The ski resorts are already standing in the starting blocks in mid-October - and are still looking for ways to offer as much unadulterated fun as possible in the snow on and off the slopes, despite Corona.
"Optimistic throughout!" is the view ahead from Obertauern. Flexibility is decisive for a successful season here in the Salzburger Land. "We hope for the best, but we are also well prepared for the worst", explains Lisa Walcher from the Obertauern Tourist Office.
Since the lockdown in March, preparations have been underway for the new season, which is scheduled to start on November 19. This year without the traditional big ski opening, but with small decentralized activities, says Walcher.
A somewhat more restrained formulation is used around 300 kilometres further southwest. "Reliability instead of experiments" could be the motto in the Upper Engadine. In St. Moritz, the makers are pragmatically focusing on uniform and clear standards for the entire region. „Whether on the ski slopes, in a mountain restaurant, in a hotel or in a museum: the guest should be safe and be able to enjoy the holidays - despite the corona virus," explains Stephanie Bauer from Engadin St. Moritz Tourism Ltd.
With a view to the coming months, the Swiss are talking about challenging situation. The majority of the international guests are likely to be absent, according to the forecast. Conversely, this means more space for winter sports enthusiasts from Switzerland and neighbouring countries. And there is also room for confidence in autumn 2020: "If we get through this winter well and safely, then the international guests will also come back in the medium term," says Stephanie Bauer.
At the beginning of October the UCI Mountain Bike World Championship was still the big attraction in Saalfelden Leogang. And the cross-country cyclists are also important for the coming winter season, explains Marco Pointner, managing director of TVB Saalfelden Leogang. "Thanks to the bikers, we had a lot of action for several weeks in summer, even under Corona conditions".
Both in summer and winter, he says, the aim is to allow distance between the guests. So when the ski operation starts on November 27th, Saalfelden Leogang will enter the race with a head start: "With the mountain bikers we have learned how to professionally equalize the entry to the individual mountain railways, for example", explains Pointner. "Of course we are now profiting from this summer's experience".
Saalfelden Leogang with its many family-run businesses is well positioned anyway. What worries Pointner, on the other hand, is the constantly changing requirements of the authorities. Here, more reliability and permanent guidelines would help against the uncertainty in the businesses and among the guests, the tourism manager said. But: "Skiing with us will be a pleasure", says Pointner confidently.
In Val Gardena you help yourself with mathematics. On December 4th the ski area Val Gardena - Alpe di Siusi opens, one day later also the Sellaronda. Then, according to the marketing experts, with the slopes, cross-country ski runs, toboggan runs and winter hiking trails, every guest bed will be filled with about 7000 square metres of nature - enough space to keep your distance and stay out of the way.
Nevertheless, it inevitably gets tight sometimes. In order to provide for equalization here, the ski huts on the mountain are to be served only at the table for the time being, for the ski buses a closer interval is planned and for offers such as Snowshoeing or winter hiking, the local guides prefer much smaller groups.
No matter what the epidemic is - if there are no big events because of Corona, at least the thrill should not be missed in the coming winter. The ski area attracts with a new black run at Dentercepies; 1110 meters long with a gradient of up to 52 percent.
At Kronplatz on the edge of the Dolomites in South Tyrol, the makers are looking forward to the first season with several new lifts and cable cars. The new cable car Olang 1 + 2. is above all an architectural highlight and was designed by the Hamburg Studios Schlotthauer Matthiessen Architecturemade, which also designed the Messner Mountain Museum on Kronplatz.
The village lift Pichl Gsies has also been completely renovated and got a new black piste. The ski area will open on November 28th, weather permitting. With 100 percent snow covered slopes normally no problem, according to the South Tyrolean saying.
This year, ski fans will unfortunately have to watch the biggest event of the winter season from a distance - the FIS World Cup in women's giant slalom will take place on January 26th. However, spectators are not allowed on the ERTA piste in St. Vigil in Enneberg on Kronplatz.
In the French ski resort of Tignes one looks with concern at the winter. Although the glacier ski resort is supposed to open already on October 17th, the big ski resort on November 28th. Lots of snow at high altitudes, modern facilities and an almost perfect infrastructure - actually, the resort in the Haute-Savoie department is perfectly prepared.
And yet: "The coming ski season will inevitably differ from the previous ones", says Marion Lapouble from Tignes Développement. „We hope that we will not be hit too hard by travel restrictions in the various countries". But as a precaution, the French are focusing more strongly than before on the domestic market this year.
In general, a lot seems to be up in the air in Tignes this autumn. New attractions? Would still be examined. Event highlights in the coming season? Are currently being validated.
The ski winter in St. Anton am Arlberg begins on 4 December - and this year it is all about big anniversaries: 120 years ago the first ski club was founded here, 100 years ago the first ski school on the Arlberg.
But also in the here and now the hosts want to be present in St. Anton and offer 305 kilometres of downhill runs, 88 lifts and cable cars as well as 200 kilometres of off-piste variations. Just as important for those responsible on site as skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, tobogganing and winter hiking: the safety of the guests. For this reason the Vorarlbergers have launched the campaign "By far the best winter".
On January 9 and 10, the Ski World Cup will make a guest appearance at the Arlberg Kandahar Race in St. Anton, where the downhill and super-G of the ladies will be by hundredths of a second. On April 24, the ski season traditionally ends with the white rush, when 555 athletes from all over the world plunge down the nine kilometers of unprepared slopes simultaneously after the mass start on the Vallugagrat.
In Kitzbühel, the skiers will hit the slopes particularly early - but only with additional support from natural snow: As early as 24 October, training groups and clubs are expected to strap on their skis on the Resterhöhe on the border between Tyrol and Salzburg. However, the opening will only take place if it has already snowed at that time. There will be no opening at 20 degrees, as has often been the case in the past.
Instead of big events, KitzSki wants to advertise with perfectly snow-covered slopes and attractive rates.
Because of the good summer, the winter in Kitzbühel looks positively. KitzSki assumes almost normal ski operation. Apart from mandatory mouth and nose protection in the gondolas and sufficient distance in everyday life, there will be few restrictions, it is said.