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December 2020

Andorra Opening Slopes to Locals Free-of-Charge This Weekend

Andorra has announced it is opening its ski areas for the season this Saturday, 2nd January, initially just for people resident in the principality. Grandvalira, the largest ski area in the Pyrenees, says the lifts will operate free of charge on opening weekend. The other main ski region, VallNord, also says its slopes will be open for free this weekend, issuing this statement: “It's time to say goodbye to 2020 and what better than doing it with this great news? Thank you all for the patience you have had, we will be opening 70 % of the Pal sector for the local public with free access on the 2nd and 3rd. From Monday a reduced rate for the day pass…

WORLD SNOW ROUNDUP #172

Issued: 30 December 2020 By Patrick "Snowhunter" Thorne European RoundupNorth American RoundupAsia Roundup EUROPE INTRODUCTION Kopaonik resort this week It has been a good week for snowfall for much of Europe with significant accumulations, up to a metre (40 inches) in fact reported for some areas. The snowfall has also been widespread with big dumps for the Dolomites, Pyrenees and Alps. Eastern European ski areas as well as those in Scandinavia, and to a lesser extent Scotland, have also seen much-needed snowfall with temperatures staying low. The only real issue has been gale force winds driving the snow in at times in some areas, closing centres for a day or two in both the Alps and Pyrenees at the start of…

Ski Areas Seek To Stay Open But Limit Losses

Ski resorts across the world are trying to survive the impact of the pandemic as their operating conditions continue to deteriorate. Having been forced to close early last season, losing significant sums of money as a result, most resorts then ran up additional coasts investing large sums on measures to make their lift operations as ‘COVID-safe’ as possible (in the case of bigger areas reportedly often $1mUS/€1m+). They are now finding that just when they hoped to begin recouping losses accrued since March, they are being prevented from operating as coronavirus cases rise in ski nations around the world. Even where they are able to open, operations are so restricted that the costs of running lifts greatly outweigh the income…

Several Scottish Ski Areas To Open to Locals Only in Latest Lockdown

Most Scottish ski areas opened for the 20-21 season last weekend, but the Scottish Government announced that most of the country is going in to the ‘#highest tier’ in the Scottish system, which is more-or-less lockdown, from Boxing Day, December 26th, for at least three weeks. This places further restrictions on the already tight restrictions in place due to the pandemic, but most of the centres believe they can continue to operate under tier 4. Although only 'essential travel' is permitted under the new restrictions, "non- contact sport" is allowed so long as only people travelling from the local area participate. The biggest change therefore is that only people living local to the ski areas can ski and board the…

WORLD SNOW ROUNDUP #171

Issued: 23 December 2020 By Patrick "Snowhunter" Thorne European RoundupNorth American RoundupAsia Roundup EUROPE INTRODUCTION There’s not much fresh snow to report in Europe this week, instead the focus has been on which ski areas can open for Christmas week and which aren’t depending on their government’s response to the coronavirus. It’s a very mixed picture. Of the big four alpine ski nations, Austria is due to open most ski areas to locals from Christmas Eve, this Thursday, but tourists are banned. France has fully opened its ski resorts for all activities except using lifts to ski downhill, Italy is in full lockdown and Switzerland had hundreds of ski areas open at the weekend but is deciding canton by canton which…

Japanese Ski Resorts Report Over 3 Metres Of Snowfall in 7 Days

Many Japanese ski areas have reported incredible snowfall totals over the past seven days. The snowfall has created lots of logistical problems in Japan and people stuck overnight in their cars has made international headlines. SnowJapan.com maintains very detailed records of snowfall at resorts across the country with daily first hand reports from many of the country’s leading resorts. Madarao Kogen It’s report for Myoko gives a total of 311cm (over 10 feet) of snowfall over the last seven days, with the reporter noting, “The snow just keeps on coming, so it's powder on the slopes, with more lifts opening as well to get you up there …it’s all good, especially after last year!” The reference to last year refers…

Canadian Ski Resort Fires Staff After More Than 70 Virus Cases Uncovered

Big White ski resort in British Columbia has said it has fired “a number” of staff after a large cluster of coronavirus cases came to light at the resort. The Interior Health's investigation has found a total of 76 cases so far at the resort, with 44 residing on mountain and 57 active, according to a resort statement. Local reports indicate staff were sacked for breaching their employment contact terms regarding COVID prevention and/or the British Columbian provincial health officer's requirements. The resort says it had made it clear it has zero tolerance of any such breaches. All staff are required to sign a health declaration before starting work each day and to follow all provincial health rules.  Interior Health…

Most Swiss Ski Areas Stay Open For Christmas

Most ski areas and hotels in Switzerland appear to be staying open through Christmas after the latest national restrictions did not automatically include ski area closures. The Swiss federal government has been making weekly announcements on restrictions, each time sparking fears that ski areas would be required to close. The latest announcement includes strict new measures to help reduce the rate of Covid-19 in the country that includes the closure of hospitality businesses such as restaurants, bars, museums, sport centres, spas, casinos, cinemas and theatres. Ski areas have not been specifically listed but individual cantons have taken measures closing slopes. For example Uri is closing its areas, so that includes Andermatt, except that much of Andermatt's ski area, shared with…

Zero-Emission Hydrogen-Powered Snow Groomer Launched

Italian-company Prinoth has released a snow grooming tractor powered by hydrogen, which it says has zero-CO2-emissions when in use. The new Leitwolf h2Motion is set to debut on the slopes of Alta Badia in the Dolomiti Superski region when the resort hosts its annual World cup races on the Gran Risa race course on Sunday 20th and Monday 21st December. The groomer is the latest development after the company launched its Husky eMotion all electric groomer, but has more power and can perform for longer on a tank of hydrogen, than the electric groomer can on a full charge. The Husky eMotion, the lightest groomer in the world, can run at full power for up to three hours on a…

Italian Lift Company Announces It is Not Opening This Winter

One of the lift companies that runs lifts and maintains slopes in the famous ski resort of Val Gardena has announced it will not open for the 20-21 ski season. Italian ski resorts are currently closed by government order until January 7th, along with those in France, Italy and (to tourists) Austria.  With virus case numbers in Italy still very high, some are expressing doubts that ski areas will be allowed to re-open on January 7th. The Saslong lift company, which runs the lifts and slopes that include the resort’s famous World Cup race course due to be in action this weekend, does not run all the lifts in Val Gardena but does operate lifts that maintain a crucial link…