ski snow, is reporting bumper pre-season snow across the northern hemisphere with the Alps, Pyrenees, Scandinavia and the Rockies all receiving huge early snow falls that have brought wonderful powder snow conditions for skiers and boarders on the glacier ski areas that were already open, and led to an increasing number of resorts in Canada, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the US to open up to a month earlier than planned. reports that about 100 ski areas around the planet are now operational (the last southern hemisphere resort, Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand, winds up its 2008 record-snow season this weekend).

New openings in Europe this weekend (November 14 - 16) include Hemsedal in Norway, Obergurgl in Austria, Laax and Lenzerheide in Switzerland.

"Hemsedal has between 20-30 cm nature snow above the tree line and the snow conditions in the high mountain are excellent", said a resort spokesman. Half of the world's open ski areas at present are in Scandinavia where competition focus in on Levi in Finland this weekend for World Cup racing.

However some of the deepest snow depths - with over 1.5 metres (five feet) of fresh powder are at glacier resorts that are already open, amongst them Saas Fee and Zermatt in Switzerland, Tignes in France, Tux in Austria and Passo Tonale in Italy - setting up for a spectacular 2008-9 season in the Alps.

The Pyrenees, which has had a challenging start to the season in recent years, has seen superb snowfalls on French, Andorran and Spanish resorts (Photo: Formigal, Spain). Midweek it was St Lary on the French side that topped Skiinfo's powder fall league.

In Canada, Alberta is the place to ski right now, the third of Banff's ski areas, Sunshine, joins the other two, Lake Louise and Mount Norquay, which opened last weekend. Sunshine boasts the largest amount of terrain open in the country at present. Nearby Marmot Basin by the town of Jasper is also opening, on the earliest date in its nearly 50 year history.

"We are very excited to be able to open so early in the season for skiers and riders. We will be in great shape on opening day", said Brian Rode, Vice President of Marketing for the resort.

South of the border Mammoth in California opened 10 days early and is joined by Killington, Vermont, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado and Snowbird Utah.

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