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It’s a wide, wide world….but not for skiers and riders this year

1st March 2021 | Craig Altschul

Italy's ski resorts are closed

Italy's ski resorts are closed

Copyright: Mercurynews.com

It all depends on where you live. That is clearly the upshot of the pandemic winter for skiers and riders the world over.

Consider ourselves among the lucky ones who can continue to enjoy our favorite sport at the resorts we know and love as long as those resorts are in the United States, Canada, Austria and Switzerland and we live there. OK, so we wear a mask, grab lunch on the go and consider our cars as mini base lodges.. But, we can ski or snowboard, right?

On the other glove, consider yourselves having a bummer winter if you live anywhere you have to travel “abroad” (i.e., across your country border to another country). We try to keep a positive tone here at Mountain News, but well, it is what is is.

We asked some of the editors of our sister Mountain News websites worldwide to fill us in on what’s happening at resorts in their countries in terms of being able to travel abroad or even ski or ride at all. The report is a mixed bag, slanting too heavily on the “no go.”

But, let’s start with nations where the lifts are spinning for those who are living in the right place at the right time.

Some 300 U.S. areas open

More than 300 ski areas in the United States are operating this winter, so you can ski and ride if you live in most any alpine state. That’s a full alphabet from Afton Alps in Minnesota to tiny Yawgoo Valley in Rhode Island and the mega resorts of Colorado and Utah in between. There are some travel restrictions, but quarantine times have been shortened and are being slowly lifted. Most are self-quarantines.

It’s just about the same in Canada, but don’t even think of crossing the border between countries. Some 200 resorts are open and the usual restrictions apply. You can generally travel between provinces but be sure to check about differing policies among them.

You can virtually forget about traveling abroad for the remainder of the season. That hasn’t changed since the snow started to fall. So, North Americans, forget about that spring ski trip to the Alps or Dolomites. And vice versa.

Border patrols strict in Europe

Tom Sipply, our editor for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, tells us, “Austria is under lockdown as well as Germany, but Austrian ski resorts are open again, mainly for the citizens of Austria.”

That means, he says, border controls are strict as are travel restrictions and quarantine rules. Most travelers need to self-quarantine upon arrival and additionally show a negative COVID test. Restaurants, hotels and Airbnbs remain closed too. 

“There also has been a new outbreak of the virus in the Austrian state of Tirol (where the most popular ski resorts are located). Therefore, the ski resorts in that state have to close again. Tirol has Europe’s highest outbreak of the South African variant. Officials say they are determined to keep ski resorts safe and open, however there already has been an impact. More ski resorts are closing again in that part of Austria,” he says.

Sipply adds that ski resorts in at least the German-speaking part of Switzerland remain open. The rate of infection in the nation is currently improving. Each ski resort carries out their own COVID-19 safety regulations, like elsewhere.

French ski areas are closed  - © Jeff Pachoud, AFP

French ski areas are closed

Copyright: Jeff Pachoud, AFP

That’s the end of the good news. So, here’s the part that doesn’t make for a good winter ski season. Start in France. Editor Julie LaMotte could sum it up in one word: “Ferme.” But she spelled it out a bit more: “Ski lifts have never been opened in France and are most likely to stay closed for this season. The government has promised to help resorts for all the losses.”

Italy’s opening postponed again

Italy? Chiuso (closed up). Editor Patti Caposelle explains: “And...at the end of a sunny Sunday, the government decided to postpone the opening date again for Italian ski resorts (March 5). Many ski resorts were ready to open after working on the slopes, organization of everything online and offline to follow the anti-COVID rules, and after announcing the opening through all their channels. They were then stopped again.” 

Online ski pass sales had exploded, she says, and many ski resort websites went down due to big traffic. Some ski resorts already decided and communicated they would not open at all. All the while the spectator-less World Alpine Ski Championships went forward as a TV show with deep snows in Cortina.

Editor Kamila Roboova reports on The Czech Republic and neighboring Slovakia. “COVID situation is still very challenging. Czech Republic is even worse than USA in deaths per 100,000 population. Ski resorts are closed in both Czechia and Slovakia. Lodging, restaurants and other services are closed too. 

“Nordic skiing is not disabled, and being very popular in Central Europe, mountains are full of these skiers, alongside skialpinists (backcountry). Many ski resorts provide non-ski activities like snowtubing, sledge trails, etc.” Just don’t plan to ski abroad.

Indoor halls closed 

Belgium and The Netherlands have only indoor ski halls which have been closed for months now. Editor Jurgen Groenwals tells us: “We have no idea if and when they will open again. Besides that, people are not allowed to travel, unless for professional reasons. That means no wintersport for anyone living in BE or NL.”

UK Editor Alicia Taylor wrote about really good early season conditions in Scotland, but that’s the good news. Unfortunately, they are closed.

Looking ahead to upside-down summer skiing and riding in the Southern Hemisphere?  A good sign is season passes are for sale in Australia and New Zealand with a hoped-for opening in mid-June.

Let’s end this discussion on a positive note with the words of Portillo, Chile’s owner and general manager Henry and Miguel Purcell: “We will be eager and waiting for you with all the warmth, adventure and fun that you have come to expect from Portillo.” Amen to that.

Portillo will welcome skiers

Portillo will welcome skiers

Copyright: Chileanski.com

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