting 24 Powderalarms for snowfalls in excess of 20cm (8 inches) in 24 hours in Sunday.

Serre Chevalier reported 65cm (2.2 feet) of fresh snow and Puy St Vincent 40cm (16 inches) just on the one day.

In Austria sunny weather is forecast for the next few days and on many Austrian slopes there is still lots of snow – so conditions for spring skiing are fine.

Sölden, for example, got fresh snow again and issued a powder alarm for more than 20cm (8 inches) of new snow on Monday. 31 of the ski resort’s lifts are still running and the sky there is cloudless.
It received 40cm (16 inches) in total through the last week and currently has a snow depth of 251cm (8.3 feet). Lech Zürs am Arlberg has had 35cm (14 vinches) of new snow in the past week.
There are a dozen Austrian resorts with two metres or more of snow on their slopes. The Mölltal glacier has the biggest snow depth of 390cm (13 feet), Hintertux has more than three metres (10 feet), too.

In Germany to the north the Zugspitze got lots of fresh snow again with 20cm (8 inches) more on Monday and 35cm (14 inches) on Good Friday. Feldberg in the Black Forest also received another 20cm (eight inch) fall in the past week.

Many French ski resorts are still open during April and six will remain open into May. Bonneval sur Arc will close on the 1st of May, Val d’Isère on the 2nd and Chamonix Mont-Blanc, where the upper slope snow depth went back above 4 metres (13.3 feet) this week, as well as Tignes, Val Thorens and La Grave la Meije are open another week to May 9th.

Over the past week Pelvoux-Vallouise and Puy St Vincent have both reported a metre (3.3 feet) of new snow, Le Grand Bornand 82cm (2.6 feet) and Serre Chevalier 80cm (2.6 feet).

Chamonix currently has the top snow depth with 405cm (13.5 feet), La Clusaz has 310cm (10.3 feet) and Alpe d’Huez and La Grave 300cm (10 feet). Serre Chevalier is just behind on 290cm (9.6 feet).

Italy has topped the table in Europe for the most snow in the past seven days with Madesimo reporting 1.2m (four feet) of new Spring powder. Arabba and the Marmolada Glacier was second on the continent withy another metre (3.3) feet and there was about 60cm (two feet) more in Val Gardena in the Dolomites and Monterosa in the alps.

Marmolada currently has the deepest snow in Europe too, with 5.2m (17.3 feet). Passo Tanale’s Presena glacier is second with 4.2m (14 feet).

In Northern Europe, despite warmer weather during the Easter holidays, skiing conditions remain good at most open resorts in Scandinavia. In Sweden there’s also been some small amounts of new snow in Tandådalen – 8cm (three inches) in the last seven days.

This week and next there’s a lot of attention at Åre since Jon Olsson Super Sessions started on Monday and will continue until the 17th of April. One of the highlights during the week will be the Big Air competition, as well as the Jon Olsson Invitational on the 15th with some of the world’s best jibbers in resort. The ten days are full of activities including parties, various competitions, a rail park in Åre town square and of course apres-ski.

In Scotland CairnGorm’s best season for decades continues with 40cm of fresh snow in the past week, one of the world’s biggest accumulations.

The Scottish ski area saw over 2000 skiers take to the slopes on Good Friday to check out the recent fall of snow, which was perfectly timed to provide excellent snow cover across the mountain for Easter skiing and boarding.

It is expected that skiing will continue to be available throughout not only the Easter holidays but right through April and into May. The resort will be open daily for snowsports until 3rd May (the bank holiday weekend) and thereafter every weekend in May, conditions permitting.

“Coming on top of the 117,000 skiers we have already had this season, Friday’s figures set us on course for a grand finale to double last year’s total of 65,000 skiers for the season by the end of April.” said spokesman for CairnGorm Mountain Colin Kirkwood.

A number of special Easter events are taking place. The resort has arranged to open for evening skiing on Thursday 8th April when a number of lifts will remain open from 4pm until 7.30pm. Rides on the resort’s piste-bashing machine and skidoos will be available for non-skiers.

Also for non-skiers on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th April Physics will be coming to the Mountain when a team from the Institute of Physics in Scotland will invite visitors to skewer balloons, make rockets with alka-seltzers and make water defy gravity as they highlight the relevance of physics to their lives.

The ski season is winding down in the Pyrenees with warmer temperatures bringing classic Spring freeze/thaw conditions and a relaxed vibe on the slopes.

One of the region’s largest resorts, Baqueira Beret in Spain, has already closed, but Formigal, the largest in the area still has 1221km (76 miles) to enjoy and snow depths of 220cm (7.3 feet). Andorra’s ski areas are also still open.

Europe’s most southerly major ski area, Sierra Nevada, still has five metres of snow on upper slopes and plans to stay open in to May.

In Eastern Europe it is generally ‘melt down’ with the snow gone, or mostly gone, from lower areas but on the other hand Poland’s leading centre of Zakopane reported 40cm (16 inches) of new snow on Tuesday.

North America and particularly California and Utah in Western USA have seen the biggest snowfalls of the past week, with particularly huge accumulations reported at Brighton in Utah with 228cm (7.6 feet) in seven days. Snowbird, Alta and Solitude have also reported more than two metre (6.7 feet) accumulations.

It’s almost as good in California where almost all resorts have reported between 1 and 1.5m (3.3-5 feet) of new snow over the Easter weekend. It’s a shame the majority of ski areas in the region have closed already or close in the next seven days.

There’s been new snow elsewhere in Western North America too, with Colorado resorts benefitting and Grand Targhee in Wyoming the latest to announce an extended season. 1.6m (63 inches) of snow have fallen there this past week, and another 35cm (14 inches) has arrived yesterday morning.
Grand Targhee will run Dreamcatcher chairlift for an extra week, through to Sunday April 18. The chair will run from 10 am to 3 pm, and offer limited facilities.

It’s a different story on the East Coast alas where extremely warm weather has caused a rapid thaw at most areas.

To the north Whistler Blackcomb has announced the decision to extend skiing and riding on Whistler Mountain by one week. Whistler Mountain’s last day of operations will be Sunday, April 25 while Blackcomb Mountain’s last day of operations will be Monday, May 24.

“With over 1,353 centimetres (533 inches) of snow so far this season and a current snow base of 363 centimetres (143 inches), this incredible season is far from over,” says Dave Brownlie, president and chief operating officer at Whistler Blackcomb. “The great snow was a key factor in deciding to keep Whistler Mountain open an additional week, but guest feedback about Whistler Mountain closing during the second week of the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival played a big role in the decision as well. We listened to the feedback, then reviewed and revised the required lift maintenance schedule, allowing us to extend Whistler Mountain’s winter operations by one week.”

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Ski & snow news, Snow Conditions

The Return Of The Big Snowfalls

March 1st, 2010

It has snowed a lot on all the French mountains in the past week, but it is the Southern Alps that have benefited most from the new snow. 85cm (almost three feet) of snow fell, for example. in Puy Saint Vincent last week. Serre Chevalier received 71cm (2.4 feet) and Isola 2000 70cm.

Olivier Saez chief operator of Puy Saint Vincent said, “The snow conditions are very good as we have had regular snowfalls since the end of December. The snow depth is 230cm on the upper slopes and 165cm on lower slopes. The 85 cm of fresh snow in the past week feel at a regular rate so were able to maintain the slopes without operating difficulties. The ski area is perfectly secure and the PIDA (Plan of Intervention Trigger Avalanche) is working. Avalanches are triggered using a CATEX – a cable which has explosives attached to trigger avalanches in zones where snow has accumulated. There is no risk to skiers who stay on the ski slopes, but we strongly advise against going off-piste because we have an avalanche risk of 4 /5.”

Chamonix Mont-Blanc currently has the deepest snow in France with 405cm (13.5 feet). Other resorts including alpe d’huez and Flaine have more than 2.5m (8.3 feet).

Italy has also seen some big snowfalls in the past week with powder alarms issued for 24 hour falls as big as 50cm (20 inches), Courmayeur, La Thuile and Val Gardena issued alarms for 20cm.

Limone Piemonte has received the most snow in Italy over the past 7 days with 110cm (nearly four feet) but Aprica and Arabba have both had a metre too. Arabba also has the country’s second deepest snow depth with 3.8m (13 feet) on the Marmolada glacier. The most is on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale with 420cm (14 feet). Bormio has three metres (ten feet) of snow on upper slopes – the most of an Italian resort without a glacier.

Though snowfalls have been more moderate than a week ago in the German speaking ski areas of Europe, many important resorts in Austria have received respectable amounts of new snow in the past week days.

Sölden got 33cm (11 inches), Axamer – Lizum above Innsbruck as well as Nassfeld and the Stubai valley had 30cm (a foot) each. Similar snowfalls took place in Montafon and Kleinwalsertal. Many more resorts like Ischgl, Söll or the glaciers of Pitztal and Hintertux received at least 10-15cm (4-6 inches) of powder.

A dozen Austrian resorts including Sölden and St. Anton now have snow depths of around two metres (nearly 7 feet) or more on upper slopes. The Mölltal glacier stays on top of the list with up to 350cm(nearly 12 feet).

In Switzerland, Engadin – St. Moritz has accumulated 40cm (16 inches) of new snow over the past seven days and now reports two metres of snow on top of the mountain. Saas Fee and Klosters both also reported snowfalls of 23cm (9 inches) in seven days, Andermatt and Engelberg received 20cm (8 inches). As in Austria the avalanche danger has lowered a little in Switzerland and is generally at the mid-range level of 2-3.

In Germany the ski resorts of Oberstdorf received the most fresh snow issuing powder alarms because of 20-25 cm snowfalls on Saturday. Lots of other resorts in the central uplands as well as in the Alps reported at least some new snow.

Up in Scandinavia the last week has brought some serious amounts of snow in the southern parts of Sweden. Snowfalls up to 60cm (two feet) have been reported in some places. This has caused serious problems on roads and for the railways. The Swedish weather service have reported snowfall records for several cities and regions in the south of Sweden, some of which hadn’t been broken for over 30 years. For example the small ski resort of Mullsjö has a snow depth of 92cm (3.1 feet).

However most ski areas in Sweden are located further north where it hasn’t been snowing that much. In the north the small village of Gielas has had the coldest temperature of the winter with – 40.8C. For the north the most snow in the last seven days has been reported for Ski Sunne with 25cm (10 inches) followed by Kläppen with 24cm (10 inches) and Ramundberget with 15cm (six inches) which still has the biggest snow depth in Sweden, along with Vemdalen, both reporting 120cm (four feet).

There’s been some good snowfalls in Norway too, the coastal resort of Voss posted a powder alarm with 25cm (10 inches) of new snow on Wednesday.

Scotland’s remarkable ski season continues with more heavy snow this week, underling that for Cairngorm Mountain at least, this is probably the most consistant as well as deepest snowfall winters for three decades.

The resort plans to celebrate by setting a world record for the most people skiing in kilts on the weekend of 6/7 March, with a line of kilted 500 skiers and boarders descend the main run at once the aim.

In Spain Sierra Nevada continues to have the greatest snow depth in Spain with five metres (nearly 17 feet) on their upper slopes and is now opening a total of 101 kilometres of pistes. But also all Pyrenean ski resorts have reached snow depths close or over two metres (nearly seven feet).

Weather conditions have dramatically increased the avalanche risk in all Spanish ski resorts making off piste skiing especially dangerous. Top Spanish ski resorts have reported powder snow. Formigal has up to 240cm (8 feet) of snow and 136 km open, with Boi Taull on three metres (10 feet).

In Andorra it has been warmer and there’s no new snow but conditions are still reported to be reasonably good thanks to the snow base of more than a metre.

On the French side of the Pyrenees Cauterets has the deepest snow with 290cm (nearly 10 feet).

In Eastern Europe it has been warmer in the past week with little new snow reported anywhere. Conditions are reported to be holding up at most major centres, but colder weather and fresh snow is needed.

Resorts across the US have been firing off powder alarms over the past 48 hours. Killington reported 28cm (11 inches) of new snow and neighbouring Vermont resort Mount Snow, 32 cm (13 inches). On the other side of the country Homewood in California received 20cm (8 inches) of fresh powder yesterday while nearby Alpine Meadows had 33cm (13 inches) taking its base depth to 338cm (11feet).

Colorado’s resorts have also been receiving a lot of fresh snow. None more so than Silverton Mountain with 120cm (48 inches) during a weekend storm. It snowed three inches (7.5cm) an hour much of the weekend which left some extremely deep powder snow skiing.

Mt Washington in British Columbia has the deepest snow on the continent with 4.9m (16.3 feet).

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Ski & snow news, Snow Conditions

New Website Launched On Responsible Ski Holidays

February 9th, 2010

A new website, www.ResponsibleSkiing.com, has been launched with the aim of answering the question, “Can skiing and responsible tourism go hand in hand?”

The site considers the impact of component parts of a ski holiday, including the pistes, artificial snow production, ski lifts and off piste skiing, and site founder Veronica Tonge, a consultant specialising in Responsible Tourism and project management with the particular area of expertise of responsible tourism for winter sports, goes on to answer whether she believes they can be part of a responsible skiing holiday.

In addition to this analysis, there is an overview of options for getting to the destination and then all the resort factors; such as the transport, après ski and accommodation, are reviewed with case studies and ideas for both the industry and skiers.

Veronica Tonge said, “Skiing has been the saviour of many a mountain community, however it’s important to both acknowledge that the environment has sometimes been damaged and that there is a risk to skiing posed by climate change. This is the only website that examines the entire ski holiday in the context of responsible tourism; which is minimising any negative impacts to the environment, whilst maximising the benefits to the local economy and ensuring you have a better holiday.”

Written by a skier, for skiers, the website is broken down into several informative sections and “How to be a Responsible Skier” gives a range of tips to help skiers plan a more memorable holiday that go beyond the usual, “reuse towels and don’t litter.”

“Responsible skiing is not about easing your guilt and is not just concerned with CO2 emissions. It’s about engaging with the mountain destination, enjoying a range of winter activities in beautiful surroundings, and having a fun and memorable stay, but not at the cost of the environment or the local population. And we all want that.” said Veronica Tonge.

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Ski & snow news

Whisky Reward For Heroic Scottish Snow Diggers

February 9th, 2010

Scotland’s Cairngorm Mountain had the unusual problem of having too much snow in the first half of January, which led to a huge community effort to ‘dig out’ key parts of the ski area including access roads, lifts and the summit restaurant so that skiers could reach the slopes, closed by too much snow.

The Managing Director of nearby Tomatin Whisky Distillery, Tom McCulloch, was so impressed by the team effort that went into the snow clearing over the week from January 12th to 17th that he commissioned forty eight bottles of finest blend Scotch Whisky, named Big “D” , to mark the team’s efforts. The commemorative bottles have now been presented to CairnGorm staff and organizations who took part in the massive dig out operation by Graham Nicolson, Tomatin’s Regional Sales Manager. Every bottle is individually numbered and contains a blended Scotch whisky of Highland blend.

“I was talking to Dr Mike Langran, who is often on the hill assisting ski patrol at CairnGorm Mountain and gained an insight into just what efforts were being made to get the ski road and train ready to receive the public. It was a team effort on a huge scale involving paid employees as well as volunteers and contractors and it reminded me of the sense of community which is very much part of Tomatin Distillery’s heritage – one worth acknowledging and celebrating”. said Mr McCulloch.

“This generous and unexpected gesture from Tomatin is hugely appreciated by all of us who work at CairnGorm Mountain.” said Ian Whitaker, Chief Executive at CairnGorm Mountain Ltd. “Like employees at the distillery, many of CairnGorm’s staff have made a lifestyle choice to work in this environment and it is a way of life for many of them. Running a ski centre on a Scottish mountain side presents huge challenges at times and it is not often that the effort that goes into getting lifts and tows up and running is so publicly recognized. I would personally like to thank all the staff, volunteers and contractors who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in these past few weeks and to Tomatin for recognising those efforts with this gesture.”.

As well as staff form CairnGorm Mountain, volunteers from local businesses including; The Ski School, G2 Outdoor Activity, Cairngorm Mountains Rescue Team were assisted by local contractors, Jerry Job and Allan Munro Construction who provided heavy plant to assist with snow moving.

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Ski & snow news

British Snowboard Association Reborn, Blames Alpine Skiing for Demise of Snowsport GB

February 9th, 2010

Following the news that Britain’s governing body of snow sports, Snowsport GB, has gone into administration, the British Snowboard Association (BSA) has announced it will retake control of snowboarding in the UK.

“In recent months there has been much speculation about the future of British Snowsports following reports of financial trouble within Snowsport GB (SSGB), the national governing body for skiing and snowboarding in the UK. Reports indicate a huge SSGB overspend, which has been difficult for the Snowboard Executive to accept with their programmes and great results continually being delivered within budget season after season. It seems the financial problems within alpine skiing may have contributed to the downfall of SSGB.” said a BSA statement, stating that it has reformed to ensure it regains control of British snowboarding and moves forward with the future of British snowboarding in the hands of snowboarders.

In 2005 the BSA merged its operations with Snowsport GB as part of a national modernising exercise initiated by the government to streamline administration and communication within national governing bodies.

“Five years on and we find ourselves in this situation, so the BSA will once again take the development of British snowboarding forward with the support of UK Sport, British Olympic Association (BOA), Team GB Ltd, World Snowboard Federation (WSF), The home nations (Snowsport England, Scotland and Wales), British Association of Snowsports Instructors (BASI), Snow Industries of GB (SIGB), Snowboard Club UK (SCUK), The Snowboard Asylum (TSA) and current Olympic riders Lesley McKenna, Ben Kilner and many more.” the statement continued.

The British Snowboard Association (BSA) was originally established in 1989 by a group of enthusiastic snowboarders to provide like minded riders with membership, championship events and a national governing body with representation on a global level.

The Association went through various evolutionary changes over the past 20 years and last year says in it statement it was, “made aware of financial difficulties caused by ineffective management of ski activities. The Snowboard Executive make plans to re-establish the BSA following the 09/10 winter season due to a lack of confidence in the board of Snowsport GB.”

www.snowboardclub.co.uk/bsa

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Ski & snow news

Dunkirk Spirit Gets British Coaches To Vancouvver After Snowsport GB’s Demise

February 9th, 2010

Owing to the sudden demise of the British Ski & Snowboard Federation (aka Snowsport GB) which went into administration on 5th Feb. 2010, the fourteen British Ski & Snowboard athletes, departing for the Winter Olympics, which start in Vancouver next weekend, were going to be without the two most important members of their team…………..the two Coaches!

Having worked tirelessly with their squads for several years, this was a huge blow to the athletes, who include world ranking Chemmy Alcott and Zoe Gillings amongst their group.

Following urgent phone calls to a number of travel industry “friends”, the Board of Directors at Snowsport England have managed to raise over £5000 to contribute to the costs of getting the two coaches out to Vancouver. The BOA (British Olympic Association) can now ensure their attendance.

Support came from Crystal Ski Holidays (Tui), Erna Low Ski Holidays, Norfolkline Ferries, TK Maxx (ski clothing retailer), Peak Retreats Ski Holidays, Ski Verbier Holidays, HolidayExtras and yet-to-be-built indoor snow centre SnOasis

Peter Stratton, Commercial Director for Snowsport England, commented

“we couldn’t stand by and see one of the most impressive British squads for many years having to prepare and compete without the support of their coaches on hand in Vancouver”. He went on to say that with the fantastic support of the above companies, this will give a great boost to our chances of bringing home a medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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Ski & snow news

World’s Biggest Resorts Open For Winter 09-10

December 7th, 2009

Many of the world’s leading ski resorts have opened for the 2009-10 ski season this weekend following heavy snowfall in the Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees and lower temperatures in Eastern North America allowing for snowmaking.

In the French Alps, Courchevel and Meribel joined Val Thorens opening in the Three Valleys and in Austria the Arlberg opened a week later than planned after a spell of warm weather ended with falls of several feet of snow.

In the Pyrenees most of the leading resorts in Andorra, France and Spain all opened on Friday or Saturday after several feet on new snow fell. Baqueira Beret and Formigal, Spain’s two largest resorts were among those opening.

In New England resorts opening thanks to improved conditions include Sugarloaf in Maine, and further north in Quebec, Mont Ste Anne has opened after several postponed dates.

Over on the West, Fernie and Revelstoke in British Columbia have also opened.

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General News, Ski & snow news

Heavy Snow Returns To Europe

December 2nd, 2009

www.Skiinfo.co.uk has issued hundreds of powder alarms in the past 72 hours as resorts across the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees report big and on-going snowfalls.  Hundreds of resorts are now planning to open for the coming weekend across the continent with superb conditions, although freeriders are warned to beware of high avalanche risk off piste in many locations.

As a result, www.Skiinfo.co.uk has now released more than 200 powder alarms for ski areas reporting more than 20cm (eight inch) falls in 24 hours, with Switzerland among the big winners.  St Moritz and the Engadin Valley have received 1.3m (4.4 feet) since the weekend.  Most other Swiss resorts have done well too, Sedrun, for example, got a whole metre of new snow in 24 hours on Monday (Nov 30th) – the road to nearby Disentis was covered with snow.

Engelberg was virtually closed down by snow at the start of the week too due to a massive storm that hit central Switzerland with over 90cms (three feet) of fresh snow according to Eric Spongberg an ex-freeriders based at Ski Lodge Engelberg (www.skilodgeengelberg.com).

 The roads in and out of the village where closed down on Monday, and all the lifts were closed on Tuesday due to high avalanche danger.

”There was rumours of snow coming in, but we have virtually been covered in snow in the past 24 hours” says Eric. ”It is total chaos here, with ploughs running back and forth trying to clear the streets and the avalanche bombs thundering in the background. The snowpack has been looking thin lately, but this definitely means a white Christmas in Engelberg”.

The ski area is open today and Eric is hoping to be on the slopes, ”It might be one of those days, I just might need to skip a couple of hours off work.”

Austria, which had great snow in late October and early November, but in common with the rest of the Alps, suffered a warm spell through the mifddle of last month, has also been receiving plenty of fresh snow,
The Mölltaler glacier got 60cm (two feet) of powder and now have one of the deepest snow depths in the world at present with a 220cm (7.3 foot) base.  Many other areas received between 20 and 50cm (8-20 inches) including Axamer – Lizum at Innsbruck, Sölden (52cm) and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl.

Lech Zürs has confirmed it will open lifts on Friday. Currently they have up to 55cm (22 inches) of snow on their slopes. Hochzillertal will open on the same day.

Silvretta Montafon (Nova and Hochjoch) now has 70cm of snow for their planned opening on Saturday. “There’s been heavy snowfall down to 800 metres and we hope to begin operating the Zamang Bahn (the ski lift for Hochjoch) and Versettla Bahn (for Nova) on December 5th.” said Frank Peters of Silvretta Montafon Mountain Railways.

It’s good news once again in France where more resorts are opening after good snowfalls across the country’s ski areas.

Lans en Vercors and Collet d’Allevard are opening their ski lifts today as a result and La Clusaz it’s Nordic ski area “Les Confins”

Many more plan to open thisweekend, at least partially, including Meribel, Alpe d’Huez, the Grands Montets at Chamonix, Montgenèvre, Les Arcs and probably Courchevel 1850, Le Grand Bornand and La Clusaz (only this weekend and just the “Massif de Balme”).

Val Thorens, which is already open, has reported  40cm of fresh snow and has one of the deepest bases in the country with a metre of snow lying. 

It’s a similar picture in Italy where the powder alarms continue to be issued.  Bormio has the deepest base in the country at 1.9m (6.6 feet), much of it fallen in the past week.  Other resorts reporting big falls include Madesimo with 90cm (three feet) and Alagna, Cervinia, Livigno and Monterosa resorts reporting at least 50cm (20 inches of new snow each).

Italy’s ski resorts enjoy a long ski weekend to December 8th so it’s great timing. This weekend many ski resorts will officially starts the season including Monterosa Ski, Dolomitri Superski, Limone, Courmayeur, resorts on the Milky Way pass like Sestrire and Sauze d’Oulx, Adamello (some lifts open at Passo Tonale and Pontedilegno).

Forty-eight hours of heavy snowfall over the Pyrenees has left Formigal more than ready to open this weekend.  Spain’s largest resort has 160 cm of snow on the higher slopes, around a metre on the lower pistes and more is predicted to fall over the next few days.

For bookings made before 15th December there is free ski or board hire for everyone and throughout the season there is a free child lift pass for every pre-booked adult lift pass.

There’s fresh powder too at Baqueira (40-70 cm), Cerler (20-125cm), Panticosa (70-130cm) and Sierra Nevada (10-30 cm). All the main ski resorts will open on Friday for a four days holiday (December 8th is a local holiday in Spain too). For Spanish skiers and boarders, this ‘Purísima Feast’ is a must every year and represents the official opening of the winter season.

Snow has also been snowing in Andorra, where resorts first opened early in mid-November after heavy snowfalls at the start of the month, but then had to postpone opening on the scheduled season start date last weekend due to a thaw.  It’s now looking goods for this weekend.

On the French side La Mongie and Bareges reported 60cm (two feet) on Tuesday, Piau Engaly 30cm (a foot). Piau-Engaly expects to open this weekend with its “Rock on Snowboard Tour” event.

Although the focus of recent snow reports has been on mainland Europe, conditions remain good in most Scandinavian ski areas to the north. Resorts in Norway reported up to 50cm (20 inches) of new snow in the past week and this weekend there will be 38 ski resorts open  including the big ones of Trysil, Geilo, Hafjell, Kvitfjell, Skeikampen and Hemsedal which has the most snow in the country with a 94cm (3.2 foot) base.  There are also a lot of opportunities for people who want to go cross country skiing, with 13 ski resorts that have more than 30km of tracks groomed.

There´s been some fresh snow in Sweden too where Lindvallen reports 15 cm and Tandådalen 7cm of new cover. In addition, the cold weather over large parts of the country makes ideal conditions for snowmaking. Further up north the resort of Kittelfjall has opened with a snow depth of 46cm. Dundret, 100km north of the polar circle, has opened too with a snow depth of 35 cm.

Elsewhere in Europe the ski season began in Scotland on Saturday when Cairngorm Mountain opened runs at the top of the ski slopes, attracting about 600 hardy souls who enjoyed the first turns of winter despite 45mph winds and a much stronger wind chill factor.

There’s no information on ski areas opening yet in Eastern Europe, however temperatures have dropped at last in that part of the continent with Bansko in Bulgaria reporting several days of sub-zero temperatures and snow falling.

Across the Atlantic the prolonged warm spell that stopped virtually all of New England’s ski areas opening for Thanksgiving weekend has finally ended and many resorts are reporting some snowfall and temperatures cool enough for the region’s mammoth snowmaking arsenal to dire up. Sugarloaf in Maine and Whiteface in New York State are among those planning to open at the weekend.

Further north in Eastern Canada, where Toronto recently declared last month the driest November in 70 years without a snowflake, conditions have improved greatly too.  Mont Ste Anne in Quebec expects to open after several postponements this weekend with at least four runs available.  It reported 12cm (5 inches) of snow at the weekend.  Mont Sutton received 43cm (17 inches) of snow at the summit over the weekend.
In the west of course it is a different story and Whistler’s November snowfall total officially passed 5.6m (18 feet) by the month end, with a 1.92m (6.5 feet) base, by far the biggest ever for this early in the season and indeed the biggest ever monthly snowfall for the resort.

The good snow news isn’t just restricted to the 2010 Winter Olympic host however, most of Western Canada’s resorts have great snow cover, and several more resorts opened early at the weekend, or announced they’d be opening earlier than planned in coming weeks including Fernie and Kicking Horse.

Revelstoke, which now has North America’s largest vertical, as well as the only heli and cat ski operations running along-side regular ski lifts from one base, opened upper slopes for a ‘taster weekend’ and will open permanently from next weekend.

Silver Star has also opened, “To the delight of us all, the winter skies have opened up and delivered over 40 cm of the white stuff needed to make the jump from Nordic skiing to alpine. With the alpine base now over 100 cm the Comet Express, Silver Woods Express, and the Silver Queen Chair. “ said a resort spokesperson.

The world’s attention has however been on Alberta over the weekend with Lake Louise Ski Area hosting its annual Winterstart World Cup Races. The men’s races took place November 28 and 29 and the women race this coming December 4 through 6.

 The WinterStart Festival takes place over the two weekends and includes the World Cup Alpine Ski Racing followed by a festival within a festival; Christmas in the Rockies, which runs December 5 and 6.
All the lifts are open at The Lake Louise Ski Area and Sunshine Village, with more available at Mt. Norquay today! The North American chair is open morning offering access to the infamous Lone Pine run.

“This is the best snow we’ve seen in 30 years, allowing the backside of Lake Louise and Goat’s Eye at Sunshine Village to be open already, offering tons of terrain, fresh tracks and a lot of powder.” Said a spokesperson
On Thursday, December 3rd, the newly renovated Sunshine Mountain Lodge at Sunshine Village will open 30 new eco-luxurious rooms.

Back south of the border in the Western US states temperatures are low for snowmaking but precipitation has been rather limited meaning that bases remain modest and open terrain is little changed from last week.

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Banff and Bormio Open

November 2nd, 2009

Mount Norquay at Banff and  Bormio in Italy have both opened on the 31st October, 2009 for the 09-10 winter season.  Both areas will be open weekends only for the first few weeks of November before opening full time.

Les 2 Alpes in France has also been open for a special festival but will close now through to re-opening in late November for the wqinter season. Cervinia, which had been open weekends only in October, is now open full time.

In Switzerland Les Diablerets has opened for winter 2009-10with the glacier ski area “Glacier 3000“ open, and currently offering the Dôme ski lift and parts of the Snow Park to skiers and snowboarders.

There are several lines of a different level with tables, rails as well as boxes ready for use in the park.

Depending on snow conditions, the rest of the 10 installations and 25 km of ski runs will be made available and remain open until May 3th, 2008. The status of available runs and installations will be regularly updated on www.glacier3000.ch.

Other resorts due to open in the next week include Lake Louise and Nakiska in Alberta, Canada and Keystone and Copper Mountain in Colorado, USA as well as Hemsedal in Norway.

Resorts already open include Sunday river in Maine and Arapahoe basin and Loveland in Colorado, USA as well as Kitzbuhel in Austria, Ruka in Finland and several dozen others.

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Heavy Snow in North America, More In The Alps, 30+ Resorts Now Open

October 29th, 2009
Fresh Snow October 2010

Fresh Snow October 2010

Continents With Resorts Open For Skiing: 3
Countries With Resorts Open For Skiing: 10
Ski Areas Open (Approximately):  35

* Heavy snow in Western Canada
* A dozen ski areas open in Scandinavia.
* Bormio opens this weekend.
* Still skiing in New Zealand.
* Les 2 Alpes opens for a big party.
* Diablerets Glacier opens.

There is heavy snow in western Canada and a week of fresh snowfalls in many northern hemisphere ski areas including Colorado, parts of the Alps and Japan.

With Kitzbuhel’s earliest ever opening at the weekend, following the Planai above Schladming the week before that, as well as seven glaciers areas to choose from, Austria continues to offer the biggest choice of skiing in the Alps.  The heavy snowfall there last week has set up some great conditions with most areas reporting a 90-150cm (3-5 foot) base. The other ski centres to choose from include Dachstein, Hintertux, Molltal, Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun), Pitztal, Solden, Stubai, Tux).

In Switzerland the latest ski area to open is Glacier 3000 above les Diablerets near Gstaad. Currently the Dôme ski lift and the snow park are open where there are several lines of a different level with tables, rails as well as boxes ready for use. The area joins the Engelberg, Saas Fee and Zermatt glaciers which are all already open.

Exciting news from Italy too as Bormio has announced it will open early from this weekend, Halloween, too and the country has reported some of the best new snow this week, Livigno, not yet open, noting more than 30cm of fresh snow accumulated.

Bormio will run a cable car and a high speed chair serving 18km of slopes between 2,500m and 3,000m altitude.

It joins Cervinia (20cm) which will now be open daily after weekend opening through October, and still open summer ski areas Passo Stelvio and Val Senales.

In France les 2 Alpes is open this week for its new festival week, but will close again on Monday for four weeks until opening for the winter on November 28th.  It has 20m of snow, a little more than Tignes, the other French resorts that has now been open for six weeks this season but is currently suffering from a snow shortage and needs more.

In the Pyrenees there are no areas open yet but the first heavy snowfalls have been reported. Formigal in Spain has reported the first snow of the season on their ski mountain’s slopes. The 5cm dusting at Spain’s largest resort is a good sign for the coming season and forecasters are predicting a further 15cm tonight. The Pyrenees received some of the best snow in decades at many resorts last winter, and it all began in Autumn last year, so the region is hoping for a repeat of winter 08-09.

There are more than a dozen ski areas currently open in Northern Europe. Sweden currently has five   ski areas to ski or board – Funäsdalen, Kåbdalis, Tänndalen,  Tärnaby and Hemavan. Tänndalen is the only area that is open daily. 

The country’s biggest resort, Sälen, is waiting for colder temperatures along with all other resorts. One that is standing by is Åre as under the right conditions, temp, humidity etc Åre can produce a 50cm snow layer on its main down hill slope in just 150 hours.  However Sweden needs colder temps to open new areas and the weather forecast don’t look so promising for the rest of the week.

In Norway skiers have six different ski resorts to choose from the upcoming weekend. Gaustablikk and Bjorli opened already at 17th of October, and Gålå has announced their season starts this weekend. A ski season that starts in mid October is early, even in cold Norway, and this means that the first winter ski resort opened before the last summer ski resort closed (Galdhøpiggen Summer ski resort closed on 25th October).  Kvitfjell, Trysil, Hafjell, Geilo, Kongsberg and Uvdal all aim to open on November 7th.

Several areas are also open in Finland, including the first to open there, Ruka.

In Western Canada the Canada Olympic Park near Calgary in Alberta is already open and resorts across Alberta and British Columbia have been reporting heavy snow falls ahead of planned opening dates in the next few weeks.

The first due to open is Mount Norquay at Banff, which plans to open at weekends from this Saturday, Halloween weekend, onwards.  Other resorts in the region including Nakiska and Marmot Basin, both of which have new quad chairlifts, as well as Sunshine mountain will open within the next few weeks.

Resorts in British Columbia have been reporting heavy snow in recent days. “Sun Peaks Sports Director Alain Brunelle tested the powder up at Sun Peaks this morning. The last couple of days have brought 40cm of snow, bringing the base at Sun Peaks to 70cm. More storms are on the way, with snow expected Wednesday night, Thursday, and Saturday this week.” resort spokeswoman Melanie Simmons told Skiinfo.co.uk.
Fernie and Marmot Basin have also reported big snowfalls.

In the east of the Country Mont Saint Sauveur in Quebec was the first to open, thanks in part to an expanded snowmaking system, but has since had to close again because of warmer weather.

South of the border resorts in Colorado and Utah are amongst those announcing fresh snow.  In the case of Loveland, Colorado, which has already been open for three weeks, that means more new terrain has opened as a “Halloween treat” for its guests. Its neighbours, Copper and Keystone plan to open within weeks.

Arapahoe Basin remains open although there’s no  beginner terrain at the moment. Anothere two inches (5cm) of snow has fallen there is the past 24 hours and there’s an 18 inch (45cm) base mid mountain).  Three runs including Ramrod are now open along! Visit the High Divide Terrain Park with 5 features.

On the east Coast Sunday River in Maine remains open with the resort’s full vertical skiable with two weeks of the season clocked up so far.

In the southern Hemisphere New Zealand’s Mt Ruapehu is about to open its ‘Snovember’ opening schedule.  Turoa reports a base toll at over 2.4m (8 feet) so it’s anyone’s guess how long it can stay open, but the current plan is for another few weeks at least. The centre has re-opened for Christmas in recent years and more snow is expected in the next few days.

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