The closure of ski lifts in France due to the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t deterred snow lovers from visiting the mountains and finding alternative outdoor thrills, with many swapping their piste skis for snowshoeing or cross-country versions.
As a result, many resorts are still managing to thrive, including the Plateau de Beille in the Pyrenees, where ticket sales for cross-country skiing have jumped by more than 30 per cent and skiers have doubled from 700 to 1400 skiers.
According to George Vigneau, who manages ski resorts in the Pyrenees, current restrictions have brought new types of visitors to the slopes.
“What’s interesting is that we have new people who come from alpine skiing, and come to spend a day or two with us.”
“They come to do cross-country skiing, snowshoeing. They come to discover or rediscover activities that they were not used to doing.”
“What is also remarkable is that even when the weather is not very nice, the skier who normally comes alpine skiing, doesn’t mind if it’s snowing, so we find ourselves with many more skiers than normal, similar to what we had 20 or 30 years ago,” says Vigneau.
From ticket offices to rental shops, resorts have had to hire extra staff to manage the increasing traffic.
And it’s not just cross-country skiing that is attracting new fans, but a wide variety of sports activities including snow-shoeing, sledging and the luge.