A Wide Lens View Of How Large And Small Resorts Managed To Deal With Restrictions And Constraints.

[Editor Note: Pat McCloskey is a regular contributor to SeniorsSkiing.com.  This article first appeared in Chronicles of McCloskey.]

Ski resorts took COVID compliance seriously, allowing the season to happen. Credit: Pat McCloskey

First, let me say I was glad that we HAD a ski season. From changing my boots in the lot at Laurel Mountain to the Covid 19 security seen above at June Mountain, CA, the theme was always the same: Please comply with the mask and social distance rules so that we can stay open. Wearing a mask is a small price to pay for the knowledge that the areas were doing the best that they can to stay open during the pandemic. The gentleman on the left in the orange jacket said to me that he appreciates all the public was doing this season to help them stay open. He was concerned not only about the skiing but for the welfare of the many employees that operate a ski area. Their livelihoods depended on compliance from the public.

No matter where I went this year, the theme was the same: Please comply for us to stay open. It was interesting to see how things transpired as the season went on. The mask laws were always enforced everywhere. When Jan and I went to Deer Valley in February, they had staff monitoring the lift lines to make sure that people had their masks on and up and over the nose. Signs were everywhere in ski areas this year instructing people to social distance in the lift lines and everywhere on the premises.

The only thing that was hard for lifties to monitor was riding the chair lift. In the beginning of the season, there seemed to be more of a concern for only riding two people per chair—whether it was a triple or a six pack. That seemed to expand the lines significantly. Then there was the polite request from the lift line monitors for people to ride together if comfortable. More and more people rode together which reduced the lines, but face masks were still enforced no matter how many people loaded

Pat and Jan McCloskey at Deer Valley for mid-winter vacation.

the lifts together. Everyone had the option to ride alone. We were at Mt. Rose in Tahoe last Monday, and a guy beside me requested to ride alone. I told him I completely understood, and he was very gracious. I also told him that we were all fully vaccinated, and he said he was too but didn’t trust anybody. He was nice about it but stood firm that he wanted to ride alone and that was fine with us. Generally the line monitors everywhere gave people a chance to ride as they felt comfortable.

All in all, I had the opportunity to get a good read on how the ski areas were doing with initially skiing in the East and then two western ski trips to see how it was being handled in Utah, California, and Nevada. One of the other comments from the ski area personnel was that they knew they were being monitored by the state. And their fear was that if the state saw non-compliance or lack of enforcement on the part of the ski areas, they would shut them down. This was the fear from last summer when there was a lot of speculation about whether the ski areas would open for 2020-2021 and if they would stay open. So far so good. My intel from friends in Colorado and Vermont also confirmed that initially there were issues with chair lift lines but as the season progressed, that seemed to wane a bit. The larger areas had lift line issues but the smaller areas or more remote areas had no issues at all.

Arcing beautiful groomers at Mt Rose with Tahoe in the background: A memory to carry thru the summer. Credit: Pat McCloskey

So as we wrap up another ski season and as areas slowly start to close, I am again grateful that we had a season in these very trying times. It will be interesting to see how the areas did financially seeing that there was a different scene this year. No big apres ski scenes, restaurants at 5o percent capacity at best with the “Grab and Go” food options being the norm. Most areas got their money up front with the sale of IKON and Epic Passes which is the only way to go considering the price of daily lift tickets. But the food and beverage sales had to take a hit.

I always get a little melancholy with the knowledge that I won’t be on the slopes for another eight months. I thought about that when I was making some nice giant arcs on some great groomers at the end of the day at Mt. Rose. I thought to myself, “Pat, this is what you need to think about this summer when you are getting that ski itch.” I love the feeling of making the skis carve on some great groomers. It brings a smile to your face for sure. Even though the western snow pack was down 50 percent this year, and the really cool stuff was not accessible, it was still fun to rip the groomers and that feeling of making a nice rounded arc turn never gets old. So bring on the spring and summer. They are fun seasons too, but I will be looking forward to another ski season as the leaves start to turn in the fall.

2 Comments

  1. Just a note. This last picture is from the top of Diamond Peak in Nevada. A “ gem” of a place to ski.

  2. Avatar Michael Sharkey says:

    I thought this was a well-written good article and I have had the same experiences skiing only in Vermont. The lifties did a great job enforcing face covering and every person asked if it was ok to ride together. I found in my 100 days very few minded if you rode with them. In most cases, almost all rides were only 2 people. Now when we are in the last week and only the people you see almost daily are around it seems we are now seeing groups of 3 or 4. Most of us were concerned we would never get a full season we ended up with good conditions and a full season with one exception no group lunches, no apres, and no socialization. But plenty of good runs.

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