Coronavirus Impact on Skiing and Snowboarding

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

  • 3

Saturday 18th July

Covid-19 Spike Delays Opening of Parliament in Australia

The opening  has been delayed by several weeks due to the spread of the virus in Victoria and New South Wales.

A two-week session was due to begin on August 4th.

The next meeting is planned for August 24th.

On Saturday New South Wales recorded 15 more cases while Victoria saw 217 new infections.

Some ski resorts in Victoria have closed for skiing and snowboarding following the new spike in cases; Two resorts in Australia close due to covid-19 spike

The ski resorts in New South Wales, including Perisher and Thredbo, remain open.

Refund Credit Notes Given Government Financial Backing

Many skiers and snowboarders have accepted a credit note for a cancelled ski holiday as the pandemic swept across Europe bringing the ski season to a premature end.

However there was not guarantee these credit notes would be refundable should the company who issued them go bust.

Now cancelled package holiday skiers and snowboarders are being reassured their money is safe.

The authorities have clarified that these refund promises are guaranteed even if the travel company which provided them goes bust.

The Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have now confirmed that Refund Credit Notes are protected under the Atol scheme, which is government-guaranteed and administered by the CAA.

This means that the refund will be honoured, and can be drawn from a central pot, even if the provider goes bust.

It covers refund credit notes issued between 10 March and 30 September for package holidays cancelled owing to Covid-19.

“The move will particularly help tour operators that have not been able to immediately refund customers for cancelled package holidays because they have had to wait for money back from airlines and other suppliers,” said a spokesman for Abta, which represents the holiday companies.

Some say the decision has come several months too late.

Already several tour operators have gone out of business and they have been unable to cope with the burden of refunding thousands of customers.

Rory Boland, of consumer association Which?, said package travel companies should not use this as an excuse to “force” credit notes onto their customers and should make clear when they have the right to a cash refund.

Friday 17th July

Another record day of cases in Melbourne

There were 428 new infections confirmed on Friday in the Australian city.

This follows the 317 reported Thursday, and around 200 per day for a week before that for the entire state of Victoria.

Officials described the number as “disappointing”, and urged residents to abide by lockdown rules.

Some ski resorts in Victoria have closed for skiing and snowboarding following the new spike in cases; Two resorts in Australia close due to covid-19 spike

Police have issued hundreds of fines to people visiting other households and lingering outside.

The rest of Australia closed its borders to Victoria to try to stop the spread of the virus.

40 cases have emerged in Sydney where concerns are rising.

Officials are urgently tracking a cluster of cases at a pub visited by a Melbourne man.

Three more people have also died – taking Australia’s death toll to 116.

The ski resorts in New South Wales, including Perisher and Thredbo, remain open.

Test Events for Beijing 2022 to Go Ahead

The International Skating Union (ISU) has confirmed it expects three of its major competitions in China to go ahead this year as they form part of the series of test events for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Chinese Government has cancelled all international events for the rest of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beijing 2022 test events are the only exception to the ban, imposed in response to concerns over a second outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

The ISU said it had received an agreement from the Chinese Olympic Committee that the Cup of China in Chongqing – part of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit – in November “remains scheduled as planned”.

Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022

The #ClassicsLive Project Run by the International Ski Federation comes to an end.

A total of 23,000 votes were cast in 28 different polls and the 30 livestreams were viewed 334,000 times by fans across all disciplines.

To entertain ski fans at home during the various stages of lockdowns and Covid-19-related restrictions, FIS activated a special fan project titled #ClassicsLive earlier this spring.

The rights holders of FIS events opened up their digital vaults to enable some of the greatest ever competitions to be viewed again.

Each week, fans across all six Olympic disciplines had the choice between two classic events and could cast votes for their favourite one in polls on the FIS website.

The chosen events were livestreamed in their entirety the following week on the respective discipline Facebook and YouTube pages.

“It was important to us to offer the ski and snowboard fans something extra in the challenging times during spring”, said Jenny Wiedeke, FIS Communications Director.

“We were able to realise this project with great support with footage from Infront Sports & Media and are very happy with the number of fans we could engage in snow sports in out-of-season time in May, June and July. This project only underlines the power of livestreaming to engage and reach fans also outside of the classic ski and snowboard season.”

Thursday 16th July

‘No Tokyo Olympics likely means no Winter Olympics either’

If the postponed Tokyo Olympics do not go ahead next year due to the virus then the 2022 Beijing Winter Games is also unlikely to go ahead.

That’s according to the International Olympic Committee Member, Dick Pound.

“Taking the political side out of it for the moment say there is a Covid problem in July and August next year in Tokyo, it is hard to imagine there is not going to be a knock-on effect in the same area five months later,” Pound told Reuters in a phone interview.

The Tokyo Summer Games are now set to be held in July – August 2021, while the Beijing Winter Games are scheduled for Feb 2022.

However, the IOC said earlier that it was “fully committed” to the Tokyo Games and had “multiple scenarios” prepared for them to take place safely.

Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022

Sharp rise in covid-19 cases in Melbourne

The state of Victoria in Australia had 317 new cases – a new national record.

The past week has seen on average more than 200 infections a day recorded amid aggressive testing in Melbourne.

Australia’s second-largest city was forced back into a six-week lockdown last week.

“An out of control outbreak is one where no matter what you’re doing, you’re seeing an exponential increase. We’re seeing an increase, but it’s relatively slow,” said chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton.

Some ski resorts in Victoria are closed for skiing and snowboarding; Two resorts in Australia close due to covid-19 spike

Wednesday 15th July

FIS plans for snowsport competitions next winter

In a mid-summer message the International Ski Federation says it has a number of scenarios for next winter depending on covid-19.

The President of FIS, Gian Franco Kasper, says the organisation is planning for a number of possibilities.

“Make no mistake, we are working on several alternative scenarios, depending on the global situation when the World Cup season begins, but our goal is to carry out our ‘Plan-A’ calendar with as few changes as the pandemic, and Mother Nature, will allow,” said Gian Franco Kasper.

Read more here: FIS Plans for Snowsport Competitions Next Winter

International Ski Federation

International Ski Federation. Image © FIS.

New Zealand Plans for New Outbreaks

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has had to “plan for any eventuality”, noting the outbreak in Victoria in neighbouring Australia.

“It appears their current outbreak is linked to a managed isolation facility similar to the ones we run here and that the entire outbreak was seeded by just two cases,” she said at a press conference.

The new plan would involve bringing in swift, local lockdowns and using rapid contact tracing to ensure anyone close to a confirmed infected person was isolated.

“Internationally the evidence remains that going hard and early is the best way to stop the virus and ultimately delivers the best results for human health and the economy over half measures that aren’t as effective at getting on top of the virus and sees us in lockdown for longer,” Ardern told reporters.

New Zealand has now gone 70 days without a single case of community transmission.

It is strictly limiting who can enter the country and everyone has to go into quarantine for two weeks.

The ski resorts are open and currently enjoying “epic’ conditions; Epic conditions at New Zealand ski resorts

The Australian state of Victoria, which is under partial lockdown has recorded 238 new cases.

Some ski resorts have closed; Two resorts in Australia close due to covid-19 spike

Sydney has also recorded 10 more cases linked to the Melbourne outbreak, prompting fears it will become a new hotspot.

Meanwhile in Canberra, closed to the New South Wales ski resorts on Thredbo and Perisher, the police are reminding self-isolating Australians to ‘wear clothes’ when answering the door

A number of people wearing little or no clothing answered the door to police officers checking for quarantine compliance.

“Some of them may need a reminder to put some clothes on before they open the door for a compliance check,” Australia Capital Territory Detective Superintendent Jason Kennedy said in a statement.

“We did get a few surprises on the weekend,” he added.

Bracknell Ski Centre to Close

The owner of the dry ski slope and ice skating complex has announced it will not reopen.

The centre is operated by John Nike Leisuresport Limited.

It closed in March as coronavirus restrictions came in.

The firm said “a financially viable plan” for the complex could not be found.

67 staff have been made redundant.

Nearly 12,000 people have signed a petition calling for the centre to remain open.

The John Nike Group has five sports centres in the UK:

  • Its centre in Chatham, north Kent has fully reopened
  • Its ski and snowboarding site at Swadlincote, South Derbyshire has reopened at weekends
  • Its snow sports centre at Llandudno in North Wales is expected to reopen fully on 18 July
  • A Reopening date for its snow sports centre in Plymouth had yet to be set.

Monday 13th July

News from Europe…

Finland has lifted travel restrictions for 17 more European countries and 11 nations outside Europe.

But the border remains shut to the UK and also to Sweden, where infection rates remain high.

Falls Creek also remains open for some snow activities as lifts close

Falls Creek and Mt Hotham in Victoria, Australia, closed last week as cases of covid-19 cases in the state grew, Two Australia ski resorts closed due to covid-19 spike

On Sunday we reported that Mt Hotham was still able to offer some activities (see below).

Now Falls Creek is doing the same.

The resorts says it will continue to have activities open to visitors not affected by the current Melbourne metropolitan and other local coronavirus lockdowns.

“We are devastated for our local businesses, staff and all our guests, that such action has been necessary to respond to the spread of coronavirus in Victoria,” Falls Creek Resort Management chief executive Stuart Smythe said.

“With guests coming to the resort, they will be required via the resort entry portal, to provide their details for contract tracing purposes and for capacity management.”

The resort will still run cross country trail grooming at a reduced number of kilometres, tobogganing and snowplay, transport services within the village, snowmobile tours and back country tours.

New Zealand to limit people flying into country to align with available quarantine accommodation

Air New Zealand is to limit inbound passenger capacity from overseas, which could lead to some passengers being denied their booked services.

It comes after a request by the NZ government to cut inbound passenger numbers to ensure there are no more people than designated quarantine accommodation providers can handle safely.

The NZ government wants to align the number of inbound travellers to the number of available quarantine accommodations.

“We accept this is a necessary short-term measure given the limited capacity in quarantine facilities and we’re keen to do what we can do to help New Zealand’s continued success in its fight against Covid-19,” said Air NZ chief commercial and customer officer, Cam Wallace.

Skiing in New Zealand

Skiing in New Zealand. Image © PlanetSKI.

The country has opened its ski areas with no covid-19 restrictions in place as it has declared itself to have beaten the pandemic:

NZ resorts open for skiing and snowboarding

The ski areas have got off to a good start with conditions as the weekend described as “epic”.

Friday was a “capacity day” at Coronet Peak with over 4500 skiers and a one-in-one-out system in place.

The resort is know for its freestyle camps:

Blake Marshall riding Coronet Peak's natural features

Keen to make the most of those natural features out at Coronet Peak? Freeride World Tour Athlete Blake Marshall and Hannah Wilson shows us how it's done! Although Blake's the official Mountain Ambassador over at The Remarkables, you'll find both him and Hannah coaching and teaching on both mountains this winter. Cheers for the video team!

Posted by Coronet Peak on Thursday, 2 July 2020

Mt Hutt had over 3000 visitors and the Remarkables 2500.

Sunday 12th July

Mt Hotham in Australia opens some activities on snow

The resort has closed for skiing and snowboarding after a spike of covid-19 cases in nearby Melbourne with the city of 5m put back in lockdown; Two resorts in Australia close die to covid-19 spike

Now Mt Hotham has issued the following statement:

“While the lifts may not be running, there are still winter snowsports activities that can continue to run at Hotham.

“As a result, Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board have made the decision to keep the resort operating for guests from areas that are not in lockdown.

“This means that winter activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing and snowplay will still be offered at Hotham, and we encourage visitors who are permitted to travel to consider trying these as alternative ways to enjoy our beautiful winter environment.”

Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board will continue to operate the following services in accordance with its COVIDSafe Operating Plan:

• Ski Patrol (reduced capacity)

• Village and carpark snowclearing

• Grooming of cross-country trails

• Snow play and tobogganing (conditions dependent)

• Support for on-mountain businesses through our website and social media channels

The following services will not be running:

• Medical Centre

• Local ambulance service

• Village bus service

In line with the reduced level of resort operations, the Resort Entry daily price will be $35 per day effective immediately until at least 19 August 2020.

Ski resorts in Georgia open for summer

They closed on March 17th as coronavirus spread.

Ski resorts have reopened in Bakuriani, Gudauri and Mestia.

Only the Goderzi resort of Ajara has not opened as major construction work is underway.

Under the new rules, the people who want to use cable cars to get to the top of the mountain, must have their temperature measured and also must observe the social distancing rules and wear masks.

Gondola lifts will take on four passengers, who will be seated in a zigzag order.

The open cable cars accommodating six people will now take on three passengers, while four-seaters – two passengers.

PlanetSKI’s reporter, Ian Davis, was in George last March as the the resorts closed.

But not before he had a good taste of what was on offer: PlanetSKI goes skiing in Georgia

11-year old from Scotland becomes youngest to climb the Matterhorn

Jules Molyneaux from Perthshire reached the 14,692ft summit in the Alps in about four hours.

He spent much of the lockdown building up his fitness to be allowed to attempt the challenge.

He made the ascent with his father, Chris.

The full details can be read on the BBC.

Photo c/o Chris Molyneaux

Photo c/o Chris Molyneaux

“I feel tired and happy and relieved. It was an experience, definitely tiring and my legs felt like jelly after the climb.

“The sunrise is worth it when you go up. Halfway up the mountain you can see all the orange behind the Alps, it’s amazing.”

Jules’s climb was inspired by theclimbing he had done with his school.

He had to prove his ability to local mountain guides before being allowed to climb.

His father, Chris, said “He kept training and training and then a year ago started to take it seriously, and then six months ago we thought we would give it a shot.

“Where we are based in the highlands of Scotland, we are surrounded by Ben Nevis and all the climbing meccas there, but it’s more of a serious game in the Alps.”

Although there are no official records it’s believed Jules is the youngest person to ever climb the Matterhorn.

This was confirmed to Chris at the Matterhorn museum in Zermatt.

Over 500 people have died while climbing the Matterhorn.

Here are our earlier rolling coronavirus blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we reported its impact and updated daily since the pandemic began.

All you need to know about the pandemic and its impact on the world of snowsports:

July 5th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 28th: Coroanvirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 21st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 14th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

June 7th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 31st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 24th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 17th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

May 3rd: The coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 26th: Covid-19 impact on skiing & snowboarding continues

April 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiiing and snowboarding continues

April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports

March 29th: Our rolling blog on the impact of Covid-19 continues

March 23rd: PlanetSKI’s rolling blog on the coronavirus impact on skiing continues

  • 3