In common with most winter resorts these past few weeks, the organisers of the Foulée Blanche have been watching the sky anxiously and scrutinizing the weather forecasts, whilst waiting for the first flakes of snow. And in common with the rest of Europe, the snow has been slow to arrive. Since mid-December, the Mayor of Autrans’ team and local actors have been working hard to examine all possible solutions, in order to offer a 2017 Foulée Blanche that will meet with the expectations of the organisers and participants. But the much hoped for snow that should have fallen this week, ending 50 days of drought in our mountain departments, has once again failed to materialise. A few days before the opening of the event, there are still some doubts as to whether the 39th edition of the Foulée Blanche can take place as originally planned in Autrans between Wednesday 11 and Sunday 15 January 2017.
Safety and Transparency…
In the spirit of transparency, the organizing committee has decided to make a clear statement regarding the current situation, pending a decision that will be made in the coming days.
In the last few weeks our technical teams have carried out some excellent work on the Plateau de Gève and have prepared about 7 km of groomed and safe tracks. This should make it possible for the Foulée Blanche « elite » race to go ahead on Sunday 15 January, under conditions consistent with those of other early season major international events.
However, the Foulée Blanche is much more than that! For 39 years, the Foulée Blanche has welcomed skiers of all levels and has become one of the great cross country skiing rendez-vous of the season. Thousands of participants have signed up to participate in their 4 day Foulée, including high school and college students and children. Whilst the event now welcomes the Marathon Ski Tour (national long distance event) and since 2016, the opening stage of the World Cup Long Distance series, the FIS Worldloppet Cup, here in Autrans, we are not just organising 1 to 2 races for a few hundred high level skiers. The popular nature of the event is deeply ingrained in its DNA and this is what marks it out as a special weekend in the French and international cross country skiing calendar. It is the general public that has made the Foulée Blanche such a success for nearly 40 years and some logistical adjustments are still being studied to ensure that they can receive a proper welcome. Ensuring the safety of each participant from Wednesday through ‘til Sunday is the organisers primary concern.
Decision this weekend!
The planned course is being created using cultured snow. The latest weather forecasts predict unsettled weather and snow on Tuesday and Wednesday next week which should improve the situation. We all know that in the mountains, weather forecasts beyond the next 48 hours can be unreliable, so we will have to wait a few days to confirm this rather more optimistic outlook.
Despite this uncertainty, the organising committee would still encourage people not to delay their entries. Entry fees will not be debited before the beginning of the event and will be systematically reimbursed in the event of cancellation. The Foulée Blanche organisers undertake to run the event only if it can held safely, otherwise it will be cancelled. The final decision will be made this weekend and the organisers will issue a communiqué as soon as possible.