Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Exciting times in Meribel

This weekend Meribel will host the FIS Alpine World Cup downhill and super combined race for women. This is a great honour and the excitement is definitely building together with the appearance of marquees at Chaudanne and the marking out of the course. This event will be a great opportunity for Meribel to shine on the world ski stage and will be a superb dress rehearsal for the 2015 Alpine Ski World Cup Finals which Meribel is hosting is 2015. There are many viewing points for spectators and importantly for those who didn't actually choose to be on holiday here  during the event the normal ski runs are unaffected. There are a couple of serious contenders from France so no doubt lots of French flag waving.

World Cup course marked in red - seriously a lot steeper than it looks from across the valley!

In addition to the World Cup event it is the middle of the busy half term period which means an influx of visitors. Luckily due to the sheer size of the area and the efficient lift system the impact is minimal especially with some pre-planning. We skied empty slopes yesterday by starting late and finishing late - easy now it is still light at 5.30pm. Today we skied early and called it a day once the end of the lunch period came around. The other helpful hint is to be flexible, we hit a huge queue at La Masse this morning despite not seeing another skier all the way there. A quick change of plan and we were able to find empty slopes and didn't face any other long lift queues. If you do find yourself at a lift with a queue look out for the "single person only" line which is used to fill up chairs and gondolas not operating at capacity. We find at this time of year the queues seem to form because groups want to travel together not because there is insufficient capacity on the lift.

A welcome additional visitor this week has been sunshine. This season has been remarkable so far for lots of snow and not a lot of sun. It's only mid-week but already the ski instructors have started to take on their usual bronzed appearance and the areas outside restaurants and bars are busy with sun bathers where previously there have been empty deck chairs. Snow is forecast for this weekend which will freshen up the pistes after the half term additional numbers although local knowledge has assured us that when the full moon arrives we will have 2 weeks of glorious sunny weather. We will wait and see.

At last the sun arrives............

Plenty of powder days here

This snow will last all the way to the end of the season and beyond

Finally it is only fair to say that whilst we have lots of snow and now sunshine it it still very cold. This picture was taken last saturday at Chaudanne which is at Meribel centre height. Minus 12 down there meant it was about minus 29 up in Val Thorens where we were skiing. Lots of layers, handwarmers, feet warmers and many hot chocolate stops were required.