A Fort Lauderdale resident asked , “Do you know where we Floridians go when we want to ski?” It was a joke. Her punch line: “The airport.”

From the way things appear to be shaping up, fewer and fewer older skiers will be using planes to get to their favorite resorts. There’s a reluctance to get on planes until the virus is under control.

I get it. Regardless of our individual states of health, as a group whose age averages 69.8, we are high risk. Boarding a crowded flight – even in first or with the middle seat  empty – isn’t appealing.

I think big resorts get it, too. In normal seasons, big western resorts rely on skiers flying to their destinations. Recently, some resort tourism executives told me they’re shifting attention to skiers within a 6 – 8 hour drive. 

In the June readers’ survey, 92% of you indicated you definitely or probably would ski during the coming season, and 71% said you plan to take one to more than 4 long distance ski trips. 

Of those planning long distance trips, 40% plan to drive and 41% plan to fly then drive a rental car.

That was in June. The way infections and fatalities have been accelerating, I’m guessing that now, about a month after that survey ended, fewer people would want to fly.

I know I wouldn’t. 

In a recent media briefing, the heads of National Ski Areas Association and Vail Resorts’ mountain operations explained how they’re patching together best practices from the restaurant, hotel and other industries to protect skiers from the virus (and, I expect, themselves from liability). Based on what they said, we can expect limits on numbers of skiers/boarders, temperature checks, social distancing, fewer people on lifts, and more outdoor dining.

My biggest takeaway from the briefing was that for the coming season, we’ll need to plan before we go. “No more rolling out of bed and deciding to head to the hill,” is how one of the briefers described it.

Those living close to or at an area will do well. Those of us within a few hours drive will have their fair share of the fun. But for those who are high risk and relying on airplanes, you’ll need to make the “is it worth it?”  decision.

One point of view, expressed by several of you is, why not? At this age, how many more seasons will we have? 

EPIC’S $169 Unlimited Military Pass

Marc Liebman is a gifted military novelist, public speaker, and occasional SeniorsSkiing.com contributor. A combat veteran of Vietnam and Desert Shield/Storm, he flew helicopters on combat search and rescue, special operations missions, anti-submarine warfare and logistics support missions. He retired as Navy Commander after 24 years of service. His six novels are based on his experience and are really good reads. Recently, he emailed this tidbit about what he calls “the lift ticket deal of the century.” Epic Pass is offering an unlimited pass to ski at any of their 30+ resorts (Xmas excluded) to members of the military – active, reserve and retired, dependents – for $169. Details: click here.

$75 Parka; $50 Pants Deal

Orsden Parkas: Great Colors; $75

Here’s another “deal of the century.” Orsden, the parka and ski pants manufacturer, is having a “Mystery Sale.” Visit the company website, select a men’s or women’s parka, and let the company pick the color. You really can’t go wrong. Like Orsden’s styling, every one of it’s colors is good. I’ve been wearing my Orsden parka for 3-4 seasons. It’s held up exceptionally well, and has many nice features (e.g. underarm zips, RFID pass pocket, built-in goggle/glasses wipe, detachable powder skirt). The company specializes in direct-to-customer sales. It’s parkas sell for $300 and, if sold through retailers, would be double that. My wife purchased one a few years ago on sale for $175. She loves it. Now, Orsden parkas are going for $75!!! The only catch: the company picks the color and final sale/no returns. While visiting the site, check out the men’s and women’s ski pants; normally $200; now $50. Some sizes are sold out and final sale/no returns policy applies to sale pants, as well.

Liftopia Faces Bankruptcy; Collects PPP Funds

According to a Federal database, Liftopia, the online ticket-seller, received a Paycheck Protection Program loan between $350,000 and $1 million. This, while the company may be forced into bankruptcy by a group of resorts claiming Liftopia owes them $2+ million in advance ticket sales.

Elevate Suspends Operations

Roam Robotics, which makes the innovative Elevate Ski Exoskeleton, announced that due to the uncertain context caused by COVID, it is temporarily suspending investment in its unique Elevate product. The company will not be producing pre-ordered product (all deposits have been refunded) and will not be renting/demoing Elevate during the 20/21 season. The announcement said that the company would continue to develop and improve all products in its line up.

In Person 2020 Snowbound Festival Canceled 

Organizers of the Boston and Denver Snowbound Festival (formerly the BEWI Ski and Snowboard Expos) announced cancellation of the 2020 events. The reason: COVID-19 and the safety of attendees, exhibitors, and staff. They’re working on a digital version as a possible substitute. For decades,the shows have served as  “the unofficial kickoff to Winter.” Last Fall, Snowsports Industries America (SIA), acquired the Boston and Denver expos from BEWI Productions. SIA is the winter industry’s non-profit trade association representing snow sports suppliers, retailers, sales reps and resorts. BEWI was founded in 1980 by Bernie Weichsel, a member of SeniorsSkiing.com’s Advisory Council.

Suicide Increasing Among Sledding Athletes

A feature in The New York Times last Sunday reports on the disproportionately high number of bobsled, luge and other sledding athletes who have taken their lives. Brain experts suspect the symptoms stem from years of crashes, brain-rattling vibrations and strong gravitational acceleration forces. The athletes often experience an exhausted fog, which they’ve named “sled head.”

Your Own (Miniature) Cable Car (and Skiers)

FelinaWorld bills itself as the world’s largest online store for Christmas villages. Among its many miniature trees, chalets, scenes, etc. is a selection of HO scale ski lifts. They’re miniaturized versions of the real ones at a numer of Austrian ski resorts. It looks like they’re motor-driven. They even have miniature skiers for the lifts. The site also sells gondola-shaped key chains. When I visited, many of the products were discounted. Click here to get to one of the ski lift pages.

 

 

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