Snow report: 22/11/2009
Sunday 22 November 2009
Skiing across international borders isn't what it used to be. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, when Europe's ski areas started to link together with lifts and runs, about a dozen of these cross-border pistes were created for those of us too lazy to hike across as "ski tourers".
You could, for the first time, ski effortlessly from France into Italy (ski.larosiere.net) or Switzerland (portesdusoleil.com); from Switzerland into Italy beneath the Matterhorn (zermatt.ch) or Austria (silvretta.at); even from Sweden into Norway up at Riksgransen (riksgransen.nu), within the Arctic Circle.
Back then, there was some drama to it – you needed the currency of the country you were entering and your passport. I can remember being asked for mine by a small man with a big gun on the French/ Italian frontier of the giant Milky Way ski area (vialattea.it ) linking Italy to France, somewhere near where Hannibal marched his elephants across.
Now, even when you ski into Switzerland from France they won't ask to see a passport (although it's wise to have it ) and they are happy to take euros as well Swiss francs.
The latest cross-border link is between Slovenia's Kanin and Italy's Sella Nevea above the Adriatic. A new cable car and piste link have created a ski area that will be accessible with one lift pass, allowing skiers from the Slovenian and the Italian sides of the mountain to enjoy the slopes at both resorts. For Britons, the less familiar Kanin (boveckanin.si) has a good mix of terrain and it is Slovenia's only resort with slopes above 2,000m, which means the season often lasts into May. Neither resort is in any British tour operator's brochure, but they are easy to reach with easyJet flights from Stansted to Slovenia's capital Ljubljana, an hour away.
Epic snowfall has blessed the northern hemisphere so far this month, with early openings at Kitzbühel and Obergurgl in Austria; Bormio and Cortina in Italy, and Europe's highest resort, Val Thorens in France.
Whistler, in Canada, opened last weekend, 12 days early, and excitement there is palpable with the Winter Olympics now less than three months away and the torch already well on its way from Greece. Packages are available through exclusive UK agents Sportsworld (01235 544404; sportsworld.co.uk/ vancouver), appointed by the British Olympic Association. From £1,875 per person, you can stay four nights, on a B&B basis, at the five-star Westin Spa Resort in the heart of the celebrations at Whistler. Return flights and tickets to Olympic events will cost extra.
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