I am currently out in Ischgl, Austria for the opening weekend of the season. And it feels like February out here. The snow is in exceptional condition and I think everyone must have heard about it because the slopes have been busy as well.
If you haven’t been to Ischgl before then coming during their opening weekend or one of their other concert weekends (Easter and end of season) guarantees you one big party! Over 20,000 people descended on the resort this weekend to get the most out of the great snow and to see the band Gossip play on Saturday night.
It is quite mind blowing to see a world famous act playing in freezing temperatures in a ski resort. As lead singer Beth Ditto belted out the tunes and bounced up and down in her black jump suit she was literally steaming. The huge crowd seemed to love her despite the language barrier proving slightly problematic at times. Although Ditto did try and give German a shot at various times throughout the performance. “How do I say ‘my nose is running’ in German” produced a few laughs.
Although the band attracted a huge crowd, there were just as many people firmly settled in the après-ski bars. I have to say Ischgl probably does the best and most traditionally Austrian après-ski I have ever witnessed. If you have been to St Anton double the craziness and that is Ischgl at about 5pm each day. Euro pop is the name of the game and this weekend the bars were rammed with ski boot clad revelers taking partying to a new level.
With a ratio of around 3 men to every woman there is a bit of a testosterone feel in Ischgl, but despite this and despite the amount of beer and schnapps consumed, the atmosphere is always friendly and you cannot fail to have fun as you dance to the cheesiest music you can think of. As my friend said “it is like chanting German football tunes over trance music”. Well almost!
So the good news is that I have managed to survive the weekend. The skiing has been fantastic and although most people write about the partying in Ischgl, the skiing is actually fantastic. Long runs, an extensive ski area with lots of variation, and you can even ski into Switzerland. I went out with Ski Club Leader Ness Cornborough who knows the resort really well and she showed us all the lesser skied runs so we could get away from the crowds. My all time favourite run is now black number 4 (all the runs are numbered). If you are into black runs no one seems to ski it and the snow on it was fantastic!
So that is it. Nearly time to go home. As always it is a bit depressing leaving a beautiful ski resort, but I think I have done Ischgl proud. I have skied hard, I have partied hard. But before I head off I am sure there is time for one more schnaaps…
Ski Club of Great Britain
Images courtesy of the Ski Club of Great Britain