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Sunday January 1, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Round 1 of FWT moved from Chamonix to Andorra, wolves spotted in Courchevel, skier goes over 46m cliff, Pyeongchang pictograms are released + GB's Millie Knight wins para gold at World Champs. NEW & UPDATED

Monday 30th January


The first event in the Freeride World Tour has been cancelled with the competition scheduled to take place alongside Round 2 in Andorra.

Despite efforts to find a suitable slope in Chamonix or the surrounding area the event has been called off.

"In order to guarantee safe conditions for all competitors, event organisers have decided to reschedule the competition to take place alongside the second stop of the FWT," said the organisers.

Two competitions will take place at the Andorran ski resort during the event window from February 9-16.

FWT guides attempted to locate a competition face outside of the ski areas on a very remote venue only accessible by foot.

Despite a sufficient quantity of snow in region, strong winds have eliminated every possible option for a competition on an out-of-bounds venue in safe snow conditions in the Mont Blanc Valley as well as potential neighboring venues.

The FWT has combined events three times in the past ten years due to difficult snow conditions and/or safety concerns.

The upcoming event will be the second time Vallnord-Arcalís hosts a combined contest due to the multiple options for competition sites situated around the ski resort.

Despite the rescheduling of the event, music, après ski activities, and ski and snowboard tests still took place last  weekend in the town of Chamonix.

Sunday 29th January


Two wolves have been spotted on the path to the Biolley chairlift that runs alongside the children's village in Courchevel 1850.

Following the wolves footprints in the snow, the trackers came across the remnanats of a deer carcass.

According to the number of tracks found it is thought that there may be a pack of 4 in the vicinity.

More details in Le Dauphine

Wolves spotted in CourchevelWolves spotted in Courchevel













Remnants of deer carcassRemnants of deer carcass















Devin Stratton was powder skiing down the back side of Mt Timpanogos in Utah last week, and made the mistake of following a previous skiers tracks.

He noticed a jump, took it, but it turned out to be a drop off a 46 metre cliff.

Devin said ”The fall felt like 5 minutes. I landed on my back. My head hurt a little and my ribs in the back”.

Apart from that, he was luck to walk away with only damage to some gear including a broken helmet.

Alongside the Instagram post, Devin wrote: “Turns out I am afraid of heights … Miraculously I didn’t even have a bruise! I did break a lot of gear including my helmet.

Fortunately he was skiing with a companion, Matt, who helped him dig through the deep snow to find his lost ski.

“Thanks to Matt for helping me dig for nearly 5 hours I found my lost ski and skied down.”

After 5 hours they found the ski and he continued to ski down.

Watch the video below.

A video posted by Devin Stratton (@devins223) on Jan 24, 2017 at 2:49pm PST

Devin Stratton at the bottom of a 46m cliff Devin Stratton at the bottom of a 46m cliff













The video has been edited down for Instagram.

Watch a more complete version of the video posted by his cousins here.


The motto of the 2018 PyeongChang Games is New Horizons - the hope of showcasing Korea and all it has to offer as a winter sports and tourist destination.

This vision has also been incorporated into the design of the pictograms to ensure a local look and feel.

And here they are:

Olympic pictogramsOlympic pictograms













The pictograms have been designed based on the Korean alphabet known as Hangeul.

This is a system of letters that is unique to Korea and was also used in the design of the official Games emblems.

From the 16 vowels and 14 consonants of Hangeul that exist, four consonants and three vowels were selected and have been reflected in the pictograms.

"The pictograms are an important element of the Olympic Games and there is always a level of excitement and anticipation around the design of these, just as we saw with the official mascots," said Lee Hee-beom  from the PyeongChang Organising Committee.

"I believe our design team has got the perfect balance with our designs to make them easily identifiable while also having a local connection and Korean feel as we have integrated our unique alphabet into the pictograms," Lee Hee-beom  added.

Wednesday 25th January


Millie Knight and her guide Brett Wild have won the downhill at the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy.

The 18-year-old who is visually impared completed the course in one minute 13.42 seconds.

Her team-mate Menna Fitzpatrick and her guide Jennifer Kehoe were fifth.

Knight has been dominant on the World Cup circuit recently.

She has won 11 medals - seven of them gold.

"I love the downhill and speed is definitely my strength," she said.

"It was an amazing feeling to win, but we came here just thinking about doing our best and not winning the medals, but we've done it all and I'm so chuffed," she added.

Millie Knight, racing, in the video below:



For all the details see this story on the BBC Sport web site.

Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild (photo: Nick Hope)Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild (photo: Nick Hope)















Speaking after her gold-winning run Millie said:  'I'm really chuffed with today's performance, the snow was amazing and so was my Guide Brett! A huge thanks to The National Lottery for supporting me as well!'
Millie's Guide, Royal Navy Submariner Brett Wild commented: 'I wouldn't be here without tremendous support from The National Lottery and The Royal Navy, Royal Marines Charity for enabling me to ski with Millie. We came into this competition confident from our world cup successes, we knew the speed disciplines are a real strength for us but today's performance has been truly brilliant and has delivered vital international results for Great Britain.'

Millie comments further in the video below:

Millie KnightMillie Knight
















'All our athletes have delivered world-class results today, Millie and Brett's Gold is truly outstanding and a first for elite para-alpine skiing in the UK, I'm delighted that we are delivering results for our partners at UK Sport and I'm grateful to The National Lottery for their continued investment,' added the Performance Director of British Parasnowsport,
Duncan Freshwater.


The helicopter crashed during the rescue of an injured man from a ski slope in central Italy.

The injured man was being taken from the slopes at the resort of Campo Felice in the Apennine mountains when the accident happened.

It is reported that 2 other people aboard were rescue workers who had been helping in the search for bodies in the hotel that was hit by an avalanche following earthquakes in the area - see here for that story on PlanetSKI.

The death toll from the avalanche is 23 with 6 people still unaccounted for.

There was thick fog at the time of the helicopter accident and an investigation is underway.

The Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, expresed his grief and pain for the victims saying  "a new tragedy has hit a region already deeply affected by deaths and emergencies in the past days."

Tuesday 24th January


The bus was carrying a group of Hungarian students from a week's skiing in France  when it crashed in Verona in Italy.

It swerved sharply before hitting a barrier and bursting into flames.

Sixteen people were killed and more than 20 injured.

The accident happened last Friday and investigations are continuing.

The tragedy was marked by a national day of mourning in Hungary.

For more details see here.

Investigation continuesInvestigation continues









There are changes for EasyJet, BA and Virgin Atlantic.

The first phase of a major terminal switch at London Gatwick starts today.  

EasyJet will run all its flights out of the North Terminal - it currently uses both the south and north terminals.

From Wednesday, British Airways will move to the South Terminal and Virgin Atlantic will move to the North Terminal

The move has taken two years to plan and all three  airlines will operate a reduced number of flights during the transition.

Gatwick said the changes will improve passenger experience with state-of-the-art technology at check-in, security and immigration as well as new bag-drop zones.

It will also bring new British Airways and Virgin Atlantic lounges.

Reporting by TravelMole.

All changeAll change














Sunday 22nd January


The US racer has won the World Cup downhill in the German resort Garmisch Partenkirchen.

It is her second race back after a long time out through injury.

The 32-year-old finished ahead of  Lara Gut of Switzerland who was second.

The German racer, Viktoria Rebensburg, came third to the delight of the home fans.

Last November Vonn crashed in training and broke a humerus bone in her right arm - we reported on it at the time here on PlanetSKI.

Last season she was out of action for much of the time after breaking her leg.

Her latest victor brings her total to 7 World Cup wins.

She is now 9  behind the record of 86 held by Ingemar Stenmark from Sweden.

"It feels amazing. I just got to the bottom, and I cried," she said after her victory.

"I worked really hard to come back and you know, I feel like sometimes I come back so quickly, everyone forgets how much time and energy, blood, sweat and tears it takes to come back without any training and just jump in there.

"And I had to trust myself and my team and my technician, and we all did our best and today was just amazing."

Vonn is backVonn is back














Friday 20th January

Sculptor Jason Dreweck is planning to install a 30-foot sculpture to honor the founder of Burton snowboards, Jake Burton Carpenter, in the US state of Vermont.

Resort town Londonderry, near the Stratton and Bromley ski areas, is to be the site of the structure to commemorate where the first snowboard factory stood.

The initial Burton factory - where the company was founded in 1977 - burned down a few years back.

The Londonderry Arts and Historical Society has launched a campaign to raise money for the sculpture with an aim of $1.3 million.

"We have secured the installation site and are striving to have the installation/unveiling/dedication celebration in December 2017 to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of snowboarding," Dreweck said of the structure.

"I was inspired by the innovation and progression of snowboarding and wanted to capture that entrepreneurial spirit or leap of faith - the perseverance and drive that has taken the sport from one man innovating prototypes to worldwide winter sports sensation."

Burton sculptureThe planned scultpure - currently it exists as a miniature model

See more on Burton boards here and how this season they have brought the Playboy bunnies back.

Thursday 19th January


The US skier and downhill specialist, Lindsey Vonn  is reported to want to race against the men.  A previous attempt was turned down in 2012.

According to the Denver Post, the United States team will submit a proposal to allow her to take part in a men's event in Lake Louise in Canada in 2018.

In 2012 the International Ski Federation, FIS, rejected a similar request saying "one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other".

She is one of the best female skiers of all time and believes her achievements in the sport warrant her being given the chance to show what she can do against her male counterparts.

"I know I'm not going to win, but I would like to at least have the opportunity to try," Vonn told the Denver Post.

"I think I've won enough World Cups where I should have enough respect within the industry to be able to have that opportunity."

Vonn returned to competition last weekend following injury.

She came 13th at the World Cup event in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in Austria.

Vonn has a strong record of success at Lake Louise, where the men's and women's downhill races are done on essentially the same course.

Of her 38 World Cup downhill titles, 14 were won on the Alberta course.

She has won 76 World Cup races overall.

Lindsey Vonn in actionLindsey Vonn in action














Vonn may want to race against the men but two of them are now out of action.

US ski racer, Ted Ligety and Norwegian racer, Aksel Lund Svindal are both out of ski racing temporarily as they have both had major surgery within a couple of days of each other.

So, sadly, they won't be contenders in the infamous Hahnenkamm race taking place this weekend in Kitzbuehel.

Ligety had a back operation on Thursday, whilst two days earlier Svindal had a knee operation.

Ted Ligety commented,  "Anesthesia is funny. Surgery went well today. We did a Microdiscectomy at L3-4 and L4-5. I walked out and feel better already."

He also punned, "I will be back strong and fast again. Thanks for your support", and using Arnold Schwarzenegger's well known phrase from theTerminator, he hashtaged "#illbeback".

Ted Ligety Ted Ligety "Feeling better already"



















Norwegian, Aksel Lund Svindal has had knee problems since the December World Cup in Val Gardena, and decided to opt for surgery sooner than rather than later.

He decided not to race at Wengen last weekend.

He went under the knife two days ago, and is now on the way to recovery.

He commented, "Here we go again... Ever since the Val Gardena downhill I've had a strange feeling in my knee. Something didn't seem right. We did MRI scans and manual checkups, but couldn't really determine 100% if something was wrong or not. After trying the training runs in Wengen I made up my mind. Something's not right...,and we needed to figure out what. Together with the medical team I took the decision to do another surgery. What they found was a meniscus that was no longer attached to the bone. That's no good in a downhill course... Meniscus not attached means no function, and no function means every landing on a jump and every hit to the knee is painful. The good part is that there are great chances of this being much better next winter. The bad part is that it's back to the crutches and no more skiing this winter... Hmmmm. Sounds familiar.. But if it can be better next year, it's more than worth it:)"

We wish both Ted Ligety and Aksel Lund Svindal a very speedy recovery.

Aksel Lund Svindal - recovering from knee surgeryAksel Lund Svindal - recovering from knee surgery





















Wednesday 18th January


ABTA is seeking assurances from the Government that there will still be visa-free travel to Europe post-Brexit after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the UK will leave the European single market.

The travel association's director of public affairs Alan Wardle said the Government must also make it possible for travel businesses to access and place the staff they need 'to run effective businesses across the EU'.

He said: "The EU is the main market for UK travel companies and in its negotiations the Government must make it possible for travel businesses to continue to operate in the EU.

"People want to continue to easily holiday and conduct business meetings in the EU. Amongst other things this means access to the liberalised aviation market in Europe, ensuring the public can still have visa-free travel and ensuring that travel businesses can access and place the staff they need to run effective businesses across the EU.

"ABTA will continue to work proactively with the Government to raise awareness of the priorities for travel businesses, and UK travellers, as they negotiate a future trading relationship."

PM May said today that it wasn't possible for the UK to remain in the European single market. However, she said she would push for the 'greatest possible' access to the single market following Brexit.

For more details then see here.


Monday 16th January

Inghams wins 'Best Activity & Adventure Operator' Award for second year:

Four of the ski industry’s top tour operators were nominees on Thursday night at the Travel industry’s annual award ceremony, The Globes.

In the category “Best Activity and Adventure Operator” our friends at Inghams, Club Med, Neilson and Mark Warner were all put forward for the Award.
"It is a noble achievement for Inghams to be recognised for the second time consecutively at these prestigious awards. Since its establishment by Walter Ingham in 1934, the Inghams brand has continued to grow from strength to strength, thanks to the united efforts of our passionate staff and partners," said the Inhams Chief Operating Officer, Paul Carter.

"It is this that has lead the Inghams name to being synonymous with success. We thank all our staff both in the UK and in all our resorts overseas, who continue to work hard to go above and beyond and deliver the best they can for our valued guests," added Paul.
Recognised as the premier event of the travel trade calendar, the Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards recognise the hard work, dedication and commitment of the very best companies and individuals of the travel trade, as voted for by UK Travel Agents.

The award was collected by Simon McIntyre, Head of Sales, at the awards ceremony held in Grosvenor House, London, on 12th January 2017.

Inghams wins againInghams wins again
















Saturday 14th January

Chemmy Alcott & Dougie Crawford celebrate the birth of their first child:

Congratulations go to Chemmy Alcott and her husband Dougie Crawford, who are celebrating the arrival of their first child together, a baby boy.

"Chemmy, Dougie and baby are all doing well and the new parents are completely in love!" a spokesperson for the four-time Olympian confirmed on Friday afternoon.

The couple's son, Lochlan Arthur MacDonald Crawford, weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces and arrived (very appropriately!) on the snowiest day of the year, so far, at 12.26pm on 13 January.

Friday 13th January

Lindsey Vonn is back from injury to ski in Saturday's World Cup downhill at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in Austria

She announced her return to the World Cup Circuit on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old downhill racer broke her right arm in a training fall at Copper Mountain in Colorado last November.

It was the latest in a line of serious injuries to occur.

Vonn underwent surgery to repair the fracture and is looking forward resuming her career.

"I am beyond thrilled that I am announcing my return to racing this weekend! It's been a grueling 9 weeks since my arm surgery with over 300 hours of therapy but all of my hard work is finally paying off!"

Vonn has won 76 World Cup races, which is only 10 fewer than Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark's all-time record.

Her comeback is less than four weeks before the start of the world championships in St Moritz, which runs from February 6-19 2017.

Vonn's last competitive race was at Soldeu in Andorra in February 2016.

She won both speed events at last year's World Cup leg in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, winning both the downhill and Super-G.

Lindsey Vonn posted a video of her journey to recovery. See below.


Wednesday 11th January


Iranian male alpine para skiers have exceeded expectations and collected six medals at the first edition of the World Alpine Skiing and World Para Snowboard Competitions currently underway in the Islamic Republic.

The first of the competitions took place in the Darbandsar resort, north east of the capital, Tehran at the weekend. 

The events are being held to boost winter sports in the country as we have reported on PlanetSKI.

The Iranian medal winners include Seyyed Ahmad Ja'fari who won gold in the men's giant slalom, Javad Soleqani (silver) and Abolfazl Khatibi (bronze). 

Khatibi also won the gold medal in the junior GS, with fellow Iranians Mehdi Hosseinzadeh and Amirreza Razavi Arab collecting the silver and bronze.  

Monday 9th January


A man lost his life descending one of Scotland's highest mountains, Aonach Beag.

The walking accident occurred late in the afternoon on 5th January.

The climber was coming down from the summit at 1,234m with a friend when he received the fatal injuries.

A team from Lochaber Mountain Rescue was dispatched and the man was airlifted from the side of the mountain.

He later died from the injuries he sustained.

Police have not released the identity of the climber, but he is not believed to be local to the area.

Though the only fatality so far of 2017, there have been a number of rescues carried out in the first few days of the New Year.

A spokesperson from mountain centre Glenmore Lodge has warned those considering taking to the mountains to "ask questions of themselves" before setting off.

The rescues so far include an airlift on Ben Nevis for a couple - one with an ankle injury - and another for two people and their dog on New Year's Day in the Cairngorms.

Two young mountaineers carried a hypothermic walker to safety from Scotland's Ben Macdui peak.

Aonach BeagAonach Beag














(Tylwydd photo)

Friday 6th January


A holidaymaker has died today while trying to retrieve a ski pole he dropped from a chairlift in Val d'Isère in France.

According to a report in the 68-year-old man was attempting to go down a steep unpisted slope under the Borsat lift when he fell. 

He hit rocks 150 metres below and died soon after from his injuries.


The 'eye-in-the-sky' technology is being used to fight avalanches.

In resorts explosives are mainly used to trigger avalanches in a controlled way.

To plant and set of explosives ski patrollers are at risk on unmanaged snow and dangerous terrain.

A Colorado-based company called Mountain Drones is looking into using the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to carry explosives and an ignition system for this use.

"We're getting closer and closer by the day, regarding the system and regulations," said the Mountain Drones co-founder, Warren Linde.

The company will hold demos in resorts across the Rockies this season.

A drone to carry avalanche explosivesMountain Drones














Mountain Drones in Telluride, ColoradoMountain Drones in Telluride, Colorado















Here at PlanetSKI we'll bring you more news when the trials are completed.

It is a dangerous job setting off controlled explosions to trigger avalanches and despite precautions there are accidents.

PlanetSKI went out with the avalanche patrol at dawn in Tignes a few years ago to see them at work - see here for that story.

Thursday 5th January


The President of the International Ski Federation Gian Franco Kaspar has spoken of a challenging start to the season with the Russian doping scandal and poor snow conditions in Europe for a third successive winter.

In his New Year message Kaspar said the issue of doping and corruption at the Sochi Olympics had stunned the Federation.

"The second half of the McLaren report, with its focus on the corruption at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (RUS), has stunned FIS and the entire winter sports family," he said.

"These are never the headlines anyone wants in their sport. But with the storm comes the silver lining to the cloud, and I can only hope that for every scandal that is uncovered, it makes our sport that much fairer and cleaner in the future.

"I hope for every athlete that is caught, it prevents many more from considering any form of doping or cheating."

Gian Franco Kaspar President of FISGian Franco Kaspar - photo FIS













Kaspar said FIS had managed to save the bulk of the World Cup events at the start of this season, despite Mother Nature. 

Speaking on Wednesday, he said " We can only hope that with the start of the New Year the weather will change in Europe and we can enjoy some traditional winter weather.

"Snow is not just needed for FIS competitions, but also for an entire industry that is struggling with the third straight difficult winter. The first significant snowfall arrived in many places just after the turn of the year and hopefully there is much more to follow soon."

Kaspar also looked ahead to a series of skiing and snowboarding highlights for 2017, a year in which the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup celebrates its 50th anniversary.

We have just reported on an exhibition ski race involving legends of the past held in Zagreb to mark the birthday.  You can read it here.

Read Gian Franco Kaspar's New Year message in full here.


A 10-year-old girl from Illinois was killed in the accident at Crystal Mountain in Michigan.

Delaney O'Connell was in a group ski lesson when she lost control on an intermediate run and skied into a tree.

She died in hospital the following day from head injuries.

She had been wearing a helmet.

The incident is being ruled as an accident and her instructor took all the proper measures.

She was in the resort on a family holiday.

There have been a spate of accidents and deaths in the USA including a mother who died when she fell from a chairlift with her two children.

See here for that earlier report on PlanetSKI.

Wednesday 4th January


The former Olympic skiing champion Jean Vuarnet, who played a major role in developing Avoriaz and gave his name to a brand of sunglasses, has died at the age of 83.

Inside The Games reports that he died of a stroke at Sallanches in France.

Jean VuarnetJean Vuarnet - photo Getty Images



















At the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California he won the downhill wearing a new type of anti-glare sunglasses provided for the French team.

After his win he agreed a deal allowing the manufacturer to use his name on the now world-famous brand.

Jean VuarnetJean Vuarnet - photo Vuarnet website




















The front page of the Vuarnet website says: "It is with great sadness and regret that the Vuarnet team has learned of the passing away of Jean Vuarnet at the age of 83 years old.

"Jean gave his name to the brand 60 years ago and in his honor we wish to review the historic milestones of this visionary champion."

You can read the company's full tribute and see more photos on the Vuarnet website.

Jean Vuarnet is also credited with inventing the aerodynamic "egg position" used by ski racers.

Jean VuarnetJean Vuarnet - photo Vuarnet website














Vuarnet, who was a 7-time French champion, was the first skier to claim an Olympic gold medal on metal skis.  Before 1960, racers had used wooden skis.

Wooden skis pre-1960Pre-1960 wooden skis














Vuarnet was born in Tunisia but grew up in the Morzine region of France.

He was one of the key figures involved in developing Morzine and building neighbouring Avoriaz, which are part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski area. 

He suffered a family tragedy in 1995 when his wife Edith Bonlieu, a former French ski champion, and son Patrick were among the 16 members of a cult who were shot in a what was said to be a murder-suicide.

Monday 2nd January


A couple missing overnight in "Arctic" conditions in the Cairngorms in Scotland have been found alive.

The couple,  aged 59 and 56, were reported missing on Sunday after failing to return from a walk with their dog in the mountains.

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team searched the Cairngorm Plateau overnight in freezing temperatures and deep snow.

They were found with their black Collie at around 12:00 and they were walked to safety.

See here for more on the BBC.

Sunday 1st January


More than a dozen people were injured, two seriously, in a fire at the Posthotel Holiday Villa in Arosa.

The injured are currently being treated in hospital in Chur.

An investigation into the cause of the blaze is underway.

It broke out in the middle of the afternoon on Friday.

The 4-star hotel was evacuated and people living nearby were urged to remain indoors and close all windows.

100 people from the emergency services were called out to help.

Several ambulances and three helicopters were deployed.

The 150 guests have been put up in other hotels in the resort.

The nearby railway station was closed and has since re-opened.

Arosa, SwitzerlandArosa, Switzerland

















Two months after closing for the winter the Colombière pass is open again.

It connects Cluses in the Arve valley with Le Grand-Bornand in the Bourne valley.

It is usually only open between June and October and has a height of 1,618m.

Locals say the pass has not been open in winter since a poor snow year in the early 1960s and is a sign of the current poor snow in some parts of the Alps.

The pass is one of the regular mountain stages in the Tour de France.

People at either end of the pass wanted to use the road as it is clear and the authorities have agreed to do so until the next major fall of snow.

See here for our latest PlanetSKI snow report that details conditions around the slopes.

Open againOpen again
















The accident happened in the US resort of Snowbasin in Utah that was home to the Olympic downhill course in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

He was found by another passing skier who alerted the emergency services.

Due to bad weather a helicopter was unable to fly so the man had to be taken off the mountain by the ski patrol and an ambulance drove him to hospital.

He died from his injuries in hospital.

An investigation is being carried out.

It is the latest fatal accident in the US in recent days - see here for an earlier PlanetSKI story.

Spate of accidents in USASpate of accidents in USA












See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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