Summit ski mountaineer gets OK to compete and train in Europe
DILLON — Despite the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, Summit County ski mountaineer Grace Staberg will get the chance to train and compete in Europe this winter.
Access to foreign countries is very much up in the air amid COVID-19. The Silverthorne resident saw that first hand when her first application for a visa to enter and live in France was denied a couple of months ago. As a result, Staberg said she applied for a different kind of a visa: a talent passport, which can be used by small-business entrepreneurs, athletes, artists and other skilled professionals. Staberg said she was granted a special exemption through the talent passport’s more detailed and complicated process.
“I had actually been working with a consultant helping me apply for the visa because the paperwork is just harder to figure out what you need to submit,” Staberg said. “She seemed to think it was pretty promising. I was fairly nervous. I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case I wasn’t approved. But, luckily, it came through.”
Staberg hopes to travel to France in the second week of December to live near the Val D’isere ski area by the Italian border. For the winter, Staberg again will train with French ski mountaineering legend Laëtitia Roux and hopes to compete in the first International Ski Mountaineering Federation World Cup event of the season, scheduled for Dec. 19-20 in Italy.
Staberg said the French visa should enable her to travel to the majority of European countries. The 2020 Summit High School graduate and 2020 Youth Olympian hopes to compete in all World Cup events and any other big races that happen in Europe.
“I think that, barring any really serious regulations, we will be able to get into France,” Staberg said. “And I would be really surprised if Italy closed their borders to other European countries. But I also think, as athletes, we all have to think about the choices we are making, and make sure they are responsible, decide if travel is the most responsible choice to begin with.”
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