Catalonia's Nordic ski resorts ready for 'fantastic' season
Cross-country skiing is on the rise with numbers set to exceed last year's 76,000 visitors
With Catalonia's ski sector at the start of a season that it hopes will turn out to be the longest in its history thanks to early snow falling in November, hundreds of thousands of people will visit the ski resorts of the Catalan Pyrenees between now and April.
Most of those people will be interested in traditional Alpine skiing or snowboarding, but ski resorts offering alternative activities, particularly Nordic skiing, are also optimistic that they can exceed the more than 76,000 cross-country skiers who came last season.
The Tuixent-La Vansa resort in the Alt Urgell area, for example, has already been offering Nordic skiing for more than a month, and has 25 kilometers of cross-country slopes open, as well as circuits for doing snowshoeing.
According to the head of Tuixent-La Vansa, Albert Nadal, the start of the season has been "fantastic," with "more than 5,000 visitors" already taking advantage of the resort's facilities, and he adds that if it continues to snow, it could end up being "a record year."
Nordic versus Alpine skiing
Nordic skiing differs from Alpine skiing in that the toe of the boot is fixed to the binding so the heel can lift off the ski, while in the latter the boot is attached to the ski from toe to heel. In Nordic skiing, the skiers propel themselves by striding forward with the help of poles.
Imma Obiols, from the Community of Nordic Ski Resorts, says this year is "exceptional" in that two of Catalonia's seven Nordic ski resorts were able to open on November 1, something that fills her with "a lot of optimism" for the season ahead.
The Nordic ski season does not usually get underway until Christmas, according to Obiols, but the early snow has meant things have got going early this season, which is reflected in the sales of passes, which so far amount to 1,300 compared to the usual 900.
The resorts of Tuixent-La Vansa and Lles, in Cerdanya, both opened for Nordic skiing in November, with Guils Fontanera, Sant Joan de l'Erm and Tavascan about to follow suit, although their facilities are already open for snow-related recreational activities.