Experience these Winter Olympic sports this winter

The XXIV Olympic Winter Games will be taking place in Beijing from 4-20 February 2022. Get ready to watch amazing talent across a variety of disciplines, such as Alpine Skiing, Bobsleigh, Biathlon and Figure Skating. In addition, seven new events have been added to the programme next year, including women’s monobob, freestyle skiing aerials and snowboard cross. Many of the sports can be tried in ski resorts; Heaven Publicity has put together a series of paragraphs to show you how it’s done.

Ice Hockey in Morzine, France
The ice hockey competitions of the 2022 Winter Olympics will be played at the Beijing National Indoor Stadium and at the Wukesong Arena, both of which were constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics. So far, the Canada, USA, China, Finland, ROC and Switzerland teams have qualified for the men’s and women’s competitions, with the remaining teams to be decided in the coming months. Ice Hockey is a way of life for many in the Alps, and no more so than in Morzine in France. Holidaymakers can check out all the action at the Skoda Arena in the village centre, where the Division 2 Morzine-Avoriaz Hockey club play competitive and friendly matches throughout the winter. Players normally take to the ice at about 8pm and matches are made up of three periods that last 20 minutes each with breaks between, allowing fans time to hit the onsite bar. A great evening out for the family, tickets are usually priced at no more than €10 per adult and €6 for children. A seven-night self-catered stay in Morzine during the 2021/22 winter season, in the delightful Chalet La Petite Ourse, which sleeps up to six, is priced from £1,375. Flights and transfers extra.
AliKats Mountain Holidays (0203 514 6012, www.alikats.eu)
Morzine: www.en.morzine-avoriaz.com

Bobsleigh in La Plagne, France
La Plagne is home to France’s only bobsleigh and skeleton track. Even before La Plagne was a ski resort, the locals used to race bobsleighs on the road, where the track is now. Snaking down the mountain under Plagne 1800, it was used for the Albertville Olympic Games in 1992 and has been busy ever since. In recent years, La Plagne has created unique vehicles that allow the public to go down the track. Families and friends (min. height 1.3 metres) can sign up for a session on the Bob Raft, which holds four people and steers and breaks on its own. Reaching speeds of 80 kmph, it’s perfect for those who haven’t tried anything quite like it before (price €48 pp). For guests who have a need for all the speed, then sign up to the Bob Racing (min. age 16). Here, slide behind a qualified driver (up to three passengers) and experience 120 kmph and definite G-force in the bends (€128 pp). A week’s stay, from 11 December 2021, at self-catered Les Chalets des Alpages, costs from £900 total for up to eight people sharing four-bedroom accommodation.
Ski France (0203 475 4756, www.skifrance.co.uk)
La Plagne: https://en.la-plagne.com

Cross-country skiing in Kitzbühel, the Austrian Tirol
Cross-country skiing is the oldest form of skiing and has been contested at the Olympics since the first Winter Games in 1924. Undertaken over flatter ground or rolling terrain, the practice is something that anyone can take up and provides a wonderful way in which to explore an area. With over 60 km of perfectly prepared trails, Kitzbühel in the Austrian Alps is the ideal setting for those in search of an exceptional cross-country skiing experience. Holidaymakers can discover the snow-covered meadows and fields of both the valley and the mountains, with the areas around the Hahnenkamm, Kitzbüheler Horn and Wilder Kaiser easily accessible. Each trail features an impressive selection of mountain huts and restaurants, meaning anyone opting for cross-country skiing in Kitzbühel, can punctuate their experience with delicious Tirolean cuisine. Use of the trails is free of charge, with both professionals and beginners encouraged to take part. However, it is recommended that those new to the activity book an expert guide, with element3 offering private cross-country ski sessions from €100 per person. A seven-night stay in Kitzbühel with Inghams, at Hotel Edelweiss, arriving 8 January 2022, is priced from £979 pp based on two people sharing on a half board basis. Includes return flights from Gatwick to Salzburg and transfers.
Inghams (01483 698099, www.inghams.co.uk)
Austrian Tirol: www.visittirol.co.uk
Kitzbühel: www.kitzbuehel.com 

Ice Skating in Megève, France
Figure skating has been an Olympic event for more than a century and caught the imagination of the British public in the 1980s and 1990’s when Torvill and Dean won Gold and Bronze medals. The Beijing winter Olympics will consist of five ice skating events, all of which will take place in the Capital Indoor Stadium. For anyone visiting the French Alpine village of Megève, a day at the Olympic ice rink at the impressive Le Palais leisure complex is a must. Open year-round, the 1,800m² of ice allows holidaymakers to get their skates on and slide to the rhythm of the music. There are special fancy-dress skating evenings, and there is also the opportunity to try the Olympic sport of curling on the ice rink. During the winter months, there is a second ice rink in operation in Megève, that is in the village centre and open to the elements. Popular as an apres-ski activity, skaters sip mugs of hot chocolate in-between sessions on the ice. A seven-night self-catered stay at Pierre & Vacances’ Residence Le Mont d’Arbois in Megève, in a studio apartment that sleeps two people, during the 2021/22 winter season, is priced from £405 per apartment. Flights and transfers extra.
Pierre & Vacances (0870 0267 145, www.pierreetvacances.co.uk)
Megève: https://megeve.com

Snowboarding in Les 2 Alpes, Isère
Snowboarding is one of the newer events on the Winter Olympic programme, having been first included at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. But despite having only featured at six editions of the games, snowboarding has become one of the most popular and exciting sports at the Winter Olympics. At Beijing 2022, there are 11 events in the snowboarding competition, including mixed team snowboard cross, which will be making its Winter Olympic debut. At Sochi 2014, the visually spectacular slopestyle snowboard events featured for the first time, with Team GB’s Jenny Jones collecting bronze in the women’s event. Four years later at PyeongChang, Big Air made its Olympic debut with Billy Morgan winning bronze. Head to Park Avenue in Les 2 Alpes in Isère to practice kickers, rails, and freestyle any time of year with spectacular views of Mont Blanc. The park can be found at 3,600 metres altitude on the glacier in the summer months and moves down the valley in the winter to 2,600 metres altitude, under the Toura lift. The park is known as a hub for freestylers for a reason, with plenty of boxes, rails, and wall-rides to go after. When more confident, try the half-pipes and superpipe to get some serious air. A week’s stay at the four star Residence Alba with Peak Retreats in January 2022 costs from £271 pp (two-bedroom self-catered apartment) including return Eurotunnel crossing.
Peak Retreats (www.peakretreats.co.uk, 023 9283 9310)
Isère: www.isere-tourism.com

Alpine Skiing in Val d’Isère, France
Alpine skiing has been at every Winter Olympics since 1936 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Downhill skiing is a ski race of speed on an adjusted downhill course that is marked by gates formed by paired poles, set at least eight metres (26 feet) apart, through which the racer must pass. Considered by many to be the premiere event in Alpine skiing, Downhill is without a doubt the most impressive speed discipline. Top speeds can reach up to 100 mph (160 kmph), turns are super engaging and jumps of dozens of metres are common. The village of Val d’Isère is located at the heart of one of the world’s top ski areas. It’s recognised by past and present ski champions for its World Cup racing pedigree and as a key international centre for the highest level of sporting prowess – in particular, Alpine downhill skiing. With its 300 km of pistes, served by 75 lifts, the combined ski area that it shares neighbouring Tignes stretches from 1550m to 3450m. Accomplished skiers can test themselves on the steep Face de Bellevarde. Stay at VIP SKI’s The Farmhouse, a divine property located in the heart of Val d’Isère, Sleeping 10 people in five delightful en-suite bedrooms, guests can put their feet up in front of the roaring open-fire after a busy day on the slopes and enjoy the flat-screen TV and music system or unwind in the underground spa-suite complete with a small counter-current pool and a hammam. A week’s stay, arriving 9 January 2022, is priced from £1,349 pp (down from £1,449 pp, saving £100 pp) based on two sharing. Price includes chalet-board accommodation (cooked breakfast, afternoon tea, three-course evening meal on six nights and canapé reception on the first and last night), coach transfers, and VIP SKI’s chalet service. Book by 31 October 2021 to save £100 pp.
VIP SKI (0203 892 4060, www.vip-chalets.com)

Snowparks in Ischgl, the Austrian Tirol
Ischgl’s snowpark is a state of the art, modern snowpark with creative and innovative kickers; truly creating a space for all levels of riders. With a total of 16 hurdles watch out for their rails/pipes which are super fun. The pièce de resistance must be the big air bag. Maybe the big air jump will be new to some but before or whilst are trying to master flips or rotations, the airbag is basically a god send. Leap onto the airbag, gradually building your confidence and skills before you head to either the blue, red, or pro jumps. Why not hang out at their dedicated relax zone, kick back with a drink and swap tricks and tips with locals and big names. A week’s stay, from 8 January 2022, at the 4.5 star Hotel Solaria in Ischgl with Inghams, on half board basis, costs from £1,379 per person. Based on two adults sharing. Flights and transfers included from London Gatwick.
Inghams (01483 698099, www.inghams.co.uk)
Austrian Tirol: www.visittirol.co.uk
Ischgl: www.ischgl.com

Freeride in Verbier, Switzerland
If the park is not your thing and you want steep and deep, head for Verbier’s Garden of Eden for extreme freeride skiers. Only a short traverse away from any lift, find a heady mix of gullies, rock faces, powder fields and open bowls. Stand atop Mont Gelé for a pick of couloirs or play around underneath Chassoure for some of the most challenging lines in the area. However, for seriously steep, deep powder, it doesn’t get any better than Mont Fort. Verbier is all about natural parks, like the zone under the Lac des Vaux lift. With all of this going on, the snowpark rarely gets crowded; a great place to try the perfectly shaped kickers. Xavier de Le Rue, a resident of Verbier has won the World Boardercross Champion four times and the Freeride World Tour three times. A week’s stay, from 2 January 2022, at the Chalet Berbou, with Ski Armadillo, costs from £7,888 total. Price includes chalet board including daily breakfast, six nights of three course dinners, canapés and pre dinner drinks on first and last evening, afternoon tea on six days and two pairs of carefully selected wines with dinner.
Ski Armadillo (01273 564918, www.skiarmadillo.com)
Verbier: www.verbier.ch

Cross Country Skiing in Pays de Gex
Cross-country skiing has been part of the Winter Olympics since the first Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France. The women’s events then started taking place from 1952 in Oslo, Norway. Cross-country skiing (part of the Nordic skiing family) is the endurance event of the Winter Olympics. In cross-country skiing, competitors use ski poles and strength to propel themselves across undulating terrain along a series of prepared tracks. It requires a unique combination of strength, speed, and endurance. Skiers set off at intervals and race against the clock rather than versus each other, except for the pursuit-style races. In the past year many people have embraced the great outdoors be it through running or hiking. Take these skills and head to the Pays de Gex and its Monts Jura resort this winter. Situated between Switzerland and Jura, the Vattay-Valserine area offers an exceptional international Nordic cross country skiing area with “The Site of Excellence”, label of Nordic France. It has 150 km of cross-country trails, which explains why many international athletes train here. Its immediate proximity to Geneva International Airport (one hour by car) offers clients the opportunity to take a short break or keep an eye out for cheaper mid-week flights and enjoy the quiet mountains, Pays de Gex’s Vattay-Valserine cross-country area offers guests the opportunity to learn this discipline with views across Lake Geneva to Mont Blanc. A two-night stay at 5* www.jivahill.com is priced from £205 pp with breakfast, based on two sharing. Cross country skiing lessons start from 25€/£21 pp for an hour. Ski and boot hire costs from 14€/£11 pp per day. Lift passes cost from €9.50/£8 pp per day. Return direct flights from London Gatwick to Geneva Airport cost from £43 with easyJet
Pays de Gex Tourism visit www.paysdegex-tourisme.com

Ski Jumping in Innsbruck, the Austrian Tirol
Follow in the footsteps, or skis, of Eddie the Eagle and tackle the Ski Jump. In 1988, Eddie became the first competitor since 1928 to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. Towering high above Innsbruck, the Bergisel Ski Jump is a sight to behold. Created by architect Zaha Hadid, the ski jump has now become a tourist attraction and plays host to the third competition of the prestigious Four Hills Tournament every January. An inclined elevator whisks visitors up to a height of 250 metres above Innsbruck within two minutes. The slim tower features a tower-top restaurant and viewing terrace that offers 360-degree views of Innsbruck and the snow-capped mountains. A week’s stay, at new Meininger Hotel, in the centre of Innsbruck, costs from €671 / £ 571 total for two people sharing a twin room. Families, friends, backpackers, and business travellers can look forward to a welcoming, good value stay. The hotel provides single and double rooms, rooms with extra beds, and dormitories.
Austrian Tirol: www.visittirol.co.uk