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California versus Italian Ski Resorts: One girl’s Opinion


California versus Italian Ski Resorts: One Girls’s Opinion

I am a competitive snowboarder and committed mountain lover; I take every opportunity I get in California to drive up to my favorite resort in Lake Tahoe to hit some of the best lines a snowboarder can find on the west coast. So when I decided to travel abroad to Italy for a semester, I chose a university partially based on how near it is to the ski resorts of Italy. Luckily, since coming over to Italy I have had the opportunity to go to two of the major Italian ski resorts- Cortina D’amprezzo and Canazei- and got a taste of the Euro- skiing way of life. And the differences I found may not surprise you.

Mountain Conditions

The major difference I found between the skiing in California and Northern Italy is the size of the resort and the grade of the mountain. The resorts of northern Italy are massive. Even visiting after peak season I found that I could ride different hills all day and never take the same route twice. Especially Canazei, which is part of a huge four peaks system where I spent two days trying to explore every nook and cranny and only scratching the surface.

However, I found that California has more diverse terrain to offer than both Canazei and Cortina. As a native Californian snowboarder, I spend a lot of my time on the mountain trying to find fun natural terrain like rocks, trees and cliffs to ride off of. Usually one can find a few decent powder caches on even the most crowded days in California. In Italy however, most of the rocks had been cleared and the trees cut down, leaving quick groomer conditions even in some of the less- traveled areas of the resort.


These slope differences play into the overall ski culture of the two locations. The average person skiing at Cortina or Canazei was a skier aged 25 to 60, wearing matching new snow pants and snow jacket from one of the top brands, executing perfect carves down the hill. In California there are a lot more young adults and children, a lot more beginners wearing clearly hand-me-down outfits, and a more even mix between snowboarders and skiers. Even the ski styles are different. American skiers seem a little faster and more reckless, hitting more jumps and terrain, and also wiping out more. European skiers are clean, smooth, and seem to enjoy long groomed runs. So in America I found more diverse terrain and more diverse riders, and Europe i found more homogeny of slope and skier, but the homogeny was at a high level or talent and quality.


I found that Italian skiing had a much more ‘luxury experience’ aspect to it. The first thing that clued me into this was that our first chairlift to the top of the mountain was covered and had heated seats, something that I have never seen in California. Furthermore, while resort food in California is dominated by overpriced chilli cheese fries and cheeseburgers, when we stopped for lunch at a mountaintop spot in Canazei, we got locally made Italian food served with complimentary champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Clearly the mid-day lunch stops could not be more different between the two.

Before skiing in Italy I expected to have a strong opinion about which was better. But the resort style is so different between the two that it makes it impossible to decide. I think it comes down to the skier you are. If you like fast, beautiful, groomed runs with champagne waiting for you at the end, Italy is you destination. If you like to make your day your own and invent jumps and kickers with the natural terrain, topped off by a slice of pizza and a beer, then California is for you. In the end, there’s no wrong decision.

by Julia Culver

Safety First in the Outdoors

When we head into the great outdoors to practice our sports and follow our passions, we imagine the great adventure and physical challenges we will encounter when we go higher, faster and farther or try get the best photos and selfie moments in nature…. But what about when something goes wrong…unfortunately there are too many cases in which someone has to  be rescued due to the increasing instability and uncertainty of climate phenomena and accidents that can occur when practicing sports outdoors—but these are not always due to dramatic events, but can also be related to other conditions.S

In 2018 the Aiut Alpin Dolomiti (helicopter rescue service) of Italy reported a total of 996 interventions, 529 in winter and 476 in the summer: while 220 were related to skiing, 128 were associated with excursions (mainly in the summer) and a third of the total—330—involved medical emergencies—only 11 were related to avalanches and 26 to climbing. Of the 1013 people assisted, 48 were fatalities. While these helicopter rescue statistics only reveal part of the story in only one part of the world where outdoor sports are practiced, safety can never be taken for granted—and hopefully our community will not have to rely on the heroic efforts of rescue services like the Aiut Alpin – or can at least make their efforts easier in case we do need them.

Safety should never be taken for granted, especially as climate change creates extreme phenomena that wreak havoc on the snow and ice cover and often leave outdoor sports persons at the mercy not only of avalanches, but flash floods, landslides, violent rain storms, “bombe di acqua” and sharp temperature fluxes. As the statistics show, many emergencies are due to medical conditions. Fortunately, besides following safety rules—respecting avalanche warnings, informing others where you are going, keeping cellphones charged and staying on marked paths if you are an amateur, and taking appropriate clothing and footgear, the market now offers many other options for safety—and if there is a need, aids in facilitating rescue. ISPO in February of this year featured a number of products aimed at safety: in the next few weeks we will be presenting a number of these products on HorizonSports.

Colin O’Brady wins first ever solo, unsupported Race across Antarctica!

The American Colin O’Brady, 33, beat Great Britain’s Louis Rudd 49, to become the first person in history to complete the 921-mile journey across Antarctica from coast to coast solo, unsupported and pulling a sled, in the first ever race across Antarctica. Congratulations!


Why do it? Why two racers? – Why not just solo it?… Well, we all need excitement – need the video story – about this very dangerous expedition. Anything can happen. Rescue will not always be possible — at least not quickly – you can’t just stop at the refueling station and take a break or quit and go home. All precautions must be taken and a team standing by 24/7 for an emergency must be assembled. We are in a rush to be the first to do something and hopefully the media attention will be there to help with sponsors and later maybe a book deal or talk circuit. There must be a business plan around every endeavor, since all endeavors start with finding funding.


In this challenge, making it a race between a Brit and a Yank creates more excitement than if it were just a solo venture. Of course, the terrain is daunting. Our hunger for adventure has no limits – except our own. When we think we have exhausted all possible first climbs, first crossings, aided, un-aided, with kite, no kite, with dogs, etc. ……There will always be someone who comes up with another brilliant first, and again we will sigh and marvel and follow the adventure. After all, we are human and in the comfort of our homes our imagination is piqued by the risks taken by others to push against what seems impossible – to make it possible.


At the Trento Film Festival, one of the most famous mountaineers in the world, Reinhold Messner, focused his panel discussion on making the impossible possible. He was the first to climb all 8k+ peaks without oxygen and at that time it seemed incredible. Nowadays so many have done it, that it is no longer news….


A decade from now, will you be putting together your kit to participate in the Race across Antarctica along with hundreds of others? I remember when the Ironman race in Hawaii first started with a couple dozen participants….doing what was thought to be impossible. Well, look where we are today. Think only of the 330km Tor de Geants endurance race in the Val d’Aosta Alps. Or of the Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB) and dozens of others.   What kinds of races will we be watching or preparing for tomorrow? Remember when marathons were a big challenge? ……

by. Laurence F. Hopper