Yes, size matters: Where to Ski and Snowboard 2014 unveils true length of pistes

When it comes to size, lots of us might be guilty of a little exaggeration now and again. But now Where to Ski and Snowboard 2014 – irrefutably the biggest and best guide to snowsports resorts available – has uncovered the biggest whopper of them all: the long and short of piste measurements.

Drawing heavily on the work of dedicated expert Christoph Schrahe, Britain’s only annual ski resort guidebook can now reveal that most of the well-known winter destinations exaggerate the extent of their pistes by amounts that will shock many snowsports fans.

When choosing their resort, most avid skiers and boarders will factor into their choice the total length or area of the available runs – generally speaking that’s total km in Europe, and total acres in North America. However Where To Ski and Snowboard’s editors have found that the numbers from the resorts, normally compiled by the lift companies, often grossly overstate the figures you get by measuring the slopes in the very sensible way that Schrahe did.

Co-editor Chris Gill, says; “Throughout the time we have been producing this book – perilously close to 20 years, now – we’ve had trouble accepting the claims of certain resorts. Among those that come to mind are Courmayeur and Monterosa in Italy, Les Deux-Alpes in southern France and the 4 Valleys area in Switzerland, in which Verbier is the senior partner. As it happens, two of these cases were resolved over a year ago – the two Italian resorts have conceded that they were exaggerating”.

He continues; “We were intrigued when German writer and consultant Schrahe applied digital tools to measure the pistes of the world’s 50 biggest ski areas. In a small number of cases, such as Kitzbühel, Schrahe’s measurement and the resort’s match closely. However, the majority of the resorts tested were found to have exaggerated the piste extent by amounts ranging from 7% to over 150%”.

Co-editor Dave Watts added; “We find it difficult to believe that all these resorts are simply lying or mistaken about the size of their mountains, so we have made some attempts to find out how they arrive at figures that seem to overstate their piste extents. Currently the 4 Valleys are re-measuring everything and are preparing a report. So we wait with bated breath to hear more. The Grand Massif (Flaine and neighbours) told us that its measurement is almost exactly the same as Schrahe’s but it adds on 57% to take account of the fact that you make turns, rather than going straight down the slopes!”.

Some saints
Where the claimed total more or less equals the measured total
St Anton-Stuben
Some sinners
Where the claimed total is more than double the measured total
Isola 2000
4 Valleys (Verbier etc)
Les Sybelles
Some big areas
Where the claimed total exceeds the measured total by over 50%
Portes du Soleil (Avoriaz etc)
Milky Way
Grand Massif (Flaine etc)

Schrahe also measured the piste km of major North American resort areas and his results enabled the Where to Ski and Snowboard editors to check their extent ratings, which cover both European and North American resorts: only one or two changes were needed. According to Schrahe, Whistler is joint number five in the world league table, alongside Zermatt–Cervinia, both with 252km of runs. There are five other North American ski areas in the top 30 in the world.The book is available from all good bookshops

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