News from the snow
Schladming is a name which instantly brings to mind images of World Cup downhill racing in many skiers' minds . The leading resort in the Steiermark area of Austria and of the Dachstein area of the Tauern mountains is a very well established regional centre, as well as being the centre of the Dachstein Ski area. Schladming was made a town in 1322 and its town square was pedestrianised 672 years later in 1997. A World Cup Downhill was first staged here in 1973 and the Alpine Skiing World Championships in 1982. Today Schladming is a small lively town with a good selection of shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. It has many interesting and picturesque old buildings which add to the ambience of the place.
Schladming was made a town in 1322 and its town square was pedestrianised 672 years later. A World Cup Downhill was first staged here in 1973 and the Alpine Skiing World Championships in 1982. The ski area now links four mountains in the 'Schladming-4-Mountain-Swing' and the larger area includes nine mountains.
The four main mountains of Hauser Kaibling, Planai, Hochwurzen and Reiteralm have been connected by lift since the 1998/99 season. With 170km of linked runs round the resort and 88 lifts, Schladming is one of the biggest ski centres in Austria.
Beginning in Schladming itself, visitors will find two ski areas, linked by the Planai West chair lift which actually goes through a tunnel in its determination to take skiers from the larger and more exciting ski area of Planai over to the gentler slopes of Hochwurzen. There's a gondola up to Planai which most residents in Schladming can walk to the base of, the second access point where the chairs go to Planai or Hochwurzewn is a bus ride out at the edge of the town.
The vast majority of trails on both mountains are intermediate level red runs down through the thick forests. It is good recreational skiing with some excellent mountain restaurants (especially the popular Onkel Willy's near the top of the Planai gondola) in which to relax and contemplate the day's achievements.
Beginners start off on the lifts from day one taking the Planai gondola up the mountain to the nursery area. A second option, after a few days in school, are the lower slopes of Hochwurzen, accessed by chair lift so no need to mess about on T Bar surface lifts.
Intermediates have the entire area to themselves with three quarter of all the runs above Schladming graded red, and two thirds of all in the Ski Paradise Area.
Experts have more limited choice but there are the two World Cup runs and the year round ski area of the Dachstein glacier, about 20 minutes away.
Once children are 4 or 5 years of age or older Schladming begins to look very appealing. Both of the ski schools offer the option of supervised full-day ski kindergarten, and the intermediate level trails around much of the mountain are great fun for kids with a few days skiing on the nursery slopes under their belts.
Italian food is available at a number of outlets in the town, of which L'Osteria da Giorgio is the original, and highly regarded by officionados. Giovanni's is another lively spot for pizza.
The Siglu, Beisl and Hanglbar are often busy and are among several which stay open late. Maria's Mexican tends to attract younger skiers and 'boarders but there are several sophisticated quiet places such as Beisl.
The two discothèques are generally lively, especially the Sonderbar.
Aside from the fun parks the terrain mixes wide open piste with the possibility of back country tours, an then there's also the glacier 'boarding options.
Although the majority of the lifts are T Bars, all of the Paradise Area resorts have access to the upper slopes by gondola and/or chair.
The dedicated Snowboard Schule Dachstein Tauern, based at the Planai gondola middle station organises Snowboard camps, winter and summer on the glacier and runs a shop, supplies demo material and handles rentals and repairs.