When the Swiss government decided to lock down the country in mid-March, some ski resorts at first refused. Skiing is not only economically vital in many parts of the Alps, but is also part of the Swiss DNA, especially for older generations.
Before the coronavirus crisis hit Europe, an exhibition opened at the Swiss Alpine Museum called “The Lost and Found of Memories”, to showcase old ski gear and trophies, and even x-rays of bones broken in skiing accidents. Many of the objects were donated by the public.
Like all cultural institutions in the country, and across Europe, the Alpine Museum has had to close its doors as part of the lockdown. However, choice bits can be viewed on the museum’s websiteexternal link, or seen in a book made especially for the exhibition. It is a collection of postcards harking back to the decades when skiing was a passion - not just a pastime - for the Swiss.
The number of days people spent on the ski slopes declined dramatically from the 2008/09 season to 2016/17. Interestingly, the under-30s are rediscovering the sport, joining the baby boomer generation in keeping ski resorts busy.
Climate change has also had a significant impact on skiing’s popularity. In recent years, only high-altitude resorts have had enough snow – or weather cold enough to make snow – to keep their slopes open. For many Swiss, they at least have memories of the days when, according to the lyrics of a popular tune, “everyone skied”.
'Schnee von gesternexternal link', is a new book on ski culture, with pictures taken from the Swiss Alpine Museum collection.end of infobox