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.
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.
In a recent survey by SKI magazine, around 20,000 readers voted for their favorite ski destination in the West, with Utah earning some high praise and three spots in the top ten. Deer Valley took second place, with Park City Mountain Resort coming in at fifth and The Canyons at tenth. Other Utah resorts in the top thirty included Snowbird at 17th, Alta at 27th, Solitude at 28th, Snowbasin at 29th and Brighton at number thirty.
Deer Valley Resort is located near Park City in the Wasatch mountain range, around 36 miles east of Salt Lake City. The ski culture has its roots in the Park City Winter Carnivals that took place in the 1930s, with ski trails being built during the winter months of 1936-1937 and the first ski lifts where built by local residents in 1946. A lot has changed since then, and today Deer Valley has over two thousand acres of skiable area, with one hundred runs offering everything from green dot ‘easiest’ to black diamond ‘most difficult’. The 24 lifts servicing the area can move more than 50,000 skiers per hour and include a gondola, a fixed-grip quad chairlift, 12 high-speed quad chairlifts, 5 triple chairlifts, 2 double chairlifts, and 4 magic carpets. Snowfall averages 300 inches per season, with snowmaking equipment covering more than 660 acres. In the 2013 SKI magazine survey, Deer Valley was second only to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and achieved top ten ratings in the categories of lifts, snow cover, weather, access, digital performance, après-ski, off-hill activities and overall satisfaction.
The top fifteen resorts of the thirty highlighted by the survey are:
1. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
2. Deer Valley, Utah
3. Vail, Colorado
4. Sun Valley, Idaho
5. Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
6. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
7. Telluride, Colorado
8. Steamboat, Colorado
9. Snowmass, Colorado
10. The Canyons, Utah
11. Beaver Creek, Colorado
12. Big Sky, Montana
13. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
14. Mammoth Mountain, California
15. Crested Butte, Colorado
As resorts in North America started wrapping up the 2012/2013 ski season, abundant snowfall has resulted in some resorts extending the season, at least through the weekend of 19-21 April. Among the resorts keeping their lifts and facilities going for the upcoming weekend are Colorado’s Copper Mountain, Vail Mountain and Breckenridge. Aspen Highlands had already committed to staying open through April 21, but now plan to reopen for the weekend of 27-28 April. Winter Park Resort had also committed to a closing date of 21 April and is currently sticking with that, while Loveland Ski Area has plans to remain running until 5 May, and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is reportedly keeping its options open to extend its season into June.
In honor of its 40th anniversary, Copper Mountain is offering daily lift tickets at $40, with Sierra, Timberline and American Flyer being open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 9am and 4pm. Retail, rentals and restaurant facilities will be open at Center Village. Noting that “Mother Nature is a fickle business partner”, president and general manager of Copper Mountain Resort Gary Rodgers went on to say that the extended season was a good way of thanking loyal guests for celebrating the resorts 40th anniversary. In addition to receiving more than a foot of snow since Copper Mountain’s original closing day, snow is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, with the possibility of more during the weekend.
Vail Mountain has received up to two feet of snow since Monday, with the irony of a snowstorm after closing day not being lost on skiers who had enjoyed what was meant to be the final weekend of Vail’s 50th anniversary season. With steady snow falling during an employee ski day on Monday, Vail management took the decision to extend its season, something which it apparently hasn’t done since the 1986-87 season. While it may seem that it’s an easy decision to stay open, it is quite a challenge for the resort’s management to gather and reemploy staff and care for other logistics. But when it means more time on the snow, no challenge is too great to overcome, and skiers no doubt understand that services offered will be limited to the basics. If the comments and ‘likes’ on Vail’s Facebook page is anything to go by, the resort is in for an exciting and busy weekend as skiers and snowboarders head back for the slopes.
With her spectacular Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom victory in Zagreb, Coatia, on January 4, 2013, Mikaela Shiffrin became the first American to win two World Cup slalom races before the age of 18, as well as becoming the youngest woman since 1977 to win two World Cup slalom races in one season – her first win of the season being at Âre in Sweden on December 20, 2012. Her margin of victory in Zagreb was an astounding 1.19 seconds and the popular 17-year old was crowned as Snow Queen following the event, while regaining the honor of wearing the red bib as the World Cup leader in her discipline. Proving that she is has what it takes to be a champion, Shiffrin has finished on the podium in each of the last nine technical events she has competed in.
Born on March 13, 1995, in Vail, Colorado, Mikaela Shiffrin discovered her talent for snow skiing at a young age, winning a Nor-Am Cup super-combined race at Panorama, BC on December 14, 2010, at the age of 15. In her next three Nor-Am races – a super-G, a grand slalom and a slalom – she took second, third and first place respectively, following this up with first place in two Nor-Am slalom races at Maine’s Sunday River. Her bronze win for slalom at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships at Crans Montana in Switzerland shortly after, brought her to the attention of the international skiing community.
Two days before her sixteenth birthday, Shiffren made her World Cup debut in a giant slalom event at Spindleruv Mlyn in the Czech Republic. In April 2011 she became the youngest American skier to earn a national alpine crown when she won the US National slalom title at Winter Park, Colorado. Her first World Cup podium win came at Lienz, Austria, where she won third place at slalom on December 29, 2011. Her second podium finish was a third place at Levi, Finland, on November 10, 2012.
Following her victory, Mikaela Shiffrin was quoted as saying “I was in the zone where you feel like you’re skiing well and you almost feel unstoppable”. Certainly, this young skier has made an impression and is no doubt on her way to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, with a growing fan-base wishing her well.
With a little more than fourteen months to go before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the construction of brand-new stadiums and other facilities are reportedly running ahead of schedule. Located on the Black Sea coastline in Russia‘s Krasnodar Krai, Sochi is the country’s largest resort city, popular with both domestic and international tourists. As the host city in 2014 for the XXII Olympic Winter Games, the XI Paralympic Winter Games, and the Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix, Sochi is set to receive an unprecedented influx of tourists, and authorities are confident the city will be up to the challenge.
The Winter Olympics venues will be in walking distance from one another and will be grouped around a lake featuring the Medals Plaza. The venues, which are all newly constructed, include the Bolshoi Ice Dome which can accommodate 12,000 spectators and will host the ice hockey final; the Shayba Arena hosting ice hockey and accommodating 7,000 spectators; the Adler Arena Skating Center hosting speed skating and accommodating 8,000 spectators; the Iceberg Skating Palace hosting figure skating and short track speed skating with seating for 12,000 spectators; the Ice Cube Curling Center and the Fisht Olympic Stadium hosting the opening and closing ceremonies with seating for 40,000 spectators.
Skiing, snowboarding, bobsleigh and luge venues for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics include the Laura Biathlon & Ski Complex on the slopes of Psekhako Ridge; the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park and Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in the Western Caucasus; the Sliding Center Sanki in Rzhanaya Polyana; and the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center in Esto-Sadok village situated on the northern slope of Aibaga Ridge.
Winter sport disciplines featured in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics program include Alpine Skiing; Biathlon; Bobsleigh; Cross-country Skiing; Curling; Figure Skating; Freestyle Skiing; Ice Hockey; Luge; Nordic Combines; Short Track Speed Skating; Skeleton Sledding; Ski Jumping; Snowboarding; and Speed Skating. The following events are being considered for inclusion in the official program having been submitted by their respective federations: Figure Skating Team event, Women’s Ski Jumping; Ski Half-Pipe; Team Relay Luge and Mixed Relay Biathlon.
Events to take place in the new venues prior to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics include the Figure Skating Grand Prix Finale on December 6-9 in the Iceberg Skating Palace, and the Under-18 Ice Hockey World Championship in the Bolshoi Ice Dome in April 2013.
With spectacular views, world-class resorts and superb quality snow, Utah is a popular destination for snow sport enthusiasts. With recent snowfall of between two and four foot deep, and temperatures low enough to preserve the fluffy snow, some resorts are opening earlier than planned for the 2012-2013 ski season. Brighton Ski Resort’s Majestic, Explorer and Snake Creek lifts opened Tuesday November 13, with a number of other Utah resorts set to welcome skiers and boarders in the coming weeks.
Alta Ski Resort received 50 inches of snow on the weekend and will be opening Friday November 16. Canyon Ski Resort has set their opening for November 23, with Powder Mountain Resort opening on November 21, Snowbasin on November 22, Snowbird on November 15, Solitude Mountain Resort on November 14, Wolf Mountain on November 23, Sundance Resort on December 7 and Deer Valley Resort on December 8.
Deer Valley Resort has a reputation for being the most upmarket of the resorts and has groomed runs catering for every level of competence from beginners to seasoned experts. Snowboarding is not permitted at Deer Valley, making the resort popular with skiers who object to their snow being carved up by riders. Snowboarders can head off to The Canyons where they will find their chosen sport rules. In addition to the full range of runs, boarders will find a school to get beginners going, and offer the more experienced riders tips to get the most out of the experience. Before taking it to the limit at the freestyle terrain park, boarders are required to familiarize themselves with the Smart Style Freestyle Terrain Safety initiative developed by the National Ski Areas Association together with Burton Snowboards. They are also advised to familiarizing themselves with the terrain they will be tackling, which may contain hits, banks, jumps, jibs, rails, fun boxes, half pipes, quarter pipes, bump terrain, snowcross, halfpipes and other terrain features.
Whether skiing or riding it’s important to be courteous, bearing in mind that you are responsible for your own safety and the safety of fellow snow sport enthusiasts. So go out there and enjoy the 2012-2013 snow sport season responsibly.
Favorable weather conditions in the Colorado Rockies have enabled Copper Mountain to fire up their snowmaking guns for the new snow sport season. Eighty-seven HKD snowmaking guns are to be used at the US Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, which boasts the only early-season full-length alpine racing venue in the world, according to the popular ski resort which is scheduled to open to the public in late October. Skiers and snowboarders are being given the opportunity to win VIP access to Copper Mountain’s US Ski Team Speed Center, with the bonus of being able to hit the slopes with the US Ski Team before the official opening of the resort.
The US Ski Team Speed Center is being used for training for the second season now. In addition to the snowmakers, the center features two miles of World Cup Supply A-net with steel structures, as well as five miles of B-net and fencing set on 4.500 netting poles to replicate World Cup race hills worldwide. Celebrity skiers who will be using the facilities include Olympic and World Championship gold medalist and two-time World Cup Champion (2005 and 2008) Bode Miller; four-time World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn; Olympic gold medalist and three-time giant slalom World Cup champion (2008, 2010 and 2011) Ted Ligety; and Olympic gold and silver medalist Julia Mancuso.
Located a mere 75 miles from Colorado’s Denver International Airport, Copper Mountain is widely considered to be the state’s best snow sport destination. It caters for skiers and riders of all abilities, and offers a wide range of special deals to encourage entire families to discover the joy of snow skiing and snowboarding. The western side of Copper Mountain is perfect for beginners, with intermediate slops in the center, and challenging terrain for experienced skiers on the eastern side. Copper and Union Peaks off advanced double-black diamond slopes with Union Bowl, Spaulding Bowl, Copper Bowl and Resolution Bowl being for experts only.
Woodward at Copper is a top-of-the-range 19,400 square foot indoor training facility, offering year-round training for skiers and riders in a safe and fun environment. The Tubing Hill, located in the East Village, will be opening November 30, and adventure lovers are invited to enjoy a different way of sliding down the mountain – just for the sheer fun of the experience. Spectacular skiing and boarding, restaurants, a spa, athletic club and a vibrant après scene, make Copper Mountain the destination of choice for many.
Thanks to early snowfalls and low temperatures, along with snowmaking facilities, Australia’s Perisher Resort will be opening a week earlier than planned and snow sport enthusiasts can head to Perisher’s Front Valley on Saturday June 2. While skiers take to the slopes they can feel good about the fact that proceeds from lift ticket sales for the weekend will support various charities in the local community. Opening hours on both Saturday and Sunday are from 9am to 3pm, with gear rental, retail, food and beverages being available. Perisher plans to be the first resort in Australia to kick off the 2012 winter season. Thredbo is reported to be considering opening on June 6, a few days ahead of the scheduled opening.
In New Zealand, Snow Park is planning to open on June 15 with loads of action planned for its 10th anniversary. The extensive ski and snowboard terrain park includes night skiing and slopeside accommodation. Originally owned by the Lee family, and bought over by Snow Park Holdings in 2008, Snow Park has built a reputation for world-class facilities catering to every level of snowboarder and skier, from beginners through to seasoned pros. The increase in pre-season pass sales, which come to an end this Sunday, are a clear indication that the resort is giving snow sport enthusiasts what they want. In a business that is largely reliant on the weather, Snow Park’s revenue reportedly climbed by 25 percent from 2009 to 2010, and a further 33 percent from 2010 to 2011.
The grooming and park building team at Snow Park are hard at work preparing for the season’s opening. Snow Park plans to continue its partnership with world-class terrain and halfpipe building company Development Snowparks, which considers Snow Park to be the flagship resort featuring the company’s services and products.
2011 saw the very successful debut of Snow Park School, which will continue into the 2012 season with programs for skiers and boarders to learn from scratch, or improve their technique. Night & Day Coaching will also feature on the 2012 program, with both programs offering private and group lessons catering for all levels of experience.
So, while the northern hemisphere looks forward to summer, New Zealand and Australia have plenty to offer snow sport enthusiasts – in the very near future.
The recent announcement that Cardrona Alpine Resort in New Zealand will be hosting both the World Cup freestyle ski halfpipe and snowboard halfpipe in August this year has been greeted with much enthusiasm by the New Zealand snow sport community. Marty Toomey, CEO of Snow Sports New Zealand, was quoted as saying that the events will provide Kiwi athletes with a unique opportunity to compete against the world’s top snow sport athletes. The two events will also offer the first opportunities for athletes to qualify for the 2014 winter Olympics set to take place in Sochi, Japan.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) sanctioned freestyle ski halfpipe is scheduled for 22 August, with the freestyle snowboard halfpipe taking place on 25-26 August 2012. CEO of Winter Games New Zealand, Arthur Klap, noted that he expected up to 90 percent of the world’s best snow sport athletes to compete in the events as they lead up to the 2013 Winter Games to be held in New Zealand, as well as being qualifiers for the Sochi winter Olympics. Toomey noted that overseas competition was difficult to get into because of its limited available entries, and having the two World Cup events at Cardrona will present an opportunity for local athletes to break into overseas competition. He added that, due to its Olympic qualification status, the events will attract some of the world’s top riders, giving New Zealand “athletes a chance to benchmark themselves against the best on home turf.”
Located around midway between Queenstown and Wanaka on New Zealand’s north island, Cardrona Alpine Resort is set in spectacular surroundings with views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern New Zealand Alps. As a family-style resort, Cardrona offers beginners’ courses and tuition programs, while at the same time offering a host of exciting terrain options to challenge the most experienced of skiers and snowboarders. Spread over an area of more than 790 acres, the resort boasts state-of-the-art lifts to get skiers to the slopes with the minimum of delay. The terrain parks at Cardrona feature jibs, jumps, first-class pipes and a gravity cross course guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping.
The upcoming World Cup events at Cardrona fall right in the middle of the winter season, and competitors and spectators alike are assured of plenty of snow and plenty of world-class snow sport action.