If you're heading out to ski in the Alps or Pyrenees this weekend then you will probably have heard that there is mega-snowfall forecast. Some resorts are expecting over 150cms over the course of the next 4 days, with the heaviest snow due on Thursday (tomorrow) and Saturday.
Whilst we all love this kind of news, travelling in these conditions can present a few challenges. Here's a few tips which we hope will help!
1. Snow chains:
Before you leave home take them out of the box and fit them, so you know how they work. There's few things worse than having to stop halfway up a mountain road as night is falling, trying to make sense of a flimsy paper instruction leaflet which is slowly disintegrating as the snow is coming down.
Having a couple of dry runs in more comfortable temperatures in full daylight, with the prospect of popping inside for a cup of tea afterwards, can make all the difference.
2. Old waterproof jacket/blanket/thin gloves/head torch:
All these items are related to the fitting of chains. An old jacket means you can pop it on and you don't mind it getting wet or dirty whilst you fit your chains. Thin gloves mean your fingers can stay warm. An old blanket or similar will give you something to kneel on on the snow, and a head torch will free up your hands.
3. Flask of something hot/snacks/water:
It can be very slow going up a mountain road when the snow is heavy. If you and everyone else has chains on then everyone has to go slower anyway, plus there could of course be hold ups along the way. Have some snacks and drinks in the car, and if you can a flask of hot coffee can do wonders.
If the forecasts are correct, snow could be continuing throughout the week, so it's not a bad idea to have your own shovel (ideally with a plastic blade, such as those used in avalanche backpacks, this will protect your paintwork). A soft bristled broom will also be very handy in brushing off soft light light snow, particularly from the roof of the car.
1. When picking up a hire car make sure it is equipped for snow. The hire company should supply chains and also ask what kind of tyres you have. When you get to the car make sure the chains are in the car before you set off and take them out of the box to see how they work.
2. As in 2 above - if you know there will be snow on the road don't travel in your best and brightest jacket, and keep some thin gloves handy.
3. Before you leave the airport grab some snacks for the journey and bottles of water.
It's a good idea if all members of your party keep their phones well charged and take a car charger if you have one.
1. If you're getting a transfer from the airport then one of the best things to have with you is patience. Whilst transfer drivers are generally pretty experienced in tough road conditions they could be caught up in delays getting to you. Look on it as a good thing - when you get to resort you'll have lots of fresh snow and probably excellent conditions.
2. Warm clothing: this might sound obvious, but it's not unusual to see people coming off the plane in t-shirts or high heels or generally under-dressed for severe alpine weather. Make sure you have gloves, a hat, a warm outer layer and appropriate footwear. Looking like a fashionista at Gatwick doesn't mean you'll look cool in resort as you struggle to stay upright with your luggage to get into your accommodation.
It certainly looks like the next few days are going to deliver - all the forecasts are saying pretty much the same with just a few variations in amounts expected. It also looks like the snow will be arriving across the board - so wherever you're skiing in Europe, there will be some fresh snow on the way. Temperatures are set to stay cold with the freeze level generally well below 1000m - which means that there should be generous dumps of snow in the lower resorts and valleys too!
It also means that skiing in February is going to be excellent!
Lindsey Vonn broke the women’s record of World Cup victories with 63 at today’s FIS Alpine World Cup Super G race in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. The previous record was held by Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell who earned 62 World Cup victories from 1970 to 1980. Vonn’s first World Cup victory was in the downhill at Lake Louise, Canada, on December 3, 2004.
Today’s record-breaking win also places her second behind Ingemar Stenmark (86) in the overall World Cup wins standings (both men and women.) Vonn is the most decorated skier in U.S. history, and is the only American woman to have won downhill gold at the Olympics and the only American woman with four Alpine World Cup overall titles.
Watching from the finish line were Vonn’s parents, sister and boyfriend Tiger Woods, who made a surprise trip to watch Lindsey’s victory.
Vonn is scheduled to race again in next weekend’s (Jan. 24-25) downhill and Super G races in St. Moritz, Switzerland before returning stateside for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships (Feb. 2-15) to be held near her home in Vail/Beaver Creek, Co.Here's footage from yesterday's race where she equalled the world record. Congratulations Lindsey - today you smashed it!
If Sir Isaac Newton had been present to watch Ted Ligety ski Giant Slalom in the World Cup in Beaver Creek in early December, he might have been tempted to write a new law of gravity.
At a speed of around 55mph the angles Ligety achieves, whilst carving on a rock hard icy piste, are incredible. He has his inside hand, hip and even inside boot buckle on the snow and yet is superbly balanced and in control - Ligety won this race. If you look at Ligety in the finish area he has a smile from ear to ear, not only has he won the race but it is blindingly apparent he has just simply loved the buzz of coming down the course carving and arcing his skis at these angles, the adrenaline is rushing through his veins.
As a holidaymaker you might think ‘how do I relate to that?’ Well with the right type of instruction, some persistence and a positive attitude you can get the your skis to become your best friend and give you a fantastic feeling whilst skiing down the piste. Plus the more you do it the better you become and the fun factor multiplies.
So you probably won't achieve the same angles as Mr Ligety, (nobody else on the planet can), but you will love the sensation and want to go back for more. You never know, if Isaac Newton had been around, he might have been tempted to jump on a pair of skis, take some lessons and have fun ... just a bit more interesting than sitting under an apple tree.
And don't forget you can see more snow action now on Ski Sunday as it returns to BBC 2 this evening (16.45 GMT). Tonight's show includes an interview with Team GB snowboarder Jenny Jones and presenters Graham Bell and Ed Leigh are in Santa Caterina in Italy to cover the Men's World Cup downhill.
Ok, so it looks like mother nature has not provided the most ample amount of snow for the coming week in the Alps.
Realistically the terrain is going to be more limited than some bumper days you might have had before or will do again, but this could be an opportunity in disguise.
Dave Ryding ( the top British slalomer ), who skied into the top 20 on the World Cup last weekend and got his best ever result, spent many hours in the summer on an indoor snowdome practising his technique. To do that he broke down his turn movements and skied them slowly, precisely and accurately.
Hmm, you might think, what is accurate skiing? Well it’s the abilty to get the ski to do exactly what you want it to do. Dave practised his turns at speeds well below those he would normally ski, and he did it again and again. He was making effective use of the limited space, enjoying himself and indeed improving his skiing.
This might be a slightly different perspective on your skiing for the coming week but you will be surprised how much fun you can have and how much you will improve you skiing or snowboarding in the long run. If you do get a chance to get a lesson at the beginning of the week do so, and ask your instructor to show you some technique exercises, maybe alternatively check out some exercises on the web. Do it with friends and take videos of yourselves, get the kids involved. Are you doing it like the demonstrators on youtube?
Consciously thinking of your technique this ski holiday due to nature's limitations could well lead to better and more enjoyable ski holidays in the future. Remember the old saying – If you’re handed a lemon, then make lemonade. Have fun.
After rocker skis it was only a matter of time before rocker snowboards came on the market. Here's a good summing up of the new tech. Will you be trying one out this winter?
Avoriaz, in the heart of the Portes du Soleil, will be kicking off the winter with a bang in just a few weeks' time.
The resort has just announced details of a week-long festival of fun called Rock On Ultimate, taking place from 12-19th December.
With the lifts opening on Friday 12th December the week begins with a "Happy Hour Geant". On Saturday 13th December the resort plays host to Shaun White and his band Bad Things, who will be performing in the centre of the resort. Throughout the week there will be lots of opportunities to test new equipment, open air DJ sets, competitions, live music and parties.
Plus the legendary Stash, the ecological snowpark set in the forest, will be officially opening on Tuesday 16th December with live music and bbq to accompany the event! Full details here.
With fresh snow on the ground this week, and the promise of more to come, it really feels like winter is almost here. The week before Christmas is a great time to ski - pistes are uncrowded and accommodation and flight costs are generally low - so it's the ideal time to treat yourself and get into the Christmas spirit. See all our Portes du Soleil accommodation or look specifically for Avoriaz here!.
From now on and all through the winter season you can catch up with some of the best ski holiday offers and promotions by subscribing to our Latest & Greatest newsletter.
We send out the bulletins every two weeks approximately and we pick out a nice selection of tempting offers to cover different ski areas in different countries. These latest & greatest ski offers are picked from our selection on our promotions listing - take a look there are currently over 800 promotions available so there's bound to be something to suit you!
Here's just a few to get you excited!
Les Arcs - Paradiski - Pre-Christmas getaway
The week before Christmas can be a great time to get on the slopes. Resorts are quiet but are starting to gear up for the festive rush. There's a feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air and best of all the slopes can be your's - with just locals and a few others with inside knowledge enjoying the calm before the storm.
It's also when a lot of chalet companies are offering great prices! Alpine Motion, for example in Les Arcs, are offering a week catered for just £250pp.
So why not escape the Christmas shopping and give yourself the gift of some fresh mountain air and exercise in the great outdoors!
Les Menuires - 3 Valleys - Harrods teddies and Laurent Perrier champagne
Another one which caught our eye this week is from Three Valleys company Powder n Shine.
Be pampered and have your Christmas dinner cooked for you by a Michelin-trained chef! Not only that there are Harrods teddy bears for the kids and champagne for the adults.
Xmas in the mountains can be magical so why not spoil yourself and the family this year!
Chamonix - Les Houches - Christmas reductions and free lift pass
With fabulous views and just 3 minutes from a ski lift, Chalet Chamarel is an ideal venue for your Christmas ski holiday.
This year they're offering 10% off for the festive week and a free Mont Blanc pass for your group. The chalet sleeps 10/12.
Morzine - Portes du Soleil - Gourmet food, hot tub, free transfers and £500 off
Morzine is a fun, pretty, traditional alpine village and a great starting point to explore the extensive Portes du Soleil circuit which straddles France and Switzerland. SKP Morzine are offering a whopping £500 off their Christmas package price, which includes delicious food, and will throw in free airport transfers to boot.
Fancy sitting in the hot tub on Christmas day enjoying stunning mountain views? Don't mind if I do ...
La Rosiere - January Sales come early
At Hotel La Roz in La Rosiere, January sale prices are already available. 7 nights half board accommodation for their remining January weeks is just £250pp - and includes airport transfers!
So that's just a few tempting offers which will help make your ski holiday planning a little easier. For hundreds more suggestions take a look at all the offers and sign up for the Latest & Greatest to get these awesome promotions emailed to you all through the season!
Whoa how did that happen? Suddenly we're approaching mid-October. Ski Shows, Halloween and winter are round the corner. It's the ideal time to start thinking about getting ready for skiing. Whether you're taking the plunge for the first time or an experienced skier, a little bit of preparation and planning will make everything go a lot smoother.
1. Holidaying wth beginner kids? Get them some lessons.
It's hard for intermediate/experienced adults to remember how unfamiliar and strange everything was the first time you clipped into bindings. Cumbersome boots and planks under your feet is something we obviously don't experience everyday. Factor in your age and if you're under 10 the weirdness element can be mutliplied by 10.
So what can you do to avoid a first day fall out - when you go to pick up the kids from ski school and find them in tears and vowing never to return? If you can, get them some pre-season lessons. Snow domes, snow centres and artificial ski slopes all over the country offer beginner lessons aimed at children from as young as 3. This can make an enormous difference to how successful the ski experience will be in resort - and will often allow your children to improve quicker once they're on real snow.
The UK Snozones for example, based in Milton Keynes and Castleford, offer the SnoAcademy for kids from the age of 3. It consists of weekend sessions and the emphasis is on fun and play whilst developing new skills. The Snow Centre in Hemel also offers group lessons for juniors (from age 4) and during school holiday periods, 2 day courses - you can book now for the upcoming half term week.
Whilst it may seem like an unecessary expense think of it as an investment. By the time you get them into resort and onto snow they'll know the deal and will be excited and raring to go, rather than scared!
2. Physical Preparation.
Ok so you say it every year about this time - I must get fitter for skiing. But somehow, with the pressure of work, family, social life, the best intentions get forgotten. Then suddenly you're at altitude and trying to negotiate something steep and you wish you'd taken the time to do just a bit more. Make this the year that you do something about it! Just stepping up your regular fitness routine by about 10-20% will pay dividends in a month or two - so by the time you're on the slopes you'll feel the benefit.
Just googling "exercises for skiing" will give you a great range of resources and tips. Start easy and adapt exercise to your level. It's never too late to start.
3. Do Some Research.
So you may have already booked your holiday or are looking around to see what's available. The main thing is to choose a holiday which meets your expectations. if you're a seasoned skier you'll have a good idea of what to expect and what you want. If you're not (or even if you are), spend the time and make a list of what's important to you. Do you need a short transfer? Some airports can be 3 hours or more away from mountain ranges. Do you want chocolate box charm? Do you want a lively resort with lots of apres ski? Do you want a good swimming pool, gym, ice rink, bowling alley? Are you looking to tour the local area - what are the roads like for driving? Is there public transport? What's your budget - do you want the best of the best, or cheap and cheerful? In your accommodation is wifi essential? how about a hot tub or sauna?
If you're organising the holiday, whether for a large group, family or just you and one other, it's a good idea to set the guidelines so that nobody is disappointed. If you haven't found your holiday yet then you could try The Solutions Room - that's where you can ask all your questions and see what offers/answers/solutions come back.
4. Learn about Snow Conditions
If you're an experienced skier/snowboarder chances are that you will at some point be skiing off-piste. Modern skis make it much easier for relatively inexperienced skiers to try the powder - and snowboarders have been doing it for years. So if you are going to do that it makes sense to learn more about the environment. During the autumn Henry's Avalanche Talk runs regular sessions in partnership with Ellis Brigham and the Ski Club of GB. 90% of avalanches are triggered by the victim, and in many cases the situation could have been avoided with a bit more knowledge. The HAT Autumn Tour kicks off in Manchester on November 29th. If you're an off-piste regular you owe it yourself and your ski/snowboard buddies to go along.
Will you be jumping for joy on your next ski trip?
With a dollar exchange rate which is currently pretty attractive for European travellers Helen Brown of Chalets USA tells us what's great about skiing in the Rockies!
"The powder!" you hear the locals cry and yes the knee to thigh deep fluffy powder snow is incredible, but there are all sorts of other elements to the USA ski experience which bring visitors flocking to Colorado ski resorts from all over the world...will you love it too?
Ski resorts in the Rockies are famous for their powder snow - light fluffy flakes that feel like skiing on air. Steamboat Springs coined the term "Champagne powder" from the delicacy & lightness of the snow & its bubbly namesake.
"Powder days" are special & many local businesses will even shut for a few hours to let their employees "shred the pow" if there's over 8 inches of powder snow over night...and yes it happens quite a few times each season! Knee or even thigh deep powder is common and you'll hear skiers & riders whoopdy-doing down the mountain as they float along with just their ski tips poking through the snow.
Ski resorts in the Rockies get a lot of snow! Year after year snow conditions are pretty reliable & the snow total averages are impressive - Jackson Hole gets 459 inches (1166cm) on average, Breckenridge 300 inches (762 cm) & Winter Park 348 inches (884cm).
Wide open motorway pistes are great for beginners & intermediates to master their turns without feeling like they're going to careen over a cliff.
Most of the ski runs in Colorado (except the bowls) are lined by trees which gives you good definition & helps you see even in low light & when it's snowing - whiteouts are rare here.
In many US resorts there tends to be a ski boundary around the whole ski area & anything within that can be skied (avoid closed areas of course & only ski terrain appropriate to your ability level). So in the USA you can pop off the ski run into the powder at the side of the run, nip in & out of the trees or make your own route between runs. It's pretty much all in bounds, making the ski area twice as big as it seems.
So to the bowl skiing - huge wide open, in-bounds, bowls with off piste conditions, often plus some groomed runs, can be found in many resorts - Vail has its 7 bowls, Aspen has its Highlands Bowl, Beaver Creek Larkspur bowl & Breckenridge its Imperial Bowl as well as peak 7 bowl, Winter Park has Parsenn Bowl, plus Jackson Hole has Rendezvous & Laramie Bowls.
Yes some of the bowls are advanced / expert skiing, but there are also blue bowl runs, ideal for intermediate skiers to improve their off piste skills.
Vail is famous for its Back Bowls & Blue Sky Basin, Aspen for its Highlands Bowl & Ruthie's Run, Beaver Creek for its Golden Eagle Birds of Prey downhill course & Jackson Hole for Corbet's Couloir. For keen skiers these are "must ski" runs & not to be missed!
Yes you need to be pretty good (and pretty brave!) to attempt Corbet's Couloir, but intermediates can definitely give blue Ruthie's Run in Aspen or some of the blue runs in Vail's back bowls a try.
Most of the ski lifts in the major resorts are chairlifts or gondolas, so you can rest your legs between runs. Poma / draglifts & T-bar's are rare, so you can avoid achy legs and not have to worry about falling off half way up the lifts.
Many times you'll ski in the Colorado resorts without having to queue for lifts at all, especially during the week. On the whole lift queues in the USA are orderly, with skiers / riders politely alternating taking turns to get on the lift from left & then right. Unlike Europe you tend not to have little kids or angry Frenchman (!) barging in front of you to get onto the lifts.
Especially on weekdays the slopes tend to be pretty quiet & uncrowded, leaving you free to whizz at top speed down that run or wind your way gently down through the glades at your leisure.
The Americans are hugely customer service orientated and will greet you & be friendly at every opportunity. The "lifties" help you get on the lifts & have a chat, staff at your lodging ask about your day & want to make sure you know about the latest great restaurant or event. They all just want you to have a great ski holiday...
Many of the luxury hotels / apartments have ski valets, who will bring your gear to the slopes & even help buckle your boots for you if needed!
Well they say everything is bigger in the USA and to some extent its true. Accommodation in the USA tends to be a lot more spacious than in Europe and often homes includes rec rooms with pool table / table tennis / full size bar, family rooms with big screen TVs and even home cinemas complete with stadium seating in leather, reclining chairs & projector screens.
Yes the portions are bigger! The Americans are pretty used to eating out regularly as in several times a week, so you'll find a large variety of restaurants in resorts and often many affordable options which are pretty decent. The huge portions mean you can share dishes to keep the cost down or it really is the norm to take a doggy bag home, perfect for a snack or lunch / dinner the next day.
We first skied in Colorado USA back in 2001, fell in love with the snow, ski resorts & people, moved here & never looked back.
We're thrilled to be able to share this fantastic USA ski holiday experience with our guests from all over the world, so if you haven't already, it's time to give it a try...
See more offers on our Promotions page!