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JANUARY NEWS IN BRIEF

– First World Cup ski races in China off due to Coronavirus
– Sestriere to bid for 2029 World Champs
– Scottish Mountains photographer wins top award
– Inghams wins again

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NEWS IN BRIEF STORIES FROM DECEMBER 2019

WEDNESDAY 29th JANUARY
WORLD CUP SKI RACES & X GAMES IN CHINA CANCELLED

The International Ski Federation has announced that the men’s downhill and super G races due to be held in Yanqing next month are off due to the outbreak and continuing spread of Coronavirus.

The races, scheduled for 15th and 16th February, would have been the first World Cup alpine events ever to be held in China.

It was due to be a test event for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and showcase the Olympic downhill course.

Beijing 2022 alpine centre, Yanqing - photo Beijing 2022

Alpine Centre, Yanqing – photo Beijing 2022

The decision to cancel has been taken jointly by FIS, the Chinese Ski Association and its Yanqing Local Organising Committee.

“It is with great regret that all of the stakeholders are obliged to take the difficult decision to cancel the World Cup races in Yanqing this season, as the historic first FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in China and the first official Beijing 2022 Test Event,” said FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.

“Although the risk level in Yanqing is low, the health and welfare of the athletes and all participants must take priority.

“It is also imperative that athletes can focus on their performance and particularly on the completely new and very challenging course.”

A women’s World Cup downhill and super G in March 2021 will serve as a  Beijing 2022 Test Event and FIS says it will attempt to schedule a test event for the men too.

The outbreak of Coronavirus has also led to the postponement of the first Winter X Games to take place in China.

The Games were scheduled for 21st to 23rd February at Secret Garden in Chongli, the Beijing 2022 host site for ski and snowboard big air, halfpipe and slopestyle.

There have so far been more than 130 deaths and almost 6,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in China to date.

MONDAY 27th JANUARY
SESTRIERE TO BID FOR 2029 ALPINE WORLD SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Sestriere, in the Piedmont region, last hosted the Alpine World Championships in 1997.

It last staged a major winter sports event in 2006 as one of the main venues for that year’s Winter Olympics in Turin.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation has given its backing to the proposal.

“The Italian Winter Sports Federation expresses the utmost support for a candidacy which, if accepted, would enable our nation to maintain a leading role in the most important winter sports events in recent years after the 2021 Cortina world championships and the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics,” said the Federation’s President, Flavio Roda.

Final decisions are some way off.

The choice for the 2025 has not yet been made with Montana in Switzerland, Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany and the Austrian resort of Saalbach in the running.

Sestriere, Italy

SUNDAY 26th JANUARY
TOP AWARD FOR SCOTTISH MOUNTAINS PHOTOGRAPHER

The world-renowned landscape photographer, Colin Prior, has won the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture 2020.

The award was announced today by the organisers of The Fort William Mountain Festival.

Prior, who is from Glasgow, has made the panoramic format of Scottish mountain photography his signature.

He was nominated by the public and his peers.

“To photograph mountains successfully demands what the Arctic Inuit refer to as ‘quinuituq’ which translated means ‘deep patience’ – literally waiting hours for one second, or in my case, years for one second,” Colin Prior once said.

The photographer has produced seven books of his work, a series of calendars,worked on television documentaries and appeared on many TV and radio programmes.

Colin Prior’s Scotland photography

“You’ve only got to look at the breadth of stunning landscape work that Colin has produced over the years to know the visual impact he has made on so many who love and admire our Scottish landscapes and beyond,” said Rod Pashley, Chairman of The Highland Mountain Culture Association which organises the Fort William Mountain Festival.

“Colin’s work graces the walls of so many of our homes and allows us to feel and be a part of the outdoors where perhaps some are unable to go or once visited.

“We’re proud to welcome Colin into the Festival Ambassador Hall of Fame family.”

The Fort William Mountain Festival 2020 runs from Wednesday 19th to Sunday 23rd  February at venues in and around Fort William.

THURSDAY 23rd JANUARY
INGHAMS WINS AGAIN

The specialist ski operator has been voted the Best Operator for Activities at the Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards 2020.

It is the fifth year running that the company has won the award, which is voted for by UK Travel Agents.

The Travel Weekly Globe Travel Awards recognise the hard work, dedication and commitment of the very best companies and individuals across every sector of the travel trade.

The trophy was collected by Julie Franklin, Inghams’ Head of Sales.

“We’re over the moon to have been awarded this prestigious trophy for the fifth consecutive year and it’s an honour for Inghams to again be recognised by our agent partners at one of the most important events in the travel industry calendar,” said Julie.

“ We’d like to thank everyone who supports us and we will continue to work with you even better to ensure that our mutual guests always enjoy a great product.”

Inghams wins again

TUESDAY 21st JANUARY
SKI PATROLLER DIES IN HEAVENLY

36-year Christopher Nicholson was found unconscious on an expert run in the Lake Tahoe ski resort in the USA.

An investigation is underway.

“Heavenly Mountain Resort, Heavenly Ski Patrol and the entire Vail Resorts family extend our deepest sympathy and support to our employee’s family and friends,” said Tom Fortune, the vice president and general manager of Heavenly Mountain Resort, in a statement.

Heavenly Ski Resort

SUNDAY 19th JANUARY
1 DEAD, 1 SERIOUSLY INJURED IN US AVALANCHE

The accident happened at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe in California.

It followed heavy snowfall.

A male skier sustained fatal injuries, and “a second male skier sustained severe lower-body injuries and was transported to the hospital by ambulance,” the resort said in a statement.

The dead person has been named as 34-year old Cole Comstock.

SATURDAY 18th JANUARY
FWT TO PAY EQUAL PRIZE MONEY TO MEN & WOMEN

Athletes on the Freeride World Tour will all be paid the same in an effort to establish gender equality in the event.

The winning men and woman on skis & snowboard will each be paid  $5,000 with $6,000 going to the winners of the final event, the Verbier Extreme.

“This is a major step forward to elevate women freeride skiing and snowboarding, and is simply the right and only thing to do for the FWT,”  FWT CEO, Nicolas Hale-Woods.

“Our women athletes have proven their engagement in the sport with huge progression showcased these last years, becoming role models for many around the world.”

“This is an important day for the history of competitive freeride and the FWT is proud to lead by example towards greater equality in sports.”

Equal prize money at FWT

Equal prize money at FWT

WEDNESDAY 15th JANUARY
YEAR-ROUND SNOW ARENA OPENS IN NORWAY

It is the country’s first such facility.

SNØ is located in Lørenskog, just outside Oslo and opened its doors to the public today, 15th January.

It has cross-country skiing, alpine, snowboarding and freeski in one place.

In addition the facilities include sports shops, restaurants and cafés, a fitness centre and conference facilities wall-to-wall, to make this arena complete.

Cross-country: 1-kilometre skating and classic tracks on a mezzanine hanging from the roof, and another 600 metres that will be prepared at certain times during the day/week.

Alpine slopes: 3 + beginners area with the longest run being 500 metres long. Steepest part (racing): 22 degrees, 4-seated chairlift, a cup-lift and a Magic Carpet transport skier back to the top of the slope.

Snow park: Rails, boxes, jumps and a big jump.

SNØ, Norway

SNØ, Norway

SABOTAGED GONDOLA TO REOPEN NEXT MONTH

The lift in near Vancouver in British Columbia, will be back in business on Valentine’s Day, six months after its cables were deliberately cut.

The Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish has announced it is re-opening on 14th February, earlier than expected.

In the coming weeks, 30 new cabins will be installed on the new main haul rope that arrived from Switzerland at the end of October.

The main haul cable on the lift was completely severed in a deliberate act of sabotage in the early hours of the morning on 10th August.

Main haul rope of sabotaged gondola

Section of the cut main haul rope

The lift was not running and no one was injured but most of the gondola cabins were wrecked as they fell to the ground.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is still investigating.

“We are opening earlier than anticipated and the task has been huge,” says Kirby Brown, Sea to Sky Gondola General Manager.

“Our industry partners were there every step of the way, from assisting in the clean-up and assessing needs to delivering major components with absolutely no notice.

“Our amazing team rose to the challenge and have done everything required to get us back up and running as quickly as possible so we can get back to connecting people with nature and the beauty of Squamish.”

TUESDAY 14th JANUARY
SKI RACERS STUCK IN BROKEN LIFT

Three skiers at the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games were unable to complete the giant slalom after getting stuck on a broken lift.

They were stranded in a gondola in Les Diablerets for two hours by a technical fault.

Maisa Kivimaki from Finland, South Africa’s Hanle van der Merwe and Georgian Nino Kurtanidze could not take their second run.

According to insidethegames, race organisers decided not to wait for the lift to be fixed and completed the race without the trapped competitors because their final results “would not have had an impact on the standings”.

They were all outside the top 30 after the first run and were due to the be the final three skiers to go in the race.

A Lausanne spokesperson said the International Ski Federation wanted to avoid a severe delay to the end of the event.

“This was a very unfortunate event,” the spokesperson said.

“The gondolas were mechanically brought back to the foot of the slope within two hours.

“However, when the issue arose, there was no indication of when it would be resolved.”

SUNDAY 12th JANUARY
FLOODLIGHT SKIING FOR NASSFELD

It is on offer in the Austrian resort every Saturday in January, February and first week in March.

The lights are on from 6.30 pm until 9.00 pm on the 2200m specially dedicated piste.

Night skiing in Nassfeld

Night skiing in Nassfeld

Night skiing in Nassfeld

Nassfeld is little-known to many UK skiers but is one of Austria’s Top 10 resorts.

It is served by Klagenfurt airport and free transfers are on offer as we have reported here:

Fancy a free airport transfer?

We’re going to be in resort at the end of January – and will hopefully be taking part in a spot of night skiing.

FRIDAY 10th JANUARY
COURSE WORKER FORCES WORLD CUP SLALOM SKIER TO ABANDON RACE

A course worker casually skied on to the slalom track in Madonna di Campiglio on Wednesday 8th January while Argentinian skier Cristian Javier Simari Birkner was racing.

Simari Birkner was forced to abandon the night race.

He was the 75th and the final skier and recorded as a DNF – did not finish.

Watch Simari Birkner abruptly end his race in the video below:

This was the same race where Dave Ryding finished in joint 7th, alongside the Slovenian, Stefan Hadalin.

The race was won by Daniel Yule of Switzerland.

A course worker also was in the way earlier this season in Alta Badia, Italy, where Croatia’s Filip Zubcic had to swerve to avoid someone at the finish line.

Zubcic finished 10th in a giant slalom.

WEDNESDAY 7th JANUARY 
ICE SKATER SERIOUSLY HURT AT YOUTH GAMES REHEARSAL

The woman was practising for the Winter Youth Olympic Games opening ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland.

She is understood to have fallen from a height of 5 metres while being lifted in a metal ring attached to a cable at the Vaudoise Arena ice rink.

The 35-year-old Russian skater is reported to be in life-threatening condition.

The police are investigating.

The opening ceremony is due to take place tomorrow evening.

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