Skiers in France face dangerous, icy runs with many slopes closed

Skiers in France face dangerous, icy runs with many slopes closed

Started by Broom in Ski Chatter - 4 Replies

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Broom posted 03-Jan

A lack of snow and an exceptionally high risk of accidents has forced the closure of many of France's ski runs, with slopes icy and "as hard as concrete", officials said on Wednesday.

A combination of extremely low night temperatures and scant snowfall is making conditions treacherous even for the most proficient skiers. Local authorities blame climate change, which is also causing glaciers to melt in the Alps.

There is little likelihood of "powdery" soft snow in the coming weeks, with temperatures set to fall further but no snow forecast.

Only four out of 56 runs are open at Saint-Lary-Soulan, a resort in the Pyrenees. Jean-Claude Dupla, the director, said: "We've had problematic winters before, but this time, there's no snow, even on the higher slopes. This is the first time in 20 years that anyone remembers it being this bad."

Marcellin Bernard, a ski instructor at Val-Thorens, Europe's highest ski resort, said lower resorts were the worst affected. "It's still pretty good here thanks to the altitude. We've got the snow guns working at night, but resorts lower down like Les Menuires are having more problems. At Val-Thorens, the artificial snow makes it soft on top, but the underlying layer of natural snow is much harder than usual."

Skiers in France have been warned by officials that injuries are more likely on harder, icy, surfaces CREDIT: AFP/LAURENT DARD

A study on the prospects for the ski industry over the next two decades, commissioned by local authorities in Isère, south-eastern France, concludes: "There will be less snow on average. It will fall less often and for shorter periods."

The study says the only way to maintain France's ski industry is to continue investing in artificial snow systems, but the costs are high and environmentalists are concerned about the depletion of water reserves.

Officials are urging skiers to exercise particular caution this year. Gilles Szekely, an instructor at the Chamrousse resort, said: "It freezes almost every night and in the morning it's as hard as concrete. When you fall, you're much more likely to break something."

Gérard Colas, a doctor at the resort, said: "Our clinic's full almost all day and I'm treating a lot of fractures. On ice, you can't control your skis like you can on soft snow.'

reply to 'Skiers in France face dangerous, icy runs with many slopes closed '
posted 03-Jan

Not helped by lots of people skiing like idiots, according to some posts on Snowheads

reply to 'Skiers in France face dangerous, icy runs with many slopes closed '
posted 03-Jan

And yet... lots of happy skiers saying conditions are pretty good to great at the big destination resorts in France (esp compared to the start of quite a few recent seasons). It's almost as if you can choose to highlight the best (Tignes/Val d'Isere and others much better known than St Lary pretty much completely open for example), or the worst, depending on what message you want to get across and how you want to sell papers. Lots of British ski tour operators spend a lot advertising with the Telegraph so am sure they'll be delighted with that report
www  The Snow Hunter
Edited 1 time. Last update at 03-Jan-2019

reply to 'Skiers in France face dangerous, icy runs with many slopes closed '
posted 04-Jan

I have spent the last 2 weeks skiing in the Grand Massif and I would say that the conditions have been challenging with some very icy patches on the pistes. I have seen some nasty accidents caused by people going too fast in conditions where they don't have the ability to stop or turn to avoid collisions.

reply to 'Skiers in France face dangerous, icy runs with many slopes closed '
posted 04-Jan

Most ski resorts are packed over Christmas and New Year, there are always loads of accidents. The association of French mountain resort mayors is reporting an average occupancy rate of 85% for New Year, 14% up on last year. In the Pyrenees occupancy rates were 94%, an increase of 24.5% on last year.

Because of the number of accidents over Christmas the Prefect of Haute-Savoie issued a press release asking people to be careful because of the poor snow conditions The Telegraph is simply rereporting the reports in the French press. I can't see why any of the UK tour operators would object to that report, there is nothing even remotely contentious in it.

Topic last updated on 04-January-2019 at 11:07

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