Piste measuring standard draws closer

17th October 2013, by Abi Butcher

Isola 200 is one of the worst culprits, exaggerating by 123%

Isola 200 is one of the worst culprits, exaggerating by 123%

The International Federation of Lift Operator Associations (Fédération Internationale des Associations Nationales d’Exploitants de Téléphériques or FIANET) has issued a recommendation that all ski resorts measure their pistes directly down the middle.

The “invitation” to standardise measurements comes following a furore in Germany and then the UK, after a digital study of piste lengths by German writer Christoph Schrahe showed resorts over-state the kilometres of pistes they have by an average of 34%. Some areas exaggerated substantially more, such as Les 4 Vallées in Switzerland by 151%, and in France Les Sybelles by 120% and Isola 2000 by 123%.

In September, the UK press picked up on this with the publication of this year’s Where to Ski and Snowboard, which worked with Schrahe to challenge ski resorts on their measurements.

Some resorts told WTSS they were measuring down the furthest edge or measuring in zig zags to mimic the way skiers use a piste, while others measured some runs twice if they were particularly wide or briefly split in two by rocks or trees, claiming that there were in effect two pistes.

But now FIANET has called on European resorts to be more rigorous with their measuring, and use the centre of the piste, the method employed by the International Ski Federation for race courses and by Christoph Schrahe.

FIANET president, Pierre Lestas, said this would put an end to resorts using “rough calculations”, adding: “This recommendation establishes a simple and readable way.”

He added that where a piste is split into two for a short section, only the extra length of the short separate section should be added to the overall length.

Editor Gill, who in September spoke about piste length on BBC Radio 4, welcomed the move, saying: “This is excellent news. The FIANET is obviously a very influential body, and with a French guy as president we can expect its recommendation to carry particular weight with French resort operators.”

He added: “I’ll be talking to some key lift company people at the London Ski Show next week, and I hope to hear that they will be adopting the recommendation.”

FIANET’s recommendation is not a binding instruction to European resorts, but follows a similar edict from the Austrian national association of lift companies last month.

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