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Warm Alpine Weather Melts Holiday Ski Plans, Cripples Season

January 2, 1988

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ An exodus of frustrated holiday skiers headed home from the Alps Saturday, their skiing hopes melted by balmy weather that kept slopes green instead of white.

Springtime temperatures that covered much of Western Europe for more than two weeks persisted into 1988, disappointing many who planned holiday weekends skiing in West Germany, France, Austria or Switzerland. A Swiss newspaper said the ski season was lost.

Disillusioned skiers jammed northboard traffic in southern Bavaria and on the West German-Austrian border Saturday.

″There’s no snow. I look out the window and all I see is green,″ complained Thomas Scheuber, an instructor at a ski school in the Bavarian resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Scheuber said only two of four ski areas near the resort were open. One was the Zugspitze, West Germany’s highest peak at 9,775 feet.

″It’s very crowded on the Zugspitze,″ said Scheuber. ″That’s very discouraging for people.″

″The 1987-88 season is lost,″ the Sonntagsblick newspaper in Zurich quoted a Swiss tourist official, not identified, as saying.

Distressed by the snow shortage, the Swiss Association of Cable Car Operators called Saturday for better unemployment compensation for part-time ski resort employees.

″The public is buying more compact discs than ski-lift tickets,″ the association lamented.

In France’s Chamonix-Mont Blanc region, only about 20 of 50 slopes were open and conditions were ″not very good - icy and lots of stones,″ said a woman who answered the phone at the Chamonix tourist office. She spoke on condition of anonymity.

Weekend skiing plans also evaporated at some Austrian resorts, where recent daytime temperatures have been in the 50s.

Snow was covering ground above 3,300 feet in Alpine northern Italy, but tourists in mountainous regions of central and southern Italy rode horses and hiked across fields which otherwise would have been filled with cross-country skiers.

Outdoor tennis courts and golf courses were open in many regions.

″There are a lot of other entertainments besides skiing here - mountain climbing, hiking, riding ...,″ said Annegret Remagen, receptionist at the Dorint Sporthotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

She said the hotel was booked Saturday despite the lack of snow and temperatures in the high 40s.

Warm weather forced the postponement of many international skiing competitions, such as the Nordic combined event that had been scheduled for Saturday in Schoenach, in West Germany’s Black Forest region. Officials also rescheduled next Saturday’s women’s downhill race at the Swiss Valais resort of Les Diablerets.

But in the Austrian Tirol resort of Lienz, snow conditions have been declared sufficient for a World Cup slalom race Wednesday.

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