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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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Wide-open ski runs are of little use at a ski resort from a seven-year-old skier’s perspective. The more trees the better — add a few jumps, plus some stumps and boulders to ski over and you’ve really got it going on. The only thing cleared trails are good for is getting from one set of glades to another really fast. Other than that… “Nah. Pretty useless.”

Little people, big ideas.

This from my son, who’s skiing Sun Peaks, BC for the first time, and is showing remarkable talent for sniffing out good glades. It doesn’t matter how steep they are, how tight they are, or even if they’re tracked. He beetles from one set to another like a remote-controlled stock car commandeered by Bart Simpson.

“C’mon Mom! You can make it! It’s not that steep. Whattya mean the branches are too low? I made it!”

And this kid’s got more than an opinion or two on how a ski area should be layed out. “5-Mile (a green-circle Sun Peaks run) is good ‘cause it’s long,” he says. “But it definitely needs more trees. The ditches are good on the sides, though. You can get some good jumps in those.”

According to Emmett, the best treed runs at Sun Peaks so far are the Cahilty Glades off the Sunburst Express — well spaced, but not too easy; the trees between Granny Greene’s and Homesteader on Sundance; and Mt. Morrisey’s “easy-peasy” The Sticks.

Emmett skied Cahilty Glades Sunday with a pack of Nancy Greeners (ski racers in the Nancy Greene Ski League), led by Nancy Greene herself, and followed by a CTV camera crew. (The footage will run preceding the Olympics.)

Nancy Greene with the Nancy Greeners!

Nancy was cool about heading into Cahilty trees on the first run of the day — she had to be, otherwise the kids on the ski team would mutiny — but the camera crew was a little challenged!

They duck-taped a wide-angle camera to her skis and got action shots of her skiing with all the kids around her. “Kind of hard to ski with one ski slow and the other fast,” she said, waving the ski/camera around. She blew it off eventually–made one of her quick slalom turns through the trees and the camera went rolling.

Nancy gave the kids a few tips on skiing trees safely. “Ski with at least three people in trees,” she says. “That way, if you’re hurt, one can stay with you, while the other gets help.” She wisely adds: “And you don’t ski through trees… you ski around them!”

At the bottom of Cahilty she stopped — a rare occurrence for energetic Nancy — and pointed back up at the glades.

“You guys know Bode Miller?” she asked? “The American ski racer? He was here once for a Nor-Am race and missed his start ‘cause he thought he could squeeze one more run through Cahilty trees.”

Emmett nodded his head. He totally got it. When you’ve got glades, who needs gates?

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De-icing is a wonderful thing. If a plane needs it, I say… bring it on. Besides, it’s fun to watch that lime green goo get sprayed over the wings and windows.

“Look Mom,” say my six-year-old, “we’re getting slimed!”

So de-icing our WestJet flight out of early-morning Toronto made us late for our Calgary connection to Kamloops and Sun Peaks. No big deal. It was Calgary, not uptight Toronto. And it’s WestJet. Planes wait for the connecting passengers. Amazing.

We were forced to sprint through the Calgary airport, but the Kamloops Boeing 737 waited patiently for us to arrive. They even re-opened the baggage doors to load in our late bags. Again, amazing!

Kamloops was sunny when we landed. “Of course,” I said to my son, “we are headed for Sun Peaks!”

Glen-the-shuttle-driver liked to tell stories about dogs he’d done in for barking at him. He had a Bluetooth stuck in his ear, Schwarzenegger sunglasses, and a Coors Light beer cap. But he did point our way to what he called “the best pizza in Sun Peaks…. hell, the best anywhere!”  And he was right. Mountain High Pizza Sun Peaks does have the best pizza I’ve ever had. Anywhere.

So now it’s 6 am and I’ve got Disney Playhouse blasting in the background. Emmett’s up, so I’m up! I’ll get the ski stuff out, order some breakfast, then we’re off for our first ski day of the season. There’s plenty of snow here… and it’s cold.

Ok with me. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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The countdown has begun. Three sleeps until I board a WestJet flight for Sun Peaks–my first ski trip of the season. I hear the snow in BC is fantastic, I’ll let you know as soon as I get there.

I’m taking along my seven-year-old son for a family-related ski article for my ski column in the Toronto Sun. Should be interesting… and fun. A highlight: he’s just been invited by the Nancy Greene to join her as she leads a Sun Peaks’ Nancy Greene League ski racing session. I’ll have to get my camera and notepad out for that one. How many Nancy Greene League kids get a coaching session from Nancy Greene herself? Never mind, the was voted the Canada’s greatest athlete of the 20th Century!

More on Sun Peaks soon. Stay tuned.

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