GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The leaves may be turning colors in Bavaria, but in the nearby Austrian Alps the snow is falling.

Leigh-Ann De Jong, a member of the Bavarian Ski Club, said Friday that two dozen ski club members were leaving to ski the Hintertux Glacier in Austria this weekend.

“At Hintertux they had a packed base and in the last four days they got about [16 inches] of new snow,” she said.

The trip was planned after the lack of snow at Soelden, Austria, forced cancellation of the annual Columbus Day ski test — an event that traditionally draws U.S. military skiers and snowboarders from all over Europe.

Germany has military ski clubs at Ramstein, Würzburg, Stuttgart, Darmstadt and Frankfurt, De Jong said.

The Bavarian Ski Club has about 60 members but expects to grow this winter with the influx of soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment. The club meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at Vil- seck’s Yesterday’s Club.

De Jong said she had skied a lot in the U.S. but discovered a new ski culture in Europe.

“The European skiers are really responsible when they are skiing, but in lines it’s like a rugby match. It’s a battle to get to the front,” she said.

Bavarian Ski Club president Chris Lawton said most Grafenwöhr skiers head to Austria or the German alps in winter, but skiers from places like Ramstein usually go to Switzerland. After 10 years skiing in Europe, Lawton knows his way around.

“In Austria it is really friendly. Each place has its unique customs and food. Switzerland is a little more refined with good food, but it’s about 30 percent more expensive than Austria,” he said. In Italy, ski fields are at a lower altitude so they have to wait for the spring snow. In France, hotel rooms are small but the food is excellent, and there are plenty of famous ski areas including Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, which boasts a 13.8 mile downhill run, Lawton said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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