Now that some ski resorts have already had their first snow dump of the season, people are asking if it’s safe to ski this year.
Popular ski resorts around the country have made modifications to their operations so that skiers and snowboarders would feel safe coming back to the mountains in winter 2020. Here’s how ski season in winter 2020-2021 will be different for those who choose to take to the slopes!
Ticket Purchase May be Online Only
A lot of the logistics in buying lift tickets, renting ski equipment, even parking spaces now require an online reservation. This is in place, as you’d expect, to cut down on crowds and lines at ticket booths on the mountains. Some resort areas, like Aspen, will still have open ticket windows, but more and more ski resorts are opting for better control on the numbers of snow worshippers they’ll allow at any one time. The best advice we can offer is to check in advance of your trip to see what the individual resort requires for lift ticket purchase – this will insure you’ll be able to get the most out of your vacation.
Managing Lift Lines
Some resorts have implemented a more maze-like lift line – which can help keep people from standing to close to one another. At some larger resorts, where certain lifts have capacity for 3 or more people at once, more stringent rules have been put in place. Some lift lines require single riders to consent to sharing with another skier/snowboarder, while still other resorts do not allow shared rides unless the visitors have traveled to the resort together. Gondolas (the enclosed, larger capacity people movers) are on restricted capacity across the board in many places.
Ski and Snowboarding Lessons
Never fear, ski novices! By and large lessons for snow bunnies are still available. Some resorts will require an online health screen before you hit the slopes, so take care to find out the policies and procedures before you book your trip.
Apres Ski Modifications
Let’s be real. For some of us, the ski-adjacent activities like cozying up to a roaring fire in the ski lodge has always held more allure than the slopes themselves. This might be the biggest adjustment for some. The indoor capacity at virtually all popular restaurants and resorts are going to be severely curtailed this year. What does that mean for you? It’s going to take a bit of patience and managing of expectations.
Masks are mandatory except when eating in most resort areas around the country. You can also expect to have more outdoor seating options available – so you may be parking yourself by a heat lamp instead of a fireplace. A lot of dining establishments have also moved to cashless payments and more limited menus. Keeping staff safe means that you’ll be encouraged to place food orders online and take out when you can. Finally, the 2020 snow season definitely means that full-service bars are on a pause. You’ll have to do more BYOB and host smaller get-togethers at your airbnb, condo or hotel with your group.
Ok, ok. But is It Safe?
Here’s the very good news. The National Ski Areas Association has put out some “advantages” that ski areas offer in terms of low-risk activity. Here are just a few they outlined:
- Space: Ski areas provide hundreds of acres of land expressly for outdoor recreation and ski area operators are expert at managing flow of people in their space.
- Natural outdoor environment: the bulk of a ski trip is spent outdoors, moving down runs in fresh air.
- Safe gear: the standard ski gear already includes masks/goggles and gloves.
- Slope safety and etiquette: longstanding slope good manners dictate that skiers and snowboarders give one another a wide berth (lots of personal space).
So, yes. We think it’s safe to ski this winter! Just make sure to review what the resorts recommend at your destination as well as CDC travel recommendations, and adhere to any quarantine policies and procedures of the state to which you’re traveling. By taking a few extra precautions, you can make sure you’re safe on the mountain this winter.