#1: Skiing World Championships a Go for Cortina in 2021. Meanwhile, 3 Italian Ski Team Members Test Positive for Covid-19:
We kick off our highlight reel this week in familiar fashion: by discussing the latest from the world of ski racing. One story that’s been ongoing for about a month, but has never quite made it into one of our Top 5 Friday recaps, is the decision regarding whether or not to host the 2021 World Skiing Championships in Cortina Italy from February 9-21, 2020. In short, the question first came up at the last FIS council meeting on May 25th, when the Italian Winter Sport Federation (FISI) requested that the event be delayed until 2022 in light of the heavy impact of Covid-19 on the region. As you may recall, Cortina was also set to host the 2020 FIS World Cup Finals earlier this year before that event was forced to be cancelled.
After just over a month of deliberating, we learned this week that the FIS and FISI have come to an agreement, and that the 2021 World Skiing Championships will go on as previously scheduled. While we don’t know many details in regards to what elements of the deal were negotiated, it sounds like the interest of stakeholders in the event was a key point in making the decision. According to FISI President Flavio Roda, “FISI has worked the last five years in close collaboration with all the stakeholders involved in the World Championships in Cortina… It was clear after speaking to them in the last weeks, there was a strong desire to carry out the event in 2021 and to put all resources available to ensure that the World Championships are carried out at the highest level.” In other words, it sounds as though the FISI and those standing to benefit from the World Championships weren’t quite on the same page when the request to postpone was made. After hearing feedback from its stakeholders, the FISI decided to essentially cancel its postponement request.
Of course, as we know, all of this could change by the time February rolls around. If Covid-19 is still a threatening force at that time, it’s very likely that World Skiing Championships, as well as any number of other events, could still be cancelled. Evidence of that showed up again this week in a somewhat related headline, as three members of the Italian ski team tested positive for the coronavirus. While that situation seems to be under control, and the three team members who tested positive have separated themselves from the rest of the team, it’s a reminder that things are most certainly not back to normal quite yet. For more on the decision to host the 2021 World Skiing Championships as planned, check out this article from Ski Racing Magazine. To learn more about positive test results amongst the Italian ski team, check out this writeup from ESPN.
#2: Private Land Owner Gives Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon’s Proposed Gondola a Possible Upgrade:
In other ongoing news, we’re excited to bring you an update to a story we first shared a few weeks ago in regards to winter transportation in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon. There, Utah Department of Transportation officials have been considering 3 different plans to help alleviate traffic congestion in one of Utah’s most popular canyons. Previously, the proposed plans included two variations of increased bus use, or a third gondola option. While the gondola is arguably the more popular option due to its novelty, efficiency, and potential to draw further tourism, one thorn in its side was the dilemma of having to park offsite. For that plan to work, skiers and riders would have to drive to a parking station, before taking a 13 minute bus ride to the base of the gondola, where another 24 minute ride to Snowbird or 34 minutes to Alta awaits them. In other words, the situation was simply problematically inconvenient.
This week however, new energy was given to the gondola plan as a 4th option has emerged: a landowner near the base of the canyon who’s in the process of developing their property has agreed to reserve space for a parking garage, transit center to receive passengers via bus, and a base area for the gondola. The benefit of this plan of course, is that it removes the element of gondola riders having to park off-site and shuttle to the gondola. Additionally, in this new plan, the gondola itself would be different, allowing for an increased rate of transportation, likely further decreasing the use of the canyon by automobiles. In the original plan, a 30-passenger gondola would arrive every 2 minutes, ultimately transporting 1,050 passengers per hour. In the new plan, a different gondola setup would be implemented where cabins would show up every 30 seconds, increasing the hourly capacity to 4,000 passengers per hour. Between these two upgrades from the previous plan, this new option is markedly better. To make it happen however, the landowners would need approval from UDOT to develop the land. To learn more about this exciting update, we’ll turn you over to LiftBlog.com, where you’ll find all the details.
#3: Aspen Joins Facebook Boycott, Pauses Advertising on Platform:
Next up this week is a headline that makes us proud to be skiers: Aspen Snowmass has decided to join the #StopHateForProfit movement and has stopped advertising on Facebook for the month of July. That movement, which has been joined by a wide swath of businesses and non-profits, takes aim at Facebook’s hands-off approach to policing the content on their website. While the goal of the movement isn’t to promote censorship, it is an effort to ensure that the content being shared and promoted on Facebook is truthful, accurate, and not being used to deceive the public, particularly for political purposes. In Aspen Snowmass’s words, “Aspen Snowmass has long believed that fact-based, civil discourse is critical to finding solutions to the challenges facing our country and the world. We need to engage in dialogue with each other, but there’s a right way to do it, respectful and dignified. That’s why we joined #StopHateForProfit by pulling our advertising on Facebook through July.”
From our perspective, we applaud Aspen Snowmass for making this move, and it’s yet another instance of the ski community stepping up to make a broader change in the world. As you know, ski areas have been leaders in bringing attention to climate change, thanks to their role as the “canaries in the coal mine.” But, in recent weeks it’s been encouraging to see a continued moral high ground being taken by major players in the industry, ranging from making the impossible decision to shut down ski resorts due to Covid-19, to speaking out about racial inequalities. As an industry who’s primary clientele benefits from a variety of privileges, it makes us quite proud to see an ongoing effort by the industry to lead by example. To see Aspen Snowmass’s announcement, click here. To learn more about the Stop Hate for Profit movement, check out their official website.
#4: Vail Approaches Completion of Epic Promise Goal to Use 100% Renewable Energy by 2030:
Finally, we round out this week with another positive story regarding the ski industry being leaders of change. Back in July 2017, Vail announced it’s Epic Promise campaign, in which they set a goal of becoming 100% eco-friendly by 2030, striving to leave zero footprint across all of their resorts. This week, we learned that they’ve nearly reached a significant milestone in that journey as the Plum Creek Wind farm is officially online as of 7/1/20. Located in Nebraska, Vail Resorts has committed to 310,000 megawatt hours of wind energy per year from the farm. That commitment, made back in 2018, was ultimately what sealed the deal and allowed the development of the wind farm to happen. Now, thanks to this partnership, Vail can officially say that they’re offsetting approximately 90% of their annual electric usage. It’s worth noting too that when the agreement was put in place in 2018, Vail had actually agreed to purchase enough energy to cover 100% of its use. Since that time though, Vail has acquired an additional 17 small-size resorts, thus pushing its energy consumption above 310,000 megawatt hours per year. Still, despite the technicality, this represents a massive step forward for Vail as they attempt to reach their goal. Looking ahead, Vail will continue looking for a supplier to cover their remaining energy usage, while simultaneously working to decrease its consumption by investing approximately $25 million into its snowmaking, buildings, and lifts by 2030. To learn more about this week’s news, check out Vail’s official press release. To learn more about Vail’s Epic Promise initiative, check out the official website.