World Ski Awards 2018

In 1993 World Media And Events Limited launched the World Travel Awards and, buoyed by the success of this, launched the World Ski Awards in 2013. It’s only a bit of fun, although I am sure it brings business not only to the organisers but also the award winners. The approach is straightforward: votes are cast online by professionals working within the ski industry, and by ski tourism consumers, at the World Ski Awards website.
World Ski Awards 2018
Every year the awards are associated with a three day networking event, culminating in the awards ceremony, this year held in Kitzbühel over 16th-18th November. World’s Best Winners for 2018 included:

    Ski Resort – Val Thorens (France)
    Freestyle Resort – LAAX (Switzerland)
    Ski Hotel – W Verbier (Switzerland)
    New Ski Hotel – Fahrenheit Seven Courchevel (France)
    Green Ski Hotel – rocksresort, Laax (Switzerland)
    Ski Boutique Hotel – Aurelio Lech (Austria)
    Ski Chalet – Chalet Les Anges, Zermatt (Switzerland)
    New Ski Chalet – Chalet des Cascades, Les Arcs (France)
    Ski Tour Operator – Sunweb

As well as awards for the best in the world, there are also country awards, with votes for the best ski resort in Switzerland going to Verbier.
Verbier from SwissWinterSports

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Ski for Cancer

Arctic Ski RaceAs a keen skier and a cancer survivor, I admire the efforts of Ski 4 Cancer, a charity that provides Alpine respite days and short-breaks for families affected by cancer. Cancer has been affecting a lot of people recently, some of them even need home care from https://homecareassistance.com/burlingame/. They also make grants to relevant care institutions and support research into the positive effects of skiing to prevent cancer and assist in recovery.

Anyway, over this last weekend Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott, Adam Libbey, Chris Brooks, Max Wilcocks and Richard Gibbs in a team called Arctic V took part in what is dubbed the ‘World’s Toughest Ski Race’ in aid of Ski 4 Cancer, sponsored by Columbus Direct. The team hope to raise £30,000 for Ski 4 Cancer, and you can make a donation via Justgiving.
Cross country skiing in the Arctic Challenge
The Arctic Circle Race as it is officially known, is an annual three day competition involving 160 kilometers of cross-country skiing in Greenland, with competitors camping in the back country as part of the event in temperatures as low as -35 degrees Centigrade. In keeping with being in a Green land, the race organisers pride themselves on leaving the race site exactly as they found it.Race 2015
And how did it go? Well the race was called off after two days when very high winds and blizzard conditions descended on Greenland. It was always about the taking part and Chemmy reflected afterwards “Rest, Recovery & Reflection. We conquered the Worlds Toughest Ski race which was both brutal and brilliant at the same time. Please donate to our fantastic charity”.Chemmy Alcott
You have been asked nicely – go to Justgiving or Ski4Cancer’s web site.

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Switzerland

Sir Arthur Conan DoyleSir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, had a long association with Switzerland, even making a claim that he was “the first to introduce [skiing] for long journeys into Switzerland”. On a trip to Switzerland his wife contracted tuberculosis and the family decided in 1893 to move to Davos (in what we call Graubünden but which the French call the Grisons) where the crisp, clean mountain air and the clinics were famous for their impact on the well-being of patients with respiratory problems. Interestingly Conan Doyle was himself an MD, having studied medicine in Edinburgh. To while away the time Conan Doyle, a keen sportsman, tried many diversions. In his autobiography, “Memories and Adventures” (1924, London) he recounts:

“As there were no particular social distractions at Davos, and as our life was bounded by the snow and fir which girt us in, I was able to devote myself to doing a good deal of work and also to taking up with some energy the winter sports for which the place is famous.”

He continues:

“There is one form of sport in which I have, I think, been able to do some practical good, for I can claim to have been the first to introduce skis into the Grisons division of Switzerland, or at least to demonstrate their practical utility as a means of getting across in winter from one valley to another. It was in 1894 that I read Nansen’s account of his crossing of Greenland, and thus became interested in the subject of ski-ing. It chanced that I was compelled to spend that winter in the Davos valley, and I spoke about the matter to Tobias Branger, a sporting tradesman in the village, who in turn interested his brother. We sent for skis from Norway, and for some weeks afforded innocent amusement to a large number of people who watched our awkward movements and complex tumbles. The Brangers made much better progress than I. At the end of a month or so we felt that we were getting more expert, and determined to climb the Jacobshorn, a considerable hill just opposite the Davos Hotel. We had to carry our unwieldy skis upon our backs until we had passed the fir trees which line its slopes, but once in the open we made splendid progress, and had the satisfaction of seeing the flags in the village dipped in our honour when we reached the summit. But it was only in returning that we got the full flavour of ski-ing. In ascending you shuffle up by long zigzags, the only advantage of your footgear being that it is carrying you over snow which would engulf you without it. But coming back you simply turn your long toes and let yourself go, gliding delightfully over the gentle slopes, flying down the steeper ones, taking an occasional cropper, but getting as near to flying as any earth-bound man can. In that glorious air it is a delightful experience.

“Encouraged by our success with the Jacobshorn, we determined to show the utility of our accomplishment by opening up communications with Arosa, which lies in a parallel valley and can only be reached in winter by a very long and roundabout railway journey. To do this we had to cross a high pass, and then drop down on the other side. It was a most interesting journey, and we felt all the pride of pioneers as we arrived in Arosa.”

It was an interesting early example of back-country skiing, and I must admit that I have not attempted to make the journey from Davos to Arosa, by skis. One to add to the list.

Conan Doyle wrote prolifically, and no doubt engendered interest in the English public (or at least a section of it) through his enthusiastic reports on “ski-running”, as he often called it. In an article in the Strand Magazine in 1894 he opined “Ski-ing opens up a field of sport which is, I think unique. I am convicted that the time will come when hundreds of Englishmen will come to Switzerland for the ski-ing season in March and April”. He described the sport as one where “You have to shuffle along the level, to zigzag, or move crab fashion, up the hills, to slide down without losing your balance, and above all to turn with facility.” Whenever I ski the Jakobshorn, I can’t help but think of Conan Doyle energetically moving crab fashion in his tweeds and eight-foot long skis, “occasionally taking a cropper”.
Conan Doyle on skis, with his wife
However Conan Doyle’s most famous association with Switzerland is entirely fictional.

Conan Doyle was frustrated that most of his writing received little attention, except for his Sherlock Holmes stories. As he wrote in his memoirs:

“It was still the Sherlock Holmes stories for which the public clamoured, and these from time to time I endeavoured to supply. At last, after I had done two series of them I saw that I was in danger of having my hand forced, and of being entirely identified with what I regarded as a lower stratum of literary achievement. Therefore as a sign of my resolution I determined to end the life of my hero. The idea was in my mind when I went with my wife for a short holiday in Switzerland, in the course of which we saw there the wonderful falls of Reichenbach, a terrible place, and one that I thought would make a worthy tomb for poor Sherlock, even if I buried my banking account along with him.”
Sherlock Holmes in an illustration for the Strand magazine meets his fate at the Reichenbach Falls
So Conan Doyle placed the demise of his most famous invention, Sherlock Holmes, at a waterfall just outside the resort of Meiringen in his story, “The Final Problem”, published in The Strand Magazine in December 1893. A small museum, below the church near the station in Meiringen, commemorates the association of Conan Doyle with the area. In the story Holmes spends his last night at the Park Hotel Du Savage (renamed by Conan Doyle as the Englischer Hof) before visiting the Reichenbach Falls, where both Holmes and Moriaty meet their fate. At the fictional spot where this happens a plaque in English, German, and French reads “At this fearful place, Sherlock Holmes vanquished Professor Moriarty, on 4 May 1891.”
Lake Geneva
According to his memoirs Conan Doyle also lived in Maloja in Graubünden for a time and in Caux, above Lake Geneva, reached by funicular railway from Montreux.

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Switzerland – the ski destination for smokers!

I’m not sure how far it can be considered a selling point, but for smokers Switzerland is probably the best place to come to and be able to ski or snowboard big, and smoke in peaceful contentment.

A referendum held this month to restrict smoking in enclosed public spaces was roundly rejected across the whole of Switzerland – of the cantons only Geneva voted in favour. Some cantons have introduced these restrictions themselves already, but the Alpine cantons are conservative and resistant to new Federal restrictions.

And of course the cigarette companies are very powerful lobbyists, with many tobacco companies having European HQs in the country. As a result the advertising for tobacco products in Switzerland often portrays smoking very positively and streetside cigarette machines are widely available.

A Maybe never reached the top
Yes or No – shall I jump?

Additionally to being a good place to smoke, Switzerland also has relatively cheap cigarettes and vapes. Generally, people buy vape juice wholesale as most of the people prefer healthy way of smoking rather than using tobacco, which can harm their health. Also booze and petrol are cheaper than neighbouring countries and, people smoke dope pretty openly with current proposals being introduced to make it a misdemeanour rather a serious criminal offence – even Switzerland for all it’s liberal values seems to have a legislature which has a psychotropic response to Cannabis, according to one Green MP. Gambling casinos are common, the sex trade is as honest and safe as the country as a whole. Perhaps it’s time for the Swiss Tourist Board to market itself for it’s liberal views on personal vices!

– Click here for some tips on cannabis web design.

Well perhaps not, but as an occasional smoker could I ask smokers who come to Switzerland to avoid smoking in places where people (particularly children) could be exposed to secondary smoke and please, please, please don’t litter the slopes with butt ends. It is a sobering sight when the snows melt to see the snow-capped mountains be replaced by mountains of cigarette ends around the chair lift stations.

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