Dhe enthusiasm of the organizers for the first cross-border World Cup descent in alpine skiing history is unbroken. There are barely 100 days left until on October 29th and 30th, 2022, first the men and then on November 5th and 6th, the women, will have to take on two shots under the Matterhorn as part of the Ski World Cup. Start is at 3720 meters on the Swiss side, finish in Italy at 2835 meters above sea level. Unless the weather intervenes – or worse: the climate.
The Swiss-Italian ski enthusiasts around organization boss Franz Julen suffered a first setback this week. As of Friday, summer skiing on the glacier above Zermatt will be suspended indefinitely. Only 14 days ago at the presentation of the World Cup concept, Julen had raved about the best training conditions: “The summer ski area is open”.
Half of the piste on the Swiss side of the approximately 3,700 meter long “Gran Becca” route was already prepared and could be used for training purposes. The work on the glacier, which covers two thirds of the World Cup downhill, should be continued continuously in the coming weeks.
Now the mountain railways were forced to close the glacier for summer skiing. The zero-degree limit had risen to over 5,100 meters around the 4,478 meter high Matterhorn. And as a result of the last snowless winter, numerous crevasses are now exposed. It would be far too dangerous to ski there. The problems on the glacier also made it difficult to anchor the lifts.
The Swiss World Cup elite has already canceled their camp because of the conditions, since “no meaningful training was possible anymore”, as they announced. The German speed team around Thomas Dreßen, on the other hand, only leaves Zermatt on Friday as planned. Instead, the Germans are now flying to Chile and Argentina for three and a half weeks at the beginning of August. Conditions in La Parva and Ushuaia are good at the moment, it said. But actually, intercontinental flights for skiers should be a thing of the past given the enormous CO2 footprint of the extremely long journey. Zermatt was also there for this purpose: skiing on the “most iconic mountain” in the Alps in the middle of Europe could be interpreted as a good work in terms of sustainability.
At the most recent press conference, Julen deliberately left open the question of whether the plans for the spectacular “Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening” at the end of October would work out: “In outdoor sports, nature and the weather always have the last word”. However, he was confident: “We need three to four cold nights by mid-October and natural snowfall on the glacier”. Weather scenarios that have so far seemed quite realistic in autumn at altitudes of over 3,000 meters.
But now the skiers have been caught up in cold weather by climate change. For American ski star Mikaela Shiffrin, the suspension meant additional annoyance. She had only arrived late in Valais on Monday. “I wanted to go skiing, instead my mission is to find my bags,” she shared via Instagram. Her suitcases were lost on the flight from the USA to Switzerland.