Weekend ski and winter sports report, 28-29 January 2012

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – This report is coming to you a bit later than usual as we waited for the ski news to improve and, happily, it has, but it’s not the perfect weekend for beginners. Sunday promises occasional glimpses of sun.

Yes there is snow, fresh snow, throughout much of the Alps, the depth is excellent everywhere and there is good powder. The snow line has been falling since early morning, to 400 metres in some areas.

The less happy news, for those who like blue skies, is that there aren’t any: gray is the norm. And for less confident skiers, whiteout conditions come and go, especially at relatively low altitudes.

In the news: Vaud is studying the option of a super-region that would connect Gstaad-Diableret-Villars-Gryon. The canton has ordered the “Vision Alpes vaudoises 2020″ study that estimates it would cost CHF160 million to build new lifts to link up the resorts and to recreate others, notably in the Glacier 3000 area. Other runs could be closed.

Note that the Vaud Alps resorts share an information web site, which has useful information in English, but if the links don’t take you anywhere try switching to French.

Keep French and Swiss school holiday dates in mind if you’re planning a ski trip in the near future, as the slopes become much busier at these times. Geneva school break starts 11 February, Vaud and Neuchatel break starts 25 February and French schools break at these times depending on their zones.

This weekend Swiss mountain roads are very icy and chains will be needed in more places than usual, with daytime temperatures just above zero then falling at dusk.

Weather forecast

Temperatures will start to fall, with daytime highs of 2 Sunday in most of Western Switzerland. A mixed snow and sun picture: intermittent snow is expected, with occasional sunshine.

Looking ahead, MeteoSwiss says we could be in for one of the coldest snaps in February in years, with highs next weekend already falling, to -6 and -7.

Special activities, offers in resorts this week

Anzeres has a deal worth considering: reserve before 31 January and you can get 20 percent off on several things including a number of hotels and apartments, ski passes, and equipment rentals.

Gstaad kicks off a winter season of 16 concerts at the beautiful old Rougement church, Sunday 29 January.

Leysin/Les Mosses hosts the start of the beautiful Transalp dog races 30 January. This run that covers 160 km of mountain terrain ends 5 February and is one of the highlights of the Alpine purebred Huskies dog race season.

You can now buy package tickets that combine various fun things like fondue dinners with the Villars Night Show that starts 11 February and is on Saturdays and Wednesdays through March.

Jura report

by Shirley Curran

We have another week before the French holidays begin in earnest and we have been favoured this year by great falls of snow. More is expected at the end of the week. As always, it is a good idea to log in to Monts-jura.com and check the webcams to see our impressive conditions for yourself. Snow depth: 120-155cm, depending on the station.

Ed. note: the site corrected Friday evening’s forecast noting that Saturday morning opened with clear skies, although the web cams show clouding over by noon, so definitely check the site for the latest updates.

Alpine resorts

Holding up against the snow - just

Anzere  The snowcross (snowmobile) races as well as the 4x mountain bike on snow races scheduled for Saturday 28 January have been postponed; stay tuned for an update.

Crans-Montana  Mostly open, with little wind in the region. Snow conditions superb.

Gstaad  80% of runs are open, but whiteout conditions throughout much of the area

Leysin  Slopes open, except superpipe snow park, and hints of sunshine. A highlight this winter, with the great snow, is the village toboggan park that features 8 corridors of 150-200 metres and snow tubing, open from 10-20:00

Verbier  Virtually everything open, avalanche risk down to level 2, snow depth at Les Gentianes at 310cm and for the good skiers who love this place, the gray skies won’t matter, although with temperatures at -3 to -10, it’s chillier than it’s been.

Villars  Mostly open, 10cm of fresh snow added to the 235cm depth.