Boris and Ivan have been skiing across the frozen steppe for many days. After too long on the front, they’re finally going home. Boris spent hours telling his colleague what he intends to do when, finally, he arrives home: hug his family, down a hearty meal, paint the dacha, tend the garden. 

“Ivan, what is your plan?,” he asks. 

“My wife will come to the door with vodka.” 

“And then?”

“We’ll embrace and make passionate love.”

“And then?”

“I’ll remove these damn skis.” 

That’s one of the few decent ski jokes I know, and, apologies, if I’ve used it before in this space.

Unfortunately, we removed our skis too early this season. And there are legitimate questions as to whether there will be a next season.

That thought, stated indirectly, appears to be on many minds. It’s why Ikon Pass is being sold with a safety net. Purchasers can decide by late November whether they want to use it for 2020-21 or 2021-22. They’ve discounted the price to encourage early sales. And Epic Pass just announced baked-in insurance coverage. Their parent companies need cash to service debt, proceed with planned projects and maintain whatever is left of their payrolls.

Some areas, pursuing similar early purchase tactics, are spinning their messages to get patrons to help them keep the lifts spinning. Their appeal: Your early buy will help keep us afloat. I don’t mind that, as long as it’s not coming from an area that joined one of the big pass programs and eliminated its own senior pass discount. There are several of them.

It’s interesting to see how the resorts are responding to COVID. My prediction is that singles will be riding doubles, triples will be occupied by two’s, etc. Areas relying on gondolas and trams will limit their occupancy and require facemasks. Lines will be longer. See below for Chamonix’s sensible response. 

I expect day lodges will have fewer seats and surfaces will be aggressively sanitized. Maybe restrooms will have full-time attendants whose job will be keeping everything clean. Resort HR departments advertise for “Lifties.” Why not “Resties?”

Expect hand sanitizer stations to be as ubiquitous as tissue dispensers.

Of course there will be rogue skiers and boarders defying the rules and placing themselves and others at risk…just like they do when playing human pinball racing down the hill. The likelihood of their getting reprimanded for sneezing in line is about as likely as their getting stopped for reckless skiing.

I haven’t missed a season since 1954 and don’t intend to miss out on 2020-21. But if things get too complicated on the hill, I might throw in my ski towel, grab my beach towel and head South.

Chamonix Fights COVID With Thermal Scans

Skiers at the French resort are now required to enter a thermal scanning device (similar to an airport security gate) to check their temperatures, use sanitizing material on their hands, and wear masks while waiting in line and riding lifts. Social distancing will be implemented in lines and on enclosed lifts. If found effective, this protocol may become the industry standard.

COVID Concerns = Season Pass Changes

IKON and others offer generous early purchase discounts for next season.

Epic now includes full and/or prorated insurance in event of job loss, stay-at-home orders, job transfers, etc. as well as resort closures due to COVID and other diseases, natural disasters, war, and terrorism.

Mountain Collective provides “incentive credits” encouraging existing pass holders to re-up for 2020-21. 

Alta will issue discounts to existing pass holders based on last season’s use. For a round-up of Utah area offerings, see Harriet Wallis’ story elsewhere in this issue.

Aspen will credit existing pass holders for its truncated season and “…have a refund policy that makes committing to the 2020-21 season risk-free.”

Indy Pass, arguably the best skiing value in North America, offers two days at each of 52 resorts for $199, including its Get America Skiing Promise providing up to 80% credit for the following season, no questions asked. Passes go on sale September 1. Pass holders at participating resorts can purchase the Indy for $129.

COVID Shutters Las Lenas 

Argentina’s premier resort, Las Lenas, announced that because of COVID, it will not open for the 2020 season.

Masterfit Establishes COVID-19 Webstore advertiser, Masterfit Enterprises,  has added protective face masks to its offerings during the pandemic. The insole and bootfit training company is selling facemasks to businesses and consumers at its Masterfit COVID19 webstore. readers get a 10% discount on their first 100 surgical mask purchase using coupon code FOMCOVID1910 at checkout. Here is a link to a story about how Masterfit landed in the PPE business. 

Val Gardena Repurposes Snowguns to Disinfect Streets

Handled by the Italian resort’s volunteer fire fighters, the snowguns are being used to spread disinfectant with hopes of reducing spread of COVID.

Higher Elevation Populations May Be Less Susceptible to COVID

A paper in the June issue Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology concludes that, among other factors, “…the virulence of SARS-CoV-2 is reduced at high-altitude due to the physiological acclimatization of its inhabitants, and due to particular environmental characteristics.” The study looked at prevalence of COVID in high elevation populations in Tibet, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Two Dimensional Ski Films

Have you noticed how the many GoPro ski films on the Net have a flattened sameness to them? I enjoy watching ski films, despite their similarities to pornography (Same motions. Different locations. Repeat.). But helmet-mounted cameras generally record ski tops against a white surface, making even the steepest terrain look pretty flat. I just watched a GoPro video of someone skiing the Alguille du Midi in Chamonix. I’ve seen it, and it’s heart-stopping steep. His GoPro footage documents the run, but does little to convey the challenge. Give me those long, across-the-valley Warren Miller and John Jay telephoto shots or the ones from the chopper floating above. Go Pro is great for a lot of things. Showing steeps is not one of them.

High School to Use Local Chairlift for Graduation Ceremony

Graduating Kennett High School (Conway, NH) seniors will ride a Cranmore Mountain chairlift to receive their diplomas. Nice way to maintain social distancing in this small New England ski town.

Send A Photo Wearing Vintage Skiwear

Skiers from 1900. Source: The Guardian

Okay, you’ve cleaned the house, organized the family pictures, Zoom-cocktailed with family and friends. Here’s a suggestion for something different: Send us a selfie of you/spouse/friend wearing  vintage clothing and we’ll publish the most interesting ones in June. Make it a sweater, jacket, hat, pants, whatever. For inspiration, check out this gallery of ski fashion dating from 1900 to the early ‘70s. It was published by the British daily The Guardian. Send your pictures to [email protected] and include your name and where you live.

Thanks for reading. Please forward to your skier friends. Advertising in is a  great way to reach the 50+ snow sports enthusiast. Rates are very low and our 16,500 subscribers are very responsive. Contact: [email protected].

One Comment

  1. Victor Polonski says:

    If Chamonix becomes the industry standard, expect a lot more ski resorts to go out of business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *