Source: Deseret News

In the past few weeks, we’ve learned that skiing has been identified as a significant vector in the spread of COVID-19. If you have not read this article in The New Yorker magazine about Sun Valley’s role, it’s an eye-opener. 

Germany, described as a “skiing nation,” has traced many of its cases to a beer pong table in the Austrian resort of Ischgl, a popular destination for German skiers.

The outbreak in Mexico, in part, originated from a group of Mexican business leaders returned from a ski holiday in Vail, where they contracted the disease.

It makes sense. When we ski, we share trams, gondolas, and chairs and dine and shop in the same places. These are ideal conditions for picking up an invisible bug and transporting it back home where it can catch fire.

And ski towns are suffering. Sun Valley and Vail have some of the highest infection rates in the country. They and others are discouraging visitors and second homeowners from seeking refuge in the mountains.

This is not to place blame on ski areas. The same could be said of any form of public transportation, terminals, cruise ships, hotels, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, gyms, beauty salons, etc., etc. It’s just that until now, the most dangerous thing about the sport was hitting or breaking something or getting buried. Now skiing has entered the realm of public health hazard.

We can only hope that the aftershocks will not permanently alter the sport.

It would be great to get your points of view on the subject, which you can do by commenting at the end of this article.

On a related note, we normally stop publishing weekly at the end of April and publish monthly June through September.

Because there’s less and less ski-related things to write about, this will be our last weekly distribution for the season. We’ll continue to publish articles throughout the ensuing weeks. The next issue will be emailed in May.

Since last September, counting this column, you’ve been sent more than 200 articles, including 26 Short Swings! columns. Each week in this column I attempt to deliver a point of view and a gathering of interesting and sometimes weird developments from the world of skiing. Since we started publication in 2013, more than 1300 articles including 134 Short Swings! columns have appeared.

We’ll be back in about a month.

In the meanwhile, stay safe, stay healthy, and do what you can to bring this thing to an end.

Alterra Lays off 17,000

An email from Alterra CEO, Rusty Gregory to the entire organization announced that COVID has forced layoffs of 17,000 seasonal employees, substantial cuts to operating expenses, and postponement of more than 50% of previously approved capital expenditures. Gregory also announced he will be working without pay “…until each of our year-round staff returns to work.”

Vail Patrol Training As Paramedics

More than 20 Vail ski patrollers are training to join Eagle County (CO) Paramedic Services. They are part of a contingency plan that could keep ECPS running even if 40% of staff becomes ill.

Video Explains Storing Skis and Boots for Summer

This five-minute Nordica production gives sensible advice on storing your gear for summer. Among other useful tips, don’t use ski straps and be sure to engage the power strap on your boots.

22 Ski Films from Red Bull TV

Red Bull sponsored these ski films ranging from 10-minutes two hours. Now, with the season shortened and many confined to their homes, the company is making them available free-of-charge. Click here to connect.

Two of the All-Time Best Short Ski Videos

Hardship (e.g. sheltering in place) often spawns creativity.

  • Freeride at Home (90 seconds) is one of the cleverest ski films I’ve seen.
  • Lego Skier (40 seconds) is another terrific little film.

Alta Season Recap is a site that produces and posts video reports for the legions of Altaholics everywhere. Whether or not you’re an Alta skier, you’ll enjoy it.


  1. Never thought of it but …..cant imagine a worse place to spread viruses as sitting in a gondola with ten other people and a half of them coughing

  2. If you’re going to talk about the New Yorker article you should show the ways in which it was incorrect.

  3. Eileen Fishkin says:

    How about the hot tub? Standing in line for the dinner buffet? Sunday River, ME trip sponsored by NJ Ski & Snowboard Council had 160 staying at the Grand Summit Mar. 6 – 13. Most over 50, many in 70s and 80s. Ars to ars in the hot tub, standing in line for a drink? Greeting old friends with hugs, and the 4 pack to the top. I hunkered down for 2 weeks, and count myself as one lucky lady.

  4. danno in SLC says:

    skiing, a ‘significant vector’ ?
    have been seeing this all over the media lately and i say IT’S HOGWASH, aka FAKE NEWS!

    typing as one who caught the flu or some other kind of bug, just about EVERY TIME i rode a jetplane from HNL to SLC? (in march-april)?

    it got to the point that i typically scheduled my ski trips over a minimum 3 week period – 2 weeks of actual skiing and a week to recover from whatever i caught on the way over.

    IMHO, the MOST ‘significant vector’ is THE AIRLINES!

  5. Richard Kavey says:

    The Snowbird Tram: 125 souls packed, coughing and drooling for powder.

    • danno in SLC says:

      granted, the tram is a factor, but not THE source.
      most visiting skiers arrive at the big resorts by PLANE.
      which is why the article in the newyorker mag ref’d above, insinuating that people in the group of 600 caught the CV _after_ visiting sun valley is absurd!

      they caught it after flying in from the coasts and then spread it around to others in their group!

      there’s also a large number of people at sun valley who come over from seattle, hotspot #1 (or was before nyc took the title)

      here in SLC, one of the first to show up with CV had skied the week before at vail – dunno whether he drove here or flew, but most of the visitors to vail – that arent CO locals – arrive by PLANE.

      so it’s how skiers get to the resorts, NOT THE RESORTS themselves, that are ‘significant vectors’

      i’m just more than a bit PO’d that i got robbed of the spring season TWICE in the past 2 years – last year broke an ankle and this year, getting robbed of march+april by the MEDIA HYSTERIA over something that happens every winter (it’s called ‘flu season’)

      • Jon Weisberg says:

        Agreed, ski areas aren’t the source of COVID, in the same way that planes, daycare centers and schools aren’t the source of COVID and other pathogens. But each is a place where bugs easily get transmitted to others.

  6. Ellin Jaffe says:

    Dear Jon,
    Have you ever tried ‘Snowfeet’? The videos are stunning. I bought a pair. I’m 81, am I crazy? Would love to hear from you.

    • Jon Weisberg says:

      Ellin, Haven’t tied them yet but they look like they’re fun. My column a few weeks ago reported on a friend’s experience with the product. When I do get to use them, I’ll be on a relatively flat surface and use poles. If that works, I may graduate to more pitch. Please let me know your experience with Snowfeet. Jon

  7. david hffman says:

    The COVID-19 got to Aspen Colorado from Australian tourists who brought to Aspen and from there it found its way to Vail. As for the German skiers, with the number of Chinese tourists and government officials who were in Northern Italy during the outbreak of the virus in China, no doubt brought with them without them realizing that they were infected. It wouldn’t take much for it to get over the short distance to the Austrian ski areas.

  8. Victor Polonski says:

    It appears many of the readers of Seniors Skiing are very intelligent and are not ready to buy into the hype about CV. Yes it is dangerous virus but it still is a virus like we have experienced over the years. Please look at the stats between Sweden and Norway and the two different ways they approached this problem. Locking down the country was not the best answer but the easiest solution for the politicians and the media to swallow. It seems to me when you ski, you have gloves, face masks and are covered head to foot. More likely the causes would be social gathering at apr’e-ski, airplanes stuffed with people and visitors from China or Europe (how NY became so infected).

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