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В января 2008 я прочитал статью в журнале SKI про то как нужно американцу кататься на лыжах в Европе. Скорее даже не как?, а где?, но это не важно. Эта статья мне настолько понравилась, что я решил посетить все 5 мест рекомендованных в ней. На сегодняшний день я посетил Сан Антон и Валь дЕзир, а Давос очень близок к Сан Морицу, и, хотя я готов возвращаться, два оставшихся Зермат и Шамони по-прежнему манят с большой силой. Где-то в сознании я считаю это своей программой на лыжи.

Со временем найти оригиналы этих статей стало сложнее и сайт медленный. Вообщем я решил собрать эти тескты у себя чтобы потом на них ссылаться. Автор Susan Reifer.

5. St. Anton, Austria: Hearty Portions


Looking for lots and lots of skiing on your European ski vacation, followed by lots and lots of dancing? Make your way to rowdy St. Anton.
By Susan Reifer posted: 01/28/2008

The first thing people mention when they talk about St. Anton is the rowdy après-ski scene. "Rowdy in Austria's top ski resort means spending three to six hours with 1,000 of your fellow skiers at a standing-room-only outdoor bar that's not quite at the bottom of the mountain, tossing back Austrian beer followed by fruity schnapps while singing loudly to thumping Euro disco hits. While it's true that this is a signature St. Anton experience, it's also true that crooning loudly to a techno version of John Denver's "Country Roads with your new British and German best friends is only a fraction of the St. Anton story - and not an entirely representative one at that.

Skiing from village to village among the treeless expanses of the high Alps is nearer to the essence of the Arlberg zeitgeist. Hiring an Austrian ski instructor to guide you around the expanses goes to its very heart: St. Anton is home to the world's first ski school, opened in 1921. Stopping midday to eat gnocchi-like spà¤tzle or sweet, saucy Kaiserschmarrn, riding up an ultra-modern, heated, eight-seat chairlift, dropping down into a hamlet where snowbanks touch the rooftops of pastel-colored buildings and finally gliding to the back door of your small, family-run inn - this is classic St. Anton. Whether you're sleeping in a 270-year-old farmhouse or a steel-and-glass slopeside lodge, the arc of the day is much the same. People talk of it as a place to party, but at its core, St. Anton is a place to ski.

St. Anton is the epicenter of a varied, interconnected ski area that includes St. Christoph, Lech, Zürs, the Stuben Glacier, St. Jakob and more, known as the Arlberg. The Arlberg claims a startling amount of terrain - nine times as much as Vail. The diversity enables skiers of different sensibilities to find what they like, from Lech's impeccably groomed intermediate boulevards to Rendl's trees to St. Anton proper's big moguls or the wide-open spaces of Kapall and Valluga.

Most skiers stick to the region's 111 miles of groomed trails, taking buses to more far-flung ski centers like tony Lech and Zürs, where the slopes are easier to ski and often less crowded. But adventurers willing to hire mountain guides can cover the same ground entirely on skis, skidding carefully off the 9,222-foot summit of Valluga (the region's highest lift-served point) then bounding down big mountain faces before gliding through the serene white spaces of the Austrian backcountry, eventually emerging onto the refined slopes of Zürs. Such guided ski safaris are a signature specialty of the Arlberg region, well within the reach of confident intermediates and above.

Off the slopes, most folks retreat to their inn's "wellness centre, where going au naturel in the diverse array of co-ed saunas and steam rooms is expected. (Even teeny bikinis are not allowed.) Then it's time for a hearty Austrian dinner, usually eaten at your hotel or chalet, at the same assigned table where you eat breakfast and dinner all week. (The typical way to visit St. Anton is to come for a full week - Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday - and to take breakfast and dinner at the hotel.) Those craving a little more tabletop dancing head back out, but many are too tired from all that skiing and choose instead to sip nightcaps in their hotel's bar before slipping under the immaculate white down comforters that cover virtually every Tyrolean bed.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRIP TO ST. ANTON
This historic Austrian village turned world-class ski resort mixes Tyrolean tradition with forward-thinking innovation. More than 9,000 guest beds are divided among 500 chalets, inns and hotels, most of which are family run. Amenities are geared to skiers (as opposed to nonskiing shoppers), yet the dining scene is rich enough that cosmopolitan foodies who've booked their lodgings à la carte can try a different great restaurant each night of the week.

Skiing Snapshhot
St. Anton is best for confident intermediates and above. It's wise to hire an instructor as a tour guide for the first day or two, but choose a certified mountain guide if you plan to head off-piste - even slightly off-piste (skischool-arlberg.com).

Ultimate Adventure
Ski the north face of Valluga then glide through the wilds to the refined slopes of Zürs with guide Andy Vronak (andyvondi@excite.com).

Sleeping
Aparthotel Anton, a chic postmodern slopeside lodge (from $196, anton-aparthotel.com); Himmlhof, a boutique hotel in the center of town (from $98, himmlhof.com); Hotel Post, an elegant full-service classic (from $125, hotel-post.co.at); Hotel Schwarzer Adler, for historic slopeside luxury (from $142, schwarzeradler.com). Prices are per person and include breakfast.

Eating
On Mountain: Galzigrestaurant, for a two-hour gourmet Tyrolean lunch; Hospiz Alm, famous for its ribs, wine cellar and slopeside outdoor deck scene.
In Town: Museum Restaurant, gourmet Tyrolean in a historic building that's also the ski museum; ben.venuto, open-kitchen Tyrolean fusion in a contemporary steel-and-glass space.

Après-Ski
Moosevirt; Krazy Kangaruh; Hotel Post; Anton

Local Secret
The spring skiing here is excellent; book a trip for late March or early April.

Getting There
Fly to Zurich and take a direct train to St. Anton. The two-and-a-half hour trip departs four times daily. Local bus access is included with your lift ticket.




4. St. Moritz, Switzerland: Lavish Living


Dropping into Gucci or Chanel then hobnobbing at the polo match is at least as fashionable as skiing the hundreds of miles of groomed trails around St. Moritz.
By Susan Reifer posted: 01/28/2008

St. Moritz's reputation as a playground for the world's very, very rich is well-deserved. Private jets wing in and out of the local airport like spokes on a wheel, carrying British aristocrats, Italian elite and Russian tsarinas. Few ski destinations can claim even one five-star hotel, but this sunny Swiss lakeside resort boasts five (including the new all-suites Carlton, located in Tsar Nicolai II's former vacation house). Meanwhile, dropping into Emilio Pucci, Gucci or Chanel for a new outfit (or perhaps Bucherer, Cartier or Chopard for some fresh gems), then hobnobbing at the thoroughbred races or polo matches on frozen Lake St. Moritz is at least as fashionable as skiing the sprawling mountain arena's hundreds of miles of immaculately groomed trails.

A typical ski day here involves soaring down broad, spotlessly groomed, sun-washed slopes, riding uphill on high-speed lifts (without waiting in lines) then flying down more perfectly groomed slopes bathed in sunshine - the defining quality of the weather-blessed Engadine Valley. There are G-force pitches, horizontal green runs and every kind of terrain in between. The slopes are rarely crowded, since only 42 percent of St. Moritz's winter visitors ski.

The valley features nine ski areas accessed with a single ski pass. Several of them are contiguous; the rest are connected by bus. Seven trams, three funiculars, one cable railway and 45 other lifts access acreage so immense that even the meticulous Swiss aren't sure how to measure it. This much is certain: Together, the St. Moritz ski areas deliver 217 miles of marked, controlled trails - all of them groomed every night.

The open spaces make the skiing here exhilarating, but the pace is unhurried, and the vibe on the slopes is welcoming and unpretentious. A typical day sees just as many seniors in faded ski clothes as beautiful people in Prada, and just as many kids learning their gliding wedge as helmeted 40-somethings rocketing through perfect carves. Many skiers stop here and there throughout the day to gaze at the expansive mountain vistas while relaxing on semi-reclined chaises, or to sip cappuccino or champagne at a snow bar. Most skiers dine midday on open-air decks where lunch is equally likely to be a slice of wood-fired pizza at a picnic table in the snow or a five-course white-tablecloth meal accented with fresh black truffles. Off-piste skiing here is a rarity. But it's no mystery why the world's elite come here: St. Moritz is a place where everyone, no matter their ski level or income bracket, feels great about life.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRIP TO ST. MORITZ
Split by the lay of the land into two distinct halves, the town feels more urban than most mountain resorts. St. Moritz Dorf, where jet-set shoppers stroll the boutiques on Via Serlas's "luxury mile, climbs the hillside overlooking the lake. St. Moritz Bad, at the lake's foot, hides local gems among its shops, restaurants and hotels. Both offer lift access within a short walk of most lodgings.

Skiing Snapshot
St. Moritz has skiing for all levels. The nine ski areas spread the length of the Upper Engadine and are connected by buses and lifts. Corviglia is nearest to town and offers nearly half the region's terrain, but is also the busiest. Corvatsch, on a broad glacier, is less crowded. Hiring a guide isn't necessary.

Ultimate Adventure
Rocket in a bobsled down the original Olympic course.

Sleeping
Suvretta House, the most exclusive of the five-stars (from $613, suvrettahouse.ch); Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains has great kids programs (from $360, kempinski-stmoritz.com); Hotel Hauser, a three-star in central Dorf (from $234, hotelhauser.ch).

Eating
On Mountain: Mathis Food Affairs, from cafeteria-quick to sit-down formal; Hahnensee, a hidden mountain hut at Corvatsch; Kuhstall, an old cow shed turned bistro.
In Town: Post Haus for nouvelle Swiss gourmet; Veltlinerkeller for local pasta dishes.

Après-Ski
Vinoteca; Roo Bar at Hotel Hauser; Post Haus; Diamond; Cascade

Local Secret
The horseracing set vanishes after mid-February, but the skiing remains great through late April.

Getting There
Fly to Zurich and take the four-hour train or ride the Glacier Express from Zermatt (rail.ch). No need for a car.




3. Val d'Isère, France: Big and Bold Charm


Do you want a village that feels intimate and embracing at the foot of expansive yet seamlessly interconnected slopes? Is convenience king for you? If you answered yes, then go here.
By Susan Reifer posted: 01/28/2008

Giant ski areas - the largest in the world - are a hallmark of French skiing. These sprawling arenas of interconnected lifts, runs and resort centers are so vast that even the brawniest North American resorts look Lilliputian in comparison. (Imagine six Whistler Blackcombs tethered together.) With the comparatively modest 24,000 contiguous skiable acres of Espace Killy out its back door, Val d'Isère is hardly the largest of the French megaresorts (a mere three Whistler Blackcombs). But with its historic Haute Savoie village and 70 years of innovative ski hospitality, its gorgeous wilderness mountainscapes and array of well-balanced terrain, its efficient lift system and propensity for great snow, it might well be the most appealing. Val d'Isère is a French megaresort with soul, and people come here with precisely one purpose in mind: to ski.

A quintessential Val day starts with spilling out of bed in a slopeside hotel or chalet adorned with wood-trimmed balconies and views of the slopes, eating a heaping breakfast of pastries, fruits, eggs, cheeses and cold cuts, then walking the short distance to the nearest lift. Val d'Isère means Valley of the Isere River, and the open headwaters basin that cradles the village is the literal end of the road. Sheer rock faces rise on one side of town, skiable mountain faces on the other. The village is large but feels intimate. The Village Centre, re-faced over the years to better blend modern development with the 17th-century stone-and-timber architecture, butts up against the very foot of the slopes. Lifts have been built in all the right places, and whichever lift is nearest your lodgings is a fine place to start the day, as everything on the slopes connects to everything else.

That said, many start their day on L'Olympique, a 30-person gondola that whisks 2,600 skiers per hour 3,200 vertical feet uphill to the summit of Bellevarde, the starting point of the 1992 Olympic men's downhill. French and British skiers fill the gondolas equally, and the milieu is social and friendly. Atop Bellevarde, Val's expanses open to the eye. The landscape is a crazy quilt of crags, nobs and needles, brown, white and gray - as though God couldn't decide how to shape the mountains here. But even a quick look around makes it easy to imagine that the creator was a skier.

Three primary mountain sectors - Fornet, Solaise and Bellevarde - are linked together by skiable ridges and valleys (and by smart lift systems). Some visitors find an area they like - perhaps Bellevarde's roomy backside basin striped with easy groomers, the Olympic downhill's twists and turns or Fornet's quiet wilds - and stick to it. Others explore Val's open spaces and easy-skiing bowls. This is a skier's mountain times 10, but one that's also friendly for vert-hungry intermediates.

Off-piste advanced and expert terrain lies over every ridgeline, above every basin and within the lower elevations' hardwood and evergreen thickets. Virtually all of it is accessible with easy traverses or short hikes from the lifts. If you can see it, you can ski it. Accessing the terrain of neighboring Tignes and getting back to Val d'Isère before lifts close requires a modicum of planning, but it can be done entirely on skis.

But this is France, so even powder lovers and Zen-like mountain guides stop to eat. Val d'Isère's cuisine isn't as central a feature as Zermatt's or even Chamonix's, but it's still possible to savor duck's leg confit or crème brà»lée a few short strides from the pistes before heading back out in search of fantastic skiing. Which, at a resort of this size, is never hard to come by.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRIP TO VAL D'ISÈRE
Val d'Isère combines the charm of a traditional historic French alpine village with the conveniences of a modern resort. Whether in the Centre Village or one of a half-dozen outlying residential clusters, Val's 30 hotels, 100-odd lodges and dozens of aparrtment buildings and chalets all spill onto lifts. Val racks up 2 million skier days per winter and, unlike St. Moritz, 92 percent of its visitors are here to ski.

Skiing Snapshot
Skiers of all levels can find what they're looking for in Val d'Isère and Espace Killy, but experts will be rewarded with a lifetime of amazing descents. The spacious sprawl is well-connected by a superb lift system, so guides are only necessary if you plan on exploring the ample off-piste offerings.

Ultimate Adventure
Book Patrick Zimmer and his seasoned team from Top Ski to show you a seamless day of nonstop discovery in places you will never otherwise find. Small off-piste groups set out daily (topskival.com).

Sleeping
Le Christiania, a classic four-star hotel in a great location (from $216 per person, hotel-christiania.com); Les Barmes de l'Ours, a ritzy slopeside four-star (from $800 per room, hotel-les-barmes.com).

Eating
On Mountain: La Fruitière, known for its lively people-watching - order the duck confit; Rotisserie des Barmes, a high-end buffet.
In Town: La Casa Scara, Italian with a French twist; Le Christiania, Val's best-kept dinner secret.

Après-Ski
Pier Paul Jack; XV

Local Secret
On a sunny day, pack a picnic from local cheese shop La Fermette de Claudine and enjoy it on the slopes.

Getting There
Fly to Geneva and take a bus for the three-hour drive (alpski-bus.com). For more autonomy, and if you don't mind mountain roads, rent a car.




2. Zermatt, Switzerland: Classic Monuments


This is the place for you if you like resorts that are scenic, upscale, and infused with history. And you think digging into a three-course lunch isn't a bad way to pass a few hours.
By Susan Reifer posted: 01/28/2008

This Swiss shepherds' village turned cosmopolitan mountain resort is home to one of the most recognizable peaks in the Alps: the famed Matterhorn. The towering three-sided spire of jagged rock, crooked at the top like a witch's cap, is such a singular and picturesque peak that all sorts of visitors - skiers and nonskiers, royalty and backpackers, serious alpinists and people who'd rather stock up on souvenirs than break a sweat - come from all corners of the globe to have a look.

Skiers, however, can get more than just a look. They can spend days in the company of the big rock while gliding down broad, treeless trails that seem to be on top of the world. They can coast from Europe's highest lift-served point (12,800 feet) across a groomed glacier with the Matterhorn rising up to greet them and Italy falling away at their feet. They can ride uphill on trains, trams and high-speed quads with the Matterhorn by their side, then head down from the heights - carving like World Cuppers racing a super G or charging through moguls alongside clusters of hundred-year-old alpine huts - all in a tête-à -tête with the scenic summit. Then they can have an epicurean lunch with the famed peak at the head of the table.

In fact, lunching in Zermatt is more than just a chance to refuel - it's a lifestyle. Spending two or even three leisurely, gourmet hours at one of its 38 on-mountain restaurants is as central to the Zermatt ski experience as the presence of the Matterhorn itself. Spoon into fish soup and sip sweet local whites on a deck chaise at chic Chez Vrony. Eat fine pastries amid the rustic shepherd's sheds of Zum See. Cut into the carpaccio at Finderlhof. In fact, skiing Zermatt is a spectacular experience without getting any more complicated than cruising the broad pistes and having a great lunch.

But mountaineering is closer to Zermatt's true spirit than is cuisine, and skiers can experience this by hiring a Swiss mountain guide for a customized experience. Options range from a few hours of lift-accessed intermediate gliding in the Matterhorn's meadows to helicopter glacier skiing. One epic adventure is a tour of the Schwarztor ("black gate), a deserted glacier with deep, dry powder and otherworldly seracs - gnarled thumbs of glacial ice. The tour ends with a glide through a narrow ice canyon and a clamber through an ice cave under the glacier's toe. From there it's a few short turns to the doorstep of Café Blatten, where skiers might find themselves jostling for elbow space with Britain's Prince William as they settle in for a gourmet feast. After all, it's Zermatt, where even a mind-blowing ski adventure ends with a great lunch.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRIP TO ZERMATT
Zermatt is both an authentic Swiss mountain town and a four-season destination for an international clientele. The car-free village (parking is four miles away) is chock-a-block with hotels, bars, chocolatiers, cheese shops and, of course, the stübli-style restaurants where fondue bubbles on every table.

Skiing Snapshot
Intermediates and above will fare best here. Plan to ski one of the resort's four interconnected sections per day. Take the Gornergrat Railway for wide-open cruising with famous views. When the weather is clear, head up the Klein Matterhorn and ski to Cervinia, Italy. For experts wanting to go off-piste, a guide is an absolute must; ski school instructors can guide on-piste only. Opt for a mountain guide from the Alpin Center (alpincenter-zermatt.ch).

Ultimate Adventure
Hire Anjan Truffer from Alpin Center or Prato Borni's Richard Lehner (pratoborni.ch) for a heli drop on Monte Rosa and an epic ski day.

Sleeping
Mont Cervin Palace is the grande dame where royals stay (from $470, seilerhotels.ch); The Omnia offers postmodern luxury with a view (from $320, the-omnia.com); Coeur des Alpes serves up slopeside views (from $225, couerdesalpes.ch). All prices are per room, double occupancy.

Eating
On Mountain: Findlerhof, for carpaccio and traditional rösti; Cafe Blatten, for excellent duck and sightings of royalty; Chez Vrony, for delicate fish soup on a sunny deck.
In town: Le Gitan, for stübli-style rotisserie; Giuseppe, for great Italian; Le Mazot, order the lamb - and reserve far in advance.

Après-Ski
Popperla Pub; Elsie's; Postli; Hennu Stall

Local Secret
Hit the Klein Matterhorn and Trocknersteg early to avoid crowds.

Getting There
Fly to Zurich and take the Glacier Express train to Zermatt. The town is car-free, so no rental is needed.




1. Chamonix, France: French to the Core


The typical Chamonix day? There isn't just one. Chamonix's appeal is anything but North American in style.
By Susan Reifer posted: 01/28/2008

Set at the foot of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak, Chamonix was once a quiet French provincial farming village rich only in its surrounding landscape. These days it's a bustling mini-city that attracts ski bums, rock rats and adrenaline junkies the way Hollywood attracts aspiring stars. And while it's true that le ski extreme was born here in the 1970s, when some gutsy Frenchmen developed a technique that would allow them to ski the radically steep, narrow and exposed off-piste terrain that surrounds Chamonix in abundance, it's also true that skiers of all levels find themselves loving Chamonix without getting anywhere near "you fall, you die territory.

Chamouney, as it was originally called, is tucked into the Eastern border of France, abutting both Italy and Switzerland, a short 50 miles from Geneva on major highways. Mont Blanc rises more than 12,000 feet above town, crowning an upthrust of land called the Mont Blanc Massif - 18 miles long by eight miles wide and covered with more than 50 square miles of glaciers.

A typical Chamonix day? There isn't just one. Chamonix is so dynamic that everyone - international freeriders with fat skis and fatter attitudes, Londoners with winter chalets, fifth-generation local hoteliers and even first-timers - thinks he's having a typical Chamonix day. But Chamonix's broad appeal, while undeniably magnetic, is anything but North American in style.

Chamonix's four main ski areas and three lesser ones are scattered along the 10-mile length of the valley. The diverse array includes nursery slopes for beginners at Le Savoy, La Vormaine and Les Planards; intermediate pistes rolling through mid-elevation bowls at Domaine de Balme and Flégère; bump runs at Brevent and Grand Montets; treeskiing at Vallorcine; and big untamed mountain faces, couloirs and the popular glacial excursion from the dizzying summit of the Aiguille du Midi through the spectacular Vallée Blanche. While covered under a single ski pass, the areas are neither contiguous nor conveniently interconnected. Some lifts are new and fast, but just as many are old and slow. Some queues are nonexistent (even on a sunny powder day) while others - particularly at the upper tram at Grand Montets - are excessively long.

The title of mountain guide is the highest honor in the valley - and visiting the Mer de Glace, France's biggest glacier, in the company of one such guide remains the quintessential Chamonix experience. Most skiers do this by riding a two-stage cable car more than 9,000 vertical feet up to the Aiguille du Midi (the "needle of high noon), which is capped by an even more vertiginous tower and viewing platform. Here, packs of tourists lean into the wind and peer over the edge as skiers, roped to their guides, begin the slippery, meticulous walk down the curving, knife-edge pathway that leads off the rock. The main ski route winds 10 miles down the gentler slopes of the dramatic "white valley, dodging crevasses amidst a panorama of rippled glacial wilds and granite towers before eventually joining with the Mer de Glace. Even with several thousand others making their way down the same valley at the same time, a tour of the Vallée Blanche is an exceptional experience.

But so is walking through downtown Chamonix as alpenglow kisses the already rosy Aiguille Rouge or eating a late lunch of croute au fromage with a glass of mondeuse at a crêmerie hidden in the woods. Chamonix is the birthplace of both skiing in the Alps and the Olympic Winter Games, and it's easy to understand why. Some of Chamonix's exceptional experiences are easier to survive than others, but none are easy to forget.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRIP TO CHAMONIX
Chamonix is a bustling place that manages to serve a broad spectrum of ski society. The cobbled pedestrian center and its patchwork architecture is fun to explore, and delivers lodgings from elegant four-stars to hostels where skiers stack four to a room. Food ranges from haute gastronomie at Hameau Albert 1er to boeuf du jour at McDonald's. In some corners of the valley, sipping wine while reading in front of a fireplace is ample après - but in downtown Cham après can mean hundreds of revelers spilling out of a double-decker bar while a live band rocks the street.

Skiing Snapshot
Intermediates can explore the pistes at Domaine de Balme, Flégère and Grand Montets on their own, but be wary of gridlock in the line-ups for the Grand Montets trams. Don't step off-piste without avalanche safety gear. Advanced and expert skiers should hire a mountain guide from Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix (chamonix-guides.com) for the duration of their trip.

Ultimate Adventure
Tap Denis LeRoi or Christophe Duscastel for a descent of the Pas de Chèvre, arguably Chamonix's most distinguished off-piste route.

Sleeping
Hameau Albert 1er, Chamonix's finest (from $355, hameaualbert.fr); Grand Hotel des Alpes, newly renovated and in the center of town (from $370, grandhoteldesalpes.com); Hotel Excelsior, a three-star in a quiet area (from $96; excelsiorchamonix.com). All prices are per room, double occupancy.

Eating
On Mountain: La Crêmerie du Glacier, famous for their croute au fromage and local wine; La Bergerie de Planpraz, a rustic cafe at Brevent (avoid the cafeterias).
In Town: Hameau Albert 1er, order the tasting menu at this Michelin two-star; La Caleche, a local fave.

Après-Ski
Micro Brasserie de Chamonix; No Escape; L'Aventure; La Terrasse

Local Secret
The upper slopes at Grand Montets often open late after storms. Hit the lower mountain early and be prepared to jump in line.

Getting There
Fly to Geneva, rent a car and drive one hour on major highways. The ski areas are not convenient to most lodging, so renting a car is essential.

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