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Winter 13/14 has been a truly epic season, we are still buzzing from the amazing snow and fun we have had over the past 6 months, both in the UK and abroad. Here are our Top 5 highlights from this ski season
By 16th November 2013 Tignes had already been blessed with a 2m snow base up top and the Pyrenees had just received 40cm of fresh snow. Thanks to the fantastic snowfall and icy temperatures, resorts in Europe started opening their slopes early in a domino fashion. Alpe d’Huez opened 3 weeks early and continued to open every weekend until the resort’s official opening on 6th December. Kitzbühel and Obergugl began opening their slopes to the public in Austria, as did Verbier in Switzerland while Courchevel had a special free taster opening on Saturday 23rd November. With huge storms in Switzerland and France in late November, keen skiers and snowboarders were able to get their snow fixes earlier than ever thought as more and more resorts opened early – was this the best start to the season ever?
Beautiful conditions in Tignes on 8th Nov 2013
To get us more and more excited as winter approaches, the UK presented a range of exciting ski events to attend as the months became colder. Londoners were lucky enough to take advantage of O’Neil’s Shoreditch Showdown, Ski and Snowboard Film Premieres and Iglu Ski favourite, Freeze Festival. Manchester and London played host to the Ski and Snowboard Shows which are the perfect way to find everything you need for the season. While the Snow Dome’s up and down the country gave us that snow fix before getting out to the Alps. To give our ski holiday’s added fun, an increasing amount of events are popping up across the mountains. Christmas markets and firework displays give the festive weeks an added joyous feeling while music and sports events give unique experiences to your holiday. Ibiza Rocks headed to the mountains for the first time with a series of 3 weeks of parties in Meribel bringing the hottest breakthrough live acts and daily après ski events for ‘Ibiza Rocks the Snow.’
O'Neil Shoreditch Showdown, London
With the early snow dumps then warm conditions there was an increase in avalanches in the Alps and terrible news of accidents dominated the snow news. This has increased our awareness of off piste safety, using safety equipment and taking guided tours for off piste adventures. With the media domination of safety in snowsports, the rise in wearing helmets on the slopes is positive and Snow and Rock have seen a huge increase in helmet sales over the last 5 years. If you’re still not convinced, you must watch Kevin Pearce’s inspiring story ‘The Crash Reel’ and take a look at the Love Your Brain campaign. It is extremely important to stay safe on the mountains and minimise our risk of danger means we can carry on doing what we love for years to come.
For more information on Safety in the Mountains.
Even when resorts are starting to close for the season it is still dumping like its January! The heaviest snowfall has been reported in Switzerland with up to 50cm of knee deep freshies in Andermatt and Zermatt while the 3 Valleys in France and Cervina in Italy also enjoyed the best of the new snowfall. Our friends across the pond are on powder alert as they expect over 50cm this weekend in Lake Louise. Winter 2013-14 has been the season that keep on giving with some epic skiing this spring - We love spring skiing!
Sochi showcased huge exposure for the British ski industry and the world recognised the elite status of Team GB’s athletes. For a country lacking in mountains, Team GB proved we are a country to take seriously when it comes to winter sports. With an Olympic Bronze medal, five top 10 finishes, a further five top 20 and 3 in the top 30, it was the most successful Winter Games to date for British skiers and snowboarders. Both Jamie Nicholls and Billy Morgan made history by representing Great Britain in the first ever Snowboard Slopestyle Olympic Final. After stomping a huge 90.75 in the semi-finals, Billy couldn’t repeat that incredible run and placed 10th in the final while Jamie scored an amazing 85.50 finishing in 6th. Jenny Jones blew the nation away with her Bronze Medal winning run in the Ladies Snowboard Slopestyle Final and confirmed her place as the Queen of British snowboarding. Jenny won Great Britain’s first ever Olympic Snowboard Medal and became the first ever British female to win an Olympic medal on snow. Aimee Fuller was a crowd favourite after throwing a double backflip and landing 9th place in the semi-finals, and then took 17th overall. The Top 10 places continued in the Freestyle Skiing where Katie Summerhayes finished in 7th in the Ladies Ski Slopestyle Final with a solid 70.60 score. Despite James Wood’s injuries, Woodsy qualified in 3rd place with an outstanding first run scoring 87.50 which made him the first ever British athlete to go through to a Men’s Ski Slopestyle Olympic Final. In the face of the hard conditions, the skiers threw down tough competition; Woodsy scored an incredible 86.60 that gave him 5th position in the finals. The list doesn’t stop there; Team GB had a fantastic team of skiers and snowboarders participating in many specialities from Snowboard Cross to Cross Country to the Ski Halfpipe. We cannot forget the other disciplines, particularly the Team GB Curling team and Gold medal winner Elizabeth Yarnold in the Skeleton. Team GB surpassed the 3 medal target and created an unforgettable 2 weeks of winter sports and global recognition of Great Britain’s place on the Olympic mountain. Huge congratulations to all the Team GB athletes, you were all amazing and made us so proud! #backthebrits By Krystelle
April may be the end of the season to most, but for Iglu it's a chance for most of the team to enjoy some hard earned slope time, even if it was the third or fourth trip of the season for some of them! AJ, our fearless Head of Sales, takes you through what the guys got up to last week in the snow.
I love April Skiing!
Spring snow madness hit the mountains yet again this season. Reports of the death of the season of 2011/12 after the warmth of March were greatly exaggerated. As usual there is more snow falling in April than March and we love it. This would be the fifth year straight that my ski week in April has been better than my week in March.
Chamonix on arrival.
Iglu had big end of season parties in three resorts for Easter last week.
My team were in Chamonix, the legendary home of Alpinism. There’s no better way to start a holiday then to have snow hitting your ChamExpress transfer vehicle on the way from the airport. We knew that meant powder from the very first day of skiing and despite the mind numbing tiredness that comes with a 4am start, we were grinning.
Monday was sunny, powdery and perfect as we hit the top of Grand Montets, in Argentière, for thigh-burning long powder runs. Tuesday was good but it was getting leg wearyingly slushy down lower. Good thing then that it puked down on Tuesday night, with around 25cm of fresh falling. It also got a little colder and the snow held for the next two days when we explored the Brévent/Flégère areas.
Top of the Grand Montets.
There was one final treat left though — Thursday night brought another big fluffy dump and Friday was the best day of the week. The sun peaked out and there was 25cm of powder all the way to the valley floor so we got to hit the trees of the Grand Montets. We did some GoPro filming and I hadn’t realised just how big my smile is when I’m bouncing in powder. My scurrilous ski buddies called it my pow-pout but I’ll take that kind of ribbing if I’m doing deep and steep powder tree runs, on Friday the 13th April 2012!
Iglu had another crew in St Anton for the week. Here’s a quote from JT on 12th April: Having an amazing time here, it's dumping down with snow at the moment, so tomorrow is gonna be insanely epic. Can we move Iglu to St Anton please? Ha ha.
Chamonix after some fresh snow.
And the response from Christian and the crazy crew in Les Deux Alpes was pretty similar: Same in Deux Alpes... had a solid thirty or more up high, fifty in the wind blown. Great end season conditions... love from Les Airelles!
The snow is still falling and we have reports coming in from Chamonix today that the higher areas are still pow-ticularly good.
See you on the slopes in April next year. AJ.
According to Wikipedia: "La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño as part of the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3–5 °C. In the United States, an episode of La Niña is defined as a period of at least 5 months of La Niña conditions."
This translates in huge amounts of snow in North America, which last year saw many west coast Canadian and US resorts break records in terms of snowfall and powder days. So if La Niña is coming, where am I going to ski this year?
Whistler — It's Got It All
When it comes to riding powder Whistler has it all, from tree-lined skiing and deep powder-filled bowls, to a resort that offers everything you need and want on a holiday. The resort has been synonymous with powder riding and is generally considered one of the top, if not the number one, ski resort and when your locals include the likes of Devun Walsh, you can see why.
Last year was Whistler's third snowiest season ever and if the early winter signs are the same, then it will be another amazing year to enjoy British Columbia's world famous resort. If you do head out there is a local guide, only available in the resort's shops, that will let you in on the locals' secret powder stashes, and don't worry, they are usually in-bounds.
For many Whistler is the ultimate resort, it takes Val d'Isere, adds more powder, deeper bowls, more tree-lined skiing and replaces the French skiers with Americans, well, nowhere's perfect...
Revelstoke — Scare Your Pants Off
Revelstoke is one of the youngest resorts you will come across, though due to its unique set-up, it is becoming increasingly popular. Another British Columbian gem, Revelstoke's claim is that it is the only resort that offers piste skiing, cat-skiing and heli-skiing under one umbrella.
This is the kind of resort where you wake up in the morning and decide what to do, from hitting the resort's slopes to spending a day cat-skiing, as long as you get to the guides before everyone else! The resort oozes the charm of an old gold rush town, and until recently it remained a small resort filled with locals and wild-life. Don't expect über luxury five star hotels, though do expect cold beer, spicy chicken wings and stories of fresh tracks days after the last snowfall.
Beaver Creek — Luxury
Now this is where you will find five star luxury and powder skiing, perfectly placed together. Beaver Creek is known for its perfect corduroy pistes, luxury accommodation and elegant surroundings. On top of that, the Epic Pass (the resort's multi-resort lift pass) gives you access to the nearby resorts of Vail and Breckenridge, so you can follow the snow throughout your stay.
With La Niña hopefully dumping metres of fluffy, white, Colorado powder, Beaver Creek is the resort for the luxury option. The hotels, guides, ski instructors and even ski shops are renowned for offering the best you'll find in Colorado (just don't tell Vail I said that). Beaver is where wealthy Americans, movie stars and those looking for state-side luxury head year-after-year, so with metres of snow on offer, where better to enjoy a spa treatment or glass of fizz after being chest deep in the white stuff.
Breckenridge — Family
Breckenridge is another of Colorado's Epic resorts, though the mountain here is immense and offers more than enough to keep you going for a week. With ten peaks, creatively named peak 1 to peak 10, the huge snowparks, its back bowls and its welcoming atmosphere, Breckenridge is a cracking all round resort to enjoy Mother Nature's finest snow.
Breck, as it's known in the US, offers a great variety in accommodation, from budget through to five star and with the mountain offering such diverse skiing, it is a fantastic resort for a family powder adventure. The resort has a laid back feel, probably due to its close ties to freestyle and freeriding locals, has great facilities and is the highest in the US. So if you need a resort where you can hike the back bowls, send the kids to the snowparks, or enjoy a romantic lunch with the Misses, all in the same holiday, Breckenridge is where to head.
Heavenly — Sun-Filled Powder Days
California and snow are not two words you tend to associate with one another, but the Lake Tahoe area has some of the finest powder and most stunning resorts you can find. Heavenly is the king of the lake, with a huge ski area and a resort that crosses the state lines into Nevada — perfect if you fancy a flutter in the casino.
Due to its closer proximity to the West Coast and the huge lake, that is Lake Tahoe, Heavenly boasts superb snow records and with a La Niña coming, it will no doubt offer some of the best skiing and riding you will find this winter. Add in some Californian sunshine (between snow storms, of course), the stunning back-drop of the lake and the chance to ski the local resorts of Northstar-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley and Kirkwood, and you've got more variety in terrain then you can manage in one trip.
Hopefully this year's La Niña will share the love with Europe, but if it doesn't it will be worth saving up the extra to ski in North America this winter. From intermediate skiers, to park rats and powder hounds, you'll be glad of the 8+hr flight home, just to put your feet up. Take your friends, your wife or the family, it doesn't matter who you ski with, there is a resort out there perfect for you and hopefully just waiting for you to make some first tracks in its fresh snow...
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