Israel may have only experienced its first rainfalls this week, but people are already gearing up for the winter skiing and snowboarding season, which runs from December to March.More than 30,000 Israelis will go on ski vacations abroad this winter, a 15 percent increase over last year, according to SkiDeal, an alpine sports tourism company. The number of Israelis choosing ski holidays has been increasing every year, according to Ronen Katz, the company’s general manager.“This year’s winter tourism season is expected to be more successful than last year’s, due in large part to the recovery from the global economic crisis,” Katz said. “It appears that with time, Israelis are realizing that ski vacations are an enjoyable option for a vacation in a growing number of places around the world and at a range of prices that are suitable for all.“The Russian immigration also contributed to the rise of popularity of winter sports, as they brought the skiing culture with them from home,” he continued. “Altogether there has been a steady increase of roughly 10% [annually] in the amount of bookings over the last five or six years.”A typical weeklong ski vacation costs between NIS 3,900 and NIS 7,500, depending on the country and individual resort, Katz said, while a stay at the Austrian Ischgl resort can reach up to NIS 10,000.“The drop in the value of the euro relative to the shekel during the last year means that Israelis can enjoy cheaper prices than ever before,” Katz said.Most Israelis ski in Europe, he noted. “While North America has its fair share of quality ski destinations, the majority of them are on the West Coast and it is simply too far away for Israelis to take advantage of,” he said.SkiDeal has launched a special competition this year. Anyone interested in winning a free ski package should send them a written proposal describing the most outrageous thing they are willing to do to win the prize. The selected idea will be filmed and the video will be posted on SkiDeal’s website and Facebook page.So far they have received more than 150 suggestions, Katz said.