Thursday, February 15, 2018

Panorama Perfection

Perfect powdery Panorama in early Jan - my Colours of Assiniboine Alchemy of Ride jacket makes everything else fade to black and white! Fun fact: you can see Assiniboine from Panorama on a clear day
'Ski like a local, eat like a local and drink like a local' - that's the latest mantra at Panorama Mountain Resort which is in the midst of a daring development and rebranding plan. Check out the website, which already sports the new look, courtesy of nearby Kootenay company, Story & Co. Food and Beverage Manager, Richard Matthews is noticing the success of this local focus just by looking at draft beer sales, particularly from the nearby Arrowhead Brewing Company. "It’s just gone crazy, craft beer is so on trend right now and it’s really working for us," said Richard over beer-infused cocktails at Restaurant ElevenFifty. "And it’s all about supporting local in our beverages as well as our food." 
Spied from the bottom of the Sun Bird chairlift, Cliffhanger Restaurant at Panorama's Grey Wolf Golf Clubhouse
Decadent Dining: The dining gets more diverse each year, with the new Cliffhanger Restaurant offering topnotch steakhouse fare as well as pastas and risottos at reasonable prices. The Earl Grey Lodge now offers two CABIN eateries - the Restaurant, appealing to families and couples, and the Smokehouse pub, attracting locals and Millennials. Owned by ex-pat Brits, Phil and Claire Marshall who moved to Panorama in 2003, the cute cabin-style BnB was voted one of the best places to stay in Western Canada by Ski Canada mag and, just recently, in the top 25 small hotels in Canada in Tripadvisor - ideal for an Alpine-atmosphere ski vacation, retreat, reunion or wedding party.  
New communal dining at the redefined CABIN Restaurant at Earl Grey Lodge, Panorama
Elkhorn Cabin, Panorama
The 'hut to hut' experience at Panorama is also reminiscent of my European ski days, with options of skiing to the mid-mountain Mile 1 Hut at the top of the first lift (for fondues and great panoramic patio); or accessing the Elkhorn Cabin from the Champagne Express chairlift for cute cabin comforts and wonderful bison raclettes as well as a wrap-around terrace; or stopping off at the Summit Hut for Auntie Lil's un-missable oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, brats, perogies and the loftiest views over the valleys. There's a great chef at Summit this year, too, who dances and sings while he serves (a Brit, incidentally)!

Summit Hut by local artist, Pat Bavin
Pat Bavin skiing the Panorama pow
Pat Bavin's artwork adorns both the Summit Hut and Elkhorn Cabin. Skiing at Panorama since the 1960s, Bavin has run ten businesses in the Columbia Valley area, starting with ski rentals and ski instruction and moving on to encompass ski race coaching in the 70s. He became involved in ski race organization committees and course prep at the national and world level and later worked in town and resort planning. His business grew to include ski shops in Invermere, Athalmer, Whitetooth (now Kicking Horse) and Fairmont Hot Springs. But alongside these commercial undertakings, Bavin was training in glassblowing. He opened his own 'hot shop' and gallery in 1988 - Bavin Glassworks - which in 2001 moved to its current site in Invermere where he partners with his son Ryan, now the master glass blower. "In 2004 we established a concession contract with Panorama for an art gallery and glass beadmaking and teaching facility known as the Bavin Glass Cabin," Bavin told me. Now under the new name of Saffire Bead and Flameworks, it is part of Panorama's wide range of unique après ski activities. "In 2001 I started painting which is now my main creative passion," said Bavin. "Today, one of my key motivators is the environment and management of recreation in high places."  

Taynton Ridge in the early 80s - courtesy of Pat Bavin
Bavin is a great fan of Panorama's consistent downhill fall line: "Especially runs like Stumbock, Downhill and Fritz. For natural rolling terrain I like the Founders' Runs and Heaven Can Wait. As the sun works its way north, late February and March becomes my favourite time of season to ski – it's warmer, days are longer and the classic butter cut skiing is a delight." On powder days, he hangs out in Taynton Bowl with stops at Summit Hut to power up on locally-made bratwurst and coffee - and tanning session - then drops back into the bowl. "Some of the best powder in Taynton comes in late January and February and mostly at night," he says.  

President and CEO of Panorama, Steve Paccagnan with Bernese Koby
Me with Lusti (aka Peter Lustenberger)
himself in Ski Canada's
Best Smelling Ski Shop
Panorama Passion: President and CEO Steve Paccagnan is full of forward thinking ideas for Panorama. Part of this vision is to replace the Pine Inn with a state-of-the-art boutique hotel, catering to contemporary needs. "We've seen the emerging trend of refurbs in hotels and motels and we've done a lot of research, talking to Yotel, looking for ideas," Steve told me over coffee and croissants in Lusti's Cappucino Bar in early Jan. "I looked at the Base Camp idea in Tahoe and Jackson Hole. So, we're bearing in mind all these ideas for our boutique hotel and addressing all the Millennial needs. For example, smaller but really ergonomically-designed rooms, where the lobby becomes the main focus with a really good bar, large social areas and a stage for live music." A passionate proponent of mountain pursuits, Steve had been persuaded by his son Ben to skin up to the top of the mountain that morning before the lifts opened so that Ben could try out his new snowshoes on the way up, strapping skis on his back for the downhill descent. 

Breakfast or afternoon tea at Lusti’s is highly recommended by the way. Voted the Best Smelling Ski Shop by Ski Canada mag, it is a fun combo of state-of-the-art ski service and rental outlet with a cosy coffee bar. "We didn't know that Ski Canada was here but I think we must have just baked a fresh batch of cookies," said Jane Lustenberger, Lusti's wife. "But you can also smell the coffee from outside." The Lustenberger family has been based at Panorama since 1980, bringing up two ski-mad daughters, Christina and Andrea - now both mountain guides based in Revelstoke. Christina is a former Olympian, competing for Canada in 2006. "I came to Canada in 1974 and first worked with CMH heli-skiing which is where I met Jane," Lusti told me. He first got the idea for the ski shop/coffee bar out of personal need - it was too far to walk to the nearest caffeine vendor! "When Intrawest bought Panorama and we were moving to a new building, I asked if we could have a cappucino bar attached to my shop."

Candy Cabin, Panorama
Ski in/ski out: Staying at Panorama is a bit like watching a modern-day kids' movie targeted at the whole family – on the surface focused on kiddie entertainment, but with an equally strong sub-text of adult attractions. We were in a wonderful apartment in the Lodge of 1000 Peaks, just opposite Earl Grey Lodge at the front and an swift scoot to the ski slopes on the other. Other benefits: short walk past the fairy-lit skating rink to the huge hot tubs (where you can meet really interesting skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, particularly Aussies and Kiwis, many visiting offspring or friends who are working the season at Panorama) and close to the cutest Candy Cabin.

Me with Panorama Mountain Friend, Gary Kazimer
Panorama Pow-duroy 
Free Guiding: One of the first things I always do at a resort is ski with the free hosts. Called Mountain Friends at Panorama, they are highly visible in their yellow jackets and have great local knowledge of the slopes, snow, lifestyle and culture of the area. One of ours was Gary Kazimer who owns a condo on the hill. Working weekdays in Calgary, Gary skis Panorama at weekends and holidays with his family. He took our group of five black-run skiers to endless soft snow in the Sun Bowl. "It's a very quiet area even on busier days," he said, and that day in early January it was deserted. We found carefully-contoured bumps in glades such as Schober’s Dream and also Alive - named after the movie that was filmed there. Another movie shot in Panorama was The Mountain Between Us, for which RK Heliski transported actors and crew up to the more remote peaks in the Purcell heli-skiing domain. 

Bryan Kroker with one of Panorama's Prinoth snowcats
Sensational Snowmaking: A recent investment of nearly two million dollars in the latest snowmaking technology has resulted in perfect Panorama pistes this season. Resources include a new pump station and the latest technology to make better quality snow during a wider range of temperatures with a focus on energy efficiency. Together with this, the resort has been favoured with great snow this season. "Part of it, is having a good base. The other part is slope preparation. Pushing snowmaking around, moving snow to make an adequate depth and then we grade it," says Bryan Kroker, Panorama's Slopes Manager. "Next we get all the air out of it to make it consistent and we then till it with a snowcat two to three times before the guests even get to it." Kroker, who recently moved from Lake Louise, has travelled the world as a slope manager, working in Australia for six seasons and running his own company: "As a snowboarder myself I want it to be perfect. I work for the snowcat manufacturer, Prinoth, and when they release new products I go and demo them."

Achievements: Panorama Mountain Resort was awarded North American Resort of the Year in the 2016 World Snow Awards presented by The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard. This was an amazing accolade in recognition of the resort's continued improvements in service to the public.

Tubing at Panorama, Fridays, Saturdays and holidays
New this season:
Banff shuttle service every Tuesday for only $99 including a Panorama lift-ticket and same-day round trip transfer.  

New Photodegradable, non-rip piste maps: When all you want to do is rip the right runs, it can be rather frustrating when you rip the piste map in half at the folds. Panorama’s new maps are so resilient to wet weather and ski-gloved mishandling that they will not tear however much trauma they are subjected to. They can be kept outdoors in racks by the tissue box stands with no damage regardless of weather. “I tested them at trade shows by leaving them in a bowl of water all day,” says Jamie Hurschler, Marketing Manager. Despite this resistance, the maps (made from rock) are also photodegradable, meaning that if dropped in the snow from a chairlift they will gradually decompose in sunlight, leaving no bootprint. 

New All Mountain Program - AMP: Organized by Jason Simpson, Panorama's Director of Mountain Sports for the past eight years, AMP is directed at 10 -14 year olds who want to explore all of Panorama's 2,975 acres (and who have probably surpassed their parents' proficiency or daring). Leading the camp is Cam McCullen, an Invermere ACMG guide and CSIA Level 3 instructor, and safety consultant and guide with Matchstick Productions. "We were very excited to get Cam, he is a perfect fit," said Jason over carafes of cabernet in the ski in/out T-Bar during après ski

T-Bar & Grill, Panorama
Jason's theory is that ski racers can benefit from coming from a diverse background which includes big mountain skiing as well as racing gates: "I was skiing powder with Manny Osborne-Paradis recently - our 'Director of Speed'. He said that the coaches he had fun with at Whistler during his youth inspired him the most, free riding rather than gates. 'Manny,' I said, 'we should re-invent skiing. We would need to take kids over a 15-year study to see the results. No more downhill suits, just one pair of skis'. I think we could produce amazing professional skiers that really love the mountain." He wants the Crazy Canucks back!

Careful corduroy at Panorama
After years working at Whistler and then Lake Louise, Jason is now a fervent Panoramian: "We’re not corporate, we’re stand alone so we have to be creative," he says. "We're heading for the five-star feel - like a Deer Valley - wide slopes, perfect snowmaking and grooming, not too many people, and a focus on providing great service." Worthy of Deer Valley-decadence, the resort already runs a heli-fondue excursion to the Summit Hut, complete with drinks on the patio or by the roaring fire, cheese and chocolate fondue and a ski down with lamps on helmets costing $110 each for groups of ten. Jason hopes that future plans to expand Panorama's events, activities, and attractions will also help fill any shoulder-season gaps. Already the resort has a popular music festival, High Notes, coming up in March

First time on a snowmobile! 
New Tempting Terrain: With 2,975 acres, Panorama has 75 percent beginner and intermediate terrain, including glades that are perfect for youngsters or those practicing tree skiing techniques. But the focus this year is on the other 25 percent. Taynton Bowl, a former heli domain, has been an in-bounds, patrolled and avalanche-controlled area for several years now, heralded by dramatic wooden gateways onto the mostly double black diamond topography. Even though it looks and feels like off-piste, no backcountry gear is necessary. But this year Panorama opened 250 acres of new hike-in Monster territory, the beginning of an even larger 1000-acre back bowl expansion. I got to try it out this January without the hike! I was whisked up what would be a 25 min schlep on a snowmobile, courtesy of ski patrol manager Neil Carey, with Jamie Hurschler and hardy hubby Simon Hudson hanging onto the back by tow rope like wavering waterskiers.

The Monster - inbounds backcountry skiing and riding at Panorama with new snowcat tows
Traversing into the powder playground of
Panorama's new Monster territory
Reaching the Plateau - without any spills - we looked out over The Monster, an amazing expanse of 1000 alluring acres blueprinted for gradual development. With its colourful larches, tarn and climbable ridges, the area is already used in the fall for guided hiking tours. And there is a chairlift mooted to make future access easier. Neil told us about the huge winch girders that were set in the ground in summer to facilitate snow safety management which is conducted early season by winched snowcat and huge teams of bootpacking patrollers and volunteers. 

Managing The Monster!
It was a little scary skiing from the top for the first time, the double black slope dropping off steeply, then narrowing with a cliff area to avoid, but once past those hurdles, it became a powder playground with huge terrain variety, through bumps, gulleys, glades, and open sections. You end up joining the Taynton Turnpike, a serene and effortless cat track through forest and frozen alder bushes, back to the front lift system. Feeling a sense of achievement, it's a great backcountry adventure which the resort intends to commemorate soon with a new Arrowhead Monster brew. Look out, too, for new Monster snowcat tows.

RK Heliski, based at Panorama
Lynne Harrison's vivid rendering of Mt Assiniboine, which is visible
from Panorama on a clear day

Olympian Dave Irwin, of Crazy Canuck fame, and wife Lynne Harrison, who designs Alchemy of Ride skiwear, are both big Panorama advocates. 

"Great skiing, great grooming, and great fall line skiing," says Lynne. "The village is awesome with something for everyone. And it is all so family-oriented as the hill flows to the village beautifully." 

She also loves skiing the backcountry with RK Heliski: "It's a fabulous experience, super fun in the spring when I did it and excellent customer service with a fantastic picnic lunch."

The Canmore-based couple are currently publicizing Lynne's new range of Alchemy of Ride skiwear, visiting multiple ski resorts to spread the word that bright patterns are the latest trend on the slopes. 

For more about Panorama, check out my article on their blog at: 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ski with Olympians

Robbie Dixon, one of Whistler Blackcomb's resident Olympian athletes
Dreaming of the Olympics? Would you like to do more than just watch the Winter Games? How about actually skiing or snowboarding with an Olympian to see if some of that star quality rubs off? Or having a go at Bobsledding or Biathlon?

This week my article about Skiing with an Olympian in Canada has just been published in’s Snow Online News: And so I thought I would add details here of where you can also do this at various US resorts. 

Heidi Voelker - Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort 
Deer Valley Resort  Ski With A Champion Program
DEER VALLEY RESORT: There are seven Olympians in the 'Ski With a Champion' program at Deer Valley Resort, led by Ambassador of Skiing, Heidi Voelker. Open to individuals, families or groups, these stars of skiing and snowboarding are available for half and full-day adventures. Paralympian, Chris Waddell is this year's latest addition to the program which has been running for the past two seasons. "We've seen an increased interest in media, families with young ski enthusiasts and especially corporate group events," says Deer Valley's Sr Communications Manager, Emily Summers. "The Olympic legacy is strong in Utah and specifically at Deer Valley as we were a 2002 Winter Games venue and most recently hosted an Olympic qualifying event this season for mogul and aerial athletes."

The St Regis Deer Valley – the only North American resort with a funicular! - has partnered with the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation (UOLF), offering two customized Olympic experiences for their guests this season.

Bobsled with an Olympian - Credit: Gene Sweeney Jr
‘Bobsled with an Olympian’ offers the chance to replicate the thrills of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games with Olympic Silver Medalists Valerie Fleming or Shauna Rohbock. The event starts with a presentation of Fleming’s or Rohbock’s inspirational stories and an exclusive Olympian-led tour of the bobsled track at Utah Olympic Park. Following safety demonstrations, it’s the ride of a lifetime, ripping through 10 curves while pulling 3Gs and hitting speeds up to 70 mph. Finally, there’s a medal ceremony, with an autographed photo from Shauna and Val, as well as a special souvenir – all for $3,500 per person.

The St Regis Olympic Biathlon Experience is a combo of shooting with skiing or snowshoeing with Zach Hall and Sara Studebaker Hall (both from the US Biathlon National Team, married in 2015) – at a cost of $5,000 split between a group of 10. After coaching from professional staff in the use of precision rifles - comparable to those used by Olympic bi-athletes – there’s a safety briefing, instructional range orientation and practice time followed by a mini competition. Both Olympic packages include healthy athlete breakfasts, stretching session, pop-up lunch with the athletes as well as a get-together the evening before.
Other benefits of staying at the St Regis include 24-hour Butler Service and a Val d’Isère-style ski beach at the 14,000 sq ft spa. 

Billy Kidd's free clinic at Steamboat - Courtesy of Steamboat
Olympian mogul skier Nelson Carmichael - Courtesy of Steamboat
STEAMBOAT: One of the best places to spot an Olympian on home turf is Steamboat where around 89 Olympians live and train. Many of them guide, teach or coach skiing and snowboarding. "Guests can always ski with an Olympian in Steamboat," says Steamboat's Nicole Miller. "But it’s especially popular during an Olympic year. While making some turns on the mountain and offering ski tips, Steamboat Olympians will share stories from their years of elite competition and talk about what athletes can expect at the 2018 games. They can also suggest who to watch in Pyeongchang, where 15 athletes with ties to Steamboat will be competing." For a free overview, Bill KiddSteamboat’s Director of Skiing, Olympic medalist and World Champion, will take a run down Heavenly Daze with intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. There's a sign at the top of the gondola indicating if he is skiing that day and you can join him in front of the Billy Kidd sign at the top of the Why Not trail at 1pm. Kidd also teaches a kids' race camp. Also free at Steamboat is Olympic medalist and World Cup champion, Nelson Carmichael's mogul clinic on Nelson’s Run, at 1pm on select Sundays. 

Me skiing (and lunching) with my Olympian, Linas Viatkus at Steamboat last season
Last season I skied with Olympian Linas Viatkus, a great resource for tips and tales about SteamboatRacing during university in New Mexico and Colorado, he became the Head Alpine Coach for the USCSA ski team. To fulfill his dream of competing in the Olympics, he used his Lithuanian citizenship, becoming the first alpine ski racer in the history of Lithuania at the Nagano Games in 1998. He funded his competitive career himself through carpentry work in Steamboat during the summers.

Me with Linas at Steamboat 
Now owner of Snowcap Construction (and a Fire Captain/EMT with North Routt Fire Protection District), he is also a race trainer in winter as well as a PSIA Level 3 Certified Ski Instructor. “There are more Olympians here than any other ski town in North America,” says Linas. He attributes this to the great snow and terrain in Steamboat, a strong ski culture, and impact of the legendary Olympic skier, Buddy Werner who, Linas says, put ‘Ski Town, USA’ (Steamboat’s logo) on the map. "When you ski with an Olympian, you're skiing with someone who has refined their skills to the extreme," Linas explains.  "Someone who has been in competition, around the world, with others who have also achieved greatness. There's no better way to raise your level of competition than to compete against the best in the world." He says that this perspective can translate to a skiing experience that adds a little extra depth and knowledge of the sport. "When I'm skiing with guests, they especially like to hear about my battles and hardships competing on the world stage," he says.  "From racing the longest downhill race in the world with the flu, to competing at the World Alpine Ski Championships without my equipment making it on the plane with me. The stories of enduring the hardships to achieve great heights can help provide a snap shot perspective of what it's like to be an Olympian. The most important information an Olympian can pass on not only to a skiing guest but to the world community is the notion that the Olympics test the might of men and the nation they represent not by bombs and bullets, but by their skill and ability in sport. This pushing of the human limits helps achieve an advancing peaceful world community. From the most efficient technique to the most advanced technologies the Olympics have it all. So take a run with an Olympian to experience a bit of perspective you may not find any where else." The Steamboat Olympian Program is ideal for large or corporate groups: Full day $2,500, half day $1,200. 

Nate Roberts - Courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Park City
Nate Roberts - Courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Park City
PARK CITY: This winter guests at the Waldorf Astoria Park City will have an opportunity to visit sites from the 2002 Olympic Games with a professional athlete, such as Olympian Nate Roberts, with options to ski at Park City Mountain and/or bobsled at the Utah Olympic Park with Valerie Fleming or Shauna Rohbock

The Taste of the Winter Games experience ends with a gourmet dining experience with their athlete from the chosen sport at Waldorf Astoria Park City’s acclaimed restaurant, Powder. 
Torino start 2006, brake woman Valerie Fleming and driver Shauna Rohbock - Courtesy of Utah Olympic Park
"As excitement for the forthcoming Winter Olympics builds, this is an incredible opportunity for guests of all ability levels to get into the Olympic spirit and learn what it takes to train like a professional athlete,” says Kerry Hing, GM of Waldorf Astoria Park City. “We’re lucky to have the Utah Olympic Park as our neighbors and direct access to Olympic-level slopes, and we’re thrilled to offer this exclusive and unforgettable experience to our guests.”

Miki in bright pink jacket on left, coaching at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
BRETTON WOODS: Michaela (Miki) Fera, a coach for the Bretton Woods Ski Team, runs Girl Powder Ladies Clinic and the new Powder Couple Clinic (running Feb 14, of course) with her husband. Prior to working at Bretton Woods Ski Area in New Hampshire, Miki was an associate program director and ski coach at Kimball Union Academy and a member of the Romanian National Ski Team with credits in three Olympics as well as three World Championships.

Jonny Moseley, Squaw Alpine's Olympian, hosted Saturday Night Live in 2002 and was also the host for Master of Champions and American Ninja Warrior
SQUAW VALLEY: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows offers a fun Olympic opportunity for several days in December - Ski and Ride with Olympian, Jonny MoseleyJoining the Dawn Patrol from 7:30-9am, there's the added bonus of untouched slopes and first dibs in powder, followed by an afternoon ski session topped off with après ski with Jonny at Squaw Alpine's Plaza Bar, in Olympic House. 

Après with Jonny Moseley at Squaw Alpine
“Ski & Ride with Jonny Moseley is a holiday favorite at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows," says Sam Kieckhefer, Public Relations Coordinator at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. "The chance to ski, for free, with an Olympic Gold Medalist is truly a special opportunity. And because Jonny grew up on the slopes of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, he always knows where the best snow is! From inspiring future stars to surprising long-time fans, skiing with Jonny is an event you want to be sure not to miss.”

Around 30-40 people join in the ski component with even more turning up for après. Look out for this program again next season during the December holidays.

Jonny at Squaw Alpine


Inghams is offering opportunities to emulate the film Cool Runnings this season. From now to April you can have a go at this exciting sport on ice at La Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh, built for the 1992 winter games. With 19 bends, a length of 1500m and a vertical drop of 125m it’s not for the faint hearted. Choose from the Bob-Raft – a 4 man, self-steering bobsleigh which reaches speeds of 80km/h or the Speed luge – a solo descent where you plummet down the track, feet first at 90km/h. For the ultimate thrill, opt for Bob racing which twists and turns at a hair raising 120km/h reaching the bottom in just under a minute! Combine this with a stay at the Chalet Almach, fully catered with return flights and airport-to-chalet shuttle. For info visit
Image result for CROSS COUNTRY YLLAS INGHAMSOften in the shadow of alpine skiing, not only is cross-country skiing easy to learn, it’s more sociable than downhill skiing and is a fantastic all over body workout! There’s no better place to learn than Ylläs in Lapland which offers a staggering 330km of tracks, 38 of which are floodlit meaning you don’t have to stop even when it’s dark. Warm up your legs on a short looped track, before progressing to a longer scenic route taking you through the spectacular Arctic wilderness – where you might spot a reindeer or two! Tracks are peaceful, snow-laden and well sign-posted with plenty of campfire shelters along the way to stop for a well-earned drink. Inghams offers a learn to cross-country package in Ylläs including 7 days ski and boot hire/5 day lessons and stay at the 4-star Ylläs Log Cabins. 
One of the most exciting disciplines to watch at the Winter Olympics is Boardercross, which sees the world’s best snowboarder’s race down a course made up of jumps, berms, rollers – sound fun? Why not test your freestyling skills at Stanton Park, located in St. Anton am Arlberg in the Austrian Tirol. Open until late April the park offers a good range of kicker and small obstacles perfect for trying out your first jumps and tricks. With a 6m tube, jumps that range from 7m to 11m and a number of challenging rails and boxes there’s plenty to inspire too. Access to the freestyle action is served by two lifts and you can re-charge your batteries at the Rendl Beach Bar, chill on the sun terrace and watch the pros in action. Inghams packages include 7 catered nights at the 4-star Mountain Lodge Chalets, St Anton, including return flights and transfers. 
If you fancy twirling around the ice like Torvill and Dean, Cortina’s Olympic ice rink is the perfect place to master your pirouette. Situated in the spectacular Italian Dolomites the stadium was built for the 1956 Winter Olympics and has been completely renovated to offer a year-round indoor ice-rink.  Get your skates on and speed across the ice with friends and family, or join one of the beginner skating or figure staking lessons available.  The ice rink also hosts 1st division ice hockey and curling championships. Stay at the 4-star Chalet Hotel Parc Victoria, Cortina on a catered basis with packages including flights and transfers. For more information and to book, visit or call 01483 791114.

Be a Part of Olympic Pageantry and Spirit in Lake Placid


Home to the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, Lake Placid remains an active hub for the Olympics through hosting World Cup events and training Olympic athletes at the Olympic Training Center. This picturesque village, which sits on Mirror Lake and is ringed by Adirondack Mountains, is celebrating its long Olympic history throughout February. 


February 1-4On the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the 38th Empire State Winter Games bring the spirit and excitement of fierce winter sports competition back to Lake Placid with 2,500 athletes expected to compete in more than 30 events across 17 sports.

  • The Opening Ceremony on February 1 at 6 p.m. is free and open to the public and will be held in the Herb Brooks Arena in the Lake Placid Olympic Center, a venue made famous by the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey game between Team USA and the Soviet Union.
  • The outdoor spectator village, located on Lake Placid’s Main Street, will be the site of the ESWG cauldron, a Jumbotron with live-streaming, ESWG TV event coverage, live music, spectator speed-tubing, a zip line, samples of soups and chili prepared by local chefs for Taste of the Games, and the 2018 ESWG winter bike competitions. It may not be PyeongChang, but the atmosphere will be the same. More information on the spectator village can be found here

February 9The cauldron used in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games will be relit after a torch run from the Olympic Ski Jumps to the Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds. 

February 17,18: Lake Placid will host the Freestyle and Biathlon Nor-ams on Saturday and Sunday. The event is used to qualify skiers to start in NorAm competitions and possible starts in U.S. World Cups. More information can be found here. 

Feb 24You don’t want to miss Winterfest. A Team USA event, Winterfest includes meet and greets with Olympians such as ice dancers Meryl David and Charlie White, 1980 Olympic gold medalist Jim Craig (goalie for the Miracle on Ice team), freestyle skier Jeremy Bloom, bobsledder Vonetta Flowers, and five-time Olympian speed skater Eric Heiden. He won his five medals in Lake Placid in 1980. 

There are sports demos and a free concert at the Olympic Jumping Complex featuring the band Third Eye Blind. Throughout the month, the celebration continues with Olympic themed food and drink specials. The quaint Main Street will be decorated in red, white and blue and adorned with welcome flags. Visitors can watch the Olympic competitions daily on the large jumbotron located on Main Street, next to the Olympic Center. 

Want to be an Olympian?

When not in use for competitions, anyone can take a brain-rattling bobsled ride with a professional driver and brakeman. Riders bob and weave as they wind through sharp turns at about 55 mph. Biathlon: Lake Placid is one of the few places you can take a lesson in both skiing and rifle marksmanship. Bullets and ski wax…what a combination.
Both the 1932 Olympic rink and the 400-meter speed skating oval where the American Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals welcome amateur skaters. And you can ski Olympic trails at Whiteface Mountain and Mt. Van Hoevenberg welcome skiers for downhill and cross-country skiing. For Lake Placid Olympic venues and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, visitors can purchase an Olympic passport that allows access to the venues for one price.