French glaciers have not melted, they have closed. As soon as the reconfinement was announced, on October 28, resorts like Tignes (Savoie) closed the few pistes open for the champions’ training and put away the keys. Problem, the French skiers sharpened their slats there at the start of a season which should lead them to the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo (February 8-21) in Italy, if all goes well.
Like a flight of sparrows, they scattered as dry on the snow-capped peaks that wanted to welcome them. The descenders headed for Cervinia, on the other side of Mont Blanc, in Italy. Alexis Pinturault, 4th in the Giant of Sölden, the first race of the season, has reached Austria where he has a foothold for the winter with his wife Romane. The slalomers, including Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Clément Noël, are going on a training course in Sweden, in Kabdalis in Lapland, this Friday.
“So far, we have been lucky,” said Xavier Fournier, the men’s speed coach. The season was already practically over when the first confinement began. Then we were able to work in good conditions all summer. And there, in Cervinia, things are still going well even if we have to adapt to each new situation. We especially cross our fingers so that the confinement stops well at the end of the month and that the races take place. “
It is in Savoie that most of the World Cup events will take place in December. After welcoming the men’s giant on December 5 and 6, Val d’Isère will kick off the speed season with the downhill and the men’s Super-G (December 12 and 13). The women will start with the giant in Courchevel on December 12 and 13 then go to Val d’Isère for three speed races (downhill on the 18th and 19th, super-G on the 20th).
“Our World Cups are not called into question because they are major international events and they are linked to TV rights”, indicated Michel Vion, the president of the French Federation. They will be organized behind closed doors. Without any public or even VIP. “The stations are ready,” explains Laurent Chrétien, the media manager for the French teams. If nothing changes, there will be no problem. On the other hand, if the confinement is prolonged or if it is reinforced, there will be uncertainty. A World Cup event, that represents a thousand people between the teams, the staffs and the organization. Will there be enough staff? “
Another concern, health measures are more and more strict everywhere in Europe. Will the different delegations be free to travel within a month? Everyone holds their breath. Skiers and their coaches only take off the mask when they hit the slopes, do more tests, each costing between 80 and 100 euros depending on the country, and avoid going too far. Deep down, they’re hoping the stations will be open to the public for Christmas. Because high-level skiing depends on the economic spinoffs from the millions of enthusiasts who frequent them.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr