Seefeld ski resort
Seefeld ski resort adopts an air of quiet, sophisticated affluence from its scenic position above the Inn Valley in Austria's Tyrol region. Twice a venue for the Winter Olympics and one of the host areas of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games, Seefeld has a long history in snow sports.
But pilgrims have been journeying to the pfarrkirche (parish church) here since 1384, to commemorate the 'Miracle of the Host'. This was when an arrogant communicant was punished by God for demanding the priest's Communion wafer. He was ingested by the church floor which opened up beneath him.
Learning from the fate of the arrogant communicant, skiers should not arrive expecting too much from Seefeld's slopes; indeed those searching for a vast ski area with hundreds of kilometres of terrain should look elsewhere. But those who are learning downhill skiing, are keen to swish the hours away on some of Europe's best cross-country tracks, or are keen to revel in top-end luxury, are certainly in the right place.
And just in case it seemed Seefeld's glory days were behind it, the resort is still looking to the future; namely 2019 when it will host the Nordic World Championships, which underlines the resort's skiing pedigree.
Seefeld is 23km (14 miles) northwest of Innsbruck on a plateau above and to the north of the Inn Valley. The road (Highway 177) and rail routes continue northwards to Germany and the ski resorts of Mittenwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
SeefeldResort Elevation: 1200m
Top Elevation: 2100m
Base Elevation: 1200m
On the slopes
Snowfall is generally reliable in Seefeld and can be backed up by snow-making equipment, which covers 90% of the ski area's terrain. This contributes to a relatively long season, which runs from early December until Easter.
The gentle slopes of the Gschwandtkopf are an ideal confidence-builder for beginners, but are too tame for more experienced skiers who should head to the Rosshütte sector. This area, which is reached by various cable car and lift combinations, is home to off-piste terrain and more challenging blue, red and black runs.
Seefeld is a cross-country skier's paradise. There are 279km (175 miles) of trails in total, mostly running through the scenic valley route to Mösern. Routes also connect the various villages of the Olympiaregion area, including Leutasch, Reith and Scharnitz. Trails range in difficulty, lending themselves to the classic style or the more robust, speedier, skating style.
The cross-country racing school, the XC Academy (tel: +43 5212 50300; www.xc-academy.com), has been developed in Seefeld. Run by Martin Tauber (a former member of the national Austrian cross-country Olympic team), the school offers cross-country skiing training in both classical and skating styles. This is just one of nine ski schools in Seefeld and the surrounding area.
In total, the Seefeld ski region is made up of seven resorts. All local lifts, including more than 20 T-bar lifts, are included on the regional Happy Ski Card that which gives access to the whole of the ski area.