Rooftops under a thick blanket of snow, a ski area – the largest in the world, that of the Three Valleys – finally almost entirely open, a sun that is announced at its zenith. “There is even still a little snow on the branches of the fir trees”savors, at the beginning of February, Perrine Pelen, general manager of the Courchevel-Méribel Alpine Skiing World Championships (Savoie).
Since the first edition of the Alpine Skiing World Championships in 1931 in Mürren (Switzerland), this is the fifth time that France has hosted the competition, after Chamonix (1937 and 1962), Grenoble, where the Games Olympics, in 1968, also served as Worlds and Val-d’Isère (2009). Until February 19, the cream of world skiing will this time compete on the slopes of L’Eclipse (men’s events), in Courchevel, and Roc de Fer (women’s events), in Méribel, on the other side.
The start of the World Cup season was however far from the images of winter postcards. At the end of October, the inaugural events in Sölden (Austria) could only be held in part, due to a lack of sufficient snow on the Reiteralm glacier. A few days later, the Zermatt-Cervinia stage, straddling Italy and Switzerland, turned into a fiasco. The International Ski Federation (FIS) had however lobbied to organize the races on the glacier at the foot of the majestic Matterhorn. Beautiful images guaranteed to fill the calendar and awaken viewers’ mountain appetites on the eve of winter.
Problem: no snow on arrival for helicopter skiers departing at an altitude of 3,700 meters. A peak of “nonsense”. The words are from Johan Clarey, the French Olympic downhill vice-champion. “It is not going in the direction in which the FIS should go (…). I don’t know if we are giving a very good image of our sport.”, had then scolded the 42-year-old Tignard who, during his career, saw with his own eyes the mountain degrade. The FIS had made amends: “The climate is changing, we must respect Mother Nature”had almost apologized Markus Waldner, the director of men’s races at the FIS.
10°C on January 5
If today the snow fell in abundance, the white gold was long overdue. The abnormal and sudden thaw observed at Christmas led to an accelerated melting of the Alpine massifs, leading to the partial or even total closure of the ski areas of many resorts in France, Switzerland and Austria. The World Cup circuit went from postponements to cancellations – a fate shared in freestyle skiing, snowboardcross, Nordic combined…
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Source: Le Monde