When you discover Zurs in Austria, it’s not long before you realise that this tiny Austrian hamlet on the road from St Anton to Lech really isn’t as quiet as it first appears. A collection of discreet, traditional looking hotels, a post office and bakery is about your lot, except of course for the gleaming Strolz ski-store giving a nod to the fact that this is a discreetly well-heeled corner of the Austrian ski scene.
We stumbled on Zurs many years ago by accident whilst looking for a ski in and out hotel that had a kindergarten on nearby slopes and a hotel that would work for 3 young children. Seven years later and we are still returning to the Arlberghaus, which is about as traditional as you can get when you talk about ‘family run’. The Eggler family have owned and run the hotel since 1932 and it now makes up one of several popular family favourites in Zurs, which includes the Albona Nova, Thurnhers Alpenhof, The Ullr, Edelweiss and Bentleys House.
Key to choosing to ski in the Zurs-Lech region of Austria is the enviable snow record and superb piste maintenance, as well as the controlled number of ski passes allocated each season. Even at peak season the slopes are groomed, rarely busy, lift queues are minimal and the off-piste is spectacular.
On top of this, Zurs is part of the White Ring Circuit which connects Zurs to neighbouring Lech, Zug and Oberlech. Created and named in 1940 with the building of the first ski lift for the Zurs/Lech region, the route has been celebrated every January since 2006 (the 50th anniversary of the circuit) with the Weissring race taking 1,000 competitors across 23km, six different ski lifts and altitude variations of 18,000 feet.
Starting at the Rufikopf at the top of Lech, the ‘White Ring’ race moves in a clockwise direction around to Trittalp and Hexanboden in Zurs and then takes the ascent to the Madloch before heading down to Zug, ascending again to Oberlech and then down to the finish line. Olympic and World Champion Patrick Ortlieb’s winning time in the inaugural race remains unbeaten.
For leisure skiers (that’s most of us!) it’s hard to miss the impressive circuit markers at key points along the way. For many the White Ring gives a day’s skiing an extra purpose, to know that they have completed part, or all, of the route (with various pit stops along the way) – it really does give a feeling of satisfaction and achievement. Many may be oblivious to the fact that they are skiing sections of, what is now, a well-known ski race route, simply enjoying the pleasure of snow underfoot, but it’s a great extra challenge if you’re in the mood for exercising a little competitive spirit.
For more information visit www.lechzuers.com