CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
12th April 2020
Last modified on May 21st, 2021
We have been updating our blog on a daily basis here on PlanetSKI with all the news on how it impacts on the world we live in and the one we love – skiing and snowboarding.
See here for last week’s offering:
SATURDAY 18TH APRIL
SCOTLAND RECORDS NO MOUNTAIN RESCUES AS PEOPLE TAKE ADVICE AND STAY AWAY
The last rescue for Scottish Mountain Rescue, SMR, was almost a month ago on March 22nd.
It is the longest time between call outs since the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 that led to widespread restrictions on access to land.
The Glencoe and Lochaber mountain rescue teams, who are not members of SMR, have issued appeals urging people not to visit Scotland’s hills and mountains.
They say it would divert the emergency services and the NHS from their work dealing with Covid-19.
It would also risk exposing rescuers and the wider public to the virus.
As restrictions were put in the place in the UK at the end of March hundreds of people arrived in the Highlands in camper vans and mobile homes.
30 camping vehicles turned up in the car park of the Nevis Range ski resorts as we reported at the time.
The authorities urged them to go back to where they had come from so as not to burden local services and health care.
INDIA FLAG BEAMED ON TO THE MATTERHORN
Last night it was the turn of India.
“The Indian flag on the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s landmark, is intended to express our solidarity and give hope and strength to all Indians,” said the resort.
The resort is beaming messages of hope on to the east face of the mountain, plus the flags of some of the nations suffering under the coronavirus outbreak.
FRIDAY 17TH APRIL
IS SKI TOURING ALLOWED IN AUSTRIA?
The Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, who is also sports minister, told a news conference that dangerous outdoor sports like ski touring, which is often conducted away from ski resorts, would be allowed from May 1st.
He urged those doing them to stick to “something easy” to avoid accidents.
However, in the Tirol that is the current situation after quarantine restrictions were lifted as we reported earlier:
Downhill Biking, ski touring, climbing and all mountain sports in high alpine areas or with a greater risk of injuries are “not recommended”, rather than banned.
The governor of the Tirol, Guenther Platter, has appealed to the common sense and self-responsibility of people.
SNOWSPORTS INDUSTRY HELPS OUT IN CORONAVIRUS BATTLE
From Googles for Doctors in the USA, to Michelin starred chefs preparing meals for health staff in France.
Burton Snowboards is sourcing 500,000 masks & a paralympic silver medalist is working as a nurse.
Mikaela Shiffrin auctions of a racing bib and she sings a song.
SWITZERLAND RELEASES DETAILS OF EXIT FROM LOCKDOWN
Like many other alpine nations the country remains in lockdown with ski resorts closed, tight restictions on movements with shops and businesses closed.
The government has released details of its exit strategy in a 3-fold timetable.
See here for the full details in a separate article on PlanetSKI:
INTERSPORT FRANCE HAS REFUNDED 90% OF CUSTOMERS SO FAR
The ski and snowboard rental brand is refunding people 100% of their booking with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ after the closing of ski resorts across Europe brought an early end to the season.
The company is not seeking people to have a voucher or a credit note, but rather a full refund of their money.
The company is a main partner of PlanetSKI.
“We are going through the tens of thousands of cases, individually and manually, from various kitchen tables and home offices around France,” said a message to customers.
“We are also adjusting to the new working norm, as we are sure you – our customers – are also doing.
“Our team is not huge and it is taking far longer than we would hope. We are 90% complete on the refunding process.
“For the remaining 10% of our customers, please rest assured that you will get a refund.”
See this related PlanetSKI article:
Here is the full letter from Intersport:
From Intersport Rent – Ski and Snowboard equipment hire across Europe.
Since the closure of ski resorts across the alps on the weekend starting Friday 13th March, we have been working around the clock to make sure that customers get a full refund on any booking that was affected by the closure.
Unlike some of our competitors, and some airlines, we are not asking our customers to take a voucher or credit note for next winter, nor are we trying to defer payments and refunds until later in the summer.
We are refunding everyone 100% of their booking – no questions asked – as soon as is manageably possible.
However, the process of refunding everyone is a complicated one, hampered by our entire customer services and accounts department having to work remotely, as well as the fact that until the 11th of May, our shops must remain closed on government orders.
We are going through the tens of thousands of cases, individually and manually, from various kitchen tables and home offices around France. We are also adjusting to the new working norm, as we are sure you – our customers – are also doing.
Our team is not huge and it is taking far longer than we would hope. We are 90% complete on the refunding process. For those customers, thank you so much for bearing with us and for being so patient.
For the remaining 10% of our customers, please rest assured that you will get a refund.
If you have not heard from us or received your full refund by the 30th of April 2020 we would kindly ask that you contact us via our facebook page direct message system (www.facebook.com/IntersportRent) and we will deal with individual cases from that date onwards as the number will be manageably smaller.
Please include your booking reference and the name under which you made the reservation.
Please again accept our heartfelt apologies that this process has taken longer than any of us wanted. We understand the frustration this has caused some of our customer and we are genuinely trying our hardest to get everyone’s hard-earned money back to them.
We of course hope that the situation returns to normal as soon as possible, and we look forward to seeing all our valued customers again as soon as we can welcome you back to the alps.
The Intersport Rent Customer Services Team
TOURISTS IN INDIA WHO BREAK COVID-19 RESTRICTION TREATED LIKE NAUGHTY SCHOOLCHILDREN
Ten tourists who were caught breaking the lockdown in the town of Rishikesh were ordered to write ‘I did not follow the rules of lockdown so I am so sorry’ 500 times.
The tourists are from Austria, Israel, Mexico and Australia and Austria.
According to local media, other unique punishments meted out to residents have included being forced to do army drill style squats by the roadside.
The lockdown continues in India until at least May 3rd.
THURSDAY 16TH APRIL
ANDORRA SEES COVID-19 CASES RISING
673 residents have come down with the virus and 33 have died, in the Principality in the Pyrenees.
It has a population of just over 77,000.
Six million people visit each year – often to go skiing or for duty-free shopping – and that may explain the high infection rate.
Due to a lack of medical staff, the government invited 39 doctors and nurses from Cuba to help treat patients.
FRENCH SKI RESORT OF LES2ALPES STILL PLANNING TO OPEN IN EARLY JUNE FOR ITS SUMMER SEASON
The resort says it will be ready to open on June 6th and is going ahead with all the planning for its summer events.
France has recently extended its lockdown regulations until May 11th.
If it can open there will be numerous rules including wearing a mask, reinforced sanitary measures in establishments open to the public and adherence to social distancing regulations, according to a report in Le Dauphine.
The resort is planning to run the lifts for free on the opening weekend.
One of its main events is the Mountain of Hell downhill mountain biking event that is due to take place June 26- 28.
This year it is having a James Bond theme.
However, the director of the tourist office, Eric Bouchet, said “there will be no foreigners allowed from outside the Schengen area.”
This is because the external national borders will likely still be closed to those outside of Schengen.
The UK is not in the Schengen area.
Last weekend the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office announced that it was extending its advice to avoid all but essential travel anywhere in the world for an indefinite period.
Some see the plan to open as over-optimistic and worry the French resorts will begin to open in the same way they closed – in an un-cordinated and chaotic manner.
MIDDLE SEAT EMPTY ON EASYJET FLIGHTS
EasyJet plans to keep the middle seat on its planes empty after restrictions are lifted.
“That is something that we will do because I think that is something that the customers would like to see,” said the EasyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren
“Then we will work out with the authorities and listen to the customers’ views and points on what they believe is the right thing to do, particularly in the start-up period.”
“I’m talking about this as an initial phase. Nobody knows for how long that phase will be,” he said.
“I think it’s important that customers understand that we are taking this very seriously, and first and foremost, our concern is about the customers’ well-being and our people’s well-being.”
Bookings for winter flights are ahead of last year as people have re- booked tickets after the coronavirus disrupted their travel.
EasyJet said it expects to report a pre-tax loss between £360m and £380m for the first half of its financial year.
It said it had a cash balance of around £3.3bn and could “remain liquid”, if its planes stay of the ground for 9 months.
It has deferred the delivery of 24 new aircrafts.
SKI INSTRUCTORS STUCK IN USA
100s of instructors are still in the mountains on J-1 and H2B visas.
They are the ones who were unable to get flights before the airlines closed down and countries shut their borders.
“We want to go back home to Argentina. That is our biggest wish. We want to be with our families,” said Ana Panessi from Argentina.
She remains stuck in Aspen in Colorado.
Aspen Skiing Co. has waived rent for its international J-1 workers and has helped most of them arrange their trips back home.
The company also is helping the remaining workers with expenses as they wait for their home borders to open, according to the Colorado Sun newspaper.
Vail Resorts has about 100 international employees waiting.
In the past three weeks the company has helped 1,900 international workers get home.
Aspen Skiing Co., Vail Resorts is providing housing and support to remaining workers.
The visas of many of the people will shortly expire.
“If we are not allowed to get back home before May, our visas will expire and we will be here illegally,” said one instructor stuck in Squaw Valley in California.
“We are trying to apply for a different visa, but the fee is high. It’s not that we want to stay, we just can’t leave. We are stuck.”
WEDNESDAY 15TH APRIL
TOUR DE FRANCE DELAYED BY TWO MONTHS
The Tour de France will go ahead, says cycling’s governing body the UCI.
It was due to start on 27th June but it has been put back to 29th August.
“Holding this event in the best conditions possible is judged essential given its central place in cycling’s economy and its exposure, in particular for the teams that benefit on this occasion from unparalleled visibility,” said the international cycling union.
LEGAL CASE AGAINST VAIL RESORTS FOR EPIC PASS REFUNDS
A skier from California, Brian Hunt, is taking the resort owner to court for failing to refund him money after all its ski resorts closed.
Vail Resorts operates 30 ski areas across North America and the case is being watched closely.
Vail Resorts announced it was closing all of its mountain resorts on March 25th for the rest of the season.
At the moment it has no plans to refund people for their lost mountain resort access or allow them to transfer passes to another ski season.
Mr Hunt has a $499 annual season pass for a Lake Tahoe resort.
His pass permitted mountain access from October 2019 to June 2020 (as long as there was snow).
The case is being heard at the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
HEATHROW SEES HUGE FALL IN TRAFFIC BUT PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
The airport said March passenger numbers were down 52% on the same period last year.
Many of the 3 million journeys made were repatriations, following travel restrictions placed by the coronavirus lockdowns.
April is likely to see a drop of 90% according to forecasts with ‘lasting and significant industry-wide effects’.
The airport wants to introduce hundreds of hand sanitiser dispensers, additional cleaning and sanitation procedures as well as signage and floor stickers to remind passengers to socially distance.
Team members are on hand to help manage queues and ensure safe and adequate spacing between passengers.
“Heathrow is ready to work with Government and industry on science and research to develop measures for rapid health screening of passengers prior to travel,” said a statement from the airport.
“The airport is looking to develop processes which will help provide future passengers peace of mind when flying, but wants to ensure there is an international consensus for common measures – so the benefits of global travel can be realised to support the economic and social recovery from Covid-19.”
TUESDAY 14th APRIL
SOME RESTRICTIONS LIFTED IN AUSTRIA
Garden centres, DIY stores and small shops can now open in Austria but with strict rules on social distancing.
Regular disinfection and limiting the number of customers are also basic requirements.
Austria was one of the first European countries to imposing strict lockdown measures about a month ago.
The government says it has flattened the curve of new infections.
It has so far reported about 14,000 cases and 368 deaths.
However the ski resorts of Ischgl, St Anton and Soelden remain under full quarantine after extensive testing revealed widespread cases of coronavirus infections.
Last week the Tirol ended its strict quarantine measures and Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, released plans to lift some restrictions as we reported at the time on PlanetSKI.
Kurz has told Austrians that he wanted to “come out of this crisis as quickly as possible and fight for every job in Austria”.
From today, Tuesday 14th, shops under 400 sq m are allowed to re-open, along with garden centres and hardware stores.
Strict social distancing rules are in place and will be policed.
It is compulsory for people to wear a mask in supermarkets and pharmacies.
From May 1st, all shops, shopping centres and hairdressers can reopen, but also under strict security measures.
Restaurants, bars and hotels will not be able to open before mid-May at the earliest.
SKIING IN RICHMOND PARK
Cars were been banned from the park in SW London a while back.
Next it was bikes.
But you can still ‘ski’ in the park in south west London.
This is what we saw over Easter as we went for some daily exercise.
It is taking ‘park skiing’ to a whole new level.
And it is not the first time snowsports have taken place in Richmond Park.
Here is a January scene from a few years back.
BEIJING 2022 COULD BE AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should be planning for the possibility that it impacts the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
It could lead to a loss of revenues for an entire Olympiad, according to the organisation’s most senior member Richard Pound.
Pound told insidethegames the IOC must “consider the overall consequences of the unwelcome possibility that, in a worst-case scenario, both 2020 and 2022 could be affected”.
The COVID-19 virus led to the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a decision the IOC and Organising Committee officials have admitted will result in “massive” additional costs.
LAKE PLACID WINTER OLYMPIC SITES TURN BLUE TO SUPPORT USA HEALTH WORKERS
The ski jump and the ice rink have been illuminated blue in support of the workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Lake Placid, in New York state, hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980.
Other buildings including Madison Square Garden and One World Trade Center were also part of the campaign.
New York state is the worst-hit state in the United States.
More than 8,600 people have died in the state, which is almost three times the number killed in the New York 9/11 terrorist attacks.
MONDAY 13TH APRIL
ITALY ACCUSED OF STEALING HAND GEL DESTINED FOR SWITZERLAND
The gel was on its way to Switzerland but Italian customs authorities stopped the consignment at the border crossing at Domodossola.
The Italians say they seized the goods on the authority of a special coronavirus emergency decree.
Victory Switzerland had ordered the products from German company Gifts & Beauty Handels and paid more than CHF30,000 (£25, 000) for them three weeks ago.
The gel itself is manufactured in Italy.
Government officials from both sides are now involved in the dispute and the Swiss accuse Italy of ‘stealing’ the gel.
Read more here on Swiss Info
EASTER IN SUNDANCE
An Easter bunny has visited Sundance ski resort in Utah, but this year it felt a little different.
“We hope you’re all safe, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon,” said the resort.
It brought back memories from January 2020 when PlanetSKI visited Sundance, while staying in nearby Zermatt Mountain resort:
And here is the bunny’s visit to Sundance in Easter 2019.
THE HOME-MADE FACE MASK
There is much talk at the moment about whether to wear a facemask – both to protect yourelf and, perhaps more importantly, to limit the spread of the virus if you have it.
We suggest you do a bit of research and reading to make your own mind up.
And if you decide it is for you then here’s how you can make your own one out of a vacuum cleaner bag.
It is courtesy of one of our regular readers, Neal Wardman who is a ski instructor in the Swiss resort of Verbier.
Now Neal also caught the Covid-19 virus (before he began making masks).
He detailed what it was like in our rolling blog from people under lockdown: Life Under Lockdown
SUNDAY 12th APRIL
DSUK MAKES FRESH CALL FOR DONATIONS
Disability Snowsport UK has raised £10,000 towards its target of £50,000.
Much of the charity’s funding has dried up because of the coronavirus pandemic and the UK lockdown rules.
It launched a JustGiving campaign on April 3rd as we reported at the time here on PlanetSKI.
The charity was founded in the 1970s and helps people with a disability ski.
The vast majority of the charity’s income comes from providing lessons at indoor ski centres.
It also runs overseas group holidays to resorts in Andorra, Austria, France and the USA for disabled skiers.
The charity had to cancel all its lessons when UK snowdomes closed and its late season trips.
It is now appealing to the British snowsports community for donations to help keep the operation running during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I like to talk of the ‘power of powder’,” Mark Kelvin, the charity’s chief executive, told The Times.
“People who are disabled are often wrapped in cotton wool. Rarely do they get to choose the speed they go at and the direction they go in, or get their heart pumping and adrenaline flowing. There is a right to risk that the disabled are often deprived of.”
Mr Kelvin added that the current restrictions on freedom of movement and social distancing are leaving many people feeling trapped in their homes.
Something that many of the people the charity supports felt long before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Writing on the JustGiving platform, Mr Kelvin said: “Even if we manage to leave our homes, the outside world might not be able to meet our needs, and many of us are experiencing anxiety when weighing up the risks associated with stepping out of the front door.
“For many of Disability Snowsport UKs skiers and snowboarders these were the challenges they faced before Covid-19, challenges that DSUK has helped them to address.”
Here at PlanetSKI we urge you to give whatever you can and what feels appropriate for a fabulous charity – big or small.
Helen Clatworthy, a DSUK trustee said: “For many disabled skiers, their love of skiing is because of the freedom and independence they feel when they get out of their wheelchairs and onto the snow.
I know there are many appeals for your money at the moment, but we are asking skiers to support us by giving a small amount to help ensure we can continue to share our fantastic sport with as many disabled people as possible.”
SWEDEN ADMITS MISTAKES IN BATTLE WITH CORONAVIRUS
The country is being hailed in some quarters as a model of success in dealing with the crisis as it has not imposed a lockdown with schools, bars, restaurants and shops still open.
Others see it is a model of how not to deal with the pandemic and thinks it is living in denial, believing the virus will someone behave in a different way in Sweden.
The majority of ski resorts in Sweden closed last weekend as we reported at the time:
Two remain open.
The government has advised against non-essential travel and banned groups of more than 50 people from gathering.
The Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, has now admitted for the first time that Sweden was not properly prepared for the pandemic and that it is “obvious that country has not done enough”.
He made the comments to the Swedish broadcaster SVT.
In Sweden 887 people have died from the virus – many more than neighbours Norway (114) and Finland (49) where lockdowns were introduced in early March.
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Sweden has a population of 10m with Norway and Finland having 5m each.
FREERIDE WORLD TOUR VIDEOS
Check out the highlights from last season:
And the crashes!