Ischgl defies nature to open the new ski season with great skiing

The Austrian resort of Ischgl has defied nature by having 80kms of ski runs open this week, immaculately groomed, despite no snow having fallen for about seven weeks.

The Austrian resort of Ischgl has defied nature by having 80kms of ski runs open this week, immaculately groomed, despite no snow having fallen for about seven weeks.

As with the rest of Europe, there has been a snow famine in the Tirol - but Ischgl opened as planned on Friday 25 November, with 25 lifts open serving 81 kms of pistes - and all in excellent condition, thanks to an astonishing snowmaking operation. In a one million euro operation, one thousand snow cannons were put to work in the run-up to the opening day to produce the amazing conditions.

And Ski-write was there with the first ski press trip of the season and can testify to the quantity and quality of the snow.

No other resort in the Alps without a glacier has managed to have such a large total of runs open.

The snow cannons used 650,000 cubic meters of water - last season the total amount of man-made snow produced used 800,000 cubic meters.

Runs of all grades were open, with pistes in excellent condition down to the mid-stations of all three gondolas. The highest run, from the Greitspitze, was open.

Tourist Director Andreas Steibl said: "This was an extraordinary operation and skiers and boarders have been amazed at how good the conditions are and how many runs are open. They think it's incredible. And it shows how determined we are to hold good to our promise of a five month long snowsure season."

There were 14,800 skiers and boarders on the mountain last Saturday (26 November). And in the evening, 18,000 attended the Roxette season-opening concert in the village. There was not a spare bed to be found in Ischgl. The weather has been unusual in recent weeks with inverted temperatures - typically eight degrees Celsius higher at the top of the mountain than in the village.

Snowfalls are forecast for the end of the week - but meanwhile, guests in Ischgl are continuing to enjoy skiing and boarding that is almost unbelievably good in the circumstances.

One British skier said: "We could hardly be having better conditions here even if there had been good natural snowfalls. At this time of year you can rarely venture off-piste anyway - and the piste conditions, although with largely man-made snow, are as good as I've experienced this early in the season."

Media coverage for the snow conditions was excellent, with positive reports for Ischgl and all eyes on the weather forecast for the rest of the season. Ski-write's Rob Freeman is quoted as a travel expert on both the Daily Mail and The Times travel pages.

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