best ski tracks_ soldeu_tarter

Where to ski? Soldeu – El Tarter: best ski tracks of Grandvalira

Àliga SG Àliga SL, Andorra, Pyrenees

The history of the legendary area of Soldeu – El Tarter started in 1964, the year the resort opened with the inauguration of a two-seater chairlift, a ski lift for beginners in Pla dels Espiolets and 10 skiable kilometres spread over 3 slopes: a red one, a blue one and a green one. Thanks to the investment of the Baró, Salvans and Torrellardona families and of Crèdit Andorrà, constituted in the ENSISA society in 1963, the resort expanded progressively during the 60s and 70s with the construction of the Soldeu bridge, which allowed for a more direct access to the resort, a new ski lift to get to the top part and to the upland of Tosa dels Espiolets, the creation of a ski school and the purchase of Andorra’s first snow-grooming machine.

In the 1980s, more specifically in the 81-82 season, the resort expanded with the area of El Tarter with the inauguration of the Riba Escorxada sector, which had access to the town of El Tarter. Two new chairlifts were added, one from the foot of El Tarter to Riba Escorxada and another to connect the two plains, known as the Trans-Siberian. Thanks to the entry of the Canillo parish as a shareholder in ENSISA with a 33% stake, the first snowmakers were set up to add snow to the Espiolets area, with two main centres created at the base of each resort to add snow to the slopes and to the lowest levels. In the 1990s, the Canillo parish and Crèdit Andorrà became majority shareholders of ENSISA. The entity capitalised its debt with the resort with shares and Canillo added the equivalent amount in shares with the objective of modernising the resort. Among other improvements, the winter of 96-97 saw the inauguration of the first eight-seater ski lift in Soldeu, the first of its kind in the Pyrenees, which linked Soldeu with Pla d’Espiolets, achieving a new important step in connecting the town with the resort.

After a few political difficulties, the new sector of Forn was opened in the 2000-01 season, financed by the Canillo parish with the idea of creating a more exclusive type of product. The project included the installation of a ski lift, two chairlifts, two slopes, a beginner’s area and service area with a restaurant and a building for a ski school. This is how the fusion of Soldeu – El Tarter and the new sector of Canillo was established.

Grandvalira was born three years later after the commercial merger between the resorts of Pas de la Casa-Grau Roig and Soldeu – El Tarter. The merger, which was all but for many years, became a reality thanks to the negotiations between the management, the majority shareholders and the Viladomat family. All parties saw that the commercial merger could satisfy the market’s needs and it was an opportunity to unite the experience of two great resorts in order to become the largest resort in the Pyrenees. This is how the new NEVASA society came to exist, with the objective of commercialising a joint ski pass and promote the whole resort.

In 2012, the sector hosted a World Cup for the first time, with the resulting organisational and sporting challenge that a competition of this magnitude implies. The idea of boosting the elite alpine ski competitions was born with the preparation of Andorra’s pre-candidacy for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The initiative never got beyond the project phase but it was used to identify the best slops for the different events. This way, investments were projected to adapt the Àliga SG and Àliga SL tracks and in 2006 the resort presented its first candidacy to host a World Cup. This milestone was also a challenge for the whole country, since the organisation wanted for the whole of Andorran society to get involved, both as spectators and volunteers. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the challenge was successful and, at the same time, the resort and Andorra achieved international recognition as a first-class destination.

The last great challenge was the new track layout and adaptation of the Àliga track to host downhill events, with the long-term objective of the resort becoming a future host of the World Championships. In 2014, Àliga SG and Àliga SL hosted the Men and Women’s European Cup Finals in all events and this year it will host the Super-G and Alpine Combined World Cup races. It is a great challenge that Grandvalira hopes will once again be a huge sporting and organisational success like it was in its first edition.

ÀLIGA SG AND ÀLIGA SL – The competition tracks make up the largest World Cup logo

The tracks chosen to host the Audi FIS World Cup Grandvalira Andorra Soldeu El Tarter 2016 are Àliga SG and Àliga SL, which make out an X-shape if looked at from above, just like the Grandvalira logo. The competition stadium is located in Grandvalira-El Tarter and its track layout, approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) has been conditioned in the last few years to guarantee the safety of both racers and all fans.

Àliga SG track details:
Start: 2.320 m
Finish: 1.720 m
Length: 2.208 m
Width: 60 m
Vertical drop: 600 m
Average slope: 27%
Highest slope: 56%
Lowest slope: 6%
Cannons: 60
Tunnel: 1 of 85m in length

Àliga SL track details:
Start: 1,910 m.
Finish: 1,720 m.
Length: 502 m.
Width: 40 m.
Vertical drop: 190 m.
Average slope: 38%
Highest slope: 53%
Lowest slope: 23%
Cannons: 7

The renovation works of the old Àliga track began in 2012 when the track was re-designed. In 2013, the snow canons network was installed as well as all the security measures and necessary cables for timing, PA systems and TV to host elite international events. The works were completed in the summer of 2014 with the incorporation of more snow cannons on Àliga SG, a parallel track to the SL one. The investment for this project totalled 3 million euros.

You can get to the Àliga SG Super-G track with the 10-seater ski lift in El Tarter or  with the homonymous detachable 4-seater chairlift, both of which leaving from the parking area. Then, they link with the detachable 6-seater chairlift at Tosa Espiolets. The track is oriented towards the north-west, which guarantees the better snow quality, and it descends adapting to the wavy terrain of El Tarter until it finishes in front of Hotel Nòrdic and next to the parking area, which makes it easier for spectator access and influx. The last part of the track is visible from the hotels that have the sunniest rooms that overlook the competitions track.

How to get to?

Bus L3, L4 from Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany. Direction: Canillo, El Tarter.

See also Ski resorts of Andorra: PROS and CONS

See also Pyrenees travel guide

See also France travel guide

See also Spain travel guide

See also Andorra travel guide

See also Moscow travel guide

Read more: All Andorra news ...