Everything Changed Overnight

A European Perspective on Lockdown

Has Lockdown Changed Everything?

For some of us, life goes on largely uninterrupted. Perhaps there are a few less bags of flour on the grocery store shelves, you’re eating out less often, and you’ve switched your interactions with friends from in-person social gatherings to Facetime sessions. But for some of us, life as we know it has completely turned upside down. Lives lost, front line workers battling around the clock to mitigate the panic and death, years of investment and dreams by entrepreneurs and small businesses destroyed in weeks as the economy collapses. So many of us have been devastated in so many different ways. And as we struggle to climb out of the shattered rubble of our normality, clinging desperately to our most beloved pieces, we wonder if anything will ever be the same again.

The change happened quickly, without warning. And as we take the time to process and grieve what we have lost – as we move into an unknown future – it is valuable, as always, to take a look at an alternate perspective from our friends across the pond. Lockdown has affected all of us differently, and in this multicultural, global human experiment we find ourselves thrust into, it is important to understand a European Perspective on lockdown, and the situation that is facing us all. To foster empathy, understanding, and progress, we must embrace open communication and sharing of our stories, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all.

Tales from the Heart of a Pandemic

We spoke to Lukas Sendlhofer – Alpin Luxe Coach and Professional Skier – to better understand the impact the pandemic and the resulting government actions had on him, his country, and the sport of skiing.

As he reflects on how events unfolded, it feels like recalling foggy memories from another lifetime. A time when things were carefree, now enshrined behind the nostalgic, rose-colored glass of “the good old days”. For him, everything changed overnight. And in the jarring juxtaposition between the average day of a successful young athlete and his friends, to the complete lockdown that engulfed a nation only hours later, we begin to get a glimpse of the depth of what we have lost in just a few short months… and what we as communities and individuals have the power to gain.

A European Perspective

When I think back to March 8th today, it feels like ages ago.

It was my last day skiing, and what a day it was. Perfect bluebird weather, 10 inches of fresh snow and the mountains of legendary St. Anton were, as always, the place to be on a day like this. We skied from 9am to 4pm with a 20-minute lunch break. My friends and myself just couldn’t get enough, as if some part in us knew we had to make the most of it.

A European Perspective on Lockdown - Lukas Sendlhofer

After clicking out of our bindings and getting out of our already slightly smelly ski boots, we decided that a glorious day like this deserved an après-ski beverage to top it off. Turns out, St Anton, the place we spent our last glorious day skiing became one of the Covid19 hotspots for the whole continent of Europe. We couldn’t have imagined what was coming.

We drove back to Innsbruck in a haze of contentment, and I just barely managed to brush my teeth before meeting my bed and drifting away into some other world. I woke up at 7am the next day and realised that I hadn’t had 12 hours of sleep in a very long time. It felt good.

Lockdown Happened Overnight

My first lecture of the week was at 9am, so I had enough time for breakfast, to get ready for school and scroll through the news. The national concern about the Coronavirus was getting bigger and bigger. Our first cases were already a month ago and since then numbers haven’t really changed in a way that would be alarming, until then. But things were changing.

Apparently the first case at my school, the University of Innsbruck, had been discovered and one of the facilities was already closed. I started to daydream about it until I realized I’d lost track of time, opting to rush out the door and leave my unfinished cup of coffee on the table – missing school would’ve been much worse.

I listened, I studied and at some point, I went to bed, not knowing how different my world would be when I woke up.

That day, the 9th of March, the University of Innsbruck was closed and only three days later, Friday March 13th, the whole nation of Austria was on lockdown, in just a matter of hours.

Standing in Solidarity

Our regulations were quite strict. No sports, no social contact at all, pretty much no everything. The only reasons allowing one to leave the house were: groceries, emergencies and a short walk.

The people of Austria are very proud and from this pride came great solidarity.

We kept our distance, but stood together and developed from Europe’s problem child to its number one country regarding the fight against the Coronavirus. Considering our direct border to Italy, which was unfortunate enough to be hit by the virus in full force, this is something that made all Austrians proud. As of today, April 18th*, Austria has had 14,662 confirmed cases, 10,214 healed cases and 443 deaths.

Were the regulations created by our government discussed by the Austrian people?

Where they perfect?
No, but what is?

Has the general discussion in our population vanished since then?
No, it never will.

Can people even talk about politics?
They must!

How can they?
Mutual respect and a vision for the greater good.

What have we learned through this pandemic?
That we are always learning. And now is the time to rethink everything. We shall never stand still.

Where do We Go From Here?

St. Anton, together with Ischgl, has been a big topic in all of the newspapers worldwide by now. Once known for its amazing skiing conditions, it’s now being recognized as the spot where people from all over Europe contracted Coronavirus. 

It was once a place where a great amount of people came together, where they were happy, where they enjoyed the time of their life, as I did. It represented so much more than just a sport.

Now St. Anton is empty.
And none of us saw it coming.

From all of us here at Alpin Luxe, to our brothers and sisters in Europe and around the world, we send healing thoughts and our message of solidarity. We stand with you. And during this time of social distancing, let us come together like never before. We will fight, and come out stronger for it, united in what we have learned as a planet.

Stay informed, stay proactive, stay safe. As Lukas’ story from Austria shows us, there is power in a mobilized community, and we can overcome the threats that are facing our societies and our lives. We can no longer remain innocent or uninformed; there is no longer any excuse for ignorance. We were blindsided once, and the changes rattled our world. So let us transform this devastation into discussion and action, to begin rebuilding a brighter future. Things won’t ever be the same again…

we can only hope they will be better.

Lukas Sendlhofer

Lukas Sendlhofer

Guest author and Alpin Luxe coach

Christine Mullins

Christine Mullins

*At the time of publishing, due to an error, this date was reported as March 18th. This has since been corrected.

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