Ski, Snowboard or Cross-Country in Austria - top advice for beginners to experts

Skiing and snowboarding is such an important part of Austrian life that we have devoted a whole section of the website to it. Skiing is the country’s No.1 sport and national obsession. If the National Team Skiers aren’t winning their races on the circuit, this is front-page news, and cause for collective soul-searching. Is it the new skis? Are the boots up to standard? Are the ski technicians getting the mix of wax wrong, or is it that the National Coach is just not up to scratch? Imagine the weight of expectation that sits on every Austrian National Team Skier, or the Head Coach – and multiply that by some, especially if the worst happens – no, not injury, or bad snow conditions across the country – but being beaten in the classic races by the Swiss!

From a spectator perspective, there are a number of opportunities to part of the unique atmosphere that surrounds winter sports in Austria. An unmissable experience is being in the crowd at the Bergisel ski jump in Innsbruck for the New Year’s Day competition, which forms part of the classic ‘Four Hills’ tournament. The next great date is the Hahnenkamm race weekend in Kitzbühel when 40 – 50,000 fanatical supporters pack the area in the Zielschuss of the infamous Streif race-course. Another great event is the Schladming Night Slalom on the Planai, when the impossibly-steep descent into the resort is sprayed until as hard as rock so that the winner needs razor-sharp edges and nerves of steel to be crowned Pistenkönig - the King of the Hill - for the night.
Whilst watching other people ski is great, the true joy comes with clipping up your own boots, clicking them into your own skis or on to your own board, and heading off to the slopes yourself. For this, Austria is world-beating with resorts to match every skier or snowboarder’s dreams. St Anton and the Arlberg is the largest inter-connected ski area in Austria with some of the best skiing and boarding terrain in the world; the Ski-Safari circuit at Saalbach-Hinterglemm offers a range incredible skiing and boarding opportunities that makes it the perfect choice for intermediates and advanced. Resorts like Mayrhofen, Kitzbühel and Zell am See offer extensive skiing but are just as great for non-skiers, and those looking for a winter getaway without taking to the slopes.
Then there are traditional favourites such as Soll, Ellmau, Niederau, and picturesque Alpbach to which skiers and boarders return year after year. Although some resorts such as Obergurgl, Obertauern and St Christoph are ‘snow-sure’ by nature, location and altitude, all the resorts have invested massively in their snow-making capabilities, so you can book with confidence from the first day of the season to the last.
Speaking from the benefit of first-hand experience from skiing in many of the resorts, we can talk you through the specifics of which of the great choice of resorts available will suit you and your party best. Unlike many other countries, where the best skiing is to be found in purpose-built resorts that are really only suitable for skiers or snowboarders, virtually every Austrian resort is great for skiers, snowboarders and non-skiers alike. 
Don’t think that you are bound by the traditional one or two-week holiday duration either. More and more resorts are focusing on the short-break market – and ideal if you only have the chance for a long weekend, or mid-week break to the slopes. Resorts such as St Anton, Lech, Kühtai and Mayrhofen are leading the way on this, as is the city of Innsbruck, where skiers and boarders have nearly 300kms of slopes in the Ski Safari area across several resorts, all within 45-minutes’ travel on the free skibus.
Ski and snowboard holidays are also ideal for families. All the resorts offer tuition split by age group, with instructors specialised in looking after children, and many also offer crèche-facilities for youngsters from 2 years upwards.
Whatever your grade, and pretty much whatever your budget, Austria has a resort to match your requirements – let us help you find the right one for your next trip to the slopes.
The Experience Austria Travel office is open Monday - Friday between 9.30am and 5pm, and on Saturdays between 9.30am and 1.00pm. We are closed on Sundays.
If you are a client travelling overseas, and need to contact us in an emergency situation, you can call our 24-hour Duty Officer Telephone Number: +44 (0)7766 406759 for information and advice.


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