Where can I ski this Christmas? It's the question rupturing Europe

Region at odds over planned festive closures of ski resorts

For years the UK unsuccessfully sought to drive a wedge between Europe's superpowers during Brexit negotiations – if only it had used a ski it might have had better luck.

The region has fallen into internecine warfare over whether ski resorts should remain open this Christmas.

On the one side, the mountainous might of Germany, Italy and France are in favour of the planned "ski-madgeddon".

On the other, perennial Alpine favourites Austria and Switzerland are demurring, fretful over the damage such a moratorium would have on their economies.

The issue is less about the skiing itself, and more about the cheek-by-jowl activities that revolve around it.

Apres ski is about as conducive to social distancing as sumo wrestling.

Any Covid globules finding themselves in a seething sauna of skiers expectorating into each others eyeballs from point-blank range will not have an arduous time multiplying.

In April, Ischgl ski resort in Austria was described as the ground zero of Europe's coronavirus outbreak.

Despite this adverse publicity, without significant financial support from the EU, Austria is unhappy about shutting its slopes.

"If the EU does in fact force skiing areas to stay closed, that will mean costs of up to €2 billion ($2.43bn)," Finance Minister Gernot Blunel said in November.

Whatever happens, revenue will not be accrued in Austria's apres-ski establishments because, whether its ski resorts are fully opened or not, the mini Covid nirvanas will remain firmly closed.

The map below etches the great skiing divide and the video above outlines the controversy further.