The Austrian Way: downhill in sybaritic splendor
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Women Outside, Fall 1998
Adeventure Classics: Skiing
GEAR | TRAVEL | FITNESS | HEALTH |
TRAVEL: Fly-Fishing | Rafting | SKIING | Trekking | Diving
In Austria, schoolkids take mandatory weeklong ski vacations, ski instructors are elevated to a status on par with doctors, and nearly every village has its own lift. Such is to be expected of a country tectonically engineered for downhill.
To rub elbows with royalty, head to Lech, the Aspen of the Alps, in western Austria. Part of the Arlberg region (Diana was often sighted here, rubbing elbows with that other unhappy princess, Caroline of Monaco), Lech is a massive resort, with 171 miles of groomed runs. Its size is magnified by four other ski villages that can be reached by a chain of runs, chairlifts, and
As Austrian tradition dies hard, snowboarding hasn’t exactly caught on like wildfire, but it is allowed. Skiing and snowboarding lessons cost approximately $45 per day. If you’re an advanced skier and the snow is fresh, you’ll spend the morning in search of abundant off-piste powder, probably in the vicinity of the RÆfikopf-Bahn gondola. If you’re a beginner or
Beyond Lech: St. Anton
East of Lech is St. Anton, home to the Arlberg Ski School, founded in 1921 by Hannes Schneider, “The Father of Alpine Skiing.” The school is still considered the best in the world. During full-day group lessons (about $45 per person), instructors illustrate the Austrian Way by drawing a wall clock with a hanging pendulum in the snow, showing that your upper body should stay
Moving on to Innsbruck
For a taste of Olympic history, base yourself in Innsbruck, the only city in the world to host the Winter Games twice in 12 years (1964 and 1976). Stay at the Hotel Goldener Adler ($60-$88 per person per night, including breakfast; 011-43-512-571111).
Axamer Lizum, a refreshingly small resort 30 minutes from town, was home to the 1976 women’s Olympic downhill course. To get a feel for skiing on shifting ice and snow, head to the Stubai Glacier, where on a sunny day the allure of the deck chair is powerful. Ski all six of the area’s mountains using the Innsbruck Super Ski Pass ($195 for five days). Spend extra for an
Package deals are by far the most cost-effective way to ski in Austria. Adventures on Skis (800-628-9655) offers a variety of Austria trips; eight days in St. Anton, including airfare from New York, ground transportation, accommodations, and breakfasts and dinners at the four-star Hotel Tyrol, costs $1,237. AustriaSki’s seven-night Innsbruck package ($1,295 per person;