February 11, 2007
Although winter in the Northern Hemisphere technically began in December, it has been a bit slow in actually bringing on the appropriate conditions: falling temperatures and, most importantly, snow! But now that the season has finally arrived, it is fitting to have a look at the options for fanatics of the white stuff.
Where’s the Latvian angle? Our task: to find Latvian skiing options, not just in Latvia but worldwide.
To find Latvians on the slopes the most logical place to look would be Latvia. A long list of hilly districts you can head to is found at SLALOM.lv. Each trase (you can’t call them resorts, the translation would be “run”) has its own Web site, so have a look at each one to get the facts on ski lift working hours, ski rental costs and accommodation options. The site doesn’t only concentrate on downhill ski slopes. Cross-country skiers can also find the best places to go touring on the more level plains. Looking slightly farther afield, if you are looking for a Baltic skiing experience, the slopes of neighboring Estonia and Lithuania have also been included.
Here is a list of the Latvian snowfield Web sites:
If you are interested in more organised ski activities, such as clubs, schools and competitions, the Latvian Skiing Association (Latvijas slēpošanas savienība) site is worth a visit.
Many Latvians are avid skiers, so it’s no surprise those who can afford it head to the Alpine ski resorts in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The central European countries of Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia also offer cheaper skiiing options for those who have a more modest budget. Most Latvian travel agencies offer a wide variety of options to reach the slopes, usually bus tours, but these don’t always need to be exhausting three-day road trips. Travel agencies are happy to organise travel options where you book a cheap flight and combine it with a bus tour to the ski fields. Seems you could head off with other Latvians to any ski slope in Europe.
What about the rest of the world? In the United States, the Chicago Latvian Ski Club organises annual tours to Banff in Canada’s Alberta province. This is all arranged in the fall, but maybe there are still some places left. More information may be found on the Latvian Happy Hour Club site or by sending e-mail to LatvianSkiClub@aol.com
Now for the surprise option. If you’re such a keen skier that you can’t get enough skiing with one winter a year, why not head down under during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer and ski to your heart’s content in Australia.
The Blue Eyes Ski Lodge (Zilās acis) is a Latvian-run facility at Mt. Buller in the Australian Alps of Victoria. There’s just one catch: you need to get the recommendation of a member to stay at the club. But to say hello, just ring the doorbell, there’s always a Latvian or two up at the lodge in winter.
Daina Gross is editor of Latvians Online. An Australian-Latvian she is also Chair of the Education Board of the World Federation of Free Latvians and the translator into English of various books on industrial history in Latvia.
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