The 20-21 ski season has officially opened this weekend in France, with most ski resorts opening on Saturday, 17th October 2020. Finally, those of us who have chomped at the bit to get our ski fix can look forward to the thrill of the slopes at last. This comes after much uncertainty about whether, owing to the latest global pandemic, the ski resorts would open at all. It is with some relief that this weekend saw the opening of several European ski resorts.
Together with 14 other glacier ski areas already opened in Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes’ glaciers have both opened for the season. Following many substantial snowfalls over the past few weeks, snow conditions are recorded to be among the best they have been this early in the fall for several years.
Les 2 Alpes, which posted boom summer business after the French lockdown ended in the spring, is initially open until 1st November for a quarterly period, before closing again until the last weekend of next month. The objective of Tignes, which has reported another 15 cm (6 inches) of snowfall over the past few days, is to remain open until May 2021.
For skiers who wish to travel to France from the UK are currently subject to a range of limitations, including the need to self-isolate after returning to the UK for a fortnight. Unfortunately, coronavirus cases in France have also been increasing in recent weeks, with restrictions similar to those in the United Kingdom rising in some regions. As in other parts of the globe, this is a continuously changing situation.
Heavy Snowfalls on European Slopes
Over the past 24 hours, ski areas in the Alps, Dolomites, and Pyrenees have recorded heavy snowfall. Resorts are claiming that snow has fallen up to 30 cm (a foot), often right down to the slopes’ base. For many ski resorts, this is the third significant snowfall in the last quarter after drops of up to 70 cm in the last week of September and another smaller snowfall about a week ago. The Dachstein Glacier resort staff have been shovelling some of the heaviest snowfall today that has been recorded in Austria. In Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, about 15 glacier ski areas are already open in the Alps.
Thankfully, the French ski season’s start began with the opening of the glacier ski areas above Les 2 Alpes (initially for a fortnight) and Tignes. This is the first time since the coronavirus lockdown in March, the Alpine Skiing World Cup Tour resumed with the first 20-21 race at Solden in Austria yesterday, bringing much excitement to the ski world. It was the start of the North American ski season as well yesterday.
Current quarantine rules for Brits returning home
However, the dreams of going on a ski trip for British skiers and snowboarders still hang in the balance as the mountains turn white with winter. At present, travellers returning from France, Austria, and Switzerland face 14 days of quarantine when they arrive home. Italy remains the only Alpine nation with the UK to have a quarantine-free travel corridor, but with a case rate now above 58 per 100,000, it seems more than probable, any day now, that this will be revoked. New Mountain Trade Network research has found that 75% of skiers would be quarantined on their return home for various periods.
Nevertheless, the idea of having to quarantine after their winter ski jaunt seems to unfaze many Britons. Brits will happily quarantine if it means they can enjoy their winter ski holiday, and who can blame them. All that’s left to say is happy skiing!