The search for country to cross

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The search for country to cross

Unless you’ve been out of town or locked up in a basement for the past week, you probably noticed that it snowed.
And like many others around Korea, you’ve probably thought that now would be a good time to take your ski gear out of the closet and hit the slopes. But given that even in less-than-ideal conditions, Korea’s ski sloped are jam-packed with alpine skiiers and snowboarders, this might be the season to try something a little different: cross-country skiing.
Although cross-country skiing, also known as XC skiing, is very popular in Scandinavia, Canada and Japan, it hasn’t yet caught on in Korea, and there are few ski resorts that cater to it. Yongpyong Resort manages a 7.5-kilometer (4.6-mile) cross-country ski course that is owned by the provincial government; the course is 750 meters above sea level and 2 kilometers away from the resort. Phoenix Park offers an XC ski tour to a snow-covered golf course near the resort, but the course requires a good amount of snow to make it worthwhile.
“Cross-country skiing doesn’t even necessarily need a course,” said Kim Gyu-hwang, a representative of Phoenix Park. “As long as there’s enough snow so that you can ski, you can do it in a field, pasture, hill or golf course.”
Cross-country skiing is generally considered to have started in Scandinavia. Prehistoric rock carvings and paintings depict northern Europeans using primitive skis, and in the Nordic winter, there’s often no better way to get around than with a few poles. It’s quite common for Norweigan families or friends to spend a day riding about 20 kilometers out of town on a train and then skiing home.
“In Norway, just by some 30-minute drive from most cities, you can find places to enjoy cross-country skiing,” said Eirin Hollup Broholm, 24, who came to Korea from Norway.
The sport was added to the Winter Olympics in 1924 and has been included ever since.
What’s good about cross-country skiing? Although you can’t experience the speed rush the way you can with alpine skiing or snowboarding, you can appreciate the weather, your companions and the fantastic workout.
It’s also easy to learn and one of the safest sports. If you can walk, you can probably cross-country ski. Bae Chan-young, the manager of the XC skiing facilities at Yongpyong Resort, said that anyone can pick up cross-country skiing without lessons. “It’s just like taking a walk, but on skis,” said Mr. Bae. “Furthermore, it’s much safer than alpine skiing, because the ski boots allow your heels to come off the skis.
“People rarely break bones, and usually the worst they’ll get are scratches or sprains,” he added.
It’s also good for your health.
“Cross-country skiing is one of the sports that consumes the most calories, even more than marathon running,” said Kim Tae-soon, in charge of cross-country skiing at the Korea Ski Association. “It demands a lot of exercise, so you’ll sweat a lot. You need to dress in layers so that you can adjust them to control your body temperature.” Although a course takes only an hour on average, you’re always welcome to bring chocolates or candies for a mid-course snack.
Yongpyong will open its cross-country skiing course tomorrow, but right now only 2 kilometers are covered in snow. The complete course will be ready by the end of this month.
Sure it snowed a lot last weekend, but that doesn’t mean the slopes are ready. Mr. Bae said that artificial snow is just as good as real snow for cross-country skiing, although it is a bit more slippery. Phoenix Park, however, has decided to wait for nature to provide a course. The park is planning to hold an XC skiing tour in mid-January, but the plan could be cancelled if there isn’t enough snow, the representative said.


[ Ski resorts ]

PHOENIX PARK
Phoenix Park in Pyeongchang, Gangwon province, has four world-class slopes that have been authorized by the International Ski Federation. This year, the resort opened three new slopes: Kiwi (2 kilometers) for beginners, the Duke (1.4 kilometers) and Anycall (1 kilometer) slopes for intermediate-level skiers. Expert skiers can enjoy the 866-meter Dizzy course, which has a 24-degree slope on average and is 36 degrees at its steepest.
Events: Phoenix Park will hold its X-mas Concert at 8 p.m. on Dec. 24. Kang San-ae and two rock groups will make an appearance on the open-air stage. The EXR Snowboard Festival, which includes amateur and professional snowboard competitions, a concert and a party, is scheduled for Jan. 6 and 7. The 2nd Phoenix Park Freestyle Championship will take place from Feb. 9 to 11. Participants will compete for a 10 million won ($9,600) prize.
Costs: Using the lifts costs 33,000 to 72,000 won. Ski rental costs 20,000 to 25,000 won and high-class ski or snowboard rental, 24,000 to 30,000 won. A season pass is 460,000 won, but covers only lifts.
Accommodation: Rental suite, a youth hostel and a hotel.
Transportation: By car, it takes about two hours from Seoul in clear traffic.
A shuttle bus service is available by the rear door of Glass Tower, Samseong station, subway line No. 2, Exit 3 or 4, and costs 24,000 won for a round trip. The bus service begins at 8 a.m. For bus inquiries, call (02) 564-1311.
For more information, call (033) 333-0091 or visit www.phoenixpark.co.kr.

MUJU RESORT
Muju Resort, in North Jeolla province, opened in 1990 and is the oldest and biggest ski resort in Korea. It features 30 slopes for all levels of skiers. Its Raiders Slope boasts the steepest angle in Korea: 60 degrees on average but reaching 70 degrees. The slope was created in 2000 but was temporarily closed for years because no one dared take it on. Even now, the resort recommends that skiiers have insurance before tackling the Raiders. The Silkroad Slope, in comparison, starts out 1,520 meters above sea level and is for beginners and intermediate skiers who can enjoy the longest (6.2-kilometer) course in Korea.
Costs: Lifts cost 22,000 to 77,000 won. Ski rental costs 20,000 to 40,000 won, with snowboards costing 23,000 to 45,000 won. Season passes, which cover only the lift expenses, cost 750,000 won for adults and 520,000 won for children under 12.
Events: The Torch Ski Performance, in which about a hundred ski instructors at the resort hit the slopes at midnight, takes place on Dec. 24 and 31.
Accommodation: Hotels.
Transportation: By car, it takes two and a half hours from Seoul in clear traffic. Bus service operated by Gyeonggi Daewon Express Tour is also available for 24,000 won for a round trip in front of Lotte Mart, Jamsil station, subway line No. 2, Exit 4. Buses leave at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. For bus inquiries, call (02) 575-7710.
For more information, call (063) 320-700 or visit www.mujuresort.com.

HYUNDAI SUNGWOO RESORT
Hyundai Sungwoo Resort in Hwongseong, Gangwon province, spent 350 million won on snow-generating devices this year, and now offers twice as much as snow as it did last year. Delta Slope for intermediate and advanced level skiers is popular for its uneven and bumpy Mogul Course, in which artificial mounds of snow challenge both skiers and boarders. The resort also has a large recreation center, which houses all kinds of entertainment facilities, including a gym, swimming pool, sauna, bowling alley, theater and video arcade.
Events: The resort plans to hold four comedy shows, including “Gag Concerts” by famous comedians from major broadcasting stations, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2, 14 and Feb. 4, and two music concerts by famous singers such as Mose, Jadu, Koyote, and Chae Yeon.
Costs: Lifts cost 32,000 to 74,000 won. Ski rentals cost 16,000 to 28,000 won and snowboards 19,000 to 60,000 won. A season pass that covers lift costs and a 50-percent discount on rental suites on weekdays costs 510,000 won for adults and 290,000 won for children under 12 until Dec. 16. After that, prices jump to 640,000 won for adults and 510,000 won for children.
Accommodation: Rental suites and a youth hostel.
Transportation: By car, it takes about two hours from Seoul if there is no traffic. Bus service, operated by Seoul Tour, costs 22,000 won for adults and 15,000 won for children under 12 per round trip. Buses stop in front of Olympic Market, Olympic Park station, subway line No. 5, exit 1, at 6:20 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. everyday. For bus inquiries, call (02) 564-1311.
For more information, call (033) 340-3000 or visit www.hdsungwoo.co.kr.

GANGCHON RESORT
Gangchon Resort in Chuncheon, Gangwon province, is the closest from Seoul of the five resorts listed here. It offers 10 slopes, a relatively small number, but enough to accommodate skiers of all levels. The Jaguar Slope (524 meters) has a sharp slant of 54 degrees on average for expert skiers. Pander Slope’s 360-meter course with an obtuse, 9-degree angle makes it a good place for first-time skiers to learn and practice.
Costs: Lifts cost 38,000 to 50,000 won. Ski rental costs 22,000 to 30,000 won and snowboards 24,000 to 33,000 won. Season passes, including free lifts and five coupons for 30-percent discounts on rentals, costs 410,000 won for adults, 370,000 won for college students, 290,000 won for children under 12.
Accommodation: Rental suites.
Transportation: By car, it takes about 90 minutes from Seoul in clear traffic.
Free shuttle buses are available at Apgujeong station, subway line No. 3, Exit 5, at 7:50 a.m. and 6 p.m. For inquiries, call (033) 260-2345~46.
For more information, call (033) 260-2000 or visit www.gangchonresort.co.kr.

DAEMYUNG VIVALDI PARK
Daemyung Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon province, aims to lure younger skiers by giving its 13 slopes musical names, such as Ballads, Reggae, Classic, Rock, Funky, Techno, Hip-hop, Blues and Jazz. Blues Slope (350 meters) and Ballads Slope (480 meters) are suitable for beginners. The two Hip-hip slopes (270 meters and 520 meters) for intermediate skiers have moderate angles of 18 degrees on average. Extreme Park, which has a “super pipe” (160 meters long, 4.5 to 6 meters tall, and 16 to 17 degrees steep) for snowboarders, is in between the two Hip-hop slopes. Snowboarding is available on every slope except Rock Slope, which is 590 meters and up to 28 degrees steep.
Events: World Ice Festival, featuring ice sculptures in seven themes, such as “Jurassic Park,” “Animation World” and the “7 Mysteries of World Architecture,” will run through March. The World Junior Snowboarders event takes place from Feb. 2 to Feb. 6 with 600 snowboarders from about 50 countries participating.
Costs: Lifts cost 31,000 to 78,000 won. Ski rental costs 15,000 to 40,000 won, while snowboards are 18,000 to 43,000 won. A season pass, good only for lifts, costs 510,000 won for adults and 280,000 won for children born before January, 1993 (yes, they’ll check IDs).
Accommodation: Rental suites.
Transportation: By car, it takes about 90 minutes from Seoul in clear traffic. A bus service is available at 10:30 a.m. everyday for 20,000 won per round trip. Buses stop at Sports-Complex station, subway line No. 2, exit 1 (walk ahead for about 50 meters). For inquiries, call (02) 422-6677.
For more information, call (033) 434-8311 or visit www.vivaldipark.com.
Reporting by Kong Jun-wan


by Park Sung-ha

At Yongpyong, you can rent cross-country skis, which are thinner, longer and lighter than alpine skis, for 10,000 won ($10). The entrance fee to the course is 5,000 won for adults and 2,000 won for children under 12. You can XC ski from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; hot tea or coffee is complimentary for those who finish the course. For more information, call (033) 330-8219 (Yongpyong cross-country course).
For information about cross-country skiing at Phoenix Park, call (033) 330-6682.
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