Skiing Throughout the Year: December

24th December

St Anton is a great place for a week’s ski holiday. The village is pure Austrian and has good apres-ski and nightlife (alledgedly). The skiing is extensive and there are plenty of new facilities, including the architecturally stylishly Galzig Gondola. The views from the top of Valluga are some of the best in the Alpes. The journey upto Valluga is spectacular, necessitating three gondala’s, the last of which only fits 2-4 people and is taken without an operator. Its not possible to ski from the top, so most skiers don’t make the trip up there which is a mistake. From the top of the second gondola there are several marked off-piste routes which provides a feeling of connection to wilderness.

With a whole 7 days skiing in St Anton to be able to report upon its hard to choose just one day, but the 24th is perhaps the most appropriate. After 3 days skiing in snow, cloud and flat light, the 24th dawned with a blue sky. Daughter No 1 and I decided to take a ski lesson: her first in 7 years; my first in 30 years. After a few warm up runs we met up with Norbert from the Arlberg Ski School. After a quick diagnosis of our styles, he had us focussing upon improving our rhythm and carving throughout the turn. It was refreshing to follow someone for several hours, allowing them to decide where to turn and what speed to ski at. Our only focus was on following his advice and concentrating upon bending the knees more to get a better controlled carve.

Norbert was good company – 19 years as an instructor of which 8 had been in St Anton. He also led ski-touring parties. He described new plans that would connect St Anton to Ischgl to make a massive new skiable domain. However, this would reduce the amount of wilderness area, and therefore for the sake of nature and for those who enjoy ski-touring this seems to be an unnecessary plan. Especially so as the Ski Arlberg area has 280km of runs. We got nowhere near exhausting these runs in one week, leaving all of Lech and Zurs for “next time”.

The only downside incident happened when Daughter and I conspired to crash into each other (OK, OK, as overtaking skier it was my fault). Though the collision was a slow motion affair, we were on a steep icy slope and so it got nasty as we tangled up and slid down the slope. Daughter is completely convinced that her helmet saved her from serious injury, though her back was sore the next day. She is now on a mission to get me to wear a helmet.

After 3 hours of non-stop lesson we were both pretty tired – so it was back to the hotel for a sauna and a beer. The next days were very enjoyable: skiing with new found technique; minus 14 degrees c; clear blue skies; and great snow.

A final mention also for the Schwarzer Adler Hotel. The 24th ended with a gala dinner, with everyone dressed up and a plentiful supply of prosecco courtesy of the excellent owners and hosts, the Tschol family.

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