What Makes the Perfect Skiing Conditions?

For some people, all that's needed is a pair of skis and an inch of snow and they're away, racing down the slopes and showing off their skills. For others, however, a skiing holiday is all about meeting (and often exceeding) expectations. Every skier has that dream image in their heads - of thick coverings of fresh snow, of bright sunshine, of lush mountain backdrops, and of sipping hot chocolate in the classic lodge - but what is it that really makes the perfect skiing conditions?

Fresh Powder

There are many different types of snow, ranging from the freshly fallen powder right through to watery slush, but powder is arguably the best type of snow for both professional skiers and complete novices. The soft, almost pillow-like covering encourages the more experienced of skier to pick up the speed to avoid sinking into the powder, pushing the limits and creating new challenges, while beginners will appreciate the softness as they get the grips with schussing down the bunny slope. Research shows that fewer injuries occur on powder snow (1), making it a great choice for all skill levels.

Temperatures Between -6 and -1 Degrees

With climate change well and truly underway, it's not always easy to predict the weather for a skiing holiday, but perfect winter sporting conditions are often found in temperatures between -6 and -1 degrees celsius. This is the point where it's not so cold that skiing becomes uncomfortable, and yet not warm enough that the snow begins to melt. Slightly warmer temperatures are also very workable, producing corn snow that softens in the day to a silky, glossy covering, and freezes again overnight. However, high temperatures produce very poor skiing conditions, as seen at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver when snow had to be imported from a nearby park (2) to replace the thawing ice.

Amazing Scenery

While a breathtaking backdrop isn't essential for skiing, it certainly makes a skiing holiday all the more memorable, and definitely contributes towards perfect winter sport conditions. Whether it's the rugged and raw natural beauty of Chamonix's Mont Blanc or the incredible mountains of Zermatt, there's nothing better than viewing some of the world's most beautiful destinations from the unique vantage point of the slopes. Interestingly, a study looking at the reasons for resort choice found that more skiers placed scenery above snow conditions when deciding on a location (3), showing just how important the landscape really is. While 73 percent of those surveyed cited snow quality as the deciding factor, 77 percent claimed they were there because of the backdrop.

For the best chance of that picture perfect skiing holiday, and for the greatest opportunities for practicing those Alpine skiing skills, it's recommended that skiers travel at optimal times of the year and seek out the best resorts and destinations to really make the most of their trip.

1) http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/7886462

2) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/02/100212-vancouver-2010-warmest-winter-olympics/

3) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00267-011-9734-0#page-1