Snow show: Europe's ski resorts praying for powder

Snow show: Europe's ski resorts praying for the white stuffLevi in Finland is still waiting for snow. Photo: Rex


While some of Europe's highest ski resorts opened this weekend, other lower-lying spots were praying for the arrival of snow before the Christmas period really kicks off.

Val d'Isére kicked off the European ski season as it opened on schedule this weekend, thanks to a one-metre snow shower earlier this month.

But experts are warning it might be a good idea to stick to high-altitude resorts, like Cervinia and Zermatt, for the time being, as balmy temperatures stave off the powder at lower ski areas.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Val currently has some of the best cover, along with Ischgl in Austria, and Val Thorens, which also opened this weekend, with the help of artificial snow cannons.

But even these can't help some areas, as the cannons only work when the air temperature is close to zero.

The Daily Mail also reports that Scandinavian ski resorts are struggling with warmer-than-usual temperatures.

Earlier this month, the World Cup Alpine skiing races had to be moved from Levi, Finland, to Austria due to the snow being elusive.

Cross-country World Cup races in Norway last weekend had to be moved from barren ground in Beitostoelen to Sjusjoen, where it was cold enough for artificial snow to stick.

And ski lifts in Are, Sweden's biggest ski resort, which normally opens in the first half of November, remain closed.

But it might not be panic stations in Europe just yet - first huge snow falls of winter often don't arrive until mid-December.

And if you have the spare time - and the cash - North America would be a great immediate alternative, with Whistler seeing great snow cover, and Vail already up and running.

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Snow show: Europe's ski resorts praying for powder

Virtually unknown to tourists outside Italy, Monterosa is made up of three main villages - Alagna, Champoluc and Gressoney. The long pistes (all 115 miles of them!) are uncrowded and lift queues are short. Freeriders will love the fantastic off-piste terrain of Alagna, which is perfect for expert skiers looking for untouched powder, narrow routes and challenging cliff drops. Beginners, intermediates and families can enjoy the quiet slopes of Champoluc where there's also plenty of accommodation and entertainment. Gressoney suits skiers of all levels and has modern hotels, plenty of restaurants and après-ski activities.

40km away from one of Bulgaria's top ski resorts Borovets lies Malyovitsa, a hidden gem for skiers of all levels. There are several pistes, with the longest, Uleya covering 1,200 metres. At the top of Uleya is a good black run for advanced skiers before the slopes get easier and end in a blue run. Rajdavitsa is another piste in the area, which is best for beginners. Malyovitsa has stunning scenery and you'll find a few places to hire equipment, lots of cosy restaurants and several hotels. The resort is a great place to ski with the Bulgarians. Image: Dimodi Used under Creative Commons Licence CC BY 2.0.

Well off the beaten tourist track Asahidake is the largest mountain in Hokkaido and a true powder paradise in winter. There aren’t a huge number of lifts and facilities, but you'll find untracked snow and no crowds. There are only four trails making it great for off-piste skiing and it's definitely not a place for beginners. Asahidake is a good option for a multi-resort ski trip if you're visiting the nearby Furano resort. Visit skijapan.seejapan.co.uk

Croatia's probably not the first place you think of for a ski break but Sljeme, the highest peak of Medvednica Nature Park near Zagreb has accessible slopes with night skiing, training runs for beginners and snowboarding for all abilities. You'll mainly find Croats at this resort and even though Medvednica is coated with artificial snow when needed, it's a beautiful spot for taking to the pistes at an unusual ski resort and combining your ski holiday with a city break to Zagreb.

It has the longest run in Austria, easy, deserted pistes and a great freerider scene for off-piste fans. Krippenstein is far from mass tourism in the magical Dachstein region and is an ideal place to spend the Christmas holidays where you can enjoy being alone on the pistes while most of the other skiers take to the 1,500 metres of altitude and 30 kilometres of off-piste terrain. For beginners there are decent ski schools and kids will love the Adventure Park where they can show off their skills. Krippenstein caters for all but is a real paradise for extreme skiers. Visit krippenstein.com

This family resort in the southern area of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is divided into two parts - Praloup 1500 and Praloup 1600 - and is a great place to enjoy a winter break with the French, who make up most of its visitors. Ideal for beginners and intermediates, the resorts boasts picturesque scenery, tree-lined pistes and good off-piste skiing for those in search of a bigger challenge than the black runs. There are plenty of hotels and apartments, plus shops, restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment to keep you occupied off the slopes.

Melchsee-Frutt at the heart of Switzerland's centre is a traffic-free resort that's family-friendly and set on the shores of a small mountain lake. It's virtually unknown to skiers outside Switzerland and even to most Swiss with its main attraction being its remoteness. Its two ski areas, Balmeregghorn and Erzegg have 32 kilometres of wide, sunny slopes that are perfect for beginners trying to master the basics and 100-metre verticals for experts. There's also a freestyle park, a ski carousel for children and an eight-kilometre toboggan run.

With gentle, uncrowded slopes that all lead back to the ski base and a fantastic ski and play area for children, Vemdalen is a ski resort for the whole family. Accommodation, restaurants, a ski hire shop and ski school are all within metres of the slopes and there's a brand new ski area that offers more than two kilometres of descents with challenging upper sections turning into blue and red slopes on the way down. There are three ski areas to Vemdalen - Bjornrike, Vemdalsskalet and Klovsjo/Storhogna, which are all well equipped with lifts and a variety of runs.

With no lifts, seven peaks that are 1,000 metres high and amazing backcountry skiing and snowboarding, Chic Chocs in Quebec's Gaspé region is as remote as they come and only open to guests of the Chic Chocs Mountain Lodge. The mountains are reached with climbing skins are worth the trek before you ski down the fresh snow. Look out for moose, caribou and bald eagles along your way. Snowshoeing and split board are other snow activities available at the resort. Visit sepaq.com

Nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte preserves the pristine landscape and mountain lifestyle of the region with lots of snowy activities for powder enthusiasts. The ski town's mountains have diverse terrain for skiers of all abilities with uncrowded slopes and fantastic snow conditions. Off the slopes you'll find great nightlife, shopping and restaurants. The unspoiled resort has a quaint, small-town atmosphere and the mountains offer some of the best backcountry skiing in Colorado with extreme terrain attracting the most adventurous skiers.

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