Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding
17th May 2020
Last modified on May 23rd, 2020
The team at PlanetSKI is reporting all the news & developments as it affects the snowsports world in our ever-popular rolling blog. If you want to see its impact and the response of skiers & snowboarders then read on… UPDATED
Here are the earlier rolling blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past weeks as we report its impact and update daily:
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
Saturday 23rd May
DARE TO DREAM
Our good friends in Norway are looking forward to next winter with this inspiring video.
It’s certainly made us dream of skiing in Norway next winter…
TURN IT UP ! – for the full Bucket-List experiance#winter2021 #dreamnowvisitlater #visitnorway #bucketlist #daretodream?Hunnalvatn Media
Posted by Norway – Home of skiing on Tuesday, 19 May 2020
Regular readers will know we are fans of Norway here at PlanetSKI.
And here’s why…
SUNSHINE VILLAGE IN CANADA PULLS PLUG ON SUMMER
“In recognition of the worldwide pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions due to COVID-19, we will remain closed for commercial operations during the summer of 2020,” said the area.
“As a resort, our focus is keenly on winter.”
Here at PlanetSKI we have visited in the summer and love the place.
And in winter?
It is one of our favourite ski areas in Canada and we LOVE Canada.
We’ll be back when safe to do so.
Summer and Winter.
Friday 22nd May
PORTES DU SOLEIL TO SELL 5,000 HALF PRICE SEASON LIFT PASSES
It will be selling 5,000 season passes on Friday, May 29th, 2020 at 8am local time (7am in the UK) on a first come, first saved basis.
The offer price of €499 (£446) is under half the regular cost of the passes which normally costs €1,028 (£920).
“At the present time it is unclear what travel will be like to and from the Alps next winter and how slope access may be limited if the pandemic is still ongoing at that point, if at all,” said a statement from the resort.
The deal is clearly of most interest to skiers based in the region, however it looks like the cost will be lower than a 14-day lift pass is likely to be.
It may therefore appeal to those planning a longer trip, or multiple trips.
The region has not yet published 2020-21 pricing but last winter a 14-day adult ticket was priced at €508.
The Portes du Soleil ski region includes the 12 Alpine ski resorts of Avoriaz, Chatel, Les Gets, Morzine Abondance, Champéry, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Montriond, Morgins, M, Saint-Jean d’Aulps, Torgon and Val-d’Illiez - Les Crosets - Champoussin and offers 600km of slopes spreading over the French/Swiss border.
PlanetSKI last visited in January 2019:
INDOOR SKI SLOPE USED AS FRIDGE TO STORE FOOD
The Chill Factore in Manchester has stepped in to help the food industry amid concerns that the UK was within days of running out of cold storage capacity.
The UK’s longest indoor real-snow slope is being used to keep cool thousands of items of food, which would otherwise go to waste.
The centre has been closed to skiers and snowboarders since the lockdown began and now it’s being put to a new use.
The initiative is an unlikely partnership between Chill Factore and Company Shop Group, the UK’s largest surplus food redistributor, and is part of ongoing efforts to tackle the challenges presented by the Covid-19 crisis.
Unprecedented fluctuations in demand for stock, resulting from lockdown restrictions which have seen the closure of hundreds of thousands of restaurants, hotels, food businesses and high-street retail stores, are presenting challenges for the industry and supply chain.
This has led to a pressing need for additional cold storage.
The food being stored will be sold to Company Shop’s member-only superstores nearby, which are open to those working in the NHS, emergency services, food manufacturing, as well as other key workers.
“Throughout this unprecedented period, and with the temporary closure of our site, it has been really important to us that we do all we can to help the wider national effort,” said Morwenna Angove, Chief Executive of the Chill Factore.
“We are proud to be doing our bit by working in partnership with Company Shop Group, and of the fact that this food will ultimately be enjoyed by Company Shop members on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19.”
Jane Marren, Managing Director of Company Shop Group said: “Chill Factore’s generous donation of storage space at its site is essential for ensuring that we can continue to support the industry to unlock the value in its surplus, and enables us to continue to keep our shelves stocked for the key workers and vulnerable families who rely on our support.”
LES2ALPES CONFIRMS SUMMER SKIING
The French resort has said that its glacier will open for skiing on June 6th.
For the first three weeks it will only be open to professionals and athletes.
From 27th June it is planning to open to the public in limited numbers with full social distancing required.
It is hoped numbers will increase as summer gets underway and plans are implemented.
“We are aiming to run BASI level 2 exams and training in July and will be available for private lessons as well from 27th June,” said one of regular readers, Alex Armand, who runs Tip Top Coaching.
Alex will be keeping us up to date when the slopes open.
Thursday 21st May
WORLD CUP SKI RACING TASK FORCE SET UP TO PLAN FOR DISRUPTION NEXT WINTER
Its goal is to draw up a potential contingency plan in case travel restrictions and sport event organisation measures make it impossible to stage a classic World Cup season as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The task force will be made up of members of the national ski associations, organisers, rights holders, International Ski Federation (FIS) officials and other stakeholders.
The decision was taken at an online meeting of the Alpine Skiing Committee of FIS.
“The main focus of FIS and of all the World Cup stakeholders will be to organise the 2020/21 World Cup season as originally planned,” the Federation said in a statement.
“Through the necessary precautions and a solution oriented approach, there is optimism and a strong willingness to stage a standard World Cup season.
“Nevertheless, the priority of FIS is to ensure that the World Cup 2020/21 season takes place in a safe and fair environment, addressing challenges and finding solutions with extreme flexibility.”
The task force will also define minimum requirements to host a World Cup event to ensure fairness towards all competitors and nations.
EASYJET TO RESUME FLYING ON JUNE 15th
It will be a very limited service – mainly within the UK, but there will be flights to France.
It is unclear if the flight routes will be to Lyon, Grenoble, Toulouse and other airports that give access to the Alps and the Pyrenees.
June 15th is the date that EU countries are expected to open their external borders.
It is still unclear when any UK quarantine measures may be introduced for returning visitors.
“We will continue to refine our schedule planning and our capacity expectations for the remainder of 2020, which will be confirmed in due course, whilst also continuing our focus on minimising cash burn,” easyJet said in a statement to investors.
There is no mention from the airline of its idea to keep the middle seat free.
Customers, cabin and ground crew will be required to wear masks, there will be enhanced cleaning and disinfection of easyJet aircraft, and disinfectant wipes and hand sanitiser onboard will be available on board.
There will be no in-flight food service.
“These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” said the easyJet CEO, Johan Lundgren.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe so that when more restrictions are lifted the schedule will continue to build over time to match demand, while also ensuring we are operating efficiently and on routes that our customers want.”
SELF-DRIVE TO SELF-CATER NEXT WINTER IN THE ALPS?
With fears that covid-19 will be around next winter tour operators report growing interest in people driving to the Alps and choosing an apartment over hotels and chalets.
“We believe self -drive ski holidays will be the safest way to get to the Alps next winter,” said the MD of Erna Low, Jane Bolton.
The company specialises in self-drive and self-catering in the French Alps.
“By taking the Eurotunnel you can stay in the car during the crossing and you can avoid the busy terminal if you wish to.
“Once in resort, a self-catering apartment offers the ideal solution for social distancing with your family.
“You can also take supplies in your car minimising the need to venture out too much.
“Of course once you are on the mountain, we wait to see what resorts will be providing in terms of social distancing solutions, but perhaps resorts with doorstep skiing or access by chair lift where you can upload with your family will be more popular.”
Other ski operators are promoting it too.
“We’re finding ways to think differently about how to plan a ski holiday. Our self-drive and self-catered ski holiday packages might be an option you hadn’t considered before, and if so we would be pleased to explain how they work and what the benefits are in a little more detail,” said the managing director of Ski Solutions, Craig Burton, in a recent email to clients.
Ski Solutions has reduced deposits to £150pp and removed amendment fees.
“This means you can change your date or destination for free, up to 12-weeks before departure,” said Ski Solutions.
See this related PlanetSKI article as we look at the travel options to the Alps next winter and the potential impact of coronavirus that we posted last month:
Wednesday 20th May
AUSTRALIA SKI RESORTS DELAY OPENING AMID PANDEMIC
From June 1st travel will be allowed in the state of New South Wales which is home to some of Australia’s ski resorts.
However, the ski resorts will not be opening.
“While we welcome the lifting of the NSW travel ban, however please note that Thredbo Resort will not be opening the snow season for skiing and snowboarding over the June long weekend,” said the resort in a statement.
“This means there will be no skiing/snowboarding or any opening weekend events in Thredbo over 5-8 June 2020.”
We’re stoked on the lifting of the NSW travel ban that was announced today ? A friendly heads up that unfortunately we’re not opening for skiing & boarding over the June long weekend ?♂️ However! We’re working hard with Government authorities right now to deliver a COVID-Safe season ❄️⛷? Stay tuned on an Opening Date ASAP ? Bring it on ?
Posted by Thredbo Resort on Tuesday, 19 May 2020
Here at PlanetSKI we understand many resorts believe they will open later in the season once social distancing rules and regulations have been agreed.
On May 20th the deputy premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, said that the state would be working with ski resorts to develop a way for them to reopen safely, but that this would be unlikely to happen before the June holiday.
Here are the snow conditions in the neighbouring resort of Perisher.
Yes way, more snow in May! ☃️ A cheeky weekend top up. ? Check out the Snow Cams ❄️ bit.ly/PerisherSnowCams
Posted by Perisher on Saturday, 9 May 2020
Currently, state rules only allow gatherings of a maximum of ten people at any one time inside a business.
Things are looking better in New Zealand with resorts preparing to open and a special exemption handed out to ski areas as we reported earlier.
Mt Ruapehu has announced it will open its first ski area in the last weekend of June or first weekend of July in time for the July school holidays.
An exciting update re the upcoming winter season – we’re hopeful of opening our first ski area on Mt Ruapehu in late June/early July. This will be dependent on a number of factors, including snowfall and the Alert Level restrictions that exist at the time.We had planned to open Happy Valley on 30th May this year in time for Queen’s Birthday weekend as usual, but unfortunately with the preparation, maintenance and staff hiring time lost during the lockdown, we’re unable to make this happen this year. We will, however be opening the Sky Waka for sightseeing only over Queen's Birthday weekend (Sat 30th May – Monday 1st June) weather permitting. At this stage we are planning a season that will see both Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields open every day the weather permits with top to bottom skiing and riding but it is likely that not all lifts will operate. The operational teams will start outlining that detail later this week via our social media channels. We are very sorry for those who were looking forward to their first outing on the slopes over Queen's Birthday, but we encourage you to still come and enjoy the other incredible experiences on offer in our region. Please visit our partner regions’ (Ruapehu NZ and Love Taupo) sites for some ideas and inspiration:https://www.visitruapehu.com/ and https://www.lovetaupo.com/ We will confirm our NEW planned opening dates as soon as we can, some of this will be dependent on snowfall as usual. Here is our latest update from our CEO Jono Dean:
Posted by Mt Ruapehu, Whakapapa & Tūroa Ski Areas on Sunday, 17 May 2020
SWEDEN KEPT ITS SKI RESORTS OPEN AS SOME CLAIMED IT WAS A MODEL OF HOW TO HANDLE THE VIRUS
But few do any more.
It did not impose a lockdown and said it would protect its elderly and vulnerable.
It has had 3,698 deaths.
Its Scandinavian neighbours, Norway and Finland, did introduce swift and tight lockdowns and report 233 deaths and 301 respectively.
Care home residents account for nearly half of all deaths in Sweden.
“We did not manage to protect the most vulnerable people, the most elderly, despite our best intentions,” said the Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven.
See this article on the BBC about the Swedish handling of the virus.
It adopted the so-called ‘herd immunity’ strategy as we reported on PlanetSKI at the time as its ski resorts remained open as all others in Europe shut.
We questioned why people were still allowed to travel to ski resorts, engage in snowsports activities and potentially spread the virus:
NEVIS RANGE IN SCOTLAND LOOKS BEYOND END OF LOCKDOWN
Nevis Range, one of Scotland’s leading snowsports, mountain biking and outdoor activities destination, near Fort William, is facing what it describes as “the biggest challenge in its 30-year history”.
The resort is keen to get back on its feet as soon as possible after covid-19 restrictions are eased.
Two volunteer events have been organised, a bike trail maintenance day and a ‘clear the hill’ litter picking weekend.
The events are aimed at local mountain bike and snowsports enthusiasts, hillwalkers and climbers, who have spent time with family and friends at the venue
Those who want to get the venue back on its feet and fully operational after lockdown.
“The dates for these events will be scheduled as soon as Scottish Government coronavirus restrictions are eased, and it is safe for both staff and local volunteers to work alongside each other,” said a statement from the resort.
The Nevis Range team says it has been overwhelmed by the hugely positive response to its call out.
More than fifty people have already signed up to help Nevis Range bounce back after this difficult time with others expressing interest in getting involved.
“We have been overwhelmed by the extremely positive reactions from the community to our volunteer days. We are incredibly fortunate to be part of an industry and community that stands together when things get tough,” said the CEO of Nevis Range, said Chris O’Brien.
“With the continued support of our incredible customers and wider Lochaber community Nevis Range will be back stronger than ever.”
Tuesday 19th May
CORONAVIRUS KILLS CLIMBING & HIKING SEASON ON MT FUJI
It will remain closed as the trails on the mountain are shut due to coronavirus.
In a statement the authorities said “we cannot guarantee the safety of the climbers”, as mountain lodges and first-aid centres will be closed to prevent the spread of the virus.
236,000 people climbed the iconic mountain in Japan last year.
EXEMPTIONS FOR UK’S PROPOSED 14-DAY QUARANTINE
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said ministers are looking at ‘travel bridges’ between the UK and low-risk countries.
The UK will likely be seen as a high-risk country by others with the highest death toll in Europe.
It currently stands at 34,996.
The EU countries, and others including Switzerland, are due to ease international border restrictions on June 15th if conditions allow.
Some commentators believe the UK, that is not in the Schengen agreement, may have restrictions placed on it due to its high level of covid-19 cases.
The so-called ‘travel bridges, mentioned by the government would mean anyone arriving in the UK from a low-risk destination would be exempt from having to isolate for a fortnight.
He said the 14-day quarantine scheme will be ‘coming in early next month’ and would be reviewed every 3-weeks.
Further details will be revealed shortly.
Some see the latest government comments as further confusion, rather than qualification.
And it seems to beg two questions:
- If it is needed to stop the spread of covid-19 then why it is not implemented immediately?
- Why was it not done back in March when most other countries across the world implemented strict border controls overnight?
Austria is one of the alpine nations that is judged to have down well in its response to the coronavirus pandemic with 629 deaths.
SKI BROADCASTERS MEET TO PLAN NEXT SEASON’S COVERAGE
Television broadcasters have meet virtually to plan for the 2020-2021 International Ski Federation season.
The group look back at the 2019-2020 season and discussed the potential impact of coronavirus on the upcoming winter season.
Different calendar scenarios and timelines were looked at and possible restrictions.
Protection measures for the broadcast production crews was also considered.
The full story is reported on Inside the Games.
Monday 18th May
GRADUATION BY SKI LIFT
A high school in New Hampshire, USA, has come up with a novel way for graduation in these times of covid-19 – outdoors at the top of a mountain and only accessible by chairlift.
Students from Kennett High School will reach the point at nearby Cranmore Mountain by chair lift with an empty seat between them.
172 students are due to graduate this year.
“People will ride it up, get their diploma, get a picture of them on the top of a mountain, they’ll go to a different place with a second photographer, and get a pretty amazing backdrop,” said the school’s principal, Kevin Carpenter, to locla media.
Other schools in the area and across the USA have been holding virtual ceremonies online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There are plans are in place for anyone who doesn’t want to take the chairlift or if there’s rain.
SLOVENIA SKI AREA OF KANIN REOPENS
It fired up a few lifts last week and hundreds of people were out on the slopes at the weekend making a few late-season turns.
It closed in March as the pandemic spread, but with some restrictions eased it opened its slopes again.
Here are a few images from its Facebook page.
Slovenia has had 1,466 coronavirus cases and 104 people have died.
Sunday 17th May
NEW ZEALAND SKI AREAS GET SPECIAL EXEMPTION TO OPEN
New Zealand is currently under a Level Two alert and this means indoor and outdoor gatherings are currently limited to 100 people.
However the government has agreed specific guidelines with the ski resorts to allow them to open.
Level Two also allows for domestic travel though international tourists remain banned.
Under the guidelines, they won’t be subject to the 100-person gathering limit.
The only requirement for the number of people allowed on the ski area will be making sure appropriate physical distancing can be managed, the industry announced today.
Restaurants and bars will be subjected to the only 100 people indoors who must be seated and served separately.
“It’s been challenging to navigate a new environment, but we all have one goal this year and that’s to open safely for our guests,” said a statement from the resort of Cardronna.
See here for our earlier report on New Zealand looking ahead to winter preparations:
Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables in the South Island are getting ready to open in about a month.
GUIDELINES FOR SKI RESORTS UNDER LEVEL TWO
- Physical distancing required
- Contact tracing in place
- No limit on number of people allowed at once
- Resort restaurants to follow hospitality limits of 100 people maximum, seated and served separately
- Increased cleaning and sanitation
Here at PlanetSKI we are paying particular attention to what is happening in New Zealand as it may set a model for what resorts in the northern hemisphere may look like next year.
We will keep you updated on developments.
AUSTRIAN SKI RACER IN SPECIAL TRAINING CAMP TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
The racer has not been named and he has been withdrawn from the programme after testing positive.
It is understood the private training camp was being held at Salzburg.
An alpine on-snow camp is already underway at Soelden in the Tirol.
It is not thought the athlete had been in contact with any of the on-snow racers in the Alps.
We reported last week as the course began.
At the time the whole of the Austrian men’s team was tested and all were negative.
“The health of our athletes and their supervisors is our top priority,” said the President of the Federation, Peter Schröcksnadel.
“All ÖSV employees, athletes, trainers and supervisors from all areas are tested on COVID-19 using so-called PCR tests.
“The alpines in particular are tested twice.
“Before arriving at the training camp to make sure that they are not infected and before leaving to make sure that they have not been infected during the training.
“This double certainty not only protects our athletes, but also their personal environment.
“We are also planning a scientific study on antibody tests with experts”.
AUSTRALIA SKI RESORTS CONTINUE TO PREPARE FOR OPENING
Australian Ski Areas Association chief executive Colin Hackworth said resorts are preparing covid-safe operating plans.
“The industry remains in lock step with the state governments and the push to maintain common sense and conservative behaviour,” he said.
“We just need to continue to be patient for a bit longer.”
It is hoped they may open in early July.
Ski resorts in New South Wales and Victoria are preparing for a season in line with the respective covid-19 rules, but are yet to find out if it can happen.
Many resorts had a bad summer with the bushfires and now if they lose the winter season because of coronavirus then it’s going to be extremely hard.
See here for a related story on PlanetSKI as we look at preparations in New Zealand where resorts seem more certain to open, albeit under strict coronavirus rules and regulations: