We are now in May and most of the Alpine lifts will have closed (except for those at higher altitude), so it is time to wave goodbye to this last season. Reflecting on 2014/15 what memories do you take away with you? Maybe you stepped up your game and conquered some fears; maybe the kids took to the snow for the first time; or maybe you just watched what was happening on the slopes from afar? Whatever your own personal memories, below are some that you may recall from social media, mainstream news and a few of my own thrown in for good measure!
Late snow: the season started late, very late; and for some, who booked for Christmas, there was bitter disappointment with green slopes, rather than white, in evidence. When I had my girls’ holiday in early January ice was to be found aplenty but it started snowing the day I left – grrrr! However from mid-January the white stuff started to fall and kept falling giving a great covering which lasted late into the season. If you still want to head out to the slopes checkout the latest snowfall at www.snow-forecast.com
Avalanche danger: due to the late abundant, heavy snow on a thin layer of snowpack avalanche risk was high most of the season with over 100 deaths in the European Alps. If you, or loved ones, intend to travel off-piste and in the backcountry it is imperative to carry safety equipment such as a shovel, probe and transceiver (as a minimum) and get trained in their use.
Snowboarding wee-ones: with development of child-friendly gear such as mini snowboards and Burton’s Riglet Reel more under-eights are snowboarding. It is great to see so many small people getting stoked and strapping on a board.
Careful with the kids: some incidents which we would rather not recall, but were memorable for all the wrong reasons, involve children who have been injured or killed whilst on the slopes. These often make the news channels and our non-snowsports friends and family will inform us before we see or hear the details ourselves. This year a 12 year old boy fell 20 foot from a chairlift in the USA, and a seven year old boy died in the Alps after getting lost and falling from a cliff. For tips on keeping the kids safe checkout the National Ski Areas Association website www.kidsonlifts.org
Downsizing of chalet provision in Switzerland and Austria: a number of tour operators have pulled out of Switzerland due to a change in the law which came into force in 2014/15 whereby foreign workers have to be given a Swiss contract and paid a minimum monthly wage in excess of £2,000. This means costs are too prohibitive for companies to operate commercially. Ski Total and family ski company Esprit Ski have pulled out of Switzerland altogether whilst Inghams, Scott Dunn and SkiWorld have all downsized. There is news that the same fate is about to fall on Austria as they too are introducing a minimum wage for foreign workers which will affect 2015/16 if all goes through.
Bond is back: 007 is set to appear on the slopes again in the new film Spectre which was filmed in Solden, Austria this last season. The film is to be released on 6 November 2015, so we will have to wait until the autumn to see what skiing derring-do Mr Bond has to offer.
Personal recollections: finally seeing our daughter become more proficient on the slopes than me, and watching her delight in speeding along, overtaking me shouting “come on mum” was a watershed moment. I also finally understood what a difference looking up and not at the snow made to my ability to snowboard too – thanks Tammy from MINT Snowboarding.
Billy Morgan creating a ‘world first’ performing a quadruple cork jump: the season was coming to an end in April when the British rider made snowboarding history in Livigno, Italy.
Candide Thovex showed us how it could be done: for the skiers amongst you the clip below is a jaw-dropping display of skill. Make sure you watch until the end; you won’t be disappointed.
We have just looked back at this last season and after reflection and learning from the past we move forwards thinking about the future. In snowsports you don’t get much further than the next Winter Olympics, so take a look at GB Park & Pipe Team #ProjectPY2018 – one to watch for the future.