After Saas-Fee, Zermatt has decided to close its glacier as of today, Friday 29 July. The high temperatures and the thin snowpack that fell last winter no longer allow skiers to enjoy the area. A measure that impacts tourists but especially the Ski World Cup, used to coming to train there during the summer. This is the case of the Swiss slalom team which discovered on its arrival a landscape far removed from the postcard that we make ourselves.
“It really hurts my heart to see glaciers like that. It’s really a shock“Daniel Yule couldn’t hide his emotion when he discovered the extent of the damage.”I’ve often said that during my career, glacier skiing would still exist, but obviously it happened faster than expected.”
Summer skiing on borrowed time
It must be said that the highest domain in Europe looks gloomy. “Next to the track, it’s a bit dark, that’s what’s scary and there are crevices”, describes Matteo Joris. If the Swiss slalom trainer was however surprised by the good training conditions, it was not the same with the closure of the area.
“We knew it was limited so we said to ourselves that we had to take what we could take and then we’ll see. It’s the same for everyone. I was still surprised by the good training conditions. Now it’s important to stay calm, to have a plan B in skiing or in physical condition and see how it evolves. Maybe in September, it will be cold, the glacier will regain structure and we will have great days“.
Will it still be possible to ski in summer in Zermatt? [Floriane Galaud – RTS]
But all the same: with global warming, is summer skiing doomed to disappear? “It is clear that there are reflections to be made concerning summer skiing”believes Daniel Yule. “We can maybe extend the skiing a little longer in the spring and get back on the skis a little later, maybe in September rather than at the end of July.“.
Matteo Joris abounds: “It will be more and more difficult to ski in summer on the glaciers. And for future years, it is up to us to adapt. You can change the training periods. For example, skiing a little more in the spring and deciding that we no longer ski on the glaciers in the summer to preserve them. There are also other possibilities such as indoor skiing on mats or in domes”.
Ushuaia in sight
An alternative that does not, however, replace “real” skiing. “The indoor carpet holds up well after that, it’s not the same thing. That’s not how you’re going to become world champion.” launches Tanguy Nef. The halls are even worse in terms of the ecological impact. We can also accept that nature wants to tell us something and well, we’ll ski a little less and that’s not so bad.“.
Be that as it may, the Swiss athletes will be able to catch up from mid-August in Ushuaïa where they will find winter conditions. “We are lucky, we had already planned to go to the southern hemisphere to train at the end of August so we may lose a day or two here or there but overall, the impact will not be huge“, relativizes Yule.
“We couldn’t go back there for three years because of the Covid. For us, it’s very important to go to Ushuaïa for the equipment and to make the adjustments. When we arrive at the first races, we have more info, we are more ready than if we stayed to train on the glaciers”, concludes Matteo Joris.
Zermatt, Floriane Galaud
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