Lockdown, quarantine on re-entry, closed ski resorts and many other hurdles - the Corona measures of politics hit winter sports hard.
But despite, or perhaps because of, the pandemic and the lack of other sporting opportunities, ski touring, especially piste touring, is experiencing a boom. But is this really sustainable or will it subside again as soon as the ski lifts open again?
Manufacturers, including Movement, Völkl and Dynafit, see the trend sport of touring not just as a flash in the pan, sparked by the lack of alternatives in Corona times, but as a boom with long-term potential that began long before Corona and is only experiencing explosive growth with the crisis - especially in the still young discipline of piste touring.
The upswing in touring also came as no surprise to cable car and lift operators. Matthias Stauch, President of the Verband Deutscher Seilbahnen und Schlepplifte e.V. (Association of German Cable Cars and Lifts) and Chairman of the Board of Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG Garmisch-Partenkirchen, has been following this development for some time: "The situation itself is not new. The trend towards touring or piste touring has been developing for years, and activities such as snowshoeing and tobogganing are also gaining in importance."
The advantages for winter sports enthusiasts are obvious: piste tours represent a low-threshold entry, free of the associated hurdles such as alpine experience, avalanche knowledge and deep-snow suitability. Parallels can be drawn here with the bouldering boom, which was the introduction to climbing for many recreational athletes.
For many die-hard ski tourers, piste tours have long since become a gym substitute: a quick, effective training session for the big touring goals in the open country. For a few years now, more and more athletes have discovered a discipline of their own in piste touring.
The new touring community is fully satisfied with their sport on the edge of the piste. Corona and the resulting lockdown situation with the closed lifts act as a catalyst here.
While Stauch welcomes the development, he also warns of the consequences. "We support and welcome this diversity and provide targeted services in many areas. However, we demand that the users of these services also contribute to the costs of them. What is new this season is that the controlling function of the cable cars is missing. With all the negative consequences - which otherwise prevents an organized environment," he warns.
Benedikt Böhm, managing director of Dynafit, hopes for corresponding ideas in an interview with ISPO.com: "Ski touring on pistes and marked routes is here to stay and will increase. That's why good and contemporary concepts are needed, and in my view, imposing bans is not forward-looking." Böhm sees the emergence of a hybrid market between alpine skiing and ski touring.
The task now is to learn from the situations of this year's winter and to develop new business models, consciously with the help of the lift companies and the regions. Because: Tourism is one of the world's largest industries - what trends are set here is law.
Skiing is one of the largest tourism sectors in Bavaria and the largest in Tyrol - it now depends on the decisions of tourism developers and lift operators what the future of winter sports may look like.
The possibilities are manifold: from marked ascent routes to the inclusion of the discipline in the season pass. Many experts are therefore calling for classic winter sports regions to sustainably secure guest potential and emancipate themselves more strongly from the one-dimensional Alpine skiing model in terms of products.