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Schladming’s slogan is "Gemütlichkeit" - in Austrian, Gemütlichkeit means coziness, which perfectly describes this tiny mountain village nestled in Austria’s Schladming - Ramsau/Dachstein sports region of the Enns Valley. Schladming’s history dates back more than 600 years, when the town was known for its mining industry because of the area’s rich silver, lead, and copper ore deposits. Miner and peasant revolts in 1525 burned the town to the ground and led to a decline in the mining industry, but in 1975 Prince August from Sachsen-Coburg & Gotha built a hunting castle in Schladming, claiming the area to be a outdoorsman’s heaven. Schladming’s Winter Sports Club was founded in 1908 and began holding ski races in 1920, which has led to numerous World Cup events, the World Ski Championships, and the Special Olympics World Winter Games. In 1998 the four mountains of Planai, Hochwurzen, Hauser Kaibling, and Reiteralm were all connected by high-speed quad lifts, giving skiers quick access to a variety of ski terrain.
In 1999 Schladming was transformed by three new lifts and new pistes, which now link four previously fragmented mountains. There is now more than enough to keep a keen intermediate happy for a week without having to mess around catching buses, as you used to have to - and you really get a sense of travelling around. Taken together with Schladming's reliable snow record, impressive snowmaking system and pretty, traffic-free village centre, the resort deserves serious consideration. Even before it linked its mountains, Schladming received rave reviews from most of its customers. Two of the big British tour operators now feature the resort in their brochures, and we predict that more will add it to their programmes over the next few years. So if you want to get there before the crowds, go now.
The town’s two mountains, Planai (1,894 meters / 6,213 feet) and Hochwurzen (1,850 meters / 6,069 feet), are sandwiched between Reiteralm (1,960 meters / 6,430 feet) and Hauser Kaibling (2,015 meters / 6,610 feet), creating a four-mountain, inter-linked skier’s paradise. The area is still fairly unknown to many people except the Austrians and those World Cup fanatics who know all about the men’s races held here, including the men’s slalom race at night beneath a multitude of lights that turn the area as bright as day.
The Schladming-Ramsau/Dachstein region boasts seven ski areas that can be easily reached by car or one of the local buses that run free during the tourist season. Ski passes are good for all the mountains in the area, which means skiers are confronted with more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) of skiable terrain, over 100 lifts, 500 centimeters (16 feet) average annual snowfall, and 90 percent snowmaking coverage for those days when the snow gods don’t answer the skiers’ prayers.
The town’s two mountains, Planai and Hochwurzen, offer skiers 115 kilometers (71 miles) of runs with a 1,100-meter (3,700 feet) vertical drop and 25 lifts that shuttle 30,000 people back to the top per hour. Both mountains offer some of the longest uninterrupted runs in Europe, like the 4.6-kilometer (2.8-mile) Fis run or the endless 7.7-kilometer (4.7-mile) Hochwurzen Valley run that will have even the most fit skiers looking for one of the many slope-side restaurants for a quick break.
Much of the skiing in Schladming caters to the intermediate and advanced intermediate skiers, but novices and children alike will be pleased at the gentle slopes at the foot of the mountain that run through the town and directly to the front door of many hotels. With all this attention focused on skiing, it’s not surprising that another slogan in the area is - Austria, where skiing is a way of life.
Schladming is only 90 kilometers (60 miles) away from Salzburg’s international airport, and is easily reached by train or bus. The train ride is a breathtaking voyage through bucolic valleys where woodfire smoke hangs suspended over the village roofs by the colder winds blowing across the towering mountain ranges.
Kick off those cold ski boots after the thigh-burning marathon laps up and down the Hochwurzen Valley slopes and head to one of Schladming’s numerous cafés or restaurants for some local specialties like Weisswurst, a white sausage loaded with garlic, or try some of the local mountain wine, claimed to be the best around. As one bar’s shingle reads, "Life is too short to drink bad wine". Beer lovers will love the fact that the tiny village of Schladming has three breweries producing choice wheat and other local beers.