Resort Profile: Sestriere

By adamrowden, 12 Dec '12 at 12:11

One of the world's pioneering ski areas, and certainly Italy's, Sestriere was built by the Fiat car company in 1934. The mountain-top Possetto hotel first opened through the winter a decade earlier and more lifts and hotels opened before 1934. It was one of the earliest and still one of the highest purpose- built ski stations and was established in Valsusa, an area on the French border where downhill skiing was first taught in Italy by a Swiss engineer, Alfredo Kind.

Today the resort where those lessons took place a century ago, the border village of Claviere, is linked by lift to Sestriere itself in the huge Milky Way. Also connected are its nearest neighbour, Sauze d'Oulx and a dozen small centres on the way over to Montgenèvre over the border in France. Sitting on a sunny plateau, snow cover is guaranteed thanks to both altitude and one of the world's most extensive snow making operations. At the time of its creation it was one of the first resorts in the world with modern hotels and a ski lift system where it was possible to take a family on a relatively economic ski trip - the model copied by the French purpose built centres of thirty years later.

Although a very hi tec and modern ski centre, Sestriere is located in an area of great history and culture, dating back to neolithic sites, but rich in Roman and later remains. Of more interest mid-winter however are the excellent sports, leisure and off-slope facilities this resort offers as well as an excellent lift system and snow conditions made some of the world's best by a combination of altitude and one of the world's largest snow making installations - 900 snow guns in strength. No wonder the resort was selected to stage the Alpine World Championships in 1997 and the 2006 Winter Olympics when it was host to some of the Alpine ski competitions.

The resort has a long history of ski racing from the first Kandahar contests of the 1930s through to the world Championships, nearly 100 international world contests have been staged. The list of great racers who have won here over the decades is astonishing and includes Jean-Claude Killy, Ingemar Stenmark, Pirmin Zurbriggen to name but a few. Alberto Tomba won his first ever World Cup race at Sestrière. The World Championship race runs on the Kandahar Slalom and Kandahar Banchetta are open for good recreational downhillers to enjoy.

On the Slopes

The slopes in the hub of the resort are served using drag lifts and chairs and are in two main areas. These are Sises, which is directly in front of the village and Motta, which is situated above Borgata. If you fancy more variety then head to Motta, which is larger and has a larger vertical. Once across the valley you can grab the gondola and head up from the car park to M Fraiteve. This allows you access to Sauze d’Oulx, Sansicario and the rest of the Milky Way. The return run to Sestriere offers you plenty of blue and red runs down from M Fraiteve.

Expert skiers and snowboarders will be able to take advantage of the steep pistes which are located at the top of both the main areas. If the conditions are good then there is also some cracking off-piste to be had.

Intermediates will want to take in as much as possible, as this resort has plenty to offer. You should also try and explore as much of the Milky Way as possible. The runs in the Motta sector offer more of a challenge than elsewhere, though, so if you fancy testing yourself then head over here.

The Highlights:

- Wide variety of piste
- Easy access to the Milky Way
- Good snow making potential

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