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COVID-19 shutdowns bring new popularity to old winter pastime

After months of shutdowns and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, some ski resorts are cautiously reopening in the U.S. and Europe. But not in France. Worried about outbreaks, French ski resorts can’t use their chair lifts or open their chalets. But the shutdowns are spurring demand for a much slower snow sport: snowshoeing. And one French company is stepping up production to meet demand.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    After months of shutdowns and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, some ski resorts are cautiously reopening in the U.S. and Europe. But not in France. Worried about outbreaks, french ski resorts can't use their chair lifts or open their chalets. But the shutdowns are spurring demand for a much slower snow sport: snowshoeing. And one French company is stepping up production to meet demand.

    The ski lifts are shut down but there is plenty of snow, trails are open and thousands of people in France are willing to walk where they once flew downhill.

  • Laure Noyer:

    I really haven't used snowshoes a lot these past years. Now, I'm getting back into it because, well, it's different. It's quite good for physical activity, it makes your body work, we warm up quickly compared to skiing, when we sometimes get a bit cold on the ski lifts!

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The snowshoe company, TSL, based in the French Alps, is producing it's high-tech snowshoes at a record pace–and has a backlog of 40,000 pairs.

  • Philippe Gallay:

    For us, it is quite stressful, but it's a good stress, because we are crumbling under orders, we don't know how we will make it — it's rather a good stress.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    For those willing to carry snowboards or skis up hills, snowshoes are currently the only way to go in France. Snowshoeing is so popular ski resorts and their instructors are trying to keep up.

  • Gregoire Chavanel:

    We rent equipment at the ski resort, and we have a park of around 100 snowshoes, which usually is enough. But right now, on busy days, it is taken by storm, and at 9 a.m., or around 9:30 a.m., there is not a snowshoe left.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Instructors have switched from teaching skiing to fitting the specialized footwear and guiding first-time snowshoers. In an industry suffering big losses from COVID-19, it's a small step toward recovery.

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