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Ski and snowboarding season is upon us

2011/11/22 | 517 views |  | Permalink | Source

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In anticipation of the 2018 Olympics, Korean ski resorts add convenience via subways, night skiing and shuttles.Ski season is back. This winter is expected to be a snow-filled wonderland, in which people will be able to ski until spring.

After the declaration of Pyeongchang, Gangwon, as the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Korea was filled with glee and a festive mood. By securing the Olympics, Korea has become the sixth country to achieve a "sports grand slam", hosting international sports events including the Winter and Summer Olympics, the football World Cup and the IAAF World Championships in athletics.

In the run-up to Pyeongchang, the ski resorts that started forming after Yongpyong Resort appeared in 1974 are gearing up for an increase in business. Facing their first season after the announcement of Pyeongchang as the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the ski resorts are working to quickly modify their resorts into "premium" ski resorts. After the number of ski resorts in Korea rose to 17 in 2007, the owners put aside the task of increasing the number of slopes and instead focussed on providing better services for the users. High-end resorts, slopes that are open at night, easy transportation via subways and shuttle bus are a few of the services that are provided. Thus skiers are now checking and comparing the services of each ski resort and choosing the right fit.

This season, the opening date of the ski resorts was two weeks later than normal. This was due to the unexpected rise in temperature that occurred earlier this month nationwide. Yongpyong Resort and Phoenix Park in Pyeongchang both opened on Nov. 16. Resorts in Gyeonggi are to open late this month. Deogyusan Resort in North Jeolla will be welcoming skiers in early December.

Despite the late opening, publicists of each ski resort all seem laid-back. Not only is it because the weather forecast predicts a long winter, it is also because the resorts in Gangwon are excited about Pyeongchang being voted as the host city. Alpensia Resort, in Gangwon, is very optimistic.

"Skiers who visit Alpensia are experiencing the Olympics in advance. We will prepare our best until the Olympics are hosted", said representative Cha In-kyu.

Of the ski resorts, Alpensia Resort, Phoenix Park and Yongpyong Resort are the three places that the Olympic Games will be held. Of the three, Phoenix Park and Yongpyong Resort are the two where visitors will be able to actually use the slopes which the Olympic athletes will be performing on. At Phoenix Park, three freestyle ski and three snowboard events will be held. Aerial and mogul courses will open in late December. The 120-meter (393 feet) aerial ski course and 240-meter mogul course are two that received official approval by the International Ski Federation.

The Rainbow Slope of Yongpyong resort, which first opened in 1999, will be used for the alpine ski events. It is a slope that veteran skiers in Korea should experience at least once. Alpensia Resort in the main stadium will hold the cross-country, ski jump, bobsled and luge events. Though skiers cannot experience the slopes, there are many amenities and skiers stand waiting for it to open.

Alpensia provides slopes exclusively for snowboarders

Though High 1 Resort in Gangwon won't hold any events at the winter Olympics, it is designated as a beneficiary. Instead of holding events, it is expected to have the largest amount of foreign tourists. In addition to the 400 condominium rooms that were added early this year, High 1 Resort has also built a convention hotel with 250 rooms with a fitness center and spa service. In addition, they also added a course with a combination of mogul and curves, providing a thrill similar to that of alpine skiing.

Alpensia Resort has created Korea's first slope exclusively for snowboarders. Konjiam Resort in Gyeonggi, which is known as a premium resort, has increased choices for the "Me-time Pass". The pass which can be bought online, offers lift access for a set amount of time (2, 4, 6 or 8 hours). Also, for students who visit the resort on weekdays, Konjiam Resort is offering special discounts.

Elysian Resort in Chuncheon is also offering a "Flexible Lift Pass", which can also be purchased for a set amount of time. The Hyundai Sungwoo Resort in Pyeongchang will be increasing operation hours for the largest half-pipe course in Korea to midnight on weekends. It is a strategy to become the primary resort for snowboarding fans. There is also a beginners' course.

The scenery of Konjiam Resort's North American-style resort during sunset. The glowing lights of the ski lodge add to the exotic atmosphere.

Icheon Jisan offers a discount on car refueling service for those who purchase season tickets

Jisan Forest Resort in Gyeonggi will be offering refueling discounts at the nearby GS Caltex for customers who purchase season tickets. A double discount with a credit card is available, which allows a maximum of 160 won ($.13) discount per liter.

Bears Town Resort in Pocheon has designated Mondays as "Women's Day", offering a 50 percent discount on lift tickets for those who pay with a Samsung card. Every Tuesday is "Baseball Day", offering discounts on lift tickets for those who come in a baseball uniform.

Oak Valley in Wonju is pushing a different ski training system. A foreign native-speaking instructor and theme lessons for young children are only two examples. Instructors of children will also be in charge of children's day care. Oak Valley's beginners' slope for families is also well known.

Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon has created a ski school exclusive zone. Visitors can register in front of the zone and receive lessons directly.

Meanwhile, convenient services offered by ski resorts are another appeal of winter trips. Konjiam Resort's detox spa service is popular among female visitors. Yangji Pine Resort developed their own thermal water, which will be supplied at the sauna in the resort.

The night view of the mountain top of High 1 Resort, where five slopes begin. Provided by the ski resorts

Free ski subways on weekends

Last year, the arctic cold and heavy snow were not favorable factors for ski resorts. The icy roads kept skiers from leaving their homes. During heavy snow fall, public transportation is the safest method of traveling. Elysian Resort is the place with the greatest advantage with the Baegyang-ri Station on Gyeongchun Line right is in front of the resort. Starting from December, a train will run from Yongsan Station. Korea's first two-story train will lead visitors to the ski resorts, and on weekends there will be free trains.

Vivaldi Park, which has been ranked with the highest number of skiers for five consecutive years can also be reached via rail. A shuttle bus is ready at Obin Station on the Jungang Line and Namchuncheon Station on the Gyeongchun Line.

By Kim Young-ju []

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