With only 72 days until Courchevel opens for the winter season, we’re exploring what’s new for 2018 in this highly popular resort.
Improved Slope Conditions with 115 state-of-the-art eco-friendly snow makers
Located in Les 3 Vallées, the largest ski area in the world, Courchevel offers fantastic skiing in exceptional surroundings. The majority of the ski area is accessible to all, regardless of ability or preference and 80% of the ski area is set above 1,800 metres. This guarantees an optimum snow cover from the start of December all the way through until the end of April.
However, sometimes a little help may be needed on the slopes, and to guarantee the best snow cover from the start to the end of winter, Courchevel employs the very best tools. Its “snow factory” boasts cutting-edge, ultramodern, low energy consumption equipment. This winter, the existing stock of snowmakers have been modernised by 115 state-of-the-art machines, meaning that 75% of the equipment is now “eco-friendly”.
“The idea is mostly to improve the quality of connections between runs, after having identified the zones most in need. Major work has also been carried out in the construction of the new gondola lift on the Moriond snow front”, explains ski area manager Thomas Thor-Jensen.
Ariondaz Gondola Replacement
Indeed, in another of this winter’s major new developments; the old Ariondaz gondola lift and three ski tows in Moriond’s lower section have been replaced by an ultramodern 8-seater gondola lift, which is able to transport 2,400 people an hour. Carried out in line with Courchevel’s minimum visual and environmental impact policy, this has allowed thirty pylons to be removed from the ski area, creating a more scenic and enjoyable ski area for everyone. The lift is the first in France to be lit inside and outside by little LEDs powered by on-board solar panels. The new gondola lift also opens at night twice weekly for tobogganing and skiing for those who just can’t get enough during the day!
3km Toboggan Run
To coincide with the new gondola, the 2017/18 season also sees the opening of a new 3km toboggan run from the summit of the Ariondaz gondola lift to Courchevel Moriond’s snow front. This ultra-fun, illuminated night- time descent guarantees a brilliant time for all, with a “racing”-themed backdrop, 8 tunnels (400 metres of them!) and unusual obstacles. Open daily from 11am until ski area close and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings until 7:30pm. This is in addition to the free, floodlit 2.3 km toboggan run connecting Courchevel to Courchevel Village that is already in operation.
Historic First FIS World Cup Ladies Parallel Slalom
Already a prestigious stage in the Ladies Alpine Ski World Cup, this winter Courchevel is breaking new ground with the 1st ladies parallel slalom in the history of the FIS World Cup. The race will take place on Wednesday the 20th of December 2017, the day after the Giant Slalom event. This particularly spectacular competition format has been until now reserved for men is currently in the testing phase.
“If the tests work out, the International Skiing Federation plans to replace the Alpine combined with the parallel event in the 2021 World Championships”, explains Sports Club Manager Bruno Tuaire.
The Courchevel World Cup, which the resort hosted for the first time in December 2010, is firmly established as an unmissable event thanks to the renowned quality of its stadium and race. It’s one of the favourite stages among the world’s best female skiers including Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Vonn and Lara Gut.
As well as being a major sporting event, the World Cup is also a huge festival boasting a range of entertainment. 18,000 spectators are expected in Courchevel every day to attend the World Cup parallel and Giant Slalom events. Courchevel has also been selected as the French Candidate to host the 2023 Alpine skiing World Championships, which is sure to add to the feeling of excitement in resort this season.
Courchevel Slalom Park
If you want to try your own hand at slalom racing after watching the professionals, Courchevel now offers the opportunity! New for this year is the “Slalom Park” on the Epicéa run – a permanent competition-level stadium that’s open to everyone, ensuring competition skiing remains about having fun first and foremost.
At the same time, the ESF French Ski School is offering the rare privilege of tackling the Emile-Allais slalom stadium, which welcomes the best female skiers on the circuit every year for the Women’s World Cup.
In Moriond, the ESF French Ski School 1650’s competition stadium is now located on the snow front. Situated on the Sainte-Agathe run, it provides spectators with a chance to watch both day and night.
Courchevel Pyrotechnic Festival
International Festival of Pyrotechnic Arts: Star Wars
This year, Courchevel’s famous International Festival of Pyrotechnic Arts returns with a Star Wars theme, which is sure to appeal to the intergalactic fans amongst us. The amazing sound and light show will take place from the 15th of February to the 18th of March and is always a favourite feature of the Courchevel experience.
France’s First Handi-Piste Groomer
This year, Courchevel has the first handi-piste groomer in France. After a trial last season, Antione Motillon, who drives a modified piste groomer with a lever steering system, specially adapted accelerator and winching system, is a full time part of the piste grooming team for this winter.
Courchevel has always been at the forefront of accessible skiing.
75% of ski lifts are adapted for those with reduced mobility and the French Ski School has created a unique and dedicated handiski (sit on ski) area in France. This area is located in the Pralong zone with adapted equipment and easy access
to a ZEN zone, offering users the chance to progress with total peace of
mind. Led by Pierre-Emmanuel Bernoud (a leader in the field of handiski), eight specially trained instructors are also available and committed to offering the very best tuition.
Courchevel Piste Basher
Family Friendly Features
Similarly, home to France’s largest children’s ski area, Courchevel has a lot of treats for the whole family this season! Set within five-hectares, the French Ski School’s Children’s Village in 1850 is a specially equipped, safe “ski area within a ski area”, reserved just for little ones. The incredibly popular medieval village theme from last year is returning this season. Children aged between 18 months and 5 years can enjoy their own castles, 2 slopeside cabins, and a gondola lift, which has been redecorated and christened “Dragovol”.
Children can start learning to ski at just 18 months at the ESF French Ski School 1850 thanks to specially trained teams and adapted equipment. So if your little one can’t wait to join mummy and daddy on the mountain, there’s no place better to get them started! You will also return home with proof of your achievements. Last winter, 2,000 holidaymakers, both children and adults, received a free video commemorating their achievements at the end of a week of
STORY BY MEGAN HUGHES