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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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This week marks the launch of the Winter 2014/15 edition of SNOW Magazine, a sure sign winter is coming. isn’t she a beauty?

SNOW Magazine Winter 2014/15

SNOW Magazine
Winter 2014/15

On stands now, this edition is focused on all that’s warm and sumptuous and luxurious in the winter ski lifestyle. Lech’s lovely Chalet N–a luscious slopeside retreat for celebs–is profiled. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Shribman lends us a peek inside Dartmouth, his alma mater and the world’s only Ivy Ski League. Fashion photographer Daniela Federici has captured the bold colours of 2015 skiwear. Barbara Sanders, SNOW’s publisher, profiles a spa laden with Swarvoski crystals. And I, Lori Knowles, trace the rich history of Idaho’s Sun Valley, where Clarke Gable and Ingrid Bergman and Ernest Hemingway launched the first American Ski Resort, an iconic spot once known as the “American Shangri-la.”

The magazine is on stands now, as well as inside the rooms of the world’s best alpine hotels, in Air Canada lounges, and available for download on Zinio. See www.TheSnowMag.com and @SNOWmagazine for more information.

Once you’ve got it, curl up in front of a warm fire, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy your read. Lech, Park City, the Okanagan, Sun Valley, Courchevel, Aspen… Reading these pages is the next best thing to skiing in one of these fabulous places.

Lori Knowles is Editor-in-Chief of SNOW Magazine @LoriExploring

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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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Toronto's Snow Show, October 17-20, 2013

Toronto’s Snow Show, October 17-20, 2013

Canada’s Thanksgiving Weekend has always been a turning point for me. It’s the point in the year at which I leave my beloved Muskoka cottage behind and start thinking seriously about my second great love: skiing.

Why Canadian Thanksgiving? Because one week later, October 17-20, 2013, is the event that marks Ontario’s official start of the ski season:  The Toronto Snow Show.

Exploring the floor for new ski fashion.

Exploring the floor for new ski fashion.

I doubt I’ve missed a Snow Show since, say, I was 17. It’s been a tradition to head there after work or school on a Friday evening, link up with great friends in the ski industry, and explore the floor. I’ve planned many a ski trip at the ski show. I’ve purchased skivvies and ski jackets and goggles and hats at bargain prices from Toronto ski retailers. I’ve spotted the skis and boots I simply must sample. I’ve watched aerialists and ice sculptors and ski fashion models do their thing. Once, way back, I even interviewed for my first job as a ski pro at Whistler-Blackcomb. But mostly at the annual ski show, I’ve revved myself up for an eventful ski season—one that, in about six weeks, will be in full swing.

Why am I telling you this?

Snow Magazine, Winter 2014

Snow Magazine, Winter 2014

As the new editor of SNOW Magazine (www.TheSnowMag.com), I think a lot about skiing. I think about it all spring and summer and autumn long… yet I have few people with which I can chat skiing. Fair enough, most people want to avoid winter in summer. So this is my first opportunity of the season to get you thinking what I’m thinking.

There is another reason. Organizers of the Toronto Snow Show have asked me to spread the word, and I’ve agreed. There’s been an effort afoot to revitalize this annual event—a new location, new features, a palpable new energy. The Canadian National Sportsmen’s Shows have partnered with the Canadian Ski Council to rethink the whole thing, and I applaud their efforts. Change is a good thing.

And so, here we go. A series of blogs from LoriExploring enticing you to rev up for the ski season right along with me… the weekend after Canadian Thanksgiving.

Below are some essential details and my take on why I think they’re exciting. Stay tuned, there’s more to come in the next two weeks. Also, follow my #SnowShow tweets @Lori Exploring

New Location: The Toronto Snow Show, October 17-20, will be held for the first time at Toronto’s International Centre, not far from the airport. Why is this a big deal? Two words: free parking. www.TorontoSnowShow.com

Best Deal: Buy 1 Get 1 Free Lift Ticket. Buy a lift pass at an Ontario ski resort and get another one free, with the price of a Snow Show admission. Why is this a big deal? You get 50% off your ski day.

Into The Mind by Sherpa Cinemas

Into The Mind by Sherpas Cinema

Best Show: Sherpas Cinema will present their latest film, Into the Mind, at the Toronto Snow Show. Why is this a big deal? Another two words: Kye Petersen. (He’s one of Canada’s top freeskiers. He’ll be there.)

Best Buzz: Quebec’s ski areas are gathering themselves into one section of the show and giving it a traditional ski-chalet-atmosphere. Why is this a big deal? Wine and cheese are included.

As I said: stay tuned. More to come, here, at www.LoriKnowles.com and @LoriExploring

Lori Knowles is the editor of SNOW Magazine. Lori’s ski features also appear regularly in Ski Canada, Up! by Westjet, and the Toronto Sun. View her work at www.LoriKnowles.com. Follow 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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