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Wednesday February 1, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

New research on children and ski helmets, Famous St Moritz horse race on frozen lake cancelled after accident, + British skier dies in fall in Val d'Isère. NEW & UPDATED

Tuesday 28th February


A new study by a children's hospital in the USA has found that children who wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding sustain less severe head injuries compared to children who do not wear one.

The research was led by Steven Moulton, medical director of the trauma programme at the Children's Hospital Colorado.

The study analysed data from a 16-year period relating to children aged 3 to 17 who were injured on the slopes.

The research has been published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery this month.

The full report can be read on the Journal's website.

Sunday 26th February


The famous White Turf Race - a series of top level horse races held every year on the frozen lake at St Moritz - was cancelled on Sunday after a leading British rider fell and was injured. 

Jockey George Baker was airlifted to hospital after the fall this morning which resulted in his mount having to be put down.

The organisers later said Baker, who won the classic St Leger in September -  had not suffered any serious injuries.

Two other horses came down in the incident but neither they nor their riders were hurt. 

It was the last of three race days on the lake in the upmarket Swiss resort.

"After thorough investigation by the persons responsible for White Turf, a crack in the ice had occurred on the inner rails in the direction of the racetrack, some 150m from the finishing line,"  the jockeys and spectators were told.   

"This meant that water had come up to undermine the racetrack.

"As we could not estimate how conditions on the racecourse would develop, we unfortunately had to call off the race meeting."

The organisers said there had been no danger for people watching the race on the lake.

White Turf Race, St MoritzWhite Turf Race - photo (Andy Mettler)














Horse racing on the frozen lake at St Moritz has been taking place for decades.  The horses are fitted with special shoes to cope with the snow and ice.                                                                                       

Saturday 25th February


The 59-year-old man fell while skiing off-piste in the French resort. 

He was with a friend at about 4.30pm on Thursday when the accident happened.

According to Radio-TV Val d'Isère, the man had entered an area barred by a rope to the right of the Laisinant chairlift, skied off quickly before falling onto a track below, then over an edge.

Rescuers, who were on the scene quickly, found the man unconscious.  He died in the helicopter on the way to hospital.

Friday 24th February


The people of Calgary in Canada are being asked whether they want the city to host a Winter Olympics for a second time.

The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee has launched an online survey to gauge opinion on a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Calgary was the venue for the Games in 1988.

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - a former snowboard instructor -  has given a possible bid his cautious support.

The online survey could be a risky move.  Public votes have ended the hopes of some cities wishing to join the race to host the Olympics. 

Earlier this month, a referendum in the Swiss canton of Graubünden voted decisively against bidding for the 2026 Winter Games, which would have been centred on St Moritz.

Fewer and fewer cities seem to want the hassle and expense.

The 2022 Winter Olympics, awarded to Beijing, was a choice between the Chinese capital and Almaty in Kazakhstan after all the European candidates withdrew.

And Budapest has just pulled out of the process for the 2024 summer Olympics, leaving only two candidates - Los Angeles and Paris. 

For more on the Calgary bid, see Inside The Games.

Thursday 23rd February


Want to play a part in developing British snowsports?

The sport's UK governing body, British Ski & Snowboard, is looking for three independent non-executive directors to join the board and help support the development of GB's elite athletes.

One of the three roles will be that of treasurer and will require financial management experience.

Another of the positions will go to someone with experience of raising money for sport.

BSS says the successful candidates will have previous Board level experience.

The roles are voluntary and part-time and the closing date for applications is 10th March. 

So if you think you've got what it takes, find out more on the BSS website.

BSS logoLooking for you?











Wednesday 22nd February


A climber has died after falling in the Cairngoms.

The man, in his 20s,  fell at Aladdin's Couloir, Coire an t-Sneachda, in the Northern Corries on Tuesday.

He was airlifted by helicopter to hospital in Aberdeen but died there of serious head injuries.

Police said the man was walking and climbing alone and was not local.

For more, see the BBC Website.


Five Russian cross-country skiers have lost their appeal to get their suspensions lifted and will not be able to compete at the Nordic World Ski Championships starting in Lahti in Finland today.

Alexander Legkov, Evgeniy Belov, Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova and Maxim Vylegzhanin had taken their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which rejected the appeal.

They were all provisionally suspended by the International Ski Federation after evidence in the second McLaren Report suggested they were among Russian athletes whose urine samples had been tampered with.

The report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, looked at allegations of a doping programme at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

"The arbitration procedures are still ongoing and the parties are currently exchanging written submissions and the process of appointing the arbitrators who will decide the matters is underway," a statement from CAS said. 

"At this early stage of the proceedings, it is not possible to determine when the final decisions will be issued."

The skiers won five medals between them at Sochi as well as one at the 2010 games in Vancouver. 

Monday 20th February


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.

Alpine world ski championships St Moritz closing ceremonySt 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


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


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.

Snow CentreThe Snow Centre















If you think you've got the skills then get in touch by visiting The Snow Centre's Sponsored Rider's page for an application form and send it in before 28th Feburary, 2017.

Thursday 16th February


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.

Ellie Soutter 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


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.

Additional information:

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


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."

You can read the full article on Inside The Games.

Friday 10th February


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.



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......

For more information contact | call 07773 205464 | 

Thursday 9th February


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 para snowboardersMedals 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".

Owen Pick silver at Para Snowboard World ChampsSilver success - photo Owen Pick Facebook
















Medallists at Snowboard Para WorldsMoore (right) with his bronze





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

See here for more new social technology in Les3Vallées.

Wednesday 8th February


The Inverness Backcountry Snowsports Club and Cairngorm Ski Club are exploring the idea of building a dry slope as part of a multi-activity centre. 

No site has been found but the aim is for the centre to be in or close to Inverness.

Assisted by Snowsport Scotland, the clubs are asking for views on the plan.

They say the centre could involve a slope for all abilities, a café, and possibilities for tubing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, orienteering, and zip-lining.

An online survey has been set up to gauge interest in the project and to help identify suitable locations.  The survey will be live throughout February. 

In addition to the survey, a dedicated email has been set up for views and further information:

More on the proposal can be found here.


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.

Prince Albert II of MonacoRacing 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.

More information can be found at

Tuesday 7th February


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."

Gold medallistsGold medallists













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


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.

Simon ButlerSimon Butler


















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


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.


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.

Read more on the BBC.

Sunday 5th February


Three climbers are being treated in hospital after being caught in an avalanche on Ben Nevis.

Police said they had received a call about the accident at about 12:15 on Saturday.

Three Coastguard rescue helicopters and members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were sent to the scene.

The three climbers are being treated at Belford Hospital in Fort William for what are thought to be non life threatening injuries.

See here for further details on the BBC.

Rescue in ScotlandRescue in Scotland













Friday 3rd February


The indoor snowsports centre in Hemel Hempstead  is running a series of trips to Switzerland but places are going quickly.

There are trips to Switzerland throughout the winter, with spaces left on just two trips - a full week in Grimentz in Val d'Anniviers in March or a late season weekend in Saas-Fee in April 2017.


The village of Grimentz is 'chocolate-box' with plenty of charm and character with access to the slopes of both Grimentz & Zinal directly opposite the hotel.

The Snow Centre's top instructors throughout the trip available to give hints and tips along the way. Departs 11 March £950 (twin share, excl flights*)

PlanetSKI's editor James Cove passed through the area on a recent trip - see here for his blog from the neighbouring and linked resort of Zinal.


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*)

See here for when PlanetSKI was last in Saas-Fee at the end of the season back in 2011.

To Book:  0344 770 7227

Swiss skiingSwiss skiing














Thursday 2nd February


A 7-year-old girl is recovering after falling about 8m in the resort of Purgatory in Colorado.

She fell just before the top station of the lift and is being treated in hospital.

The bar had been raised and she was preparing to get off when she fell.

It is the latest in a number of chairlift falls.

The most serious saw a mother die in the resort of Ski Granby Ranch when she and her two children fell.

See here for further details.

The resort of Sundance in Utah has had two incidents this season with dramatic rescues.

Meanwhile there have been other dramatic rescues including one man who was saved by a passing skier who was also a slackliner.

He climbed along the cable to rescue the man as he dangled from the lift.

See here for that story.

Mickey Wilson InstagramMickey Wilson Instagram





















The app allows apple and android users to access the Ski Club of Great Britain's snow reports.

Plus detailed 6-day weather forecasts for over 250 resorts. 

"Updated daily the app provides accurate, reliable, non-biased data on snow conditions which can help skiers and boarders to plan their skiing and boarding activities," claimed the Ski Club.

Features now include:

  • Over 250 ski resorts worldwide
  • New snow depth
  • Snowfall in the last 7 days and anticipated snowfall in next 9 days
  • Weather forecasts
  • Piste conditions and number of lifts open
  • Live webcams

The Ski Club Snow App identifies where to meet and ski with Club Leaders or instructors for the Club's Instructor-led Guiding service. 

The Club also offers a holiday programme, Freshtracks, that we have reported about here on PlanetSKI.

New AppNew App













The app is available to download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

Wednesday 1st February


The Back Up Trust has been presented with the SIGB Foundation Award, which was set up by the Snowsport Industries of Great Britain (SIGB) to give to a good cause within UK snowsport.

It is funded by the UK's winter sport tradeshow, Slide.

Back Up Trust is a national charity for people affected by spinal cord injury and provides opportunities to rebuild confidence and independence.

For more information about charity visit:

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 TrustBack 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.

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

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