Grounded By COVID Restrictions, Skiers Embrace The Humble Snow Shoe

ANNECY, France: Nobody relishes the COVID-19 epidemic and the loss of life it has introduced, however Philippe Gallay, boss of one of many world’s greatest snowshoe producers, acknowledges it has been good for enterprise. Gross sales of his firm’s product have exploded.

In France, the place Gallay’s TSL agency relies, and in different international locations, officers stung by virus clusters in ski resorts have closed chair lifts, button lifts and cable automobiles at ski resorts.

With no mechanical means to elevate them up the slopes, skiers and snowboarders have resorted to an old-school answer: the standard snow shoe.

Final month, Gallay’s manufacturing unit in Annecy within the French Alps took orders for 100,000 pairs of snowshoes – 3 times the quantity that, earlier than, the pandemic, it will produce over an entire 12 months.

“We are crumbling under the orders,” mentioned Gallay. “But it’s a good stress…As far as COVID-19 is concerned, we are the lucky ones, we have to acknowledge that.”

Gallay has switched his manufacturing unit to working 24 hours a day, and has employed ski instructors and elevate operators – out of labor due to the virus – to extend the workforce to 80 from the standard 20 workers.

Even so, he can not sustain with demand. He has a backlog of 40,000 orders.

On the Semnoz ski resort, a half hour’s drive from Annecy, the gear rental store is nowadays stripped naked of snowshoes by round 9:30 every morning, mentioned Gregoire Chavanel, director of the resort

Getting about on snowshoes is “the only thing to do this season,” he mentioned.

Below France’s lockdown, colleges and non-essential retailers are open {and professional} top-flight sport allowed. There’s a curfew from 1800 nightly, with theatres, cinemas, gyms, eating places, cafes and bars shut.

However the ski slopes are open for these keen to climb them.

Above the resort, Lucie Godineau, who lives in a close-by village, was trudging by way of the powder in her snowshoes. Usually, she could be on skis, however with the ski elevate out of motion, that’s off the agenda.

“I miss it,” she mentioned of downhill snowboarding. However she had reconciled herself to actuality, for this season not less than. “It’s snowshoes, and nothing more.”

(Extra reporting by Eric Gaillard; Writing by Christian Lowe; Enhancing by Angus MacSwan)

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