What is the state of racing with regards to Coronavirus and British races?

The determination of race organisers around the globe to keep the world of ski racing going is admirable. With the news that the Alpine World Cup Finals for the 2019 - 2020 season in Cortina d'Ampezzo have been cancelled, it leaves races, coaches, parents, race organisers and governing bodies all chasing the advice from organisations above them, governmental and beyond. Coronavirus has ravaged the Italian racing scene and as the numbers increase in terms of those contracting and sadly passing away across Europe, the health advice gets more and more important.

Britain has two big events still to complete this winter: The 30th Inter Schools race in Pila run by the British Ski Academy and then the British Alpine Championships for both FIS races and Children in Tignes. With the news of ever increasing numbers of infected people being announced across European nations, including Great Britain, what is the situation for Alpine races at the moment?

So far the World junior Championships in Ski and Boardercross in Saint Lary, France (in the Pyrenees) has definitely been cancelled as have the Alpine World Cup Finals in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. The Alpine World Junior Championships are happening at the moment in Narvik, Norway and the remaining races for the Alpine World Cup are Kvitfjell, Norway (this weekend) and then Are, Sweden and Kranjska Gora (Slovenia) on March 12 - 13. The Globes will all be given out at the final races it has now been announced.

The World Cup finals are the traditional end of season event but despite the Italians looking to host the races, even going as far as no spectators being allowed to attend, the decision was taken on Friday 6 March. Reports of Are and Kvitfjell offering to host the event abound but nothing was officially declared. With Cortina hosting the World Championships in 2021, the ramifications to the economy could be severe.

So what of the British races? The latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and World Health Organisation is not to travel unless it is vital. Northern Italy (bar Aosta) has been hit hard yet as time has gone by, reports of infections in Aosta are now appearing. The surge in cases and those succumbing to passing away are from an older age group and with underlying health problems.

So why has the Junior Ski and Snowboardcross been cancelled? According to the FIS announcement on their website: 'While the region of Saint-Lary is not reported to be affected by this virus, the development of the situation and its potential impact upon the arrival of young competitors remains unclear.

'Also, in order to protect the interests, health and the safety of the athletes registered for this event, where more than 200 athletes from 22 countries and 4 continents were expected, the Local Organizing Committee of the FIS Junior Worlds has decided to cancel the event immediately.'

The next big British event is the Inter Schools event in Pila and Malcolm Erskine, the Chief of Championships for the event explained on Friday 6 March that "There is no problem with the event going ahead. We are following Government advice. It is not like a football event where the crowd is all packed together. There have only been two cases in Aosta so the area is safe." Erskine explained that a number of schools have pulled out but that is their decision. Erskine was keen to emphasise that the area is safe and that the event will be going ahead.

Come Sunday 8 March news of the slopes being closed in Courmayeur, just up the valley from Pila, was announced. The British Ski Academy have announced that the races will move from Pila to Combloux in Haute Savoie (France). The ESF will host the races on the planned dates of 16th and 17th March.

A new programme and timetable will be published as soon as they have gained a clearer understanding of likely attendance numbers. If you are able to relocate so that you can take part in these races please let us know by Wednesday 11th March by email to Deb (deb@djmanns.com) and Tracy (tracy@britskiacad.org.uk).

More information about Combloux including location and access can be found on their web site at https://winter.combloux.com.

GB Snowsport added the following information updated information from the Government



As for the British Championships, both FIS and Children, the lack of accommodation in Tignes due to the event being held in the run up to Easter may be more of an issue than the health issues that Coronavirus is raising. GB Snowsport will be making a statement on Tuesday 10 March with further information but at the moment they are advising athletes and coaches not to travel to or compete in Italy.

With conflicting advice coming from various organisations and different nations giving out different advice for their athletes, this is becoming a very jumbled affair.

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