Think early season is only about cold, desolate glaciers

It's true that the days are getting shorter and full might of the early winter storms will soon be with us but this weekend, under perfect blue skies the FIS race calendar began and thousands of people took part in the biggest party in the Alps in Solden, Austria.

The glaciers were in great shape with soft Autumn snow, the sky was perfect blue and the race finish area and resort were packed with revellers from right across Europe to open the FIS season.

Empty slopes

Generally at this time of the year the glaciers are very busy at the weekends and wonderfully empty during the week. This offers the chance to get some uncrowded skiing on a Thursday or Friday and then have some apres ski and resort atmosphere on the weekend. Accommodation can be far better value and the conditions at this time of the year can be wonderful.

Christmas markets

Solden will be nursing a sore head today and many of those on the side of the race course for the men's event will have facial colour not unlike the glacial snow. After the men's race today there is an awards ceremony for the best fan club - random doesn't begin to describe some of the performances yesterday on the main street of Solden. And one of the best aspects of this time of the year is that the Christmas markets are just around the corner.

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