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May’s Skiing Snippets – See What Catches our Eye in the World of Snowsports…

-Victoria in Australia Goes into Lockdown as Ski Season Approaches
-Swiss Fighter Jet Crashes in the Alps
-Austria Bans Direct Flights from the UK
-Crystal Ski Signs Up for London Ski & Snowboard Festival… UPDATED

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PlanetSKI’s ‘Skiing Snippets’

Here we cover anything that takes our fancy.

Short news stories, eye catching videos, amusing cartoons, coronavirus updates, things that make us smile/things that make us shout at the screen… in fact anything that catches our eye in the world of snowsports.

Check out all the ‘snippets’ from last month:

PlanetSKI’s Skiing Snippets

We’re mixing it up..

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Victoria in Australia Goes into Lockdown as Ski Season Approaches

A 7-day lockdown comes into force today, Thursday 27th May, as an outbreak of Covid-19 spreads in the state capital, Melbourne.

There have been 26 cases and the authorities have identified 150 sites where people may have been exposed to the virus.

The cases involve a contagious strain of the virus – B.1.617.

The state’s ski resorts including Mt Hotham and Mt Buller are due to open next month but that will be dependent on the virus being brought under control.

A returning traveller was infected with the strain which Victoria’s acting Premier, James Merlino, said was spreading “faster than we have ever recorded”.

People are required to stay at home except for essential work, shopping, exercise, care giving or to be vaccinated.

No gatherings are allowed with travel restricted to 5km (3.1 miles) of a person’s  home.

Wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools will be closed except for children of people deemed to be essential workers.

Places of worship and all non-essential venues will also be closed.

Less than 10% of the population in Australia have been vaccinated.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia. Image © PlanetSKI

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Swiss Fighter Jet Crashes in the Alps

 

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Austria bans direct flights from the UK

Covid-19 cases in Britain remain low but concerns in Austria are growing about the so-called Indian variant.

Another alpine nation, France, is considering its position and may follow suit in some form.

Aircrafts from the United Kingdom will not be permitted to land in Austria from Tuesday June 1st.

The information has been published by the Austria Minister of Health.

Flights from the UK were banned between December 2020 and March 2021.

Air services between the two countries resumed on March 21st 2021.

Entry to Austria from the UK will only be possible with a negative PCR test, and only  Austrian citizens and residents will be allowed to enter the country, apart from certain groups such as humanitarian workers.

Currently easyJet flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck in the Tirol will not resume until 3rd August.

Another alpine nation, France, is reported to be considering tighter rules for UK travellers and may impose slightly tougher measures.

The French government will monitor the situation before making a final decision according to the foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Germany recently banned travellers from the UK from entering the country due to the spread of the so-called Indian variant.

Innsbruck airport

Innsbruck airport. Image © PlanetSKI

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Sarah Lewis On Her Vision for FIS

The British woman bidding to be the next President of the International Ski Federation says she wants to deliver a “global movement for world skiing and snowboarding, as a modern, versatile, inclusive and diverse organisation”.

Sarah Lewis, a former alpine skier,  has been speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the election next month to replace Gian Franco Kasper.

He has headed FIS for 23 years.

If she gets the job she would be the only female President in the organisation’s 97-year history.

“Gender diversity within the leadership is non-existent,” she told the BBC.

Sarah Lewis was sacked from her job as Secretary General of FIS in October 2020.  She had held the role for 20 years.

There are four candidates for the top job.

The others are two Swedes – Mats Årjes and Johan Eliasch – and Switzerland’s Urs Lehmann.

Read the full interview with Sarah Lewis on the BBC

Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis talks to Dave Ryding at Chamonix World Cup, February 2020. Image © PlanetSKI

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New Boss at Ski Club of GB & Return of the Club Rep

James Gambrill has been appointed as General Manager of the Ski Club of Great Britain.

Club Chairman Trevor Campbell Davis said James Gambrill’s experience and passion for snow sports would further strengthen the combined team of staff and Council as the Club prepared for a return to the mountains.

The new boss has a history with the Club, joining the Freshtracks holidays team in 1997 and completing the Reps course in 1998.

He also spent six years with Skiworld and more recently set up LISTEX and Mountain Trade Network.

Good luck to James who has a big task ahead of him after a troubled few years at the membership organisation.

RELATED ARTICLES

Meanwhile, the Club has announced on its website that it is bringing back the popular Reps service in 17 resorts worldwide and Reps will be able to ski with members.

“Reps are encouraged to ski alongside members in a social capacity,” it says.

“Although our Ski Club Reps are no longer Ski Club ‘Leaders’, our Reps are there to help facilitate a great day of social skiing.

“Although the Reps will no longer wear their blue jackets and lead from the front, the Rep can still share their knowledge of the mountain and enable social-skiing groups to get the most out of the days skiing.”

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Results from FIS Covid-19 Testing Released

The so-called ‘FIS’ Passport was introduced in September 2020 to help in the fight against coronavirus.

The International Ski Federation has now released the details.

The relationship between positive cases and total number of performed tests during the  season was 0.101%.

Data c/o International Ski Federation, FIS.

Data c/o International Ski Federation, FIS.

“While no one knows what the next months will bring, the current situation points towards the FIS Passport being implemented again for the 2021-22 season,” said FIS.

FIS is preparing the FIS Passport and Covid-19 Prevention Measures for the upcoming summer season.

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Breckenridge Closes on Sunday

The US resort is closing earlier that anticipated as the snowpack is deteriorating.

“While we were aiming to ride with you through Memorial Day, Mother Nature had other plans,” the resort said in a tweet.

It opens for summer operations on June 18th.

Breckenridge, USA

Breckenridge, USA. Image © PlanetSKI

Breckenridge, USA.

Breckenridge, USA. Image © PlanetSKI

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New BA Route to the Alps

British airways is launching a winter route from Southampton airport to Chambery in the French Alps.

The service will start in mid-December.

It is hoping to tap into a demand for skiing following the lifts being closed in resorts last season and damage to the second half of the previous winter as the pandemic spread.

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Sport 2050: Snowless snow sport? How climate change could impact winter sports

That’s the question raised by BBC Sport as it looks ahead to the middle of the century and the possible impact of rising temperatures and climate change.

See here for the full article.

It makes sobering reading.

Snowless ski slopes

Snowless ski slopes. Image © PlanetSKI

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Swiss Olympic Calls For All Athletes to be Vaccinated

“The next opening steps proposed by the Federal Council show that the state Government recognises and values the importance of popular sport,” said a statement from the national sports organisation, Swiss Olympic.

“Swiss Olympic hopes that the proposals can be implemented as soon as possible because the umbrella organisation for sport is convinced that sport is not a driver of the pandemic.

“Rather, the movement and the exchange in the club strengthen the physical and mental resilience of people in these difficult times.

“Swiss Olympic recommends athletes in our country to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Not only those who are vaccinated benefit from the protection that the vaccination builds up, but also the environment.

“In this area, too, athletes can take responsibility for themselves and society.”

From May 31st greater numbers will be allowed to attend indoor and outdoors sporting events.

27% of the population in Switzerland have already received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Last winter Switzerland allowed its ski resorts to stay open and we examined its success, or otherwise, in this earlier PlanetSKI article.

Swiss flag

Switzerland

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US Luxury Ski Resort Turns to Sewage to make Artificial Snow

The Yellowstone Club in Montana is seeking a permit to use treated wastewater to make  snow.

Members of the private club include Bill Gates, Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Several other resorts already use the process, though there are some environmental concerns that the treatment does not purify the water enough and chemical could find their way back into the watertable.

A permit application is under review with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

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Alain Baxter Given Coaching Role with GB Alpine Squad

The British Olympian has joined the team as a High Performance Coach for the Men’s Alpine World Cup Squad.

The Scot finished third in the men’s slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics but was stripped of his medal after a failed drugs test.

He was later cleared of cheating but, controversially, did not have his medal restored.

Alain Baxter

Alain Baxter at Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics. Image © PlanetSKI

“It is an honour to be back with the GB Snowsport team. I’m really looking forward to joining a team that trains hard and the athletes show nothing but pure determination and a great team spirit,” Alain Baxter said.

“It’s going to be great working with Dave [Ryding], especially as we trained together all those years back, and now he’s one of the best in the world!

“The potential we have with Laurie [Taylor] and Billy [Major] is really exciting as well. It shows the ability and the strength that we have in our squad and I look forward to working hard with them to achieve their goals.”

The news has been widely welcomed on the GB Snowsport Facebook page.

GB former racer Martin Bell said: “Alain is the perfect choice to inspire our youngsters with the drive and sheer appetite for hard work that won him an Olympic medal and a Superstars title!”

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Attempt To Get Dry Slope Skiing Allowed for GCSEs

A petition has been launched to bring England into line with Wales and include dry slope skiing and snowboarding in GCSE Physical Education.

At the moment snowsports on snow – on either outdoor or indoor slopes –  is included but artificial slopes are excluded.

The petition says there are 4 indoor slopes in England but 30 outdoor slopes.

The Snow Centre

The Snow Centre,Image © PlanetSKI

“Dry slope skiing and snowboarding is the grass roots of England’s most successful skiers and snowboarders, including Olympians and Paralympians. Skiing and snowboarding on artificial dry slope requires a high level of technique as detailed in the Welsh GCSE skills list, and races are held on them under Snowsport England’s rules,” it states.

The petition needs 10,000 signatures to get a government response and 100,000 to get a debate in Parliament.

You can sign it here.

Petition Parliament

Petition Parliament

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Avalanche Service Back in Scotland

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service, SAIS, has resumed services after fresh snow in the Highlands.

“Due to recent significant snowfall in the Scottish Highlands the SAIS will be issuing avalanche forecasts in the Northern Cairngorms, Southern Cairngorms, Lochaber, Torridon, Creag Meagaidh and Glencoe for this weekend,” SAIS said in a statement.

With travel restrictions eased many ski tourers, hill walkers and climbers are heading out to enjoy the recent snow.

Our Scotland reporter, Rod Frazer, is one of them and see here for his report:

Skiing in Scotland into May

Cairngorm in May - image c/o Rod Frazer

Cairngorm in May – image © Rod Frazer

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Ski Resorts in Scandinavia Close After Full Season

Åre in Sweden and Hemsedal in Norway have marked the end to winter after managing to stay open all season, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The resorts were the last in the SkiStar stable to close on 2nd May.

They managed 150 days of skiing.

“Thanks to the hard work of all our employees and all the precautions we have put in place in close dialogue with both the care providers, the region, the hospitality industry and the whole skiing industry, we have managed to stay open throughout the winter season,” Stefan Sjöstrand, CEO of SkiStar said.

CEO of SkiStar, Stefan Sjöstrand in Åre – Image © SkiStar

“We are leaving an historic winter season behind us, as SkiStar is one of the few companies in the skiing industry in Europe to have been open throughout the period during the ongoing corona pandemic.

“We’ve missed our international guests, but now we’re preparing for the summer and next winter with a continuing focus on safety and security and a number of new developments for our guests.”

Hemsedal, Norway – Image © SkiStar

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Austria Winter Tourism Hit Hard by Covid-19

The Austria Institute of Economic Research, WIFO, has analysed the first 4-months of winter tourism last season and it makes grim reading.

November 2020 to February 2021 shows arrivals down 95.1% with overnight stays and income falling by 93.5%.

For the entire winter season losses of over 90% are expected.

The outlook for the rest of 2021 remains gloomy at –49% compared to the pre-crisis level in 2019.

See here for the full details of the survey in Snow Industry News.

Overall, from November 2020 to February 2021 in Vienna it was –94.4% and western Austria (Salzburg, Tirol, Vorarlberg) saw –97.4% as tourism came to a virtual standstill.

Signs are improving though as we have reported on PlanetSKI:

WIFO expects overnight stays to rise to around 20% for the calendar year 2021 compared to 2020.

Summer in the Tirol

Summer in the Tirol – Image © PlanetSKI

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Ski Resort in Finland Reports Record-Breaking Winter

For many resorts it was a winter most would want to forget.

Not so Pyhä that saw a sharp increase in skiers and snowboarders last season.

The resort was open throughout the winter, with some Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Finland saw low levels of Covid-19, with 86,808 confirmed cases and 914 deaths in a population of around 5m.

In 2020-21 the ski resort of Pyhä saw a 50% increase on the previous winter, though the season was cut short as the pandemic spread in March 2020.

It also saw a 25% increase on the last full season of the previous year, 2018/19.

The resort was short on accommodation as people from Finland stayed in their own country and turned to snowsports.

New accommodation, the Kultakero project, is being built to deal with a forecast increase in demand.

Work on a new chairlift starts later in May and it will be installed for next winter.

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Airport Planned for Andorra

A new feasibility study has been carried out and there could be up to 12 daily flights with 500,000 passengers per year.

Currently the Principality in the Pyrenees is accessed from Toulouse in France or Barcelona in Spain and then a coach journey.

Talks of an airport has been going on for many years.

It would be a single runway near Grau Roig in the Grandvalira ski area.

It would be able to take planes with around 150 passengers and the planes used would likely be the Airbus A320 NEO and Airbus A220-300 NEO models.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Andorra has presented the technical feasibility studies of the national airport project.

The current proposal reduces the construction budget to 345 million euros – previously there was talk of between €500m and €700m.

If the Government finally wants to carry out the project, the national airport could be operational by 2025.

See here for further details.

Grau Roig, Andorra

Grau Roig, Andorra

If it goes ahead it would be operational in time for the 2027 Alpine World Championships that Andorra is bidding for.

Andorra bids for Alpine World Championships

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US Sees High Number of Avalanche Fatalities

Last season saw 36 deaths in the USA – the most in 11 years.

The winter before the total was 23.

17 of the deaths were skiers, snowmobile accidents accounted for 8 fatalities, snowboarding 5, snowshoeing and climbing also 5.

There was 1 unclassified according to data from the Colorado Avalanche Information Centre.

The state of Colorado saw the most deaths at 12.

Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Utah, Washington and Wyoming also reported fatalities.

Read more here:

Loveland avalanche, c/o Colorado Avalanche Information Centre

Loveland avalanche, © Colorado Avalanche Information Centre

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GB Snowsport Supports Enough Is Enough

It is backing the social media boycott this weekend initiated by football to stand against racism.

It wants to “show solidarity with those who have suffered abuse and discrimination both online and in the sporting arena.”

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For all the latest news on Covid-19 then check out our Special Coronavirus Section on PlanetSKI

And if, like us, you want to move on but are still thinking of Covid-19…

© PlanetSKI

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