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Skiing is Hot in June, July and August no - it's not a hairpiece, just a bad haircut          back to TTN home page
by Joe Harkins - May 26, '99

    I recently realized that too many of my columns follow a predictable pattern. I've often held back the name and web address of the better web sites that cover the subject and didn't reveal them until near the end. The effect is similar to the way supermarkets put the "gotta haves," such as bread, milk and meats, all the way in the back of the store to force you to trek through aisles of stuff you really didn't want.

    No more. This week, we'll explore summer skiing outside the boundaries of North and South America by moving the whole-wheat muffins, grade-A cream and sirloin steak up front, closer to the checkout.

EuroSki seems to live up to its claim of being "the largest web index of European ski resorts." However, is a much better organized page and doesn't appear any less complete as regards summer skiing all over the world.

    I do have a minor qvetch. When I started researching links to European locations, it was hours before dawn, their time, yet many so-called "live web cam" shots showed a bright clear afternoon scene. A half-day and again a full day later they displayed the exact same static scene. It seems "live cam" is as much of an oxymoron as "live recording."

    Little of that will matter when the glorious warm weather skiing season begins next month at
Tignes, the summer skiing capital of Europe. Resorts at around 9,000 feet offer fun on the Grande Motte Glacier. The level, open fields inspire a unique local sport during which you are drawn behind a kite at the speed of the wind. Nearby, there are downhill runs to la Plagne, Val d'Isere, Bonneval sur Arc, L'Alpe d'Huez, Val Thorens and Deux-Alpes.

    From early June into September,
Les Duex Alpes has skiing and snowboarding "on the largest skiable glacier in Europe." Its 17 lifts open at 7:00AM. When the downhill and cross country activities slide into the apre-ski hours of the afternoon, there's still plenty to do in the form of a luge run and ice-skating rink. It's no surprise that the area is the favored training grounds for the national ski teams of France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

    In addition to a romantic name and some of the most dependable year 'round skiing in the world, Val d'Isere's amenities at lower elevations include golf, tennis, mountain biking, fishing, white water rafting, and sailing. While the region has a reputation for being expensive, at least one frugal British tour operator has an economical solution.
Internet Holiday Rentals Limited offers handsome apartments at low prices.

Zermatt Switzerland boasts "the largest and highest summer skiing area in Europe . . . eight ski lifts remain open all summer." Most spectacular is the "Klein Matterhorn cable car - soaring up a shear mountain face to a lung-bursting 12,530 ft." Mount Elbrus in the former Soviet Union is even higher but getting to dependable snow at the 13,800 feet elevation may require a snowcat ride beyond the end of the chairlift.

    For superb skiing while most of the USA is baking on the beach, head Down Under. June, July and August are winter months in Australia and New Zealand. When planning a trip there, only use the names of the months; ignore the confusing names of the seasons.

OzSnow takes its title from the Aussies affectionate name for their continent's improbabilities. About one-third of Oz lies in the tropics. It is not only the smallest and flattest continental landmass of all, it is also one of the driest, with an overall rainfall that matches parts of North Africa. Yet it has good skiing in a concentrated mountain range about halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, its two biggest cities.

    Hundred of miles to the east of Australia lies another concentrated and exciting ski-Mecca. The auction page of the
New Zealand Guide invites bids on ski vacation packages.

    Well, this week, thanks to an improved floor plan, I got right into the meat and potatoes but I'm not sure I'm going to make it past the refrigerated cases filled with ice cream and pizza. Maybe the extra weight will help me go downhill faster?


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