Skiing Mount Hermon is akin to driving in Israel, as the locals ski the way they drive – cellphone to ear, cigarette hanging out of their mouth – aggressively, imperfectly and with gusto. Still, with only one ski mountain in the entire country, skiing has become a popular sport in these parts and Israelis flock to Mount Hermon during the weeks of the winter when there is snow.
At 9,230 feet above sea level, Mount Hermon skiing bears a remarkable resemblance to skiing in the United States. Above the tree line, the front face of the mountain is large, open and commanding. With a vertical drop of only 1,552 feet, it’s not a particularly difficult mountain for the intermediate and advanced skier, but one skis the Hermon because it’s the only game in town. It's also guarded by the Israel Defense Forces, as it abuts the borders with Syria and Lebanon, with ski-suited soldiers making runs off-piste (they train abroad).
For the non-skier, there are other fun winter activities, such tubing or sledding, building a snowman or just tramping in the snow, which for many is part of the fun. This is the country's winter site that draws everyone, Jew, Arab, religious and secular, tourists of all ethnicities and backgrounds. It’s a place of coexistence – at least for a few hours.
At the end of the day, stop in at one of the Druze shacks that line the side of the road as you exit the mountain area. The ski resort is adjacent to the Druze town of Majdal Shams, many of whom also benefit from the ski mountain, working as ski instructors or selling tasty snacks in the village. Have a delicious Druze pita – a big, flat circle that is warmed and layered with tangy labane cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of za'atar herb. Wash it down with a few salty olives and hot cup of lightly-sweetened herbal tea.
Canada Centre – The Home of Figure Skating in Israel
The 1990 immigration of more than a million Russians to Israel meant an increase in local sports talent, particularly for winter sports. The Israel Ice Skating Federation was founded in 1990 and joined the International Skating Union in 1993, with Israeli-Russian immigrants making a name in the ice dancing, figure skating and speed skating circuits. In 2002, Israeli pair Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski placed third in the World Championships, a first for Israel in the sport. Carrying on their example, brother and sister team Alexandra and Roman Zaretski have placed 13th in the World Championships, and first and second respectively in the 2009 Winter Universiade and Nebelhorn Trophy competitions.
Enjoy the Canada Centre's Olympic size rink as well as the full-service health club, indoor pool, squash courts, shooting range and other amenities. Catch a hockey game if it's the right season. Finish the trip to Israel’s northernmost border town with a walk about Metulla, which directly borders Lebanon and has beautiful views and vistas of the region.
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