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Winter Sports season begins

The skiing season has started early at ski resorts in Europe and North America thanks to lower than normal temperatures and early snowfall.

The world famous Austrian resort of Kitzbuhel opened six weeks earlier than usual on 2 November, while another resort in the Austrian Alps, Schladming-Dachstein, has been open since 26 October. Other resorts in Austria opening this weekend include Mayrhofen, Zillertal and Zell am See. In many Austrian resorts there is already over 1 metre of snow down to the valley stations.

In North America, Whistler Mountain will open on Saturday, almost a week early. And neighbour Whistler Blackcomb, widely regarded as North America's top ski and snowboard resort, will open on 22 November. Weather forecasters in the area are predicting a period of snowy weather in the Whistler region. Over in the USA the ski resort of Breckenridge opened on 10 November.

Norway's largest ski resort, Trysil opened today, while Hemsedal open today, and Hafjell near Lillehammer on the 17 November. Trysil is offering skiers their money back if snow is poor, but with snow in Norway virtually guaranteed from November to May this is unlikely.

In Switzerland, Verbier opened on 16 November, and the popular resort of St Anton will open on 30 November. Tignes Glacier in France is also open, but is inaccessible at present thanks to further heavy snowfalls.

With so many ski resorts already open, skiers have plenty of choice when it comes to routes to the slopes. Ski flights are available from a wide selection of UK airports including Gatwick, East Midlands, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow. For skiers with a taste for adventure it is also possible to fly to the snow in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

Written by: Nick Purdom