Celebrating the onset of winter in New Zealand by promoting the thrill of snow skiing, some of the country’s top winter athletes will be offering free skills sessions at Snowplanet on Saturday May 18, 2013. The special ‘Welcome to Winter’ event will feature loads of tips from Anna Wilcox, Tom McGaw and Byron Wells, helping newcomers and seasoned snow sport enthusiasts to hone their skills for the coming season.
Based in Wanaka, Byron Wells participated in the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships held at Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort in December 2012, claiming second place in the Men’s Freeski Superpipe event, thereby adding to his growing list of achievements. As one of four talented brothers, Byron was born in Wanaka on April 3, 1992, and was introduced to the snow at a very young age. He earned the title of the New Zealand National Champion for ski racing in his age group from 2000 through to 2006.
With her eye on the 2014 Winter Olympic Games set to take place in Sochi, Russia, freeskier Anna Wilcox-Silfverberg’s career best thus far has been third place in the International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle Ski World Cup women’s slopestyle finals held in Sierra Nevada Spain. Based in Auckland, Wilcox has only been competing in the slopestyle discipline for a year, so the third place victory reveals the skier’s huge potential for the future.
Based in the Southern Lakes region and training at Snow Park and Cardrona, Tom McGaw is fresh out of high school and already making an impression on the New Zealand snow sport scene with his daredevil talents.
Go Snow marketing coordinator Jo Lynch is encouraging skiers and snowboards to join in the fun and learn new tricks and ride with the pros on Snowplanet’s terrain park, noting that the athletes are taking time out from their busy training schedules to pass on some tips, share their experiences and answer questions.
Skiers and riders can also see this as an opportunity to try the latest gear, see some equipment demos, stand a chance of scoring some awesome giveaways, and enjoy the music. Welcome to Winter starts at 9am on May 18 and goes on all day. Pre-sold discounted tickets are available on the Snowplanet website from today.
While in the United States snow skiing resorts are dealing with the economic impact of reduced snowfall, in Europe resorts have experienced a bumper 2012/2013 snow sport season with good early-season snow kicking the season off in style. The global recession hit Europe’s ski resorts hard, with 2009 experiencing a 13 percent drop in snow sport enthusiasts hitting the slopes according to the Ski Industry Report by Crystal. The decline in 2010, 2011 and 2012 was not as drastic (10%, 5% and 1.8% respectively), but nonetheless businesses suffered as holidaymakers tightened their belts. The 2012/2013 season, however, was reminiscent of pre-recession days with skiers and boarders turning out in large numbers and right through to the end of the season. The final figures detailing just how successful the season was will only be available in mid-April, but reports from ski resorts throughout Europe indicate that the snow sport industry is well on its way to recovery.
Among the resorts reporting increased business is St Anton in Austria which experienced a 20% increase in the month of January, making the resorts investment in infrastructure worthwhile, especially as the area received plentiful snow. France also experienced a good season, reportedly primarily due to offering value for money packages. Many ski tour operators working in Europe also introduced discounted package tours, some of which included flights, accommodation, tuition, lift passes and equipment hire. Some also offered skiers significant discounts for booking early, pushing an early start to the season, and being a turnaround on the last-minute deals of the past.
Although it is unlikely the snow sport industry in Europe has experienced a complete recovery in one season, advance bookings for 2013/2014 indicate that skiers and snowboarders intend to make the most of the icy conditions Europe has been experiencing. It was interesting to note that there was no significant growth in packages offered to beginner skiers, suggesting that the increased business over the 2012/2013 season was due to seasoned skiers returning to the sport. Moreover, it has been noted that this trend is benefiting not only the high-altitude resorts – Val Thorens and Tignes in France for example – but also the relatively low-lying resorts such as Ellmau and Söll in Austria.