News from the snow
Bad Kleinkirchheim Austria
Bad Kleinkirchheim, the famous home to one of ski racing's greatest ever names, Franz Klammer, is located in a sunny little valley in the midst of the Carinthian Nockberge mountains of southern Austria. The area has attracted visitors from times long past and well before recreational skiing was thought of, thanks largely to its thermal springs. There is the Römerbad with its fascinating water landscape and an open-air pool, steaming on cold winter days, which allows you to watch the skiers at the Kaiserburg downhill ski-run. Or, if you prefer a more quiet thermal experience, there is the newly renovated St. Kathrein spa, where many visitors relax in the radon-holding thermal water. Generally abbreviated to 'BKK', its a very attractive resort with some grand up-market buildings interspersed by numerous shops and restaurants. The atmosphere is generally quite cosmopolitan and with three five-star hotels and plenty of wealthy clients, there is always an international air about the place. Bad Kleinkirchheim is also a major centre for international mountain sports competition, including the Alpine World-Cup, the Snowboard World Series and even the European Mountain bike Snow Downhill Cup.
This old spa town, nicknamed BKK, was reborn as a ski resort when one of its sons, Franz Klammer, became the greatest ever name in downhill racing. Linked to St Oswald and best suited to intermediates who will enjoy the wide red runs which predominate.
The skiing continues over on the St Oswald side where the skiing can be accessed by another 4 seater gondola, the Nockalmbahn. There's a good area of snow sure high altitude beginner skiing served by the gondola to ensure skiing throughout the season. More than 70 ski instructors are employed to help their ski and snowboard "students" to improve, and carving fans will also have a very good time. There are two ski schools, situated in different parts of the village.
For expert skiers there are more demanding pistes such as the K 70 FIS run, named after the Austrian "emperor" Franz Klammer. This FIS run is difficult enough to ski, even for professional World-Cup ski-racers, it includes a tricky jump and a steep bottom section. Cross-country skiers will also find a variety of routes at different altitudes. You can choose between runs either 1,100 or 1,900m above sea level, including the Nockalm-Panorama-Run which offers wonderful views of the snowy mountain area whilst cross-country skiing.
Apart from Austrian fayre there are a number of pizzeria, the 'Die Tränke' serving pizza fresh from the oven. At the gourmet end of the scale there are several options including the "Federkiel" restaurant where the chef's talents have been rewarded with recognition by Gault Millau. The fayre includes light Austrian cuisine, daily fish dishes, homemade noodles, whole food and diet menu - in the weight- conscious "Federkiel" you find the calorific value for each meal on the menu.
Discos open daily to 4am include Take five Dancing. A dozen other bars are open to 2am, including The victoria Pub and Club MC99 in the cellar of the Almstube and opening at 9pm. The Brechlstube has live accordion music on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. There's also accordion music at the Groar-Keusch'n.
Weekly events include snowboard shows, demos, freestyle competitions and displays. The main down side for boarders is that the vast majority of the lifts are T Bar drags, but it is possible to get from the bottom to the top of the area's Nockberge mountain by gondola and other swathes of key terrain are accessed by chairs. The terrain is ideal for freestyle cruising.