Summer Skiing at Chill Factore

Indoor real snow ski slope at Chill Factore, Manchester

Indoor real snow ski slope at Chill Factore, ManchesterWith the heat of summer getting to us we decided to visit Chill Factore in Manchester to get in some summer turns to make sure we don’t forget how to ski before winter!  It was our first time skiing at an indoor slope so a pretty exciting day out!

The bright and spacious changing area has a fully equipped rental shop to get skis, snowboards and boots fitted, plus because they cater for absolute beginners as well as those who have been skiing before they have a full range of winter clothing which you can rent for your session.  I checked the website before setting off which said to take warm clothing and even then I was surprised at how cold it is inside the slope.  I know it sounds pretty obvious now but it really is a fridge, maybe even a freezer – minus 3°C to keep the snow in top condition throughout the day – so when you visit make sure you bring warm clothes and wrap up well! (more…)

European Cup Ski Racing in Soldeu

Ski racers on the podium in SoldeuThis weekend has seen the men’s European Cup Giant Slalom ski racing come to Soldeu for the first time, following on from the successful women’s World and European Cup events held last winter.  The racing has been held over two days which saw beautiful weather and perfect snow conditions.

The racing was held on the Avet slope which decends from next to the Soldeu chair lift and follows the gondola back down to the village affording some spectacular views from the village including from the terraces of Sol i Neu restaurant and the Sport Village hotel.  Conditions were fantastic for the skiers and the winner, Luca de Aliprandini of Italy, described the Avet slope as “demanding” with a “highly technical layout”.

The World of HD Helmet Cameras

Drift HD Ghost Helmet Camera

ADrift HD Ghost Helmet Cameran Introduction into the World of HD Helmet Cameras

If you’re considering purchasing an action camera this winter, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s never been a better time to do so. 2012 has been an exciting year where action cameras are concerned and competition between top manufacturers is fiercer than ever before.

But first things first, what makes an action camera any better for a winter sports excursion than the humble handycam?

Action cameras, as the name suggests are designed for action. They are built to withstand the harsh elements, which come with skiing or snowboarding, such as snow & ice, sub-zero temperatures, high speeds and physical impact. (more…)

Andorra Ski Holidays

Photo of loads of snow covering Arinsal in December 2012

Photo of loads of snow covering Arinsal in December 2012If you’re currently looking to decide where you want to go skiing this winter, then look no further!  Andorra has had the best start to a ski season for a number of years, with the base already up to almost a metre of snow, which has been topped up regularly since opening for business on December 1st.  Snow has fallen regularly for the past three weeks now and more is forecast to continue falling for the next few days, with everyone’s fingers crossed for a white Christmas!

For those of you new to the idea of a holiday to the tiny country of Andorra, perhaps having visited other more well known areas, then you might be in for a bit of a surprise.  Andorra boasts two fantastic ski areas, both with interconnected resorts covered on their lift respective lift passes.  If you have beginners in your group then it’s definitely worth investigating options in  and Arinsal as these both have lots of British ski instructors amongst their ranks which makes it much easier for people to learn when their instructor speaks their native language.  For avid snowboarders you should look at Pas de la Casa as the resort has a very young party vibe with many snowboarders returning year after year.

But if you’re a hardened skier who thinks you won’t be challenged, then think again!  This year the resort of Soldeu held both European and World Cup downhill racing on the women’s circuit for the first time, which is being followed in 2013 by European Cup racing on the men’s circuit.  The famed Avet slope running to the centre of Soldeu has for some years now held FIS certification, and this year this has been joined by another FIS certified slope in neighboring El Tarter!

Arinsal has a family friendly traditional charm about it and proves very popular with returning guests each year so if you’re looking for a friendly resort with great skiing then maybe you should look here.  A big benefit of spending your Andorra ski holiday in Arinsal is that Arcalis is also included on your lift pass, and this is often thought of by locals as the best skiing in the country, so well worth a visit.

So if we’ve whetted your appetite for Andorra then take a look at our holidays page, and maybe we’ll see you on the slopes here soon.

Skiing For the First Time – What to Wear

Children in various coloured ski clothing

If you are taking part in the exhilarating sport of skiing for the first time, maybe with a partner or friends, you will want to look good. However, it is also important to wear specific clothing to be safe and make sure you are protected from the cold.

It is possible to look great and also dress well for skiing. A major thing, to ensure that you can ski properly and not fall over as much, is to wear a pair of boots that fit you properly, teamed with a comfy pair of ski socks. A pair of thick ski pants are essential, in order to protect you from the cold.

Children in various coloured ski clothing

The great thing is, that there are so many different types of skiing websites out there now, complete with skiing clothing to purchase. This means that you can find a warm but fashionable pair of ski pants for you, whether you are male or female, they come in all different makes and colours so have a look around. A ski helmet will keep your head warm and will also protect you if you fall, these are very important especially when skiing in dangerous conditions.

Helmets aren’t mandatory, however there have been so many accidents during skiing which have tragically resulted in fatalities, so in these circumstances safety comes before fashion. However, just like the ski pants, the range of ski helmets out there is huge. Maybe if you look for a helmet on the same website that you bought the pants, you can look for one that matches. You can even get a customised helmet, so if you are a bit of a diva and want to bring this to the slopes, why not add some glitter or sparkle to your helmet.

It is important to wear a few layers of clothes on your upper body, to ensure maximum warmth. I would recommend two everyday tops, followed by a warm fleece, and finally a protective ski jacket on top. The ski jacket is the only item that you should be concerned about looking good, because it is the only item that will be visible. Ski jackets come in all different colours, so if you get one that is similar to the rest of your outfit you will look stylish and coordinated. Complete your look with a pair of warm ski gloves, and you are ready to hit the slopes.

This post was supplied on behalf of Simply Piste, online ski clothing store.

Lindsay Vonn Denied Chance to Race Men

Lindsay Vonn

Lindsay VonnSomething creating huge discussion in the world of skiing is Lindsay Vonn and her request to race against men in the Lake Louise round of the World Cup, however unfortunately today the International Ski Federation (FIS) have ruled that she can’t take part in the men’s race.

She has been dominating women’s skiing for the past few years and wanted the chance to show that it is possible for women to compete against their male counterparts, and although she didn’t expect to win she was hopeful of a top 30 placement.  The main reason for her wanting to compete was to raise awareness of ski racing, particularly female ski racing, by generating media and public interest in a showpiece event.

Whilst she has definitely got people talking within the skiing community it is a shame that the FIS haven’t allowed it to go ahead as it would have been very interesting to see if she raised her game yet again.  It is hoped that at some point in the not too distant future the FIS may re-consider their stance, but in the meantime we can look forward to her racing on the women’s circuit.

Independent Ski Holidays

Ski lift in the mountains with lots of snow


Ski lift in the mountains with lots of snowWhen it comes to booking a holiday you have a few ways to go about it – first of all you have the traditional package holiday where you pick your package from a brochure or online and it includes everything from the flights and transfers to your accommodation and ski extras, or the alternative is to put your own holiday together and come independently.

Booking all or part of your holiday independently means you have much more flexibility to meet your own requirements, whether that means you want to arrive on a particular day of the week, have a short/extended break or want to have a day off from skiing in the middle of the week.  Our guide below will show you the various parts of the holiday that you will need to book.

Andorra doesn’t have it’s own airport however there are several airports available to choose from fairly close by.  The most popular airport for independent holidaymakers is Barcelona as there are five daily shared transfers plus an extra service at weekends during the winter, however there are also shared transfers available from Toulouse and Girona.  Other airports used less frequently are Reus and Carcassonne.  Lleida is the closest airport with international flights although they are very limited.

Transfers or Car Hire
You need to decide how you’ll get from the airport to your resort, and this depends on a couple of factors – do you mind driving overseas?  and how much do you want to spend?

It’s easy enough to rent a car, however if you go for this option before you book make sure that you can drive the car across the border into Andorra and also find out if you will be charged extra for this.  We’ve previously used Europcar as they allow cross-border travel and don’t charge extra, but always check before you book.

For airport transfers if you’re flying to Barcelona, Girona or Toulouse you can have shared or private transfers, or from other airports it’s just private transfers.  To book airport transfers a good website to try is  Obviously a taxi transfer or private minibus is going to be more expensive than the shared option, but it means that you leave the airport as soon as your group have arrived.

Choose Your Resort
Andorra has two main ski areas, Grandvalira and Vallnord.  Grandvalira is the largest skiable domain in the Pyrenees, not just Andorra, boasting 205km of linked pistes which means you have a huge range of slopes to keep you occupied throughout your holiday.  The main resorts here are Pas de la Casa and Soldeu, and both offer completely different atmospheres albeit access to the same slopes.  Pas de la Casa (or just Pas to locals) attracts quite a young crowd and is renowned for partying as much as it is for skiing and snowboarding, however Soldeu is much more family friendly although still has a few great bars for après ski.  The other accesses to Grandvalira are Grau Roig, El Tarter, Canillo and Encamp but these aren’t as popular with tourists.

Vallnord is a smaller ski area with 93km of pistes but in my opinion this includes probably the best skiing in Andorra!  The main tourist resort is Arinsal which is also linked by cable car to the Pal ski area, and it’s arguably the most picturesque of the Andorran ski resorts.  The bars and restaurants are all family friendly but there are also a couple of nightclubs to keep younger ones entertained.  Arinsal has a fantastic school for beginners, but Arcalis is the hidden gem of a ski area, and with no hotels it is usually much quieter than other areas, so it’s worth taking the free ski bus across to give it a go.

Ski Extras
Whether you’ve arranged the whole of your holiday yourself or if you’ve booked a package for the main components, the most popular part of a skiing holiday to book independently is the ski extras: lift passes, lessons and ski hire.  The main benefit of doing this “DIY” is that you can choose the standard of equipment you want, you can see which shop you’ll be collecting from beforehand, and you can also take advantage of special products such as the non-consecutive lift pass which allows either one or two days off from skiing or snowboarding.

The Next Step…
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions or need help organising your holiday, or for links to all the relevant pages to plan and book your trip, visit our Andorra holidays page >>