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And the winner is...
Thursday September 13, 2012 - Email this article to a friend

The judges have met to decide the recipients of the inaugural World Snow Awards. There were dozens of categories and the debate was long, informed and occasionally heated. The PlanetSKI content editor, James Cove, was on the panel.

Earlier this week as I read through the list of resorts, travel companies, equipment manufacturers, individuals and products that had made it on to the shortlist I decided immediately where my vote was going.

Easy.

I knew my favourite European resort, where the best powder is in North America and the spots for the most full-on après ski in the Alps. I have three children so I certainly had a view on the best resort for family skiing and how children should be catered for.

The most iconic ski of the last 25 years?

No problem.

I have been skiing for decades, visited over 450 resorts in total and last year criss-crossed the Alps, North America and Russia. I reported from 34 resorts for PlanetSKI in 2011/12.

I certainly don't know everything but I felt fairly confident as I exchanged pleasantries with the other judges before getting down to the business in hand.

How wrong could I have been?

I came away having changed my mind several times and realised the distinguished company I was in on the jury knew far about skiing and snowboarding than I ever would.

The knowledge and experience round the table was exceptional.

I was taking part as one of the judges for the very first, World Snow Awards.

For a preview news piece on PlanetSKI  about the event and what is is all about then see this related story.

On my right was the former Olympic ski racer and presenter of BBC Ski Sunday, Graham Bell. Next to him was Mathew Prior, the boss of the Specialist Holiday group that includes some of the biggest names in the UK ski holiday industry - Crystal, Thomson and First Choice. 

Nearby was Hugh Walton from the other major UK holiday company, Inghams.

He was the voice of measured calm, knowledge and authority.

Opposite was my good friend from Verbier, Warren Smith, and next to him Tim Holmes who runs the London Ski & Snowboard Show.

To my left was Nick Morgan who runs Le Ski, the largest chalet operator in Courchevel. The business has been going 30 years. Beyond him was the ex-chief executive of the Ski Club of Great Britain, Caroline Stuart-Taylor. 

There was Stu Brass, a legend in the snowboarding world, and a host of other people who I quickly discovered had far more knowledge and expertise than me. The former President of the SIGB, Damon Street, for one. Also there was the editorial team from VOS media including Cat Weakley and Abigail Challenor.

Lynsey Devon who is a very well-known face in the industry was judging too; she is responsibe for the promotion and marketing of the event.

Sally Bartlett, from Ski Bartlett, had a forensic knowledge of clothing and accessories.

Presiding over it all was the editor of the Daily Mail Ski & Snowboard magazine, Henry Druce.

A man of impeccable integrity and good sense.

People left the room when they had any conflict of interest or were associated with any short-listed candidate or company. We spoke honestly and openly in their absence.

We sat round one long table. There were no windows in the room, no clocks on the wall and we did not stop for lunch. We had some sandwiches delivered for a local shop, but munched through them as we debated the best airport in the Alps and which was the best airline for skiers and snowboarders.

As a seasoned traveller I had firm views.

We had a job to do and we took our responsibilities seriously. Reputations and businesses were at stake.

We went though the categories and I quickly realised some of my views were simply prejudices as I listened to the experience of my fellow judges and re-evaluatated my opinions. At other times I thought their views were biased and sometimes downright wrong so I kept to my initial decision.

We questioned whether it is possible to put on a snow chain in 12 seconds as one manufacturer claimed. Whether a transceiver really can tell if a person is alive or dead. Why some fabulous resorts are largely unheard of. Why other big name resorts deserve the reputation they have.

What is après-ski? Is it just getting drunk and dancing on a table of does it include variety, sophistication and dining?

We pondered whether there really is any difference between goggles. Many offer wide periferal vision but do you actually want to see sideways?  Are ABS bags a must-have safety device for off piste skiers or a fashionable accessory that gives a false sense of security.

Which resort in North America is better - Vail or Whistler?

How can a resort in the USA claim to be the best for families when travelling there would be expensive and fraught?

And the big one... which individual has made the largest contribution to the snowsports world over the last 25 years?

So what did we decide?

Well I changed my mind several times but in the end exercised my own opinion but listened, very closely, to the opinions of my peers.

We cast our votes by ticking a piece of paper and putting it in an envelope unseen by our fellow judges.

The results of our deliberations will be revealed at a gala awards ceremony on November 2nd  during this year's London Ski & Snowboard Show.

None of us will know the outcome in advance.

I certainly won't agree with the all the final results.

I know I will disagree strongly with some decisons, but then it is not "The PlanetSKI Snowpsorts Awards As Decided by James Cove".

After taking part in the process and seeing the judging process for myself I will not argue with how the results were achieved.

As fair, honest and unbiased as it could be.

I for one am looking forward to seeing the results with keen interest.  In fact I can't wait.

It was an honour to be a part of it all.

Roll on November 2nd.

Coming soonComing soon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a look at the categories and the shortlists then see below. 

Best European resort

  • Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy
  • Livigno, Italy
  • Saalbach- Hinterglemm, Austria
  • Val d'Isere, France
  • Montafon, Austria
  • Soldeu, Andorra
  • Courchevel, France

Best North American resort

  • Squaw Valley, USA
  • Fernie, Canada
  • Jackson Hole, USA
  • Whistler, Canada
  • Banff, Canada
  • Vail, USA
  • Aspen, USA

Best upcoming resort

  • Revelstoke, Canada
  • Kicking Horse, Canada
  • Ste- Foy, France
  • Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland
  • Monterosa Ski, Italy

Best family resort

  • Ski Welt, Austria
  • La Tania, France
  • Avoriaz, France
  • Big White, Canada
  • Smugglers Notch, USA

Best resort for après-ski

  • St Anton, Austria
  • Ischgl, Austria
  • Meribel, France
  • Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Courmayeur, Italy

Best clothing manufacturer

  • Arc'teryx
  • Columbia
  • Helly Hansen
  • Odlo
  • Patagonia
  • Scott
  • The North Face

Best accessory manufacturer

  • Arc'teryx
  • Bolle
  • Columbia
  • Forcefield
  • Icebreaker
  • Ion Air
  • Odlo
  • Patagonia
  • Recon
  • Scott
  • SmartWool
  • Suunto
  • The North Face
  • Thule

Best safety kit manufacturer

  • Ortovox
  • Mammut
  • Arva

Best goggles manufacturer

  • Scott
  • Salomon
  • Giro
  • POC
  • Oakley
  • Smith

Best sunglasses manufacturer

  • Bollé
  • Oakley Drizzle
  • POC Am

Best UK specialist multiple stores

  • Ellis Brigham
  • SNOW + ROCK
  • Nevisport

Best airline

  • Swiss
  • Easy Jet
  • BA
  • Monarch

Best airport

  • Sion, Switzerland
  • London City
  • Chambery, France
  • Turin Italy
  • Aspen, USA
  • Jackson Hole, USA
  • Friedrichshafen, Germany
  • Geneva, Switzerland

Best specialist tour operator

  • Le Ski
  • SKI 2
  • Ski Total
  • Ski Esprit
  • Ski independence
  • Erna Low
  • Ski Collection

25-Year Specials

Iconic ski

  • Elan SCX
  • K2 Four
  • Salomon X-Scream series-
  • Volant Spatula

Iconic snowboard

  • Burton Air  M M AIR/ MYSTERY AIFR/CRAIG KELLY MYSTERY AIR(1988-90).
  • BURTON TWIN (1994)
  • K2 FATBOB (about 1993)
  • LIB TECH EMMA PEEL
  • LIB TECH SKATE BANANA (around 2005)

Polar Bear - outstanding contribution to the snowsports industry

  • Mike Browne
  • Peter Dyer
  • Eddie the Eagle
  • Sir David English
  • Dave Watts
  • Arnie Wilson
  • Graham Bell
  • David Vine
  • Glen Plake

To book a table at the awards ceremony please contact: www.skiandsnowboard.co.uk/world-snow-awards or call 020 7370 8510.

Tables for 10 cost from £1,995+VAT, (or £1,795 + VAT if booked before 15th September).

For the spirit of the mountains

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