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Winter-sport crazy just one hour from Vienna

By Olivia Michaud

Semmering Zauberberg’s strong point undoubtedly lies in its location. At 1,000 meters altitude and just one hour away from Vienna, a whole winter-sport paradise attracts thousands of skiers every day – and night.

Some 14 kilometres of slopes range from the famous alpine skiing World-Cup slope to easier paths in between the trees for beginners – meaning both advanced skiers and total beginners are able to ride at their own level.

Between 18:00 and 21:00 every night, 13 kilometres of Semmering’s slopes are prepared and lit to maximise the time spent on the mountain.

A Viennese businessman said: "It’s just so easy to finish work, get in the car and come up here. You can be sat in front of the television eating crisps, or you can get out and do three hours of sport after work."

During the winter season, which runs from early December until Easter, there is also a selection of other attractions besides ski and snowboard.

A three-kilometre sledging "nature-experience" track sees many thrill-seekers race down the mountain at high-speed, passing through tunnels – and even stopping by a traditional Austrian wooden hut for a drink or some food.

Three other restaurants offer a whole range of food from Austrian haute-cuisine to light bites and self-service lunches. The ZauberBar is open for après-ski from 16:00 to 3:00 every day, where locals and day-guests get together after a long day out on the slopes.

If Semmering’s ideal location makes it primarily a popular day-trip destination, the resort has a selection of guest-houses and hotels which can sleep up to 900 holidaymakers. The Artis Hotel even has a slope to ski back after the last lift.

There are other events being hosted in Semmering Zauberberg throughout the winter.

The women’s World-Cup skiing events travels to Semmering once a year, the Austrian ski team attracting masses of fans bearing red and white flags. Last December, 25,000 people travelled to Semmering to see Austria’s Anna Fenninger winning the legendary night slalom event.

Popular radio station Ö3 Pistenbully tour returns to the resort on February, 16 and thousands of ladies will take to the slopes on Eybl’s ladies’ ski day on February, 21.

On February, 23 celebrities from all across Austria will take part in an annual slalom race. The East-Cup on March, 3 sees freestyle snowboarder and skiers compete for the titles of Lower-Austria and Viennese Champion.

The last event of the 2012-2013 season is the third annual White Down on March, 16 – a very particular team dual slalom, each team consisting of one downhill mountain-biker and one skier or snowboarder.

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