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Conditions Still Excellent Across Europe And season Nears Halfway Point

February 6th, 2009

* Heavy falls total a metre in a week reported in Austria and Utah.
* All resorts in Spain have at least a two metre base.
* More resorts report business better than last season, as well as the snow.

* Cold weather in US brings great snow conditions to southern states.

www.Skiinfo.com reports that the ski season is now more than winter 2008-9
is now two months old for most of the world’s northern hemisphere ski
resorts and is approaching its half way stage.  Across Europe many of the
leading resorts are sitting on bases of two to three metres (7-10 feet)
following spectacular snowfalls in the last six weeks of 2008 and more
sporadic but still generally healthy falls during January, with clear sunny
periods in between.  In short it has been one of the best snow seasons for
many years for most resorts and despite media gloom and doom reporting on
the economy, many ski resorts are reporting business is actually up, in good
part thanks to the great snow. The cover is such that even if no more snow
falls for the rest of the season (extremely unlikely), most now have plenty
to see them through to the end in April or May.

In North America it is a more mixed picture with west coast resorts having
little snow at the start of the season followed by huge downfalls, but then
warm temperatures and a thaw in January. The east coast has had better
conditions and good snowfalls with low temperatures for much of the winter
to date.  These conditions have extended further south than usual giving an
above average season to date for borderline ski areas in southern states
like Tennessee.

In the past week the snow has continued to fall around Europe and North
America with some of the most in Austria and Alberta, Canada.
Alps and Dolomites

Most of the world’s snow fans have their eyes on TV screens where the
cameras are pointing at France this week for the World Alpine Skiing
Championships underway at Val d’isere.  There has been limited fresh snow in
the country over the past week with a dusting in the Alps at the weekend,
the most in the south with resorts Val d’Allos, Auron and Isola 2000 each
reporting 20cm (eight inches) in the past week.  Much larger falls of up to
60cm (two feet) are expected in the next week on the main Alpine resorts,
most of which currently have upper slope depths of two-three metres (7 – 10
feet).

On Monday, February 2nd, unusually heavy snowfalls, typically 15cm (six
Inches) affected the north half of France as well as crossing the channel to
South Eastern England. The snow touched both London and Paris.
In Austria more than 20 ski areas are now reporting more than two metres of
snow on their upper slopes.

“Slope conditions in many of the big resorts are reported to be very good,
with skiers lucky enough to be in the Arlberg, Axamer Lizum, Hochzillertal,
Ischgl, Kitzbühel, Silvretta Nova, SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser, Sillian and the
Zillertal Arena amongst those benefiting. A drop of temperature and more
fresh snow is expected for the weekend.” says Pascal Bovée who reports on
much of the German-speaking parts of the Alps for www.skiinfo.com

Nassfeld received a huge fall of 60cm (two feet) yesterday taking the week’s
total to 95cm (Over three feet).  All 110km of slopes are open but skiers
should stay on marked slopes because the avalanche risk has risen
significantly.

In Germany to the north the greatest snow depth is on the Zugspitz glacier
by Garmisch Partenkirchen with two metres (Nearly seven feet) of snow.  The
country’s Sauerland (central uplands) has had some of the best conditions of
the past week with up to 20cm (eight inches) of fresh powder.

In Switzerland Zermatt continues to have probably the greatest snow depth of
any ski resort in Europe and possibly the world with 671cm (over 22 feet) on
its glacier.  They must have a very long stick to measure it.  However
several other resorts have bases above three metres now including Andermatt
and Saas Fee.  There’s been less snow in the past week although Andermatt
had 30cm (a foot) more and both Saas Fee and Engadin/St. Moritz reported
another 12cm (four inches) in total.

Italy’s Bardonecchia is hosting the first ever Snowboard FIS World Cup
Slopestyle competition today and tomorrow  (February 4th and 5th) plus
another Halfpipe contest on February 6th and 7th.  The Slopestyle course
offers six features. Starting with a rail another Butter Box offers some
time to slide before a kicker series of four jumps leads straight in the
finish and is located just a little bit above the 2006 Olympic Halfpipe in
Melezet.

Resorts in the north of the country posted the most PowderAlarms on
www.skiinfo.com in the past seven days.  San Martino Di Castrozza  saw one
of the bigger falls of 30cm (12 inches) whilst Alagna Valsesia on the west
and Arabba Marmolada  in the Dolomites both lead Italy’s greatest snow deoth
table with 480cm (16 feet) of snow each on upper slopes.

Pyrenees

In Spain all of the country’s 20 or so Pyrenean ski resorts have reached
snow depths of more than two metres, as the country’s sensational winter
2008-9 continues in to a third month of regular powder snow. The ongoing
falls are causing a lot of problems at airports and on the roads.  Baqueira
Beret reports the most snow with 275cm (nine feet) on upper slopes although
Sierra Nevada to the south of the country has the greatest snow depth in
Spain with 350cm (12 feet).

Conditions also continue to be superb in neighbouring Andorersa and on the
French side of the mountains.

Scandinavia

In Sweden www.skiinfo.com’s country manager Christer Hillörn reports that
there have been no major snowfalls but very cold temperatures as low as -
25-30C.

“The cold weather will continue this week but the heavy snowfall that hit
England is coming in today and a second front on Friday. The biggest
snowfalls are expected in the northern parts of Sweden. So we are looking
forward to a good weekend with powder skiing in the north, but also with
good conditions due to the cold weather at resorts elsewhere in Sweden too.”

It’s very similar over the border in Norway, where 64 ski resorts expect to
receive snow today after a clear, very ciold spell.  Skiinfo.com’s
Snowfinder predicts about 20cm (eight inches) as the maxiumum total snowfall
for the next four days at these resorts.

Eastern Europe

Bulgaria has had some new snow continuing itys rather average season.
Bansko has the best cover with 120cm (Four feet) of snow.

110 resorts are operating in Slovakia and 70 in the Czech Republic with a
maximum snowfall of 20cm (eight inches) n Slovakia in the past week in the
Slovak paradise and Small Fatra resorts.  Discolunts of up to 50% are
offered on some lift tickets.

Other European Countries

Elsewhere in the continent all five ski areas in Scotland remain open with
fresh snow falling currently falling and expecting to continue for the rest
of this week.

In the Netherlands January 2009 is officially the coldest month in 12 year,
according to the KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorological Instute) with the avarage
temperature just 0.7 degrees against the avarage temperature for the month
of 2.8 degrees Celsius.  Unusually the south of the country was colder
rather than the north and received the most snow.

North America

In Utah snow storms this week deposited another 120cm (four feet) at
Snowbird lifting the resort’s January’s total to 2.6m (103 inches) giving a
mid-mountain base of nearly two metres (95 inches).
“This recent parade of storms has made for the best conditions of the season
and prime powder skiing,” said Snowbird President Bob Bonar. “As we head
into the heavy snowfall months of February and March, the mountain is sure
to only get better.”
In Canada Whistler has reported nearly 30cm (a foot) of new snow in the past
48 hours at mid-mountain (1650m) taking snowdepths there to nearly 150cm
(five feet).

On the east Mont Tremblant in Quebec received more than 20cm (eight inches)
of new snow overnight, adding to the 3.3 metres (130) inches since the
opening of the season.

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Ski & snow news, Snow Conditions

Still More Heavy Snow In Europe, Fresh Snow In North America

December 19th, 2008

-       The heavy snowfall continues, resorts in the Pyrenees post new
record for accumulations.
-       Snow depths in Italy touch five metres (16 feet).
-       Healthy snowfall at last in western North America.
-       Summer skiing cancelled in southern hemisphere due to warm weather.

It’s now ten weeks since the first heavy snowfalls were reported in the Alps
and the snow is continuing to come down by the bucket load in many areas.
www.skiinfo.com reports that apart from the duration of the snowfall
obviously setting ski resorts up for a memorable season, what’s also unusual
is that almost all of the world’s major ski regions have received well above
average pre-season snowfall, usually one area will do better than another.
However this time almost everywhere has above average snow.

Along with the Alps there have been huge falls in the Dolomites, resorts in
the Pyrenees have reported record accumulations for this early in the
season. In North America the East Coast has had a good start and whilst the
Rockies and most recently the West Coast initially had more challenging
conditions early on, they’re now rapidly gaining ground.  Only parts of
Eastern Europe are currently lagging behind.

Although great for skiers and boarders the snow has caused many practical
problems in Europe however with www.skiinfo.com’s regional staff reporting
villages cut off and without power for periods, airports and railway lines
closed and on the mountains a high avalanche risk as some of the more recent
snow has been heavy during a period of warmer temperatures.  There have been
deaths on the mountains already as a result and Skiinfo strongly advises
everyone to stay on the marked runs and keep a close eye on avalanche
warnings when in the mountains.

France continues to receive heavy snowfalls in the Alps and Pyrenees with
Skiinfo issuing powder alarms of up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow at some
areas.  Montgenèvre got another  40cm (16 inches) and Val d’Isère 20cm
(eight inches) more on Tuesday alone.  But all the snow means there is a
high risk of avalanche everywhere.
The greatest snow depths are reported at Valberg  260cm (8.7 feet) and Isola
2000 250cm (8.3 feet), but many resorts have base depths of more than two
metres (6.7 feet), including Meribel, where the Freestyle World Cup is being
staged today.

In Austria snow falls and snow depth are if anything, even greater than
France – although with everywhere in the happy position of having so much,
why quibble over a few inches?  The Mölltal Glacier reports  310cm (over 10
feet) and Obergurgl 255cm (8.6 feet).

Fresh snowfalls totaling up to 1.2m (four feet) have been reported at some
Austrian resorts over the past week with Nassfeld Hermagor reporting 120cm
of new snow, Bad Gastein 95cm (over three feet).

Snowfalls in Germany to the north have been more modest with Balderschwang
receiving 20cm (eight inches) more last Friday, taking base depths to 100cm
(40 inches) on upper slopes, one of the deepest in the country.
Switzerland has once again received big snowfalls in the past week with
Zermatt, once again, one of the leading beneficiaries receiving yet another
85cm (nearly three feet) over the past seven days.  Nearby Saas Fee got 65cm
(26 inches) and St Moritz 50cm (20 inches) ahead of hosting the FIS Alpine
Ski World Cup Ladies Super Combined tomorrow 19 December, Downhill on
Saturday 20 December, and Super G on Sunday 21 December.  Disentis has the
most snow with 350cm (nearly 12 feet) ion upper slopes.  Saas Fee has 288cm
(nearly 190 feet) and Zermatt 250cm (over eight feet).

To the south the snowfall that has brought parts of Italy to a standstill
has not let up with the country’s north east getting the heaviest falls in
the past week which has partially cut off some ski towns like La Thuile and
Sauze d’Oulx.  As a result Alagna in Monterosa has some of the greatest snow
depths in the world at present with 420cm (14 feet) on upper slopes although
Arabba in the dolomites leads the way with 480cm (16 feet).  Many other
resorts now have three metres plus (over ten feet) bases.

The huge snowfalls in the Pyrenees have perhaps been the biggest snow story
of the past month, because conditions have been rather lackluster there in
recent seasons. In Andorra virtually all runs are open and snow depths have
reached 170cm (nearly six feet) in VallNord, with similar conditions in
GrandValira, which reported another 15cm (six inches) of snow on Monday.

It’s much the same on both the Spanish and French side of the chain with
Spain’s Baqueria Beret reporting that the more than four metres of snow it
has received in the past month is the most it has ever received this early
in the season. It currently has 225cm (7.5 feet) on upper slopes.  Many
Spanish  resorts have reached two metres (seven feet) of fresh powder snow
depth.

In Norway there will be 50 ski resorts open this weekend and Skiinfo.no
reports eight of them are expecting over 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow over
the next four days.  XC skiing is fantastic too.

Does all this snow mean that global warming is a myth? We’ve noticed our
weekly reports in recent weeks have been appearing on websites of
organizations who believe they do! Well, alas, probably they don’t. The
exceptionally heavy snowfall is great but fits the long term pattern of
increasing extremes of weather rather than being any long term guarantee
that the global warming projections are wrong. We can always hope of course
and as it’s likely to take decades more to prove the matter one way or the
other, we’ll have a while yet to wait and see.

Those who do think the heavy snow in the Alps means there’s no global
warming will want to skip over the fact that in Eastern Europe conditions
remain ‘challenging’ with only Bansko in Bulgaria open and with very limited
terrain on largely machine made snow.  Borovets reported light snowfall
early in the week but needs much more.

In Scotland the situation has deteriorated a little in the past week with
warmer temperatures bringing a thaw and Glenshee no longer open until the
next snow comes. There’s very limited terrain open at Cairngorm and the
Lecht with the situation being reviewed daily.

In the southern hemisphere too the resort of Whakapapa in New Zealand which
has managed to offer summer skiing the past few years and had great snowfall
over their winter months has just announced it won’t be offering Christmas
skiing this year due to recent warm weather melting the remaining snow too
much.
In North America the one area that had been having serious problems with
lack of snow – the West Coast to the rest of the Rockies, has at last had
some healthy falls in many areas with most resorts finally opening or able
to open more terrain,

“A strong cold North Pacific winter storm brought snow at a rate of 1 inch
(2.5cm) per hour, with snow fall totals ranging between 22 and 36 inches,”
Squaw Valley USA in California reported on Monday.  “The US National Weather
Service is calling for another 18-30 inches and continued snow showers are
in the forecast through to Tuesday December 23rd.”

Other parts of North America have been having more good snowfalls too. In
Colorado Jen Brill of Silverton sent a picture of the ski area shuttle bus
buried in snow (attached) and reported, “The total from the last seven days
is 55 inches (nearly 1.4 metres) of new snow.  It continues to snow hard
today so we have not been able to get a depth from the upper mountain but it
likely exceeds two feet (60cm)  of new snow. “

There’s been more snow in Canada too. Marmot Basin which was one of the
first on the continent to open last month and has had consistently good snow
since we received 55cm (22 inches) of new snow over the past week and a half
and 20cm 9eight inches) of new snow last Friday alone.

“This means we will be opening a whole bunch more runs and ski lifts this
weekend as conditions are superb.” said the resort’s Brian Rode.

Visit www.skiinfo.com to sign up for powder alarms from your favourite
resorts, check current snow conditions and projected snowfalls with snow
finder as well as exchange news and views in the Skier’ Lounge.

For the current top five snow depths in countries across Europe please see:
http://www.skiinfo.com/Snowreport-Europe-Top-5-1716-en.jhtml

Skiinfo.com  also projects where the snow is likely to fall in the near
future through its Snow Finder service:
www.skiinfo.com/Snowreport-Snowfinder-7711-en.jhtml

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