August’s Skiing Snippets – See What Catches our Eye in the World of Snowsports…
1st August 2021
Last modified on August 30th, 2021
– New Zealand Sees First Death Linked to Pfizer Vaccine
– 1,000+ Australian Covid Deaths as Resorts Remain Shut
– Forest Fire Threatens California Ski Resort
– Swiss Cow Rescued by Helicopter … LIVE & UPDATED
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:
We’re mixing it up…
New Zealand Reports First Death Linked to Pfizer Vaccine
As the country remains in lockdown with ski resorts shut a woman’s death was “probably” due to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.
Regulators say myocarditis is a “very rare” side effect and that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks.
The UK has seen 195 reports of myocarditis among people who have received the Pfizer vaccine.
That’s a rate of around five cases per million.
Most of those cases have led to mild symptoms.
New Zealand has seen 3,465 Covid cases and 26 deaths.
23% of the population are now fully vaccinated.
Australia Records 1,000+ Covid-19 Deaths as Ski Resorts Remain Closed
The total now stands at 1,003 as the Delta variant continues to spread.
Half of Australia is in lockdown after outbreaks in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Ski areas remain shut.
Sunday snow at Hotham. ❄️ We miss our winter playground as much as you. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/tULPqiuyDm
— Hotham (@_hotham) August 29, 2021
34% of adult Australians are double jabbed, while 57% have received a first dose.
California Ski Resort Threatened by Huge Forest Fire
Firefighters are battling to protect the Sierra-At-Tahoe Ski Resort.
Heavy flames are approaching the resort with the air thivk with smoke.
Cal Fire says crews have protected structures and they have spent hours laying down lines and creating space.
Sierra-at-Tahoe becomes key stop in Caldor firefight as thousands flee Lake Tahoe Basin https://t.co/q7qOKsGmGp
— Mercury News (@mercnews) August 29, 2021
— Brian Duggan (@brianduggan) August 30, 2021
Tragedy unfolding near Lake Tahoe. Uncontrollable fire, low humidity, strong winds. Echo lake, Sierra at Tahoe ski resort and eventually South Lake Tahoe at risk. This is worth watching to fully understand what happens in just a single day with these fires https://t.co/GZz5W9b0Au
— Doug Pepper (@dougpepper) August 30, 2021
Swiss Cow Rescued by Helicopter
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 27, 2021
Defibrillators for Mt Snowdon
Snowdon in Wales has become one of the first mountains in the UK to house a 24-hour public access defibrillator on its summit.
Three defibrillators have been installed along the popular Snowdonia Llanberis path to ensure greater support for public safety in rural locations.
The pandemic saw increased numbers venturing out for local walks, and Snowdonia itself saw a record number of visitors during 2020.
Senior Japanese Politician Calls for Pressure on China Over Human Rights
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing has proved to be a controversial choice with calls for boycotts and other measures.
The chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Makoto Nagamine, has said Japan should help apply pressure on China over human rights concerns.
He believed Japan should work with other powers such as the UK and the US on matters relating to human rights in the Xinjiang region.
“Japan has serious concerns about human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the reason why the US and UK are calling for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics,” Nagamine was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
“Japan should continue working to strongly push China regarding human rights issues, together with the US and other related countries.
“I believe Japan should continue working closely with the international community to put pressure on China over this issue.”
In an earlier article on PlanetSKI we looked at the human rights issues as well as the threat Covid-19 continues to pose to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The Winter Games is scheduled to take place February 4th – 20th 2022.
Switzerland and Canada Added to Green List
The two skiing nations change from amber to green at 04.00 on Monday August 30th.
Travellers from green list countries do not have to quarantine whether or not they have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
Most countries are on the UK’s amber list where fully vaccinated adults do not have to quarantine on entering the UK, but do have to have tests before departure and when arriving back.
Canada currently has a ban on most people travelling from the UK, though this is to be lifted on September 7th.
Australia Starts Home Quarantine Trial
If successful it could allow international travellers to avoid compulsory Covid-19 hotel isolation.
People will use an App that allows the authorities to check they are at home.
They will need to go into quarantine for two weeks, do daily health checks and will be contacted at random times.
If they do not answer then the police will turn up to check on them.
50 people from South Australia who’ve returned from other parts of the country are taking part in the trial.
The app may be used for Australian citizens returning home from overseas by next month.
Australia has locked down more than half of its 25 million population – including its largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne – as it tries to tackle a third wave of the virus.
Ski resorts have been closed as we reported in this earlier article:
US Could Open its Borders to UK Travellers by End of November
It would mean ski holidays would be possible for double vaccinated skiers and snowboarders.
The UK currently allows doubled jabbed travellers from the USA into Great Britain.
It is thought the US could lift its restrictions in time for Thanksgiving at the end of November.
This year Thanksgiving is on Thursday 25th November and it is the traditional day when many ski resorts open for the season.
The White House had said it was actively looking at ways to reopen borders to the UK and the EU.
Canada is due to open its border to fully vaccinated UK travellers from 7th September.
“It is an important step ahead of the winter season,” said Ski Solutions.
Argentina has seen its first Alpine Skiing competition since 2019
Covid-19 meant events were cancelled last season and this year competitions have been called off in La Hoya, Perito Moreno and Cerro Catedral due to a lack of snow.
Events have now been held in Cerro Castor after the fresh snowfall.
Six races were held for men and women and the event was organised by the Argentine Federation of Ski and Mountaineering.
“We are extremely happy to start our racing Calendar 2021, after no races at all during 2020,” said the President of the Argentine Federation, Magdalena Kast.
“Great achievement to have made possible moving every resource and athletes down to Ushuaia, so the races could have been organized.
“We hope and look forward that every foreign athlete that wishs to come down to our country to race, can as soon as possible get their authorizations to do so and thus start the South American Cup circuit.”
Further racing is scheduled at Cerro Castor for next month.
See here for our related report on the snowfall in South America:
Club Med Claims UK Trade Bookings Up 40% for Ski Resorts
Club Med has reported that UK trade bookings for ski resorts are up 40% year-on-year following two disrupted seasons due to Covid-19.
The all-inclusive resort operator is preparing for winter 2021-22 with a new property in Canada and opening its offering at La Rosiere in France.
It has also revamped its properties in Peisey-Vallandry in France and Pregelato in Italy.
“It’s been a challenging year and a half for the travel industry and we’re excited Club Med is continuing to push ahead and diversify its resort offerings,” said the UK and northern Europe managing director, Estelle Giraudeau.
“Our ski resorts continue to be popular with bookings at newly renovated Peisey-Vallandry up 50% compared to the same time last year.
“With the last two seasons heavily disrupted, it’s encouraging to see that indirect bookings with our trade partners are up 40% year-on-year and bookings by new clients up 80% year-on-year.
“We’re certain the upcoming season will be one of the best yet and we’re looking forward to welcoming back British travellers.”
Club Med has seen a sharp rise in business in recent years with its all-inclusive and unique offerings.
PlanetSKI has stayed a few times:
Ben’s Bus Starts Ski Resort Food Delivery Service
Ski Resort Visits in California and Nevada Above 10-Year Average
According to figures from the National Ski Areas Association the 32-member ski areas in California and Nevada clocked an estimated 6.7 million visits in the 2020-2021 winter season.
The average over the past decade has been about 5.6 million.
Across the USA ski areas have recorded about 55 million visits annually in the past decade.
With travel restrictions caused by the pandemic many people skied and snowboarded locally.
“Given the challenges of Covid it ultimately was a much better season than we thought it would be heading into it,” said the president of the California Ski Industry Association, Michael Reitzell, to local media.
“With the low snowfall and the stay-at-home order and all of those things, it’s a very positive number.”
FIS Celebrates 10 Years of World Snow Day
On the 17th January 2021 World Snow Day completed its 10th edition.
To commemorate the occasion the International Ski Federation (FIS) has produced a video showcasing just some of the special moments over the last decade.
“FIS would also like to extend a special thank you to all the families, kids, Organisers, fans, partners and sponsors. Without you this 10-year success story would not have been possible,” said the Federation.
Save the date for the next World Snow Day: 16th January 2022
New Ryan Air Winter Flights to the Mountains
New services include Milan and Turin departing from Birmingham and giving access to the Italian Alps.
There is also a new route form Bristol to Barcelona which opens up the Spanish Pyrenees and Andorra.
Glasgow Ski & Snowboard Centre Replaces Part of Slope
Temperature Rise Faster in Europe than Global Average
Temperatures in Europe are set to rise at a rate exceeding global mean temperature changes, claims the recent the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report.
This will have an impact on the European skiing industry and the glaciers of the Alps.
There will be a sharp decline in the number and size of glaciers, permafrost will be affected, snow cover will shrink and the winter snow season is expected to shrink.
See here for more on the United Nations web site.
New Quicker Covid Test
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have developed a Covid test that is as sensitive as PCR test and can give results in just a few minutes.
There is no need for laboratory analysis.
It is hoped it could be a solution for quick testing at airports.
The test is called RTF-EXPAR and gives results within 10 minutes.
PCR Tests for Travel Described as a ‘predictable rip off’
That’s the claim from the ex-chair of the Competition and Markets Authority, Lord Tyrie.
He said the competition regulator had been “too slow to react” to complaints about testing providers.
Holidaymakers have objected to high prices and poor service from many of the 400-plus test firms listed on the government’s website.
Tests cost about £75 on average, but they can be much more.
The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to look into the matter and it is now doing so.
New Zealand Goes into Snap Lockdown
A man has tested positive in Auckland and the city will be in lockdown for a week.
The rest of the country will be in lockdown for three days.
It is the first positive case in 6-months, and it is assumed it is the Delta variant.
“I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned for this eventuality. Going hard and early has worked for us before,” said the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
“We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance,” Ms Ardern said in a national television.
She called the Delta strain “a game changer”.
It will be disappointing news for skiers and snowboarders as it follows recent heavy snow on the south island where there are set to be some of the best conditions of the season.
The patient is a 58-year-old man and the health authorities say there are at least 23 potential sites of transmission.
Vaccination centres have been suspended for 48- hours while their safety is assessed.
The country’s borders will remain closed until at least the end of the year.
Jacinda Ardern stressed the priority was vaccinating New Zealand’s population by the end of 2021.
20% of the New Zealand population has been fully vaccinated.
She said from the start of next year international travellers would again be allowed in, with quarantine times based on the country they had arrived from.
Ski resorts in Australia have also been affected, with all ski areas closed in New South Wales and those in Victoria open to locals only.
Italian Scientists Continue to Monitor Melting Glacier
The Planpincieux glacier in the Mont Blanc Massif has caused concern in recent years and the current warm weather continues to threaten its collapse.
“We’ve got a significant temperature rise and this causes a more rapid formation of the sub-glacial water flow, an important underground circulation of water,” the Aosta Valley region’s director of natural risk management, Valerio Segor, to the AFP news agency.
The glacier can slip by as much as 1.5m in a day.
Its movements are monitored by radar.
It threatens hiking paths and villagers below.
New Zealand to Keep International Borders Closed
The country will keep them shut until at least the end of the year.
The NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said an elimination strategy was the best way to keep Covid-19 out and the economy open.
She added that the priority was to vaccinate the population by the end of 2021.
The country has had just 26 deaths out of a population of 5 million.
Ski resorts remain open but there are restrictions on international visitors.
The ski areas have recently had good snowfall.
“We’re simply not in a position to a fully reopen just yet,” Ms Ardern said in a speech at a forum about reconnecting New Zealanders to the world.
“When we move we will be careful and deliberate, because we want to move with confidence and with as much certainty as possible.”
When New Zealand does open its borders vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries are expected to avoid quarantine while those from higher risk countries will have to either self-isolate or quarantine for 14-days.
Health Pass in France Extended
From Monday 9th August it will be needed to access many public spaces such as cafes, restaurants, and shopping centres.
People will receive it if they are fully vaccinated, have tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours, or recently recovered from Covid.
“The pass and the vaccination drive should help us avoid new curfews and lockdowns,” French Health Minister Olivier Véran told the Le Parisien newspaper.
Critics say the pass infringes on liberties and discriminates against the unvaccinated.
The health pass was already required for people wishing to use swimming pools, museums and nightclubs.
Italian Government Offers €430m to Ski Lift Companies
The compensation is due to the damage suffered due to the restrictive measures introduced by the Italian government to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The European Commission has approved the payment under EU State aid rules.
The general public was prohibited from using ski lifts from December 4th 2020 to April 30th 2021.
“The measures that the Italian government has had to take to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic required ski lift operators to stop their operations, resulting in considerable losses for them,” said the EU Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy.
“This scheme will enable Italy to compensate ski lift operators for the damage suffered.”
“We will keep working together with Member States to find the best solutions to support companies during these difficult times, in line with EU rules.”
Australian Police Urge People to Report Skiers that Break Covid Rules
Much of Australia is under lockdown as cases grow and the police in New South Wales are urging the public to notify them of public health order breaches.
The police in the Snowy Mountains, home to the main resorts of Perisher and Thredbo, say they want to ensure the community remains safe amid the state’s growing Covid-19 outbreak.
Police have issued penalty infringement notices to people who have broken travel restrictions to go skiing and snowboarding.
The latest was a 48-year-old South Australian man who was found breaching public health orders in Jindabyne, the nearest main town to Perisher and Thredbo.
Police went to a hotel in Jindabyne in the early hours of the morning after locals raised the alarm.
Last month a family from Sydney was fined after breaking lockdown to go skiing.
New South Wales police were alerted to the fact that a family from Sydney, a 39-year-old man, a 31-year-old woman and two children, were travelling to the ski resort of Thredbo.
The police questioned the family and the man led police to believe they had come from the western part of the city.
The couple were ordered to return to Sydney and were fined $1000 each, police said to local media.
New USA Ski Area Could Open in Three Years
Mayflower Mountain Resort in Utah says it could have skiers on the slopes by the season of 2023/24.
There are plans for 1,600 residential units, 825 hotel rooms and 250,000 square feet of retail and conference space.
One of its hotels will focus on serving military with rooms reserved exclusively for active and retired members of the military.
There will be tiered pricing that will be accessible for all levels of military personnel.
The development is next to Deer Valley and PlanetSKI visited in January 2020.
See here for our earlier report with full details on the project:
SnowKidz Programme Claims Success
The International Ski Federation, FIS, runs the initiative that encourages children to try snowsports.
FIS claims “positive” results for the 2020-2021 season despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is part of the ‘Bring Children to the Snow’ campaign that was launched in 2007 as an international drive to promote snow activities for young people – targeting children aged 4 to 14, as well as their parents.
Last season, there was a growth of 12.7% on the SnowKidz social media channels.
Eighteen countries participated last season and there were 38 new SnowKidz organisers over the past 12 months.
91% of people who attended SnowKidz events said they would return the following year.
There were 128 events and actions over the last 12 months and there have been more than 4.9 million participants involved in the programme since its inception in 2009.
Simonhöhe in Austria to host Snowboard Alpine World Cup
It’s the first time the resort will host a World Cup and comes after two successful European Cup events in the past seasons.
The competitions in Simonhöhe will be the second Austrian stop on snowboarding’s Alpine World Cup tour in 2021/2022 after the event at Bad Gastein.
There will be individual parallel giant slalom competition as well as a team event.
They take place January 15th – 16th and will be the final event before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
“On the part of the Carinthian sports family, we will do everything we can to ensure that both the athletes and all fans will have unforgettable days,” said the Governor and Sports Officer of Carinthia, Peter Kaiser.
“Carinthia will also show its best side in winter.”
Italy Introduces Digital Certificate
The “green pass” will allow access for people who have had at least one vaccine dose, have recovered from coronavirus or who have tested negative within 48-hours.
From Friday 6th August, anyone over 12 at venues such as gyms and restaurants must show their pass.
There are no plans to introduce green pass requirements in hotels, supermarkets and shopping centres.
France has already introduced such a health pass, and from Monday it is expanding the requirement, for access to restaurants, bars, planes and trains.
Austria has also introduced a similar scheme.
More than 60% of Italians have been fully vaccinated.
Fully Vaccinated People from Europe and US Allowed to enter UK Without Quarantine
Fully vaccinated people entering the UK from an amber list country can avoid isolation if they have been double vaccinated.
As well as the USA and the EU the European mountain and alpine countries of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Andorra are included.
The exemption does not include France that is on the so-called ‘Amber Plus’ list.
A pre-travel test and a PCR test within two days of arriving are still needed.
Here’s a reminder of the rules from the BBC.
- Green country: When returning from a country on the green list you must take a Covid-19 test before departure and have proof of a negative result. You also need to book a test for day two after your return
- Amber country: A Covid test is needed three days before returning, and a PCR test two days after arriving. People who are not fully vaccinated in the approved countries need to self-isolate for 10 days, although this can be shortened for people in England by using the Test to Release scheme – paying for a test on day five
- Red country: Regardless of your vaccination status you must take a test before departure and, on arrival, self-isolate for 10 days in a government-approved quarantine hotel
Latest Covid-19 News from Alpine Nations
British visitors to France have been warned that they will need a vaccination certificate or produce a negative Covid-19 test to visit restaurants, cafes, museums, some public transport and other venues.
It is also required for hospital appointments.
“You need to demonstrate your Covid-19 status including vaccination status, negative test or proof of recent recovery, to access events or spaces with over 50 people attending,” said the UK Foreign Office in a statement.
The measures come into force from 9th August.
France has also made vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers.
The number of Covid patients in hospital in France has risen above 7,500 again.
19,600 new cases and 3,531 new hospitalisations have been recorded in France in the last 24 hours.
President Emmanuel Macron has urged more citizens to get vaccinated.
53% of the French adult population have been doubled vaccinated.
France is reimposing lockdown rules in two overseas territories, Martinique in the Caribbean and La Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Martinique’s rate is 995 per 100,000 of the population, and La Reunion has a rate of 350.
The rate in mainland France is 189.
The Italian government has extended the self-isolation requirement from travellers coming from the UK.
The self-isolation requirement was to end on July 30th, but has been extended until August 30th.
People entering Italy from the UK are required to stay quarantined for five days after their arrival.
They also need to present a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test result taken within the past 48 hours.
Travellers also need to fill out a Digital Passenger Locator Form, plus undergo a second COVID test at the end of the five-day quarantine period.
There are some exemptions:
Transport workers members
Travellers who transits through Italy by private vehicle without staying more than 36-hours.
People who enter Italy for work or health-related reasons a do not stay longer than 120-hours.
The Ministry of Health has said that Italy will recognise vaccination certificates of UK travellers for its health pass requirement.
Starting on August 6th people will need the health pass to visit restaurants, bars, museums, festivals and other public places.
31.1% of Coronavirus cases during July 5th – July 11th were due to Austrian citizens travelling abroad or travellers visiting Austria.
The figures come from the Agency for Health and Food Safety of Austria.
Austria currently allows quarantine-free entry to all arrivals from the 27-nation EU bloc, plus Schengen Area countries Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Except for European citizens, Austria also permits entry to all third countries placed on the EU’s list of safe countries.
This includes people from the UK.
People are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result, medical proof of recovery from the virus or a vaccination certificate.
Italian Climbers Summit all 4,000m Alpine Peaks
26-year-old Nicola Castagna and 37-year-old Gabriel Perenzoni climbed all 82 mountains in just 80 days.
Some of the descents they made on skis.
They called the expeditions ‘AltaVia 4000’ and more details can be found on the pair’s Facebook page.
There are further images on Instagram.
The full details can be found in Gabriel Perenzoni ‘s blog.
New Terrain Opens at NZ Ski Resort
Willows Basin has opened at Cardrona on the South Island.
It is the first new major lift-accessed terrain to open in New Zealand since 2012.
It offers 65 hectares of intermediate to advanced level terrain and is on the southern face of the resort.
A lack of snow and rain postponed its planned opening last month.
Beijing 2022 to Have Simple & Safe Opening and Closing Ceremonies
A team from China is currently in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics as it prepares to hold the Winter Olympics next year..
“The Opening Ceremony features a lot of highlights despite the influence of COVID-19,” said the director of the Beijing Organising Committee, Chang Yu, to the state-run news agency Xinhua.
We are ” engaging actively in preparing to present a splendid Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony in a simple and safe manner, with COVID-19 countermeasures in mind.”
The Opening Ceremony of Beijing 2022 is scheduled to take place on February 4th 2022.
It will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.
Many Travel Insurance Policies Do Not Cover Self-Isolation
A large number of travel insurance policies will not cover cancellation costs if holidaymakers are told to self-isolate owing to a close Covid contact.
More than 700,000 people have been pinged recently by the NHS app or contacted by the tracing service.
The Analysts, Defaqto, said nine in 10 travel insurance policies cover the cost of cancelled holidays if the policyholder tests positive for Covid.
But for cases of self-isolation, cover falls to fewer than six in 10 policies.
Anyone who receives notification from NHS Test and Trace is legally required to self-isolate, whereas a ping from the NHS app is advisory, but strongly recommends isolation.