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After a busy winter season packed full of Olympic achievements, hard work and plenty of pow, the Team GB winter athletes certainly have a year to be proud of. But what do they get up to when the snow’s gone all slushy, the main resorts have closed and the rest of us have packed up our goggles for yet another year? We give you the lowdown…
The summer months provide a great opportunity for the Team GB athletes to get some well-earned down time, whilst still keeping active. Surfing is a great way to keep fitness levels up and also a great reason to head somewhere exotic for a sunshine fix. This summer, Billy Morgan gave surfing a try for the first time in Portugal and got so hooked, he even headed to Bali to alongside teammate James ‘Woodsy’ Woods to get in extra practice. Other surf fans from Team GB include Aimee Fuller and Jenny Jones; Jones frequently spends her time-off hitting up the Devon and Cornwall coasts.
Surfing isn’t the only board sport that many of the athletes have been participating in, with avid skaters Billy Morgan and Dom Harington planning on filling their summers with plenty of skate park sessions. Over in Belfast, Aimee Fuller has been a regular visitor at her local wakeboarding centre Cable & Wake, where she has been learning how to do her best tricks out on the water.
When not participating in their own sports, the athletes are often spotted showing support for other sporting disciplines. Both Lizzy Yarnold and Jenny Jones were in attendance at Wimbledon this year to cheer on the world’s best tennis stars. Jones also came out to show support at the Push the Prom girls skateboarding event and the Chippenham Games.
In keeping up with her new found love for wakeboarding, Aimee Fuller attended the Irish Cable & Wake contest and a Red Bull Go Karting with the stars session. Billy Morgan, a fellow Red Bull athlete met up with other Red Bull team members across various motorsport disciplines to show them his support in the Goodwill Festival of Speed.
There were still plenty of the snowsport events over the summer, with Jenny Jones attending the fundraiser for the youth charity Snow-Camp, of which she is a patron. Katie Summerhayes was a guest judge at this year’s English Slopestyle Championships, showing support to the next generation of promising winter sport athletes.
As well as supporting other sports, many of the athletes are keen to give other disciplines a try for themselves. Ben Kilner cycled from London to Paris with Oakley and Dom Harington also got involved in the cycling, with a London to Milton Keynes bike ride. In addition, Kilner jumped at the chance to participate in his second love – golf – with the Oakley King of Greens tournament (he won the final prize!).
Golf seems to have been popular this summer amongst Team GB, with Jamie Nicholls and Jenny Jones also taking a swing in the King of Greens. Over in Canada, Woodsy was invited to take part in the TJ Schiller Charity ‘Golf’ Invitational - a fun day of not-so-serious golf to raise money for a good cause – the Sarah Burke Foundation.
The summer months are the perfect time for the athletes to get to the gym to work on strength and cardio training ready for the next season. However, they’re also a time to treat niggling injuries and fit in some rehabilitation. At the beginning of the summer, Jenny Jones had surgery to fix a shoulder injury, giving her the summer to recover and get strong again for winter.
As well as taking some physical downtime, many of the athletes will be using their time off to catch up with their nearest and dearest. Jamie Nicholls has plans for holidays and family time in the Maldives and Majorca, Woodsy has been hanging out with his girlfriend in Bali and New Zealand and Dom Harington also has some holiday time set aside with his family.
Most athletes have a much shorter summer season than we’re used to and it’s not long before they head out to find more skiing and boarding opportunities, whether in the Southern hemisphere or closer to home in Europe. This year, Jenny Jones went glacier skiing in Verbier and Katie Summerhayes and Rowan Cheshire attended the British Freeski camps in Cervinia and Zermatt.
Summerhayes also jetted off to the Whistler-Blackcomb glacier in Canada along with team mate Woodsy to attend the Momentum Ski Camps – the place where Woodsy spent his summer’s training as a kid. He also travelled to New Zealand to catch some pow, as did fellow Team GB athlete Billy Morgan.
Having time off over the summer is also about catching up with personal goals and for the athletes this means getting to do the things that they are too busy to accomplish the rest of the year round. Katie Summerhayes passed her driving test this summer and Aimee Fuller passed her motorbike test (well done guys!). Aimee celebrated in style by heading off to Norway for a motorbike roadtrip / snowboarding / skating adventure.
When Team GB aren’t attending training camps or taking some much needed holidays, many of them can be spotted getting in some runs on their local ski slopes. Jamie Nicholls is a regular the Friday night freestyle sessions at the Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, Katie Summerhayes is a regular at Snozone, Castleford and Rowan Cheshire is often spotted at Chill Factore, Manchester.
With so many new chalets and hotels popping up in various European resorts just in time for the coming season, we decided to give you a low down on our top 5 new places to stay on your next ski holiday. Whether it’s all inclusive, catered chalets or half-board you’re after, there are plenty of new accommodations that are bound to catch your eye.
The location of the Sunstar Alpine Hotel offers you access to a large linked ski area, with plenty of runs available for all abilities. The hotel boasts one-hundred and six bedrooms and is half-board, providing delicious buffet breakfasts, a five course evening meal and regular themed evenings, complete with a themed menu to match. The hotel lies in a quiet area of the resort, overlooking the forest and Untersee Lake, with the main village area just a few minutes walk away. Ski lifts are located an eight minute walk away and there is a free hotel shuttle bus and a free resort bus on hand to shorten your journey. Guests at the hotel will benefit from free wi-fi, ski storage with boot heating, a bar and a smokers lounge. After a long hard day out on the slopes, relax at the wellness centre with the indoor pool, steam room, sauna and fitness activities, plus massage, spa and beauty treatments. There is also table tennis, badminton, tennis and bowling available onsite. For those who are bringing children who are too young to ski, there is a non-ski kindergarten open six days a week.
The much loved and snowsure resort of Ischgl now welcomes Chalet Belmonte to the family - a large catered chalet, which sleeps up to forty-three guests. All rooms are ensuite and offer their own balcony or terrace area. The chalet is ideal for couples and groups, although cots can be set up in a number of the rooms if requested. The main lift is situated just a five minute walk away and the bars and restaurants just three minutes on foot. At breakfast, guests will be offered a choice of continental and cooked options and will also be provided with afternoon tea, a five course evening meal and a selection of complimentary wines. The onsite bar is a great place to wind down before your evening meal, with much deserved pre-dinner aperitifs and canapés on offer. As well as on-site ski boot storage, guests will also find a steam room, sauna and an infra-red cabin to soothe tired muscles after a hard day out on the mountain.
With a huge skiing area and a fantastic snow record, Tignes provides the backdrop to this brand new catered chalet, which sleeps up to nine people across four ensuite bedrooms. The chalet is ideal for families and groups and features a spacious living area with stunning views across the Grade Motte Glacier. The chalet also offers wi-fi access and handy ski lockers for storing your gear overnight. Located just twenty-five metres away from the lively bars and restaurants of Tignes Le Lac, this new chalet offers an ideal location for a ski holiday, with everything you need right on the doorstep. The Rossett lift is situated fifty metres from the front door and the Toviere lift just one-hundred metres, putting you in prime position to be one of the first up the mountain.
The well-known and popular Club Med resort has opened up a new luxurious hotel, this time located in the wonderful Val Thorens. The hotel features a contemporary design which uses spacious and light interiors, complete with floor to ceiling windows to offer guests stunning mountain views throughout. The hotel is all inclusive with a variety of flexible dining options available, including takeaway packed lunches and snacks so that you can make the most of your time on the slopes. You’ll also find bars serving complimentary drinks and a host of evening entertainment, including a nightclub. Also included in the package are free ski and snowboard lessons, access to snowsports such as tobogganing, plus a climbing wall, a fitness centre and a spa. All rooms in Val Thorens Sensations are ensuite and you can choose from a club room, deluxe room or suite. On top of this, ninety-percent of the rooms offer picturesque mountain views.
Last week we launched our World Cup blog series with two Southern Hemisphere resorts - Chile VS Australia. Chile came out top, beating Australia with its epic backcountry runs and reliable snow conditions. This week we’re moving a little closer to home, with the battle of two European countries, Switzerland VS France. Both are big favourites for many skiers and snowboarders, but which one will be crowned King of the Alps? We compare the slopes, après and cuisine to find out.
SwitzerlandMost resorts in Switzerland are set at a high altitude, bringing guaranteed snow as well as glacier skiing and good conditions throughout the season. Many of the ski areas provide long runs and challenging pistes, making it particularly good for skiers at a more intermediate to advanced level. There are, however, still opportunities for beginners. The resort of Wengen has a ski school as well as a blue piste and a ‘slow speed zone’ for those just starting out. From stunning scenery to plenty of pistes, backcountry runs and snowparks, Switzerland certainly has a lot of variety. The Graubunden ski area is Switzerland’s largest mountain area, offering a whapping 225km of skiable piste. Head to Verbier and you’ll find your ski area expanded to across the 4 valleys, which includes the neighbouring resorts of Nendaz and Les Collons. If you visit Zermatt you’ll soon spot the famous Matterhorn peak, which is often featured in many photos of the resort. There are some great advanced runs here as well as the opportunity to do some heliskiing for those who are looking for a new challenge. It is also the highest altitude resort in the country sitting at a top height of 3900m. For the adventurous ones out there, Flims Laax is home to 4 snowparks (including Europe’s largest half pipe) and a glacier for spring and summer skiing.
France Much like Switzerland, France also offers plenty of variation, from high altitude resorts to snowparks and glaciers. Snow reliability is high and the majority of resorts offer good snow conditions throughout the season. Les Deux Alps is the highest resort, standing at a top altitude of 3600m. The resort experiences long sunshine hours and boasts 220km of piste, a board park and a halfpipe. There are plenty of linked ski areas such as the massive Three Valleys with its 600km of runs. Portes du Soleil is one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with lots of ski-in ski-out accommodation which is ideal for families and kids. For your freestyle fix, the Paradiski area has four snowparks and two half-pipes. France caters equally well for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Alpe d’Huez has lots of blue runs, beginners only areas and no abundance of ski schools. If you like backcountry skiing, Tignes has some fantastic off piste opportunities, as does Val d’Isere. There are also numerous glacier resorts in France, including Tignes, some of which offer skiing all year round. Winner: France
Switzerland The après scene in Switzerland is a little on the small side, with not a great deal of après venues on offer. However, each of the bars makes up for it, with resorts such as Verbier known to have some fun and lively nightclubs. As well as nightclubs, expect to find discos, jazz bars and quiet pubs – something to cater for every taste.
France France is home to some well-known après venues, like Rond Point in Meribel and the legendary La Folie Douce, which has bars in Val d’Isere, Meribel, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez. Ibiza Rocks the Snow Festival is also held yearly in France, bringing some great partying and music to the mountains. All in all, expect some wild après, live bands every night and quieter venues where you can relax with a drink. Winner: France
St Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland Switzerland is the home of the delicious Fondue as well as a whole other collection of comforting mountain foods. Enjoy Käseschnitte (cheese on toast), Raclette (melted cheese scraped overmeat, bread and vegetables) or fried potato Rösti’s. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Switzerland is a great place to find Swiss Chocolate and no end of delicious cakes and pastries.
France Most dishes found in the French mountains are cheese, potato or bread heavy. Traditional French dishes include Tartiflette (baked cheese, potatoes and meat), Beaufort Tart (a cheese and pastry tart), sweet crepes and pastries. Winner: Switzerland
Les Deux Alpes, France
Winner: France This one was a very close call – both countries have some excellent skiing, après and food and are both firm favourites for many snowsports enthusiasts. The winning streak came from France due to its ability to cater equally to beginner, intermediate and advanced abilities. It also knows how to throw a mean après party to end the day!
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