Munich-born Oliver Kern (44) has been skiing for more than 40 years and now thinks he may have skied at more ski areas than anyone else.
Mr Kern, who’s day job is running the world’s largest ski resort test portal: skiresort.info, has so far skied in 885 different ski resorts, in 31 countries including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, the USA and Canada as well as in 15 different states in the USA.
ITS> So do you have the four-figures mark firmly in your sights?
OK> Yes, my goal is to ski as many new ski areas as I can. I hope to reach the 1000 ski resorts within the next 3-4 years.
ITS> Off all the places you’ve skied, any favourite?
OK> This is very hard to say. It depends on what you like. I like the large ski resorts in Austria with the nice mountain huts and the fast high-speed lifts, as well as the ski resorts in the Dolomites. On the other hand I also like Canada which has older lifts but perfect powder snow and no lines on the lifts. After the skiing you can drink a beer in a real hot jacuzzi.
So my personal favourite ski areas include Kitzbühel, Hochzillertal, Saalbach, SkiWelt, Ischgl and the Arlberg in Austria, then in Canada Sun Peaks, Big White and Whistler (OK in the valley it is a little bit Disneyland but the skiing in the bowls and on the slopes is amazing with great long runs!). Oh and also in Colorado Telluride, Snowmass, Vail…”
ITS> Visiting so many ski resorts seems like a dream but are there any downsides to so much skiing?
OK> “Yes it is nice if you stand on a mountain with sunshine and fresh snow. But the weather is always challenging. On stormy days it is sometimes not possible to reach the highest point and if there is a lot of fresh snow the slopes can be closed because of avalanche danger. I try to take a lot of perfect pictures which we can add on skiresort.info and also give to our partners. I also need snow on the southern sides of the ski resort to get perfect pictures. So the season is quite short, normally from the end of December to the beginning of March. It is possible to start earlier but most ski resorts don’t run all their lifts before then.”
ITS> How much time do you spend on the road visiting ski resorts each season?
OK> I try to go skiing from Monday to Friday. On the weekends I aim to be at home with my family, although if the weather is nice at weekends I’ll be in the mountains too. As I live in Munich, I am very close to the Alps and I can do a lot by car. Of course I spend a long time during winter in my car driving to the ski resorts. If ski resorts are outside Europe or more than 600 km from Munich I take the plane and get a rental car.
ITS> Apart from the number of ski areas you have visited, you have set six different world record firsts in events staged between 2007 and 2010.
OK> “Yes, these include skiing at three ski areas in three countries on two continents in one day in 2008. I skiing at Naspa Ski Garden in Japan then flew across the Pacific to ski at the Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington State (USA) before driving up to Grouse Mountain above Vancouver in Canada on February 6th 2008.
ITS> Any tips to make travel for skiers as easy and efficient as possible?
OK> Do not travel to the Alps on Fridays and back on Sunday after skiing. The roads are always crowded. Try to add one day and avoid the crowds. If you do a day tour start very early and try to be the first on the slopes – no traffic on the highway and no queues at the lifts!