Four of Norway’s biggest and most popular alpine skiing resorts (Hemsedal, Trysil, Hafjell and Kvitfjell) shut down all their ski lifts on Thursday. The closures came after both local and national restrictions on outdoor sporting events were announced, in an effort to stop the spread of the Corona virus.
Hemsedal was closed for the rest of the season, reports newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), while Trysil was closed until further notice. Both are owned by Skistar of Sweden,, which expected that other ski centers in Norway would be closing as well.
Hemsedal officials have also called for closure of all hotels and other lodging and restaurants for the next two week, and urged owners of holiday homes in the area to stay where they actually live. The goal is to reduce crowd contact, while state officials banned all organized outdoor and indoor sporting events.
It means a huge loss of business, with Hemsedal and Trysil together generating skilift revenues of more than NOK 400 million per season. Skistar’s shares fell on the Stockholm Stock Exchange after the closure order came around 3pm.
“It’s very dramatic to close a ski resort for the rest of the season,” said Camilla Sylling Clausen of Norway’s alpine ski association, “but with the way the Corona virus is spreading, I expect we’ll be getting reports that more ski resorts will do the same.” Hafjell and Kvitfjell in Gudbrandsdalen, site of the women’s and men’s downhill races during the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, followed shortly thereafter, as did Sirdal in southern Norway.
Major ski races have also been cancelled in recent days, despite lots of snow in the mountains and Norwegians’ tradition of spending the upcoming Easter holidays on skis.