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Sustainable winter sports:
slow winter in the mountains

State-of-the-art infrastructure, heavily groomed slopes with lighting, cleared forests and huge snowmaking systems characterize today’s image in popular ski resorts. Skiers are storming the mountains and lifts, and winter tourism is booming. However, skiing is not exactly environmentally friendly, but rather questionable in times of climate crisis. Climate change is now causing glaciers to melt, the duration of snow cover to decrease and the ski season to start later and later. Due to the lack of snow, most alpine slopes are covered with artificial snow, which consumes a lot of energy and water. More and more reservoirs are being created in Austria and other Alpine regions to operate the snow cannons.

Sustainable vacationing in winter

To make your winter vacation as sustainable as possible, we recommend traveling by public transport and using local public transport. According to current research, the biggest climate and environmental problem is the use of cars in ski resorts, especially for travel to and from the resort. You can also make sure that your winter sports equipment has been produced without toxic chemicals and under fair conditions. To protect the climate, you can also choose sustainable ski resorts and opt for regional and sustainable products in certified restaurants and hotels. Last but not least, it is important to stay on the slopes and trails to protect yourself from avalanches and to avoid encroaching on wildlife habitats.

In order to minimize the environmental impact of mass winter tourism in the future, Alpine researcher Werner Bätzing advocates small-scale tourism that is environmentally and socially compatible. The focus should be on experiencing the mountains with all your senses and doing something good for your health.

Slow winter sports - alternatives to skiing and snowboarding

Instead of getting on your skis or snowboard every winter, you can also discover many sports off the slopes and enjoy the beauty of the mountains (or cities) in a sustainable way.

Snow shoe hiking

Snowshoeing is a slow and leisurely way to wander through the snow-covered landscape on designated trails. In order to make this winter sport sustainable, it is advisable to avoid wildlife rest areas, keep quiet and leave the forest at dusk at the latest. Snowshoeing requires special shoes with large surfaces to prevent your feet from sinking into the snow. Compared to ski or snowboard equipment, snowshoes are much easier to stow in your backpack.

For those who like to hike upwards in peace and quiet, there are countless marked routes for snowshoeing throughout Europe. Spectacular landscapes and over 100 km of groomed snow trails await you in the Dolomites in the north of Italy. You will also find wonderful areas for snowshoe hikes with unique panoramic views in the Nockberge mountains, which extend across parts of Carinthia, Salzburg and Styria, or in the Hohe Tauern. The Carpathian Mountains in Romania, the Korouma Gorge in Finland or the Engadin in Switzerland also offer impressive hikes and plenty of untouched nature.

Snow shoe hiking

Ice Skating

You can ice skate in the middle of cities or in the countryside on frozen lakes. The Zollverein ice rink in Essen, the Riddarfjärden in Stockholm and the Weißensee in Austria are among the most beautiful ice rinks in Europe. At the Grand Palais in Paris, winter sports enthusiasts skate across the huge ice rink with its glass dome roof, while ice skating on the frozen canal in front of Nymphenburg Palace in Munich has been a popular pastime in the winter months for 500 years. The Saimaa lake district in Finland or Lake Reschen in South Tyrol also offer large open ice rinks where you can whizz through nature and experience real ice skating dreams.

Ice Skating on a frozen lake

Cross-country skiing

If you want to try out a completely new movement and cover kilometers at your own pace, cross-country skiing is just the thing for you. However, you first need to learn the transition from walking to running. In addition to a well-prepared cross-country ski trail, you also need good technique, the right posture and the right weight distribution on the cross-country skis to practice this coordination and balance sport properly. When you also get into the right flow, cross-country skiing gives you a liberating, incomparable feeling of well-being. Cross-country skiing can therefore not only be healthy for people, but also for the environment. Cross-country ski trails are made through nature and the route is adapted accordingly. There are many beautiful cross-country ski trails in the Alps. Groomed routes can be found not only in Austria and Switzerland, but also in Italy and Germany: from Seefeld or St. Johann in Tyrol, to the Val di Fiemma region in the Dolomites and Obertilliach in South Tyrol, to Oberhof in the Thuringian Forest or Bodenmais in the Bavarian Forest.

Cross-country skiing


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