Opportunity Costs

Skiing in winter is a pleasure that has become more elitist. The downhill skiing has always been an expensive sport, but affordable school holidays gave the sport a more accessible touch. The cheaper version of long distance skiing or skating on larger trails involves much more endurance. The report of the French Cour des Comptes in 2024 questions the sense of the huge investment that is still devoted to save the pleasure of the few. I
nstead of investment to the benefit of relatively few persons, these funds could put the money into a more sustainable, socially and ecological productive purpose. Installations could be used all year round rather than in the few weeks at best months with snow. It is remarkable that the court has highlighted this kind of opportunity costs of such installations. Instead of investing in soon to be obsolete infrastructure at lower altitudes like water reservoirs and water canons, this money could already start the eventually necessary transition process. Each € spent is not only lost for the transition, but might create additional environmental liabilities and damage.
From economists it is to be expected that they mention competition in their arguments. Not all stations of skiing will survive. Put more dramatically, in the process of closing skiing at lower and middle level altitude, competition intensifies between stations and of who can survive. Public funds should not be misused in this endeavour. Lobbying is strong and political incumbents tend to favour the merit and legacy of digging for the white gold. Changes of mind sets, investment narratives and decisions are tough. From much downhill skiing we might soon remember only the downward slope before the healthy aspects of climbing a slope takes the upper hand.