WINTER SPORTS IN SWITZERLAND.
SKI-RUNNING AND SKATING.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT.)
Alpine winters which begin with a heavy snowfall in October often redress the balance by rain at Christmas. This year a wonderful summer outstayed its welcome, and the autumn tints and cloudless skies did not console the anxious hotelkeepers for a complete lack of snow. All things come to an end, and punctually on December 1 heavy snowfall delighted the anxious watchers. Just enough snow fell to satisfy the ski-runners. Then the weather obligingly lifted once more, and the icemen got to work. The rinks are now ready, and if you are up just after the dawn, you may see these wonderful ice experts busily at work coaxing the last inequalities off the surface, and eliminating the last suspicion of "bias" from the curling rinks.
Those who visited the Alps last winter endured the hardships of pioneers. The war-time atmosphere still prevailed; frontier officials still regarded every traveller as suspicious. All that has been changed. The Swiss Parliament made a determined stand last autumn, and the innocent amusements of the bureaucrats have been curtailed. To-day the journey to Switzerland is no more trying than it was in 1913. Prices are higher, and the exchange is slightly against us, but a holiday in Switzerland costs very little more than in France or Italy. Last winter there was a great lack of rolling stock, and the trains were slow and overcrowded, but this winter conditions are once again normal.
The Winter Sports centres are confident that the number of English visitors will be, at least, doubled. All the indications are favourable. Owing to the depreciation in the exchange of their neighbours, the Swiss hotels are very much dependent on British visitors, and hotels who enjoyed before the war a German or Austrian clientele have every reason to envy those with an old-established British clientele.
The leading centres have published their sport programmes. There will be no lack of first-class fixtures equally attractive to ambitious competitors and to those who prefer the vicarious thrills of the spectator. St. Moritz is well to the fore with a comprehensive programme which includes everything from ski-jumping to races on the famous Cresta run, with pigeon shooting thrown in to console any visitor who may feel a hankering for the Riviera. Pontresina, which has been rather overshadowed by its famous rival, is attracting its usual clientele of active ski-runners. There are few better centres for serious ski-ing.
Published in The Times 18th December 1920