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Summer Skiing Fix
Most people into skiing and snowboarding tend to take one trip a year to get their fix, but for some of us that just isn't enough. The feeling of fresh powder, corduroy pistes, bluebird skies and a cold apres ski beer runs through our blood all year round.
The winter season gives most of us the chance to get a week in with our ski buddies and maybe the chance to squeeze in a cheeky week with the more hardcore riders. But when the summer comes along how do you get through seven months without snow? Ok so I shouldn't complain about the 24°C weather and beautiful sunshine outside right now, but sitting on a beach, or by a pool with a mojito just doesn't match the adrenaline of a day on my board and sinking a cold beer with friends talking over the days events.
For those of us with the time or money the summer does provide opportunities to feed our addiction. For the weekend warriors out there, there are a handful of summer camps and weekend events held at a select few glaciers in Europe. For the real hardcore (and time rich) there is the powder of Chile & Argentina or the adrenaline-sports-fuelled Queenstown in New Zealand.
If the Southern Hemisphere is a little too far and the idea of hitting the park at 7am, and the skate park or golf course in the afternoon is your idea of fun, then Europe can offer some fun trips. The glacier at Zermatt will be open, with events such as the Natives weekender, for a more upmarket summer trip. If you are looking to hone your freestyle skills then there are a whole host of weekend and week long camps in Les Deux Alpes. With big name riders and UK legends, such as Antti Piirainen & Will Hughes to name a couple, mixing it up and offering coaching for serious enthusiasts and disadvantaged kids who have never seen a ski resort before.
For the powder hounds and serious off-piste skiers and boarders out there then a trip to Chile or Argentina could be for you. Realistically seven days skiing is a ten day trip due to travelling to the country and resort, plus if you were in Argentina why not take in a couple of days in Buenos Aries? Southern Hemisphere skiing is renowned for having easy access to untracked snow; whether taking a lift to the top of a quiet bowl, hiking with a guide or heli-skiing.
Skiing in South America is a specialist field with tailor-made holidays to Les Lenas, Argentina, Valle Nevado and Portillo, Chile. This is definitely one trip that is on my list of places to go before I hit 40 (along with Japan and Alaska), and one trip where I will definitely be letting the experts here at Iglu organise for me.
The problem with summer skiing is the cost and length of travel to the Southern Hemisphere resorts and the conditions in the Alps. Skiing in the likes of Zermatt, Hintertux and Les Deux Alpes usually involves a handful of pistes, slush and early mornings (pistes often open from 7am -1pm).
However serious your addiction to snow, if you can ski this summer you will.
Written by Stephen Adam
Many of us in days gone by wished for the life of a professional skier or snowboarder. Waking up everyday to go and hike the latest line with some friends and a camera man, honing our latest tricks in the park in the afternoon and then enjoying a few aprés ski beers ready to do it all again the following day.
Ok, so the closest most of us have ever been to that is working in a chalet or bar and hitting the mountain at every opportunity, the only beers we enjoyed were on those nights our bodies weren't crying for bed by 9pm. I may be understating the training required, traveling needed and constant drive to be the best that the pro-riders endure. Unfortunately there aren't too many of us that can match Travis Rice or Candide Thovex.
The one thing that we do all forget is what a professional snowboarder or skier do once they hang up their boots. There are few whose efforts to support their dreams turn into their next career. So Graham Bell and Ed Leigh may keep us entertained whilst watching BBC snowsports but there are not many who have been brave enough to start a business based on our own interests and succeeded. Queue Gilly Seagrave.
For those who know Gilly she is a perfectionist. She has been around the British scene for some time and still gets cracking pictures for her sponsors, coaches budding young riders with Our Camp and her boutique clothes brand EKA is taking off.
EKA is Gilly's new passion and pride and started off as a way of financing snowboarding by making beanies for her friends. Thanks to her partner Nils, who convinced her she could do much more than sell a few hats in Morzine, EKAwear was born and the brand already has a fantastic selection of boutique clothing. The items look just at home in the streets of Morzine or Courchevel as they do on Oxford Street or the Kings Road.
The collections produced by EKA are fantastic accessories that not only look stunning but are ecologically friendly and ethically produced. With more and more brands taking this approach the winter sports scene is trying to preserve the mountains in their own way. Patagonia work tirelessly on their carbon footprint in both production and distribution, and brands like Volcom and Quicksilver offer ranges using recycled or sustainable materials.
When was the last time you watched the Winter X-games or Olympics and the podium was full of over 35s? Next time you hit the slopes and are watching kids inverted in the park, dropping huge cliffs or race training just wonder to yourself what will they do when it's all over. Like with most sports
Working for a ski company does have its draw backs. Everybody wants free advice. The most common question I get asked is what is your favourite resort?
I hate that question!
It's an impossible question to answer because they all offer different experiences. If I'm with a group of my party friends then I much prefer the aprés ski action of Austria in places like St Anton or Mayrhofen. If I'm with some go hard ski fanatics then I'll head to one of the big high resorts of France like Val d'Isére or Chamonix to get the big cornice drops, couloirs, and endless backcountry. Then when my unfortunate friends with families ask me, I always send them towards Italy in resorts like Selva or Cervinia where the pistes are cruisy, the mountain restaurants cheap and filling and the locals are excessively child friendly (they still pinch cheeks) .
So it comes down to this, if I had one resort to ski for the rest of my life which one would I choose?
My answer - Whistler – Nobody does it better! (or maybe Val d'Isére or Jackson Hole)
Our group of ski sales experts couldn't agree either and they've all been seasonaires or instructors. Here's what they all offered up as their favourite resorts:
Verbier (Switzerland) - It offers skiing for all and it's in the most spectacular 4 valley setting, all in a pretty chocolate-box Swiss village. It gives every skier a very complete holiday experience. - Thomas
Aspen (Colorado) - Amazing Rocky Mountains dry powder with an authentic 19th century mining town that is not too big or too small. The bars are cool and full of celebrities who stay in the über-luxury accommodation. There is a mass of challenging skiing on Ajax and Highlands mountains and then there's the vast Snowmass round the corner if you want to just cruise about on wide corduroy pistes. - Scotty
Tignes (France) - It has all the great skiing of Val d 'Isére without the price tag or the pretentious crowds. The night life and 'aprésphere' is hugely understated and just as good as Val, thus keeping the drinks prices down and the fun factor up. It's not a pretty resort, but that works in its favour. People don't go to Tignes to be seen in the right place at the right time wearing the latest fashion gear; they go to Tignes to ski. To sum it all up, 'Go to Val to be seen but go to ski in Tignes'. - Ade
Whistler (Canada) - It has something for everyone! There's a warm Canadian welcome, great village, great food and two great big mountains! - Nick J
If there was a resort with no skiers then that would be my favourite, but if I had to make a choice it would be La Rosiere or St Foy because mass tourism hasn't hit them yet, so they are great value for money, have empty pistes, untracked off-piste for days after a snowfall and there are great views. - Nick HH
Courchevel 1850 (France) - Beautifully groomed pistes, beautiful mountain restaurants and beautiful people (like me). - Wade
Tignes (France) - A cracking resort with a unique feel. A bit more raw, young and exciting than its neighbour Val d'Isere. God I just love that place! - Tommy
St Johan in Tirol (Austria) - It has a massive skiable area if you include the surrounding resorts like Kitzbuhel and is really good for easy piste cruising bladers like me. - Adam Clark
Vail (Colorado) - Huge ski area with uncrowded slopes. It has steep tree skiing, nice groomers and empty powder-filled back bowls. Great nightlife if you are over 21! - August
Morzine (France) - Over 600km of piste, eight snow-parks, no lift queues, good bars and the least French resort in France! Need I say more? - Stephen Adam
Kitzbuhel (Austria) - Because it's the place of scenic beauty, fondues, the Londoner and Monkey Bar and there's always a chance to fall in love! - Steve Stead (Who met his wife there)
Jackson Hole (Wyoming) - Vast and very steep ski area. Some epic lines to hike like the head wall or Cody's Bowl and home town of Mr Backcountry Snowboarding, Travis Rice. An epic resort and a Mecca for extreme skiers and boarders from all over the world. - Dave
Saalbach (Austria) - Family-friendly with a great beginners' area. Pretty scenery and value for money make this a real Austrian gem. There's also a very active aprés ski scene with the usual Tyrolean flavour i.e. Europop, table dancing, Jaeger Bombs and massive beers delivered by dirndl dressed frauleins. - Boyd
Lake Louise (Alberta, Canada) - Some of the most spectacular scenery in the world with a lift and piste system that means beginners and experts can ride the same lift then take a different line down, that is as easy or as challenging as you could want. Some of the best value on-mountain dining anywhere! I guarantee that you will see wild animals like elk, deer, moose, mountain sheep/goats, eagles and if you go late in the season there's even a chance you'll see wolves or bears. - Tracy
Val d'Isere (France) - clichéd it may be, but I can genuinely say that I've never found anywhere else that can match the epic skiing for all conditions, paired with some of the most raucous nightlife & accommodation for all budgets. - Boxy
In conclusion, I found that most staff rated the skiing terrain in France or North America the best, but if you asked them where they had their best experience in skiing then most of them came up with Austria. It's just loads more fun! So early or late season, don't risk the snow - go to a French resort and stay in a Chalet. Mid-season - get yourself to a fun filled, dancing-on-the-table, aprés ski mad Austrian resort and stay in one of their brilliant Spa Hotels.
Written by Adam Johnson
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