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What Exercises Can I Do At Home To Prepare For My Ski Trip?
November 17, 2014
Starting an exercise regime to become ski-fit means you'll not only enjoy more time on the slopes and less time recovering from aching muscles, but you'll also reduce your chance of picking up an injury.
So, here are some ski specific exercises that you can do - without having to take up a gym membership or using expensive equipment - to build up your strength and stamina in the weeks before your trip.
As a part of your body that is worked hard when you ski, it is important you build up your thigh muscles (quads).
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides. Push your hips back and bend your knees until your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground. Holding weights while you perform the squats can increase the difficulty.
Perform two to four sets, of 12 to 20 repetitions
This is a great exercise to improve your leg endurance and can be performed wherever there is a wall.
Stand with your back against a wall and your feet just in front of you. Slowly slide down the wall until your knees are bent 90 degrees. Push your back and bottom against the wall as hard as you can. Hold the position, but not your breath, for as long as you can. Relax and repeat for two to four sets.
Planks and side planks
A strong core (your abdominals, waist and lower back muscles) is very important for skiing and it will be put to the test when you want to change direction. If you fail to strengthen your core muscles, you'll really regret it after a few runs.
Balancing on your forearms in a push-up position, use the strength of your abdominals and glutes to keep your hips raised to shoulder height, taking care to keep your midsection from dropping.
For a side plank, balance on one forearm, holding your body in a straight line from head to feet with your elbow directly beneath your shoulders.
Maintain each plank for 30 to 60 seconds without your hips dropping and rest. Repeat for two to four sets.
This exercise is a great way to strengthen our lower back muscles and tone your glutes, reducing your chances of developing lower back pain on your ski trip.
Lie face down on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Keeping your arms and legs straight, but not locked, simultaneously lift them towards the ceiling and hold them several inches off the floor.
Maintain each Superman for 30 to 60 seconds and rest. Repeat for two to four sets.
A Rough Guide To Ski Slope Safety Ratings
November 7, 2014
So, you've chosen your destination and ski resort, kitted yourself out with all the right gear and put in some serious hours on the cross trainer to build up your strength and cardio. The crisp, white snow awaits; but where do you start?
Conveniently, every winter sports resort has a ski slope difficulty rating system that will allow you to identify whether a particular run is suited to your skill level. Most resorts will have a range of slopes, chosen to cater to a wide range of skills.
Another challenge for beginners is that different countries use different grading systems. So, how can you tell what is what?
Colour slope ratings (Europe)
In Europe, resorts use a colour system to help skiers pick the best slope for their ability. From the easiest to most challenging, they are coded:
Green: A green route will signify beginner or practise slopes. If you've never been skiing before, you'll want to start here.
Blue: These runs are likely to be well-groomed with a shallow slope with a gradient of less than 25%.
Red: These routes are steeper or narrower (or a combination of both) than blue slopes. Suitable for intermediates, they are usually groomed with a gradient that will not exceed 40%.
Yellow: Recently, many black routes have been reclassified as yellow. This colour signifies a run that is not groomed, is unpatrolled and considered off-piste within a marked area.
Black: While best suited to experts, what is classified as a black route is ambiguous. In some resorts, they might only be slightly trickier than a red route. In others, it could be terrifying. A good rule of thumb is to judge a black route to the red route in the same resort.
It is worth knowing that the grading system will never get harder as you head down the mountain. If you are at the top on a blue run, you will always be able to make it to the bottom on either a blue or a green run. This is a golden rule of European piste grading.
Colour/shape slope ratings (North America, Australia, New Zealand)
Used in North America, Australia and New Zealand, these slope ratings are generally more reliable guides to difficulty than those in Europe:
Green circle: These are the easiest slopes of the resort. They are wide, groomed and feature a shallow gradient between 6% and 25%.
Blue square: These groomed slopes are more challenging, with gradients between 25% and 40%. There will be several blue square runs in most resorts for intermediates.
Black diamond: These are among the most challenging slopes on the mountains and will invariably be near the top. These advanced slopes will not be groomed and feature gradients of 40% and up.
Double black diamonds: Recommended for experts, double black diamond runs are extremely demanding; steep, lined with hazards like trees, with narrow trails and the chance of crosswinds.
Triple black diamonds: It goes without saying that these are incredibly challenging, for confident experts only. There are only a handful of triple black diamond runs in the world.
Common Mistakes To Avoid On The Slopes
September 4, 2014
If you are new to the ski holiday experience, it is understandable that there could be many new and unusual things that might catch out the unaware or the uninformed. So, if you want to avoid some of the common rookie mistakes on the slopes, take a look at these tips.
1. Forgetting the sunscreen
When you think snow, you might not immediately assume that a ski trip would provide an opportunity to pick up a tan. However, while UV light is definitely weaker in wintry conditions, it won't just been direct sunlight you will be exposed to. Snow is four times more reflective than sand, meaning you'll be hit by it twice. Also, the higher your altitude, the less the atmosphere protects you from ultraviolet light. So, if you leave your factor 30 sunscreen at home don't be surprised if your goggles have given you 'panda eyes' by the end of the first day...
2. Using the wrong gear
Making your first trip to the slopes requires quite a financial investment - not least being the cost of equipment. However, there are two trains of thought when it comes to buying gear. Some would say that, for your first trip at least, try to borrow as much gear as you can before buying any of your own. After all, if you decide that skiing isn't for you (and it does happen) you won't be stuck with an expensive outfit you'll never use.
That said, some argue that using less-than-ideal, borrowed equipment could be hampering your experience. Using skis that are appropriate for your skill level, for example, will make learning easier. Even if you don't want to buy things, the resort's rental gear is likely to be more up-to-date than hand-me-downs. Just remember to reserve them in advance if you are holidaying during a busy season.
3. Not getting any practice
If you have booked a beautiful chalet on a luxurious resort, the last thing you want to find is that you haven't prepared your body for skiing! Building up your leg muscles and your cardiovascular endurance in the weeks before your holiday can help ensure you aren't too exhausted to leave your room by the second morning.
Similarly, building up your basic skills before you leave at an indoor ski slope can help you move away from the beginner slopes and start really enjoying your holiday sooner rather than later.
4. Making technical mistakes
When learning to ski, there are many common mistakes that beginners have a habit of making, some of which include:
• Leaning too far back on the skis in an attempt to slow down - this means that there is less of the front of the ski making contact with the snow, making them hard to control
• Moving the hips – skiing beginners often make the mistake of pushing out their hip in the opposite direction of the way they are leaning, making it harder to turn effectively
• Looking at your feet – It is very easy to find yourself paying attention to the front of your skis rather than where you are going. Skiers should look ahead and feel where their skis are.
5. Going beyond your limits
If you are skiing with a group with a mixed range of abilities, resist being pushed towards slopes that you don't feel comfortable on. What others might consider easy could still be difficult for you, and few things will knock your confidence more than being out of your depth or feeling like you are letting down others who are more experienced than you.
Should I Opt For A Self-Catering Ski Chalet?
The Top Five Glaciers For Skiing
Summer’s officially here, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw your skis to the back of the cupboard. While it’s normally considered a winter sport, many of Europe’s glaciers offer skiing all year round; perfect if you’re after some fun on the slopes in the morning and an endless list of activities to partake in after lunch.
Many visitors fail to realise that the head of the valley here is home to a massive glacier. Return during the summer months and you’ll find a totally different side to Meribel. Fancy a summer activity holiday? The dramatic landscapes make the perfect environment to go hiking, mountain biking or horse riding in the afternoon.
Les Deux Alpes, France
Just a couple of hours from Lyons, Les Deux Alpes is sandwiched between Brian?on and Grenoble with a spectacular glacier allowing you to ski up to 3570m. Up on the top, you can find the off-piste playground of La Grave. Throughout the summer months, Les Deux Alpes has a famously huge terrain park on its glacier.
Zermatt’s Theodul glacier, just falling under the shadow of Matterhorn, remains open for die-hard skiers all summer. In fact, they go so far as to offer an “absolute snow guarantee”. Pistes on the glacier are graded red and blue and, although not staggeringly steep, have the best snow in Zermatt. There is a year-round half pipe on the glacier, as well as skiing.
Particularly popular with race teams for summer training, Hintertux is a small village to the furthest side of the Tux valley. The glacier here is said to be the steepest in Austria and can be accessed via lifts which are a short walk from the village (around 15 minutes). The glacier is pretty challenging and boasts the highest World Cup half-pipe in Europe.
This is the biggest glacier in Austria, less than half an hour away from the resort of Neustift. Skiers can be prepared to ride up to a height of 3200m, relishing the breathtaking views from the top. Don’t forget your panoramic camera.
If you’re yearning for the slopes, don’t wait ‘til the winter. Book your summer ski holiday today with Alpine Infusion, the best chalet company in the Three Valleys.
How To Keep Your Kids Entertained On The Slopes
There’s nothing like a family skiing holiday; quality time with the kids, fresh air, exhilarating fun and swapping adventurous tales at the end of each day.
However, any parent knows that children aren’t the easiest people in the world to keep entertained. It’s therefore important to plan ahead; how are you going to keep them happy, safe and warm on the slopes?
First and foremost, your child must be kept warm. It’s impossible for them to have the times of their lives if they feel like their hands are going to fall off from frostbite. Make sure you invest in all the right clothing – in particular, good thermal underwear and gloves or mittens specifically designed for skiing. Ski suits can be warmer than separates, but are harder to remove if your child needs to use the toilet regularly.
If your child is old enough, book them into morning ski lessons rather than trying to teach them yourself. This will avoid tantrums (from both sides!) and means you can ‘slope off’ to improve your own skiing. You can always continue skiing with them in the afternoon or partake in other activities – energy level-depending.
If you have a baby or toddler in tow, you will really need to make use of the resort’s crèche if you want to ski at all. Check before you go that there will be English-speaking carers around. Your little ones will love spending a morning or afternoon with their new best friends.
Make sure you bring some snacks to the slopes to prevent hunger pangs in between meals. Fruit and granola bars are ideal as they will give your kids an energy boost to keep them going.
Nothing beats a good old fashioned snowball fight. Take some time out from your hardcore skiing sessions to simply spend time with your kids in the snow. Just don’t get too competitive!
If your little monkeys aren’t old enough to ski (or they just fancy a change), sledging is a great way to while away an hour (or four). There’s always good sledging to be found on the lower slopes, but be warned: while it’s highly entertaining for the kids, it’s a mighty workout for the adults when you have to keep dragging the sledge back up the slope.
Don’t forget, there’s plenty of fun to be had after the skiing day is over. From swimming and table tennis to pool and table football, your kids will never be short of things to keep them amused.
Looking to take your family to a luxury ski chalet in Meribel or Courchevel? Contact Alpine Infusion today and get the (snow)ball rolling.
3 Valleys Ski Area & Ski Lift Developments
The coming season will see a host of minor improvements to ski runs and ‘fun’ areas rather than the addition of new lifts. The main Doron piste has been widened, making access from the upper part of the resort to the main Chaudanne lift area safer and easier for all.
Whether you are a speed merchant or blue-run skier, don’t forget to try out last winter’s World Cup Downhill slope where you can compare yourself to some of the world’s top skiers. This blue run was formerly two runs: le Grand Duc and Escargot, it has now been renamed Le Roc de Fer and has been reshaped for more enjoyment. The Grand-Duc piste underwent improvements so it now has a more progressive gradient and less abrupt drops in preparation for the 2015 World Ski Cup. The improvements will also be enjoyed by those who are not champion racers!
No more picnicking in freezing weather, a new relaxation and rest area has been created at la Chaudanne in the Saulire Express building. Called “The Lounge”, this new rest area will be the ideal place to eat your picnic in peace or simply relax.
Méribel will now also offer even more entertainment for the young (and young at heart) in the various fun areas. The Moon Wild piste at the beginners’ Altiport area has been reshaped to make it more easily accessible. The themed piste also now has even more life-size animal models meaning children can have fun on skis while learning about mountain animals.
The Actimel mini-snow park has now closed but instead children will enjoy the new Inuit Village on the Louveteaux piste where they can try out various Inuit-themed games.
Over at Méribel’s Moon Park, there are even more features. You can practice freestyle with less risk of bruises thanks to the new steps, box and fun box which are made from foam rubber. Alternatively, why not indulge your competitive streak at the Moon Park Boardercross? This has been enlarged so you can now race down it in teams of four.
For even more thrills, expert skiers shouldn’t miss Méribel’s most notorious black run, the Vertical Xperience. The start of this piste is now fully completed, making it more accessible than ever before. Don’t be fooled by the easier start - this couloir is 37-degrees in places, making it the steepest run in the 3 Valleys after Couchevel’s Grand Couloir. The less daring can watch the experts tackling this impressive slope from the top of Saulire Express gondola lift.
The new Saulire Express gondola has now been completed, and the new Chaudanne departure station is of a modern, spacious and airy design. Now the ascent to the summit of Tournier couloir will take only 12 minutes, instead of the previous 22 minutes, and all in great comfort. The ESF offices and the ski lockers are still housed in this new building.
The descent to the Chaudanne via Bourbon Busset piste has also been made more accessible. This piste is now less of a challenge, especially where it merges with the bottom of the Mauduit run.
Courchevel, La Tania & Méribel-Mottaret
In Courchevel and La Tania many of the improvements have been to the ski lifts and pistes.
The new and improved Biollay 6 seater Detachable Chairlift is 1690 m long and has a 365m of vertical rise. It is also now a more powerful ski lift catering for a very busy part of the ski area, transporting 3300 people per hour instead of 2500, it has had a 32% increase in capacity. The lift has improved greatly with better comfort when loading due to a special positioning carpet and arriving at a higher altitude the lift now gives more skiing options than before.
Petit-Moriond Mini Cable Car is 145m long and has a vertical rise of 47m. It has replaced the 3 Vallées fixed chairlift, ready for the development of the surrounding land. The lift gives quick, free and easy access to the centre Courchevel-Moriond for both skiers and pedestrians, and can transport 520 people per hour.
There is also now a manmade snow on the Cruex piste, to guarantee snow cover on this much loved and appreciated red run. It now has a total of 46 snowmaking cannons across the 4.6km long piste.
The Cospillot piste also has the addition of 12 snow cannons on the 1.8km long piste. This means there will be guaranteed snow cover on the piste giving skiers access to the residential areas of Courchevel 1850.
In Meribel Mottaret the Plattières 10 Seat Telecabine now has a 60% increase in speed with a total time of 9 minutes and a 40% increase in capacity transporting 2800 people per hour instead of 2000. This powerful lift is considered to be the backbone of the 3 Vallees and guarantees more skiing thanks to the reduced transport time. The lift has a vertical rise of 734m and is 3178m long.
The new Ourson Magic Carpet replaces the old rope pull making it easier for beginners, with free access this 60m long lift has improved the area for beginners.
The Martre Piste has been reshaped to optimize the snow cover as this is piste is a vital part of the Méribel-Mottaret skiing area. The reshaping makes the return to resort easier from Les Menuires & Val Thorens for beginner and intermediate skiers.
The excellent Park AREA 43 is one of the best parks in France and has a half pipe built to European standards. The snow park is accessible for beginners, intermediates and experts alike.
After the development of the Magnestick-Kid (the back protection which «sticks» kids to the chairlifts), the success of Security Patrols (1st piste patrol in a French resort), Courchevel, Méribel-Mottaret and La Tania strengthen their leadership in security matters by the extension, to all their chairlifts, of the Magnestick-Bar (system that locks the security bar).