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BEST DAY OF OUR SEASON? - James Cove, St Anton
Sunday April 21, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

Easter Sunday in St Anton was right up there. Skiing the whole of the Arlberg & then catching the Weiss Rausch.

It required an early start from the PlanetSKI HQ in Innsbruck, Austria.

The plan was to ski from St Anton at one end of the mighty Arlberg ski area to Warth at the other.

And then back again to catch the Weisse Rausch.

There are worse things to do than walk across the bridge over the River Inn at 7.30AM in Innsbruck as the city echoed to the peal of Easter Day church bells.

In fact I could think of no better place to be in the entire world.


Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho off to work we go...Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho... it's off to work we go...
















Before the bells in Innsbruck had struck 9 O'Clock I was at the top of St Anton working out our route for the day.

The day awaits...The day awaits...
















Now the Arlberg with its main resorts of St Anton, St Christophe, Stuben, Lech, Zurs, Zug, Warth and Schroecken is personally my favourite linked ski area in the Alps.

It has 340km of terrain and has 97 lifts.

It is not the biggest, those are found in France, but it offers variety, superb terrain and alpine history.

We blasted round St Christophe, then headed to Stuben before heading up the Flexibhan lift.

I was privileged to be invited for its opening a few years back and predicted how it would make the Arlberg best linked area in world.

I stand by my view.

Then it was down into Zurs the heart of the areas with some of the best slopes.

It is the highest village in the region at 1.716m.

It was hard not to get diverted above Zurs as there is some of the best piste skiing in the area and there was even some spring snow we could have hit.

Piste temptationsPiste temptations














Powder temptationsPowder temptations















But we avoided temptation as the clock was ticking and we were on a mission.

We wanted to ski the whole area and get back in St Anton around 4.30 for the main prize.

The Weisse Rausch.

It translates as 'White Thrill' and when 555 skiers, snowboarders and telemark skiers assemble on the Valluga Ridge for the mass start after the lifts close.

Route of the Weisse RauschRoute of the Weisse Rausch
















Afternoon action awaitsAfternoon action awaits

















Something I have always wanted to see, but more of that later.

After Zurs we passed through the picturesque village of Zug.

Austrian alpine charmAustrian alpine charm













We were well ahead of ourselves leaving Lech as we headed to Warth and Schroecken.

Heading acrossHeading across















Another connecting lift I had been present at for an opening back in 2013.

Lunch was then a relaxed affair of an hour or so before we decided to head back towards St Anton.

Speed was needed but there was no great rush.

A good intermediate skier can do the Arlberg ski area in a day, with a bit of effort and fitness, and it comes highly recommended by me.

The cable car back up from Lech offered some fabulous, and fast, views.

It was then the long run down to Zurs from the other side of the mountain and on to the Flexibahn again - this time heading in the opposite direction.

And we made it back to watch the Weisse Rausch with plenty of time to get a good vantage point.

We chose the base of a black mogul run.

Now I should say one of the reasons I was having perhaps my best day of the winter was down to the two people who had shared the day with me, my eldest son Alex and his girlfriend Marie.

Watching the Weisse RauschWatching the Weisse Rausch















And what were they doing on a mobile from our vantage point?

Watching the mass start of the Weisse Rausch - it was being streamed live on the St Anton web site.

Watching the Weisse RauschWatching the Weisse Rausch
















And then reality.

There was a lone skier in front.

And then the chasing pack:

We saw a number of high speed falls and the medical teams were on standby.

On standbyOn standby

Fortunately their skills were not required.

The race is one of the oldest in the Alps and an absolute classic.

As I watched it I thought how many others had done it.

Here, in front on my eyes, was a fabulous historic skiing tradition being kept alive.

A handful of us were able to follow the end of the race on the slope itself.

I declined to overtake the last racers down out of respect.

Following the Weisse RauschFollowing the Weisse Rausch














Though the truth is my legs were burning after the day's earlier exertions skiing The Arlberg.

We had skied almost 50kms and been on skis for 7 and a half hours.

And I ignored the temptation of the Moosevirt - not something I usually do in St Anton.

Afternoon temptationAfternoon temptation















And at the finish?

What a grandstand!

Finish of Weisse RauschFinish of Weisse Rausch









The crowds were out in party mood.





With the finishers watching and cheering on those still coming down:

Finish of Weisse RauschFinish of Weisse Rausch















Refreshment was being taken in the crowd.

Finish of Weisse RauschFinish of Weisse Rausch















And the racers joined in after their efforts, with little encouragement.

Racers re-hydrateRacers re-hydrate





Racers re-hydrateRacers re-hydrate















As I observed the scene and reflected on my day I tried to think of a better day on snow this winter.

And I have had a few.

Best day of the winter?Best day of the winter?
















Nothing came immediately to mind.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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