October’s News In Brief
1st October 2020
Last modified on May 20th, 2021
– Snow Helps Extinguish Wildfires
– Autumn Colours in the Mountains
– Tree hugging and ice floating in France this winter
– Russia Accused of Hack Attack on 2018 Winter Olympics.. UPDATED
Tuesday 27th October
Snow in USA Helps Extinguish Wildfires
The snow in Colorado has helped battle the two largest wildfires in Colorado history, which together have spread over 400,000 acres.
The Cameron Peak Fire, the largest blaze in state history, is now 64% contained. It has already burned over 208,600 acres.
The East Troublesome Fire spread 192,560 acres and has jumped the Continental Divide. It is 15% contained.
The areas have seen 18-30cm of snow
“We’re grateful for snow which fell heavily on our state over the weekend, and really gave the firefighters a much better chance at being able to keep these fires away from major population centers,” said Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, to local media.
Colorado is likely to see more wildfires due to climate change.
Governor Polis said the state will need to adjust and take more pre-emptive measures in the future.
Wednesday 21st October
Tree Hugging & Ice Floating in the French Alps
French ski resorts are busy innovating to give skiers and snowboarders something different to do in what will be a winter like no other.
With traditional après ski off the menu, outdoor pursuits are all the rage and here are two that have caught our eye.
In Saint Martin de Belleville in Les3Vallees, you can engage in some forest ‘sylvotheraphy’ sessions.
Sylvotherapy is for those who want to get back to nature.
Sabrina (no surname provided) will help you indulge in this practice which we are told derives from yoga and meditation but ‘harnesses the positive energy waves emitted by trees’.
Otherwise known as tree hugging.
The sessions last for two hours and will be available in March and April.
The next one is for the very brave.
It’s a first for France.
The resort of Val Cenis offers you the chance to stretch out on a frozen lake ‘for a moment of extraordinary relaxation’.
“Facing the mountains, relax in crystal clear waters at around 5°C, whilst wearing a wetsuit to keep you warm.”
The practice comes from Finland.
And we can report that PlanetSKI has been ice floating in Finland.
In Lake Yllasjarvi to be precise.
“The air in the suit was displaced by the water pressure outside and rushed from my legs upwards,” said our reporter, Krystna Chauncey, back in 2013.
See here for her full report, Arctic Adventures.
“It was such a strange feeling to feel so buoyant.
“Once my feet touched the bottom of the lake, I slowly leaned backwards and floated away from the ladder.
“My body felt light and weightless. I closed my eyes and just drifted away occasionally bumping my head against the ice shelf.
“It was so quiet and was so relaxing.”
Tuesday 20th October
Russia Accused of Hacking Attack on Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
Six Russian intelligence officers have been charged in the USA in connection with an alleged global computer hacking operation.
According to US Federal Prosecutors, the Russian officers unleashed a corrupted software system known as “Olympic Destroyer” to disrupt the Pyeongchang 2018 Opening Ceremony.
It has been claimed that the Russian intelligence officers were planning a similar attack on this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, which were subsequently postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
See the full story on Inside the Games.
The six Russians named are Yuriy Sergeyevich Andrienko, 32; Sergey Vladimirovich Detistov, 35; Pavel Valeryevich Frolov, 28; Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, 29; Artem Valeryevich Ochichenko, 27; and Petr Nikolayevich Pliskin, 32.
They are all currently in Russia and it is unlikely they will ever face the charges in court.
Sunday 18th October
Only in Japan…
This has absolutely nothing to do with skiing (though Japan does have rather fine ski resorts), but we all need something to smile about in these weird times.
Only in Japan 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/dkwynqpthf
— Nature & Animals 🌴 (@AnimalsWorId) October 17, 2020
Wednesday 14th October
Cows’ Alpine Pastures Under Threat
Climate change and economic hardship are said to be putting at risk the high mountain areas in the Alps used to graze cattle in the summer months.
Summers are arriving earlier with average annual temperatures rising.
“That means we have a prolonged period of vegetation during which more herbs, grass and shrubs can grow,” Jasmin Duregger, a climate change expert at Greenpeace Austria, says in a report by AFP published in The Local Austria.
This is said to have increased the feed by as much as 20%.
“The cows simply can’t keep up with grazing.”
In alpine regions, ceremonies to mark the procession of cows up to their mountain pastures in the summer and back down again in the autumn are big occasions.
The report in The Local Austria says the tradition is threatened by both global warming and economic changes with small farms in the Tirol becoming financially unviable.
As a result, more than 25,000 cows have disappeared over the past decade, and with them the pastures they used to graze on, according to figures from the agriculture ministry.
Other regions of the Alps are said to be affected, including south east France, Switzerland, and parts of Italy, Germany and Slovenia.
Read the full report in The Local Austria.
Monday 12th October
Ban on Fluorinated Wax for Racers Postponed
The International Ski Federation, FIS, had planned to ban fluorinated wax on environmental grounds for the season of 2020/21.
We reported on it earlier, FIS bans some ski waxes.
The chemicals found in some waxes go into the snow and then percolate down to the ground and into groundwater systems.
They can damage the wild habitat and human water supplies.
FIS has now decided to delay the ban for 12-months.
There will be further laboratory and field testing, and measures to finalise testing systems.
The ski wax has been scientifically proven to have negative environmental and health impacts.
The testing of a hand-held device for checking on fluorinated was found measurement errors, and so further work is needed to ensure correct results.
Athletes could be disqualified if fluorine is detected in their wax once the ban comes into force.
Despite the delay FIS says it remains 100% committed to the fastest feasible implementation of fluorine-free competition at all levels and disciplines and in a fair and consistent way for all competitors.
Recently, more environmentally friendly ski waxes have come onto the market.
Sunday 11th October
While one resort in the USA, Crystal Mountain in Michigan, has fired up a lift to give people the chance to see the colours from the comfort of a seat.
It costs $5 per ride.
And in Other News…
Saturday 10th October
Winter Olympic Curler Awarded MBE
GB’s Eve Muirhead has been recognised in the Queen’s delayed Birthday Honours List.
She led her team to bronze in Sochi 2014, but missed out on a medal at Pyeongchang in 2018.
She is preparing for the Beijing 2022 Games.
“I’ve been curling for the majority of my life and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting where I am today in the sport, so although I’m very modest about these things it is definitely very nice to be recognised.,” she said to the Scotsman newspaper.
“If I go to Beijing (in 2022) it will be my fourth Olympics and I do feel like there is a moment that is waiting to come. I’ve had a great few years with Team Muirhead winning world and European titles, and I believe that we’ve continued to get better.
“For me the lockdown has been great in terms of allowing me to just focus on my rehabilitation and give my health a little bit of a rest.
“I just feel like I want to give back to a sport that has given me so much throughout my career, including now the MBE. It shows I have been appreciated and I want to help as many people as possible achieve their own dreams in the sport.”
Friday 9th October
Wildfire Near Colorado Ski Resort
A wildfire has broken out near a Colorado ski area little more than a month before its scheduled winter opening.
The blaze near lift 2 at Purgatory near Durango was reported by to around six acres in size and 30% contained on Thursday.
Local news reports say the fire was burning near structures but the structures were not immediately thought to be at risk.
The cause is not yet known and is being investigated.
Purgatory is due to open for skiing on 21st November.
It ended its summer/autumn operations last weekend.
Thursday 8th October
Preparing for Pond Skimming
It is a fun and popular was to end a ski season and takes place in many resorts across the world.
This weekend, weather permitting, its the turn of the Tūroa ski areas on the north island in New Zealand.
Last weekend Tūroa saw its traditional Bikini Downhill Race.
About 50 people stripped down.
They raised $500 for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.
With good snow in the area it is hoped the lifts will continue running into November.
Tuesday 6th October
British Climber Dies in New Zealand
37-year-old Emma Langley fell while ascending Mount Ruapehu on the North Island.
She was in a group of nine people climbing the eastern side of the mountain, crossing terrain known as Cathedral Rocks.
One of her fellow climbers alerted the rescue services but a helicopter was unable to land due to strong winds.
A ground rescue team was deployed but it took five hours to reach the spot.
She came from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.
“This is an absolutely tragic event for the woman who has died, her family and friends, and her climbing companions,” said police senior constable, Barry Shepherd, in a statement to the media
“Many in the group were relatively new climbers, but they were well-prepared and while the weather changed throughout the day, when they set off the conditions were suitable.
“While this was not the outcome anyone wanted, I want to acknowledge the bravery of those in the group who climbed down over a number of hours to assist her, as well as two other climbers who came across the scene and stopped to help.
“I also want to thank all the LandSAR [search and rescue] men and women who worked tirelessly through the afternoon and well into the night, in absolutely shocking weather, to return the deceased to her family and rescue the rest of the group off the mountain.”
Sunday 4th October
Autumn Colours in the Mountains
It’s that time of year again as the season changes and the autumnal colours are out.
Across the month we will be posting pictures of the fabulous colours here in Europe and over in North America.
Saturday 3rd October
Investigation into Allegations of Racism & Bullying at British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association
“UK Sport can confirm that it has commissioned an independent investigation into allegations made at the BBSA,” a spokesperson said.
“While the process is ongoing, we are unable to comment any further.”
The investigation is allegedly related to a complaint made in July by BBSA Board member Colin Rattigan.
Rattigan claims that he was subject to an “extended period” of bullying and harassment.
Here at PlanetsKI first reported on the alleged problems back in October 2017.
Friday 2nd October
Molly Summerhayes Trains to be Police Officer
The 23-year old former Olympic skier is training with the South Yorkshire Police.
She retired after the Winter Olympics in Pyeongyang in 2018, Olympic skier retires as funding runs out
“Molly, from Sheffield, has just started our Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship at Sheffield Hallam University, which combines on-the-job learning with academic study in a three-year programme,” said the South Yorkshire Police.
“Retiring from sport was one of the hardest things in the world. After making the decision to stop, I knew I needed to find a career which would give me as much excitement as that had done,” said Molly.
“What appealed to me is the fact that every day is different, you’re outside and you get to help people. I knew I wanted to find a job that mattered, I had lived and breathed sport and I wanted to find something I could be that passionate about again – and this time it’s policing.
“Before joining, I was working in a normal job. I might have been to the Olympics but I’m a totally normal person, wanting to make a difference in the city where I’m from – and hopefully that’s what I’m going to do.”
“I’ve been back out with my sister, Katie – who is also an Olympian! – and now even she’s talking about a future with the emergency services. I’d encourage everyone to think about it, it’s already inspiring me and I’ve only just started!
“I’m so proud to be part of the team, part of Team SYP and to wear the uniform.”
Thursday 1st October
Paul Carter Steps Down as CEO of Hotelplan UK
The company runs Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski.
He will be succeeded by Joe Ponte, previously Managing Director at Explore Worldwide.
Carter took over the reigns in the spring of 2017 and is leaving for personal reasons.
It is stressed that it is unrelated to the coronavirus crisis.
“It has been an absolute privilege to be at the helm here,” said Carter.
“I have had five challenging but fantastically enjoyable years with our award-winning brands. I want to thank my amazing team and colleagues, and the unwavering support from Thomas Stirnimann and the Hotelplan board.”
Thomas Stirnimann is the CEO of the Hotelplan group.
“I deeply regret Paul’s decision to leave Hotelplan UK, but understand and respect the personal reasons behind this,” said Stirnimann.
“On behalf of the entire Executive Committee, I would like to offer our sincere thanks for his tireless commitment with the Group and wish him the very best for his future”.
“I am convinced that I have found the ideal successor in Joe Ponte. From his previous role he knows Hotelplan UK and the current challenges very well. I wish him every success in his new position”, added Stirnimann.
Hotelplan is facing a tough time with covid-19 impacting on the travel sector and recently moved from its UK HQ.
Doctor Admits Doping in Skiing
Mark Schmidt has confessed to the use of illegal drugs and blood doping in Germany and Austria, having been involved in scandals in skiing and cycling.
The 42-year old German doctor admitted that since 2012 he had been using doping methods and given prohibited substances to athletes.
He is currently on trial in Munich.
Six of his devices for blood preparation were set up in the court.
Some had been seized in February 2019 in a raid at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Seefeld in Austria.
Two hours before the start of the men’s 15km cross-country event, five athletes and two suspects were detained at the venue.
One Austrian athlete was caught undergoing a blood transfusion.
PlanetSKI was at the event in 2019 and reported on the raid.
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.
The Munich court was told about their functions and a device for welding blood tubes was demonstrated along with other machines used for preparing blood.
One of was able to separate blood plasma and red blood cells.
Schmidt claimed that he “did not profit from doping” and that there was no threat to the health of the athletes.
“It was always important for me that their health was not harmed,” the confession said.
A verdict is expected before Christmas and Schmidt faces 10 years in jail
Snow Making Starts in A-Basin
The annual contest between the Colorado resort and nearby Loveland has begun.
A-Basin’s COO, Alan Henceroth announced that “snow making is underway”.
It will be a similar battle to open first in what will be a very different winter.
In A-Basin there will be covid-19 measures in place:
The resort will be limiting the number of daily skiers allowed on the slopes this year, by requiring advance reservations and limiting daily lift ticket sales which must be purchased in advance.
A-Basin will also be limiting the number of season passes sold this year, but passholders will not be restricted during the 2020-21 winter season and will not have to make advanced reservations.
IOC Warns Italy a New Sports Law May Affect 2026 Winter Olympics
A draft law gives extra powers to the Italian Sports Ministry and takes some away from the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).
The International Olympic Committee fears the law could severely reduce the role of the CONI in Italian sport.
In 2018 the Italian Parliament approved a law which would see a separate Government-controlled organisation set up to hand out funds to the country’s national governing bodies.
This body, called “Sport e Salute” would allegedly reduce CONI’s role to only handling preparation for the Olympic Games.
It is claimed by those against the draft law that it would constitute Government interference in a National Olympic Committee (NOC), which is prohibited under the Olympic Charter.
The IOC President, Thomas Bach, claimed the IOC would be “very concerned” with the organisation of the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Italy if it is approved.
The organisation has written to Italian Sports Minister, Vincenzo Spadafora, outlining its issues with the law.
Thomas Bach said there was a “risk about the preparation of Olympic athletes in Italy for the Tokyo Games and that could mean less medals” and the IOC would be “very concerned with the preparation and organisation of the 2026 Winter Olympics” if it passes.