After Val Thorens joined Tignes as the first resorts to open in France last weekend, a dozen more ski areas will open this weekend as resorts start to open en masse. The weather conditions are looking good for a successful start to winter 2010-11 with up to 45cm of new snow reported in the past week. Temperatures have been below freezing too which means that even those resorts not due to open for another week or two have been firing up their snow cannons and laying down a base for the natural stuff to build up on, basically setting them up for the entire season.

Among the resorts opening are several big names including Val d’Isere – meaning that the Espace Killy can open linking it to Tignes.

Les Deux Alpes will also be open and will be showcasing a number of new attractions debuting this Saturday, 27th November. These include the new Sauteet chair lift which will link the Grand Nord ski area (for those who know the resort, this is below la Toura) to the sector of La Fée. There’ll also be new signage throughout the whole ski area making finding your way around easier.

A surprise opening is the Grand Montets ski area above Argentiere in the Chamonix Valley which is opening a week earlier than expected thanks to good pre-season snowfall, day tickets will be at the reduced rate of 25 Euros.

“After a few successive snowfalls, the conditions above 2000m are pretty good for so early in the season. The Bochard gondola and Marmottons chairlift will provide access to skiing up to 2800m.” said a resort spokeswoman. The slopes will close again for the week after Sunday but re-open on the 4th right through to next May.

Meanwhile, although it won’t open for another week, excitement is growing in Courchevel as it’s less than a month until the resort hosts a World Cup race for only the second time in its history – perhaps quite a surprising fact for such an important resort that hosted Nordic events at the 1992 Winter Olympics.

In January 1979, for the only time its history, Courchevel hosted the men’s giant slalom, where one of the greatest champions in history, Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark, a man with 86 World Cup victories to his name, won a resounding victory.

Next month the World Cup is back and the circuit will roll in to the glamorous ski resort for a Ladies World Cup Slalom race on December 21st. American ski superstar Lindsey Vonn and Olympic slalom champion Maria Riesch from the Vancouver Games earlier this year are both expected to compete along with the rest of the world’s elite.

Posted by Patrick Thorne on Wednesday 01 Dec 2010

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