A trip to the Alps in the winter can mean seeing some truly amazing athletes on the snow. World-class experts head to the mountains to train in their sports of choice - like skiing and snowboarding - but those aren't the only sporting events that take place at high altitudes.
For example, in January, Tignes will be hosting an indoor athletics competition. This event will bring together some of the world's biggest names in sprinting and jumping events, and is sure to provide some exciting moments.
Just some of the competitors planning to take part include pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie. He won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London and a silver at Rio 2016. Sprinter Christophe Lemaitre will also be attending. His achievements include a bronze medal in the 200m at Rio.
Other competitors will include Kafetien Gomis, Benjamin Compaore, Kevin Menaldo and Marie-Amelie Le Fur.
The Tignes Indoor Sprint and Jump is the first international indoor athletics event of the year and it takes place from January 3rd to 6th at the Tignespace facility. The French Athletics Federation has previously used this 5,000 sq metre complex for training purposes and it includes an 80m five-lane athletics track, as well as pits for the high jump, pole vault, long jump and triple jump.
For many competitors, this will be the first time ever competing at such a high altitude - 2,100m above sea level - and this could add an extra challenge for many.
On Tuesday, January 3rd, six men and six women will compete in the triple jump and long jump events. The best two after three jumps will then continue with two more attempts.
Wednesday, January 4th will see local athletes compete for the chance to race against elite sprinters the next day. Events on the 5th will include two heats to decide seeding, followed by a head-to-head quarter-final, semi-final and final.
Finally, the pole vault competition will take place on Friday, with six men and six women vying for the title.29/11/2016
The days are getting shorter and the temperature is dropping. Pumpkin spice lattes have made their way to the coffee shops and Christmas sweets are already in the shops. Some people might believe the autumn months are a sign of a gloomy winter ahead. But for those of us who love snow sports, it's time to find the best deals on ski and snowboard rental and book a holiday in the Alps.
In fact, you don't even need to wait until later in the year to book your snowy getaway. By late October, some of the resorts will already be open, with plenty of snow for alpine adrenaline. So what are the best early season options?
France: Tignes and Val d'Isere
The Grande Motte glacier usually opens in early October. A cable car will whisk you up to an altitude of 3,456 metres, which is the highest skiable point on the glacier. From there, you'll have about 20km of pistes to choose from.
It's probably a bit too early for going off-piste, but if Mother Nature dumps a bit of snow during your visit, you might be in luck for some good powder and even more adventurous options.
The high altitude of Cervinia means that the winter pistes begin to open in late October. The slopes here tend to be a bit more demanding than other locations, so it's ideal for intermediates and above. There will be some opportunity for going off-piste, even early in the season. Cervinia also offers the Plateau Rosa Glacier, which has year-round skiing.
By late October and early November, more snow is likely to fall, connecting the top lift to Laghi Cime Bianche or Plan Maison. And by December, you'll probably find that Cervinia is fully covered in snow.
Austria: Hintertux Glacier
Located in the Tyrolean Valley, this glacier actually offers year-round skiing, but as the seasons change, the extent of options in the region increases.
Hintertux is a great choice for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, and it's a popular for families, as well as experts. It also boasts one of the best and highest freestyle parks in Austria, Hintertux Betterpark at 3,200 metres.
However, we can't forget that places like Tignes are still best known for their snow cover and this particular resort is a favourite with the professionals of the winter sports world. This isn't just because of the terrain that's available, or the fact that is has such a range of high-level competitions every year. Don't get us wrong, that stuff is still really important and is a big part of why Tignes is so popular, but we would hazard that the reason that professionals and novices alike take to the slopes is because it's the only French ski resort opening for almost the entire autumn season. The resort, normally reopens around the last weekend of September, according to On The Snow. During the summer, Tignes has a warmer season skiing operation on the Grande Motte glacier and after this closes, it's just a few weeks later that the early cold season begins.
Close by, Les Deux Alpes opens its glacier ski area, which is slightly different to Tignes, as the latter is covered by real snow, whereas Les Deux is assisted with man-made terrain. However, this is still a viable option for those who are looking to get their skiing fix ahead of the peak holiday time. The glacier area is open for a ten-day period between the end of October and the start of November, which sees an autumn snowsports festival take place in the area that the whole family can enjoy. There are lots of different events to take part in and what's even better is that you can test some new season gear as part of the fun. After this week and a half, the slope closes again until the main winter season begins at the start of December.
There's going to be plenty for you to take part in and enjoy, as the event calendar includes an exhibition of cars and a non-timed tourist rally. This is going to be particularly good if you're just looking for something relaxing to do during the day, because it's free to watch and you can head along whenever you feel like it. An open-air all-day event, the Porsche Savoie Cup takes place between 24th and 26th June and this year marks the tenth edition of the event, making this year something of an anniversary special.
Unsurprisingly, this event is purely reserved for cars that are manufactured by Porsche, but there is certainly a huge catalogue of vehicles to choose from. If you are a fan of the German brand - motorsport and road-going versions - you're going to have a great time watching what is essentially a cavalcade of these cars travelling through Tignes. The moving viewing gallery will run on both the Friday and Saturday of the event and it will be on between 10 am to 6 pm and 8 am and 7 pm respectively, among other activities.
Sunday sees the start of the tourist rally, which is definitely the highlight of the three days and was an instant hit from the inaugural year of the non-timed race. This is basically when members of the Porsche Club in Savoie - and from around the world - come together to enjoy showcasing their own cars and appreciating other people's vehicles. Nearly 200 Porsches take part in this event and cover 500 km of ground during their rally, which includes stops for you to enjoy the different cars. Overall, it creates a convivial atmosphere, that is less about competition and more about appreciating the high-quality performance of these luxury cars.
We were telling you yesterday about how the Grand Motte Glacier is one of the best spots for skiing in late May, but there's plenty more besides for later season skiing. It's true that Tignes isn't open all throughout the year, as it once was, but you can still take advantage of the slopes from mid-June until August for summer sun. Some years - and this really depends on what the weather is like - you'll be able to take advantage of the pistes as late as September, but you really need to check with the resort for this information.
It takes just seven minutes to get up to the base of the Grand Motte Glacier when you take the underground funicular from Tignes. The space itself is great for a range of different skiing capabilities as there are blue, red and black runs, obviously if you're a complete beginner you should start off with some of the easier slopes in the resort. There are a lot to choose from and you'll find solo and group activities that you can take part in to improve your skills very quickly. One of the most popular areas in Tignes during the summer is the North Face run; it's not too steep, but it is quite cold, even in summer, so make sure you have all the gear you need to keep the frost off your bones.
Freestyle skiers and snowboarders are really going to enjoy the glacier snowpark that's open during the summer. Take your turn on its half-pipe, rails, moguls, hip ramp, quarter-ramps and rainbow rails. You'll find a lot of professionals around these parts, getting in their practice for the events that are later on in the year, so you might even spot a couple of famous faces while you're there.