Ski and Spa Holiday: Bad Gastein, Austria

By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photos: Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Skiing Holiday in Austria? There are pros and cons. My skiing holiday this year went to Bad Gastein in Austria, my second time there. It is a very special city with lots of spas and a beautiful skiing area.

One advantage of skiing in Austria is that the national parks and mountains are very beautiful and when the weather is good, the skiing is super nice.

Bad_Gastein_Bjerg_fitness_wellness_world  Bad_Gastein_Bjerge_og_Skyer_S_414X9677Bad_Gastein_snow_landscape_fitness_wellness_world

A special advantage of going on a skiing Holiday to Bad Gastein is, that the city occasionally is having skiing and snowboard events and every year in the beginning of february the city is hosting the Red Bull Playstreets, a freestyle skiing event (for pros) in which the city’s historic centre is the centre of skiing on narrow ramps through and over the city. There is a very special atmosphere and some impressive stunts to look at.

The downside of going skiing in Austria is, that the weather and snow is of mixed quality. If you are lucky the sun is shining and the snow is super, however, in latter years, there has been a lot of wind, fog and grey days. Also warmer weather and less snow has resulted in the base pistes being closed.

Skiing-in-Austria-recommendation:

1) Get ski fit – do ski specific fitness – before going; be ready (for slush or ice).

2) Buy a 5-days-within-7-days lift Card. If the weather gets bad and the lift stations close, you won’t have wasted 30-40 Euros that day. You can always buy extra lift days later if the sun keeps shining.

3) Have a plan for activities, if the weather is poor. Austria has a lot of great spas and public pools. In Bad Gastein there is a large spa; Felsentherme Gastein. Alternatively you can take a train trip to one of the cities close by.

Bad Gastein city
Bad Gastein, until 1996 Badgastein, is a historic old spa town, formerly a fashionable destination visited by royalty and celebrities from all over the World.

The city is known for its spa treatments and idyllic surroundings and there is a picturesque water fall in the middle of the city.

Bad_Gastein_Waterfall_fitness_wellness_world

The water in the springs in the Gasteiner valley contains Radon, gas, which is said to have a healing effect on the body; Radon is absorbed by the skin and by inhalation and boosts the immune system. Spa visits in general soothes several chronic diseases. Wellness and spa treatments are offered several Places in town a.o. 2 km inside an old mine; Gasteiner Heilstollen (healing tunnel).

Bad_Gastein_city_fitness_wellness_world

The city looks impressive from a distance with large majestic buildings from yesteryear. Unfortunately a lot of the buildings have been bought by foreign investors, who have left them to disintegrate, so now the city is a strange mix of beautiful, but worn out buildings and really ramschackle ditto, a ghost town look in places, and more modern, ugly buildings.

Bad_Gastein_bygning_414X0375

Still the town is quite popular among tourists (especially skiers and spa enthusiasts). There are many large hotels with spas, e.g. the grand old Hotel Elisabeth Park, which boasts a pool, spa, beauty salon and a tiny fitness centre.

The city has several cozy and nice restaurants as well as bars, the famous Silver Bullet bar, coffee shops, discos and a casino. Furthermore there is a large super market and several shops.

Bad_Gastein_Wirtshaus_Jaegerstuebl_fitness_wellness_world

Recommended restaurants a.o.:
Wirtshaus Jägerhäusl, a very cozy restaurant with traditional Austrian food and a friendly staff in Tiroler clothes.
Prälatur in Hotel Elisabeth Park. A small à la carte restaurant with a nice atmosphere, they serve Austrian specialties as well as international dishes.
Restaurant Wildbad in Hotel Salzburger Hof, offering international dishes and fine wines and exquisite meat.

Bad_Gastein_Wildbad_salat   Bad_Gastein_Wildbad_salmon_IMG_8211Bad_Gastein_Wildbad_steak_fitness_wellness_world

Wildbad (above), stylish setting, very nice food and a gourmet buffet. A popular place, so you have to book in advance.

Location and journey
Bad Gastein lies in the Gasteinertal in the Salzburg region in the middle of Austria and in the Northern part of the Hohe Tauern National Park; a very beautiful mountain area.

You can fly to Salzburg or Innsbruck and take a bus or go by car.
In Europe you can go there by bus or by car, which is fairly easy.

Ski_and_mountains_Angertal_Henrik_Elstrup

Skiing
Bad Gastein is a part of the Ski Amadé area with  860 km pistes.
With the lift Card you have access to other skiing areas (you have to drive there) e.g. in St. Johann im Pongau, Wagrain and Flachau, Schladming and Maria Alm.

From Bad Gastein in Gasteinertal you have access to five Towns/skiing areas with 202 km pistes; Bad Gastein, Bad Hof Gastein, Dorfgastein, Grossarl and Sportgastein, the latter can be reached by bus or car (1600-2700 m a.s.l., open until late April).

It is a nice area for beginners and intermediate skiers, who wants long outings and there are 24 km Black pistes for advanced skiers.

By the lift station Stubnerkogel there are two popular attractions, a panorama point and a suspension bridge.

Panorama_View_Bad_Gastein_Henrik_ElstrupBad_Gastein_Suspension_Bridge_Henrik_Elstrup

Location: Bad Gastein is 1002 m a.s.l.
Highest skiing: 2686 m a.s.l.
Lowest skiing: 835 m a.s.l.
Lifts: 48
Cross county skiing tracks: 35 km
Number of pistes: ?
Piste kilometers: 202 km

Black:  24 km
Red:  118 km
Blue: 60 km
Green: 0 km

Ski rental: Yes
Ski school: Yes
Accomodation: Lots of hotels, hostels and Apartments.
Dining: Several restaurants.
After skiing: Yes. Many places.
Fitness: Yes. In hotels.
Wellness: Yes. Several places and thermal baths.
WIFI: Yes, most places
Facilities: Shopping/shops, bars, coffee shops, thermal baths, casino.
Activities: Skiing, snowpark, ice climbing, sled tours, ice skating, paragliding, golf, tennis, hiking, wellness.

Bad_Gastein_Stubnerkogel_Henrik_Elstrup

References

You can find more information:

Gastein Ski, Mountains & Spa – the Monte Carlo of the Alps

Gasteiner Heilstollen

Wikipedia.org: Bad Gastein

Activity Holiday: Skiing in Stöten in Sälen in Sweden

By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photo: Henrik Elstrup (aka husband)

First all that ski fitness, then the reward: A skiing trip, albeit a small one.
Activity holidays are great and activity holidays with skiing are even better.
Stöten, the northernmost part of the popular Swedish skiing area Sälen, boast “best skiing in Sälen”, when it comes to terrain. I had to see.

The truth about skiing holidays in Scandinavia is, that they can be cold, grey and costly – it is only in the brochures, it is sunny all year round (luckily not of importance to me).

Stöten light piste at night seen from restaurant Brasseriet Ski Hotel Stöten

Still there are quite a few advantages making Nordic skiing holidays attractive; lots of beautiful snow (and sun, too), lots of snowing, a beginner-friendly terrain, ski in ski out and light pistes …

Stöten chair lift on its way up

and a special Skandinavian ‘cozyness’, when you come from outside with minus 5-20 degr. Celsius and into a hot sauna or fireplace lounge (or tent with dining)!

Vildmarkskåtan restaurant Swedens largest tent

Where?

Stöten in Sälen is a small area with cabins, appartments and a ski hotel and 11 restaurants and diners with rather nice food.
It is situated close to the Sweden-Norway border on the mountain Granfjällsstöten. Closest towns  are Tandådalen, 18 km south-east, and Østby in Norway, 20 km west.

You go to Stöten to ski (in peaceful surroundings), not to go sightseeing or pub crawl … though after skiing from 15-17 at the hotel is recommended; high spirits and motivating music (rock this week).

Ski Hotel Stöten after ski rock music

What?

Stöten is a ski-in ski out skiing center; from the hotel and appartments at Stöten Mitt you can ski directly onto the pistes and to the lifts. Nice.
There are 33 pistes, especially easy ones, and a couple of more challenging ones. Also there are 4 pistes for cross country (20 km).
11 pistes have snowmakers, so there is ‘snow guarantee’.

Stöten in Sälen one happy blogger about to ski

All pistes end close to Stöten Mitt and you can easily find your way around; it is optimal for families with children and skiers at different levels; a nice thing is, that every one can ride together to the top of the mountain, as from here you can ski on either green, blue, red or black pistes (often green pistes are at the base and very short). The area is great for beginners. For advanced skiiers, though, too few challenges and pistes (km).

Restaurant Vaffelstugan

How?

You can go there by bus (ski travel) or drive there by car (I took the Stena Saga ferry from Denmark to Norway and drove from Oslo to Stöten).
There are no train or airplane options (and no busses from the airport).

Stöten snow and skiing

Why?

For snow-lowers: Stöten is a beautiful (off-piste friendly) forest area with fairly long green forest trails. Fine for long weekends. For families with children it is very good.

Advantage: Good service, good food (and it is nice to sit in the Brasseriet restaurant and look out at the World Cup backen piste) and lots of facilities for children.
Disadvantage: Too few challenges for advanced skiers. Not connected to other skiing areas. Only two chair lifts, many surface lifts (T-bar and pommel tow) – some beginners like them, though – and lifts move fairly slowly …

Stöten T bar lift and view of Stöten Mitt

Location: Latitude: 61°15’14.97″. Longtitude: 12°52’49.45″.
Summit, top elevation: 858 m asl (Grandfjällsstöten).
Base elevation: 488 m asl (Grandfjällsstöten).
Vertical: 370 meters (highest in Sälen).
Ski lifts: 18. 13 surface lifts; T-bar/pommel tow (plastic plate). 2 chairlifts. 14 km.
Number of cross country pistes: 4 (3, 5, 5, 7 km – 20 km total, 3 km light pistes)
Number of pistes: 33 (11 with snowmakers and 2 light pistes).
Total km of pistes: 35 km (longest piste 2,6 km)

Black: 5
Red: 3
Blue: 4
Green: 21

Ski rental: Yes.
Ski school: Yes.
Childcare: Yes. Very child-friendly area.
Accomodation: Best Wester Stöten Ski Hotel, cabins, appartments, camping.
Restaurants: 11 restaurants (2 bars) – a.o. Vildmarkskåtan (big tent).
After ski: Yes. 15-17 in restaurant; singer or band. Plus kids after ski.
Fitness: No.
Wellness: Yes. Vattufjäll SPA; a small (popular with kids) pool area, sauna and access to beauty treatmens and massage.
WIFI: Yes.
Facilities: Sports shop, ICA grocery, (small) pool area.
Activities: Snowboard land, ski cross, snowmobile (wild), dog sled, bowling a.o.

Stöten snowmobile trip on the mountain

Ahhh, a nice weekend!

You can learn more from:

http://www.stoten.se
http://www.stenaline.dk/til-sverige/skiferie/stoten
http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden-us/

Fit for Ski or Just Fit? Slide and Glide, It’s a Hit!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Skiing and skiing holidays – as well as every day and leisure time activities –
are much more fun, when you have strength and stamina and don’t get tired or sore.
 Get fit by doing basic training for skiing, ski fitness.

Traditional basic training and fitness, e.g. running, cycling and leg press, primarily involves backward-forward movement in the sagittal plane, while many sports movements including skiing involves lateral, frontal plane movement.

Include lateral movement training, frontal plane training, a.o. slide training and gliding, in your fitness program, then you will have a more all-round training and be better prepared for e.g. skiing.
At the same time you work your core muscles and become more stable, so you reduce the risk of back ache and knee injury.

Here is a video, 1:01 minute, with examples of lateral movement training with three different pieces of equipment: Fitter, slideboard and Flowin. It looks easy, but you work against resistance, so it is a great workout for your muscles and cardiovascular system.
You will work up a sweat! Try one or more of these pieces of fitness equipment in your (ski) training program.

Contract your muscles well to control the movement: Feet and knees must be aligned to avoid inappropriate stress to the knees.
Start with only 5-10 minutes and progress gradually, so you build strength-endurance and improve the technique without hurting the knees during the lateral movements.
Progress to 20-30 minutes over time (weeks/month depending on form and fitness level).

Enjoy!

Ski Fitness for Skiers and Non-Skiers

Ski fitness with fun funtional fitness before skiing in Passo Tonnale“Hey you … are you fit to ski … (and everyday living)?”

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Good general fitness have a positive effect on everything you do,
that includes improving the fun factor, when you go skiing, too.

Top Tip  

Would you like to have better fitness and to shape up?
Would you like to experience skiing enjoyment non-stop?
Take your endurance, strength and balance to the top
with fun functional fitness, jumps and hop, hop, hop.

Here is a functional fitness program for general and ski-specific fitness with intermediate level exercises, hops and jumps.
For intermediate to advanced exercisers.

SKI FITNESS 3

Important notice for skiers: It is best to prepare with a pre-season program well in advance, however, it is never too late to start with some sort of physical preparation. A little is a lot better than nothing!
But do not, unless you are an experienced exerciser/weightlifter, engage in heavy leg work or jumping immediately before a skiing holiday, because you will become very sore and have your skiing (and safety) impaired.

Are you going skiing and have not started preparing yet, then start with a basic program, eg. SKI FITNESS (1) presented in my blog post of November 2011. Enjoy.

Fitness To Go … also for Snow

Kitzsteinhorn Ski Fitness before skiingKitzsteinhorn, 3035 m, Hohe Tauern, Kaprun, Zell-am-See, Austria. Gletscher skiing.

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Whether you ‘just’ want to get into (better) shape this year or you are going skiing soon, here you have an effective express bodyweight program for strengthening muscles and bones; for becoming strong and stable in (almost) no time.

Top Tip 

Work out: Balance, strengthen and hop,
the way to peak; your fitness go way up!
Work out: Up, down, bend, extend and turn,
become strong and stable plus plenty fat burn …

A good workout is not just about having a good program, it also requires good technique.
It is better to do only a few repetitions with a correct, biomechanically sound, technique, than to do as many as possible with a poor, sloppy technique.
You should always feel in control of the movement and have a nice workout experience.
Keep your back straight (normal curvature) and knees and feet aligned. Happy workout.

Your express intermediate workout for everyday living and skiing, enjoy: SKI FITNESS 2.

Green, Blue, Red og Black

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Green, Blue, Red or Black?
All skiers now get ready for that snow attack!
Prepare, get ski fit beforehand, don’t hold back,
Become strong and stable, so you’re right on track.

Top Tip

Oh joy, it is that time of year …
the skiing season is drawing near.
However, are your knees a.o. to you dear?
Your skiing prep starts right now, right here.

However, that is not enough … the pistes are full of #¤%&!/@£$! …
So vital tips for all skiers: 1) Be/ski responsible2) Stay focused and attentive.

Too many have too little fun – and too much soreness and fatique – on their skiing holidays, and far too many get injured. Are YOU going skiing, avoid these (big) mistakes:

1) The bindings are set incorrectly.
2) Drinking alcohol before/during skiing. Do NOT mix drinking (alcohol) and skiing!
3) Fatique and poor shape – it is relatively easy to get started. Try this program (below)

Nordic and Alpine skiing are not quite the same. The first requires extra stamina and dynamic strength-endurance. However, both disciplines requires strength, stability and balance. You can get that with many forms of exercise … choose your favourite …

The best exercise program is the one that gets done, so if you are not used to working out and have limited time, then try this 5-10 min. homeprogram: SKI FITNESS. Start now …