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VAL GARDENA, in the Italian Dolomites, is the scene of the annual World Cup downhill race. The race is held in Selva, the village at the head of the valley. For holiday skiers, what matters about Selva is that it is at the north-west corner of the Sella Ronda ski circus, one of the most extensive linked ski areas in the Alps. However, my preferred base for skiing the Sella Ronda would be Corvara, at the north-east corner. It's a quieter, less towny resort, lacking a focus perhaps, but pleasantly composed of chalet-style hotels and guesthouses. Its key attractions are that it offers fairly speedy access to the excellent challenging skiing of Arabba, at the south-east corner of the circuit, and instant access to the friendly intermediate skiing of the Alta Badia area, between Corvara and San Cassiano. A further, not insignificant, factor in its favour is that it is fairly easy to make day-trips to Cortina, covered (like scores of other resorts in this region) by the Dolomiti Superski lift pass.