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Last winter our lives were taken over by the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. This year we can get engrossed in the many more ski and snowboard competitions and events that take place in Europe. Most kick off early season in January, getting us stoked up nicely for the rest of the ski season.
One for the snowboarders. Innsbruck is the second stop on the Air and Style circuit, Emil Ulsletten stole the show at the first event in Beijing in December, and then next step will be Los Angeles in February. The World’s best snowboarders have competed in this big air event over the past two decades. Athletes are whittled down through 3 rounds before the 4 snowboarders battle in out in the super final. Athletes includes at Innsbruck include: GB’s Billy Morgan, Halldor Helgason, Sage Kotsenburg, Max Parrot, Stale Sandbech, Seb Toots & more. Date: 16th & 17th January 2015
One for the British Team This year’s World Championships take place in Kreischberg, Austria. This is the first time that both freestyle skiing and snowboarding have been combined in a World Championships. After Great Britain’s success at Sochi we have a 22 strong squad of skiers and snowboarders competing in the event, including slopestyle, halfpipe, moguls, aerials and more. View the full British team line up. Date: 14th -25th January
One for the girls This is the 5th big air competition of the Suzuki Nine Queens in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, Austria. The world’s best female skiers and snowboarders are invited to this stunning pocket in Tirol for a unique event consisting of a series of jumps and features set around a huge sculpted ice castle. Date: 15th – 20th March 2015
For the utmost dedicated This mammoth snow sports tour consists of five venues in Europe and the USA. 2015 is bigger than ever with two new stops on the Freeride calendar, Vallnord, Andorra and Alaska, USA. Last season more than 637, 000 viewers followed the finest skiers and snowboarders across this spectacular journey.
Taking part in the Freeride World Tour Competition will be 28 male skiers, 14 male snowboarders, 14 female skiers and 7 female snowboarders. Through the events the riders will be narrowed down to a limited few that will take part in the Grand Finale in Verbier. The FWT season kicks off in the ultimate freeride resort, Chamonix, on 24th January, then heads to Fieberbrunn, Austria, on 31st January before Vallnord, Andorra for the first time on 14th February. Then it is off to Alaska on 14th March before the grande finale and the 20th anniversary of the Xtreme Verbier on 28th March. Athletes that reach the Verbier climax will have to take on the legendary Bec des Rosses mountain face. Two-time winner at the Bec des Rosses, Sweden’s Reine Barkered is delighted to be part of the history of the “Bec”: “I'm excited to have the chance to compete at the 20th anniversary of Verbier Xtreme. Verbier is the crowning point for a freerider and I will do my very best to step up to the top of the podium here a third time.”
One for the ski elite Austria’s greatest ski festival is bigger than ever in 2015 as it is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. The Hahnenkamm race is one of the most famous alpine ski races of the world and is the highlight of the World Cup calendar. For Kitzbuhel, this is the best week of the year, as spectators and celebrities flock to the town to see the famous ski racers, as well as joining in the week of partying. The magnificent race features jumps up to 80m, steep slopes including peaking at 85% gradient on the Mausefalle, and skiers reaching speeds up to 140 km per hour along the run. The famous ‘Streif’ is considered the most spectacular ski runs in the world where only the elite can Date: 20th - 25th January 2015
Heading for a chalet holiday is about more than just the snow for some people, there are also the views, the food and the relaxed atmosphere to look forward to.
The best food is fairly easy to work out, if you are heading to a luxury chalet you are likely to get restaurant-quality cuisine and impeccable service, if you head to a 2* property you'll be getting a hearty meal and service from teenage chalet hosts. But which chalets have the best views?
Location, Location, Location
A great view is all about the location of the chalet, the direction it is facing and of course the use of huge picture windows and balconies. So, with this in mind what are the chalets with the best views on our site? This of course is subjective, but here are my favourites.
Chalet Grace, Zermatt
Chalet Grace in Zermatt offers phenomenal views, from the double-height floor to ceiling window views of the Klein Matterhorn in the dining room, to the stunning valley views. One of Europe's most famous and most recognisable mountains, the Matterhorn, can also be seen from the living room's picture windows, or the strategically-placed window in the dining room, which perfectly frames the mountain's peak. It doesn't stop there either, as well as beautiful views across Zermatt itself, you can pop out to the outdoor hot tub which, you guessed it, has views of the Matterhorn.
Perdrix Blanche, Courchevel
The chalet Perdrix Blanche is situated in a quaint corner of Courchevel, down in Courchevel 1550, but it offers stunning views along Bozel Valley and the famous Tarantaise Valley. From the living rooms windows to some of the bedrooms, you have this incredible scenery dropping down the valley toward Brides les Bains and back up the valley to the unspoiled mountains on the opposite side. From the other side of the chalet you can take in the views toward Courchevel 1650 and the national park and, of course, there is the imposing Courchevel 1850 located at the top of the piste.
Chalet Hotel Montpelier, Verbier
Okay, so technically this is a chalet hotel, but as it is essentially just a really big chalet and it has incredible views, it is worth a mention. The hotel pool and sundeck has one of the most incredible indoor views you'll find in the Alps — straight out of the floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows you have an undisturbed, panoramic view of the region. With Mont Fort and Mont Gele both visible from the chalet, this property offers truly stunning views across and around Verbier.
Chalet Haute Cimes, Nendaz
Now, the Chalet Hautes Cimes is a risky one, as the images we currently have been given are artist's impressions and 'what you can expect' pictures from the tour operator, but if they live up the their promise, it will have been worth the risk.
Mira Belum, Meribel
The Mira Belum has a great location with views across the Meribel valley. You can see along the ridge line toward the Olympic Express chairlift, which takes you to St. Martin, and down the valley toward the quaint village of Les Allues. The views give you a real feel for the shape of the Three Valleys and why mother nature's layout makes it one of the best ski areas in the world. If you strain your neck, on a good day you can just about make out the top of the valley and where Meribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens meet.
From beautiful vistas and panoramic mountain views, to deep valleys and national parks, the views on your chalet holiday don't have to be just those of high rise apartment blocks. The Alps have some of the most inspiring and even frightening mountains out there, so why not sit back with a vin chaud and take it all in after a day on the slopes.
Iglu ski expert and former Veriber ski instructor, Scotty, takes us through his guide to bumps, offering tips and advice in preparation for taking on the likes of Val d'Isere's Le Face, Avoriaz's Swiss Wall and Verbier's Chasseure.
Skiing bumps is, without doubt, challenging — some are attracted to that challenge, though many prefer to just find an alternative route. They are like Marmite, you love them or hate them.
For those that feel the love, would like to some understanding, or to be inspired here you go.
Firstly mind, then body.
Body and Posture
Absorb vs extending
Practice traversing across the ski field. Low speed, keep your upper body still and let your legs move up then let them fall down as you go over each bump, keep your arms out and forward, in the goal keeper position. Try both directions so you get a feel for each leg being low & high on the slope.
Absorbing: Normally done at the start of the bump. Hit the bump like you're skidding to a stop, when you hit the bump you can let your knees buckle up to your chest and by absorbing you, you can maintain your speed — plus you'll have a smooth transition over the bump. Pushing your feet against the bump will enable you to slow down.
Extension: As you come up to a bump it's possible to extend your legs rather than absorb. This will project you up in the air. The amount you do this depends on the speed that you're going and the steepness of the bump. If you do this it's possible jump over a following, awkward bump.
Turning on a bump
So, you've hit the bump! As you ride over, your tips will be pointing out in the air, your foot and the tail end of your ski will still be resting on the bump. You'll reach a pivot point, pole plant, rotate your skis and scrape the other side of the bump like you're grating cheese. This will also help you control speed.
Control is key, if you feel like you're out of control then slow down! If you're out of your depth, find an exit and join the piste. Start off with hero moguls — small bumps where you can't fail to look good.
Technique: It's hard to teach via the written word, so instruction in resort is recommended. You need to be able to feel and see the same as what the instructor is seeing and feeling. Every mogul is different.
Avoid: South facing monsters — if the ski field goes through regular daytime melt and night time refreeze [freeze-thaw conditions - Ed] the moguls are likely going to be hard under the foot. It's often a one way ticket you'll just have to endure untill the end, unless you find an escape route(!), a compulsory foot massage will be needed at the end of the day.
If you're feeling confident and you're coming up to a long, oval shaped mogul it's possible to rotate your skis 90% and grind across the top of the mogul with just the middle of your ski. You'll find the tip and tail of your ski in the air at this point and you'll kill your speed so remember to rotate your skis back to facing down hill or you'll come a cropper.
Get creative, use the mountain... there's more than one way down.... choose the cool one.
Can you get from the top to bottom in one hit? Three Tortins [Scotty's favourite run in Verbier - Ed] a day, keep the doctor away. Can you beat your mate? Can you get down a single channel? Zig zagging across the mountain is cheating a bit. Can you fit in a few tricks on the way? There's always time for that!
Make sure you don't get yourself down, most people find bumps a challenge.
Two Important Points
Safety: If the terrain is too steep for you then don't do it! Start off on slopes that you feel most comfortable on and work your way up. Bank it for another day... something for you to look forward to.
Most ski schools will offer a ski bumps clinic, though you may have to shop around to find a keen instructor. Most instructors have a disliking for bumps too.
Enjoy yourself: It's supposed to be fun, if you don't like them then try carving, cruising around the rest of the resort or sitting in a restaurant having a long lunch . If you're skiing with a friend or partner don't make them do bump skiing, you may find that your relationship will come to an abrupt end! Just meet them at the bottom and let them choose a route down they're happy with on the Piste.
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