The hardest thing about being a skier or a snowboarders is that we are all slaves to the weather. While resorts like Méribel can make snow and ensure the pistes are always open, they can’t create that magical moment when you wake up to a massive dump of snow & blue sky, where at the end of the day you have a silly grin on your face and aching legs.
So while we anticipate what weather gods will blow into the the Three Valleys this year, we thought we would analyse that last 8 years of snowfall and snow depth and make some cool graphics to tell the story!
There is a chill in the air, there has been no indian summer and people have started to put the heating on all of which means that it’s time to look forward to the winter season. It won’t be long before we are packing our backs and heading back to the Three Valleys, opening up our chalets in Meribel and La Tania and making sure our guest have a great ski holiday.
It has been a great summer, full of sun, sea and fun leaving us very little time to miss the mountains. Now the cold wind is blowing and our mind has started to drift to our colder happy place… here are some of the things we are looking forward to this winter.
Of course! As soon as the temperature drops we start to think about clipping into our skis and hitting the mountains. Right now as I type I can feel the excitement of the first day on the slopes. You know that feeling, the one that makes you just want to run to the lift knowing that the wait is nearly over and how that energy will carry you through the day as you ski run after run with a stupid grin on your face.
Every year the resort works hard to make things better. This year there are no new lifts or runs to look forward however, there is something that we are quite excited about. In Meribel-Motteret they are introducing an indoor picnic spot, complete with sofas, kitchen, free WIFI and charging points. It sounds like the ultimate skiiers common room. You can expect to find us hanging out with a Baguette at lunchtimes!
A new ski outfit
This year it is new outfit time which is very exciting. Once you have spent ages deciding what style and colour to go for the most exciting thing is then getting to discover all the different pockets and features that you didn’t even read about, like a whistle tucked into a hidden pocket in the collar!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a season worker or a holiday maker returning to a resort is a joy when you meet up with people you know from past winters. It could be your favorite waiter, chalet host or ski instructor. They will be as pleased to see you as you will be to see them.
Early season snow
Last year when the snow fell before the lifts weren’t even open yet. This didn’t stop us as we hiked out of Méribel up to the top of the Saluire to get some of the first tracks of the season. Check out the video below.
Breathing the Air
How can you not miss the cold, unpolluted, crisp air of the alps. We always look forward to walking out onto the chalet balcony, all wrapped up warm, probably with a glass of wine, to look at the stars and breath the cool night air.
Every year our executive chef dreams up a menu full of old favourites and new dishes and we love getting to eat every one of them. It also means a trip to our favourite butcher who always makes sure we get the best local meat and treats us to some his incredible pork chops (not pictured). We also get to sample all the wines that Tom pick to accompany your chalet dinner.
To be in the mountains is to feel humble and awestruck by the might of nature! Here are some photos to remind you of what it looks like.
The London Ski Show has been going for 43 years and last year it saw some massive changes as it moved to a new venue. The general feeling was that the show was much better with more to see and do and the outside space that hosted the big kicker (Mount Battersea) and aprés stage proving to be very popular. There is more good news as 2016 sees the price of tickets fall as much as £5. Also the date has changed and the show has been moved back to into the half term holiday week. Below is our guide to what to see and what is new…
Dates: Thursday 27th October to Sunday 30th October (times vary)
Location: Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park
Price: Early Bird – £15 Full £20 – Conssesions £10 – Children £8 – Under 11’s Free
Skiing and Snowboarding
There is more skiing and snowboarding to watch than ever before which is good as it is what the show is all about. Mount Battersea is back with it’s pro riders hitting a real snow kicker pulling off some massive tricks. Expect to see some of our Olympic star’s like Murray Buchan taking part in the pro rider demo alongside some emerging talent. New for this year is live rail jam sessions and the rail area will also be hosting the University tour – Downtown Throwdown finals. There are also some great talks in the Mountain T=theatre on Back Country Skiing and improving your technique from the likes of Warren Smith and John Godfrey.
As the show is held during half term this year there are more things for kids to get involved in which will make spending the day there more bearable for those with families. A New addition this year is the family tent where you the organisers promis games, magic shows and face painting. There is a chance for the children to get there Christmas fix win 2 months early as Santa is set to visit the show. For the slightly older children KidZania are setting up shop at the show, giving kids the chance to go on a role play adventure, maybe they will pretend to host Ski Sunday?
A returning addition is the Ice Rink, this time it is located outside and you will get a 15 minute session completely free and available to book in advance. The comedy tent is back with regular show attendees Marcus Brigstock and Andre Maxwell among some exciting cabaret acts. Boot fitting is back and is great fun if that is your idea of entertainment.
The truth is that the show wouldn’t exist without the “trade show” element and for many people the chance to shop for all things ski related in one place is the reason they attend. This year there are some more focused areas, France have a whole pavilion dedicated to tempting you to ski in French resorts as do the Americans. As well as that you can expect the usual mix of small and large tour operators, retailers such as Ellis Brigham and Finches Emporium, gap year opportunities like our friends Basecamp ski instructor courses, representatives from ski areas like the Three Valleys, Clothing and Equipment as well as the obligatory novelty helmet stand.
Last year the food on offer was mountains better than in previous years with some of the street food being surprisingly tasty and at quite reasonable prices. It could be your first chance of the winter to get some tartiflette.
On top of all the free pens, lanyards, sweets and stickers you can get a free pass to the Hemel Hempstead indoor ski slope, which if you claim it and use it makes the entry price to the show good value for money.
Naturally there will be beer and wine and probably a Jager bomb too but this year the Aprés ski has been toned down after last year there were less that 5 people watching Hot Chip and Norman Jay MBE. Friday night is your best bet for a party fix as the show is open until 10pm and the party will be going on on the EIS HAUS Lounge. If you want to be a bit colder you can book to go into the EIS HAUS Experience a frozen bar with ice cold drinks.
Before even going skiing nearly 70% of skiers reported that they feel very satisfied after they have booked a ski holiday, with only 2% not getting any satisfaction from booking the annual trip.
The other 50% were all satisfied to get the first lift, however there was a small percentage that weren’t. We can only assume that the unsatisfied 8% were more keen on a lie in.
Ride, Eat, Party
We asked everyone how satisfied they felt after half a days riding, a long lunch, one more run and some Aprés? There was nearly a 30/70 split with th majority feeling pretty pleased with this approach to skiing.
Dump of snow
Unsurprisingly waking up to a fresh dump of snow was the most satisfying with 93% of skiers feeling satisfied/quite satisfied or very satisfied. There was a small group that weren’t very happy about this. We suspect that these are the same ones that were planning on a lie in.
Becoming a ski instructor
We wondered how satisfying it would you be if everyone who had been skiing followed their dream and became a ski instructor? 31% claimed it would not be satisfying at all but on the positive end of the scale 42% of skiers would be very happy to end up as instructor.
Hiking and getting fresh lines
The results were pretty clear for the question “How satisfied do you feel after a day hiking and making fresh tracks?”. With the majority claiming that hiking was high on the agenda when looking for satisfying thrills in the mountains.
How satisfied to you feel at the end of the trip? On the whole most people felt satisfied at the end of a weeks skiing with a massive 52% being very satisfied. Not surprisingly there was an 18% who craved more mountain time, which of course is why they should consider working a ski season.
Yep that’s right I failed again. But I fail in the same way every year and each year I promise to learn from my mistakes.
Each year I book myski holiday, or holidays if I am lucky, and each time I promise myself that it is time to improve, this is the year I will get better at skiing. For too many years my ability to ski has remained the same and probably if plotted on a graph form year to to year we would have seen a plateau for a while and now as I get older the line has started to fall. The reason lies in the fact that for me ski life mirrored real life, as once I was old enough to leave ski school I did and I have never been back.
This means that I have never improved and have a technique so full of flaws that I now fear a ski lesson as much as a trip to the dentist. Which is why I have failed again this year.
Despite promising that I would have some lessons. I didn’t. I also made other “ski resolutions” which I failed to keep. I said to myself that this year I would hire a guide and hit the backcountry for a day. I did come close to achieving this if you count looking at the Meribel Guides website before I went on holiday.
I failed in my attempt to try the park out and see what I was missing out on. When I was younger I loved to hit the snow park. Now I stop at the the top of the park remember the thrill of “getting air” and the think about the pain ot might result in. Then after those thoughts leave me I start to internally pressure thyself to prove that I still can do it. Psyched up I ski off towards the green kicker, I panic, swerve and ski off out of the park making out that I intended to do that all along.
I also failed in my promise to avoid aprés ski, chalet wine and general excursions to the pub. My failure to do this probably contributed heavily to my failure all round.
But do you know what. I had a good time, it was probably one of the best ski holidays I have had.
It’s a fact that we spend more time thinking about skiing or boarding than we actually spend on the snow doing it. Some of us are happy just dreaming of being on the mountain but occasionally we need a reminder of what we are missing. The other day we found ourselves the other day sat on the sofa trawling the internet for ski movies to get us through the summer. We found some new, some old and some very boring movies to watch and after we had quenched our frozen water thirst we thought we would share what is out there with you so you could hydrate yourself.
Watching a snow movie reminds you how much fun you have out it the mountains.
Below is a selection of ski and snowboard movies and TV shows that are available on the internet with subscription services like Netflix and Amazon, as well on free services such as Red Bull TV and YouTube.
Steep was filmed in 2007 and looks at the history of extreme skiing, it starts by looking back at the 1979 when a skier called Bill Briggs who was a pioneer of Big Mountain Riding skied down the Teton Mountain in Jackson Hole. The history of the sport is told with the help of ski legend such as Shane McConkey, Chris Davenport and Ingrid Backstrom. The motto of the film and the people featured in it is “ski where the sport of sking is still and adventure” and this is what he film is about too.
Deeper – Further – Higher
This trilogy of snowboarding films starring Jeremy Jones isn’t all about tricks an montages it truly is about the adventure of free-riding and searching for the ultimate line in some of the worlds most extreme places. Jones and his crew don’t just rely on heli drops they belive that mountaineering is part of the experience of big mountain riding. These films follow Jeremy and the team who film him as they go deeper into the back country. These arn’t films about goofy snowboard dudes these are documentary’s about pioneers and explores who respect their environment who just happen to have the best way of getting down a snowy mountain.
I went to the Cinema to watch this when it came out and scoffing at the unrealistic depiction of chalet staff, later on I reflected on this thought and realised that would have made a pretty boring film. The movie is loosely based on the story of Olympic Bronze Medallist Jenny Jones and her life as a seaonnaire. While the actual ski and snowboarding content is limited, in an odd way you might find this film inspires you to get back on the snow or even apply for a job as a chalet host.
Also on Netfilx is My Side of the sky a TV docudrama about Windells Academy a school for snowboarders.
Going Downhill Fast
If you are a fan of science movies that you were shown in school in the 90’s and made in the 80’s then this is the ski movie for you and as it is also Amazons only ski offering and you are a Prime member then it may be the only movie for you. The documentary talks about going fast on skis and has interviews with experts who talk about snow in terms of penetrating particles and freezing points. Watch this if you want to learn something not if you want arty shots of powder runs and big air. Going Downhill fast
Red Bull TV
Art Of Flight
If I owned a company that made too much money, I like to think that like Red Bull I would just keep ploughing the money into doing cool stuff to promote my company! Despite the fact that The Art Of Flight is a feature length advert, but then aren’t most ski films, this is one of the best and possibly the most beautiful winter sports film ever made. The film starring Travis Rice documents what its like to challenge yourself in a dangerous environment and challenges what you may think about riders who put are searching constantly pushing the boundaries.
Red Bull TV has plenty to keep anyone winter sport fan entertained for hours with shows such as Keep Your Tips Up a documentary about a group of riders making a movie and film about Lindsay Vonn’s come back and Mike Shaw a pro skier who was told he may never walk again.
There are 4 of these movies and have been made over time since 1983, origionally a promo vidoe for Les Arcs these films have turned into a cult classic. This isn’t your usual ski movie and don’t let what I am about to tell you put you off. Firstly there is a plot that resolve the snowboard legend Régis Rolland on his swallow tail board as he is chased around the mountain by the evil mono skiers trying to capture the secret of skiing. The music is incredible the stunts amazing and the ski outfits are some of the best you will ever see. Still not convince… I have put the first instalment below. Trust me you will be hooked.
Also on Youtube is the movie a Few Words a documentary by Quicksilver about one of the worlds most accomplished skier Candide Thovex. One reviewer describe its as “A great overview of the life of this incredible skier…. great cinematography as well as music and the skiing out of this world 10/10; this is one ski film worth buying and keeping.”. Which obviously you don’t have to as they have uploaded it to Youtube. It is a high quality movie that will make you consider the possibilities of what is possible with a pair of skis, before you realise that remembering which pocket you put your lift pass in is hard enough.
Spending the festive holidays in the Alps is a magical experience for one thing you are guaranteed a white Christmas. The other things that make it a great way to enjoy Christmas or New Year’s Eve are the simple things like someone else doing the cooking and the cleaning. Also the entertaining is taken care of in the form of skiing or snowboarding.
It may be the start of the season but in the Three Valleys the snow is always great as 85% of the ski area is above 1800m and to help guarantee the snow there are snow cannons covering 50% of the slopes.
Brexit was voted for and we will have to wait to see what the exit of Britain from Europe will look like. One thing the referendum has done is make us think about the future and how skiing and snowboarding might change over the next 50 years.
Snow and Climate Change
There is a big move for ski resorts to become more responsible for sourcing their energy as it is an industry that feel the affects of climate change directly. One example is our winter home of Méribel where all the energy that powers the lifts and snow cannons are powered by hydroelectricity. Other resorts are installing wind turbines and solar powered technology. You can expect most ski resorts to be self sufficient and 100% powered by renewable energy in the near future.
With climate change we may well see less snow of a shift in the seasons so we predict a huge rise in snow making. All the big resorts are investing in snowmaking equipment some are even making it part of their marketing. For example the 3 Valleys is boasting about the 2189 cannons it has covering 50% of its ski area. Maybe one day it will be 100%.
Since the the UK voted in the referendum the pound has dropped meaning that we currently get less euros to the pound. To help put into perspective the lowest cost of a € during the following winter seasons looked like this: 2013 – 1.14 : 2014 – 1.18 : 2015 – 1.26 .
Also we haven’t heard of a single tour operator currently looking to increase the cost of their ski holidays based on the referendum results and as you pay in sterling your holiday won’t cost any more.
However the cost of a lift pass is likely to creep up every year as the cost of maintaining and improving ski areas becomes more costly. But there is some good news as a handful of experts believe that the cost new chairlifts are coming down so maybe the yearly lift pass price hike won’t be as much in the future.
One thing that is sure to change is ski and snowboard technology. The fundamental design of skis probably won’t change very much so it is likely that it will be the boot that sees the biggest changes with fully mouldable outers and inners . According to Mike Hatrrtup from K2 we will probably also see a change in bindings with a move to magnetic in a bid to save weight.
The hoverboard could ruin everything if its is invented as that is because if they did create Back to the Future type hoverboard technology it would be like cruising down a powder field!
Currently the number of people skiing globally are decreasing and many in the industry are saying that the uptake of the younger generation is much lower and few people take it up later on in life. This could mean that ski resorts are quieter in 50 years time which is great news for people taking the sport up now.
Don’t worry about the future if going skiing or snowboarding makes you happy go to the mountains and enjoy yourself but maybe take a friend!