Corporate ski event planners – 5 ways to avoid a therapist

Winter 2022/23 closed with the finest conditions of the season and winter 2023/24 opens with the best snow for many, many years. Is planning a corporate ski event akin to pinning the tail on the donkey or are there crystal balls to help?

1 - Height matters … to an extent

Height matters, but the snowiest ski areas in the Alps aren’t actually the highest. Whilst the highest ski lifts receive a smaller snowpack than other ski areas, they do have the benefit of glacial ice sheets which delivers skiing from September to June in several glacier skiing areas, and year-round skiing in a handful of those. Higher normally means colder, and colder usually means more likelihood of skiing. But don’t be put off by lower lying terrain which can often offer better snow conditions.

2 - Snow records don’t lie

The Atacama Desert is over 5000m above sea level and yet there are parts of it that have never seen rain, let alone snow. Granted that it is something of an outlier, but the snowiest parts of the Alps are a long way from being the highest ski areas in the Alps. Microclimates exist all over the Alps and they greatly complicate the snowfall picture. Historic snow records indicate that the Arlberg / Bregenzerwald regions in Austria are the snowiest parts of the Alps, Avoriaz in France is also high on the charts. Artificial snow helps many ski areas produce respectable depths of snow, but if you need natural snow in the trees, the off-piste and the roof tops during a corporate ski event, then do some research on historic snow accumulations.

3 - Artificial snow nears the real thing

Technical or artificial snow has transformed the business models of many resorts – extending seasons and assuring opening dates (usually), they are an indispensable feature of modern ski areas. It is astonishing the progress they have made in terms of quality of snow. It was only a few years ago that you sped toward the lee of a snow cannon expecting to be launched out of your bindings - it was white, but beyond that the artificial snow was unrecognisable to the stuff from the skies. The snow-making system manufacturers may well be guilty of hype, but whatever they are doing now is a world away from consistencies just a few years ago. I was skiing in the Stubai Glacier in October and continually swerved toward the whirling clouds on the side of the piste – granted it wasn’t Arlberg or Sainte-Foy powder, but it was the next best thing.

4 - Season dates are a good indicator

In the age where everything is photographed and shared, lift companies are aware that the game is up on squeezing every last drop out of a ski season. When St Anton, Val d’Isère or Courmayeur announce their opening dates it is based on a pretty good expectation that the ski area will be open for quality skiing or snowboarding. Season dates change over time, reflecting the peril of climate change, but if Obergurgl is publishing its season dates from mid-November through to May, you can be confident that in a normal year, the ski area will be ready to welcome clients.

5 - Make the most of what cards you are dealt

In 2022 we had teams from the same firm on a corporate ski event in Morzine-Avoriaz at the end of March, with the second team staying a week later. The first group sat on La Folie Douce deck, in t-shirts and rolled up ski pants, the second team were skiing knee-deep powder. In the run-up to the event, the earlier group had seemingly landed the better dates – those riding April powder had the last laugh.

Planning a company ski trip does involve a donkey’s backside, but despite our warming world, event planners who have done their research should be confident of delivering a special corporate event in the mountains. 

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