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Italy is a spectacular choice for a ski holiday, boasting some of the world’s best ski resorts it’s a destination that combines high altitude skiing, mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine plus an après ski scene in a league of its own. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the affordable price tag and just how far your holiday budget can travel. Italy offers a great collection of ski resorts and the diversity on offer means that everyone from pro skiers, to first time beginners and winter sports fans can find their perfect winter escape. Get started on planning your ideal Italian ski holiday with help from our top 5 resorts listed below.
5. Sauze d’Oulx
Sauze d’Oulx has long held the torch for being a popular party destination and has had Brits flocking in for the infectious après ski scene for decades. But times have progressed from the days when parties overruled the pistes and Sauze d’Oulx now flaunts an attractive balance of quality ski runs, mountain village charm and just the right amount of entertainment to ensure you don’t miss a full days skiing on one of the best pistes in the country. Skiing at Sauze d’Oulx can be great fun for all levels with competent and skilled ski schools available for beginners, intermediates or those looking to pick up a few new advanced skills. Evening meal times are a real treat with a flavoursome Mediterranean menu offered at many affordable restaurants. 4. Cervinia
Settled in the mountains of Northern Italy and spilling over into Switzerland, Cervinia is a popular snow sure resort offering a fantastic grand skiing area with useful links to Zermatt and Valtournenche. Skiers of all levels can expect to be welcomed by excellent snow conditions with a virtually guaranteed top to bottom blanket of snow on the slopes. Cervinia is a perfect resort for beginners and intermediates with easy gradients providing ample opportunities for practice runs. Advanced skiers can enjoy a fantastic range of slopes by taking advantage of the easy links to other popular resorts. Fuel your days on the slopes with homemade Italian pizza and delicious fresh seafood. Make some time to fully explore the resort as some of the best mountain restaurants are not pinpointed on the resort piste map. 3. Cortina
Meet the elite of the Italian ski world at Italy’s most fashionable and stylish resort. As a previous host of the 1956 Winter Olympics and popular stop on the World Cup skiing circuit, Cortina d'Ampezzzo boasts premier skiing amongst the unbelievably magnificent backdrop of the Dolomite Mountains. Shopping and lunching hold as much prime time here as skiing, due to the luxury boutiques and top class eateries lining the charming cobbled streets of Corso Italia, the epicentre of Italian skiing lux. Keen skiers will appreciate the less crowded circuits (whilst more than half of Italian visitors parade their fur coats), perfectly groomed slopes and excellent selection of main skiing areas. All levels of skier are welcome and if you want to learn how to ski in style then this affluently nicknamed “Queen of the Dolomites” is the resort for you. 2. Val Gardena
A favourite destination for British visitors and affectionately known as the ‘holiday valley of the Dolomite’, Val Gardena is a fantastic ski area situated in the charming alpine region of South Tyrol. With stunning scenery, idyllic pistes and enchanting wooden chalet-style accommodation, Val Gardena has all the ingredients for your next superb ski holiday. Visitors to Val Gardena can choose to stay in one of three attractive villages, Ortisei, S.Cristina or Selva and make the most of the 1,200 km of pristine slopes. Advanced skiers will love the Saslong World Cup piste and the Dolomiti Superski area whilst skiers of all levels can enjoy leisurely pursuits on the Sella Ronda circuit. Accommodation ranges from 5* luxury hotels to friendly guest houses and comfortable self-catered apartments. Enjoy great music and cocktails from a stylish local lounge bar or admire the striking scenery and indulge in gourmet delights from any of the perfectly placed restaurants.
Be wowed by the magnificence of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain and experience la dolce vita in the traditional alpine village of Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley. Charming and rich in history, Courmayeur has the warm welcoming glow of a classic mountain community combined with a fabulous array of shops, restaurants and bars plus an alluring après ski scene. Bordering France and with close proximity to Chamonix, advanced skiers can take full advantage of first rate ski slopes and enjoy a large area of great ski terrain. Thrill seekers will be glad to know that Heli-skiing and off-piste skiing are popular past times in Courmayeur, whilst beginners and intermediates are well catered for upon the gentle mountain terrain.
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I’ve done my fair share of black pistes in the Alps, but as a snowboarder my favourites may differ to a skiers, so with help from our expert ski team: Sales Director, Adam Johnson, Head of Ski Product, James Box and Ski Team Leaders, Nick and Scotty, we’ve put together the ultimate top 5 black runs in Europe. From beginner blacks to harakiri-extreme pistes, you’ll feel like a ski champion after executing these slopes.
5. Aiguille Rouge, Les Arcs, France A Black/Red run for starters If your ski legs aren’t warmed up yet, they will be after this. From the top of Aiguille Rouge at 3226m you can take the epic 7 km Aiguille Rouge run down 2000 vertical metres to the village of Villaroger. It’s a mix of terrain starting as a black run for the first half, then a red piste through the trees for the remainder of the run. The steepest section is at the top, after that it feels more like a red run (a blackish red?)
4. Saslong, Selva, Italy
A world class thrill The World Cup Saslong run from Selva down into St Christina ‘is awesome’ says James. It’s not a difficult black run, as there a steeps followed by flats, followed by steeps, etc. So if you are flying down the piste you can get lots of air just as the downhill racers do when the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup comes to Val Gardena. Extreme fun paired with the beautiful scenery and the stunning mountain range backdrop.
3. La Sache, Espace Killy, France Not for the faint hearted AJ: My favourite black run in the Espace Killy is La Sache. There is a big caveat on this though. It must be done before lunch or maybe at lunchtime when the pistes are emptier. Some of the narrower and steeper sections get very crowded with skiers negotiating the monster moguls that form during the day that makes it a nightmare later in the day. Just before lunch is ideal because there is a great little Savoyard restaurant in Tignes-Les-Brévières called La Sachette that you can stop at after. At 1550m, this is the lowest point in the whole Espace Killy and therefore the warmest and best for dining outdoors. Scotty: The first time you do La Sache you just wonder where the hell you are going to end up, it’s steep, bendy but awesome. 2. Grand Couloir, Courchevel, France
Terror at the top
At the top of Saulire at 2700m there is just one of the famous Courchevel couloirs marked on a piste map as a run, the Grand Couloir. This famous piste is often high on the list for the scariest black run in the world and can get extremely mogully if it hasn’t snowed in a while. To get to the Grand Couloir there is a narrow ridge that gets icy and grooved so you can’t turn your skis to slow down. As you pick up speed the ridge gets steeper and bumpier. I’ve seen quite a few skiers lose their nerve and bail out at this stage but if you hold your nerve there is a small space to stop at the end of the track. The GC is steep to start but it quickly widens, it is steeper if you keep to skier’s right and stay in the shadow to get the best snow.
1. Chassoure – Tortin, Verbier, Switzerland
The possibilities are endless
From the Chassoure peak there are a few options to make your descent, depending on the snow fall and conditions these slopes can change daily. From the top you can drop straight in and face the moguls of ‘the wall’ or traverse along and ski down when you see a preferred route. The 700m track takes you down to Tortin where you can head up toward Mont Fort, or tackle the Chassoure-Tortin run again. This was described as a ‘skiers dream’ by one of the team, but beware as this is world renowned as an extreme ski run.
If you're looking to tantalise your extreme taste buds further, here is a quick rundown of more brilliant black pistes in Europe: For Starters: Piste 21 (under Chairlift 1), Kitzbühel, wide black run with flatter sections For Excitement: Through the tunnel in Alpe D’Huez …… stop… out the door…. ARRRHH. Beware, it’s steep. For Fear Factor: Anything down Mont Gele in Verbier. For Endurance: Point de Vue at Grand Montets in Chamonix, the run goes on forever. For Mogul Mania: Top of the Valluga in St Anton, it’s about half a mile of moguls! Gulp factor: Pan du Fou, Nendaz. If you’re a chicken then you turn right:
With the winter season quickly approaching, the new ski and snowboard films are coming in thick and fast. Technologies are progressing as quickly as the riders making this year a very exciting time for ski films. From extreme and exotic locations to powder fuelled productions to discovering the stories behind our favourite athletes. Here are the 5 films we cannot wait to watch in full to get us inspired for winter. Take a look at all the ski and snowboard films coming this season and tell us your favourite 5.
The one we’ve been waiting for Higher is the highly anticipated final installment of Jeremy Jones’ Deeper, Further, Higher trilogy. After pushing boundaries and revolutionising backcountry snowboarding in his first 2 films, now Jones and Teton Gravity Research are back and taking their quest to the next level. From Jones’ playground in Jackson Hole to the incredible descents in the Eastern Alaska Range and the Himalaya of Nepal, Higher depicts Jones’ incredible snowboard journey which has made him one of the greatest mountain snowboarders of our time. Expect: Huge lines, untouched powder and exotic destinations Riders: Jeremy Jones, Bryan Iguchi, Luca Pandolfi, Ryland Bell
The one for the skiers When Red Bull Media House and Matchstick Productions team up you know something ground breaking is going to happen. The film took two years to make while shooting in locations all over the world including places never documented before. Using state of the art techniques including MSP’s new Cineflex Elite, the latest in aerial filming technology, they believe Days of My Youth will set a new standard for the entire ski industry. Days of My Youth takes a look into the minds of ten of the world’s best freeskiers and examines their lifelong affinity for the sport and the self-discovery every skier takes. Check out those views in the trailer at 0.30 in and you won’t be able to wait for the full version! Expect: Next level cinematography and extreme locations Riders: Richard Permin, Mark Abma, James Heim, Michelle Parker, Cody Townsend, Markus Eder, Bobby Brown, Sam Anthamatten, Russ Henshaw, Gus Kenworthy, PK Hunder
The one we wish we were in Absinthe films have been throwing down some of the best snowboard films season after season. From last year’s Dopamine to 2012’s Resonance to the rest of the amazing back catalogue, Absinthe consistently showcase the finest riders and push the boundaries of the sport. With 22 years of snowboarding video production, director Justin Hostynek still drops some of the most progressive riding out there. The trailer opens with an epic heli shot of Alaskan spines to the equally as epic sounds of Alt J’s Fitzpleasure. Heavy Mental spotlights a solid list of riders and watch out for the full parts from Bode Merrill and Victor De Le Rue.. Expect: An epic soundtrack and heavy riding Riders:Victor De Le Rue, Austen Sweetin, Bode Merrill, Jason Robinson, Mat Schaer, Wolfgang Nyvelt, Manuel Diaz, Victor Daviet, Johnnie Paxson, Romain De Marchi, Blair Habenicht, Scot Brown, Ozzy Henning, Rusty Ockenden, Nils Arvidsson, Mathieu Crepel, Sylvain Bourbousson, Helen Schettini, and Mike Basich
The Blockbuster As with any TGR production you can expect state of the art cinematography that provides a sensory overload. Combined with some of the most progressive skiing and immersive destinations, Almost Ablaze takes you beyond the boundaries. Awarded Film of the Year at the 2014 International Freeski Film Festival, Almost Ablaze follows the globetrotting lifestyle of these thrill-seeking athletes. From urban riding in the war-torn Olympic venues of Sarajevo to exploring new terrain in Sella Nevea to next level skiing in Revelstoke, this is extraordinary skiing in extraordinary locations. Expect: Next level skiing Riders: Angel Collinson, Chris laker, Colter Hinchliffe, Dana Flahr, Dane Tudor, Dash Longe, Dylan Hood, Griffin Post, Ian McIntosh, Jonny Collinson, Joss Christensen, Karl Fostvedt, Mark Carter, Max Hammer, Nick Mcnutt, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Tim Durtschi, Todd Ligare
The Ultimate Snowboard Film this Season Does Oakley have the finest snowboard team out there? With huge names like Shaun White and Nicolas Muller to new favourites like Torstein Horgmo and Mark McMorris, this world-class line up is guaranteed to bring one of the leading films of this season. Featuring riding from the streets of Finland to the backcountry of British Columbia, to Norway and Japan, each rider has his own story. Snowboarding: For Me focuses on the unique relationship between the members of the team with the sport and lifestyle they live every day. Expect: An all star line up Riders: JP Walker, Terje Håkonsen, Shaun White, Danny Kass, Torstein Horgmo, Ståle Sandbech, Mikkel Bang, Mark McMorris, Nicolas Müller, Jake Blauvelt, Heikki Sorsa, Eero Ettala and Kazu Kokubo.
View our video guide for all the ski & snowboard trailers coming this season
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