The snow sport industry has been identified by the United Nations Environment Program as being one of the most vulnerable industries when it comes to being affected by climate change. With average winter temperatures rising, and the first snowfalls happening later and later, it is becoming increasingly difficult for resorts to run for the number of days they would have in the past. Even resorts with comprehensive snowmaking equipment are finding temperatures too warm to maintain ski-worthy slopes at the beginning and end of the season. Snow skiing areas at lower elevations appear to be most at risk for losing income, as many lack the resources to deal with the drop in natural snowfall and shortening of snow sport seasons.
Founded in 2007 by Jeremy Jones, a pro snowboarder who took note of resorts closing due to lack of snow, Protect Our Winters (POW) aims to “unite and actively engage the global snow sports community to lead the fight against climate change.” POW launched the “POW Riders Alliance” consisting of fifty-two professional snow sport athletes who are dedicated to fighting climate change. These alliance members are committed to making others – sponsors, fans, students, media, etc. – aware of the problems facing the snow sport industry. POW representatives have been to Capitol Hill to discuss with members of Congress the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon standards, and have hand delivered a letter signed by seventy-five professional athletes to the White House urging President Obama to act on clean energy and climate change.
In addition to numerous other climate change awareness projects, under the banner of the POW7, the organization has compiled a list of seven things individuals can do to fight climate change. Visit the POW website to find out how you can get involved.
This popular annual event features participants competing in their Interschools Division, with medals awarded to the top three female and male competitors in each division. Overall Male, Female, Secondary and Primary ACT School Cups are calculated from points earned. For more information visit snowsportsact.com.au
Date: 7 Sept 2014
State: New South Wales
The Balmain Cup is Australia’s oldest interclub snowsports competition and has been going for 76 years. The program includes slalom, giant slalom, snowboard giant slalom and cross country. The cup was donated in 1936 by the Balmain brothers who ran a bus service in the area. For more information on this exciting evnet visit www.snowsportsact.com.au/Balmain_Cup.html
Date: 30 August 2014
State: New South Wales
After a very slow start to the 2014 season in June, Australian ski resorts are celebrating massive snowfalls which have left some areas covered in more than a meter of snow – just in time for the country’s mid-year school holidays. Communications and Media Manager of Australia’s biggest resort, Samantha Hales, noted that there will be more than forty lifts operating at Perisher, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega this weekend. Staff members at the resort are working hard at grooming snow, building lift tracks and ensuring that the ski areas are safe for the influx of guests expected at the weekend.
Referring to the bountiful snowfall as ‘Snowmageddon 1.0′, Mount Hotham has already got lifts going and is anticipating excellent school holiday snow skiing and snowboarding activity. With predictions of more snow – ‘Snowmageddon 2.0′ – the resort is geared up to receive guests with all the facilities needed for loads of snow sport fun.
With gold being discovered in the remote region of the Victorian Alps in 1851, skiing was born out of necessity for the miners in the area. As roads were developed by mining companies, skiing was no longer the most efficient way to travel, but during the 1920s recreational skiers discovered Mount Hotham and development of the area as a ski resort followed.
Located at 1861 meters in the Victorian Alps northeast of Melbourne, Mount Hotham has a ski area of 320ha with superb beginner terrain (20% of area), intermediate terrain (40% of area) and advanced terrain (40% of area). Its longest downhill run is 2.5 km, and it has uphill lift capacity of 24,485 per hour, with snowmaking facilities to augment natural snowfall on slopes.
Australia’s ski areas experienced one of the warmest May months in years, and June produced very little snow, with some areas, including Treble Cone at Wanaka, having their sparse snow cover washed away by rain. Climate scientists confirmed that June temperatures were well above average, further fueling fears that 2014 may be a disappointing season. But all that changed when snow started falling, and excitement is mounting as snow sport enthusiasts plan to head for the slopes in July, and Australia’s ski resorts are ready and waiting with a snow-laden welcome.
Described as a cross between snowboarding and BMX, snowscoots are an exciting and novel addition to the ever-growing array of snow-sport equipment. Consisting of two boards with handlebars and foot straps, snowscoots are highly maneuverable as riders can steer as well as use their body movement to change direction, while reaching similar speeds to those attained by snowboarders and snow skiers. The majority of ski resorts in Europe have sanctioned the use of snowscoots, but North American resorts reportedly have yet to embrace the concept.
The first snowscoot prototype was created in 2003 by Philippe Lasala, who went on to found Black Mountain Downhill Design, the manufacturer and distributor of a range of snowscoots and other equipment. The snowscoot made its debut appearance during the World Cup in Pra-Loup, France, with the first competitions taking place in 2004. The concept was readily accepted by adventurous snow sport fans and by 2006 up to 50% of France’s resorts were offering snowscooting as one of their activities. By 2010, a number of ski areas in Switzerland had sanctioned the use of snowscoots, and it continues to gain thrill-seeking fans.
Snow sport enthusiasts in the UK can try out snowscooting at Chill Factore in Manchester – an indoor snow sport venue with a 180 meter slope boasting real snow. In addition to skiing, snowboarding and snowscooting, snow tubing offers a whole lot of fun with minimal risk. Instructors are on hand for beginners, while more experienced skiers can take the opportunity to brush up on their skills. There is also a Snow Play area and a Snow Park, with organized events increasing the fun factor of an awesome family outing. Certainly, there are many good reasons to add snowscooting to your list of snow-based activities.
Situated at Franconia Notch State Park, the New England Ski Museum has an interesting collection of items relating to the history and development of snow skiing, which are on display for the education and enjoyment of the thousands of visitors who pass through its doors each year. The museum has been operating as a non-profit organization since December 1982, presenting both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Detailing a timeline of skiing from prehistoric times through to the 1990s, the permanent exhibition at the museum is entitled From the First Tracks to the Fall Line: Eight Thousand Years of Skiing.
The permanent display also includes fascinating facts about the history of skiing in New England, listing historic events at Cannon Mountain, and chronicling the career of World Cup alpine skier Bode Miller, who was born in Easton, New Hampshire. Visitors to the museum can view film clips on any of several video screens, selecting from topics that include ski instruction, skiing and snowboarding styles and other items of interest. There are also film clips highlighting the unpredictability of snow and the danger and power of avalanches, with a view to promoting caution and safety when enjoying the great outdoors.
At the entrance of the New England Ski Museum, visitors will see replicas of prehistoric skis which are still used by tribes in Central Asia today. Also on display are K2Fours, popularized by Bode Miller in the mid-1990s, as well as the champion’s five Olympic medals. As the sport grew in the New England area in the 1930s, a number of small businesses developed to cater for visiting skiers. It was also in that decade that the National Ski Patrol (NSP) was formed in order to render first aid services to skiers in need. The NSP became the foundation of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division in World War II. Veterans of this military division were the driving force behind many of the ski resorts that were established following the Second World War, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. Economic hardships in the 1970s and 1980s led to many of the small ski areas closing down in what is now referred to as the ‘lost ski area’ era.
The New England Ski Museum is open 7 days a week (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas) between 10am and 5pm, starting on Memorial Day and closing at the end of Cannon Mountain’s ski season.
North American snow sport enthusiasts who are planning a mid-year ski break are likely to find just what they are looking for at one of the ski resorts in the South American Andes. Visitors to Chile have three great options just an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Santiago – El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado. These three resorts lead into one another, but operate separately, and skiers who would like to explore them all may want to consider staying in nearby accommodation and devoting at least a full day to each resort.
In recent years Valle Nevado has been transforming itself into the region’s first ‘Mountain Village’ with new and upgraded facilities for the comfort and convenience of guests. The new gondola ferries visitors from the Service Area over a distance of more than one thousand meters to the Bajo Zero Restaurant situated at around 3,200 meters above sea level. Each cable car carries six occupants, thereby minimizing queues waiting to ascend the mountain. Alongside the Bajo Zero gondola station, new beginner trails for adults ensure that visitors of all ages and levels of experience get the most out of time spent at Valle Nevado. Children between the ages of 4 and 9 years can join the Snow School where ski and snowboard instructors are ready to teach beginners the very basics, as well as to help those with more experience to improve their skills.
Valle Nevado’s ‘Learn to Ride’ and ‘Kids Learn to Ride’ centers offer beginners of all ages the opportunity to gain snowboarding skills, using a new method developed by Burton – one of the world’s leading snowboard manufacturers. The Snow Park offers terrain to challenge skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
Valle Nevado offers rental of the latest equipment, day-lockers, restrooms, and a shuttle service between the ski service area and nearby hotels. In addition to stocking the very latest in gear, outerwear and accessories, the Ski Shop provides a demo service for customer to try equipment on the slopes before making their purchases. Moreover, the resort offers summer training facilities for ski and snowboard teams, featuring slopeside lodging, athlete-specific meals, training terrain and spa and fitness center services. So, check out the facilities of Chile‘s Valle Nevado if you’re planning to head south for some mid-year skiing.
The 19th Scots Race will take place at Perisher on Monday 7 July 2014. The event is open to students from Transition to Year 12 from all schools. Find out more and enter online at snowsports.tsc.nsw.edu
Date: 7 July 2014
State: New South Wales
Open to students aged 4 to 19 years from any school or college, the Knox Pymble Snow Sports Race is for both skiers and snowboarders and will take place on Tuesday 1 July 2014 at Thredbo. For more info email email@example.com
Date: 1 July 2014
State: New South Wales
This popular annual event is open to all ages. Participants can enter the Skier Cross or Snowboard Cross as an individual or a team of three. To establish a seed time participants complete one run individually down the course, following which heats are held in age groups with two skiers/boarders on the course at the same time. First competitor across the line progresses to the next heat and ultimately to the final. For more information and to enter visit snowsportsact.com.au
Dates: 27 July 2014
State: New South Wales