APRIL NEWS IN BRIEF
1st April 2019
Protest at UK ski slope housing plans, longest dry ski slope in Europe now open, rise in numbers on US ski train + IKON Pass price going up.ROLLING
NEWS IN BRIEF STORIES FROM MARCH 2019
If you value the UK’s dry ski slopes, get down to Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire this Sunday.
The ‘Fill The Hill’ event is being organised by the WGC Ski Race Club to protest at the planned closure of the facility.
The Gosling Ski Slope is under threat from proposals to develop the site for housing.
The protest is from 11.30am to 1pm and will be followed by a picnic.
We first reported on the housing plan on 15th September in News In Brief:
The slope is not alone in its battle against the developers:
And we reported the latest on Exeter’s fight on 11th March in News In Brief:
THURSDAY 24TH APRIL
LONGEST DRY SKI SLOPE IN EUROPE OPENS
It’s in Kopaonik, the biggest ski resort in Serbia, which now has skiing year-round.
The slope is 800 metres long with a vertical drop of 116 metres.
It’s double the length of the previous record-holder at the Midlothian Snowsports Centre near Edinburgh in the UK.
The Kopaonik dry slope is said to be suitable for both beginners and experts.
Access is by a four-seater chairlift.
It’s been constructed using Neveplast, a synthetic material made by the company of the same name.
And for its re-newed service in 2017.
The original Ski Train, a Colorado institution for generations, operated from 1940 through 2009.
WEDNESDAY 24TH APRIL
- Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows
- June Mountain
- Mammoth Mountain
- Big Bear Mountain Resort
- Crystal Mountain
- The Summit at Snoqualmie
- Aspen Snowmass
- Winter Park Resort
- Copper Mountain
- Eldora Mountain Resort
- Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
- Big Sky Resort
- Taos Ski Valley
- Deer Valley Resort
- Solitude Mountain Resort
- Killington – Pico
- Sugarbush Resort
- Snowshoe Mountain
- Sunday River
- Loon Mountain
- Revelstoke Mountain Resort
- CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures
- Cypress Mountain
- Blue Mountain
TUESDAY 23RD APRIL
The two candidates for the 2026 Winter Games are to send only small delegations to a summit in Australia where they are due to present their plans.
Milan Cortina d’Ampezzo 2026 and Stockholm Åre 2026 say they will have a limited presence at the SportAccord World Sport and Business Summit being held on the Gold Coast next month.
The decision not to send full delegations was made because of the cost of travelling to Australia.
According to Inside The Games, Stockholm Åre 2026 will send two representatives. Milan Cortina d’Ampezzo 2026 will send only one.
The presentations themselves will be made in private and via video link from Stockholm and Rome to the Association of International Olympic Winter Federations meeting in Australia.
BODIES OF 3 CLIMBERS FOUND
The bodies of three professional climbers who died in an avalanche near Banff have been recovered.
Austrians David Lama (28) and Hansjörg Auer (35) and American Jess Roskelley (36) had been attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peake in the Canadian Rockies on a route which has only been climbed once before.
They were reported missing last Wednesday and presumed dead, as we reported in News In Brief below (see Friday 19th April).
Rescuers found signs of several avalanches and climbing items but the recovery of the bodies was delayed by bad weather and the risk of further avalanches.
The operation took four days to complete.
In a statement, Parks Canada offered its sincere condolences to the men’s families, friends and loved ones.
The incident manager said the men had not been wearing avalanche transceivers, which would have expedited the search and recovery, but would not have changed the outcome.
It is thought they were hit by a level-3 avalanche, which is strong enough to knock over trees, bury vehicles or demolish small wooden buildings.
MONDAY 22ND APRIL
The country has seen a fall in British visitors in recent years as tour operators have pulled out due to changes in employment laws and the exchange rate.
“This will send a strong message about the way in which the Olympic Games are always synonymous with [people] gathering together and aim to put sport at the service of humanity.
FRIDAY 19TH APRIL
3 CLIMBERS FEARED DEAD IN AVALANCHE NEAR BANFF
Hansjörg Auer, David Lama and Jess Roskelley were attempting a route on Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies.
The route, MI6, had only been climbed once.
The alarm was raised when they failed to check in at a scheduled time.
Emergency services flew over the area where they were climbing and saw evidence of “avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment”.
Rescue efforts are on hold because of dangerous conditions and the threat of further avalanches.
Bad weather is forecast over the coming days.
David Lama and Hansjoerg Auer came from Austria, and Jess Roskelley, from the USA.
Fellow climbers and many in the climbing community expressed sadness at the reports.
THURSDAY 18TH APRIL
BODY OF BRITISH DOCTOR FOUND IN FRENCH ALPS
He was a GP in Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.
He was reported missing on 22nd March after failing to return from a walk in Les Houches the previous day.
French media report that his body was found in a river bed on Tuesday.
The Foreign Office has said it is supporting the family of a British man who has died in France, and are in contact with the French authorities.
“They have our sympathy at this deeply difficult time,” a spokesman said.
WEDNESDAY 17TH APRIL
- Mt Buller, Thredbo in New South Wales, Australia
- Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Mt Hutt in New Zealand
- Valle Nevado in Chile
Mt Buller is located 150 miles outside of Melbourne.
TUESDAY 16TH APRIL
The evening, arranged by the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association, will double up as a fundraising event for the youth and para sections of the sports.
John Jackson’s 4-man crew were last month officially upgraded to a bronze medal, five years after finishing fifth in Russia:
The BBSA says that, with the Winter Youth Olympics taking place in Lausanne in February 2020 and its talent ID campaign gathering pace, the money raised will help support the next generation of sliders.
The evening will also support the growth of the Para Bobsleigh programme for athletes with disabilities.
Britain’s Corie Mapp is currently one of the world’s best in this field.
The BBSA wants to encourage others to follow his lead, while giving Corie support to keep on competing at the top level.
The comic and impressionist, Rory Bremner, will perform at the dinner, which will kick off with a champagne and cocktail reception.
Other Winter Olympic medallists will attend.
It takes place on 24th April at the Boisdale Club in Canary Wharf.
Ticket prices start at £250 with a 50% discount for BBSA members and their guests.
The BBSA recently launched an appeal for donors and sponsors to support its squad of athletes after the government agency UK Sport withdrew its funding:
CRANS-MONTANA BIDS FOR ALPINE WORLD CHAMPS
The Swiss ski resort has officially submitted a bid to host the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 2025.
“Switzerland is an Alpine country that has some of the richest traditions, and we are fighting to attract the World Championships here again in 2025,” said Urs Lehmann, President of Swiss-Ski.
The successful host will be elected during the FIS Congress in Thailand at the end of May 2020.
The event was held in Crans-Montana in 1987.
The only other candidate so far is Saalbach in Austria which last hosted the Championships in 1991 and lost out to Courchevel-Meribel in France for the 2023 World Championships.
The Mayor, Eric Fournier, and the CEO of the Compagnie du Mont Blanc (CMB), Mathieu Dechavann, are reported to have spent several hours being questioned by gendarmes in Chambery, along with three other people.
Monsieur Fournier has confirmed in a statement that he was summoned to the gendarmerie on Tuesday 9th April.
In 2018 the offices of the town hall and the CMB were searched and documentation seized as part of the investigation.
The CMB was granted a 40-year contract to manage the ski area at the end of 2013, promising 477million Euros of investment to renovate facilities.
The Chamonix muncipality is a shareholder in CMB.
French media reports say the inquiry is investigating whether the contract was tainted by irregularities or favouritism.
THURSDAY 11TH APRIL
EASYJET WINTER FLIGHTS ON SALE
EasyJet has put its winter 2019/20 flights on sale with an assurance that they will operate whatever the Brexit outcome.
Thousands of flights across Europe, including ones to all the ski airport hubs, are now on sale until 28 March 2020.
“Our customers can rest assured that we will be flying as usual whatever the outcome of the ongoing Brexit negotiations,” said the airline in a statement.
We’ve had a look at some of the current prices for flights to Geneva, both for off-peak and peak winter dates.
There’s a huge variation.
Saturday Jan 4th, returning Saturday Jan 11th
Several flight options travelling from London Gatwick to Geneva at sensible times of the day are available for £57 return, excluding baggage.
There are similar prices flying from Manchester to Geneva.
February half-term week, Saturday 15th Feb, returning Saturday 22nd
Not surprisingly, the prices are much higher for this period but they are likely to be much lower now than they will be nearer the time.
The cheapest London Gatwick to Geneva return flight is £376pp, excluding baggage, with an evening outbound flight and an 0700hrs return flight.
The highest price for those dates on that route is £738pp return, excluding baggage, with travel out at 0950hrs and back at 1315hrs.
There’s been some reaction on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.
WEDNESDAY 10TH APRIL
GLACIERS MELTING FASTER THAN THOUGHT
A new study shows they are losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice each year.
Scientists have claimed they are shrinking 18% faster than an international panel of scientists calculated in 2013.
The world’s glaciers are shrinking five times faster now than they were in the 1960s.
Their melt is accelerating due to global warming, and adding more water to already rising seas, the study found.
“Over 30 years suddenly almost all regions started losing mass at the same time,” said lead author Michael Zemp, director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich.
“That’s clearly climate change if you look at the global picture.”
For further details see this story in the Washington Post
We have written extensively about the melting glaciers in the Alps and the impact on summer skiing in particular:
MONDAY 8TH APRIL
RED BULL RAGNAROK RETURNS FOR ITS 10TH YEAR
250 kites filled the skies above Norway’s snowy Hardangervidda plateau in Red Bull’s annual kite race.
Red Bull’s Ragnarok kite race took place between 4th-7th April.
30 different nations tackled the grueling 5 lap course on either skis or snowboards.
Hardangervidda is the largest mainland national park in Scandinavia.
Participants attempt to use kite power alone to complete five laps of the course in the shortest possible time.
The race format is a mass start and the kiters then have a five-hour time limit to finish the course.
Steph Bridge of the UK topped the women’s ski podium, completing the course in 4h 45m.
SATURDAY 6TH APRIL
SHIFFIN WINS $1m IN PRIZE MONEY
She is the first skier to do so.
She had 60 race wins, collected a few more globes, and took home 17 World Cup wins this season.
WEDNESDAY 3RD APRIL
UK SKI INSTRUCTOR GUILTY OF RAPE
A British ski instructor has pleaded guilty to raping a woman and punching and kicking her friend in Australia.
The incident happened last July in the town of Jindabyne near the ski resorts of Perisher and Thredbo.
Police called the attack “horrendous”.
Matthew James Williams, now 29, followed the woman and man after they left a pub at night.
He then attacked them.
Police thought there had been a number of attackers due to the severity of the injuries.
The ski instructor, who worked in Perisher, was arrested after his DNA and watch were found at the scene.
Mr Williams pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated sexual assault, inflicting actual bodily harm with intent to have sexual intercourse with another, and possessing a prohibited drug.
He will be sentenced next month.
MONDAY 1ST APRIL
BREXIT: A SKI INSTRUCTOR’S VIEW
We post without comment.
But it does appear to support what the British Association of Snowsports Instructors claimed earlier:
OZ TO GET ALL YEAR FREESTYLE TRAINING CENTRE
It will be the first one in the Southern Hemisphere and will be built in Brisbane.
The news comes from Australian Olympic Committee.
The project will cost $6.5 million.
The International Freestyle Skiing Training Facility will host elite aerial and mogul skiers, overseas athletes and locals.
It will be an extension of the current Sleeman Sports Centre facility, which has an Olympic-sized pool, accommodation, gymnastic centre, fitness centre and athlete rehabilitation as well as the Anna Meares velodrome and BMX track.
“This facility will be a game-changer for Australian winter sport,” said Federal Sports Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie.
“Our Australian winter athletes have been so successful in freestyle skiing despite their training disadvantages, and they have inspired the next generation of participants in skiing – and hopefully producing more Olympic heroes.”
5G FOR BEIJING OLYMPICS
The city plans to invest £3.4 billion to build a 5G network in time for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
It is also expected that Beijing will gain an edge in expediting pioneering applications such as self-driving vehicles and remote healthcare according to the China Daily.
The 5G network will cover the core zone of the city.
It will also be used in the Beijing Daxing International Airport.
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