Often referred to as “Sunny South Africa”, this diverse multicultural country on the southern tip of the African continent is generally not readily associated with snow skiing. However, there are snow skiing options in the country, at least one of which is available all year around – The Ski Deck in Ferndale, Gauteng. Facilities at the Ski Deck include wet surface ski slopes, a 20m static ski slope and the country’s first fully computerized simulator, dubbed The Sky Tek Power Carver – for ski and snowboard training. Additionally, The Ski Deck has an on-site shop offering top imported brands in ski clothing.
With a guaranteed 30,000m of skiing slopes, and 30 years of teaching experience on tap, The Ski Deck offers the quickest, and safest, methods of mastering skiing and snowboarding skills. Skiers in South Africa who are planning to head to Northern Hemisphere slopes for a skiing vacation can jump-start their experience by learning skiing and snowboarding techniques beforehand. This means more time on the slopes at their destination, and a whole lot more confidence in tackling the real thing.
Another advantages of learning to ski or snowboard at The Ski Deck include having an instructor on hand, providing pointers and giving correction where needed. Also, with no waiting for ski lifts to take them back to the top of a ski resort slope, students can pack a whole lot of skiing into a short space of time, perfecting their rhythm and turns. Beginners will find this particularly helpful, as learning on snow is subject to changing weather conditions and the sometimes difficult task of making their way back up the slope after each descent.
Experienced skiers can practice their skills on The Sky Tec Power Carver, ensuring they are in good shape when hitting the slopes at their favorite resort. Skiers of all levels of competency can practice their skills all year around, thereby strengthening and toning muscles used for skiing, but not necessarily in everyday life. No more aches and pains to hinder skiers as they rediscover muscles they’d forgotten they had.
Snow sport enthusiasts don’t need to leave the country to enjoy snow skiing. Reservations for the 2014 ski season at Tiffendell in the Eastern Cape Highlands of South Africa are now open. So make your booking and start honing those snow skiing skills.
With the 2014 Winter Olympics well underway, the excitement and competitive levels are running high as countries start to count their medals. Officially known as the XXII Olympic Winter Games, and most often referred to as Sochi 2014, the games feature a total of 98 events in 15 winter sport disciplines. Sochi 2014 is the debut for a number of events, including women’s ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, mixed-team figure skating, half-pipe skiing, mixed-team luge, snowboard parallel slalom, and ski and snowboard slopestyle. The events are taking place at two groups of new purpose-built venues – the Olympic Park in Imeretinsky Valley on the Black Sea coast, and the resort of Krasnaya Polyana.
The Women’s Alpine Skiing event today saw a tie for first place with Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland both covering the 2.7 km stretch in 1:41.57. This is Gisin’s third downhill victory, two of which were ties, the other being a World Cup victory in January 2009 which she shared with Anja Paerson from Sweden. Maze, wearing bib number 21, took to the starting line 30 minutes after Gisin in the number 8 bib. As temperatures rose, Maze appeared to be hindered by softening snow on the final slope, but crossed the finish line with the exact same time as Gisin – and was clearly pleased with the result. Lara Gut of Switzerland took the Bronze Medal, with Daniela Merighetti coming in fourth and Fabienne Suter in sixth place.
Yesterday’s events included the Women’s Pursuit Biathlon, with the Gold Medal going to Darya Domracheva of Belarus, Silver going to Tora Berger of Norway and Bronze to Teja Gregorin of Slovenia. The Short Program Figure Skating Pairs event saw Russia in first and third place, with Germany in second, China in fourth and Canada in fifth place. The Free Skating event will take place tomorrow, with the points earned being added to the Short Program Figure Skating Pairs to determine final score and medal awards.
Highlights of tomorrow’s program include the Ladies’ Classic Cross-Country, Men’s Figure Skating, Team Relay Luge, and Men’s Individual Biathlon. Sochi 2014 continues until Sunday 23 February.
Be sure not to miss North America’s biggest gathering of snowsports, art, music and culture. Winter sporting activities include the AFP World Championship which features the invitational Big Air and open Slopestyle. Also not to be missed is The Shred Show, Demo Park, Mascot Mayhem, Whistler Dogfest, and the Roller Derby.Festival goers can also look forward to a filmmaker showdown, pro photographer showdown, The Mountain Multiplicity Show, Outdoor Concert Series, Bud Light Apres Series, parties and more.
For more information visit www.wssf.com
Date: 11-20 April 2014
Location: Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
The exciting SnowCrown Ski & Snowboard Festival features pro and amateur slopestyle, halfpipe and big air action. All of this is accompanied by parties and a variety of activities for those attending.
For more information visit www.snowcrown.ca
Date: 10-15 March 2014
Location: Blue Mountain, Ontario, Canada
The Helly Hansen Big Mountain Battle is a thrilling scavenger hunt event for teams. Checkpoints are placed all over the mountain and each team of 2 must reach all these points within 3 hours. There are three categories in which teams can enter: Advanced course, Intermediate course, and Intermediate course 12 and Under.
For more information visit – http://www.bigmountainbattle.com/Information/
Date: 1 March 2014
Location: Killington Ski Resort, Vermont, United States of America
The SnowSports ACT Ski and Snowboard Sale & Expo is an annual event that supports the ACT snowsport athletes. At the event visitors can buy or sell preowned and new snowsport gear.
For more information visit – http://www.snowsportsact.com.au/snowsports_sale_and_expo.html
Date: 10 May 2014
Time: 8:30 – 13:30
Location: Old Bus Depot, Kingston, Australia
The Portage Health Great Bear Chase Ski Marathon is ideal for racers of all levels, offering 10km, 25km and 50km trails. The fun kicks off on Friday, 7 March, with Registration, the Junior Bear Chase and a Pasta Dinner. The real action takes place on Saturday, with races comencing between 8am and 9:50 am, following bib pick-up. Following the race is the ever-popular Pasty Lunch, then the awards ceremony and fun-filled square dancing. The weekend is rounded off on Sunday with the Great Bear Race Snow Bike Race.
For more information visit greatbearchase.com
Date: 8 March 2014
Location: Sedetown Trails, Calumet, Michigan, United States of America
Catch these top events at the 2014 Birkebeiner on 22 February: 50K Birkebeiner Skate, 54K Birkebeiner Classic, 23K Kortelopet, and 12K Prince Haakon. This exciting day features The Birkie – USA’s largest cross-country skiing marathon. Aside from the main raceday, visitors can enjoy an entire week of Birkie fun, including competitions for kids, Birkie Expo, ski games, a family snowshoe hike, the Giant Ski and more.
For more information visit www.birkie.com
Date: 22 February 2014
Location: Hayward, Wisconsin, United States of America
Skate-skiing offers adventure seeking snow sport enthusiasts something different to try their hand at on groomed trails and it is fast gaining in popularity at a number of North American ski resorts. Although it is possible to skate-ski on cross country skis, it’s not ideal and skiers won’t get the true effect of the sport. Likewise, skate-skis are not suitable for cross country skiing, so while skate skiing has the advantage of speed, it does restrict skiers to groomed trails, which some classic skiers may not enjoy. Nevertheless, it is worth trying for the thrill of it.
The skier’s height and weight will both be factors in choosing the correct length of skate-skis, which are generally around 10cm shorter than cross-country skis. They need to be shorter and lighter as the skate-skier must lift them up off the snow for each forward stride, but they do need to be long enough to deliver stability and glide. Skate-skis are generally between 41mm and 45mm wide, as the narrower the ski, the higher the speed. Adding to the speed is the fact that skate-skis generally fit into established tracks and skiers can use these to gather momentum downhill.
On most skis the waist of the ski is the narrowest part, but skating skis are often wider at the waist to facilitate the skating motion. The camber, or arch, of skate-skis is less pronounced than that of touring skis allowing skate-skiers to push off the skis’ edges effectively. Also, skate-skis are less flexible than touring skis. Because of the twisting action of the skate-skiing technique, boots used in this sport offer more ankle support and have stiffer soles.
Poles used in skate-skiing should be sturdy and around 90 percent of the skate-skiers height, or from the ground up to between the chin and lips, which is different from touring poles which reach to the armpits. This allows the skate-skier to use major muscle groups in upper body and abdomen to propel forward.
As there are marked differences between classic forms of snow skiing and skate-skiing, skiers who would like to try this exciting sport are advised to have some professional tuition before hitting the slopes.
Canadian ski resorts are enjoying excellent snowfall this season, attracting a host of snow sport enthusiasts from Europe, as many European resorts experienced a slow start to the season. Many resorts in North America have been enjoying extensive snowfall, with the Polar Vortex keeping temperatures low, much to the delight of skiers. The fact that the English Pound/Canadian Dollar is very much in favor of travelers from Britain is quoted as another factor in the spike in bookings at Canadian resorts.
But as long-time skiers will tell you, snow conditions can change very quickly, and this was the case at Mad River Glen in Waitsfield, VT. The area started off with good snowfall in December, but in recent days rain has washed the remaining snowfall off the slopes. The Vermont Ski Areas Association confirmed that there have been more closed trails in the area this January than last. With minimal snowmaking equipment and communities who depend on snow to make a living, everyone is hoping some ‘white gold’ will fall.
Warm weather and poor snowfall have caused Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps to cancel a race which forms part of the Alpine Ski World Championships which were scheduled for the last weekend in January. Although the area has extensive snowmaking facilities, the weather has been too warm to even attempt to keep the slopes covered. German economic geography professor, Jürgen Schmude, is of the opinion that changes in the weather could drastically impact Germany’s ski industry as skiers head east in search of more snow. He predicts that by the year 2050 it is very likely that only Germany‘s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, will have snow for skiing. Whether this bleak prediction will become a reality remains to be seen, but in the meantime communities who rely on ski tourism to make a living watch the weather anxiously and skiers chase the snow wherever it leads them.