It is a long wait between ski seasons in Europe. The wait is almost bearable if you’re are a resort worker. But for most of us who can only fit in a one-week holiday, it is 51 long weeks. So what can you do to get your skiing fix during the long hot summer months?
1. Indoor and Dry Slopes
There are 100’s of these dotted around the UK, some big and some very small. You can find a full list of slopes on the Ski Club of Great Britain web site. There will be one close to you and they should have a small range of ski hire equipment too. In fact, why you are at it, you may as well take some non-skiing friends along and try and tempt them into taking it.
If you can convince them to come on your next holiday you will benefit from amazinggroup discount, which is time well spent.
2. Water Skiing and Wakeboarding
Admittedly it isn’t the same. For a novice, it can be a bit like spending time on a slushy drag lift and it can work out costing a lot more than a week’s skiing. You will also get wet. But if all that doesn’t put you off then it is a great way to feel that comforting leg burn that you get after a good day hooning around the slopes.
You could probably fit the whole of Australia’s and New Zealand’s ski runs into the Three Valleys or even the Meribel Valley, (not an actual fact). Sadly we don’t offer catered ski holidays there and there is a long flight to consider. But that shouldn’t put you off. The skiing is actually very good in both countries.
What more could you want from a bit of summer skiing than to be carving down Kangaroo Ridge with a tinny instead of a demis.
5. Find a Glacier in Europe to go skiing on this Summer
There are some wonderful glaciers that are open for skiing during the summer. You could even pop over for the weekend. Our favorite is located just down the road from our spiritual home of Meribel, in Tignes. There is also a great one in Zermatt although it will take you about an hour to get to it from the resort.
Woodsy started out on Sheffield Dry Ski Slope as a teenager and has quickly taken himself to the top of his game. On the way, he has won FIS medals, finished 5th in slopestyle at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and has legions of fans across the world.
When Eliose caught up with Woodsy at the Méribel Planks Clothing store she didn’t waste the opportunity and got him to share his top tips on perfecting tricks in the park.
1. Look where you are going & let your eyes do the trick:
Wherever the eyes go the body follows, looking where you are going and spotting your landing is the most important thing when setting out to do a trick.
2. Finger guns:
Point your fingers out in front of you as if you are going to shoot something – this is where your hands should be.
3. Hold the box:
Imagine you are holding the corners of a box in front of you, this helps to keep your shoulders and body open.
4. Z legs:
Your legs need to be z-shaped, pushing your shins into the front of your boots.
5. Imagine you’re an apple:
When you throw an apple it doesn’t change its rotation mid-air. You should do the same, imagine you are an apple and continue your rotation.
6. If landing switch look back up the hill:
When landing backwards it is easy to be nervous and land at an angle, spot your landing then immediately look back up the hill to straighten out the landing so you are on both feet.
Quick Guide to Méribel Snow Parks
Meribel is home to one of the best Freestyle Snow Parks in Europe…DC Area 43.
DC Area 43 currently has something for everyone, with a mini-pipe, super-pipe, side hips, rails, boxes and kickers (jumps) for intermediate – advanced park skier/boarders. The main drop into the park has a choice of 4 courses, on the left beginner/intermediate boxes, next blue and red kickers and sectioned off on the right a pro-line set up with multiple features. This truly is a park for all standards.
As the season comes to an end we really are going to miss our Chalet cakes. There is nothing better than coming back from a day on the mountain to the smell baking. A long standing Alpine Action favourite is our “Apple and Almond” cake. This mouth watering goodness, has a crisp outside and soft spongy middle. It lasts for ages if stored in a cake tin and if you like it as much as we do, you can even heat it up and serve it with a little cream for dessert.
Apple and Almond Cake
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
50g of almond flakes (plus some extra for decoration)
1 tsp cinnamon
300g raising flour
pinch of salt
375g brown sugar
Icing sugar (optional for decoration)
Method: 1. Peel, core and slice apples.
2. Sift flour, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.
3. Stir in the brown sugar, raisins, eggs, almonds, melted butter, milk and apples.
4. Mix until smooth and pour into a greased and floured cake tin.
5. Cook for 45 minutes in a moderate oven (180ºC).
6. Stick a knife in the centre of the cake to check it is done, its should come out clean when removed.
7. Decorate with Almond flakes and a light dusting of icing sugar, or with almond icing, like Carmen in Chalet Telekie.
The end of March and the start of April were once times that dedicated skiers would try and avoid the slopes. But over the last few years these 6 weeks have seen an increase in big fresh dumps of snow. The snow that falls in spring may not stay around as long but when it falls it is light, fluffy and often accompanied by blue skies.
Outrageous tan lines
A goggle mark has always been more of a statement rather than a lax approach to sunscreen application. And the best time to get yours is during the spring months. But why stop at a goggle mark when there are T-shirt lines to collect on your arms, neck and rear.
The sighting of Marmots
To some these are mythical creatures that only exist in souvenir shops or name of the piste where you were meant to meet your partner after their ski lesson. To others the appearance of these giant rodents is a sign that spring is here and the summer is on it’s way.
The alpine festival is a growing trend, Méribel alone can boast of the Ronnie Loves Music Festival, the Piste Basher Festival and the 3 Valleys Charity Day (festival). Once the posters for these start to go up we know that we are in for a good time and that spring has arrived.
Rocks are a part of the spring experence and other than the petex manafacures, no one enjouys their appearence. First the big ones that form the landscape start to appear then slowly smaller ones start to popup on the lowere slopes and busy intersections. By the final week of the season, (if its hasn’t dumped), part of the game is to dodge the rocks.
An iconic image of a ski resort in spring is the sunbathing liftie. Over the years the resorts have become more customer focused and the role of the lift operator more responsible this sight happens less and less. But when it does you can’t but think…. “ I’d quite like that job”.
Puddles to skim
You know the drill, you spot a puddle or melted pond, you point it out to your group, then you watch someone effortly skim across it on skis. The challenge is on. One of your group heads back the chalet early to dry off. In some resorts this is now a major event, don’t let your mate enter!
In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, we researched some awesome female icons in the world of Winter Sports. These incredible women, dating back to the 1800’s, set the standards in all female mountain sports, ranging from; Mountain Climbing, Figure Skating, Alpine Ski Racing, Back Country Skiing and Freestyle.
In honour of International Women’s Day, here are 10 inspirational role models, giving Girl Power with an Alpine touch.
1. Marie Paradis and Henriette d’Angeville
Marie Paradis was the first female to climb the famous Mont Blanc in 1808, during this time Chamonix was still under the reign of the Kingdom of Sardinia. This history changing female, succeeded the climb alongside mountain guide Jacques Balmat. The quirky fact in this story was the fashion… Marie Paradis did the whole thing in a dress! Thirty years later, Henriette d’Angeville was the second woman in history to climb Mont Blanc in 1883.
2. Sonja Henie
In 1924, the Winter Olympics was launched, women were only allowed to compete in one category – Figure Skating. At the young age of just 11 years old, Sonja Henie of Norway, competed alongside 13 other female competitors. In the 1928 Winter Olympics, Sonja went on to win Gold and in total won 3 Gold Medals over her Olympic career. There was controversy at the time around the length of her skirt, shorter than other competitors due to her age and size it was frowned upon. However, it is believed that a shorter skirt allowed her to incorporate more movement into her routine, such as spins and jumps. As a result, this iconic moment took Figure Skating to a new level with new attire!
3. Christl Cranz
In 1936, the Winter Olympics was transformed with a new sport for females to take part in… Alpine Skiing: Alpine Combined (Slalom and Giant Slalom).
Christl Cranz of Germany was the first female to win a Gold Medal. This was the year for female competitors with over 500 women taking part. Christl Cranz then went on to win 13 World Championship titles.
4. Marielle Goitschel
This French female was originally born in Sainte-Maxine, however, moved to Val d’isere at a young age. The Goitschel family are well known for their talents in Alpine Ski racing, making it no surprise that Marielle became the second woman after Christl Cranz to win 11 World Championship medals in Alpine Ski Racing. To this day the Goitschel family are still based in the French Alps and have ski shops named after them in the resort of Val Thorens.
5. Janica Kostelic
Born in Croatia, Janica came from humble beginnings, during her European tour funding for accommodation was not available, so she and her family slept in a tent or their car during her competitions. Janica’s determination and drive to succeed landed her 4 Olympic Gold Medals. She is the only woman to have ever won 3 Gold Medals in one Winter Olympics (2002).
6. Julia Mancuso
World renowned American ski racer Julia Mancuso is a woman who never gives up, she is said to be one of the best female Alpine Ski Racers in the world. After 7 World Cup wins in Alpine Ski Racing, standing tall on the podium in 5 World Championships, winning 3 Olympic medals including GOLD in Giant Slalom in 2006, this lady knows how to win a ski race or two. Despite a hectic ski schedule she still finds time to enjoy surfing and paddling in Hawaii and is an ambassador for the High Fives Foundation supporting injured athletes.
7. Kelly Clark
This snowboarding role model has achieved the top of her game in Freestyle Snowboarding specialising in Half Pipe. She has had over 70 career wins – more than any Man or Woman. She is a 4 time Olympian and 3 time Medallist, wining Gold in the 2002 Winter Olympics Half Pipe. Kelly now focuses on her foundation, set up in 2010, her company motto is “Success starts with an opportunity to follow your dreams” and she is enabling young aspiring snowboarders to do just that.
8. Linsey Vonn
Possibly one of the most famous Female Alpine Skiers of this era, Lindsey Vonn is always making headlines. Vonn has just been granted the title of “most successful women’s skier of all time” by the Olympic organisation, after beating the World Record for 63 FIS World Cup victories which hasn’t been achieved since 1970’s by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s. Olympic Gold Medallist, and one of only 2 females to win the overall World Cup Championships, there really isn’t much this lady won’t do to succeed. She was awarded “Sports Woman of the year” at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2010 and despite her fair share of struggles due to injury has maintained her competitive drive and inspiring women.
9. Sarah Burke
This Canadian champion put Women’s Freestyle Skiing on the map. She campaigned for Freestyle Skiing to be in the 2014 Winter Olympics and succeeded in her cause. Four time Winter X Games Gold Medallist and World Championship skier in Half Pipe, Sarah Burke inspired thousands of women of all ages to follow their passion. Tragically Sarah Burke died during training in 2012. This devastating loss hit the Freestyle community hard, however, her legacy lives on inspiring females to take Freestyle skiing to another level. Lyndsey Dyer a creative film maker and famous Back Country skier dedicated her all female “Pretty Faces” ski film to Sarah Burke, this is a must see film for anyone who loves mountains, skiing and Girl Power.
10. Kelly Sildaru
The most recent female on our radar, Kelly Sildaru is a 14 year old Freestyle skier from Estonia. Competing in Slopestyle, Sildaru is the youngest female to win a Gold medal in the 2017 Aspen Winter X Games. If that wasn’t enough she then continued being the first female to win 2 prizes at the X Games landing a Silver medal in Big Air. This talented teenager is one to watch for future Winter Olympics.
These inspiring women have excelled in the sport they love, and have motivated us to go out and challenge ourselves on the piste. This week we are very proud to announce that out of the 11 Alpine Action female staff that participated in the “Sheride Sessions, Slope Style competition” in Meribel’s Elements Park, 8 won prizes! Congratulations ladies representing International Women’s Day and Alpine Action.
After a great week of skiing, delicious food in your catered chalet and little bit of aprés it is hard not to feel a little blue on the run back to the airport. There isn’t a 100% cure to the glumness inside but there are ways you can make yourself feel a bit better…
Talk about buying a place in the alps
“Maybe we should all chip in and buy a place in the alps” is how the conversation starts. You all know deep down that it won’t actually happen but that doesn’t stop anyone. Before the coach has arrived at the airport you have started a WhatsApp group and are sharing links to wildly unaffordable properties. One member of the group provides a spreadsheet breaking down costs that unlike your home has zero outgoings. In the arrivals hall while waiting for your luggage you all agree to look at how much you can afford to “put in” and promise to meet up soon to discuss it. You all leave happy and dreaming about the chalet you will never buy.
Consider a job as a chalet host
To avoid the post-ski holiday blues you could look into getting a job in the Alps next winter. Start by asking your host/driver/rep on that last day if they are enjoying their season. Undoubtedly they will say yes and stir up your desire even more. You can then spend the next few days after your trip applying for jobs and imagining how good you will be at skiing by the end of next season.
Book your next ski holiday
Beating the blues is all about having the next thing to look forward to. If you are out early in the season you could always book another ski holiday that season. Or you can start planning next winter’s ski trip and maybe go all out and put the deposit down. As they say booking a holiday is almost as exciting as going on one. It is worth noting that booking a ski holiday a season in advance can often be cheaper as many tour operators will honour the current season price.
Concoct an epic ski trip
Why stop at dreaming about your next ski holiday. Why not plan an epic snow chasing adventure like Travis Rice in The Fourth Phase in an attempt to abolish the sadness. You could keep it local and plan to ride every dry slope in the UK. Or maybe dream of riding a mountain on every continent, just imagine ticking off Antartica.
Buy some new ski kit.
For instant gratification get online and buy some stuff. During your holiday you will have decided that something needs replacing, maybe your jacket is a bit drafty or your goggles are scratched. It could be that you are still skiing in rear entry boots. A post ski holiday spending binge is the perfect way to cheer yourself up. Plus you get the 2nd tier of excitement when they arrive in the post and a 3rd wave of joy when after 10 months of never actually using whatever you ordered you discover it just before your next trip.
Start eating mountain style at home
They say food invokes memories so why not spend the week after your trip trying to recreate that meal you fell in love with that your chalet host cooked. Or maybe if you want more cheese and cream google a recipe for Tartiflette and indulge in some traditional Savoie food. You could even dig out the fondue kit that you found in the house when you moved in. Then get the ingredient from the supermarket and invite some friends round to indulge in melted fromage and ski stories.
Watch a ski or snowboard movie
Your final option is to wallow a bit longer, pull on your PJ’s, crack open a bottle of wine and stick a pizza in the oven. Then choose your favourite winter sports movie, snuggle up on the sofa, reminisce about the fun you had during your trip and dream of next time.
If you need some help getting over this year’s trip by planning for next year then take a look at our catered ski chalets in La Tania and Méribel. Or give us a call on 01273 466535.
We can’t promise you endless bluebird powder days in spring but more snow fall in the spring than you think. We looked at the snowfall for the 6 week spring period in the alps over the last five years and found that on average 49cm of snow fell in the period. Spring snow accounts for 14% of all the season’s snowfall. This can easily match the snowfall recorded during December in the same seasons.
When we looked at the base depths on the piste in spring they compared almost like for like with the depths of December. Naturally the snow is starting to melt as spring settles in and it is often the case that at the very end of April the charts start to tail off. However, for many of the season we looked at spring starts when the snow depth is at its peak.
Simply put skiing in spring is as fun and varied as the rest of the season only a little bit warmer.
During the spring the average temperatures is around 11° which is a lot warmer than you can expect in January when the average is just above freezing at 2°.
In the middle of winter in Méribel there is around 75 hours of sunshine over 28 days. Once spring arrives there is in excess of 175 hours of sunshine throughout the month.
It is during these months that the sun terraces start jumping into action with more outside gigs starting happen, BBQ’s appear and of course there is loads more sunbathing to be done.
In Spring Méribel gears itself up for some great outdoor parties including the Ronnie Loves Music Festival with Norman Jay MBE, The Sunset Sons and Craig Charles.. There is also the amazing Three Valleys Charity day hosted by the LDV’s in Méribel Village.
The skies are looking moody in the 3 Valleys this week, as we eagerly anticipate the next snow fall. Conditions are still very good, with on-piste skiing compact and well groomed.
As we move into February, in preparation of the school holidays the children’s fun zones are really taking shape across the 3 Valleys. The Piste Inuit in Meribel’s Altiport is now up and running with lots of fun features and activities to entertain the whole family. The NEW Elements Park at the top of the Plan de l’homme chair lift, is also starting to take shape and we are awaiting the opening.
Temperatures are varied over the next 14 days with highs of around 8 degrees and lows of -3. However, towards the weekend we are seeing temperatures plummet with highs of -7 and lows of -11. Wind chill is forecast at a body shivering -18 for Saturday – don’t forget your ski buff!
The Meribel valley currently has a reading of 23cm of snow at resort level (1450m) and 100cm at Altitude (2700m).
The Courchevel valley currently has a reading of 80cm at resort level (1850m) and 170cm at Altitude (2700m).
Avalanche risk is 2 out of 5
We want to keep you up to date with weekly events and happenings in the 3 valleys so here are some of the best bits to get you in the winter holiday spirit…
What’s on this week in Meribel
Monday 30th ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: Jay Tamkin – 5pm
Meribar: Conor Owen – 4:30pm Evolution: Mardy Johnny Depps – 10pm
Tuesday 31st Market day in Meribel centre
Jacks Bar: Daisy B – 5pm
Lodge du Village: Bring Your Sisters – 4:30pm
Meribar: Hobo Chic – 4:30pm
Evolution: Hobo Chic – 10pm
Scotts: Sian Hayley-Smith – 10pm
Doron Pub: The Slopes 11pm
O’Sullivans: Bring Your Sisters – 12am
Wednesday 1st ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: The Mardy Johnny Depps – 5pm & Wingmen – 6pm
Meribar: Bring Your Sisters – 4:30pm
The Rond Point: Bubble & Crisp – 5pm
Lodge du Village: Hobo Chic – 4:30pm
Doron Pub: Wingmen 11pm Thursday 2nd Himalaya by night: night sledging 5:30pm – 7:30pm Meribel Mottaret
Jacks Bar: Hobo Chic – 5pm
Meribar: Blazin Strings – 4:30pm
Lodge du Village: Rob Cross – 4:30pm
Doron Pub: Gareth & Westy – 11pm
La Taverne: Bubble & Crisp – 10pm
Lodge du Village: Two Far Cajon – 10:30pm
O’Sullivan’s: Mountain Movers – 12am
Friday 3rd ♫Live Music♫
Meribar: Wingmen – 4:30pm
What’s on this week in La Tania
Last minute availability
If you like what you see and want to escape rainy England for the snowy Alps, then check out our latest offers and availability. We have limited spaces in Meribel and La Tania from the 18th February onwards. Hopefully we will be welcoming you to the 3 Valleys soon!
How to make sure you are taking the best photos when you are skiing
With stunning mountain peaks, glinting white snow, bright sun, heavy fog or snowfall, spectacular valley views and high speed action, taking decent photographs in the Alps is a real challenge. Conditions can vary not only day to day but hour to hour, and there’s no one setting which will work for all conditions.
Point-and-click cameras set to ‘auto’ will often take decent images but they can only do so much and they’ll never do justice to the beauty of the Alps, but if you play around with the manual settings on your camera it’s surprising how much improvement you can see.
Whether you use a basic hand-held camera or a high-end DSLR camera the fact is that with a little practice, setting the camera to manual and mastering the shutter settings will almost always bring you higher quality pictures – the camera’s automatic setting isn’t always right!
How to take snow park photos and ski action shots
Everybody wants that one perfect shot of them zooming down the piste or nailing a huge kicker, which they can then load up to Facebook and show everyone how skilled they are on skis! Sadly the majority of action shots just don’t come out like that – they’re usually mis-timed or out of focus. Action photography is very tricky to get right!
The first thing to do is set the camera up correctly. To avoid blur you’ll need a very fast shutter speed, and to let enough light into the camera lens and compensate for the speed of the shutter you’ll need a wide open aperture. It’s well worth taking a few practise shots of people to get the settings right before you line up and take the perfect shot, as they’ll always vary.
Another key factor in successful park or action shots is the positioning of the camera. You can get wonderfully dramatic shots on-piste as well as off-piste if you shoot your subject as he or she skis town the slope towards you. In the park, amazing big-air shots can be captured by positioning yourself to the side of the kicker and following the skier down as he or she approaches the jump. Opening the shutter at the key moment takes practise and patience but when you get it right it’s far more rewarding than simply setting the camera to shoot 3 frames a second and picking the best one.
How to take scenic photos of snowy mountains
In the Alps you can wake up to bluebird skies and bright sun in the morning, but by the afternoon the weather has closed in leaving flat-light or low-light conditions which make photography a real challenge. The camera settings you use for each shot when taking scenic photos have to be adapted to the conditions at the time, so it’s always a good idea to take a few quick shots with slightly different light and shutter settings before choosing a setting you’re happy with and lining the shot up properly.
If it’s a bright and sunny day, attach the lens hood to the front of the camera. It blocks side light and lens flare which can so easily spoil a great scenic photograph. Line your shot up and avoid pointing the camera towards the sun. In sunny conditions you’ll need a fast shutter speed to avoid flooding the image with white light, and a very low ISO setting. It’s also worth closing the aperture quite a lot too, to stop excess light getting in and spoiling the image.
If you’re shooting in low-light or night time conditions it’s a very different story. You can slow the shutter down so it stays open longer and lets more light in, and perhaps use a tripod to avoid blurring the image. Other tricks to good low-light photography include keeping the aperture wide open so as much available light gets in a possible, and increasing the ISO setting. Bear in mind, however, that too high an ISO setting will ultimately damage the quality of the photo and it’ll look grainy.
The best thing to do when shooting out if the Alps, where conditions are so variable and the scenery is so beautiful, is simply to play around with your light settings before each shot. If you take the time to get to know the camera, you’’ll gain an understanding of what settings work best in certain situations and ultimately you’ll get a lot more out of your mountain photography. Happy shooting!
One of the best things about a Chalet Holiday is coming back to your warm cosy Chalet after a day on the slopes and tucking into a freshly baked afternoon tea cake. Our guests are always asking for our recipes, so after much persuasion, our brilliant Resort Manager Tom let us in on his trade secrets and has allowed us to publish his recipes.
This week it’s a firm favourite… CHOCOLATE CAKE!
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 to 40 minutes
Ingredients: * 1 pot plain yoghurt
* 1 pot sugar
* 3 eggs
* ¾ pot vegetable oil
* 2 pots raising flour
* 1 pot cocoa powder
* 1 tsp raising agent
For the icing: * 70g icing sugar, sifted
* 30g cocoa powder
* 3 tbsp warm water
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4.
2. Brush a round cake tin with melted butter and dust with flour.
3. Place all ingredients in a large bowl & whisk, ensuring that the mixture is very smooth.
4. Spoon the mix into the prepared tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes in the oven.
5. Allow to cool slightly and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
6. For the icing place the coco and icing sugar add the water a little at time mixing until smooth then spread over the cake.
7. Dust with icing sugar or decorate like our fabulous Chalet Host Chloe from Chalet Chez Menor did for Christmas.