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Posts Tagged ‘skiing’
Desperate to go ski-ing? Wondering where to go? Look no further – Cardrona in New Zealand has had its best pre-season snow base levels in over a decade, 120 cm on the upper mountain and 80 cm in the base area.
“We’ve had some pretty extreme weather in May bringing heavy snow falls, the mountain is looking amazing, from top to bottom. It’s been great to get such a solid snow base but I know our operations team is grateful this week has brought some settled weather to continue with pre-season preparations,” said Nadia Ellis, sales and marketing manager.
“If these pre-season conditions are anything to go by then winter 2009 is going to be one for the record books. It certainly looks like we’re in for some great skiing and snowboarding from the outset, so long as the cold conditions hold,” said Ellis.
Cardrona is scheduled to open Friday 26 June. For further information, visit the newly relaunched web site at www.cardrona.com.
This picture was taken 3 days ago, 26th May 2009, by Tommy Pyatt.
Not looking too bad is it?!
Falls Creek, on Mt. McKay, Australia, on the other hand, is making snow in preparation for their opening in one week’s time – the Queen’s Birthday Weekend. Conditions are perfect for snow making with the mercury well below zero and the temperature, taking into account the wind chill component, a cool minus 7.6C. It has the country’s blackest runs over 450 hectares of snow covered fields.
But it is Mount Buller which has beaten everyone else to the opening day. 248kms north east of Melbourne (about 3 hours), Mt Buller is the most accessible snow resort in Australia and the closest resort to any international airport.
In a special ‘this-weekend-only’ celebration, Mt Buller is throwing open the resort to the public this Saturday and Sunday to share the amazing 35cm of early snow blanketing the resort.
“This is the earliest we’ve opened a lift and ski run in the history of Mt Buller resort. The closest was 45 years ago when we opened on the 16 May in 1964,” said Laurie Blampied General Manager of Buller Ski Lifts.
However, it looks like it’s be New Zealand stealing the show for the moment.
More fresh snow on Queenstown’s premier ski areas of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak on New Zealand’s South Island is delivering spectacular pre-season conditions, comparable with usual conditions in peak season.
Coronet Peak ski area, scheduled to open on Saturday 6 June, has received 50 – 100 cm of snow in the last four days resulting in an 80 cm base at the top of the mountain and a 50 cm base at the bottom.
Across the valley at The Remarkables, the ski area has received 45 cm of fresh snow in the last 48 hours and has received 150 cm over the last two weeks, resulting in a solid 120 cm base across the mountain.
More snow showers are forecast for Queenstown in the coming days…
Soon now, you, too, in the Southern Hemisphere can get up to these tricks (XTremeVideo):
After the tragic news last week from Mont Tremblant ski resort we have been looking out for news on the reactions to whether it should become mandatory to wear protective head gear whilst skiing or snowboarding. It seems as though the Canadians are going to be the first to introduce an industry standard helmet which can be certified but they are not at the moment going so far as to make legislation to say the wearing of helmets is mandatory.
So we laud the testing and certification and further suggest that it should not be a mandatory to wear a helmet – which again appears to be the direction the Canadian authorities are moving. Yes we suggest you wear them, yes we like what we are hearing about industry standards and certification but no we do not believe in taking away an individuals choice. We do not like the idea of being so wrapped up in cotton wool that an individuals ability to choose what he or she does is stripped from that individual. Such legislation would take us nearer to becoming automatons.
We have picked up this article from the Canadian Press for which thanks and present a video below which clearly demonstrates the case for wearing a helmet. Well done canada for taking a lead and we hope to see the US and Europe following suit.
‘Wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding can reduce the risk of a head injury by 60 per cent. But not all helmets are created equal, says the Canadian Standards Association, which is introducing certification testing under a new standard.
The CSA developed a new standard for alpine skiing and snowboarding helmets last June and will begin providing testing for certification of the protective head gear next month, said John Walter, vice-president of standards for the non-profit organization.
“This is the first such standard in Canada … specifically developed to meet the needs of Canadians by Canadians,” Walter said Monday. “These helmets are meant to sustain multiple impacts, where a number of helmets that are manufactured are only supposed to (take) one severe fall and they should be thrown out and another one purchased.”
The CSA is to formally announce its certification testing Tuesday, less than a week after actress Natasha Richardson died from a brain injury she sustained from a fall while at Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant ski resort. She was not wearing a helmet.
Walter said the announcement had been planned for about two months, but he acknowledged that Richardson’s tragic death has made the issue of protection from head trauma even more timely.
“You hear people say, ‘I wouldn’t have worn a helmet before, but I will now.’ So obviously that kind of attention will help people be aware that they need to wear a helmet.”
While the CSA committee that developed the manufacturing guidelines considers them superior to U.S. and European standards for snow sport helmets, manufacturers have no obligation to meet the requirements or submit their products for certification.
“This could be adopted by Health Canada, perhaps, as part of the Hazardous Products Act or consumer products legislation … it could be adopted by any of the provinces,” said Walter, who is urging government to adopt the standard and make testing mandatory.
“It could be simply used by particular resorts, a resort that says: ‘We want to ensure there’s a high level of safety (and) will simply insist that no one is able to ski or snowboard on their hills without the equipment.”
“The ideal would be if a government said this is part of the law.”
Currently, most manufacturers follow U.S and European standards, but the Canadian guideline involves more rigid safety requirements, spelling out which areas of the head must be protected and defining minimum levels of shock absorption, stability and strength. The guideline also applies to helmets for tobogganing and sledding.
Walter said he hopes Canadians will demand that head protection they buy for themselves or their children lives up to the CSA standard.
“Now there’s going to be something they can go into a sports store and say, ‘I want this kind of helmet, I want this CSA mark on it. If you don’t have the CSA mark on it, I’m going someplace else.”‘
Richard Kinar, a former competitive freestyle skier from Vancouver, became alarmed after reading an article suggesting that some helmets sold in Canada offered no more protection than placing a bag of milk on one’s head.
Kinar said he and others who began experimenting in the early 1970s with freestyle skiing, with its aerial jumps and flips, had no idea how dangerous it was – or would become in the future.
“We really started a sport back then that is really putting a lot of people at risk,” he said, admitting that he wore no helmet. “What the kids are doing now is pushing the limits to the absolute extreme, and extreme sport is fuelling an epidemic of head injuries.”
Those brain injuries can not only be fatal but may also lead to life-long disabilities, said Ellie Wannamaker of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
Such an injury can lead to physical disabilities that range from muscle weakness to paralysis and cognitive problems that include short-term memory loss and learning disorders, said Wannamaker, a member of the brain injury team at Bloorview Kids Rehab in Toronto.
She believes certified helmets should be mandatory for recreational sports, just as wearing a seatbelt is required while driving in a motor vehicle.
“I don’t see why we can’t do that. The cost of this (a brain injury) to one family, to one child is incredibly huge and forever.”
So you see its a tough argument to counter – please though don’t make it a crime not to wear a helmet – thanks to Todd1462 for the video – a good reminder of how dangerous it can be when an accident happens – and that is all it needs to be – an accident – an event without apparent cause.
Can’t get up to the slopes today? Well, here’s something to think about:
“Powder snow is a near-religious experience. It is absolute freedom, because you can ski where you want: rocks are blanketed; tree stumps blister-packed; pitfalls filled. And it is merciful, the snow allows you mistakes and welcomes them, envelops them in its love. It liberates, lightens the load, lifts even the everyday burden of your own weight. It lets you fly with an abandon that you couldn’t hope to get away with on normal snow. It is forgiving and allows him to feel forgiven. Drops that would jar his spine, or smash his knees into his chin, instead catch him and cradle him.”
So says Jonathon Trigell in the book “Cham”.
The description is so beautifully put and apt, that I just had to share it with you. The book’s a good read too!
A long video from vynig, but, oh my god, (what was that Trigell was saying about a near religious experience?) I wish I was in Utah right now!
The Nissan O’Neill Xtreme Freerider contest in Verbier, Switzerland from 19-22nd March is one of the most extreme contests in the world.
As skier Kaj Zackrisson of Sweden, who was the winner of the 2008 Nissan O’Neill Xtreme – Verbier and ranked 6th in the Freeride World Tour rankings, says: “The FWT is an awesome gathering of riders who love and breathe the passion of riding; I am happy to be part of it.”
Since its start in 1996 the “Xtreme” at Verbier has been considered the most prestigious event in the freeride world. To accomplish the difficult lines, these top athletes have to have mental focus, physical ability, stay smart and have the very highest level of skiing or snowboarding. There is a US$100 000 prize for the winner.
For the “grande finale” of the Freeride World Tour the elite of freeride will tackle the mythical North Face of the Bec des Rosses, a dauntingly steep and frighteningly jagged 500m rock-face. In some places the Bec des Rosses has sheer slopes of 55* – picture this… whilst standing in an upright position you could lean on the face with your elbow!
With steep and narrow couloirs, high rock cliffs, steep pitches and changing snow and terrain, the riders have to be particularly skilled and in top physical condition. They require thorough mountain experience and top placements in the previous contests. It is the perfect challenge for these skilled competitors.
Riders arrive in Verbier at the beginning of the week to study the imposing slope, and choose a line with the help of binoculars. On the day of the competition, they hike for over an hour to the summit. One by one they descend the face in an attempt to qualify for the finals.
Around 5000 spectators will join the riders at one of the most beautiful natural arenas of the Alps, the Col des Gentianes in Verbier which is just in front of the Bec des Rosses, and is the perfect place to catch the action.
Right at this moment the team are racing in Tignes and you can get a feel for the contest by watching the official youtube site of FreerideWorldTourTV .
Last year the snow was a little thin, but as you all know, this year has been sensational and there is currently 2m of snow at Verbier with more expected. The conditions couldn’t be more perfect for this very extreme competition.
To amuse and entertain you, here are some of the best crashes from the competition when it was in Squaw Valley at the end of February, early March. The video comes from the same source with thanks.
This is an extreme sport we have blogged about before but we feel has not been given enough column inches, enough exposure – we are talking about speed riding. It is young – only conceived in 2003 and it is therefore still very young. You can take off from 9,000 feet above sea level and be on the valley floor in less than five minutes. It is fast – very fast – furious and will give you a rush like you have never experienced.
It is also exclusive – born in Europe, more specifically France – it is Europe which far outranks the United States in numbers of participants. Europe affords the space of where to go which you will find is more restricted in the US – whereas up to 4,000 can be found practicing the sport in Europe the numbers in the United States are only a few hundred.
Further more it is claimed to be safer than a number of other pastimes but in the same breath it is also said to be safe – see what you think in the video below from r1g2b3 which shows action from……….well the Eiger of course, where else would you go for a buzz after lunch on a quiet Sunday afternoon!
A combination between paragliding and skiing we went in search of some info for you and were rather chuffed to find that Wikipedia did not have an entry for speed riding (at least not in the top 10 of our Google search!). It was to the www.Telegraph.co.uk where we turned and found this article by Mike Peake.
‘There are few extreme sports to which you could realistically ask for a gentle introduction. ……but speed riding, which is best described as falling down a mountain with grace, is one adrenalin rush that your grandfather could experience and hope to live to tell the tale.
Not that this new French addition to the thrill-seeker’s repertoire isn’t dangerous: hurtling down a snow-covered mountain at 60mph can only be risk-free when you’re at the controls of a Wii console. But this bizarre fusion of skiing and flying comes with an incredible get-out-of-jail-free card that has given it a safety record that’s hard to beat. When you see a rock, tree or Prince Charles and his entourage on the slopes ahead of you, all you have to do is yank on a cord and the paragliding canopy above your head will hoist you straight up and out of the danger zone.
“Base jumping is so extreme that there are no margins,” says 35-year-old François Bon, one of the paragliders who invented the sport at the end of 2003. “You have to be 100 per cent precise and base jumping is little more than a cascade. Speed riding is something that you can learn, slowly. It’s not something you have to throw yourself off the top of a mountain to try out.”
Designated speed-riding slopes and classes started springing up on the Alps three winters ago and since then hundreds of people have been certified as bona fide speed-riders (or speed fliers, as they are sometimes called) by the French Paragliding Federation. There are between 3,000 and 4,000 speed-riders worldwide and the sport has found friends in America, Japan, Scandinavia and New Zealand, although Bon insists its home is on the slopes of Les Arcs in the French Alps, where it was first conceived.
“When we started many skydivers and paragliders wanted to try it,” he says, “but now it’s mostly skiers. They’re not used to flying or using canopies, but that’s no problem because it’s better to be a good skier than a good flier. The rest you can learn.”
An adventurous speed-rider is looking for height, good snow and an exciting descent and the hardcore elite hire helicopters to drop them in places that would otherwise require a week off work. Kit consists of a pair of skis, helmet, goggles and a specially-designed canopy that is closely related to the traditional paragliding rig.
The idea of following the contours of a mountain while paragliding isn’t new: paragliders have been skimming mountain tops for years, sometimes with tragic results. But once Bon and his friends latched on to the idea of doing it with skis over more fall-friendly snow, they were onto a winner.
“We knew that the chance to fly fast and close to the snow would be very exciting,” says Bon, a paragliding test-pilot and former member of the French national team. “So we started to play with some existing canopies that we modified. By 2005 we were designing products specially.”
With just one fatality and a smashed back to date, speed riding is proving insurable and a surprisingly low-risk “danger” sport. “When you see our videos on YouTube, it looks pretty intense,” he says, accurately describing footage of one of his own hair-raising descents of the Eiger. “You’ll see that we’re going very fast and that there’s lots of flying, but when you start out there’s a lot more snow than air.”
But just like every sport, speed riding does have its golden rule. “It’s all about controlling your speed,” says Bon. “To run out of speed makes the glider fall down. You don’t want to be on a big slope and totally reliant on your skis if there are cliffs and the risk of avalanche. I’m only happy when I can see that canopy above me.” ‘
So where do you go if you want to give it a go and what do you need:
- probably a very good idea about how to ski to a proficient level
- equipment will be provided by your instructors
- training essential
- in Europe try www.speedriding-school.com
- in the US try ………..uh – we cannot find a teacher – now there’s an opportunity
Now watch this totally crazy footage from nimpO of Antoine Montant – another Frenchman – speedriding his way out of the path of an avalanche that would have swept all else before it – awesome.
… yet another thing you can do with a kite!