Following on from our previous articles on the most difficult ski runs to be found in the Alps, we now turn to Italy to see what this magnificent country has on offer. Italy isn’t as well known for its heart-stoppingly difficult ski runs as the other Alpine countries, but you can still find one or two – or, in this case, several – to amuse yourself and test your thigh muscles and bravery. Read on for our pick of the hardest ski runs throughout the Italian Alps and Dolomites.
Pista Alberto Tomba, Vigo di Fassa in the Val di Fassa
Up in Vigo di Fassa you’ll find a consistently steep black slope which burns up your thigh muscles and develops into a tree-lined run. This is the Pista Alberto Tomba, or the Tomba for short, a 2km run named after the Olympic technical skier, who used to train very frequently in Vigo di Fassa. Alberto Tomba, whose nickname was Tomba la Bomba (which means Tomba the Bomb, rather than “Tomba Who Tumbles Down Mountains” as it sounds) won three Olympic golds, two World Championships and nine World Cup season titles. He can still be found skiing for pleasure in this area. On an interesting note, Vigo di Fassa is a mountain village in which 85% of the inhabitants natively speak Ladin, an unusual language derived from Latin but took a different path to Italian – keep an ear out for the locals talking.
The Pista Alberto Tomba is steep but it’s fairly wide – get an idea of it here:
Pista Ciampac, Alba di Canazei
The Pista Ciampac, or Ciampac as it is referred to, is a 2.5km technical run which has a vertical drop of 660m and leads right down into the village, perfect for resting your legs afterwards. Alba di Canazei also has the highest cross-country piste, at 2000m in altitude, in the entire Val di Fassa. For a frankly rather boring look at the run, check this out (skip to 1:00 for it to get relevant):
Saslong, Selva di Val Gardena/Wolkenstein
Starting at the top of the Ciampioni cable car is the Saslong, made world famous by its annual downhill skiing event. Every December, professional skiers come to compete here, and the rest of the year the run is open and well-maintained. The slopes are wide and groomed, and include camel humps (small jumps which, taken at high speed, can send you soaring for dozens of metres) and the Ciaslat meadows (four very sharp, demanding turns in quick succession). The run is about 3.5km with a drop of 839m, and ends up in Santa Cristina in the valley. This is as hard as you make it – try racing your friends.
To have a professional walk you through the run – and to see it done just as well as it can be – check this out (skip to 1:14 for the video of the run):
Sylvester, Kronplatz/Plan de Corones
An Italian resort, this one nevertheless seems happy to be known by its German name, Kronplatz. Sylvester is one of Kronplatz’s five black runs, traversing the mountain for nearly 5km and dropping a vertical descent of approximately 1,300m. It finishes up in Riscone, and it is generally agreed that lunchtime yields the best snow conditions on this run, since it is on the shady side of the mountain, and things can get a little icy.
To see Sylvester speed-skied to a German soft metal soundtrack, check this out:
and for a nice clear look at Furcia in all its tree-lined glory, watch this.
Sitting at 1,600m, Arabba is a tiny little village with a hard core of regulars. It often gets missed out of the main ski circuit of the region, which is a shame, because it has a couple of very decent black runs. On the north side, you’ll find the Fodoma run, a 2,740m slope which can be reached from the Porta Vescovo and snakes off from the red Salere run. Or try the Sourasass, which comes off the Ornella red run. Or there’s Burz, one of the few runs that you’ll find in the sun, which gives beautiful views across the mountain range. Arabba may be small but it is part of the Dolomiti Superski pass, so it accesses far larger skiing areas.
For some excellent snowboard carving action on Sourasass watch this:
For Burz accompanied by some truly comedy music, have a go at this.