High winds, a white out, a global pandemic… Nothing could stop these ski events from going ahead this summer.
This year, we were all thrust into a world none of us expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. International borders were closed, travel came to a halt, strict lockdowns were imposed. For many of us, skiing was the last thing on our minds as we began to navigate this ‘new normal’.
However, as the months wore on and travel restrictions began to ease, curious images of the slopes began popping up on our social feeds. We began to wonder, surely no-one had been able to sort out a summer ski trip in such a short space of time?
We were wrong. It turns out some incredibly dedicated and forward-thinking companies managed to organise a number of weeks on the summer snow. So what exactly was it like skiing through the pandemic? It seems that there was a lot of skiing activity to choose from, if you knew where to look!
Improve Your Technique
For those that wanted to use their well earned holiday this summer to work on improving their skiing technique, the highly acclaimed Warren Smith Ski Academy (WSSA) were able to run a number of courses as restrictions began to lift across Europe.
Their summer 2020 program kicked off in July in the Italian resort of Cervinia, with ski tuition taking place high up on the Matterhorn glacier.
Warren Smith, Director of WSSA, said: “After having to close early last winter, it was great to be able to offer our clients the chance to get onto the snow over the summer. The snow remained in excellent condition throughout the courses we ran in July and August on the glacier. The Italians dealt with the COVID-19 situation really well, I think it’s because they got hit so badly at the start, they took things very seriously and everyone felt safe. Our guests had a brilliant time.”
The WSSA courses aim to develop pupil’s skills and confidence to improve their skiing in a range of ways, with physical tuition complemented by in-depth video analysis and ski biomechanics. This allows students to benefit from individual coaching on all areas of their technique.
Around twenty guests joined the course on the first week, demonstrating that the appetite for winter sports has not waned over the summer months.
Indeed, if you’re feeling the itch and want to make some improvements to your own skiing, WSSA hopes to be back on the snow in Cervinia at the start of November.
“We’ve relaxed our bookings conditions to allow for flexibility because of Covid.” says Warren. “All our winter courses are now live on the website and we’ve also partnered with The Rotonde Hotel in Verbier that has really well priced accommodation for our guests who want something central, but affordable in Verbier”.
This week see’s the conclusion of our 2020 Summer ski courses here in Cervinia Valtournenche – Ski Paradise and Zermatt MatterhornWe have once again been gifted with some fabulous weather and perfect conditions through the week and as you’ll see on this week vlog it has left some big smiles on peoples faces!We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the leap and joined us this summer. We hugely appreciate the effort and commitment that everyone has shown and we are already looking forward to putting plans into place for our Summer program in 2021!A big mention also goes out to our friends at the @Meublè MonReve in Cervinia without who, it just wouldn’t be the same!Next up at the Academy will be our Ski Technique Lab tour of the UK which will see the team travel from north to south presenting a lecture explaining the 3 Way Lineage of skiing (Ski Technique/Ski Biomechanics/Ski Equipment Precision) and why it’s vital for ski technique development and unlocking classic blocks in skier movement patterns. Watch this space for details!After that we return to Cervinia in November to kick off our winter season!Contact the Academy team to find out more about what is on offer and if there’s a course and date that suits you!See you soon.
Posted by Warren Smith Ski Academy on Friday, 21 August 2020
Over in the French Alps, the high altitude resort of Tignes saw Snoworks ski courses hit the slopes this summer too, running throughout July. Courses on offer including Ski Skills, Junior Race Camps and Ski instructor Training to name a few, all taking place on the Tignes glacier ski area.
Phil Smith, director of Snoworks said: “Tignes is an absolutely fantastic place to ski and also relax during the summer, with mornings on the slopes and afternoons either relaxing or taking part in all the other summer activities on offer here”.
Summer Shred With A Freestyle Camp
As soon as Boris Johnson announced a travel corridor to France on 3rd July, the folks over at AfterJam knew that if they wanted to bring their unique events to the Alps this summer, this was their chance. AfterJam is one of the UK’s largest up and coming ski wear brands and have recently begun holding a range of large freestyle events on the UK snowsports scene.
This summer’s main event, the AfterJam freestyle snowsports camp in Les Deux Alpes, had been in the works for months, with all planning going swimmingly – until the pandemic hit.
However, despite all the odds, they still managed to make the camp work, bringing over 100 skiers and snowboarders to the glacier of Les Deux Alpes. Skiers were able to hit the snowpark alongside some of the UK’s brightest freestyle talent and enjoy coaching for all abilities each day. They could also make the most of the summer activities on over in the resort, from mountain biking and skateparks to hiking and lake swimming.
“The feedback we got from the tripgoers was insanely good” said Nate Wilde, co-founder of AfterJam. “With everybody’s Easter trips getting cancelled, people have been itching to get back on the snow, and we were stoked we could provide that opportunity! “
Of course, some elements of the week did have to be changed in accordance with local restrictions, so some of the week’s events, such as a beer pong night and a bar crawl had to have some pretty significant edits. AfterJam’s resident DJs also managed to maintain a party vibe for the week, bringing an energetic après atmosphere to the hill, as well as to outdoor venues to ensure safe distancing was possible. In addition, AfterJam brought out custom face masks for attendees so everyone could easily comply with regulations.
According to Nate, the main challenge was the travel. “The trip getting the green light so late in the day meant that everyone was responsible for sorting their own travel, and with so many ferries, plane and coaches being cancelled or seriously limited due to COVID-19 regulations, this made it all very difficult. In the end, almost everyone took the road trip option and drove for almost 18 hours to get there!”
Despite the ongoing pandemic, AfterJam are hopeful that they will be able to continue running events this winter.
“I can imagine events this year are going to take a lot more planning, and have plenty of COVID-19 related contingency options either way” says Nate. “We are still planning on hosting our AfterJAM in February (England’s larges snowsports comp) and the UK Big Air competition in May, and as always our Christmas and Easter periods are going to be filled with resort based events and we will be working with some of the biggest names in the festival industry to bring everyone the freestyle entertainment that we can do so well!”
Head Indoors for Superb Slalom Training
If it’s the most reliable training surface you’re after, the folks over at Snoworks know exactly how to guarantee good snow in the summer; head to Europe’s most impressive snowdome, the Netherlands’ Snowworld Landgraaf. With the pandemic meaning some ski resorts are still figuring out the best ways to operate this winter, indoor snow centres on the other hand have been able to quickly put into practice extensive safety measures to ensure that you are able to continue enjoying the snow.
At Snowworld Landgraaf, there is a hotel attached to the ski slope, meaning you don’t even have to leave the complex – you can well and truly stay in your bubble!
For ski racers, a slalom course here with Snoworks is one of the most effective ways to train in the summer months – especially as the pandemic makes heading to resorts a little more tricky.
Twice daily training sessions allow skiers around 28 runs each day, which provides huge opportunity for development. A range of training times and lanes means that you can practice on a variety of snow surfaces, including two water injected lanes giving unparalleled on-ice training. The site also offers ski tuning rooms and video rooms for feedback and adjustment. For serious ski racers, this was the ultimate 2020 summer ski opportunity.
Morning from Landgraaf. Last race camp of the summer before the autumn race camps start on October 19 Stelvio. Here we go.
Stay in the UK!
Now you may have noticed that all the skiing we’ve mentioned so far has involved travel away from the UK. Indeed, despite the pandemic, we seem to have been somewhat lucky this summer that companies such as WSSA, Snoworks and AfterJam were so well prepared to offer quality ski opportunities as soon as travel restrictions were lifted.
However, things change very swiftly in this COVID-19 world and restrictions are constantly being reconsidered. As such, one of the best ways to get on the snow during the pandemic may actually turn out have been on your doorstep this entire time; an indoor snow centre in the UK.
Though the snow centres in the UK can’t offer quite the same amount of on-slope training as Snowworld Landgraaf, they can provide British skiers a safe and hassle-free way to hit the snow during the pandemic.
After a period of closure during the UK lockdown, all snow centres across the UK have now re-opened, with extensive COVID-19 safety measures in place. Some are offering modified services to account for new restrictions, such as Manchester snow slope Chill Factore, who are now offering Friends & Family lessons instead of Group Lessons so individuals or a group of friends and family from the same household or bubble can learn together, without the need for social distancing.
It seems the measures have been successful thus far and skiers have relished the opportunities to take to the snow again.
Ian Brown, Managing Director of The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, said: “The snow is in fantastic condition and we have been overwhelmed with the fantastic feedback from guests who have visited us since we re opened.
We continue to run on a reduced capacity and limited product range however we will continue to review this based on usage and feedback, and look to move back to a more “normal” operation in the weeks and months ahead, when we feel confident we can manage this.”
It’s worth mentioning of course that current government guidelines advise against travel to most ski nations. However, in this current COVID climate it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen in three weeks, let alone three months, so we’re keeping everything crossed that we’ll be able to head off to the mountains again soon. If the past few months are anything to go by, us skiers are a resilient bunch and we’re just as keen as ever to hit the slopes!