From 9-25 February, keen snow enthusiasts will look towards PyeongChang in South Korea, as the world’s best winter sports athletes do battle in the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, those inspired to try some of the disciplines, such as downhill racing, curling and ski jumping, need not travel so far…
Comprising approximately 80 ski resorts and 3,000 kilometres of pistes, the Austrian Tirol has everything a budding athlete needs. Indeed, Innsbruck, the capital city of the Tirol, and known as the Capital of the Alps, hosted the Winter Olympics twice before, in 1964 and 1976.
With this in mind, here are five top resorts for enjoying the Winter Olympics closer to home.
Go downhill racing in Kitzbühel
Renowned for its Streif racecourse, where the annual Hahnenkamm takes place in in mid-January, Kitzbühel is the perfect resort to celebrate the up-coming Winter Olympics. Join some of the world’s greatest skiers in this beautiful ski town, which often hosts the Austrian ski team as a training ground. Kitzbühel was also the original winter-sports destination in Austria, after Franz Reisch, a ski pioneer, was the first person to ski down the Kitzbüheler Horn in 1893. The resort offers outstanding runs, including the Streif (which can be tackled by skilled members of the public before and after the race), and excellent off-piste for advanced and expert skiers, but the 215 km of runs serves to suit all abilities. Beginners and families can take advantage of the free practise lifts in the valley and will certainly enjoy the Familienstreif family run.
A six-day lift pass costs from €213 per adult and €106 per child.
For more information, visit: https://www.tyrol.com/places/a-kitzbuehel/ski-snowboard
Clip on cross-country skis in Seefeld
Seefeld prides itself as one of the world’s leading cross-country skiing centres, where enthusiasts will find winding trails weaving through striking forests. Seefeld was home to the Nordic events in the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics and will host the 52nd FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2019. Plus, visitors can also give biathlon a go, the Olympic winter sport that combines cross-country skiing with target shooting, at the Cross Country Academy. With an abundance of four-star and five-star hotels, Seefeld is the ideal destination for those searching for luxury. This snow-sure resort offers a number of other winter activities including snowshoe hiking, tobogganing and downhill skiing.
A pre-purchased cross-country day pass costs €10 pp. A part one biathlon course for beginners costs €65 pp.
For more information: https://www.xc-academy.com/en/winter-courses/biathlon-winter/
For more information, visit: https://www.tyrol.com/places/a-seefeld-in-tirol
Leap into Innsbruck on the Bergisel Ski Jump
The regional capital of Tirol, Innsbruck, known as the Capital of the Alps, is an ideal destination to enjoy ski jumping ahead of the Olympics. The Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck was used in the 1964 Winter Olympics for the individual large hill event, and is used every year for the famous Four Hills Tournament. The jump is also an intriguing tourist attraction: redesigned in 2002 by late British Iraqi architect Zara Hadid, it features a restaurant and viewing terrace complete with stunning vistas across Innsbruck. The nine resorts surrounding the city are part of the Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck, an area which incorporates more than 260 km of snow-sure pistes. Included in this immense ski expanse is the world’s only Incity Snowpark on the Seegrube mountain and the Hafelkarrinne couloir run nestled in the Nordkette nature reserve, which, at a gradient of 70 per cent, is one of the steepest in Europe. Both the Muttereralmpark and Rangger Köpfl resorts in Oberperfuss are perfect for beginners and families, with many easy slopes on offer.
Admission to the ski jump arena costs €4.50 for children under 14 and €9.50 for adults.
For more information: http://bergisel.info/en/preise.php
For more information, visit: https://www.tyrol.com/places/a-innsbruck/ski-snowboard
Try curling in Ischgl
Follow in the footsteps of the British curling team, who won bronze and silver at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and have your turn in Ischgl. A trip to this Tirolean village is not complete without experiencing the skilful sport on the magical outdoor rink, also open to ice-skating if you prefer. Learn about the different types of broom, how sweeping works and the teamwork that goes into this strategic event on a smaller scale. Have a break from curling: with 238 km of runs connected by 45 modern lifts, the skiing in Ischgl is immense, and guests will find something for beginners, intermediates and experts. Plus, the resort has a 7 km night toboggan run, open from 7 pm that drops 950 m from start to finish. Ischgl is also famous for its popular music events, most notably the Top of the Mountain concerts which have played host to stars including Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Bob Dylan.
A 60-minute curling session, including a curling lane and stones, or ice-skating, costs €5 per adult and €4 per child.
For more information:www.ischgl.com/en/more/information/ischgl-a-z/ice-skating-curling_az76518
For more information, visit: https://www.tyrol.com/places/a-ischgl/ski-snowboard
Hit the snow parks in Stubai
The Stubai Glacier, which reaches 3,210 m above sea level and is the largest glacier ski resort in Austria, is home to the world-renowned DC Stubai Zoo snow park. Team GB’s Park and Pipe Ski and Snowboarding Olympic hopefuls have used this course repeatedly as a training base for the 2018 Winter Olympics. In November, DC Stubai Zoo was host to the first FIS Freestyle World Cup, which saw Great Britain’s Katie Summerhayes win silver. From mid-December, the park is open to all with the installation of the Medium and Easy line. As one of the most child-friendly resorts, there are many family-orientated activities in the snow park, including the snow obstacle course, snow carousel and Kids’ Line. The Big Family Ski Camp offers trained instructors to look after children as they enjoy the magic of the jumps and bumps.
Entry into snow park is included with lift pass; a six-day lift pass costs €224 per adult and €112 per child.
For more information, visit: https://www.tyrol.com/things-to-do/sports/skiing/ski-resorts/a-stubaier-gletscherbahn-glacier-lifts