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Archive for the ‘Ski Racing’ Category

Austria's alps from the top of Obergurgl, Solden's nextdoor neighbour.

Austria’s alps from the top of Obergurgl, Solden’s next door neighbour.

Salut from Sölden! Last March we explored this monstrous ski resort situated in the Ötztal Valley of the Austrian Tirol.

Back home in North America, we know it for the World Cup ski race it stages on its glacier every October. But Sölden is a lot more than just a glacier — it has more than 70 lifts and 186 miles of ski terrain.

This photo was snapped at the tip of Obergurgl, Solden’s next door neighbour, in the midst of the glorious Tirolean alps.

Our adventures in Sölden have been documented (by two 10 year olds) in the latest Winter edition of SNOW Magazine.

For more on exploring Solden, see www.Soelden.com

 

Lori Knowles

Lori Knowles

 

Lori Knowles is a ski and travel writer/editor based in Toronto, Canada. She is the editor of SNOW Magazine. See past work at LoriKnowles.com or follow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring.

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Lori Knowles

Lori Knowles

I guess a Tuesday at the start of November is as good a time as any to start planning our 2014/15 ski season–yours and mine. In truth, as someone in the ski biz, it’s been on my mind since July… or earlier. But I’ve waited ’til now to get you revved up, otherwise your engine might burn out.

I hope to tell you the few tidbits I get now and then on new stuff in the European and North American ski markets: new ski lifts, new runs, glades you can’t miss, or an apres-ski experience neither of us can pass up. Let’s see how it evolves. Hopefully the info will help you plan our next ski trips.

I’ll start with some news from a sunny ski area in British Columbia (BC) called Sun Peaks. Here it is, in a photo courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort, taken by Adam Stein:

The Village at Sun Peaks, BC. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks.

The Village at Sun Peaks, BC. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks.

Sun Peaks is in idyllic ski spot in near the Canadian city of Kamloops. Its village is auto-free, its runs flow along a consistent and excellent fallline, and its trees are spacious and not too steep, which gives any ski area an A in my playbook.

Tree skiing at Sun Peaks. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

Tree skiing at Sun Peaks. Photo by Adam Stein, courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

All this you can learn by visiting its website. My news is this: For 2015, Sun Peaks has expanded to a point at which it’s now Canada’s second largest ski area. That’s pretty big — Canada’s largest is Whistler. This season Sun Peaks has grown to more than 4,200 acres of in-bound ski terrain with the addition of two new areas: West Morrisey and Gil’s.

“New runs in the West Morrisey area will be expert ability level and utilize the same aspect as the popular Static Cling and Agitator ski runs,” says a recent press release. “The second section, Gil’s—a popular backcountry ski area at the top of Tod Mountain—will see the area’s vertical double with the creation of a lower ski out back the main ski runs.”

A panoramic shot of Sun Peaks taken from Mt Morrisey. Photo by Adam Stein courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

A panoramic shot of Sun Peaks taken from Mt Morrisey. Photo by Adam Stein courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort.

In short, this expansion just might move Sun Peaks onto your short list of top spots in Canada to visit. I hope so. As I said, the resort is idyllic.

That’s it for today. More tidbits soon — news to help you explore your ski travel options. Let me know how your planning is progressing. I’m @LoriExploring

Lori Knowles is a ski and travel writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. She is the editor of SNOW Magazine. See past work at LoriKnowles.com or follow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring.

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show swapI spent Thursday afternoon and evening touring the new Toronto Snow Show. It’s in a new location, with a new name, and a re-energized vibe.

I met more than one person who’d headed toward Exhibition Place before realizing The Toronto Snow Show is now at the International Centre, close to Pearson International Airport. For a downtowner, the show is far… but the location’s not bad for skiers in the GTA. Plus parking is free.  The show is on now through Sunday, October 20. Download the handy iPhone app for directions and hours.

Now for scenes from this year’s show:

1) Toronto graffiti artist SKAM is creating art on site; stop by and watch. Also enter to win one of his pieces.

Graffiti artist SKAM at the Toronto Snow Show

Graffiti artist SKAM at the Toronto Snow Show

2) Vail Resorts’ new Epic Mix app is very cool. Track your runs, earn icons, calculate your vertical. Stop by the Vail booth for a demonstration. And don’t forget to ask about the new Epic pass… $729 US for skiing all season at Vail resorts in Colorado, Utah, California… even Europe!

Vail's new Epix Mix App

Vail’s new Epix Mix App

3) The women of SNOW Magazine stopped by Quebec’s booth to snap a Quebec Original postcard. You can too… with or without the boas and Elton John sunglasses!

Bonjour Quebec!

Bonjour Quebec!

4) Only in Aspen! The Colorado ski destination gets creative with funky art on its lift passes. Here’s a sample… so much fun. Check them out at Aspen’s booth, and find out more about skiing Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk and The Highlands.

Ski Pass Art

Ski Pass Art

5) Blue Mountain’s gone high tech with iPads in its booth. Stop by to browse.

Blue Mountain booth

Blue Mountain booth

6) A parting shot from the Pro Am Rail Jam:

Pro Am Rail Jam, photo courtesy of Toronto Snow Show

Pro Am Rail Jam, photo courtesy of Toronto Snow Show

For more on the Toronto Snow Show, follow my tweets @LoriExploring.

Lori Knowles is the editor of SNOW Magazine. View her work at www.LoriKnowles.comFollow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring

All photos copyright Lori Knowles.

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SKAM, a Toronto graffiti artist, will be demonstrating snow art at the Toronto Snow Show

SKAM, a Toronto graffiti artist, will be demonstrating snow art at the Toronto Snow Show

Toronto skiers, it’s time for the Toronto Snow Show.

Here are five reasons why you should go:

1. The Toronto Snow Show (October 17-20) has a new name, a new location, and a new vibe. Once known as the Toronto Ski Show, it’s joined this latest century with a name that encompasses all you can do at a ski resort besides simply skiing–namely, snowboarding, tubing, skating, XC skiing, spa-ing, shopping, eating. All stuff you can do in an environment of snow. The show has moved from Exhibition Place to the International Centre–free parking, and closer to those of you living and skiing outside metro Toronto. And organizers have promised a new vibe–graffiti artists, a rail jam, a snow park. I’m hoping they’ll rev us up for the coming of snow.

Graffiti2. Art and snow are two of my favourite things and this season the Toronto Snow Show promises them both. SKAM, a Toronto graffiti artist, will be onsite with six demonstrations throughout the weekend. This guy’s work is pretty cool. I’m keen to see what he creates in the theme of snow. For a schedule of live demonstration times, visit http://tssts.sportshows.ca/skam_grafitti_demonstrations/.

3. There are $10,000 in cash giveaways to pro and amateur skiers and riders competing in the Pro-AM Rail Jam during the show. Admission is free… at least, it’s included in the cost of Snow Show Admission. Plus, new this year is an area in which you can try your own tricks. The Burton Riglet Park is a mini terrain park with features that will help you get the sensation of snowboarding.
4. Two-for-One lift passes are on sale at the Snow Show with the price of admission. Participating Ontario resorts include Blue Mountain, Horseshoe, Mount St. Louis, Brimacomb and Snow Valley.
Exploring the floor for new ski fashion.

Exploring the floor for new ski fashion.

5. My favourite: browsing. That’s right, browsing. At the Toronto Snow Show you can shop for jackets, pants, equipment, goggles and helmets. You can swap or purchase inexpensive equipment at Canada’s largest ski and snowboard Swap, organized by the Canadian Ski Patrol. And best yet, you can visit ski areas booths from all over Canada, the US and Europe… all to plan your next ski vacation.

For more info on the Toronto Snow Show, see www.TorontoSnowShow.com
Follow my #SnowShow tweets @LoriExploring
Lori Knowles is the editor of SNOW Magazine. View her work at www.LoriKnowles.comFollow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring
Photos supplied by the Toronto Snow Show.

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Hello, and welcome to SNOW.

Snow Magazine, Winter 2014

Snow Magazine, Winter 2014

This is the first edition of SNOW Magazine for the 2014 ski season… and the very first created by our new team:

1) Barbara Sanders, Publisher/Founder

2) Anne-Marie Boissonnault, Creative Director (YQB Media)

3) Laura Doherty, Graphic Designer (YQB Media)

4) & Me… Lori Knowles, Editor.

Inside, there are features on Banff, Lech, the sexy Sachs ski dynasty of St. Moritz, and Tremblant, which is turning a tenacious 75 this ski season. And don’t miss our 007-inspired Fashion Feature: For Your Eyes Only–2014 Ski Fashion is Shaken, Not Stirred!

SNOW Winter 2014 is available on newsstands and Zineo.com. Visit www.TheSnowMag.com for more info, and the latest on life, lifts & luxury.

Lori Knowles is the editor of SNOW Magazine. View her work at www.LoriKnowles.comFollow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring

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My ski days are sweet here in Portillo, and not just because of the sweets they serve at afternoon tea daily.

We pushed away from the all-yellow Hotel Portillo at the awesomely early hour of 10 am. Our first ride up dropped us at the training point of the Austrian ski team. These enormous species were picking up speeds of about 70 kph as they passed by, all duded out in their helmets and speed suits, bibs sporting names like Franz, Hans and Josef. When we stopped to watch for a mo, Peter asked an Austrian coach where they’d be training this afternoon. “I hope ve don’t train this afternoon,” he said in perfect Austrian English. “Ve have been verking since vile you vere sleeping. Ve are wery tired.”

The Austrians

At that we hung our heads and skied on, trying to rack up some kilometres of our own before we were totally embarrassed. The pistes of Juncalillo (YUNK-a-LEE-lo) catch the most sun in the am, so that’s where most of Portillo’s skiers ride in the mornings. We snaked down the groomed track first. In subsequent runs we got off-piste to ski the crud and small bumps—it’s quieter there. As in most places, the bulk of skiers ride the groomed tracks, leaving the good stuff untouched and uncrowded.

Portillo View

By noon we’d made our way to the Plateau—the side of Portillo that catches the afternoon rays. The terrain here is so vast, you’d need a fisheye lens to capture it on camera. We rode the El Plateau lift, then the slingshot Condor (more on this bizarre lift later), and traversed over to the off-piste of Plateau Superior, largely avoided by the masses.

Not that there are any masses at Portillo. There are very few day skiers here, most are vacationing on ski weeks at Hotel Portillo, and the hotel’s capacity is capped off at about 400. So there’s never a line-up. And if you like to ski off-piste, you encounter little traffic.

Lunch was at the mid-mountain Tio Bob’s, a.k.a. Uncle Bob’s. Bob Purcell was Portillo’s original owner; his nephew Henry Purcell now runs it. Tio Bob’s is a little slopeside hut, much like alms of Europe. From here, there’s an hypnotic view of Laguna Del Inca (Inca Lake) and the surrounding snowcapped Andes. Skiers throw off their gear and take up residence at picnic tables. Food is off the grill—chicken, salmon, sausage, soup and enormous salads.

Lunch at Tio Bob's

I didn’t want to leave my perch, but I had a date with some Mexican tour operators who promised to guide me through Garganta (translation: throat), akin to the Couloir at Blackcomb. The sun-softened snow on Garganta was perfect, as is its pitch: steep and slightly bumpy, just the way I like it.

Our ski day ended with zip along the Austrians’ closed downhill training course courtesy of Robin, Portillo’s ski school director. It was all part of Portillo’s daily ‘ski with ambassadors’ program, during which you’re toured around for free by the area’s experts.

By 5 pm it was time for tea in the dining room—a sweet cap on an extremely sweet day of skiing.

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It’s a cruise ship kind of start to the day here in Portillo, Chile. We wake up a little later than we would on a normal ski vacation—8 am instead of 7. But then, nothing about this ‘ski vacation’ is normal. For one thing, it’s August. For another, we’re south of the equator.

We saunter into the communal dining room for breakfast in flip-flops and sweats. Red-coated waiters are buzzing about like bees around honey. Their sprinter’s pace is diametrically opposed to the slowness of the skiers they’re serving. There are at least four Chilean waiters to every single, unhurried guest, and judging by their haste, I think these waiters have had a lot of Columbian coffee.

The ‘guests’ on this skiing cruise ship are an interesting mix. South American families fill one side of the room. They’re dressed in some of the happiest skiwear I’ve seen—shiny pink puffy jackets, lime green ski pants, multi-coloured hats (not helmets) and wide-framed, jewel-encrusted sunglasses that Elton would have drooled over in his heyday.

Another part of the dining hall is filled with English-speaking skiers, many of them, I’m told, are from Vail and Aspen. Many of them have little kids in tow, who spend much of their time bombing around the hotel, gleeful to be free and out from under supervision. I see a lot of Obermeyer and Kjus on their parents, some Patagonia on the more mountaineering types. Blonde hair. Deep tans. More sunglasses.

Another part of the room seems to be taken up by long-haired guys, mostly American, some Canadian, from places like Utah and British Columbia. They wear mostly t-shirts and ripped jeans, and stab at their iPhones through breakfast. I peek, naturally, and they’re not doing anything particularly important on those mobiles—there are more than a few Angry Birds at the breakfast table.

I haven’t mentioned the ski racers at breakfast. That’s because they’re not here. They’re Austrian national team members, after all, and they’ve been out on the slopes since before the lifts opened. One imagines 6 am breakfasts of muesli and fruit, yogurt and energy drinks packed with stuff transported overseas in packs by their coaches. The Austrian team members—all hugely tall and muscular, with shaved heads and massive thighs—keep mostly to themselves here in Portillo. They’re the only ones not on a casual schedule.

Breakfast for us is eggs, fruit, yogurt, cheese, fresh rolls and loads of coffee, all served with lightning speed by those buzzing waiters. We load up, then saunter from the dining room to prep for skiing. Our boots and skis are handed to us by valets… like I said, Portillo is a ‘ski cruise ship’ experience.

Lori Knowles is the ski columnist for the Toronto Sun.

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