It’s official – skiing is not the only way to have fun on your winter holidays ! For those open to a mountain challenge, here we explain the 5 different snow sport categories : the classics, more energetic sports, novel activities, the most fun, and sports on ice. In Méribel, you can discover the snow in lots of new ways and find the activities which suit you best !
■ ALPINE SKIING
This is the most widespread of winter sports and what could be better than two skis, two poles and bent knees, with or without a gracefully planted ski pole (each to his own technique).
And of course you won’t have forgotten there are 600 kilometres of pistes, connected by the peaks, offering experts, novices and families a unique 62,000 m plus of vertical descent. Blacks, reds, blues, greens, a beautiful rainbow of colours lies beneath your feet !
Even if snowboarding is often placed in the same category as downhill skiing, we wanted to set it apart. Because snowboarding is fun, it's offbeat and it allows you to hit the slopes standing diagonally across your board.
■ MONO SKI
An enjoyable, lesser-known alternative to alpine skiing, where both feet are set together on one board, facing forward. Then simply pick up your ski poles and off you go !
All you need are a pair of mini skis ! It’s easier to pick up than skiing, so you can have fun quickly and easily.
With these, you’ll combine adventure, discovery and a chance to get away from it all ! If you are a lover of the great outdoors, here are the best ways of filling your lungs with clean, pure air :
■ CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING
If you have reasonable stamina and enjoy hiking or Nordic walking, cross-country skiing may be just what you’re looking for ! There are two variants : classic and skating, and both allow you to progress over flat or undulating terrain. Méribel, Courchevel and La Tania offer you 90 km of cross-country skiing tracks which take you through exceptional areas.
■ SKI TOURING
This involves elements of both downhill and cross-country skiing. The principle is to go up and downhill on skis using hinged bindings that release the heel for the ascents and fix them securely for the descents. ‘Sealskins’ attached to your skis make it easier to grip the snow and prevent you from sliding backwards, allowing you to climb all the way to the summits ! Try your first climb.
■ NORDIC MOUNTAIN TOURING
This mixes cross country skiing and ski touring, allowing you to go anywhere ! Explore the gentle slopes of forest trails or wide open valleys; you are free to explore the mountains as you wish.
Winter hikers and runners take note ! Come and walk on a mattress of snow with a neat pair of snowshoes on your feet. You can discover the Tuéda pine forest and the Vanoise National Park and walk over untouched snow. Snowshoes = freedom. Take the marked trails or venture off-piste, it’s you who decides. Snowshoes allow you to get close to nature in a silent and genuine way, and view the fauna and flora close up. It’s a beautiful way to get away.
You can also choose to hike under the stars : experience the magic of a sunset in the clear mountain skies and snowy landscapes after night has fallen.
This elegant technique of turning on a bent knee is something we have a soft spot for in Méribel. As a bonus, you can learn with world champion telemark skiers Chris and Phil Lau (no, it’s not a joke). We dare you to try this stylish discipline which offers incomparable freedom of movement.
Are you crazy about cross-country skiing and passionate about rifle shooting ? Your wish has just come true : biathlon combines skiing with precision. And if you are a novice, it’ll be even more exciting to learn something original and fun. Awaken your inner biathlete !
■ SKI JOËRING AND PONEY-SLEDDING
A bit like water-skiing, you are pulled along by a horse for novel thrills on snow. These outing take you off the beaten paths and you’ll delight in the scenery you pass through at a trot or canter.
For smaller children, a miniature version exists: pony-sledding. So all the family will be delighted !
■ FAT BIKE
Yes, you can carry on biking this winter. Fat bikes are mountain bikes with slightly underinflated fat tyres for easy riding on snow. Their grip on snow is impressive and their traction incredible. It’s a novel experience and great fun !
Straddle a “motorbike on snow” and discover the backcountry in a convivial group. Intense thrills are combined with the enjoyable atmosphere of a joint outing.
THE MOST FUN
What’s great about sledding is it’s no longer restricted to the foot of the slopes or limited to little ones. There’s nothing like a sledding outing to unite everybody together. Tear down the slopes in a new way, whether it’s on the specially reserved sledding areas, some of which are themed, or on a ‘snake sled’, by day or by night.
■ TERRAIN PARKS AND FUN ZONES
One thing we love about Méribel is you are spoilt for choice of fun zones. There’s a whole load of jumps, rides and fun for all ages and all tastes. Come and show off your creativity in the fun zones, some of which are educational and tailored to size. Don’t miss the Element Park or Turn and Run, Méribel’s family freestyle zones. And for the freestylers amongst us, rediscover weightlessness and adrenaline in the DC AREA 43, one of Europe’s best terrain parks.
■ OFF PISTE SKIING OR FREERIDE
Put down first tracks, discover new spots and get off the beaten tracks for the unique thrills if offers you... Try off-piste !
But remember : off-piste requires good technique and a thorough knowledge of the mountains and which areas are skiable and weather conditions, plus the right equipment such as a survival kit.
MARVELS ON ICE
■ ICE-SKATING, HOCKEY & ICE GAMES
It’s easy to get the wrong idea about ice-skating and worry about falling or hurting yourself. But you can put aside these fears, glide over the specially prepared surface and work on your balance while having fun ! Méribel possesses one of the biggest 12 ice-rinks in France, so there’s no need to worry about bumping into other skaters... The bonus is that skaters may borrow learning aids for free.