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ANDORRA TRIES TO REASSURE - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Sunday July 1, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The Grandvalira area is set to split up in May 2019 but it's being emphasised that it's business as usual for next winter. Fine, but what about the future?





The Grandvalira ski area in the Pyrenees is 210km in size and is the jewel in the crown of skiing and snowboarding in Andorra.

It contains the resorts of Pas de La Casa/Grau Roig on one side and Soldeu/El Tarter/Canillo on the other. 

It became a joint area in 2003 after decades of talks and negotiations as old rivalries between various parties were finallly put to one side for the greater good. 

1.75m skiers and snowboarders visit each winter.

It is in the Top 20 of the most visited ski areas across the world.

However a formal motion to split the area was made by the President of Grandvalira, Joan Viladomat, a year ago in July 2017. 

And it stands.

There is some confustion about next winter and the area has now published a clarification statement.

"Due to the uncertainty caused by recent news articles released in the last few days, Nevasa would like to inform you that according to the General Shareholders' Meeting held on the  3rd July 2017, during which the dissolution of the company Neus del Valira S.A. (NEVASA) was agreed, said dissolution shall not come into effect until the 31st May 2019," said the statement.

"Hence, Nevasa would like to inform you that facing the next winter season 2018-19, usual commercial operation is guaranteed as it has been to date."

"Furthermore, Nevasa's general management is committed to informing its clients of any news that is confirmed in the coming months regarding the corporate scenario that will be effective from the 2019-20 season onwards."

The catalyst for the current row is a €30m development at the base of the slopes in Soldeu that is being built for the FIS World Cup race that is to be held in the resort in March 2019.

See below for a PlanetSKI report on the impasse as we visited last winter:
And here is the video view of PlanetSKI:



Negotiations are ongoing and the Andorran government is exerting pressure to ensure the area remains, but the recent statement still talks of the area dividing.

All the UK skiers and tour operators that we have spoken to have said this would be bad news for Andorra and they wish the Grandvalira to remain.

"As was expected and planned for, operations in Grandvalira will be as normal this winter," said the managing director of Andorra Resorts, Steve Hull, to PlanetSKI.
 
"I know that there has been some uncertainty about the changes in Grandvalira, however customers can be reassured that all the resort facilities will be operating as normal for winter 2018-19.
 
"For 2019-20 we anticipate knowing what will happen within the next few months," added Steve.

See below for a video on the World Cup slopes from Andorra Resorts:


So, what is the skiing like elsewhere in the area?

PlanetSKI was in the Pyrenees last January and our senior news reporter, Katie Bamber, blogged abour her three days:
PlanetSKI in the PyreneesPlanetSKI in the Pyrenees

























The construction site for the Alpine World Cup Finals was snowed under last winter, but work continued.

Grandvalira, AndorraGrandvalira, Andorra


























Grandvalira, AndorraGrandvalira, Andorra



























Meanwhile the CEO of the Alpine World Cup Finals has been speaking to the International Ski Federation.

"World Cup Finals are organised over a whole week, so it involves another level of commitment of the hotel owners, the volunteers, and all the stakeholders," said Soldeu-Grandvalira chief executive David Hidalgo Vila to the International Ski Federation in an interview on its web site.

Here is the interview in full, though there is no mention of the row that is threatening to spilt up the Grandvalira ski area:

Soldeu will host the World Cup Finals in 2018/19. How excited are you about this event?

We are very excited.

It will be the largest event ever in alpine skiing in Andorra, so everyone is looking forward to it.

How did Soldeu become a World Cup host?

After four years hosting European Cup races, we were able to organize an Audi FIS Ski World Cup in 2012 with tech events for the ladies and again in 2016 with a super-G and alpine combined for the ladies as well.

We also staged the European Cup Finals in 2014, 2015 (speed disciplines only), and in 2018.

What's the biggest challenge hosting the Finals compared to a regular World Cup?

I think it's mainly the duration.

World Cup Finals are organized over a whole week, so it involves another level of commitment of the hotel owners, the volunteers, and all the stakeholders.

But also the marketing concept has to be adapted.

It's not only a ski race - it's also a lot of side events, and in a week you get a chance to present Andorra and show what Soldeu can offer to the world.

So the programming and the creation of a full-event concept is different than with a regular World Cup.

Can you tell us more about the big construction project in the finish area?

Yes, we are building a platform over the river that has to be finished by the end of November.

After the World Cup in 2012, we noticed that the finish area was quite narrow.

The feedback from FIS officials was similar, as they said that the race courses are fantastic, but that there was not enough space in the finish for all the facilities that a regular World Cup requires.

So we had to react and find a solution for the Finals.

A platform of almost 16,000 square meters is being built, with parking for 450 cars and trucks underneath.

This is not only solving the problem for the World Cup, but historically there has been a lack of parking in that area and a beginners' area at the bottom of the resort, so there will be a legacy for the future as well.

How big is the enthusiasm of the community in Andorra?

In Andorra we have a big advantage.

We can say that we are the only country in the world where 100 percent of the kids from 4-18 years of age are skiing, because it is part of their academic curriculum.

So the ski clubs and all the schools are deeply involved, and the young people will also participate actively in all the events.

Then our main markets are Spain and France, and with the proximity they will also be very much involved.

Especially for Spain, who has a lot of ups and downs in its alpine skiing history, we hope that we will be able to bring an "up moment".

The "ups" usually come with the success of athletes. Andorra asked for a wildcard for the team event at the World Cup Finals and the other countries agreed. What was the idea behind it?

Andorra is a very small country, and in any sport you need a huge base to create one top athlete.

Andorra is working on it, but you can't improvise an athlete in five or six years.

We hope that the chance to be part of the World Cup Finals is motivation for the athletes and they will become icons for the younger generations.

Part of our communication campaign will be based on "back your country" so this is a good way for everyone to support our athletes and for the kids to have someone to follow.

In St. Moritz a young athlete from Belgium beat Marcel Hirscher in the alpine team event. Could the story be repeated in Andorra?

Yes, that would be amazing.

But let's see because one of our best athletes crashed recently and tore his ACL, so we're not sure if he will be back.

It will be difficult for sure, but who knows?

In any case, we feel that the enthusiasm for this event is huge in Andorra and that the organizing committee is putting in all the efforts to host a great event.

We can't wait to be there in March for the last fight for the World Cup crystal globes! 

But come what may the Apine World Cup Finals will be taking place next season and we'll be following developments in the Granvalira ski area and then the sportign event itself.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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