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Lac des Moutons, close to the Grand Col ski piste

Sunday, 22 June 2014

WHITE-COLLAR HOOLIGAN OR NATIONAL HERO?

The latest development in the Simon Butler case sees the Megeve-based ski instructor given a 200 day jail sentence (or €30,000 fine) for working without the necessary documentation.  The case seems to cover not only Mr Butler, but the ski instructors he employs - who also do not qualify to teach on French slopes.  For some background, click here.

It's all unbelievably complicated, and this is seems to be one of the first times the rules have been tested in court.

Planet Ski's excellent round-up describes Simon Butler as "Marmite Man".  They quote an ESF director who calls him a "white collar hooligan".  On the other hand UKIP's Paul Nuttall condemns what he sees as "a blatant display of national discrimination by the French Government".

Boris Johnson is also outraged - and the whole controversy has not gone unnoticed in the French press - see, for example, these piece from Le Figaro and Le Parisien, and this report from France 3 News.

The British Association of Ski Instructors (BASI) is not supporting Mr Butler.  As The Independent asks: Is Simon Butler a national hero, or just a skier who breaks France's rules?

An appeal has been lodged, so the saga looks set to continue...

In a separate development, there is potential trouble brewing for the Ski Club of Great Britain, following the questioning of one of its hosts on the slopes of Val d'Isere last season - the Planet Ski report is here.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

WORLD CUP: A guide to the skiing

The following World Cup sides are from countries well known for their skiing: Argentina, Chile, Japan, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, USA, Russia, South Korea

But there are a number of "World Cup" minnows, who, to a greater or lesser extent, are able to boast ski areas of their own:

  • Algeria, where skiers at Chrea are guarded by the military
  • Australia - for example Thredbo and Perisher (where it has just snowed)
  • Belgium, at Mont des Brumes, with a summit at 530m
  • Brazil, perhaps the most marginal of all the countries here, but it looks like you can put skis on at Sao Jose dos Ausentes
  • Bosnia - Sarajevo of course hosted the 1980 games. More on Jahorina here and on Balkan skiing here
  • Colombia, where the access road to Nevado del Ruiz rises to, er, 4900m
  • Croatia, where you can ski near Zagreb and Rijeka - guide here
  • Ecuador, where the 6270m summit of Chimborazo is apparently the furthest point from the centre of the earth due to its "equatorial bulge"
  • England - here's a video of Weardale, or you can ski at Raise near Helvellyn
  • Greece, where the mountains are high, and there are quite a number of ski resorts
  • Iran - as skied by Dom Joly a few years ago; more here
  • Mexico, where Monterreal offers skiing in December and January
  • Portugal, where Serra da Estrela offers 500m of descent

Chrea, Algeria. More on African skiing here

As far as I can see, there is no skiing available in the following countries:

  • Cameroon - although there are apparently occasional snowfalls on Mount Cameroon
  • Costa Rica (although the water skiing looks good)
  • Ghana
  • Holland
  • Honduras - apparently snow has never been seen here
  • Ivory Coast
  • Nigeria
  • Uruguay

SUMMER SKIING: North and South

Here's a great overview of summer skiing options, in both Europe and the Southern Hemisphere, via We Love 2 Ski.

The start to the season doesn't seem too be going too well in Australia - at Perisher the snow cannons have been called into action to get the season started: more here, or follow @PerisherResort.

Meanwhile a little bit on the history of summer skiing in France can be found here.  Val Thorens gave up in 2002 and La Plagne did likewise in 2005.  This leaves only Val d'Isere (for the early part of the summer), Tignes and Les 2 Alpes flying the summer skiing flag.

No summer skiing in Les Arcs, but snow is always visible :)
Click here for more on summer activities in the resort

Sunday, 8 June 2014

ARC 1800: All Change

Paradiski's YouTube channel has a new video setting the scene for the big changes planned at Arc 1800 (more on the background to this €30m project here).

Arc 1800 has been falling behind some of its rivals somewhat in recent years.  It has little for non skiers (no pool, for example), the beginners' area isn't the best, and links to the fancy Chantel and Edenarc appartments are a bit rubbish to say the least.  Meanwhile, the Chantel front de neige is inconveniently laid out, with no handy restaurant/bar meeting places and a lot of huffing and puffing up and down the slope as people trundle to and fro.

*DRUMROLL*  

Step forward "a new recreational area dedicated to the pleasures of snowsports".  It will include:
  • A beginners' area
  • A new piste decouverte
  • Toboggan track
  • Freeride area (by the Vagere lift)
  • The new Centre Aquatique
  • A new restaurant on the golf course pistes

It will be open from 9am to 9.30pm, and will be powered by new lifts, for example:
  • The new Telecabine des Villards (December 2014)
  • A new "Dahu" telecabine serving the Chantel/EdenArc accommodation (2015)
  • A revitalised Carrely lift, which will start higher up than the current slow lift - according to the plans published last year this will take skiers direct to the Arc 2000 valley (also for 2015)

A summertime view of the Chantel slopes

Sunday, 1 June 2014

SKI INSTRUCTOR MATTERS: An update

The Ski Club of Great Britain's summer magazine Elevation provides an update on "the Megeve Simon Butler case."

It notes that:

  • This is more complicated thatn "French v Brits".  For example:
    • Butler is represented by Jean-Yves Lapeyrere, "who represetns several French outdoor sports enthusiasts and would like to see the rules on qualifiacations relaxed, not just for ski instructors, but for several summer sports such as windsurfing".
    • Some British ski instructors who have achieved the highest level BASI qualification - Alpine Ski Level 4 ISTD - are worried about the implications for their pay and status if the rules are relaxed
  • Many French instructors have not had to take the "Eurotest", as they qualified before 2004, or are still operating as trainees.  (The Eurotest involves skiing a slalom course within 18% of that of a professional racer for men and within 24% for women)
  • A decision is expected on June 16