Livigno, Italy, is opening 2 weeks earlier than planned thanks to the recent snow.
Early ski area openings in Europe, more snow up high, and more on the way.
The Snow Headlines - November 16th
- Arosa, Breckenridge, Davos, Kitzbuhel, Mammoth, Verbier all open for ski seasons.
- French ski season starting this weekend as Tignes and Val Thorens open early.
- Amount of terrain available at individual Alps resorts as much as 60km already.
- Ski travel agency boss claims season start may be "best I can remember".
- Colorado and Tirol go head to head for most areas open in a state/province.
- Davos switches from weekend to daily operation.
- Men's downhill speed opening weekend races cancelled for second straight year.
- Italy's Livigno and Madonna di Campiglio join Cortina d'Ampezzo in opening early.
Yes, there is more snow forecast for Europe, America and Japan!
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The Alps continue to see quite amazing conditions, particularly above 2,000m where pictures have emerged of centres like Arc 1950 buried in snow, and many ski areas now past the one metre (3 feet) mark and a growing number opening early; with several including Crans Montana, Livigno, Tignes, Madonna di Campiglio and Val Thorens going for this coming weekend.
Lower slopes below 1,800m have seen some rain and thawing during a warmer spell in the weather cycle over the last few days, but cooler weather is now forecast again.
"Storms have been piling into the Alps for the last two weeks, with snow accumulations of more than 100cm quite widespread now on the upper slopes. This will ensure a solid base for the winter ahead, and with a lot more snow in the forecast, it's shaping up to be one of the best starts to the winter ski season that I can remember," said Ian McIlrath, Managing Director of travel agency Ski Solutions.
But despite all the snow in the Alps and more resorts opening in Scandinavia, North America is set to overtake Europe for the number of centres open this weekend as resorts open across the continent ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday week.
There has not been so much snowfall here and what is open at all centres is limited, but there has been some snow in most areas, with resorts in Alberta, Canada, posting the most this week – about 30cm.
Austria is just about hanging onto its position as having the most ski areas open in Europe with two more – Kitzbuhel and Schladming, the first non-glacier areas to open, in their cases thanks to snowfarming – taking the tally to nine. Double figures will be reached this weekend with Obergurgl opening and also staging World Cup Men's slalom racing.
There's been more snowfall, if not so much as further west, but the snow is getting deeper on glaciers and the four ski areas in the world with the most terrain open are all in Austria, led by Solden with 60km of slopes skiable already.
One of the big hitters, Ischgl, opens this coming Thursday. It often opens with more than 100km of slopes from, day one, even when it has to make all that with machines, but pics of the resort preparing show a lot of natural snow lying this year.
We now have two French ski areas opening early this coming weekend after Val Thorens announced on Friday (and just after we'd published last week's report) that they were going to join Tignes in opening a week early.
Tignes says they'll have quite a large area open from day one with 1300m of skiable vertical down from the glacier.
Val Thorens plans to initially run their Funitel Péclet, Cascade chairlift and all the magic carpets in the centre of the resort daily from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. with a discounted daily lift pass rate of just €20 for week one!
Conditions continue to be very promising for pre-season with more snow falling and cold weather in the French Alps and still more forecast too.
The first ski area in the Dolomites opened at the weekend with a small high area above Cortina d'Ampezzo opening, joining Sulden in Trentino, which already has 15km of slopes open and is benefitting from all the November snowfall.
Livigno, Madonna di Campiglio and the Presena Glacier have all announced they'll be joining them, opening early this coming weekend.
There are now also lifts and runs open on the Italian side of the border above Cervinia, meaning altogether at least five Italian areas will open this weekend.
The cold temperatures have largely continued this week, although it has been just a little warmer and with less snowfall than the first fortnight of November.
Swiss ski areas that have already opened for 23-24 are reporting great early skiing terrain.
So much so that Davos, which opened last weekend, announced that the Eastern slopes of its Parsenn mountain would be left ungroomed for freeriding, something you don't normally hear promoted in November. There are 15km of groomed runs also open. The resort is also switching to daily operations from this weekend.
Most of the nine Swiss ski centres open so far – including Arosa, Verbier, St Moritz (Diavolezza glacier), Gstaad (Glacier 3000) and Murren, as well as cross country terrain at Adelboden – are only open for weekends in November.
The past week has seen plenty more snowfall and low temperatures with the snowline at around 1500m.
However there's been strong winds too at time which unfortunately led to the attempt to run the first downhill races from Switzerland into Italy between Zermatt and Cervinia having to be cancelled, for the third time, over the weekend, after some great training days earlier in the week. Fingers crossed the women's races can happen this coming weekend.
Crans Montana is the latest to announce an early opening, weekends through November from this Saturday 18th.
Anyone watching the World Cup racing from Levi in Lapland last weekend will have seen pristine winter conditions, although it is a bit nippy – with temperatures -10C to -20C this past week.
Northern Scandinavia is the place to ski at the moment with about 10 areas open now in Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Other than Levi and Ruka most ski areas open are small centres so far but bigger names including the region's biggest Are in Sweden, Finland's Pyha and Trysil in Norway are set to start their lifts running from this weekend.
There's not a great deal of difference from a week ago in Canada with just one more centre opening; Sunshine, to complete the season start hat-trick for all three Banff areas as it joins Norquay and Lake Louise which opened a fortnight ago now. They have all had some snowfall earlier this week, but so far bases remain fairly thin.
This weekend should see Marmot Basin open, a week later than planned, after it saw 42cm of fresh snowfall earlier this week.
The first resorts in British Columbia, including Sun Peaks, are also scheduled to open. However, it has been warmer in the east of the country so it is unclear if anywhere else will be opening there just yet.
More US ski areas have been opening ahead of Thanksgiving, but there has not been much new snowfall in November, and daytime temperatures have been warm in many areas too, so in most cases each is opening with just a mile or two of runs.
Some, including Telluride, have announced delayed opening as a result.
Colorado, however, will hit double figures for the number of areas it has open this weekend (that's more than most countries) and California's season is underway with big players Heavenly and The Palisades opening this weekend.
Utah's season is also due to get started with America's biggest ski area at Park City set to open.
Conditions are most marginal in the East where only Killington has managed to open so far but with just a small amount of hike-to terrain. Maine's Sunday River is opening now though with some runs at its Jordan area.
There is snow in the forecast, across the northern hemisphere, and we'll have more on that next week...