Chilean Freeskiing Championships kicks off Freeride Series

Powder Magazine announces start of Freeride Series:

“The first big mountain freeride competition of the 2014-15 Freeride Series will kick off August 20-25 with The North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championships in El Colorado, Chile. The event is open to male and female skiers only.

Stop number one of the Freeride Series will take place on the massive cliff-riddled Santa Teresa venue. The series is North and South America’s premier level big mountain freeride tour providing five competition stops for skiers and four events for snowboarders. All events will be webcast live on SubaruFreerideSeries.com.

For the sixth consecutive year, big mountain ski competition will return to the Southern Hemisphere, allowing athletes from around the world to earn points on the 2014-15 Freeride Series.

The top three results out of five events throughout the competition season will crown the overall Freeride Series ski winners for men and women. The remaining four Freeride Series events in North America will be announced at a later date.

big mountain venue

Skiers take in the Santa Teresa venue in the Chilean Andes. PHOTO: Courtesy of Freeride Series

“It is great to see this stop take place in Chile once again,” explained Peter Leatherbe, El Colorado general manager. “It is a pleasure to open this out-of-bounds area of Santa Teresita. The special security measures applied by the event organizers combined with the serious preparation of the world’s best skiers make it possible to compete on this special venue safely.”

Registration for the The North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championships will go live on SubaruFreerideSeries.com on Tuesday, July 22 at 10 a.m. MST.

“It’s very fitting to kick off the 2014-15 Freeride Series in the world class terrain of El Colorado, which always promises to challenge the best of riders,” said Freeride Series Event Director Bryan Barlow. “Freeride’s growth in Chile is very apparent, and I can’t wait to see the local Chilean riders rise up to compete against some of the world’s best freeriders.”

In addition to podium awards, one skier at each event will be selected as the recipients of the Backcountry.com Sickbird award. This award is highly coveted by the big mountain freeride community and is granted to riders who challenge not only themselves but also the sport through their athletic performance.

For athlete information contact Julia Jimmerson, MSI athlete relations manager, at jjimmerson@mtsports.com or (801) 349-4616. A new website will be launched soon.

For media or general information contact Max Kuszaj, Freeride Series Chile media relations, at 801.244.7780 or skierinblack@gmail.com.

Chasing winter at Coronet Peak in Queenstown, New Zealand

Ski Gypsy Keri Reid tells us about skiing at Coronet Peak near Queenstown, New Zealand. Here’s her insider take from wanderlustandlickstick.com

“I still find myself explaining to people that summer in the Northern Hemisphere is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For the skiing and snowboarding obsessed, it can be a truly magical discovery. Indeed, it’s true: in New Zealand (as in a number of other countries), it’s currently winter. Traveling between both hemispheres to experience cold climates again and again is known as chasing winter and it’s wonderful.

A couple posts back, I delved into the beauty and majesty of the Remarkables in Queenstown, New Zealand. Its sister mountain, Coronet Peak, lies just across the valley. On a clear day, I liked to think that my instructor friends could see me waving over at them from the Remarks (is there such a thing altitude insanity?).

Stunning views, modern base building, high-speed lifts and quality grooming only begin to describe The Peak. Similarly to The Remarkables, the mountain offers endless possibilities with it’s bare landscapeyou could quite frankly ski/board anywhere there’s snow. That being said, Coronet differs from The Remarks in a number of ways:

It offers a vast amount of night skiing over the weekends, adding to it this season with an additional 80 lights amounting to 4 kilometers of newly brightened terrain.

    • The access road is provides a far gentler journey. Completely paved, its a short 20 minutes from Queenstown.
    • It’s larger, but also busier. Crowds fill the main trails, especially over the holiday periods, making it a far more challenging experience for novice skiers.

In my experience, Coronet Peak takes the cake for families and skiers/riders that enjoy groomed runs. The facilities are well suited to serving large groups of people ranging from complete beginners to strong intermediate skiers. Experts may be able to get some thrills, namely in the back bowls, but there are certainly more exciting resorts in New Zealand.

Coming up on July 26th, the sister mountains will be hosting the annual Peak to Peak race; an exhilarating five part race that can be completed individually or as a team. Totalling an epic 44 kilometers, participants ski/board, run, paddle and bike their way to glory.

Australian Geographic lists best ski resorts down under

Interesting story in Australian Geographic:

“WHY HEAD OVERSEAS FOR an action packed winter getaway when some of the best slopes are right here on your doorstep? Save on flights, avoid the hassle, and kick-up some of Australia’s powder bowls for longer this winter.

Whether you’re about to embark on your first-ever ski experience or are a seasoned boarder – look no further, Australia has an alpine playground suited to you.

Ski and Snowboard Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Kennedy says skiing in Australia beats its New Zealand counterpart hands down. “Skiing in New Zealand is completely overrated,” he says.

Staying local means you don’t have to battle long lines at the airport, he adds, or worry about baggage restrictions and more.  “There’s something very nice about jumping in the car and driving up to where you’re staying,” he says.

New Zealand has bigger mountains and more snow, but you’re not necessarily guaranteed a ski, Michael says. “People have expectations, and then because of the weather, they can’t get up the mountain at all.

And the cost of skiing in Australia isn’t much different from overseas. “A lot of noise is being made- but the industry is making an effort to provide better value for money. Resorts came out at the end of last season and promoted early bird passes and helped to generate some excitement,” Michael says.

Michael says Perisher will draw in the biggest crowd this season, and Mt Buller will continue to pull the Melbourne weekender market. Falls Creek is the place to go for families, says Michael, while Thredbo continues to provide a unique European village feel.

Read more about ski resorts in Australia

Miss Snow It All discusses privileged skier problems in Australia

Another fun story from Miss Snow It All in the Syndney Morning Herald:

Australia is in the middle of a snow rush. The double header snow storm that hit hard two weeks ago has been followed by another massive half-metre dump this week, with more predicted on Saturday.

Today is a bluebird powder day across Australia’s resorts. Let’s just say skiers, snowboarders and resorts are on a serious high champing-at-the-powder-bit to get first tracks and boast their luck on social media, to make the rest of us lament our non-powder lives.

But with every manic high their comes a low, a downer, a moment when it all gets too much and the toys get thrown out of the cot.

We call that ‘privileged skier problems’. Those moments when you can’t really believe what came out of your fellow skier or snowboarder’s mouth, or even your own.

Paid too much for your ski pass? #privilegedskierproblem At least you can afford a ski pass.

Lift line too long? #privilegedskierproblem You could be lining up for food stamps instead.

Today I am cursing my ill-timed trip to Falls Creek (at least I am going to Falls Creek, right?), arriving tonight, and therefore missing this morning’s bluebird powder day. If that’s the biggest problem in my life, then clearly I should cancel therapy.

In moments of exhaustion I have heard myself spitting chips that there’s no gluten-free to be had, like a crossfit addict deprived of kale. I have complained about the stampede of fellow skiers and boarders behind me as I try to get first tracks, and I have screamed blue murder at my choice to ski in a blinding wind blizzard storm.

Seriously? #privilegedskierproblem

Read more in PRIVILEGED.

Nearly a million expected for the Chile ski season

Chile expects more than 1 million skiers this year, here’s an interesting story from eturbonews.com

“Together with the Sub-Secretary of Tourism and Turismo Chile, we have put forth different actions abroad to strengthen our country as the leader of snow destinations within South America, hoping to achieve an increase of foreign visitors to choose Chile and enjoy its mountains. We have already received a great amount of snow in our ski centers, allowing us to be prepared to receive them,” commented Miguel Purcell, President of the Ski Association of Chile, about the country’s ski season.

The 2014 ski season kicked off in Chile with a ceremony at La Parva Ski Center, attended by the Sub-Secretary of Tourism, Javiera Montes; President of the Ski Association and CEO of Ski Portillo, Michael Purcell; and the CEOs of El Colorado, Peter Leatherbee; Valle Nevado, Ricardo Margulis; and La Parva, Thomas Grob.

“Chile offers a wide range of possibilities associated with winter sports tourism to attract national and foreign visitors,” said Sub-Secretary of Tourism Javiera Montes during the event.

“In the central region we have ski centers in the Metropolitan, Valparaiso and O´Higgins regions, and further south we have complete facilities in the Biobio, Araucania, Los Lagos, Aysen and Magallanes regions. We are estimating that our ski centers will receive 900,000 visitors this season, both domestic and international, of which between 600 and 700 thousand will be concentrated in the central region alone.”

Based on estimates from the Ski Association, members expect to receive a 15 percent increase in the number of tourists over the 2013 season, year on year. In order to provide higher quality conditions and an extended season, members have invested nearly 9.5 million dollars in infrastructure, maintenance and slope improvements.

Read more at CHILE.

Late snow forces ski resorts to rely on artificial snow in Australia

Australia is sometimes the petri dish of climate change – a place where global warming is not just a theoretical concept but a tangible reality.

Environmentalists point to the fact that last year was once again the hottest on record, seeing drought and devastating bush fires. And a late snow has forced the ski industry in places like Mount Buller to rely on artificial snow to keep resorts operating.

But the country’s conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott is viewed by many as a climate change sceptic. He once described the science behind human-induced global warming as “absolute crap”.

He has pledged to abolish the country’s carbon tax and has shut down a number of climate research bodies.

The BBC’s Australia correspondent Jon Donnison reports.

Smith Travel Blog picks best ski resorts in New Zealand and Australia

 

 

The Spire, Queenstown, New Zealand

Looking for the best ski resorts? Itching to ski New Zealand or ski Australia? Good timing: as you read this, snowflakes are falling in flurries across the ski fields.

It’s set to be one of the best snow seasons, so whether the snow gums of Falls Creek are beckoning or the Remarkables’ impressive mountain ranges near Queenstown tickle your fancy, Mr & Mrs Smith will get you there.

We even have a bunch of hotels in winter wonderlands with 30 per cent off. There’s no better time than now to don those long johns, sip mulled wine and set off on an alpine adventure.

Azur Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand

Azur Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand
‘Mind-bogglingly beautiful’ is the only way to describe this corner of the world. Azur Lodge’s free-standing stone and silver beechwood villas offer uninterrupted views of Lake Wakatipu’s smooth expanse, all the way to the mountainous horizon of the Southern Alps. Aromatherapy burners and soothing essential oils in bedrooms set the mood for a relaxing respite amid nature. The double spa baths and rainforest showers hint at sexy soaping; floor-to-ceiling windows let the outdoors in. Choose number 5 for added seclusion. There’s no restaurant here, but breakfast is served from 7am to mid-afternoon and the sociable bar that pops up in the main lodge daily more than makes up for you having to venture into town – or just order in with the help of the concierge. View offer

QT Falls Creek, High Country, Australia

QT Falls Creek, High Country, Australia
A change from its calmer summer self, Falls Creek in winter sees adventure-seekers flock to QT Falls Creek to play amid the freshly powdered scenery. Embrace your inner chef with the in-room kitchenettes or sample international cuisine at Bazaar, the hotel’s restaurant that dishes up Asian-influenced cuisine and organic salads. Stingray bar (only open in peak season) will entertain you with local musicians and DJ sets while you sip a hot toddy and nibble Mexican-inspired snacks. Almost all rooms have hot tubs stationed on private balconies for watching skiers slalom down the mountain – it’s not a bad setting for a glass of bubbly, either. East Tower rooms offer the best vistas, but for your own fireplace and a roomier Jacuzzi, the Two-Bedroom Penthouse E306 is a must. No need to pack the Uggs, there’s underfloor heating in these swish abodes, so your tootsies can get some air after being booted-up all day.

The Spire, Queenstown, New Zealand

The Spire, Queenstown, New Zealand
Nestled in Queenstown’s CBD, rubbing shoulders with boutiques, bars and restaurants, you’ll find The Spire. Set a peaceful distance away from the excitement and crowds on the ski fields, this is the perfect destination to enjoy the town’s adventurous activities before retreating to sophisticated cosiness. This boutique sanctuary is home to 10 suites, each one graced with stone-clad fireplaces, private balconies and L’Occitane toiletries. Choose Room 6 for its exclusive views of the hotel’s namesake spire. Settle in at No5 Church Lane, the hotel’s restaurant and bar, where you’ll be plied with warming tipples and Thai tapas. View offer


Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand

Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand
Incredible alpine and lake views teamed with energy-saving practices and locally-sourced, seasonal and organic produce set Matakauri Lodge apart from the competition in Queenstown. Executive Chef Dale Gartland will let you order tailor-made creations on a daily-changing menu – he’ll even source fresh seafood and game on request. Deluxe Suites 7 or 9, located at each end of the lodge, give a bit of extra privacy, but really, every single one of the 11 rooms is blessed with flawless flashes of mesmerising mountains and velvety Lake Wakatipu – not to mention fireplaces and soaking tubs by floor-to-ceiling windows. Adventure is in the air here, so don’t forgot that instead of staring at the view, you should get amongst it – ski down Coronet Peak or jet-boat through ice-cold water that’s trickled down the Southern Alps. View offer

See the full list of stylish hotels in Australia and hotels in New Zealand with 30 per cent off, browse more of Mr & Mrs Smith’s stylish boutique hotels and offers or call the expert Travel Team. Smith guests enjoy exclusive extras at all stays.*

*Copy compiled by Kat Williams

Massive snow storm saves ski season in Australia, but at deadly price

Great story by self confessed Snow It All, Rachael Oakes-Ash, in Sydney Morning Herald: 

“You know you’re in a good season when you have to traverse the stairs.” “I haven’t skied till last lifts since I was twenty five, twenty five years ago.” “Can’t speak, my teeth hurt from smiling.”

White heaven: Falls Creek has been buried under a blanket of snow.

These are just some of the comments I overheard on the chairlift at Thredbo and Perisher this week. It would be an understatement to say Australia is frothing from a double header snow storm that left behind two metres in New South Wales and almost a metre and a half in Victoria.

Charlotte Pass boasted 120cm of snow from storm one, followed by 85cm from storm two, with Thredbo and Perisher not far behind. Records have been broken. And for once ski resorts don’t have to spin the truth to their favour because the truth itself is simply unbelievable.

The two storms dubbed ‘Snowmaggedon’, ‘Snowpocalypse’ and even ‘Snowzilla’ hit the alpine regions of Australia from Monday June 23 to Sunday June 29, turning resorts from warmed-up gravel to white powder goodness. Local businesses, including luxury accommodation agency Visit Snowy Mountains, were down 19 per cent on bookings before the storm and have now seen a 265 per cent increase on enquiries.

Put simply, records have been broken. This year is the first time Falls creek has all lifts open in both weeks of the July school holidays. The resort went from no lifts to all lifts, with all terrain open in eight days thanks to 134cm of snowfall – the biggest June snowfall since 1991.

Falls sister resort, Hotham, also broke records opening all lifts in just seven days with the highest accumulated snowfall by July 1 since 2002, and the highest natural snow base by July 1 since 2000.

Even Mt Buller, who didn’t receive the full brunt of the blizzard, had their best start to a season in seven years with more terrain open in the middle of the July school holidays than they have in the past decade.

“We’ve been skiing runs earlier this year than we have in any other season in the last ten years, including Wood Run, Sun Valley and Wombat Bowl,” said David McNamara, Mt Buller spokesperson.

But not all the figures have been in every resort’s favour. Social media statistics for the week of white gold goodness revealed two resorts leading the Facebook wars by miles, with the rest lagging behind.

Snow storms are social media gold, especially when you can post images of snow depths and let your followers share the word for you. Perisher and Falls Creek both had an impressive 80 per cent engagement while the rest managed anything from 27 to 32 per cent – clearly they just went skiing, no ‘friends’ on a powder day.

But what of the snow you ask? Let’s just say my thighs have serious powder burn as I was lucky enough to hit first tracks on all storm days, including lapping thigh-deep heaven in The Bowl at Thredbo, when the only other tracks were from ski patrol last Sunday, first tracks down The Bluff at Thredbo on Monday, followed by first chair and endless first tracks at Guthega at Perisher on the new $4 million Freedom Chair.

Storm claims two lives

The storm has also resulted in tragedy. At Mt Buller, it claimed the life of a seven-year-old boy who was caught under a melting slab of snow as it fell from a roof. He wasn’t found until it was sadly, too late. Our hearts go out to his family.

The talk in Thredbo is about the avalanche at HipCheck, an out-of-bounds closed run that has already claimed one life in 1998, and this year buried a Sydney man under two metres of snow. If it wasn’t for a pocket of air and the seriously good work of Thredbo Ski Patrol, he would not have lived to duck under another rope again. Closed means, closed for a reason.

And today, more sad news from the ski fields with the death of a snowboarder at Perisher, who was discovered in a creek at 11.30pm last night after he failed to show up for work. Stay safe out there people.

Is there more snow on the way?

Why yes, I believe there is. Come Wednesday, another 50cm is predicted to fall in a two- to three- day snow storm, followed ten days later with more snowfall. Ski glove fingers crossed it all goes according to plan.

You have to feel for New Zealand right now. They started the season with a mega late May dump that was followed up by rain, and thanks to the warmest June the country has experienced in over a century, a number of resorts had to delay their openings.

However things are looking up; 20 to 35 cm of snow has fallen this week; The Remarkables finally opens today with the new Curvey Basin chairlift accessing some of the best terrain going; and more snow forecast for the weekend.

Treble Cone opens tomorrow with untouched fresh powder tracks up high just begging for some turns. Let’s hope our blizzards make it across the ditch so we can share the sore tooth pain of smiling while skiing face shots of powder.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/blogs/snow-it-all/the-massive-storm-that-saved-ski-season-but-came-at-a-deadly-cost-20140703-3b9f7.html#ixzz36QJH1rKT

 

Vail Resorts wants to expand race course at Golden Peak

Vail Resorts, announced today that it has submitted a proposal to expand Vail Mountain’s race and training terrain at Golden Peak.

The proposal, which is subject to U.S. Forest Service approval, includes increasing the size of Vail Mountain’s operational boundary by 68 acres to allow for approximately 41 acres of additional trails, three surface lifts and new snowmaking infrastructure.

With these improvements, 760 vertical feet would be added to the venue, providing 1,570 vertical feet of racing and training terrain across approximately 68 acres.

“Since Vail’s inception in 1962, ski racing has been a part of its heritage, and our partnership with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail in the development of future generations of athletes dates to the beginning of the resort as well,” said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.

“With the Club’s incredible recent performance, including athletes participating at the Sochi Olympics and being recognized as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’soverallClub of the Year this season along with four of the five individual program Club of the Year honors for alpine, snowboarding, freestyle and freeskiing amongst other awards, there has never been a better time to expand our partnership by requesting approval from the USFS for the expansion and donating our land to allow the clubhouse upgrade to move forward.”

In addition to pursuing the terrain expansion, Vail Resorts is donating a more than 11,000-square-foot parcel of land to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. Pending Town of Vail approvals, the club plans to redevelop its clubhouse, office and training facility to better serve its 600 athletes.

The donated land, which surrounds three sides of the existing club building, will allow the club to upgrade, enlarge and modernize its existing facility and will also improve traffic circulation. If Town approvals are received reasonably soon, construction could potentially commence as early as this fall.

“Our current facility is severely lacking in parking and other operational space. An expanded facility will help us better serve and develop our existing club members as many of them continue to walk onto the global ski and snowboard stage,” said Aldo Radamus, executive director of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. “The success of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail is just as dependent on the support of Vail Resorts and contributions of Vail Mountain as it is of our community and key stakeholders, and we could not be more grateful for this contribution to the future of the club.”

For more information about Vail Mountain visit www.vail.comstop by the Mountain Information Center, or call (970) SKI-VAIL (754-8245).

Air New Zealand promoting service to the South Island ski resorts

Air New Zealand has teamed up with online content creator Diaries Downunder to launch a campaign promoting its direct trans-Tasman services to the South Island ski fields.
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The campaign “Meanwhile in… New Zealand” will showcase what is happening “now” on the South Island slopes, along with the kind of colorful characters you’re likely to encounter while coming down a mountain – in the tongue in cheek style of the popular “meanwhile in…” internet memes.

The first in the series of videos, featuring a trio of posers in matching woollen skivvies and pom-pom beanies heli-dropped onto Central Otago’s Isobel Glacier, can be viewed here

Destination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd says with snow falling and more forecast for the coming week, the timing of the campaign is perfect.

“All ski resorts will be open and ready this week to welcome Australian skiers, boarders and holiday makers – so now is the time to book your seat for an unbeatable winter experience in Queenstown.”

unnamed (3)The airline has also launched a social media campaign today offering customers who hit the South Island slopes this winter the opportunity to win back the cost of their airfares by hashtagging their experiences #meanwhileinnz.

Air New Zealand General Manager Australia Leanne Geraghty says while Australia has also had its share of snow dumps this winter, there’s one thing New Zealand slopes offer that you can’t experience here.

unnamed (4)“Queenstown has some of the world’s best heli-ski routes and terrains making for a unique and memorable ski experience. Air New Zealand and our alliance partner Virgin Australia currently fly at least daily from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to the Queenstown ski region, making it possible to check out the heli conditions today and hit the slopes tomorrow.

“New Zealand has historically had a ski season that goes all the way to late September so Australians can continue booking right through spring.”

Air New Zealand, along with alliance partner Virgin Australia will operate an additional 40,000 seats into Queenstown over the peak winter period compared with the same period last year.