Alpine World Ski Championships in St Moritz close with outstanding racing, Slackliner who saved man on chairlift gives his detailed account, + Sponsorship offer for freestyle hopefuls. NEW & UPDATED
Monday 20th February
GOODBYE ST MORITZ, HELLO ÅRE
Well that's it, then.
The Alpine World Ski Championships is St Moritz is all over after two weeks of competition. Next stop - Åre in Sweden in 2019.
The final race, the men's slalom saw a great effort by Britain's Dave Ryding but no medal (see our article on his race), and a closing ceremony under the famous Engadine blue skies.
St Moritz closing ceremony
"The St Moritz Organisers did a world class job of hosting these World Championships," said the President of the International Ski Federation Gian Franco Kasper.
"They were ready to deal with a first week of challenging weather, whilst the sunny skies the second week gave St Moritz a chance to truly shine."
There were so many great moments but the two outstanding competitors, in PlanetSKI's humble opinion, were the Austrian Marcel Hirscher and the American Mikaela Shiffrin.
Hirscher is phenomenal in the technical events. He took gold in both the Giant Slalom and the Slalom, becoming the first man to do so since the great Alberto "La Bomba" Tomba.
And as for Shiffrin. She won her third consecutive World Championship slalom title, having been victorious at both Schladming in 2013 and Vail/Beaver Creek in 2015.
Her margin of victory in Saturday's race was a massive 1.64 seconds.
Shiffrin also won Silver in the GS at St Moritz.
And she's still only 21.
PlanetSKI spoke to her in one of our chairlift chats five years ago. She was 16-years-old but already a skiing sensation.
Saturday 18th February
HERO SLACKLINER SPEAKS OF SAVING MAN FROM CHAIRLIFT
Remember the story of the professional slackliner who rescued an unconscious man dangling from a chairlift with his rucksack straps round his neck?
We reported on the heroic actions of Mickey Wilson in Colorado here.
He's now written a detailed account of the incident, its aftermath and the effect it had on him for The Guardian newspaper.
It's well worth a read. Click here to go to the article.
Friday 17th February
THE SNOW CENTRE IS SEEKING SNOWSPORTS TALENT!
With GB freestyle skiers and boarders making us proud at events across the world, Hemel Hempstead's The Snow Centre is looking to inspire the next generation of enthusiasts by offering the chance to be a sponsored rider on its freestyle team.
There is a mix of ages and talents already involved.
Madi Rowlands, a junior skier on the Freestyle Team, progressed to The Snow Centre's Pro Team, following her Ladies' Ski Halfpipe win at the Youth Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer.
And the indoor snow centre has helped many other aspiring skiers and snowboarders achieve their goals, with the team bringing home more than a handful of medals last year at The Brits competition in Laax, Switzerland.
Congratulations to 16-year-old Ellie Soutter who has won bronze in the snowboard cross at the Erzurum 2017 European Youth Olympic Festival.
It's Team GB's first medal at EYOF.
She had earlier narrowly edged out teammate Maisie Hill in the semi-final to clinch a spot to race for the medals before Hill went on to win the B final and finish 5th overall.
The medal comes midway through the Festival, which features 17 Team GB athletes across five sporting disciplines.
Well done Ellie Soutter! - photo Facebook
"I don't think it's quite sunk in yet," said Soutter, "I'm a little bit emotional."
"I cried as I crossed the line. I was just so emotional as it hasn't been the best season for me and it's finally on the way up.
"I even asked my coach to put snow down my back when I was in the start gate. It helps wake me up so I don't feel all floppy like a jellyfish.
"It was so nice to have Maisie at the finish line. The support from the whole team has been amazing this week and it really helps motivate you. I just hope this isn't the last medal I win for Team GB - my goal is to compete at Beijing 2022."
And here's the moment she wins the bronze (video posted by Team GB)
Monday 13th February
RESIDENTS OF GRAUBUNDEN REJECT PLANS TO HOST THE 2026 WINTER OLYMPICS
The referendum took place on Sunday.
Over 60% of people voted against the idea of Graubunden becoming the official Swiss candidate for the Winter Olympic games.
The authorities were asking for approval of a CHF25 million ($25.2 million) fund for Graubunden's candidacy.
Sunday's ballot took place whilst St Moritz, which is in Graubunden, was hosting the Skiing World Championships.
Two Cantons, Graubunden and Sion, submitted bids to the Swiss Olympic association for consideration for the 2026 winter games.
Switzerland still has the second option centred on the town of Sion.
Last May the cantons of Vaud and Valais joined forces for a joint bid that would see the Games spread out across several sites in the two cantons. Sion bid info here.
Sion was chosen as the host city of the shared bid, though competitions would be held in 14 towns and cities.
Among the well known resorts in Valais are Zermatt, Verbier and Crans-Montana, while Vaud offers Villars, Les Diablerets and Leysin to name a few.
More information on the background to the bid Swissinfo.
Switzerland hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1928 and 1948.
It has submitted numerous unsuccessful bids, with Sion losing out three times: 1976, 2002 and 2006.
In 2013, voters in Graubunden decided against a bid for the 2022 Winter Games at the ballot box with 53% against.
Saturday 11th February
UK SPORT SAYS GB STRONG AS WINTER OLYMPICS APPROACH
Great Britain is in a position of real strength one year out from the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Chelsea Warr, the Director of Performance for UK Sport.
UK Sport is the body that distributes lottery funding.
In an article for Inside the Games, Warr says the target for medals in South Korea is between four and eight at the Winter Olympics and four and nine at the Winter Paralympics.
"We know we are in good shape as Britain's top Paralympic hopefuls have already achieved their target having won seven medals so far at their World Championships this season," she says.
"We are confident Pyeongchang 2018 can be our best ever Winter Games and that is why UK Sport has invested more than ever before in winter sports with over £30 million of National Lottery and Government funding allocated across seven Olympic and Paralympic sports in this winter sport cycle."
Swiss skier Lara Gut will miss the rest of the world championships after tearing the ACL in her left knee in a race warm up in St Moritz.
She took the bronze in the Super G earlier this week, and was favourite to win a medal in the combined event.
Gut crashed while practicing for a slalom run in the combined event.
The 25-year-old fell and tore anterior cruciate ligaments in her left knee and bruised her meniscus, the Swiss team said in a statement.
She was airlifted from the course and taken to a hospital in St Moritz.
DONATE YOUR OLD SKI GEAR TO CHARITY
The Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead wants your unwanted ski clothing to give it to the homeless.
The indoor ski slope - the closest real snow centre to London - is working with the charity Street Souls to provide a bit of extra warmth to people who are living rough on the streets in the capital this winter and beyond.
"We wanted to do what we could to help." Said The Snow Centre's Managing Director, Ian Brown.
The centre will be taking in clothing throughout February.
Socks, hats, jumpers, gloves, sleeping bags and all kinds of warm clothing are needed - so everyone's invited to make a donation.
A collection point can be found at The Snow Centre's reception and all contributions will be distributed via Street Souls.
So if you're heading to the slope or are closest enough to drop in......
GB SNOWBOARDERS IN THE MEDALS AT PARA WORLD CHAMPS
Congratulations to Britain's Owen Pick and Ben Moore who have both won medals in the banked slalom events at the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships at Big White, Canada.
The event sees the riders have three attempts to post the fastest single run on a banked slalom track.
Medals for GB
Pick, lost his leg while serving with the Army in Afghanistan in 2010, took the silver in the SB-LL2 event.
His was the stand-out performance in a day of stellar results for the British Parasnowsport snowboard team riders.
He managed to turn around a season of near misses to step onto the podium for the first time in his career.
It's Britain's first world level medal in this class.
"I've been knocking on the door for the last 3 years behind these guys so I'm really happy with my first podium at world champs here at big white today! And I only missed out on first place by 0.5second," he said.
Moore, whose arm was left paralysed after a motorbike accident, finished third in the SB-UL category.
Securing a bronze in his less favoured discipline was another equally special achievement for the man who won silver and bronze at the previous World Championships two years ago.
Just a fortnight ago he collided with a teammate in a World Cup Snowboard Cross and suffered a massive crash which left his participation in the World Championships in doubt.
"I am so relieved, happy and excited all at the same time," he said. "I love Canada and this resort in particular, but wow, I even surprised myself with that run and god it feels good."
Duncan Freshwater Performance Director of British Parasnowsport added:
"This has been an excellent performance from our riders across the board. There have been some setbacks along the way, but I feel confident that all our riders rode to their absolute potential out here which is all you can ask for. These results are very welcome and will hopefully set us up well to redouble our efforts through this summer to mount an even stronger challenge at the Paralympics next year".
Silver success - photo Owen Pick Facebook
Moore (right) with his bronze
NEW TECH IN VT
Val Thorens is keen to push the new technology it's installed, whch is says is for skiers and snowboarders' safety and enjoyment.
The innovative 'Ski Flux' system gives real-time information about how busy runs on the mountain are.
The system is new to France and measures the flow of skiers using sensors on the slopes.
The data is then displayed on screens above intersections on the pistes, to help choose the best route.
Ski Flux is being trialled in the Grand Fond area where three giant screens - measuring 3m x 2m - will give information on snow levels, a weather report and itinerary tips to get the best out of a ski day.
"Ski patrol equipment is being updated with new geo-localisation devices. In introducing these resources, Val Thorens is a truly pioneering and visionary force in terms of what will become common practice three or four years' time" the head of the Belleville Valley slope maintenance service, Benjamin Blanc, said.
Meanwhile check out the snow VT has been getting in the last few days
A ski charity event bringing royalty and world-famous sports stars and celebrities together is taking place in the Italian Dolomites in March.
The World Stars Ski Event in Alta Badia will include alpine skiing on the Gran Risa World Cup slope, a biathlon at the cross country centre Armentarola, and a gala dinner attended by Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Racing Prince Albert - photo Freddy Planinshek
The Prince is a co-founder of the A S Star Team for Children, an organisation established in Monte Carlo in 1993 to raise money for needy children around the world.
It's held hundreds of fund-raising events and this one will take place from 24th to 26th March.
The menu for the gala dinner will be designed by the 2-star Michelin chef, Norbert Niederkofler of the St. Hubertus Restaurant, one of many Michelin establishments in Alta Badia.
The men's curling team have won Great Britain's first gold medal at the international games for university students in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
They beat Sweden 8-6 in a tight match in the final.
The team had won 10 matches out of 10 in the run to the final, including beating the reigning champions and one of the favourites, Norway.
Team captain Bruce Mouat said: "It feels great that the men have finally won the gold. It was a really good final - we started really well and finished really well. To finally get the gold around our neck and to do it in such fashion is just absolute class."
Well done to the whole team: Cate Brewster - Head Coach, Gregor Cannon - University of Strathclyde, Derrick Sloan - Robert Gordon University, Bruce Mouat - Edinburgh Napier University, Alasdair Schrieiber - University of Strathclyde, Bobby Lammie - University of Stirling
SIMON BUTLER CASE DRAGS ON
So, apparently the Simon Butler affair is not over yet.
He's the British ski instructor who was arrested on the slopes of Megève in France in 2013 and accused of teaching without the proper qualifications and of employing instructors not suitably qualified.
Mr Butler won his case in the Administrative Court in Lyon, which ruled in November that the French authorities had acted unlawfully and that all the instructors were entitled to work in France.
You can read our report with full details of the judgment here.
The French had 60 days to appeal against the Administrative Court's decision and now they have.
A member of Mr Butler's legal team has told PlanetSKI that the appeal was lodged last week by the Ministry of Sport.
The team is busy trying to establish the grounds of the appeal and whether it was submitted inside the 60-day limit. It must have been a very close thing.
Mr Butler can continue to work pending any appeal, but who knows how long this already long-running saga will drag on.......
Monday 6th February
MISSING SKIER FOUND DEAD IN AVALANCHE
A 64-year-old skier from Germany has been found dead buried in avalanche debris in Lech, Austria
The man had been reported missing when he failed to return to his hotel last Thursday.
The authorities found his car near a lift and began a search using helicopters, dogs and drones with thermal imaging cameras over avalanche debris.
The man was found buried 1.6 metres deep. He was not equipped with avalanche safety equipment.
CLIMBER HURT IN SECOND AVALANCHE IN SCOTLAND
A climber was airlifted to hospital after being injured in an avalanche in the Cairngorms, the second of the same day.
The man injured his leg while climbing in Garbh Choire, Braeriach, on Saturday afternoon. He was taken to hospital in Inverness for treatment.
Three climbers had earlier been rescued from Ben Nevis (see item below from Sunday 5th February).
Braemar Mountain Rescue team warned that "full on winter conditions" had returned to Scotland's mountains, with heavy snow bringing an end to a prolonged mild spell.
High and snow-sure, Saas-Fee is one of the best places to take a final ski trip of the season.
Spending most of the day between 2,500m and 3,500m, taking advantage of the last snow of the winter, finishing off with a visit to the wellness spa or a little après ski! Departs 19 April £750 (twin share, excl flights*)
At the SIGB AGM at Slide last week, Back Up representative, and former British Disabled Ski Team athlete Anna Turney accepted the £4,000 grant.
It will be used by Back Up to take people with spinal injuries to the mountains and teach them how to ski.
"Coming back home after the huge challenge of learning how to ski on a Back Up course makes the everyday challenges faced by the spinally injured seem much more manageable," said Anna Turney after accepting the award.
"This opportunity is truly life-changing, so support from the UK snowsport industry is massively appreciated," she added.
Back Up Trust
"Giving people who have sustained a life changing injury the chance to use skiing as a way to build confidence is fantastic. Back Up are a truly worthy recipient of the annual SIGB Foundation Award, and we are delighted we are able to contribute to their ski courses," said the President of the SIGB, Damon Street.
Any registered charity is able to apply for the £4,000 SIGB Foundation Award. Applications must be snowsport related (for example wider participation or improved accessibility) and submitted by 1st November 2017.
Applications should ideally take the form of a simple video (not a major production, it can be taken on a phone or a POV camera), maximum 1 minute.
Written applications might be considered but priority will be given to video applications.
The award will be announced in early 2018. It is intended that the award is presented annually - subject to the success of the SIGB organised Slide Trade Show for snowsport in the UK.