Many of us have had holidays spent breathing recycled air in “luxury” coaches, watching bad television in hotel rooms, eating beyond our capacity simply because meals were included in the “package” and there was little else to do. Yawn! But not if there’s snow on the ground; don the long johns and get at it .
1. Austria: skiing for dummies – So maybe you’re not the athletic type. You don’t have to be to take advantage of the world’s best sporting havens, particularly if you take a few professional lessons. St. Anton, in the Arlberg region of Austria, is the best place to go for ski instruction-the Arlberg School ski technique originated here and the area’s 300+ instructors are all well-versed in the method. In the hands of these pros, you’ll look like an expert after a few days on the slopes.
2. Chile’s best skiing for mamas’ boys (sorry.we mean “cautious athletic types”) – If you’ve got nothing to prove and just want some sane, safe skiing, La Parva, located just minutes from Santiago, allows you to ski from your lodge to the lifts. If you’re afraid of getting hurled into a tree, there’s no need to worry here: the mountains are treeless. The slopes also have wind-curled cornices, so snowboarders can afford to try out a few new stunts. This is also a perfect spot to try heli-skiing in a friendly, nurturing environment.
3. Ski Whistler Blackcomb before the next Olympians do! When it comes to skiing and riding, Whistler Blackcomb with its 8,000 plus acres of terrain on both mountains, has variety and then some. Choose from steeps, deeps, chutes, high alpine bowls, glades, superb corduroy, long cruisers and gentle rollers. Riders and skiers will revel in the Parks and Pipes on both mountains plus natural launch pads, hits, wind-lips, cornices, cliff drops and ridges – the place is like a huge, natural terrain park! And the night-life is great too! This is the site of the next Winter Olympics.
4. World-class skiing for coupon clippers…in the Italian Alps – Sure, you’d love to go on a ritzy ski holiday but you’re – well, how can we put this? …broke. No worries. We appreciate a good bargain ourselves and have found that the deals in life are often a mere stone’s throw away from the pricey stuff. Such is the case in the Italian Alps: Mount Livata and Pescasseroli are located very near Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy’s most popular resort, but offer affordable accommodation and similar access to facilities. Same goes for Val d’Ayas, which is located near pricey Courmayeur and Cervinia and offers lower lift prices, more challenging runs and fewer crowds.
5. And if that’s not cheap enough, there’s skiing in Spain – You can ski in Spain on a busker’s budget. While there is a certain aura about the Alps resorts in France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, the Spanish Pyrenees area keeps up with the best of them (and certainly surpasses them with respect to value.) Baquiera-Beret, in Lerida, boasts a lengthy ski season (November through April), numerous slopes of varying difficulty, plenty of chair lifts, professional ski instruction and – this is the best part – far fewer crowds than the pricier resorts. A good place to stay is Hotel Montarto which offers spectacular views and easy access to lifts.
6. If you think you’re a good skiier, try heli-skiing in the Purcells in British Columbia – Rk Heliski in Golden, welcomes you to 1,500 square kilometres/ 930 sq. miles of incredible terrain in the spectacular Purcell Mountains, on the edge of the legendary Bugaboos. Heli-ski/boarding tours are led by some of the world’s best mountain guides to access wide open alpine slopes, scenic glaciers and gladed forests dusted with annual snowfalls of up to 1,100 cm/36 feet. Some of this is extreme skiing, definitely not for the novice, but hey, who wants to live forever?
7. Austria’s least-known sport that’ll make you feel like a kid again – Austria’s Lake District boasts excellent ice-skating and skiing during the winter as well as water sports during the summer. The area around Wolfgangsee offers a little-known sport that’ll take you right back to your childhood. Mountain tobogganing involves carting a metal saucer-of-a-thing up a hillside (we recommend the chair lift as opposed to a hike) and descending on a metal track to the bottom. It’ll be the most invigorating five minutes of your life. Next step? Do it again!
8. And after lots of lessons and a stiff drink…Canadian daredevil’s dream – Canada’s ski-jump champs practice in Thunder Bay, Ontario, regarded as the world’s biggest jump. You’ve seen the Bond films – now it’s your turn. Mind you, there are also cross-country trails for beginners if you need to get up your confidence. The area includes four major Alpine areas. Daily flight service can be arranged from Toronto, Winnipeg and Minneapolis. This place can be crowded during peak season–who knew there were so many daredevils around?
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