With the Vancouver Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games coming up in February (12th-28th 2010), Skyscanner can report a 71% increase in flight searches to Vancouver compared to last year.
Hosting the Olympics is a big boost to any city; investment in new infrastructure, lift systems and hotels, plus global publicity means that host cities can expect to remain high on skiers’ lists for a long time, as the Olympic legacy lasts for many years.
Skyscanner takes a look at Winter Olympic cities of the past, present and future.
Vancouver itself is a ski city, with three ski areas within the city limits: Grouse, Seymour and Cypress Mountains. Those looking for more can make the two hour journey to Whistler Blackcomb, which is consistently rated as one of the best ski resorts in the world. With over 3000 acres of terrain, and an average snowfall of over 10m per year, Whistler is a very worthy host. Find cheap flights to Vancouver
Several different Italian ski resorts played host to winter Olympians in 2006; Bardonecchia was the site of the snowboarding competitions, Cesana San Sicario held the biathlon and alpine skiing, but the best known to UK skiers was Sauze d’Oulx which hosted the freestyle skiing events. Situated at one end of the lift-linked Via Lattea (Milky Way), Sauze d'Oulx is one of the largest, most popular resorts in the area, offering access to over 400km of pistes. Find cheap flights to Turin
Salt Lake prides itself on having some of the lightest, driest powder in the ski world, with an average of 13 meters of the stuff falling each winter. With four world class ski resorts – Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude, all just minutes from the international airport, Salt Lake is one of the USA’s premier ski cities. Find cheap flights to Salt Lake City
Japan has fast become one of the world’s most alluring winter sports destinations, and with over 400 ski areas, huge volumes of powder snow and a fascinating cultural adventure to boot, it’s not surprising. The land of sumo and sushi has hosted the winter Olympics twice and there are ski areas all over Japan’s four main islands, but the most well known are on Hokkaido, and in Nagano and Niigata. Find cheap flights to Japan
One of Norway’s oldest and most prestigious winter destinations, Lillehammer is packed with ski and snowboard opportunities. Nordseter and Sjusjøen have developed into two of Northern Europe's best cross-country skiing destinations with approximately 350km of prepared trails, including both forested and mountain terrain. The wide variety of alpine slopes at Hafjell (just 15km from Lillehammer itself) makes this the place for downhillers, with 40km of runs and 15 lifts on offer. Find cheap flights to Oslo
The Albertville Olympics were the third time that France had held the games, and some of the country’s best known ski resorts were used as venues, including Les Arcs, Courchevel, Meribel, La Plagne, Tignes and Val d'Isère. These continue to attract huge numbers of British skiers each winter and are known for their extensive skiing, good snow conditions and lively nightlife. Find cheap flights to Geneva
Calgary’s 1988 games are remembered for the appearance of novice Olympians, Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, and Jamaica’s bobsleigh team (as dramatised in the film Cool Runnings). Despite being heavily outmatched by their competitors, they won the hearts of the spectators and the world’s media, much to the annoyance of many superior athletes. Venues for the downhill events included Nakiska which was built especially for the games and remains a popular ski resort to this day. Find cheap flights to Calgary
Though Yugoslavia as a country no longer exists, Sarajevo’s ski areas are attracting increasing numbers of adventurous UK skiers. Bjelašnica was the venue for the men’s alpine skiing, whilst Jahorina held the women’s alpine events. Both ski areas are just a short drive from the Bosnian capital, meaning visitors can ski the slopes by day and explore the vibrant city by night. Find cheap flights to Sarajevo
Lake Placid has actually hosted the Winter Olympics twice (the first time was in 1932) and is well known for both its alpine and Nordic skiing opportunities. The ski resort of Whiteface claims the ‘greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies’ and with 85 trails and 314 acres of skiable terrain, there’s certainly plenty of snow. Real thrill seekers can even join a professional bobsleigh driver and brakeman and ride the Olympic bobsled track. Find cheap flights to Albany
Sitting in the scenic Tyrol region, the city of Innsbruck offers oodles of outdoor fun, and lively nightlife. Surrounded by snow capped mountains, there are several ski areas in the area to choose from including Axamer Lizum, Igls and the Stubai Glacier. Nordpark is the closest to Innsbruck itself; go from city centre to ski slope in just 20 minutes by taking the funicular railway then cable car, but be warned – the ski area boasts one of the steepest runs in the Alps. Find cheap flights to Innsbruck
Russia remains fairly uncharted territory for the average non-Russian skier, but Sochi’s hosting of the winter Olympics in 2014 will change all of that. Krasnaya Polyana is a two hour drive from the city of Sochi and is known for being a favourite of President Putin’s. The terrain is excellent for off piste skiing, with bowl upon bowl of powder and plenty of widely spaced birch forest, meaning Krasnaya will appeal most to adventure skiers looking for challenging slopes. Find cheap flights to Sochi
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