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With so many devoted flights, trains and buses, and such proximity to the UK, quick skiing weekends are easy to arrange. They’re ideal not only for the time-limited, but also for beginners who aren’t yet sure if the pistes are for them.

There are plenty of novice options as well as insider picks for black-run pros, and smart budget haunts – both in Western and Eastern Europe – where prices can plummet faster than any downhill run.

Most convenient of all is Innsbruck, the capital of western Austria’s Tirol region. Nine ski areas including Nordkette and Hafelekar can be reached by funicular, cable car or free shuttle bus from the old town in as little as 20 minutes, while the airport has direct UK flights. Pistes here are mostly red. 

Mayrhofen, another resort in Tirolean Austria, has skiing areas similarly full of challenging red runs, along with hard blues and the country’s steepest marked route, the Harakiri.

Well-maintained, the slopes are almost uniformly sheer, and often relatively quiet even in peak season. It’s within an hour of Innsbruck. The size of the French Alps ski areas can boggle minds, but it also allows for a few gems to go under the radar.

One such is La Clusaz – about an hour’s drive from Geneva Airport and near Lake Annecy – where the intermediate and advanced slopes provide a real challenge to anyone not distracted by the nearby, better known Trois Vallees.

A lovely, rustic Alpine atmosphere pervades, making this a wonderfully immersive holiday-weekend escape.

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