The good news for skiers -- whether they are seasoned veterans, aspiring novices, or somewhere in between -- is that the 2020-2021 ski season will go on as planned. As with everything else this year, however, it will be a little different so everyone can stay safe.
Indeed, skiing may even look different from state to state and county to county, as ski areas coordinate with local and state health departments to set guidelines.
Adrienne Isaac, director of marketing and communications for the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), says that although the 2019-2020 ski and snowboard season came to a premature end last March as the COVID-19 pandemic closed resorts worldwide, the industry was able to learn a lot about operating during the pandemic after a handful of resorts were able to briefly reopen in May.
“It’s going to take attention this season,” she told KPCW public radio station in Park City, Utah. “There’s not going to be a one size fits all solution for every resort or every state. We’re really going to have to monitor the local situation of the pandemic to make sure that our operations scale to that appropriately.”
The most important thing, according to Colorado Ski Country, a not-for-profit trade association representing Colorado’s 23 ski and snowboard resorts, is simply to “Know Before You Go.” That includes checking ski area websites, social media, and other communications prior to a visit to understand policies and procedures.
Read on for a rundown of how some ski resorts will handle the 2020-2021 season.
“We are intently focused on complying with local, county, and state regulations and offering the best guest experience possible for the 20-21 season,” Rusty Gregory, chief executive officer of Alterra (a community of 15 year-round destinations that include slopes and resorts in Colorado, California, Vermont, West Virginia, Quebec, Ontario, Washington, Utah, and British Columbia) wrote on the company’s website. “The effectiveness of these plans will rely on your cooperation with our enforcement of face coverings, social distancing, and crowd management on and off the mountain.”
He goes on to explain that this effort starts with controlling resort visitation levels to avoid overcrowding. The resorts are prioritizing access for season pass holders and will tightly regulate the number of daily lift tickets that will be available by advance purchase only. To this end, walk-up window sales will be eliminated, and the sale of some undated lift ticket products will be discontinued until further notice.
If you’re planning to ski at Vail, here are how things will be different this year.
In addition to wearing masks, for everyone’s safety, all transactions will be cashless, including at hotels, restaurants, Ski and Ride Schools, and all other points of sale.
The resort also explains that getting on lifts and gondolas will fundamentally be the same, but who you ride with will be different. This year, to prioritize safety, mazes and loading chairlifts and gondolas will be designed with physical distancing guidelines in mind. So, while guests can ride chairlifts and gondolas with their related parties, no one will be required to ride with someone they don’t know.
Boyne Resorts operates 10 ski resorts, including Big Sky Resort (Montana), Brighton (Utah), The Summit (Snoqualmie, Washington), Cypress Mountain (British Columbia), and Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands (Michigan).
The company explains in a statement that, with 415 skiable acres and large base areas, “we feel confident that we can spread out and welcome all that choose to come play outside with us!” Its plan was developed in alignment with NSAA’s Ski Well, Be Well guidelines.
Here’s how things will be different at Boyne resorts this year: As expected, face coverings are required at all times in the base areas, lift lines, on chairlifts, and indoors, except when seated at a table in a restaurant. Furthermore, guests are strongly encouraged to purchase lift tickets online in advance.
Capacity will be strictly limited inside the base lodges and food court this season, and gear storage and changing will not be permitted. Instead, guests should be prepared to boot up in their cars and only bring items that can be carried throughout the day Finally, guests will be asked to ride the lift with members of their group. Lift mazes will be arranged to provide adequate safe spacing between lanes.
We hope that if everyone follows the guidelines, everyone can experience a full 2020-2021 ski and snowboard season. Find ski trip inspiration on our skiing page.