Both experienced winter sports enthusiasts and newcomers are being drawn to the trails this year. Cross-country skiing is experiencing a boom in the canton of Zug – not only because of Corona.
Most ski areas have re-opened, and protection concepts are available. But skiing this year is hardly as inviting as usual: long waiting times queuing in front of the cable car, obligatory face masks on the chairlift and no after-ski in the bar. There is also the fear of becoming infected in the crowded conditions, despite the protective measures. But many people still don't want to give up on winter sports, and cross-country skiing (langlauf) offers a welcome alternative. The trails are open, there is enough snow, and crowds can be largely avoided, unlike in the ski areas. Cross-country skiing has also been fashionable for some time now, and the Corona winter is therefore a good opportunity for a first attempt on cross-country skis.
The Vice-President of the Zugerberg cross-country ski trail, Peter Schnurrenberger, reports on above-average visitor numbers on the Zugerberg. "One of the things we’ve noticed is the increase in demand, among other things, because we’ve sold many more cross-country passes than in recent years. This could be the Zugerberg season ticket or the Swiss cross-country skiing pass." The Vice-President cannot give exact figures yet, but that is hardly necessary. "There are days when I think: I've never seen so many people on the track!"
He adds that there are also more beginners to cross-country skiing this year.
The good conditions reinforce the boom
But it's not just Corona that is feeding the boom in cross-country skiing. "We have had good snow early this year, and the conditions are very good this winter," continues Peter Schnurrenberger. "We have already had the trails open for 30 days, and there is new snow this week and the temperatures remain cold. This gives us hope for more good days." The trail on the Zugerberg is open on average 30 to 40 days a year, with a maximum of 55 days. With 30 days already in January, it looks like it will be a very successful season. And the trail was never overcrowded, despite the increasing number of visitors.
"The Zugerberg trail is a little different from other trails in the area, because it is quite challenging."
The conditions on the Zugerberg are currently ideal for cross-country skiing.
Archive image: PD/Peter Schnurrenberger
Peter Schnurrenberger differentiates the Zug cross-country ski run here from flatter trails, such as the one in Rothenthurm, which is probably even better for cross-country ski beginners.
There are also Corona protection measures on the trails. In mid-December, for example, the committee of the Zugerberg cross-country ski trail decided to close the sales container, where ski tickets and day passes are normally issued, and hot drinks are served. Checking the cross-country tickets also couldn’t be carried out, and the committee had to rely on the honesty of the athletes. Peter Schnurrenberger explains: "We wanted to protect our inspectors, some of whom are older." In the meantime, day tickets and cross-country passes have to be purchased online. Schnurrenberger and his team are now considering reopening the container, however, although the presentation of the day ticket or cross-country pass should remain voluntary.
Businesses are also feeling the trend
The current trend in favour of cross-country skiing is also making itself felt in the industry. This year, for example, everything at Intersport Meli in Zug is different. "The demand for cross-country skiing material has increased enormously," says Urs Sidler, Managing Director of the Intersport branch in Zug.
"Customers are looking for alternatives to alpine skiing. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing seem to a popular choice."
According to the managing director, the increase is ten times higher than the average for the last five years. And, of course, this increase also helps to compensate for some of the reductions in alpine sport rentals.