To ski or not to ski?

IT TOOK A pandemic to silence Gerhard Schmiderer. For the past quarter-century, the now 70-year-old “DJ Gerhard” has blasted trashy hits for drunken après-skiers at MooserWirt, a bar in St Anton, an Austrian ski resort. This year, however, the speakers will be silent rather than blaring out yet another rendition of “The Final Countdown”, a raucous anthem sung by big-haired Swedes. The usual revellers dancing on tables in ski boots will be absent. The 500-metre run back to the resort will no longer be strewn with those who have quaffed too much and fallen over in the snow.

This sad story is repeated across the rest of Europe’s nearly 4,000 ski resorts. Chairlifts have largely ground to a halt because of the pandemic. Bad memories linger from spring, when an outbreak in Ischgl, another Austrian resort, led to at least 6,000 cases in more than 40 different countries. Covid-19 loves ski resorts. People drive or fly in from all over Europe to crowded mountaintop villages. Queues for lifts are packed. Changing rooms are explosions of sweat as panting bankers heave themselves into salopettes. Bars are bacchanalian. Yodelling, an efficient way to spread the virus, is not unheard of. As the rich partied in the Alps in March, hospitals overflowed in Lombardy, a few hundred miles away. No one wants to see that again.

Agreeing to…

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