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Coronavirus Impact on Skiing & 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…

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Ski Sunday Title Sequence as You Have Never Seen Before!

We all have plenty of time on our hands at the moment so Ski Sunday fan, Sean Hooker, put his skills to good use.

“Lockdown means we can’t go skiing so I made the skiing come to my home,” said Sean.

“I amended the BBC Ski Sunday theme using the best bluebird powder day that Nottingham has ever seen.”

Sit back and enjoy…

There has been swift reaction over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

Facebook reaction

Facebook reaction

Saturday 30th January

Police Carry Out Checks on Foreigners in St Anton with 96 in Breach of Covid-19 Rules

Several British nationals are reported to be amoung those in breach of pandemic-related rules on entering the country and the national lockdown.

The EU nationals claim register to be looking for work even though there us none available

The police carried out a series of operations on Friday night to find out if foreigners were in the ski resort legally and were obeying the Covid-19 rules.

Ski resorts in Austria are allowed to run their lifts but they are aimed at locals only.

The police were acting on information that dozens of young people had arrived in the resort in the past week.

“Among others Britons, Danes, Swedes, Romanians, Germans, Australians, Irish people and Poles were checked and fined,” the Tirol police said in a statement,

15 officers were involved in the operation.

The police said that if people were found to be breaking the rules they could be fined up to €2,180 (£1,930).

Tourist accommodation is only available to business travellers.

Police Carry Our Checks on Foreigners in St Anton, 96 Are in Breach of Covid-19 Rules

France Announces Tough New Covid-19 Border Restrictions

It is closing its borders to most non-EU travel, but has stopped short of imposing a third national lockdown.

The government met on Wednesday and has since been studying recent data.

From Sunday, all but essential travel from outside of the EU will be banned and that includes the UK.

Testing requirements from inside the EU will also be tightened.

Police will increase the enforcement of the evening curfew and other rules already in place.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister,  PM Jean Castex.

“We know the grave impact [of a lockdown]. Tonight, looking at the data of the past few days, we consider that we can still give ourselves a chance to avoid one,” he said.

Infections remain high in France, despite recent rule tightening.

See here for our full story:

France Announces Tough New Covid-19 Border Restrictions

Cristiano Ronaldo Investigated After Alleged Trip to Italian Ski Resort

The Juventus forward and soccer superstar is claimed to have gone to the resort of Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley.

If so, the journey would break Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The ski resort itself is closed.

The Valle d’Aosta police confirmed to the Reuters news agency that an alleged visit to Courmayeur by Ronaldo and his girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez, this week was under investigation.

Images of the couple sitting on a snowmobile and celebrating Rodriguez’s 27th birthday appeared on social media.

Movement between Orange Zone regions in Italy, including Piedmont where Ronaldo lives and Valle d’Aosta, is forbidden under the current government decree.

In October 2020 the 35-year-old footballer tested positive for Covid-19 and went into isolation.

If Ronaldo is proven to have made a visit to Courmayeur he could be fined €400.

Courmayeur, Aosta Valley, Italy

Courmayeur, Aosta Valley, Italy. Image c/o PlanetSKI.

Friday 29th January

France Warns of Need for New Measures as it Considers Third Lockdown

France’s health minister, Olivier Véran, has warned that new measures will be needed to deal with the new, more infectious, variants of the Covid-19.

It is needed to avoid what he called ‘an epidemic within an epidemic’.

“We are not in an epidemic wave, when the virus is spreading exponentially like last spring, but we are on a rising plateau, which is increasing by 10% each week,” he said.

The major worry was around the new, more contagious variants of the virus discovered in the UK and South Africa, which now account for 2,000 new cases a day.

That’s around 10 percent of the total.

The south east of France, including parts of the Alps has some of the highest levels.

The département of Alpes-Maritimes has the highest incidence rate in France and some hospitals have had to transfer patients to other parts of France as they are unable to cope.

On Wednesday the government met to consider a third national lockdown and decided it needed more time to look at the data.

Austria’s Covid-19 Cases Drop but Will it Extend Lockdown?

Lockdown in Austria is due to end on February 7th. 

Austria was recording upwards of 5,000 new cases daily in November and December.

Daily case numbers have fallen below 2,000 in recent days as its lockdown appears to be working.

The Austria virologist, Dorothee von Laer, said to Austrian media that a decision on extending the lockdown would be made early next week.

She said that the government and the opposition were in broad agreement about the effectiveness of Austria’s lockdown measures.

Its ski resorts are currently allowed to open, but are aimed at locals only.

Some resort have chosen to remain closed until later in the winter:

Ischgl Hopes to Open In Mid-February

Ischgl, Austria

Ischgl, Austria

Here at PlanetSKI we’ll keep you posted on developments.

Thursday 28th January

Covid-19 Cases Rising in France

The Health minister is to give a statement later today following a jump in infections.

A 6pm to 6am curfew across the country has so far failed to bring down cases and President Emmanuel Macron is considering tighter measures.

On Wednesday the government met to consider a third national lockdown and decided it needed more time to look at the data.

French Government Delays Decision on Third National Lockdown

The lifts in ski resorts remain shut across the Alps and the Pyrenees.

France has the highest number of cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period of the major alpine nations.

It stands at 211.

Switzerland is 154, with Italy at 141 and Austria at 120.

Germany is 110.

In the Pyrenees the figures are higher with Andorra on 572 and Spain at 550.

Further north in Scandinavia Sweden has 222 per 100,000 of population, while in Finland it is 43 and in Norway it is 41.

The UK remains on 335.

New Zealand Likely to Keep Borders Shut for 2021

That rules out any summer skiing even if outbound travel restrictions from the UK are lifted.

New Zealand will have travel bubbles with Australia and some Pacific islands but it will stay firmly shut for most other countries.

“We can expect our borders to be impacted for much of this year. We will continue to pursue travel bubbles but the rest of the world simply poses too great a risk to our health and our economy to take a risk at this stage,” said the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

“For travel to restart we need one of two things. We either need the confidence that being vaccinated means you don’t pass Covid-19 on to others or we need enough of our population to be vaccinated and protected that people can safely re-enter New Zealand. Both possibilities will take some time.”

New Zealand has had 2,299 cases of Covid-19 and 25 deaths.

Skiing in New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand. Image © PlanetSKI.

Skiing in New Zealand

Skiing in New Zealand. Image © PlanetSKI.

New Zealand is currently investigating two further cases of positive Covid results in people who have been in self-isolation.

On Sunday it reported its first case in two months, in a woman who had completed her isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland.

She tested positive after two negative results.

Now two more people who stayed in the same isolation facility have tested positive.

They are both self-isolating at home while further tests are carried out to see if the infections are recent or historic.

Major UK Ski Operator Cancels All Ski Holidays Until April

Hotelplan runs Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski and all holidays are off until at least April 2nd.

It is no great surprise with ski holidays banned by the government and the short term not looking good in the battle against Covid-19.

The lockdown in England goes on until at least March 8th – another six weeks.

Some think the date is an ambition, and the real date will be somewhat further away.

“Since travel restrictions are set to remain while countries continue to manage the spread of Covid-19 and the rollout of vaccines. We have this week, sadly suspended our Inghams, Ski Total and Flexiski holidays until the 2 April 2021,” said the Hotelplan UK CEO, Joe Ponte.

Current UK government restrictions have banned ski holidays, so the company had no real alternative.

Inghams hold out some hope of skiing in April but given the travel restrictions, here at PlanetSKI we remain doubtful.

Inghams though has some hope.

“We understand that many skiers are very keen to get skiing again this winter.

“With this in mind, while we think there is still a possibility that ski holidays could go ahead this season, we will continue to monitor the ever changing situation closely and keep our customers informed of any updates regarding the remainder of this winter, as soon as we can.”

See here for our full story:

Inghams - photo Piotr Golemo

On the snow with Inghams – photo Piotr Golemo

UK Government Confirms Ban on All Ski Holidays

Snowsports holidays are included in the existing ban on all foreign holidays.

The measures have been in place for a while but appear to have been flouted or misunderstood by some.

A small number have found claimed loop holes.

People travelling out of the UK will first be required to declare their reason for travel and prove it is essential the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has told MPs.

A skiing or snowboarding holiday is not essential.

In a statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, Ms Patel said England’s lockdown rules were “clear [that] people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave. Going on holiday is not a valid reason.”

She said declarations would be checked by carriers and there would be increased police at airports and ports.

See here for the full details:

UK Government Confirms Ban on All Ski Holidays

Flying to the Alps

Wednesday 27th January

Home Secretary Criticises People Who Turned Up at St Pancras Trying to Go Skiing

In the Commons this afternoon Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said that heading off on holiday right now is not allowed.

She described examples of people arriving at St Pancras International Station, in London with skis.

“I do want to emphasise that, because people should simply not be travelling,” she told MPs.

“We see the examples… I will call some of them out. Border Force have given me examples where even at St Pancras people have been turning up with their skis, that is clearly not acceptable.”

We reported on the story earlier on PlanetSKI as a train manager posted and commented on the incident on the 13th January.

The incident was revealed by the train manager ‘Justin’ who gave details in a tweet.

Justin went on to say that a ski trip “does not count as essential travel” and there are “very limited reasons for travel to France”.

He added: “I really fancy a trip with my family to eat chips in Brussels but there’s a global pandemic on right now.

“If we all do our bit and are patient for this final push, then hopefully we can get back to doing all of those things we love.”

The people in question were skiers trying to head to Verbier in Switzerland to take part in a gap-year skiing instructor training course.

They were turned away.

Others on the course made it to Vallorcine near Chamonix in France where an outbreak of Covid-19 developed and the group had to go into isolation ahead of the main part of the course in the Swiss resort of Verbier.

We understand the Swiss authorities have spoken to people running the course.

UK Students in Covid-19 Isolation in France are Trainee Ski Instructors Heading to Switzerland

See here for our full report on the Home Secretary’s statement in the Commons and what it means:

Flying to the Alps

Ischgl Hopes to Open in Mid-February

The Austrian resort remains closed though some slopes are open for ski tourers and people going snow shoeing.

It has spent €750,000 on Covid-19 protection measures and wants to ensure safety.

Ski resorts are allowed to run their lifts in Austria but the resort of Ischgl wants to be certain of safety before it opens.

Hotels and restaurants across all the ski resorts in Austria remain closed to the general public.

“The prerequisite for the start of the winter season remains the further stabilization of the general corona situation,” said the resort.

When it opens the resorts says it will have a multitude of protection measures in place “our extensive health management, is far beyond the official requirements”.

Ischgl was badly hit at the start of the pandemic last spring and has been blamed as a super-spreader of the virus.

It is making every effort to shed the reputation and restore itself.

Read more here:

Ischgl, Austria

Ischgl, Austria

French Government Meets Today to Consider Third National Lockdown

France’s senior medical adviser has said that another national lockdown would probably soon be needed to combat coronavirus.

It would be a further blow on the fragile situation of ski resorts but may be need to prevent deaths and hospitals being overrun.

This morning the Defence Council meets to examine the way forward.

Cases in the country continue to spread and parts of the Alps in south east France are seeing some of the highest number of cases.

The head of the scientific council, Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy, said earlier “there is an emergency” and this week was critical.

He called for swift government action, amid rising concerns about the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

The new more transmissible variant first detected in the UK now makes up between 7-9% of cases in some French regions.

He said it will be hard to stop and described as the “equivalent of a second pandemic”.

“If we do not tighten regulations, we will find ourselves in an extremely difficult situation from mid-March,” he added.

Government sources have since dampen the speculation and said a decision would be taken shortly.

They stressed that there were no immediate plans for President Macron to make another televised address.

See here for the latest:

Mark McMorris Out of X Games After Positive Test for Covid-19

The 27-year old Canadian snowboarder is the most decorated Winter X Games athlete of all time.

He tested positive on returning home from the Laax Open in Switzerland.

The World Cup slopestyle contest saw numerous cases of coronavirus.

He won his 19th and 20th medals at X Games Norway in 2020 to break fellow snowboarder Shaun White’s previous record.

McMorris has won nine X Games gold medals, including his most recent win in Aspen, a slopestyle gold in 2019.

He’s also a two-time Olympic bronze medalist in slopestyle.

The event takes place from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st January and we have had a look at the British athletes taking part:

Scottish Season Pass Holders Will Have to Wait Until End of Season for Possible Refunds

Ski Scotland group chairman Andy Meldrum, of Glencoe Mountain resort, said to local press: “Our terms and conditions reflect that there is no refund offered on the season pass during a normal winter.

“Our customers understand that they will win some years and lose some years but generally buy because of the convenience and to support the ski centre.

“Many seasons we don’t open until mid-January due to lack of snow (latest ever opening was 19th Feb).

“So [there is] still a lot of life left in this ski season. As long as we actually manage to open again at some point no refunds will be given.”

He added: “If the Scottish Government keeps us closed for the whole season then likely that we will have to provide some sort of compensation.

“[The] best option would be to allow the season pass to transfer to next winter but also aware in this worst case scenarios refunds may also have to be given.

“However these would not be done until the end of the season. With three-and-a-half months of the ski season still left to run (our normal closing date is early May) we certainly aren’t thinking about refunds or transfers at this stage.”

See here for the full story in The Press and Journal.

Tuesday 26th January

Dave Ryding In Action Tonight

The Rocket is back in action in the Schladming night slalom.

It will be a surreal event without the crowds due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Here at PlanetSKI we are thinking back to this time last year when we were in the stands.

Tonight we’ll be making do with our sofa.

See here for our preview:

Dave Ryding In Action Tonight

Night slalom, Schladming, Austria

Schladming Night Slalom, January 2020. Image © PlanetSKI.

Ski Resorts in California Reopen Lodgings

The closure order has been lifted and Mammoth and the Lake Tahoe area ski resorts are reopening hotels and lodges.

It coincides with fresh snow and good skiing conditions.

They were closed in early December after Governor Gavin Newsom imposed regional stay-at-home orders that limited guests to essential travellers.

“Mammoth Mountain continues to operate for skiing and riding, and lodging and short-term rentals are now available with restrictions,” said the resort.

Weather conditions will mean access to some resorts is hazardous.

In the Mammoth Lakes area, a storm closed many roads and made life difficult for drivers.

Mammoth Mountain spokesman Tim LeRoy said: “Road conditions will be a very real factor this week in travel to both Big Bear and Mammoth,” said Mammoth Mountain spokesman Tim LeRoy to local media.

“Folks should really pay attention to the latest conditions and updates from Caltrans and make sure they’re prepared. It’s going to be gnarly.”

Some Ski Lifts Running in France

The mechanical ones may not be turning due to coronavirus restrictions, but the ESF is finding alternatives.

Here’s one instructor with a class in Serre Chevalier.

While an instructor in Avoriaz is using a bit of horse power…

Bien joué ESF Avoriaz 1800 😉!

Posted by ESF École du Ski Français on Sunday, 24 January 2021

Monday 26th January

Austria Makes FFP2 Masks Compulsory in More Places

From today people must now wear the air-filtering FFP2 masks in shops and on public transport in Austria.

The masks have been obligatory on ski lifts since 24th December.

The high-grade masks are also required in workplaces where social distancing can’t be maintained and for visits to doctors or to government buildings.

Fabric and surgical masks generally protect other people from droplets – a FFP2 mask provides more protection for the wearer.

People who do not wear a FFP2 mask face a fine of €25 (£22).

Those who are unable to wear them for medical reasons will have to carry a doctor’s note.

It comes as the required social distance in Austria has been doubled from one metre to two.

The FFP2 masks protect wearers from breathing in hazardous contaminants in the air.

It protects against 94% of particles in the air.

They are made of several layers of fabric and paper and have built-in filters.

The masks can be re-used and do not have to be changed daily, but can be worn several times.

They must not be washed or the filter function is destroyed.

“Any mouth and nose protection is good, but the FFP2 mask is massively better,” said the Austria Health Minister. Rudolf Anschober.

In Germany FFP2 or medical masks are also set to be required in supermarkets and on public transport.

MPI Remembers British SchoolGirls Races

Today, January 25th, should have been the day of the British Schoolgirls Races in Flaine, France.

“We’re heavily involved in many of the school racing events, so we’re disappointed and saddened that they cannot go ahead this year – just like everyone else,” said the specialist ski insurance provider, MPI.

“Our sponsorship events are what we look forward to the most throughout the year, they get us out of the office and enable us to enjoy these events first-hand – on the slopes.

“Meeting the participants, teachers and parents, watching the races and handing out our special ‘MPI’ cowbells.

“Of course, it is not just the British School Girl races that have been cancelled this year, pretty much everything has, especially school events.

“It is absolutely best to stay positive and look forward to next year, as hard as that may be.”

To give everyone a little bit of cheer MPI has put together a short video of the BSG highlights from last year.

“We hope it puts a smile on your face and we hope to see you at the events next year,” said Michael Pettifer from MPI.

Next season’s event takes place 31st January to 1st February 2022

British Schoolgirls Races

British Schoolgirls Races, 2020

Is France Heading to Third National Lockdown?

France’s senior medical adviser has said that another national lockdown would probably soon be needed to combat coronavirus.

It would be a further blow on the fragile situation of ski resorts but may be need to prevent deaths and hospitals being overrun.

The head of the scientific council, Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy, said “there is an emergency” and this week was critical.

He called for swift government action, amid rising concerns about the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

Last week the government announced that ski resorts could not start their lifts at the beginning of February and will likely be closed at least until the end of the month.

The resorts and alpine businesses reacted with dismay, but some focused on the fact that hotels could remain open and travel mostly allowed.

“We are doing as much as we can to offer a fabulous holiday to the (French) families that want to travel here, with a wide range of non-skiing activities and entertainment on offer,” said Sara Burdon from the Morzine Tourist office.

Another lockdown would put this to an end.

See here for our full story:

Is France Heading to Third National Lockdown?

Virtual Meeting for Beijing 2022 Chef de Missions

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed next month’s Beijing 2022 Chef de Mission seminar will be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, involving Chefs de Mission, organisers and the IOC, had been due to take place from February 1 to 5.

The IOC has told Insidethegames the seminar would instead be staged remotely on February 1 and 2.

The decision follows the tightening of travel restrictions across the world amid a surge in coronavirus cases, caused by the discovery of new variants of the virus.

It could be a sign of things to come for the IOC, which is still planning to hold its Session in Athens in early March, where Thomas Bach will be re-elected as President.

Typically the Beijing 2022 Chef de Mission seminar would have included on-site inspection visits to venues due to host events at the Games.

Beijing 2022

Beijing 2022

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:

January 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

January 11th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

January 4th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

December 28th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

December 21st: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

December 14th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

December 6th : Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 23rd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 16th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 9th: Cornoavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

November 2nd: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 18th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 11th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

October 4th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 27th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 20th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 13th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

September 6th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

August 30th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

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

July 26th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 19th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

July 12th: Coronavirus impact on skiing and snowboarding

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

 

 

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