Report from Saturday, December 10, by Brian Pinelli
Fresh snowfall coinciding with Fashion Weekend and the Immaculate Conception holidays provided for an upbeat and entertaining opening weekend, both on-and-off the slopes, in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The “Queen of the Dolomites” resort, nestled in the Italian Dolomites, received a timely snowfall of 10 centimeters headed into what proved to be a celebrated kick-off weekend on the resort’s Tofana and Faloria pistes. The new snow dressed the jagged Dolomites peaks, abundant pine trees and stylish Italian village elegantly in white, providing for a magical ambiance.
“We are ready to start what promises to be an excellent winter season – a programming of important and quality events, sporting and cultural events,” Ms. Roberta Alvera, the Deputy Mayor of Cortina d’Ampezzo, tells SnowBrains. “The lifts are open, the slopes covered with snow – the ingredients are all there for a winter of normality and recovery.”
Cortina’s slopes were bustling with skiers, many having made the trip from Milan, Venice, and some as far as Rome, over the four-day Italian holiday weekend. However, not everyone came to hit the slopes, rather, many for the chic “Fashion Weekend” festivities. Those types were perfectly content to sip Prosecco or Aperol Spritzes, while dressed to be seen in the trendy scene.
Skiers and snowboarders were treated to “La Dolce Vita” on Cortina’s renowned pistes, with the surface topped by the fresh coating of snow. However, unsurprisingly, the slopes were slightly crowded and the famed Dolomites sunshine that frequently illuminates Cortina’s pistes, was nowhere to be seen. It was a mostly cloudy weekend across Northern Italy with the sun fighting to appear on occasion. Low clouds provided for a dreamy atmosphere, with views of the 400-year-old town in the distance below. Temperatures hovered just above freezing at mid-mountain on Saturday.
Just over 25 kilometers of Cortina’s vast 120 kilometers of terrain are open.
Still, revered pistes such as Olympia, including its iconic Tofana Schuss, and neighboring Vertigine Bianca, an 870-meter, knee-jarring test of endurance, tested skiers. One could reach a top elevation of 2,305 meters (7,562 feet) via the Duca d’Aosta to Pomedes chairlift.
Six of the twelve gondolas and lifts were open in the Tofana area, while five of five were operating at Faloria, the area on the opposite side of the Ampezzo Valley. Easiest access to the mountain from town was via the modern La Freccia nel Cielo gondola, which whisks skiers upward, from nearby Cortina’s 1956 Olympic Ice Stadium. Skiers needed to exit at the Col Drusciè station, just above the future 2026 women’s Olympic slalom run, as the cable car accessing the Ra Valles and Cima Tofana slopes above, is yet to be opened.
As visibility was less than perfect on the upper mountain, the cozy and historic Duca d’Aosta and Pomedes Rifugios (Italian mountains huts) were inviting retreats, whether it be for a caffè at the counter, perhaps two, or a taste of grappa. For lunch, casunzei (local ravioli (stuffed with beet root) and canderli (dumplings made of cheese, spinach and speck) were popular dishes among locals, as always.
Roughly five centimeters of new snow rounded out weekend accumulations on Sunday.
While the festive and frenzied weekend was considered the hard opening for Cortina d’Ampezzo, more diehard skiers were able to make their first turns on the Faloria slopes, last weekend.
Temperatures in the Italian Dolomites are expected to drop significantly over the days and nights ahead, plummeting to as low as minus 18 Celsius in Cortina. Snowfall is forecasted to start on Thursday, with additional accumulation heading into the weekend.
About the Author
Brian Pinelli is a veteran skiing and winter sports journalist having covered seven Olympic Winter Games, numerous Alpine World Ski Championships and World Cup events. After nearly a decade in Park City, Utah, he somewhat reluctantly gave up the world’s greatest snow, transitioning across the pond to Europe. He currently resides in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, with the 2026 Olympic Winter Games looming. He has covered ski races at iconic locations including Kitzbuhel, Cortina, Wengen, St. Moritz, Val d’Isere, Kvitfjell and others. Brian has contributed to the New York Times, Ski Racing Media, Around the Rings, Olympic Review, Powder Magazine, SKI, CNN World Sport, CBS Sports, NBC Olympics and other international media.
Follow Brian on Twitter – @Brian_Pinelli