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5 of the best ski resorts for intermediates

3rd December 2015 | Monica Adorno

Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental is Austria's largest lift-linked ski area - ©Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental.

Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental is Austria's largest lift-linked ski area

Copyright: Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental.

Immaculately groomed pistes, top-notch ski schools, picturesque settings and joined-up mileage, (either through plenty of linked red and blue runs or the presence of a ski circuit) are all things that rank highly with intermediate skiers. 

Regular skier Michael Adjaye said, “Great examples of joined-up mileage are in France's Three Valleys resorts - Courchevel, Meriberl and Val Thorens - where you can endlessly explore the different terrain and scenery. And for ski circuits, you can't beat the Sella Ronda in the Dolomites - you can ski it in either direction; it's brilliantly signposted and there are some wonderful mountain restaurants where you can eat your fill of superb Italian food.”

Read on for OnTheSnow’s pick of five more top ski resorts for intermediate skiers:

SkiWelt

Set amid the spectacular backdrop of the Wilder Kaiser mountain range, the SkiWelt is Austria’s largest linked ski area and is home to nine different villages. There is an excellent lift system (91 lifts in total) covering each of the villages and it’s possible to ski all day without repeating any runs.

The whole region is suited to intermediate skiing with over 90% of the terrain classified as easy or intermediate and the runs are wide and well looked after.  As for snow cover, despite the highest point being at 1825m (and the lowest lift at 620m), snowfall is historically reliable. When it’s not, the area’s extensive snowmaking facilities (environmentally friendly snow canons) take care of the rest.

The villages all have an authentic Tyrolean charm and are similar in style yet they do each offer  something unique.  Söll is known for its party atmosphere and you’ll almost certainly find young Brits showing off their drinking prowess.  For something quieter Hopfgarten is a good choice.

Wide-open runs of SkiWelt, Austria - ©SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental

Wide-open runs of SkiWelt, Austria

Copyright: SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental

Serre Chevalier

One of the best resorts in France for snowboarders and just as popular with skiers, Serre Chevalier is known for its beautiful powder and awesome freeride terrain. 

There is an abundance of varied terrain, from tight chutes and wide-open bowls, to open tree-line skiing and steep drop-offs.  And with 250km of piste, there’s enough variety to suit all levels of skiing.

It’s a perfect resort for those who are keen on traditional mountain villages as the resort is made up of a dozen quaint French villages between Col du Lautaret and the historic town of Briancon.  Briancon in particular is a wonderful area to ski, when it gets plenty of sunshine and the snow falls, and has some of the most picturesque runs in Europe.

People used to groan about the cranky lifts but in recent years the resort has seen major investment and improvements in the form of swish gondolas linking more skiable terrain (the villages of Frejus and Chantermerle).

Monêtier is the prettiest village however it’s quiet so it’s best to head elsewhere if partying is high on your agenda.  It’s slopes are emptier than those at the other villages and it has some of the best tree-line skiing in the valley.

So, what makes it good for intermediates? Serre Chevalier has a variety of terrain on which to stretch your skills: wide-open groomers, which are well kept and sign-posted, and will get you accustomed to being back on the snow, as well as more challenging terrain so that you can take your skiing to the next level. The great thing is that there are difficult runs, which can be tackled by less technical skiers as there are bail-out routes on the longer runs if you’re not quite ready for the steeper parts.  A good one to try is the Luc Alphand black run from Chantemerle back to the village.

Plenty of sun and snow in Serre Chevalier - ©Serre Chevalier Tourism

Plenty of sun and snow in Serre Chevalier

Copyright: Serre Chevalier Tourism

Lech

Widely connected Lech has expertly groomed pistes, great signposting, an excellent snow record, and a fun apres-ski scene.

The draw for intermediate skiers is that the whole ski area can be accessed using the Alberg ski pass which also provides access to the St Anton ski area meaning a ski tour is certainly on the cards. While we recommend the skiing at St Anton, Lech is a better base for intermediate skiers because while the slopes aren’t empty they’re quieter than St Anton and better for building confidence.

The terrain consists mostly of wide-open smooth linked pistes.  We rate the White Ring circuit, which connects Lech and Zurs.  From the top of the Madloch chair take the red 33 route, a 5km long run, and follow red 33a to Zug.  Other good options include the runs off the Steinmahderbahn.

The lift system is sophisticated complete with heated seats and perspex covers and queues aren’t bad.  On the downside, it’s an expensive resort, and there are less mountain restaurants than you’d expect from such a well-known ski destination. Bear in mind that it’s a favourite of many regular skiers and draws skiers and snowboarders of all abilities so make sure to book your ski lessons ASAP as these will get booked up a couple of months in advance.

Snow-clad Lech village, Austria - ©Leo Meiseleder

Snow-clad Lech village, Austria

Copyright: Leo Meiseleder

Are, Sweden

Altogether, Are in Sweden is quite a different skiing experience.  Wholesome, natural beauty awaits you, unusual yet delicious cuisine, a whole host of traditional Scandi activities to sample and of course incredibly beautiful people.

As for the terrain, there is something for everyone – steep faces, gullies, heaps of tree-line skiing - it’s varied and challenging enough for intermediate skiers but it also has its fair share of gentle, confidence-boosting pistes. There are a number of parks too – take young ones to the Kids’ Park, which has small knickers and rails, in the Björnen area for their first taste of freestyle riding.  The Family Park in the Duved area features a green and red line – perfect for intermediates – and if you’re feeling very confident then the main Are Snow Park consists of a black line, a red line, a decent rail line, a halfpipe, and a boardercross course.

If you’re the type of skier (and who isn’t?) that relishes the thought of a near empty untracked piste to fly down then you’ll be in heaven.  Visit at off-peak times to get the most out of this wild resort.

Beautiful, untracked pistes in Are, Sweden - ©Åre Ski Resort

Beautiful, untracked pistes in Are, Sweden

Copyright: Åre Ski Resort

Megeve, France                  

The best way to progress as a skier is to take lessons from good instructors. BASS is a top ski school with a base in Megeve, which runs tailored courses for intermediate skiers who wish to develop their abilities on more challenging terrain.  If BASS doesn’t appeal, then there are a host of other schools including small French schools to meet your training needs.

Megeve is known as a family friendly ski resort and it has heaps of suitable terrain for intermediate skiers – more than 70% of the ski area is marked as such.  The skiing is predominantly below the treeline which means that you don’t have to rely on a massive dump of snow for good skiing conditions, however, this is a resort that goes from good to fantastic when the weather is right. Generally, there are lots of interesting areas to explore but we recommend Mont d'Arbois and the front of Rochebrune for intermediates. Feeling confident? Then try the difficult red slopes of La Giettaz.  If you want a more relaxing experience, find mellow runs from Mont Joux and cruise all the way down to St-Nicolas.

Skiing above pretty Megève, France

Skiing above pretty Megève, France

 

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