Gigantic! The 7 wonders of the skiing world

29/04/2024 - SnowTrex

The classical wonders of the ancient world were gigantic structures. They were so large and unique that their construction by human hands literally borders on a miracle. However, there are not only some incredible construction projects and impressive landmarks on and off the slopes at these historical sites, but also in modern ski resorts. Reason enough for SnowTrex to select the 7 wonders of the skiing world.

The Matterhorn is one of the world’s most famous mountains and therefore also the symbol of Switzerland

1. Mountain fascination – The Swiss Matterhorn

Hardly any other mountain in Europe fascinates as much as the 4,478 metre-high Matterhorn. Switzerland’s landmark with its striking peak characterises its surroundings and the ski resort of Zermatt like no other. No matter where visitors are here, whether in the valley or directly in the ski area, the mountain can be seen from almost everywhere and was even shortlisted as a World Natural Wonder in 2009. At that time, the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” foundation called on the world’s population to nominate candidates for the 7 Wonders of Nature. A panel of experts led by former UNESCO Director Federico Mayor selected the Matterhorn as one of the 28 finalists. And even though Monte Cervino, as the Matterhorn is known in Italy, did not ultimately make it onto the official list of the 7 Wonders of the World, it is undoubtedly a geological wonder for all keen mountaineers.

2. Icy accommodation – The Ice Hotel in Sweden

The mother of all igloo villages is located in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. The “Ice Hotel Jukkasjärvi” has been built by international ice artists every winter since 1989. Everything in the imposing building is made of ice: the entrance hall with thick pillars, the richly decorated hotel rooms, the beds and furniture inside, the ice bar with tables, chairs and even the glasses from which the thickly wrapped guests take their drinks. They end up sleeping on animal skins at minus 5 degrees.

An extraordinary art suite at the Ice Hotel in Sweden

3. Pretty hot – sauna in the gondola

In the Ylläs ski resort in Finnish Lapland, a very special gondola takes skiers up the mountain. The world’s first and only sauna gondola is clad in wood and has tinted windows and an infusion boiler inside. Up to four people can enjoy a sauna during the ascent. After 15 minutes, those sweating reach the top station, where showers and changing rooms are available in the “Café Gondel”. The unusual gondola was installed back in 2008. Unfortunately, this beneficial trend has not yet arrived in the Alps.

In the Ylläs ski resort in Finland, the ascent to the summit in a sauna gondola is guaranteed to be an experience

4. Superlatives on a rope – the largest gondola in the world

The “Vanoise Express” in the French Alps is the largest double-decker cable car in the world. The two gondolas can accommodate an incredible 200 people with skis, poles and luggage – on two floors. The two cabins need just four minutes to cover the 1,824 metre route with the tractive power of a TGV train. This makes it not only one of the largest, but also one of the fastest ropeways in the world with a “top speed” of 45 km/h. The design of the “Vanoise Express” is also unusual: there is no classic bottom and top station. This is because the start and finish are located in Plan-Peisey (1,612 m) and Montchavin (1,548 m) and therefore almost at the same altitude. It is also impressive that the steel suspension and haulage cables run the entire length from La Plagne to Les Arcs without any supporting pillars.

The “Vanoise Express” in the French Alps is the largest and fastest double-decker cable car in the world

5. Desert, camels, skiing – the indoor ski centre in Dubai

Skiing in the middle of the desert, with camels nearby and at 50 degrees outside? It’s possible in Dubai! “Ski Dubai”, one of the largest indoor ski facilities in the world, has around 6,000 tonnes of artificial snow and numerous attractions. Built in 2005, the facility set new standards in indoor ski centre construction. Five pistes with a total area of 22,500 m² offer fun on the piste at all levels of difficulty. A 4-seater chairlift takes skiers up to the pistes, which are lined with real trees and covered with thick artificial snow.

What does it look like in one of the world’s largest indoor ski centres in the middle of the desert? The following video answers this question:

Welcome To Ski Dubai

Freestylers can let off steam in the fun park and ski fitness is trained at Snowrobics. Away from the pistes, children can hurtle down the slopes in large plastic balls, conquer a toboggan run on sledges, play in the 3,000 m² snow park with a snow cave or, of course, learn in the ski school. The highlight of Ski Dubai are the real penguins that waddle through the hall at certain times. Children can touch them and parents can take photos together. Visitors can also book a 10 to 15-minute swimming session with the penguins. As long as the “Skidome” in Randers, Denmark, only exists on the draughtsmen’s papers, the snow paradise in the desert will remain our indoor ski wonder.

6. Piste beast – the biggest piste groomer in the world

The “BEAST” model from the South Tyrolean manufacturer Prinoth AG is the largest and most powerful snow groomer in the world. With a length of almost 10 metres, a height of over 3 metres and a working width of more than 7 metres, it sets real standards compared to other snow groomers. With an incredible 527 hp, the 11.5 tonne monster pushes the masses of snow in front of it with a 6 m wide front blade and, with a surface area of 17.5 m², manages to prepare any slope, no matter how wide, in the shortest possible time.

With a weight of 11.5 tonnes, the “BEAST” from a manufacturer in South Tyrol is one of the world’s largest snow groomers

7. Endless freestyle – the longest halfpipe in the world

The “No Name” snow park in Laax has been home to the world’s longest halfpipe since 2015. The “Superpipe” with its perfect semicircle is 200 metres long and 6.90 metres high, making it Olympic-sized. This is why the monster pipe is also used as the national training centre of the Swiss-Ski association for ski and snowboard freestylers. So it’s no wonder that Europe’s biggest snowboarding event, the “Laax Open”, also attracts the superstars of the scene to the Swiss ski resort, who perform their spectacular freestyle tricks on the gigantic snow construction year after year.

Halfpipes like this can now be found in several ski resorts, but the longest of its kind, the “Superpipe”, can only be ridden in Laax, Switzerland

FAQ on the wonders of the skiing world

What are the 7 natural wonders of the world?

In 2009, the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” foundation called on people all over the world to nominate their favourites for the 7 Wonders of Nature. The Matterhorn was initially among the 28 finalists. A committee of experts headed by former UNESCO Director Federico Mayor finally selected the following 7 Wonders of Nature: the Amazon Rainforest and Iguazu Falls in South America, Komodo National Park in Indonesia, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Table Mountain in South Africa, Puerto Princesa National Park in the Philippines and the volcanic island of Jejudo in South Korea.

Where is the largest halfpipe in the world?

The “Superpipe” in the ski resort of Laax (Switzerland) has been the longest and therefore largest halfpipe in the world since 2015. With a length of 200 metres and a height of 6.90 metres, the snow monster is of Olympic proportions and is regularly used by the best athletes on the scene as a training and competition venue.

How many winter sports enthusiasts can fit into the world’s largest gondola?

200 people on two floors. That is the capacity of each of the two cabins of the “Vanoise Express”. This makes them the largest gondolas in the world. Since 2004, the double-deckers have been operating on a 1,824 metre route between the two French ski resorts of La Plagne and Les Arcs. With a “top speed” of 45 km/h, the cable car only takes 4 minutes to complete the journey.

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