Heli-Skiing in New Zealand

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Heli-Skiing in New Zealand

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Heli-skiing is an exciting snow sport adventure that is not only reserved for the ultra-wealthy or super-experienced. With New Zealand in the midst of its snowy winter season there are a number of ski-tour operators offering heli-skiing packages to suit differing levels of expertise, ranging from day-trips through to a full week of gliding down the slopes less travelled.

Offering heli-skiing in Wanaka and Queenstown, Southern Lakes Heliski services more than 6,000 square kilometers of terrain across nine mountain ranges, with a maximum height of 2585 meters and more than 400 potential runs. Boasting more than twenty-five years in the heli-skiing industry, Southern Lakes Heliski takes skiers and snowboarders to some spectacular terrain with package options including two, four, six and eight runs daily, as well as an all-inclusive weekly heli-ski trip. They also have exclusive access to the Clarke Glacier in the Forbes mountain range. Needless to say the view from the helicopter is enough to take your breath away before you even hit the slopes. IFMGA qualified guides with years of heli-skiing experience uphold high safety standards while sharing their passion for skiing.

With the slogan “if you can ski, you can heliski”, Harris Mountains Heli-Ski operates in the Southern Alps and Harris Mountains, offering daily, multi-day and private charters with a team with decades of experience in skiing and all aspects of mountaineering, several of whom work at ski resorts in northern hemisphere countries during the New Zealand summer. Harris Mountains Heli-Ski guides are trained through the New Zealand Mountain Guide’s Association (NZMGA).

Methven Heliski offers heli-skiing adventures in the Arrowsmiths, Ragged and Palmer Ranges around two hours from Christchurch. Known for delivering New Zealand’s most consistent high-quality snow conditions, this glaciated mountain range runs parallel to the Main Divide of the Southern Alps. Runs cater for heli-skiers and heli-boarders of all levels of expertise, with over 1,00- square kilometers of mountain terrain to explore.

Promising an escape from the crowds and queues of Queenstown, Wilderness Heliskiing offers hundreds of square kilometers of remote and untamed mountain wilderness at Mount Cook National Park. From “steeps and deeps” to rolling glaciers, Mount Cook is superb high-alpine terrain with something for all levels of experience.

If you have ever wanted to give heli-skiing a try, now’s the time. The New Zealand snow skiing season is in full swing, snowfall is plentiful and high adventure is just a helicopter ride away.

Experience the Thrill of Snowscooting

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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.

Visit the New England Ski Museum

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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.

Snow Skiing Champion: Hermann Maier

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Considered to be one of the finest alpine ski racers in history, Hermann Maier is the holder of two gold medals earned at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games and one silver medal earned at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games, as well as four overall World Cup titles – 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004. He also has numerous World Cup titles in other disciplines, including the World Cup Super-G title for 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004.

Born in Altenmarkt im Pongau, Salzburg, Austria on December 7, 1972, Maier was introduced to skiing at a young age through his father’s skiing school. He showed great promise with his technique and at the age of 15 he was accepted into the Austrian national ski academy. Due to problems with his knees and his smaller than average size, he was dropped from the program and he returned to Flachau, competingin local races and becoming a regional champion in Tyrol and Salzburg.

In January 1996, he achieved the 12th fastest time in a giant slalom event in Flachau, which brought him to the attention of the coaches of the Austrian World Cup ski team and launched his international competitive ski career. On February 10, 1996, Maier made his World Cup debut at Hinterstoder, Austria, finishing 26th in the giant slalom. In February 1997, he won the World Cup Super-G race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and in 1998 he won gold medals for both the giant slalom and Super-G at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. What makes his victories even more noteworthy is that they took place only days after he flew off the course of a downhill race and went tumbling head over heels a few times before crashing through two stretches of B-netting, walking away unscathed. The crash and his gold medal achievements brought him to the attention of the sporting world and he made the cover of Sports Illustrated with the byline “Thrills and Spills – The Olympics as You’ve Never Seen Them”.

Maier’s career went from strength to strength and in 2000 he won the World Cup title, as well as the title for downhill, Super-G and giant slalom, setting a record of the most points garnered by an alpine skier in a World Cup title. (His record of 2000 points was broken in 2013 by Tina Maze who scored 2414 points.) In 2001, Maier repeated his World Cup wins and gained silver and bronze medals at the 2001 World Championships held in St Anton.

In August 2001, Maier was in a serious motorcycle accident which required lengthy reconstruction surgery and rehabilitative therapy. However, he returned to international competitive skiing in January 2003, winning the Super-G at Kitzbühel, Austria. His amazing recovery and return to competitive skiing was acknowledged by the 2004 Laureus World Sport Award for the “Comeback of the Year” after he reclaimed both the overall World Cup title and the Super-G title. It’s no wonder that he is sometimes referred to as ‘The Herminator’.

Following several more victories, and having made an indelible mark on the history of the sport of snow skiing, Hermann Maier announced his retirement from competitive skiing in October 2009.

Indoor Snow Sport Complex for Texas

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The city of Grand Prairie in North Texas has announced plans to build an all-year-around indoor snow sport center featuring seven different slopes to cater for skiers and snowboarders, from beginners to experts. Beginner runs have four slope angles, while green runs feature slopes from 6 to 10 degrees, and blue runs from 10 to 12.5 degrees. Black runs will have slopes from 12.5 degrees to 28 degrees, with the same gradients for forest runs. Snowboarders have look forward to a top-of-the-range snowboard park featuring a full competition half pipe, terrain park, rails, kickers, jumps and a performance area, as well as a free rider run with snow berms. The 1,900′ ski run will be the longest of its kind in the world and all this will be accommodated in a structure almost 300′ tall, 1,220′ long and 570′ wide. Other features of the resort will be a play area, tobogganing, snow tubing and a luge track.

The Grand Alps® indoor ski center will form part of a hotel, entertainment and retail complex. The 4-star Hard Rock hotel will have 300 rooms, as well as a conference center and a number of meeting and event rooms. Entertainment options will include a rooftop swimming pool, complete with cabanas and poolside bar and grill, a family entertainment center, a digital Cineplex and a variety of restaurants, cafés and retail stores. The complex will also feature a Spa and Wellness center, available to both guests and members of the public.

The estimated cost of the resort is $398 million, with funding coming from various sources including private-equity investors and the Grand Alps company, led by Sherman Thurston and Levi Davis. The city’s investment in the project reportedly includes the land upon which the center will be built, three-year TIF funds for infrastructure, as well as 100% real estate tax abatement for a period of seven years, and a 75 percent rebate of hotel/motel tax for a period of ten years.

According to Thurston, Grand Alps is building indoor ski resorts in China, Malaysia and Brazil, but the Grand Prairie project is their first in the United States. The project is expected to start in the first quarter of 2015, with a view to opening in early 2018.

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