U.S. Ski & Snowboard officials and the NorAm committee, which is made up of representatives from both the U.S. and Canada, missed a targeted announcement this week to confirm the NorAm schedule for the upcoming season. Among the challenges are current border restrictions between the U.S. and Canada amid the coronavirus pandemic.
NorAms, North America’s annual Continental Cup, are always contested between the two countries with athletes on both sides of the border often making several trips back and forth throughout the season.
Discussions between the two nations, and likely FIS, remain ongoing, but early season races that had been tentatively scheduled for November in Colorado and December in Lake Louise have been scrapped, along with the prospect of January races in Stowe and Whiteface. In February, a stop in Sugarloaf has also been removed from consideration.
Best case scenario, NorAms are hoping to move forward with a February-to-April season. Tentatively, stops are anticipated in Collingwood (women), Mont Edouard (men), Panorama (both), with a final series to close out the season in Mammoth.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has thus far declined Ski Racing’s requests for comment on this story. Alpine Canada has also not provided comment.
According to sources, there are a variety of concerns and scheduling challenges but none more pressing than the current travel restrictions between the two countries.
According to the government of Canada, foreign nationals traveling into the country must be traveling for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose. “Essential refers to travel for reasons that are non-discretionary and non-optional. The emergency orders under the Quarantine Act do not allow people to travel to Canada for optional or discretionary reasons, such as for tourism, recreation or entertainment.”
Additionally, a 14-day quarantine requirement is also in effect for all travelers into Canada, including Canadian nationals. The concern among Canadians is returning home after travel to the U.S. will immediately require a two-week stoppage of training and racing. These restrictions are proving untenable for many parties, particularly in the early part of the season when training is considered a premium block.
“When you arrive in Canada by air, land or sea, we’ll assess your health before you leave the POE. If you’re a foreign national, and you have symptoms of COVID-19, you won’t be allowed to enter Canada. … You must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada,” the government states.
Among the requirements, travelers will need to provide proof of a place to stay, how they’ll get to their destination, get groceries, access essential services and medical care — all while under quarantine.
According to laws and guidelines, all travelers entering Canada must:
- arrange for a suitable place to quarantine or isolate, within your financial means
- go directly to their place of quarantine or isolation, without stopping anywhere
- stay at their place of quarantine or isolation for 14 days (only leave to seek medical assistance if needed)
- not have any guests
- monitor their health for fever and a cough, fever and difficulty breathing
The penalties for not following the quarantine plan once in the country can include a fine of up to $750,000 and six months of jail time.
“We can’t hold off the system for a year,” said Alberta Alpine program director and provincial team head coach Gavin Preziosi in a recent interview with SRM. “If we can’t find the opportunities and points we’re after, then we may have to go to Europe [to find races]. Then the club athletes won’t have the profiles to make the Alberta team without being exposed to our team … and if we can’t find the appropriate races we won’t be able to move athletes up to the national team.”
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not provided Ski Racing with an updated timeline for a decision. Alpine Canada said a decision is expected early next week.