September’s News In Brief

– Switzerland Rejects Proposal to End Free Movement
– Chemmy Alcott to be lead presenter on Ski Sunday
– Suicide-Prevention Training for US Ski & Snowboard
– Call for Openness as Cairngorm Decision Nears…UPDATED



Switzerland Rejects Proposal to End Free Movement

In a vote 62% said they wanted to keep free movement while 38% were against.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU but has a series of treaties that allow it to access to Europe’s free trade area and this is dependent on free movement.

The vote will be welcomed by EU nationals who work in Swiss ski resorts – either on the slopes or in the hotels, bars and restaurants.

1.4 million EU citizens work in Switzerland.

Supporters of the plan claimed it would allow Switzerland to control its borders and select only the workers it wants.

Opponents argued it would plunge a healthy economy into recession by denying it the labour it needs and would impact on the 500,000 Swiss people who work and live in the EU.

Swiss flag

Switzerland. Image © PlanetSKI.

Sunday 27th September

Thursday 24th September

Suicide-Prevention Training for US Ski & Snowboard

US Ski and Snowboard has partnered with The Speedy Foundation to provide training for staff.

The training is based on three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide; question, persuade, and refer.

Those trained learn how to recognise suicide warning signs and are better equipped to question, persuade and refer someone in potential danger to help.

US Ski and Snowboard has encouraged athletes, members, and board members to complete the free training.

The initiative has been supported by a collaboration with The Speedy Foundation, which is named after three-time Olympian Jeret “Speedy” Peterson.

Peterson won a freestyle aerials silver medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as achieving a world-record score at Deer Valley Resort in 2007.

Peterson battled depression and substance abuse and took his life in July 2011 at the age of 29.

Tributes for US Olympic skier who committed suicide

The UK athlete Ellie Soutter took her life on her 18th birthday.

Ellie Soutter

Ellie Soutter

Tributes continue for Ellie Soutter

Ellie Soutter’s Mum speaks out to help others

Ellie Soutter Foundation Awards 4th Athlete Grant

Sporting authorities are taking the whole issue of mental health more seriously than they once did.

Athletes are under enormous pressures to succeed and that some times comes at a cost.

GB Snowsport launches mental health initiative

“We are delighted to welcome GB Snowsport as the newest signatories of the Mental Health Charter,” said Lisa Wainwright, CEO of Sport and Recreational Alliance, as she reacted to the GB Snowsport initiative in the link above.

“One in four of us will experience a mental health problem every year. Yet, it is still something people are worried to talk about or ask for help. This must change and physical activity can play a massive part.

“We know that being physically active can help mental wellbeing and by signing up to the Charter, GB Snowsport have demonstrated a commitment to playing their part in moving the conversation forward and adopting best practice.”

Tuesday 22nd September

Calls for Transparency As Decision On Cairngorm Funicular Repair Nears

A coalition of outdoor organisations is calling for plans for the future of Cairngorm Mountain in the Scottish Highlands to be made publicly available.

The group, made up of Cairngorms Campaign, North East Mountain Trust, Ramblers Scotland and Scottish Wild Land Group, says it’s concerned at what it calls a lack of transparency and public accountability by the landowners, Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The coalition wants to ensure the plans consider a future both with and without the Cairngorm funicular, the main lift to the top of the ski hill.

The mountain railway has been out of action since autumn 2018 when structural problems were identified.


According to the Strathspey & Badenoch Herald, the coalition believes HIE decided the funicular should be repaired without considering other options.

It wants the business case to be made public before the Scottish Government decides whether to fund the repairs.

That decision is due to be announced soon.

“Skiers have been deserting the mountain since well before the closure of the funicular,” Dave Windle of North East Mountain Trust told the newspaper.

“It’s now clear that the funicular is not even needed to attract summer visitors given the number of tourists flocking to the area this summer when it wasn’t working.

“HIE’s plans must get things right this time or more public money will be wasted, and downhill skiers will continue to go elsewhere.”

Read the full report in the Strathspey & Badenoch Herald 

Sunday 20th September

Brexit Impact for Next Ski Season

The government has launched a campaign aiming to help British travellers, that’s us skiers and snowboarders, prepare for Brexit changes.

The information explains the new rules coming into force for trips to the EU from 1st January 2021.

People are being warned they may not be allowed to visit most EU countries if their passport does not have both six months left until it expires and is less than 10 years old.

European Health Insurance Cards may also no longer be valid, so holidaymakers need to buy appropriate travel insurance.

Travellers may also need international driving permits in some countries.

There’s the end of the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU.

More information about the changes can be found here.

Friday 18th September

Nordic Ski Championships Doping Trial Begins

A German doctor has gone on trial accused of being part of an international sports doping ring that was smashed at the 2019 Nordic Ski World Championships.

Mark Schmidt was arrested after police carried out raids at the Championships in Seefeld in Austria and in Erfurt in Germany.

PlanetSKI was in Seefeld watching the cross country skiing at the time.

Doping Arrests At Nordic World Championships

21 Athletes In Doping Ring

Three Skiers Banned For Doping At 2019 World Championships

Five skiers and a coach were implicated in the blood doping scandal and have been given bans and, in some cases, criminal convictions.

Max Hauke, of Austria, was banned for four years and given a suspended prison sentence after being caught with a needle in his arm.

Six cyclists have also been banned.

Dr Schmidt, along with four others who are accused of helping him, is alleged to have assisted at least 23 athletes undergo blood transfusions to improve their performance.

“The accusation is about the commercial and gang-like use of prohibited doping substances, and is directed against this doctor and small group of people who are said to have helped him over a longer period of time, namely since 2011, to teach so-called blood doping to athletes, especially in cycling and winter sports,” Chief Prosecutor Anne Leiding said, according to the Associated Press.

The trial is expected to continue to the end of the year.

Thursday 17th September

From Ski Jumper to Tour de France Supremo

Slovenia’s Primož Roglič is the favourite to win the Tour de France and he currently wears the yellow jersey.

Roglic is a former ski jumper who only made the switch to cycling in his early 20s.

He was a competitive ski jumper in his teens and even won a world junior title before making the switch to road cycling in 2012 following a heavy crash.

After breaking through as a time trial specialist Roglic shot to cycling stardom in 2018 and 2019.

Now he appears to have made the yellow jersey his own on the 2020 Tour de France.

Wednesday 16th September

Mammoth Mountain Closed For Rest of Summer

The California ski resort was forced to suspend its summer operations on 7th September after the US Forest Service closed all National Forests in the state.

Huge wildfires have been devastating large swathes of California.

On Tuesday the resort announced that it could not re-open.

It followed a decision that forests, including the Inyo in which Mammoth is located, will remain closed as the blazes continued to stretch resources to the limit.

Mammoth Mountain Closed Due To Extreme Fire Danger

Monday 14th September

Further Criticism of Beijing 2022 due to Alleged China Human Rights Abuses

A letter signed by more than 160 human rights groups has been sent to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.

Among the signatories are the Uyghur Human Rights Project, World Uyghur Congress, Tibetan Youth Congress and other Hong Kong and Mongolian rights groups based.

The letter warned that Beijing 2022 “could even contribute to more repression” in China.

It wants Beijing stripped of the Games.

The groups claim the internment of Uighurs in Xinjiang and new security laws in Hong Kong are examples of human rights abuses.

“The IOC must recognise that the Olympic spirit and the reputation of the Olympic Games will suffer further damage if the worsening human rights crisis, across all areas under China’s control, is simply ignored,” the letter said.

Politicians in the USA and the UK are among other groups to have urged the IOC to take action against China by taking away the 2022 Winter Olympics.

In the UK the former Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, has voiced his concerns as we reported earlier on August 22nd in August’s News In Brief

Sir Iain Duncan Smith says the UK should take a “strong position” including considering a boycott of the Games over alleged human rights abuse in Hong Kong and of Uyghur Muslims.

Sir Iain is among the co-chairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which features politicians from 16 countries and two representatives from the European Parliament.

The group has vowed to reform how democratic countries approach China, with its activities centred on safeguarding international rules-based order, upholding human rights, promoting trade fairness, strengthening security and protecting national integrity.

The former Conservative Party leader has accused China of being “dictatorial, aggressive and intolerant”.

He said that the country’s Government’s “horrific treatment of Hong Kongers and the Uyghur Muslims violates every human rights law in the book.”

China has claimed that Xinjiang’s internment camps are “vocational education centres”, maintaining that its policies in regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet are for national security and to counter extremism.

Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022

Saturday 12th September

Alligators in the Snow

Now we have often posted pictures and videos of animals in the snow on PlanetSKI – usually dogs, bears, marmots and the like.

But we have never posted about alligators.

Until now.

Colorado in the USA has seen some early snow as we have reported elsewhere:

Early snow in the USA and Canada

It has also fallen in the Colorado Gator Farm in Mosca.

Snow gators are real. Our gators will sun bathe after it snows. Truly amazing animals.

Posted by Colorado Gator Farm on Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Friday 11th September

New Ski Run for Courchevel

The Eclipse black run is a slope created for the 2023 Alpine World Ski Championships but will be open to us mere mortals next winter.

It starts at the Col de la Loze (2,234m) with a 30% incline and goes through a dense wooded area before  in the village of Le Praz (1,300m).

Thursday 10th September

Inghams Ski Nominated for 2 Awards

The UK’s specialist ski tour operator has a chance for two gongs at this year’s British Travel Awards with third nomination for its summer operator.

Inghams Ski is nominated for:

  • Best Ski and Winter Sports Holiday Company
  • Best Chalet/Winter Sports Accommodation Provider

Inghams Summer is nominated for:

  • Best Special Interest Holiday Company

The winners will be chosen by travellers.

Voting is open until Sunday 22nd November.

Skiing with Inghams

Skiing with Inghams

The company recently launched its ‘In Safe Hands’ campaign to reassure customers they can ‘travel with confidence’.

Inghams Ski Looks Forward To Next Winter

Inghams Launch Digital Brochure For Next Winter

If their holidays are cancelled by Inghams because of Covid-19, they will be offered the option of a full refund, re-booking or a refund credit note.

Inghams are travelling only to destinations that are exempt from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s all but essential travel list.

The British Travel Awards cover 85 different categories and are one of the largest surveys of consumer opinion.

If you want to vote for Inghams click here

Tuesday 8th September

Rise In Irresponsible Behaviour In The Cairngorms This Summer

Visitors to the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands left their mark over the summer holidays and not always in a good way.

A report going before this Friday’s Park Authority board meeting says there was a noticeable increase in irresponsible behaviour.

The report says the amount of incidents was relatively small by total visitor numbers but a minority left behind human waste, nappies, litter, abandoned tents, and fire damage to trees, fencing and bothies.

Here at PlanetSKI we reported on the issue last month.

The report says 143 fires were tackled in the National Park.

On the night of 17th July the fire brigade put out up to 30 fires at the beach at Loch Morlich, Glenmore, and four police officers attended the area between midnight and 1am.

At Loch Garten near Aviemore trees were damaged by fire and human waste was found.

Further afield visitors to Glen Doll in Atholl and Angus Glens held a disco in a marquee and left behind tents, fire damage and human waste.

“Early August was very busy with large numbers of visitors to the park,” the report says.

“Despite a noticeable increase in irresponsible behaviour the vast majority of visitors have been reacting favourably to information offered by the Rangers with few, but significant, occasions of difficult behaviour….as we move into September things are quietening down allowing for other activities and duties to be introduced into the Seasonal Ranger’s programme.”

Monday 7th September

Massive Wildfire 30 Miles From Mammoth Mountain 

The Creek Fire is near Fresno in the Sierra National Forest in California.

It is fast-moving and currently blazing out of control.

The ski area at Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Lakes are said not to be at risk at this stage.

“There is currently no threat to life or property, but it’s probably not the best time to be traveling to the Eastern Sierra,” The Mammoth Lakes Fire Department said on Sunday.

“Normally this would be a view of Mammoth Mountain from Old Mammoth Road, but we’re seeing a significant amount of smoke in town from the Creek Fire.”

The California Department Of Forestry and Fire Protection said that by Sunday the blaze had spread over 73,278 acres and was 0% contained.

Mandatory evacuations and road closures are in place and 800 firefighters are involved in the operation.

The crews have been hampered by the steep, rugged terrain and high temperatures.

The fire broke out on Friday evening near Big Creek and Huntington Lake, moved quickly crossing the San Joaquin River and reached the Mammoth Pool area.

Big Squaw Mountain Ski Area in USA Keeping its Name

The owner of the resort in Maine, James Confalone, is reported to be happy with the name.

It follows Squaw Valley in California opting for a name change as some are upset by its apparent sexist and racist connotations.

Squaw Valley Ski Area to change its name

Mr Confalone said the name “memorialized the head of the Native American household” in an interview with local media.

Saturday 5th September

Skiing with Tractors

So, hands up if you have been skiing with the help of a tractor?

No, thought not.

Well, this is how they can help…

Real Skifi is a title under which a group of Finnish guys have produced ski videos since 2010.

The crew is best known for its videos showcasing creative urban skiing.

Its videos have more than 10 million views.

Friday 4th September

Thursday 3rd September

Huge Country Estate For Sale On The Edge of the Cairngorms

With question marks over how easy it will be to travel abroad to ski this winter, how about getting yourself a pad with easy access to the slopes in Scotland?

For around £7.5 million you could do just that.

The vast Kinrara estate in the Scottish Highlands lies on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park in Upper Speyside 39 miles from Inverness airport and 122 miles from Edinburgh.

Country Life is reporting that Scottish agents Galbraith are looking for offers above £7.5 million for the whole estate.

It covers 9,309 acres and is nine miles long and three miles wide at its widest point.

It includes the six-bedroom Lynwilg House and seven further houses and cottages, so there’s plenty of space for your skiing and snowboarding buddies to keep socially distanced.

Any takers?

Tuesday 1st September

The American Dream Indoor Ski Slope Opens Today

The $5 billion complex in New Jersey in the USA has been under development for almost 20 years and was just starting to open some attractions when the coronavirus pandemic shut it down.

It’s North America’s first indoor ski slope and was opened by Lindsey Vonn in December 2019.

Lindsey Vonn opens North America’s first indoor ski slope

The ski slopes are set to reopen today.

There is no word on when the rest of the complex will open.

It includes a water park, retail stores, restaurants, an ice rink and Nickelodeon Universe.

According to an Instagram post by Big Snow: “Endless winter will resume at Big SNOW starting next Tuesday, September 1st and while we were happy to do our part to help flatten the curve, we can’t wait to get back to sliding on snow with all of you.”

Covid-19 restrictions will be in place:

  • Advance reservations will be required
  • A limited number of customers allowed in at one time
  • Social distancing will be required
  •  Face coverings will be mandatory

Success Rate for Climbing Mount Everest Doubles in Past 30 years

More than 500 climbers from across the world attempt the climb to the highest place on Earth.

Two-thirds of climbers now reach the summit, verses one-third previously according to a new survey.

Weather forecasting has improved and the most popular routes have fixed lines.

Increased experience of expedition leaders and high-altitude porters may also have helped boost success rates

The death rate for climbers has hovered unchanged at around 1% since 1990.

La Plagne Appoints New UK PR

Heaven Publicity has been appointed by La Plagne Tourism to lead its PR activity in the UK.

Heaven Publicity will work with La Plagne to promote it as a winter French Alpine destination, especially for families.

The resort has 12 areas: Plagne Aime 2000, Plagne Villages, Belle Plagne, Plagne Soleil, Plagne Centre, Plagne Bellecôte, Plagne 1800, Plagne Montalbert, Champagny en Vanoise, Les Coches, Montchavin and La Plagne Vallée.

La Plagne has 10,000 hectares of ski area across seven peaks with the Glacier de Bellecôte (going up to 3,250m.

It has more than 400 km of slopes, 186 km of cross-country paths and 40 km of ski touring trails.

The resorts are a 90-minute drive from three main airports, Geneva, Grenoble and Lyon.

They can also be reached in a day’s drive from the UK or by train, boarding at London St Pancras International and arrive at Aime La Plagne station after a transfer at Lille or Paris.

“We’re thrilled to be working with La Plagne Tourism to promote this year round destination, ” said the CEO and founder of Heaven Publicity, Lynsey Devon.

“Although its renowned for its ski slopes spectacular views and summer sports, not so many people know about the fact it offers experienced ski sunrise touring expeditions.

“It’s home to France’s only bobsleigh and skeleton track, plus everyone is passionate to preserve the resort’s nature including 15 different varieties of protected wild flowers.