Austria issues piste guidelines

26th September 2013, by Abi Butcher

Kitzbühel is already using digital measurements down the middle of the piste

Kitzbühel is already using digital measurements down the middle of the piste

The Austrian national lift company association has issued guidelines on how pistes should be measured.

Earlier this month, Where to Ski and Snowboard 2014 was published with a new chapter “Piste extent — the truth”, detailing how some resorts had been grossly exaggerating the length of their pistes — some by up to 150 per cent.

In compiling their report, Editor Gill and Editor Watts drew heavily on the work of Christoph Schrahe, a German writer and consultant who applied digital tools to measure the pistes of the world’s 50 biggest ski areas.
Some ski resorts are now re-measuring and will report back to us, but Editor Gill explains that Austria has gone further.

“The Austrian national lift company association has recommended that all Austrian areas should use the simple measurement down the middle of the piste, as used by Schrahe, the Arlberg resorts and Kitzbühel,” he said.

“The Zillertal resorts had come into line when we published, but the Hochkönig area has now done the same, and I would expect most areas to toe the line for next season.”

But Mr Gill added: “Heaven knows whether this will encourage the French and others to do the same.”

A survey currently running on our website proves conclusively that skiers and snowboarders care about this issue. More than 80 per cent of our readers say that size matters, and that to choose a resort you need the full facts.

One skiing lawyer said holiday companies should be wary of quoting resorts’ piste lengths until a standard is recognised — for fear of being sued for misleading customers. 

Paul Caddy told WTSS: “This issue is not going away — customers are rightly annoyed by it and holiday companies would be wise to look at this matter urgently and pro-actively…and should shy away from quoting the length of pistes until the resort start to develop recognised ways of measuring the slopes.”

Meanwhile, Vars has been mitigated from overstating the length of its pistes by 152 per cent, following a typing error by Christoph Schrahe in his database. Vars and the Forêt Blanche have a combined ski area of 128 km, instead of 73km as stated in Mr Schrahe’s report — and WTSS 2014. The adjustment meant their exaggeration goes down from 153 per cent to 44 per cent.

To read more about the legal ins and outs of “Piste Gate” visit Paul Caddy’s blog Travelling Pinstripes

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