Skiing and Snowboarding Situation in Europe
22nd February 2021
Last modified on February 23rd, 2021
Some resorts in the Tirol in Austria have re-opened with a Covid-19 negative test required. Other resorts in Austria remain open for locals only + we look at elsewhere in the Alps, the Pyrenees and Scandinavia. UK citizens remain unable to travel & likely for some time to come. UPDATED
We begin in Austria, in the Tirol to be precise, where the situation has been changing in recent days with resorts closing and some re-opening.
Tirol introduced a negative testing requirement last week as the South African variant virus surged.
A handful have closed while others remain open with on-site testing.
Kuhtai near Innsbruck was one resort that closed as the authorities introduced the new requirement.
It has now organised on-the-spot testing with no booking required.
“Free antigen test possibility with Dr Erik Austad in Kühtai (No. 31, fire station) from 8:30 am to 4 pm, without prior telephone appointment,” said the resort.
One of our regular readers, Holger Gassler, was making some turns in the resort at the weekend.
“Negative covid test done. Skiing in progress,” said Holger on Saturday.
Kuhtai has ten of its 12 lifts open with all slopes accessible.
It reports a snow depth of 1.7m at the top of the resort.
People that ski tour in Tirol do not need a negative test.
Another of our readers, Elena Protopopow, was skiing in Berger Alm in the Tirol where free Covid-19 tests were being offered.
“Great snow conditions, perfect weather and also the testing at the mountain station went smoothly and free of charge,” said Elena.
“After 15 minutes you could already start and no streams of visitors. Everything went well and measures were adhered to.”
Another of our readers the ski instructor, Toby Fishel, was out ski touring near Kuhtai at the weekend – no test required.
“Awesome tour this morning first to Pirchkogel 2,828m then skiing down then skinning up and then up to Kreuzjoch 2,556m.,” Toby said.
The glacier resort of Stubai has also opened, though is offering limited terrain with 4 of its 26 lifts running – giving access to 11 of its 35 runs.
“It is compulsory to wear FFP2 masks in closed waiting areas, as well as during transport in gondola lifts and chairlifts that can be covered,” said Stubai in a statement.
“According to the current regulation, a negative antigen test is now required on the ski slopes. Thank you for your care and assistance.”
Resorts in the Tirol that remain closed are Soelden, Obergurgl, Pitztal and the Kaunertal glacier.
“Skiing in Soelden will be closed… until further notice,” said the resort.
“The ski lift company asks for your understanding and hope that the situation will improve quickly.”
For many resorts it is simply not economically viable to open and run the lifts due to low numbers of visitors.
For a full list of resorts in the Tirol open see here.
However, some resorts are running the lifts but have kept the slopes closed, so if you are one of the lucky ones able and wanting to ski then do check directly with the ski resorts.
People can ride a lift without a negative test, but they are not allowed to ski on the marked runs.
Elsewhere in Austria resorts remain open for locals only and with strict anti-coronavirus measures in place.
Austria currently has 115 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In Switzerland the resorts are open and a relaxation of restrictions for March 1st is under consideration.
Though variants are being detected with testing taking place in Wengen.
Switzerland currently has 86 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In France the ski lifts remain closed until the end of February and likely beyond.
In the Alpes-Maritimes region, that includes a handful of ski resorts including Isola 2000, there are calls for tighter restrictions.
France’s Health Minister, Olivier Véran, said he was requesting stricter measures in the Alpes-Maritime region.
Other less well-know ski areas in the region include Auron, Valberg and La Colmiane.
The Alpes-Maritime has the highest cases per population level in France.
Across the French ski resorts they await to hear about whether they will be able to start their lifts in March.
France currently has 191 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In Italy resorts remain closed after almost opening last week.
It looks unlikely they will be open to the general public for the rest of the winter.
Italy currently has 138 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Further north in Scandinavia the resorts in Norway remain open with some decent skiing conditions as we reported last week.
It has though banned all elite FIS skiing and snowboarding events for the rest of the season to keep the virus under control.
Norway currently has 35 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In Sweden the ski resorts are open too, with people asked to stay one ski-pole apart and avoid socialising outside their group.
The après ski scene is toned-down, with no alcohol sales after 20:00 and no live bands.
Travel for non-Swedes has become harder, with negative tests required for the first time this month.
Sweden currently has 211 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Resorts in Finland remain open for skiing and snowboarding.
Finland currently has 50 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
In Andorra the skiing is for locals only.
Last week Andorran officials met and decided to keep its ski border with Spain closed.
They are working on allowing people to arrive from some areas of Spain when conditions allow.
Here at PlanetSKI we understand there is a problem with the re-selling of local lift passes to people from Spain and France.
We are told that vehicles with non-Andorran license plates are seen every day in the parking areas of the ski resorts.
Last Friday saw an edition of the Freeride World Tour held with the British snowboarder, Cody Bramwell, winning his event.
Andorra currently has 313 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Resorts in the Spanish Pyrenees remain open though there are some regional travel restrictions in place.
Spain currently has 177 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
The situation and rules remain the same as in the Alps.
And what about Eastern Europe?
We reported in detail on the situation last week.
The situation may be changing on Poland.
Ski resorts opened 10-days ago but cases of coronavirus are surging with the government saying a third wave is underway.
It had said resorts would close if cases rose.
There is also a number of people ignoring the rules over social distancing or wearing a mask.
Poland currently has 108 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
The Czech Republic currently has 532 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Slovenia currently has 277 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Slovakia currently has 254 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Bulgaria currently has 86 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Travel Restrictions for UK skiers and snowboarders
It remains illegal to go on holiday.
Even if British skiers and snowboarders could do so, then the EU and Schengen countries have shut their borders as the UK has left the rules of the EU.
All so-called third nations, which is how the UK is now listed, are banned from entry unless their rates of Covid-19 are very low.
The situation is likely to be the case for some time to come as UK citizens are barred from Europe.
Those UK citizens with an EU passport will be able to travel to Europe when restriction in the UK are eased.
Perhaps the only hope for many of us to ski remains in Scotland as the EU ban is likely to remain in force.
How realistic skiing in Scotland is remains to be seen.
The five Scottish ski areas are currently closed and there are travel restrictions in place.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said Scots should not book an Easter holiday – whether abroad or in the UK.
It is unlikely visitors from across the border in other parts of the UK will be welcome anytime soon.
The UK currently has 129 confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this article across the week as the situation changes.
We will be looking closely at what the government announces on Monday 22nd February and its implications for skiing and summer travel to the mountains.
If you are able to travel or ski do check the local situation with the resorts and authorities.