Monday, June 18, 2018

7 Excuses to Visit Les Portes du Soleil

STORY BY Megan Hughes 31st October 2017

A hugely popular ski area, Les Portes du Soleil is one of the top destinations in the Alps. Here at we are giving you a rundown of 7 reasons why you NEED to visit Les Portes due Soleil this year.

1. Size Matters

With over 650km of marked piste and 196 lifts, Les Portes du Soleil is one of the largest ski areas in the world. It boasts over 300 runs, 2/3 of which are either red or blue, meaning that skiers of every level will be able to enjoy themselves with an abundance of runs to ensure good variety throughout your visit. Due to the immense size of the ski area, there are good pre-marked trails and circuits that are often popular with holidaymakers due to the ease that comes with their being well signed. If you prefer to make your own routes however, this is simple too thanks to a free app that creates and plans routes based on your ability level and preferences.

You could spend a whole season there and never get bored, so whether you’re thinking of heading off for a week’s holiday or working a winter season, Les Portes du Soleil will provide you more than enough pistes to play with.

2. Superb Snow Parks....READ ON

Friday, June 15, 2018

Gender Labels on Skis Are Meaningless

Gender Labels on Skis Are Meaningless

For a lot of gear, having male or female body parts matter. But not when it comes to skis.

PHOTO: Steve Lloyd
A former racer who grew up in Government Camp, Oregon, Keree Smith, 25, likes to ski fast. She wants to rail turns and feel the energy explode out of her ski. She is an aggressive skier and, at 5-foot-7, she's looking for a ski between 179 and 182 centimeters long.
The skis Smith is looking for exist. In fact, she skis on them. But they aren't women's skis, or at least they are not skis expressly marketed to women. By industry standards, Smith skis on men's skis.
"I'm not an extreme case--there are a lot of women charging out there--but no, I can't find that in a women's ski," she says. "Just because someone is a woman or a man doesn't mean they ski a certain way."
"The message is there are skis and then there are women's skis. We often focus on the effect this type of marketing has on women, but it's a lot easier for women to go out and buy men's skis and feel good about it, whereas most men would have a hard time going and buying a women's ski, even if a lighter, shorter ski is a better fit for them." --Dr. Heather McLaughlin
Walk into any ski shop and you'll find plenty of products designed differently for men and women, like packs made to fit around a woman's chest instead of over and men's long underwear with that extra special pocket. For a lot of gear, having male or female body parts matter. But not when it comes to skis, which are constructed to work with height, weight, and ability.

The basic physics of skiing tells us lightweight skis are better for intermediate skiers because they require less energy and strength to control. This is true for both men and women. Yet it's typically skis marketed to women that are lighter and shorter, compared to the heavier, longer models made for men. The corresponding message is that women, by default, are intermediate, shorter skiers. Sure, some women will appreciate and benefit from light, short skis, but so will some men--and that's OK, too.
The American man averages a height of 5-foot-7, about 6 inches taller than the average woman and 30 pounds heavier. But these are generalizations that don't apply to all people all the time, nor do they take into account the terrain a certain skier rides or their level of experience.
"Just as much as you're telling women that you should buy these skis, you're perpetuating the idea to men that 'I'm a man and I should have these super durable, long, metal skis,'" says Dr. Heather McLaughlin, a professor of sociology who researches gender in sport. "The message is there are skis and then there are women's skis. We often focus on the effect this type of marketing has on women, but it's a lot easier for women to go out and buy men's skis and feel good about it, whereas most men would have a hard time going and buying a women's ski, even if a lighter, shorter ski is a better fit for them."

Surfboards have never been sorted by gender (their shapes span different lengths, widths, and weights to suit varying waves and styles) and bike manufacturers like Specialized are no longer offering gender-specific geometries. Rather, they use the same frame for men and women and focus on adjusting the fit based on a rider's height and weight.
When the first skis designed for and marketed specifically to women arrived on the market in the mid-1980s, manufacturers quickly learned they would sell. They still do. Women make up 41 percent of skiers, according to a Snowsports Industries America 2016 participant study. Ski manufacturers should continue to talk to women. However, instead of labeling which skis they think fit women, companies can talk to them through marketing that showcases female athletes skiing on their product.
Reno-based Moment Skis' top-selling women's ski is called the Sierra, and it sells at 45 percent the rate of their top men's ski, the Deathwish. Both are made with the same materials, but the women's version is shorter, which means the core has to be thinner, says Luke Jacobson, CEO and head ski designer. It is also narrower underfoot to match its length.
"A lot of our women's skis are versions of our men's skis," says Jacobson. "On some shorter skis, you don't need as much material, or when the person is not as heavy, we'll go to a lighter weave. Making shorter skis is a lot harder than making a longer ski because you have to figure out the sidecut and the flex in a much shorter distance."
Essentially, Jacobson is describing the variations in designing and building skis of different lengths--not for different genders. He feels the need to label them as such because of the buyer's expectation.
"If we just make skis, women will be like, 'Where are your women's skis?'" he says. "When we categorize it, we're buying into social norms. Right or wrong, we definitely are."
The label says nothing about the product; it's about the message.
Salomon's alpine commercial manager Chris McKearin agrees--retailers want a women's graphic to sell to women and a men's graphic to sell to men. "The moment we get rid of the women's ski, we risk the perception that we're not paying attention to women and encouraging them to get out there," he says. "I've sold a men's or unisex ski to a woman. But doing the opposite is quite challenging. That's probably for the same reason men overestimate their ability, while women underestimate theirs."
He's right that women are less confident in their skiing ability. According to data collected by SIA, just 13 percent of skiers who rated themselves "experts" were women. "Women, most likely, are not disproportionally less adept at skiing than men, but this sandbagging on self-reported ability levels calls for a different marketing message," the study says.
And that's exactly what the industry is doing when they put a women's label on a ski--creating a marketing message. What they aren't doing is creating a ski that performs specifically for men or women. The label says nothing about the product; it's about the message.
Jen Gurecki, who founded the all-women ski brand Coalition Snow in 2013, says she has never looked at the female anatomy when designing skis. Bucking the notion that women have a lower center of gravity, Coalition considers length, waist width, and core materials in their development process and construction, just like any other ski. What sets Coalition's skis apart are is that they a company made of and for women.
“We are a women's brand because we, as women, are designing for the things we want and we actively only engage other women in the design process,” says Gurecki. “We're not including men in our design process, in our marketing, or in our brand. It's not part of what we do.”
Men and women are different--that's true on and off the mountain. We think differently, we act differently, we communicate differently. But when a storm settles in the mountains, the skis on our feet are planks of wood that don't care what gender we are.
The brand also has a strong feminine aesthetic. "Pretty not passive," says Gurecki. "We don't have grim reapers, but I don't need another fucking butterfly ski. Women's equipment has always been a watered-down version of men's. We wanted more and better choices."
For Gurecki, a Coalition ski is given a women's label not because of the way it is constructed but by how her company decides to present it to the market. So often, if a ski isn't labeled expressly for women, it's assumed to be for men. Take off the top sheet (or don't) and the ski is a tool that works for anyone, regardless of gender.
Men and women are different--that's true on and off the mountain. We think differently, we act differently, we communicate differently. But when a storm settles in the mountains, the skis on our feet are planks of wood that don't care what gender we are. Whether a 5-foot-2 man is looking for a green carbon ski or a 6-foot-2 woman prefers a red metal ski, or somewhere in between, we should buy skis because they suit our height, weight, experience, and style of skiing. A gender label will not tell you anything about how the ski will perform. Let's just call them skis, offer extended sizes in a variety of top sheets, and cut the gender label all together.

This story originally published in the December issue of POWDER (46.4).

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The end of season in Morzine is nigh & so are the parties of the year!

The end of season in Morzine is nigh & so are the parties of the year!

Some of the key closing parties to look out for

Featured in:
Alice Gregr | Morzine Reporter | Published: 31st March 2016
      The end of season in Morzine is nigh & so are the parties of the year!

      As much as we don't want to face up to the fact that the end of the season is just round the corner, I'm afraid we're going to have to! However, let's not be sad about it....

      Not only is there the excitement of the summer to look forward to but there's also a host of amazing end of season events, parties and celebrations to get excited about. And I have to say- this year looks pretty special. I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to pass us by in a music filled frenzy of fun!

      Let's get the facts out of the way before we get to the fun part - The Morzine lifts are due to shut on the 10th April. Avoriaz is open for a lot longer, closing on the 24th April. We've had quite a lot of late snow this year so conditions are expected to be good right up to the end of the season, this means there's bound to be some great late skiing this year. Ideal conditions for the final après celebrations of the year!

      We've had a look through the calendars and the what's ons to bring you some of the biggest and most exciting end of season parties this year. There's no shortage of events to choose from and all are guaranteed to bring winter 2016 to a spectacular end.

      The Kinkerne has been providing us with some of the best après parties of the season with its brand new Sun:Sets on the slopes. Morzine resident DJ Chicane, along with the Monster dancing girls have been entertaining people at the base of the Prodain bubble on and off for the last month and the event has proved really popular. Thanks to its success, the team at the Kinkerne has decided to see the season out with a bang. On the 6th April it's Sun:Sets on the slopes, the finale! This time Chicane is going to be joined by legendary Radio 1 DJ, Danny Howard. If the other parties are anything to go by, this one shouldn't be missed. Ski down the Prodain home run right to the bar at the Kinkerne where the team will be waiting to serve you a beer or a prosecco as the sun goes down over Morzine.

      Another party to put in the diary comes from another of our favourite après venues, The Aubergade. On Sunday the 17th April it's Peace and Dove, The Jungle Jam, an end of season bash with a difference. It's a charity event aimed at raising money to help the refugees in Calais. Starting at 11.30 in the morning, it's one for the whole family. Expect live music, stalls, clothing sales and treasure hunts for the children. Peace and Dove is a community project set up by two local people in Morzine who wanted to raise awareness of the situation in Calais. Watch out for origami birds handing in the windows of various shops, bars and cafes in Morzine. If you want to get involved head to the Aubergade to learn more!

      Now to a Portes du Soleil favourite - The party at Chez Flo in Avoriaz marks the true end of the winter season. Last year the theme was pirates and this year it's Star Wars! Chez Flo's end of season party takes place on the afternoon of the 23rd April and sees seasonnaires, holidaymakers, expats and locals come together to celebrate the end of winter. This year there's live music from Hunter and the Bear and Novasonic- an oasis tribute band. The party usually carries on at various bars in Morzine and the next day quiet descends on the whole resort. It's always quite eerie but Chez Flo always helps us say goodbye to winter in style!

      There are of course loads of places yet to tell us about their end of season bashes but as soon as they do- you'll be the first to know about it. Now go and enjoy the snow... There's still a load of slope time to be had!

      Sunday, April 8, 2018


      ESCAPE LONDON AND VISIT EUROPE – Be the first one on the slopes

      As anyone who regularly goes skiing will tell you, there is so much more to the winter holiday than the sport itself. From the fresh mountain air and stunning views to the Apres ski, live music and alpine restaurants, you can have a perfectly fulfilling break without even setting ski or snowboard on the slopes. But if you’re a total ski bunny and thrive on being the first one on the ski-lift in the morning and last one on the runs before nightfall, then staying on the actual mountain is an apt option for you.
      I’d visited the charming French resort of Morzine several times before and its appeal never fades. Nestled in the Aulps valley the pretty town looks like a vintage Christmas card, a toy town of neat ornamental wooden buildings twinkling with fairy lights all season long. Yet this impressive winter play area offers 650 km of ski slopes with nearby Les Gets and Avoriaz for different green to black run options.
      The vibrant social atmosphere is bustling, offering dainty shops, lively bars and restaurants, and even a smattering of spas and nightclubs.
      However, the morning onslaught of lugging your skis or board across town, from wherever you’re staying, and battling the scramble of snow sport enthusiasts to get on the ski lifts was pleasantly avoided altogether when I discovered Infernos Hotel, located on Point Du Nyon, overlooking Morzine in the Valley.
      We were picked up in style at the car park at the bottom of the mountain in a skidoo, which can fit two people, plus luggage and skis. The 15 minute ride itself was so fun I would have happily paid for it separately as an activity alone, but it was manned by a trained member of staff and we felt safe, and a little exhilarated.
      The catered chalet offers 15 bedrooms – ranging from doubles to family, in a relaxed, quintessential ski chalet environment. The cosy, warm rooms are spacious clean and tidy, with the most sumptuous duvets and pillows, ensuring an indulgent night’s sleep after an active day on the slopes.
      The views from the windows are simply stunning, especially at night, presenting a rare glimpse of nature in its simplicity, and you can lose yourself in thought staring out at the trees, stars and snow.
      Food is included in the price and free-flowing, so despite all the exercise, you’re unlikely to go hungry. Breakfast is a lavish affair with fresh bread, sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, cheeses, cold meats, cereals and fruit. Then when you’ve tackled the slopes you return home to home-made cakes, cookies, tea, coffee and hot chocolate, before a three-course evening meal with complimentary wine re-fills. The experienced chef caters for vegetarians, vegans and allergies, and extra helpings of whatever takes your fancy. We couldn’t get enough of the home-made chocolate brownie and vanilla ice-cream.
      There is a lively bar, family room, pool table and hot tub to keep you occupied off piste. Staff were attentive, friendly and eager to please, even bringing items up to our room when requested.
      The hotel works with Doorstep skis – a fantastic, faff-free service which delivers skis, poles, snowboards and helmets to your chalet, after arming them with your sizing details.
      The dynamic company are always on the phone if you have any equipment issues to swap them if there’s a problem with your boot or pole. The experienced staff even picked up our equipment at the end of our week from the bar we were in so we didn’t have to go out of our way at all. The whole system was easy and comes highly recommended.
      Inferno’s highlight is, without a doubt, setting off first thing and being on the mountain tops and skiing down mostly deserted runs, while everyone else is still jostling for the lifts. It felt like we’d hired our own private mountain, which was priceless.
      For more details visit and

      Saturday, March 31, 2018

      Winter shows no sign of letting up!

      Cold temperatures continue in Morzine as spring approaches

      Winter shows no sign of letting up!

      Featured in:
      Rob Wood | Morzine Reporter | Published: 19th March 2018
          Cold temperatures continue in Morzine as spring approaches    Verbier
          Cold temperatures continue in  as spring approaches

          With the UK currently being battered by the “Beast from the East 2.0” this week looks like being a mainly dry but cold one here. The all-important Jetstream still remains anchored over the Iberian Peninsula, where it has been for the past few weeks, and this will continue with the less than springlike weather that has been predominant of late.

          Very often, by mid to late March the Alps are awash with sunshine and diminishing snow cover but that certainly isn’t the case at the moment after fresh fall last week at all elevations. This week may not bring much fresh snow, maybe 20cm in total, but the cold temperatures will certainly keep the already good snow cover in great condition as April fast approaches. 
          For the early part of the week, low pressure will be in control and winds will be in the main northerly in direction. Towards the middle of the week, barometric pressure should rise with the arrival of an area of high pressure and the second half of the week looks set to be largely sunny but still cold.


          Light overnight snowfall will continue for most of the day but only around 5cm is likely in total. A freeze height of around 1000 metres will ensure snow and not rain. Winds will be steady at around 10kmph from the north. A cold day with resort highs of around -5ºC in the afternoon. The snow should fizzle out by around 21:00.


          A mainly cloudy day with a few light snow flurries. Winds will again be from the north at around 10kmph. Another cold day with daytime highs of around -4ºC, which will feel a bit chillier in the north winds.


          Any early cloud will soon clear and it should be a nice sunny day, albeit again quite cold for the time of year. Winds will continue in their northerly direction and will have increased to around 15kmph. Afternoon temperatures will top out at around -4ºC and it will again continue to feel cold in the wind chill (-8ºC).


          The north winds continue and will strengthen overnight to around 25kmph, with stronger gusts possibly leading to some initial higher lift disruption. A largely sunny day with winds thankfully decreasing as the day goes on. Remaining cold with daytime highs of around -5ºC, feeling more like -10ºC in the brisk northerly winds. A very light dusting of snow is possible in the early evening.


          Probably the best day of the week with sunshine all day and lighter winds. Winds will remain northerly in direction but should drop to around 10kmph and therefore no lift disruption should occur today. Another cold day with daytime highs of around -3ºC but the uninterrupted sunshine should make it feel warmer at last.


          A largely cloudy day looks likely with the possibility of some light snow. Around 15cm is possible in total and is likely to be at its heaviest in the early afternoon. Remaining cold with a freeze height of around 800 metres so any precipitation will fall as snow. Daytime highs of around -4ºC with light and variable winds.


          A largely cloudy day with maybe some sunny intervals and also some snow flurries, a real mixed bag. Slightly warmer than of late with daytime highs getting up to around 0ºC with light and variable winds at around 5kmph.
          This outlook might change as long-term forecasts are never completely reliable. Take a look at our Weather Page for up to date information every day.

          Wednesday, March 28, 2018

          PyeongChang 2018: Fitzpatrick ends Farkasova’s golden run

          PyeongChang 2018: Fitzpatrick ends Farkasova’s golden run

          British teenage snatches slalom title to spoil Slovakian’s perfect record
          two female alpine skiers with gold medals on the podiumMenna Fitzpatrick (R) and guide Jennifer Kehoe celebrate their debut Paralympic gold © • Getty Images
          By IPC
          Listen to this page using ReadSpeaker
          The women’s slalom brought alpine skiing to a close at PyeongChang 2018, with one of the biggest surprises of the alpine competition saved until last.
          The script was written for Henrieta Farkasova to make it five golds from five events, but Menna Fitzpatrick stunned the Slovakian to win her first Paralympic title.
          The British alpine skier, guided by Jennifer Kehoe, won the women’s slalom vision impaired on Sunday (18 March), the final day of competition at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre.
          The 19-year-old completed a notable debut, not only securing her country’s lone gold at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympics, but also becoming Great Britain’s most decorated Winter Paralympian. She joins Kelly Gallagher as the only British alpine skier to with a Paralympic gold.
          "Our main aim was to go and have fun and beat our time from previously,” said Fitzpatrick.
          “However Farkasova skied was out of our control. We just had to put in our best performance. And we fought the whole way down.”
          But she admitted the day did not start as she would like.
          "I didn't have the greatest of mornings: nerves, a ski boot fell on my head,” Fitzpatrick admitted.
          "We had a giggle. Did some singing. We did a bit of Disney but actually it was (the song) I like Big Butts. It was the first song that popped into my head for some random reason."
          There was no fifth gold for Farkasova and her guide Natalia Subrtova, as the Slovakian settled for silver in an otherwise dominant Paralympics.
          But the one silver still hurt.
          Behind Farkasova and Subrtova’s sunglasses during the medal ceremony were tears.
          "It's been a very emotional day for us as you can obviously see,” Farkasova said. “We are very disappointed with our performance. It was not what we normally do, how we normally ski. There are a lot of negative emotions right now, not because of the result but because of the performance.
          "It's not a very good feeling. I am sure we will fine and happy about what we have achieved. It's been amazing. We are just quite unhappy about how today went. We don't want to be a 'Debbie Downer'."
          Although clocking the fastest first run, the Slovakians knew they could have gone faster as they held only a 0.66-second lead.
          Coming down their second run, Farkasova lost time off the flat portion of the course and could not make up the deficit.
          Fitzpatrick waited to see her opponent’s time of 1:52.46 pop up.
          It was 0.66 seconds slower, and that was when the emotions erupted. She finished her first Games with gold to go along with her two silvers and a bronze.
          Fellow Britons Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild took bronze for their third medal in PyeongChang.
          Forster the technical master
          The first person to greet Anna-Lena Forster after her final run was the reigning world and Paralympic champion – and fellow German – Anna Schaffelhuber.
          While many of the women’s sitting skiers struggled down the slalom course, Forster was the only one to find a fast rhythm. The 22-year-old held a strong two-second lead entering her last run, and an error from her closest threat in Japan’s Momoka Muraoka allowed Forster to win by more than five seconds. Austria’s Heike Eder completed the podium for her first medal of the Games.
          The victory was Forster’s second gold of a successful Games, in which her slalom skiing in the super combined was also huge in capturing that gold. It was a vast improvement from four years ago, when she took silver in both events behind Schaffelhuber.
          “I came here to give everything; it wasn't part of my plan to win two gold medals,” Forster said.
          While Forster showcased her technical skills, Schaffelhuber dominated the speed events leaving with two golds and silver in super combined. But the heavy favourite saw these Paralympics take a turn when she finished off the podium in giant slalom on Wednesday. Then on Sunday, Schaffelhuber lost part of her equipment during her final slalom run that threw away hopes even reaching the podium and closing the Games on a positive note.
          Bochet – G.O.A.T.
          Three, four, five seconds – Marie Bochet kept increasing her lead down her final run in PyeongChang. The French skier continued to add reason to why she will go down as the greatest of all time.
          The 24-year-old won the women’s standing category, finishing with four gold medals and bringing her Paralympic gold tally to eight since Sochi 2014.
          In a 2018 Paralympics where many of the top alpine skiers – including Bochet in the super combined – faltered, Bochet bounced back to winning form overnight. The slalom was the only event she did not finish in Sochi, and was one of her two silvers from the 2017 World Championships.
          "This is a special medal in the slalom. I am very, very happy to have it in my backpack,” Bochet said. “It has been my best discipline since I started. I missed it in Sochi (2014 Paralympic Winter Games) and in Vancouver (2010) I was fourth and I said, 'Argh, slalom, please'. And now I have it.
          "The giant (slalom) really helped me. I took so much confidence from that into this race."
          Canadian teenager Mollie Jepsen proved a future talent after taking silver to go with her gold in the super combined, and downhill and giant slalom bronze medals. Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss collected the bronze, adding to her four silvers.
          Highlights of the action will be made available on the International Paralympic Committee’s website.

          Sunday, March 25, 2018

          Paralympics PyeongChang 2018: Top five medal winners

          PyeongChang 2018: Top five medal winners

          Performances that lit up these Paralympic Winter Games
          a sit skier celebrates on his knees holding the South Korean flagEui Hyun Sin is South Korea's first Winter Paralympic champion © • Getty Images
          By IPC
          Listen to this page using ReadSpeaker
          Among the 241 medals awarded at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, these medallists stood out.
          USA tops the table
          A dramatic come-from-behind overtime win only added to the glory of the USA’s dominant in PyeongChang.
          The US ice hockey team upset reigning world champions and favourite Canada for the gold medal on the very last day of competition. That brought the USA’s count to 36 total medals, with 13 golds.
          Five of those came from snowboard, with two-time champion Brenna Huckabyliving up to her debut hype.
          Oksana Masters and Kendall Gretsch also combined for four titles in Nordic skiing.
          Silver does not spoil Slovakian success
          Henrieta Farkasova, with guide Natalia Subrtova, leave PyeongChang as the most decorated Paralympian with four gold medals and a silver in alpine skiing.
          A silver medal in the women’s slalom vision impaired on the last day brought them to tears. They were going for a fifth and perfect Paralympic Games. But it should not take away from an overall successful week for the three-time Paralympian Farkasova, who has had her guide Subrtova since 2008.
          Host nation hero
          Eui Hyun Sin’s became South Korea’s lone gold medallist and most successful athlete in his home Games.
          Sin stole the show when he men’s sitting 7.5km race, feeling the roaring crowd surge him to the finish line.
          Sin entered the Games ranked ninth in the overall World Cup standings. But there was hidden potential as a two-time medallist from the 2017 World Championships in Finsterau, Germany.
          His gold added go the 15km cross-country bronze in PyeongChang.
          China went 9-2 in the round-robin sessions, en route to a 6-5 victory over reigning world champion Norway in the finals. Led by skip Haitao Wang, their victory marked not only China’s first Paralympic medal in the sport, but also the country’s first in a Paralympic Winter Games.
          Missing the 2017 World Championships podium, the team had a strong round-robin showing and came through in a tight contest against Norway.
          McKeever leads Canadian success
          Canada was second in the medals tally with 28 total, eight behind golds.
          Leading the way was vision impaired cross-country skier Brian McKeever, who won his 13th Paralympic gold after the 10km event.
          It was his fifth Paralympic Winter Games appearance, and he showed no sign of slowing down.
          The official site for PyeongChang 2018 can be found here.