Improve Your Skiing By Hitting The Slopes With The Champions

Rupert Mellor, The Guardian, December 13, 2013

snowBilly Kidd and Nelson, Carmichael Steamboat, Colorado, US

It's with good reason that Steamboat, Colorado, goes by the nickname of Ski Town USA. Fifty years ago this season, the Rocky Mountains resort's director of skiing, Billy Kidd, became the first American to win an Olympic medal for alpine skiing, and he gives free clinics at 1pm, at least once a week, on the resort's Heavenly Daze run, as announced by the sign at the top of the gondola. Plus, on selected Sundays throughout the season, Nelson Carmichael, Olympic bronze medallist from 1992, helps guests brush up their bumps technique on the mogul run named for him. Need any more Olympic-standard inspiration? No fewer than six other former Games competitors also work for the resort's ski school.

Nancy Greene, Sun Peaks, British Columbia, Canada

Named Canada's Female Athlete of the Century in 1999, Nancy Greene raised the bar of her country's competitive expectations with Olympic gold and silver in giant slalom and slalom at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, and an unparalleled 13 World Cup wins in two years. Today, she's the director of skiing at Sun Peaks and leads free visitor tours most Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm. You'll find her at the top of the Sunburst Express chairlift.

Glen Plake, Heavenly, California/Nevada, US

The most recognisable skier on the planet, thanks to his dayglo mohican, freeskiing icon Glen Plake can often be spotted on the slopes of his state-straddling home ski area. Every April, he hosts the Gunbarrel 25, a gruelling 25 lap-race of a mogul-covered run; the second target is to complete the most laps in a six-hour time limit. This year's event is open to all, though the exact date and price haven't been confirmed (entry last year cost $35 with a valid lift pass).
• Check for updated details, and to register call Heavenly's Race Department on +1 530 542 5133

Simone Origone, La Thuile, Italy

If your kids are taking the chairlift back up before you've made your first turn, they may be ready to test their mettle against Simone Origone, the fastest skier in the world. With seven world speed skiing titles to his name, the Italian is officially the nippiest non-motorised athlete on the planet, with a top recorded speed of 251.4kmh. Now in its third year, Mini KL is a 1km race for skiers aged between seven and 15 that will take place on an as yet unconfirmed date in January on La Thuile's piste 3 – the course used in the World Cup Super G and downhill events.
• Entry €5, for updated details check or email [email protected]

Matthias Haunholder, Kitzbühel, Austria

Freeride skiing pro and ski movie star Matthias Haunholder is on a mission to challenge his local resort's reputation for ritzy style and raucous après by putting its unsung but excellent off-piste terrain in the spotlight. That's why from 6 January 2014 he is launching Kitzbühel Freeride Weeks, three weeks of freeride ski testing, film screenings, talks and backcountry sessions guided by Haunholder and other pros.
• Three days of guided freeriding, from 6-20 January, costs €344 including safety gear and lift pass. For more information visit

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