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Hopes Fade For Skiing In Scotland

Scottish Government rules mean the earliest the nation’s mountain resorts can open is 26th April, but rain and mild temperatures are threatening what has been an exceptional snowpack this winter.

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Since 5th January the lifts in Scotland have been closed by government order.

Restrictions on travel have meant only locals have been permitted to head to the hills for ski touring.

It’s particularly frustrating since the conditions since December have been the best in decades.

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It’s hoped that at least some of the resorts will get to open towards the end of April, with snowsports on offer for a week or two.

The weather may, however, have something to say about that.

“With lashing rain and 15 degree temperatures at the moment it’s not looking too positive for any of the resorts,” the owner of Glencoe Mountain Resort and Chair of Ski-Scotland, Andy Meldrum, told PlanetSKI on Monday.

“We’ll review in the middle of April and make a decision on whether it’s going to be worth opening for just a week’s skiing or just go straight into the downhill bike season.

“Unless we get some great late snow in April it’s now looking likely that the season is over before it begun.”

Glencoe has been able to welcome some top snowsport athletes to its slopes for the past six weeks.

It has been designated by Snowsport Scotland as the official centre for elite athletes to train during the national lockdown.

So while general public have had to sit it out, Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, who would usually have gone to Europe train, have been able to travel to Glencoe, exempt from the travel restrictions.

“These athletes are able to resume training under the exemption granted to professional and performance sport by the Scottish Government,” a statement on the Snowsport Scotland website says.

“An extensive plan and risk assessment has been carried out to allow the athletes to train safely. This process ensures that every possible precaution is taken to mitigate the potential spread of Coronavirus, both within and out-with the training environment.”

Skiers training in Scotland – photo Snowsport Scotland

At Glencoe, athletes have been using one groomed piste which Andy Meldrum says has, at times, had perfect conditions.

They have also been able to train at the Bearsden dry slope near Glasgow.

“We are very thankful to both centres for opening their facilities – at no cost – to allow our best athletes to train and prepare to compete on the world stage,” Trafford Wilson, Chief Executive of Snowsport Journal told the Press & Journal.

Snowsport Scotland has made no secret of its disappointment that its ski areas have been forced to remain closed to the public throughout the lockdown, while many other sports have been allowed to continue.

There is some better news.

The weather in the Highlands is set to get colder again at the weekend and there is snow forecast in some parts.

But will it be enough to make it worth opening for a last gasp at the end of April?

There are a lot of snowsports fans keeping their fingers firmly crossed.

Cairngorm White Lady webcam 29 March 2021 –  c/o Winterhighland ltd

Snowsports in Scotland have been given funding from the Scottish Government to help them survive.

On 14th March an extra £4 million was announced for the ski centres and ski schools, on top of the £3m announced at the end of January.

“Snowsports are critical to Scotland’s rural economy, worth an estimated £30 million and providing over 600 jobs in some of our most remote areas,” the Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said.

“Since the beginning of the year we’ve now pledged a total of £7 million to support Scotland’s snowsports sector.

“This funding will protect these businesses who are currently losing vast amounts of income due to be being closed as part of the measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“All of this is especially difficult given the mountain resorts have seen some of the best conditions in years so it is key that we inject financial support to make sure these centres are kept from financial ruin and ready to welcome back visitors when the time is right.”

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