Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & Snowboarding
30th August 2020
Last modified on September 5th, 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
Saturday 5th September
Norway Steps Up Promotion of Next Winter
The country is judged to have done well in handling covid-9 so far with 11,120 confirmed cases and 264 deaths from a population of around 5m.
It went into lockdown swiftly back in March and restrictions have now been eased.
The conditions and rules for next winter are still not clear, but Norway is most definitely on our list for an early ski visit.
Here are some of the latest inspiring videos from Norway – Home of Skiing, to get us thinking about the winter ahead.
US Ski & Snowboard Axes National Nordic Ski Season
The cancellation includes SuperTour, US National Championships, SuperTour Finals and the Junior National Championships.
Regional events can be held, but national events will not be held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020-21 is a pre-Olympic year, and the performances in pre-Olympic years usually have a big influence on Winter Olympic selections.
“We recognize that the nature of the sport of the cross-country ski racing in our nation has special considerations that are often dissimilar to other ski and snowboard disciplines,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard in a statement.
“National-level cross country events boast big fields, with hundreds of athletes, coaches, and officials, and these events are often hosted in small communities.”
The 2020-21 Nordic World Cup Calendar will be finalised by the International Ski Federation, FIS in late September.
Already the World Cup alpine skiing races in Canada and the USA have been called off:
Friday 4th September
Three Families Launch Private Compensation Cases Against Ischgl
The families of two German men, aged 52 and 54, and a 74-year-old Austrian journalist who died from Covid-19 are taking civil action against the Austrian resort.
The allege that they contracted the virus while in the ski resort in the Tirol.
They are being represented by the Austrian consumer protection lawyer, Peter Kolba.
He is also co-ordinating an action by thousands of other people across Europe and beyond who claim they caught coronavirus in the ski resort and the authorities did not do enough to protect them.
Hundred of UK skiers and snowboarders have joined the case.
The civil test suit of the three are lodged in Vienna and are running alongside criminal cases brought against officials in the Tirol province and Ischgl.
Those in authority in the resort are accused of prioritising commercial interests over public health.
“All three were healthy. The 74-year-old contracted the virus, we believe, after he was pushed into a packed bus to take visitors to the station,” said Dr Kolba.
What he calls the “chaotic departure” of guests from March 13th will be a key part of the case.
The families are each seeking €100,000 in compensation.
Ischgl has accepted some responsibility.
“We have been massively criticized for the corona pandemic since the early end of the season,” it said in a statement back in April.
“Despite our efforts, many have been infected with the virus on site – we wish all those affected all the best and a speedy recovery.
Like the rest of the world, we now have more answers and experience …..we want to learn from this for the future.”
Covid-19 Measures for Hokkaido Ski Resorts in Japan
The Hokkaido Prefecture has launched the ‘New Hokkaido Style’ campaign to encourage new lifestyle habits and business customs.
In the resorts there will be:
- Protective screens at desks
- Sanitation of high-touch areas,
- Provision of hand sanitiser
- Floor stickers for social distancing
- Daily health checks for employees
- Temperature and travel history checks for guests.
Rusutsu resort in Hokkaido is operating reduced capacity on its airport transfer buses in order to better assure social distancing and gondolas are being disinfected between each ride.
Kiroro resort has introduced digital menus in its restaurants, as well as implementing a strict guided seating process led by restaurant staff members.
Over 500 ski resorts in Japan are operated by hoteliers all of which have brought their own supplementary initiatives to safety measures helping to keep ski resorts up and running in a safe way.
Most foreign nationals are currently banned from entering Japan unless there are exceptional circumstances.
See here for more in Japan’s coronavirus travel restrictions.
PlanetSKI was in Hokkaido in the autumn of 2019.
Check out our tales of the most amazing country:
Australia Extends Travel Ban
The measure allows the government to restrict the entry and exit of flights and cruise ships.
Australian citizens and permanent residents are not allowed to leave the country unless they have a government-approved exemption.
All travellers arriving in Australia are subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility.
The measures have been extended by another 3-months to December 17th 2020.
The ski resorts in New South Wales are continuing to operate, while the ones in Victoria have closed.
The state of Victoria has been in lockdown since July and the number of cases is now falling.
New Zealand Sees First Death Since End of May
A man in his 50s has died in hospital in Auckland.
He is the youngest person to die from Covid-19 in New Zealand.
The city has been at the centre of a cluster of more than 100 cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks.
5 more cases were recorded on Friday.
Auckland, on the North Island, is to remain in semi-lockdown for another two weeks.
The restrictions have had an impact on the ski resorts on the South Island with people form Auckland unable to visit.
Some report a 30% decrease in business.
Thursday 3rd September
Big Events To Be Allowed In Switzerland From October
Banned since the start of the pandemic, events with more than 1,000 people attending can be held in the country from 1st October, according to the English-language news website, The Local Switzerland.
There will be strict rules.
Everyone must be seated, except for outdoor events such as skiing or cycling races.
The Local reports that health authorities initially said alcohol would be banned at all major events but the Federal Council decided on Wednesday that it would be allowed as long as social distancing can be maintained,.
It will be up to regional cantons if they want to impose stricter rules.
EU: Infections Back to March Levels
Coronavirus infection numbers in Europe are back to levels seen in March, according to the head of the EU’s public health agency.
Andrea Ammon told Reuters news agency that across Europe there are now 46 cases per 100,000 people.
In March there were 40 cases per 100,000, rising to around 70 per 100,000 by the end of April.
She said most new cases involved young people.
However, the UK is doing better than many countries in mainland Europe, according to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He said UK cases are ‘broadly flat’, partly because of the test and trace system, partly because of quarantine arrangements and partly through social distancing policies.
But he said there was still a chance of a second spike of cases and told the BBC he was very worried at the prospect.
2023 World Ski Championships Making Good Progress
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the organisers of the Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel-Meribel have made ‘impressive progress’ in their preparations.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) reports that a lot of good work has taken place over the summer, notably on both the women’s downhill due to be held in Meribel, and the men’s courses in Courchevel.
The French resorts will jointly host the Championships in 2023.
A ‘hybrid’ meeting – with some people on site and others online – was held earlier this week with all the key stakeholders.
“It is clear that there has been much completed over the last few months. While 2023 is still quite a distance away, the Organisers are moving ahead like the championships are just around the corner,” said Women’s Chief Race Director Peter Gerdol, who was on site for the meeting.
“We feel that we have made very positive progress during this past summer,” said Director General of the Organising Committee, Perrin Pelen.
The possible ramifications of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic were on the agenda at the meeting.
The organisers says they are optimistic that the World Championships will be able to weather the Covid storm to put on two weeks of world class alpine ski racing in February 2023.
“Courchevel and Meribel have made impressive progress, despite the challenging circumstances during the past six months,” commented FIS General Secretary Sarah Lewis.
Wednesday 2nd September
Ski Amis Turns to Self-Catering
As a result of Covid-19 the UK operator, Ski Amis, has decided to offer seven of its chalets in France on a self-catered basis this coming season to offer guests flexibility and choice.
“We can build a self catered package to suit exactly what you are looking for with a number of extras that can be added in order to make your trip as hassle free as possible,” says Ski Amis.
“With our new self catered chalet programme, you benefit from quality chalets with social distancing completely within your control.
“Our resort management team are also there to support you if you need them.”
See here for more: Ski Amis
How does UK Government Decide Which Countries to Quarantine
It is a surprisingly simple formula that gives an indication of which country may be going on and off the list.
Much of the Alps and Pyrenees are out of bounds unless you are prepared to go into 14-day quarantine, but not everywhere.
The decision is generally triggered when 20 or more people out of every 100,000 in a country are infected over seven days.
The figures are easy enough to find before the government publishes them.
However, it is not quite as simple as that as the UK’s Joint Biosecurity Centre, that advises the government, also looks at things.
- An estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infectious
- Trends in the number of cases and deaths
- Information on a country’s testing capacity
- How much the virus has spread, including clusters of cases and the level of transmission in the community
The government tends to announce the result on Thursday afternoon with the quarantine coming into force on 04.00 the following Saturday.
See here for our full article with further information and web site links:
Tuesday 1st September
Covid-19 Surge in Argentina
Argentina is now among the 10 countries with the highest number of confirmed infections in the world.
As of Monday, it had more than 417,000 cases and 8,660 deaths.
A strict and early lockdown meant that cases at first spread slowly, but in recent months there has been a rise.
A couple of ski resorts have opened but the opening period in Cerro Catedral was marred by the death of a piste patroller in an avalanche.
Brazil is the worst affected country in Latin America and is approaching 4-million confirmed cases with 121, 515 deaths.
Some Alpine Airlines Require Passengers Wear a Mask from Today
Lufthansa has announced the new measures which also apply to Austrian Airlines and Swiss.
From 1st September the airlines will insist non-mask-wearing passengers present a negative Covid-19 test plus a medical certificate stating why they can’t wear a face covering.
Airlines also highlight the need to wear a face covering during the booking process, at check-in, at the gate and in onboard announcements.
Failure to comply means that a passenger faces the risk of being ordered off their flight, restrictions on future air journeys and penalties under national laws.
New Rules for Facemasks in France
They are though somewhat confusing.
In less affected areas, masks in the workplace can be temporarily removed if the building has enough ventilation, desks are divided by screens or staff wear visors.
In “red zones” like Paris, each employee needs 4 sq m of space around them if they want to take their mask off.
According to one paper, the rules for wearing masks in offices are now more complicated than French grammar.
The number of new cases of coronavirus in France now stands at around 30,000 a week.
Four times higher than the start of the summer.
Ski businesses and resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees are watching the new rules and regulations closely for what it may mean for the winter.
If they can understand them.
Inferno Race in Murren Plans to Go Ahead
It has a Plan A, and a Plan B should coronavirus restrictions dictate.
From October 1st the Swiss authorities are allowing events of up to 1,000 people
This ruling means that the 78thInternational Inferno Races from 20 – 23 January 2021 may go ahead as usual.
It will hopefully see the cross-country contest on Wednesday and the giant slalom on Thursday, followed by the downhill on Saturday.
However the traditional party at the Sports Centre will be significantly scaled back.
If thing can’t go ahead as planned die to Covid-19 then the organisers have an alternative.
Plan B: Spreading the Inferno Downhill over two days
Should the Swiss Government reimpose more stringent measures, the organising committee would consider spreading the downhill with a maximum participation of 1,850 athletes over two days.
Although there is no plan to reduce the number of participants, it would not be possible for everyone to compete on the same day.
On Friday, start numbers 701 to 1600 would compete.
On Saturday, it would be the turn of the top favourites in the men’s categories with start numbers 1 to 700, including the women’s top 30 block (Nos 201 – 230) and the block with the Super3 Series participants.
Inferno rookies would also compete on Saturday (Nos 1601 – 1850).
With five athletes entering the course per minute (12-second start intervals), gatherings of more than 50 athletes could be avoided, with appropriate control measures at the start and finish areas.
The contests on both days would be ranked as one race.
Wednesday evening’s cross-country race with around 550 athletes in the village centre of Mürren would take place as usual, as would the giant slalom on Thursday.
However, the fringe programmes would be restricted to an acceptable minimum.
Entry fee reimbursement in the event of cancellation
In the event that the Inferno Ski Races 2021 have to be cancelled due to COVID-19, entry fees will be reimbursed in full.
To find out more about the historic event see some of our previous articles:
The Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade Cancelled
It is the world university games and sees undergraduates from across the world competing.
The Winter Universiade is the largest winter multisport event after the Olympic Games with around 1,600 competitors.
It is now in its 30th year.
It was due to have taken place in the Swiss town of Lucerne January 21st-31st, 2021.
40% of registered participants are not allowed to enter Switzerland under current covid-19 border regulations.
Gatherings of more than 1,000 people remain banned in Switzerland.
There are growing concerns as coronavirus cases rise in Europe
“After more than four years of preparation it is a painful decision, but in the end an easy one,” said the Organising Committee President, Guido Graf.
“The health of all the participants has always been the top priority in our evaluations.”
Talks are taking place to see if it can be moved to a later date.
It is just the latest event to be called off for next winter and the organisers of other events in the mountains, from sporting ones to music festivals, are watching developments closely.
US Ski Team Prepares for Covid-19 Restrictions in Europe
All the World Cup alpine ski races will be held in Europe this winter.
The North America events have been cancelled.
US athletes and personnel will need D visa, otherwise known as national long-stay Schengen Visa.
It allows allows athletes to stay in Europe for more than 90 days over a 180-day window.
The situation is the same each year, but this coming season there will be strict covid-19 rules and regulations to follow as well.
They differ from country to county with quarantine and testing decided by local health officials.
Some European countries require quarantine, while others allow a quick test, and if the results come back negative, quarantine ends after 24 hours.
The US athletes will prepare at special camps in the mountains.
Protocols will be put in place for athletes and staff.
Measures include monitoring of coronavirus symptoms, health checks twice a day, a double negative test required to enter the camp, and maintaining a bubble within the training group to limit exposure.
“It’s changed the camps a lot and we are paying a lot of attention right now,” said Jesse Hunt, USSS alpine director. “We are trying to make sure we are as safe as we can coming into the camp and keep everyone healthy while we are there. We are going to take that same model we have been using in the States and bring that to Europe.”
The alpine skiing racing season starts at the end of October and continues to March.
The first races of the season at Soelden in Austria have been brought forward a week.
Two giant slalom events are planned in Soelden, with the women’s race timetabled for October 17th before the men’s takes place on October 18th.
The US athletes are then expected to return to the USA to train ahead of the winter.
“We will try to alert the border patrol through the American consulate when they (the athletes and support staff) are landing,” said the president and CEO of US Ski & Snowboard, Tiger Shaw.
“They may or may not be able to give a heads up to the board police to help them.”
Monday 31st August
Australian Man Jailed after Breaking Quarantine to Visit Girlfriend
He used a ladder to get out of a hotel window on numerous occasions.
Australian media report that Yusuf Karakaya was ordered to quarantine at the Mercure Hotel in Perth after arriving from Sydney.
Over three days he climbed out of his window and met an accomplice who drove him to his girlfriend’s house.
He was found by police hiding in a bedroom cupboard at his girlfriend’s house and told them it was her birthday and he would have been in trouble if he hadn’t come to visit.
He was sentenced to 6-months in jail and will have to serve a month of it.
The Australian state of Victoria has reported its lowest rise in cases in nearly two months – with 73 new infections on Monday.
A strict second lockdown was imposed in Melbourne in July to control a spike.
Ski resorts in the state remain closed.
New Zealand Eases Some Restrictions
In New Zealand lockdown has been lifted in Auckland with schools allowed to re-open.
Social gatherings remain limited to 10 and masks are mandatory nationwide on public transport.
“I cannot stress how important this is, much of this cluster has stemmed from social gathering, if we want to stop the spread we have to stop socialising for a time,” said the New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern
“If you are in Auckland, I strongly encourage you to wear a mask, if you take public transport you must wear a mask.”
New Zealand has registered just two new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, both linked to clusters in Auckland.
The lockdown in Auckland on the North Island has harmed the ski resorts on the South Island with people unable to travel.
Reports say Cardrona Alpine Resort, which also operates Treble Cone near Wanaka, has lost more than 30% of its business.
“The second week of the July school holidays we had the equivalent, if not slightly better, week than last year so that gives you some idea of how busy and we weren’t expecting anything like that. We were expecting more like 50 percent,” said General manager Bridget Legnavsky to local media.
Coronet Peak, the Remarkables in Queenstown and Mt Hutt in Canterbury are run by NZ Ski.
“Our school holidays were stronger than last year even though we were missing the Australian market, which is usually 30 to 40 percent of visitors,” said chief executive, Paul Anderson.
But now the impact of level 3 restrictions in Auckland was being felt, Anderson said.
“Probably not quite as we expected … it’s dropped off, the season pass visitation remains quite strong because most of the holders live locally. But the day pass visitation has dropped off by about 25 percent.”
Canada Extends its Border Restrictions
Canada requires a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country and this will last at least another month.
All non-essential travel to the country is banned for anyone who is not a citizen or resident, with the exception of people from the US.
Canadians who do travel abroad must self-isolate on their return.
Canada has had 9,108 deaths with more than 127,000 case.
Our reporter, Ross Young, is planing to head to Big White and Revelstoke in December to report on the early season conditions in Canada and how the resorts are dealing with covid-19 restrictions.
If he is allowed in without quarantine.
Canadian Ski Resorts are looking to hire 100s of locals as foreign workers are restricted under Covid-19 regulations.
Sunshine Village near Banff in Alberta has as many as 400 jobs to fill.
Usually foreign workers, many from the UK and Australia operate the lifts, serve in the bars/restaurants and work as ski instructors.
The ski resorts are now looking to fill many of the posts with Canadians and are looking for local high school grads and post-secondary students.
“Especially those in the class of 2020. They graduated during the pandemic and may want to defer their university until they can go back into the classroom,” said the director of communications at Sunshine Village, Kendra Scurfield, to CBC.
“We are reaching out to students to recruit. And we want to attract as many Canadians from Alberta …, Manitoba, British Columbia, as we can.”
The resorts say they are aiming to open in mid-November as usual but understand there may be some changes.
Sunday 30th August
Vail Resorts Unveils What Next Winter May Look Like in its Resorts
It runs 34 resorts in North America and will set the benchmark for what resorts will look like across the pond.
It will likely be replicated in Europe too.
Vail Resorts runs a number of ski areas in Australia and will have learnt from the ski areas Down Under in the past few months.
So, what about North America?
- Reservations will need to be made in advance.
- Masks are required for everyone on the mountain.
- Physical distancing will be the rule, with quick, cashless lines through rental shops and on-mountain eateries and no sitting next to strangers on chairlifts.
- Anyone going to ski school will be required to conduct an online health screening before hooking up with an instructor and class sizes will be limited.
“We are fortunate that our core experience of skiing and riding takes place outdoors, across huge mountains, offering fresh air and wide-open spaces for our guests. However, to help protect our guests, our employees and our communities amid this pandemic, some changes will be required this season,” said the CEO of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz.
“It has been our goal to design an approach that can remain in place for all of the 2020/21 season.
“We do not want to be caught off guard or find ourselves needing to make reactionary changes.
“Striving for consistency will provide our guests, employees and communities with as much predictability as possible this season, which we believe is worth the extra effort.
“I realise not everyone will agree with our approach, some are feeling we are being too conservative or aggressive.”
All the plans could change depending on the levels of Covid-19 throughout the season.
Keystone in Colorado is the first of the resorts run by Val Resorts set to open – the scheduled date is November 6th.
Here at PlanetSKI we’ll keep you posted…
Covid-19 Cases Drop in Victoria
The Australian state of Victoria has recorded 94 new cases of coronavirus over the latest 24-hour period – the first time that the number of daily cases has fallen below 100 since early July.
The State Premier, Daniel Andrews, said earlier this week that a reduction in cases raised hopes that the spread of the virus was slowing, and strict lockdown restrictions could be eased in September.
Australian authorities have started to patrol some beaches to enforce coronavirus restrictions.
Groups of more than 20 people are not permitted and people need to stay a towel-length apart from each other on the sand.
There are clusters causing concern in Sydney.
Ski resort in New South Wales remain open and have had some epic snowfalls.
Perisher has seen around 1m of snow in the past week.
Here are our earlier rolling coronavirus blogs if you want to look back at all the relevant developments over the past months as we have reported its impact.
We have updated daily since the pandemic began.
All you need to know about the pandemic and its impact on the world of snowsports:
August 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 9th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
August 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
May 10th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports
April 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding
April 5th: Coronavirus impact on snowsports