End Or Interim, Snow West, Cooler East, Vail Run, Jan’s Saga, Demo Tips, Ski Japan?, NW XC, Happy At Appi, Sharp Porcupine.

Alta closed on March 17, 2020. Abruptly.

We’ve been through quite a year.

Last year at this time, we were hearing about and experiencing the abrupt closures of ski resorts all over the globe. Races, vacations, bookings cancelled. People just arrived to start vacations had to turn around and go home. Super-spreader events were reported at slow-to-shutter Ischgl, in Austria, Sun Valley and in Colorado. The ski industry shut down, in stutters and starts perhaps, but down tight.

Tough to relax at Ishgl after the superspreader.

A year ago, we began as skeptical, then, as the numbers grew, we became apprehensive. We had to “flatten the curve”, “social distance”, refrain from travel, and frequently and thoroughly wash our hands. We stocked up on toilet paper. Some of us knew people who had gotten sick from the virus, others thought of it as a remote and distant “hoax” impinging on their freedom. Wearing a mask became a statement of the extent you trusted in government directives or not.

Regardless, we learned to adapt, change our plans, and our lifestyles, recreational activities, and expectations. So many of our readers stayed local, skied mid-week, brought bag lunches, and made do. Others took up alternative winter sports; we’ve noted the phenomenal increase in cross-country skiing, thanks in part to regular, staying snow in urban/suburban parks and open areas. Others gave this entire season a pass, opting to wait it out. Others took trips to destination resorts, or, if they lived nearby, went on with the season skiing between the scant numbers of tourists.

This week, one year on, we are either at the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end.

On this anniversary week when the closings started in earnest and almost everything in our lives changed, we remember the 500,000-plus citizens who succumbed.

We also celebrate the vaccines now being injected in earnest. The New York Times reports that 40 percent of Americans are, in one way or another, protected from the virus, either through vaccination or by recovering from infection.

As on a ship coming nearer and nearer the coast, we can begin to see details of what will be appearing soon on the horizon. There is pressure to return to normal.  Spring Break may be a festival of youth and sunshine, or it may be yet another super spreader event. Beyond the spring, there are expectations that the summer will begin to look like it always has, and that by the fall, schools will return to classes, restaurants will return to capacity, concerts and theaters will return to performances.

Perhaps. If the virus doesn’t spike again, that is. It’s still out there, looking for people to infect. Variants may play mischief with recovering economics and public health. So, although the trends are in the right direction, this year of virus isn’t over. Far from it.

Will snow this weekend impact closing-dates in the Rockies? Credit: Joe Durzo

Which leaves resort owners with an interesting management challenge.  Given the relaxing of CDC guidelines for gatherings of people who have been vaccinated and the potential for yet more snow (Colorado and the Northwest are expecting big dumps this weekend), do resorts extend the season as practicable? Open up capacity to all comers? Try to recoup a small amount of revenue lost this season? Or, because many staff are probably not in priority groups for vaccinations and won’t be for a while, and because it may be expensive to undo the physical changes installed to protect customers and staff, just decide to end the season under COVID rules?

Vail announced this week it is extending its closing date one week to April 11.  With the current snow forecast, who knows if that might be extended? Bretton Woods, NH, is closing April 15, Killington, VT, will go to May 2. Is it worth it to change virus policy for a few weeks? If you were the manager of a ski area or resort, what would you do?

Like it began, the year of COVID continues with uncertainty.

This Week

Free run for our readers down the front side of Vail all the way to the bottom. Credit: Glenn Robbins

Herb Stevens, the Skiing Weatherman, sees continuing snow events in the West and a cool down in the East following this unusually warm weekend. There’s potential for more snow out there, check the maps. Click here.

Ever skied Vail? No? Well, take a vicarious run on the front side of Vail on a sunny day. We found the run very different from our mental model of what Vail would be like.  Click here.

Jan Brunvand continues his ski life saga, this time describing his lucky move from the Midwest to Utah. Click here.

Take your pic. The lads at Epic Mountain Sports at Winter Park will help you out. Credit: Epic

Marc Liebman gives advice on how to get the most from demo skis. His tips make your demo assessment more objective. We also learned Marc always rented skis on trips, leaving his own sticks at home.  That gave him the opportunity to try lots of skis and think about how to evaluate demos. Click here.

Dave Chambers, the Traveling Australian, tells us about his trip to Appi Kogen, a big resort in Northern Honshu, Japan.  He revels in telling us about finding a back side of the resort where he skied for a week in untracked powder. Click here.

Our Question For You this week follows up the Appi Kogen story, asking you if you skied Japan and what your experience was like. Click here.

As the next in our Make More Tracks series, Pete Wilson writes in the Nordic Approach about really cool cross-country resorts in Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest. Click here.

Finally, Harriet Wallis tells us a very punny tale of the nameless porcupine who stopped traffic on the trails at Alta.  Clearly, he made a point.  Click here.

Thank you for reading SeniorsSkiing.com. And thank you for supporting us in our recent fundraiser.  We are very grateful. Remember, there are more of us every day, and we aren’t going away.

Appi Kogen is one of Japan’s best ski resorts. The resort’s tagline: “Be Happy in Appi”, of course.

One Comment

  1. Kate Tigkou says:

    Hello . I am a senior female ski lover living in Greece. I am looking for the senior club in Europe to join. There is no such clubs in Greece. I would like to meet some one with the same hobby.

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