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Home / Health / US resorts are adapting to the new rules of skiing in the face of a pandemic

US resorts are adapting to the new rules of skiing in the face of a pandemic

DENVER (AP) – Helmet, goggles, skis? Check. Hand sanitizer, face coating, armor? Check.

About seven months after the coronavirus shortened the ski season in the midst of spring break, resorts in the United States and Canada are slowly picking up pieces and figuring out how to safely open this winter. While many details are still being worked out, resort managers are asking guests to curb their expectations and adopt a new norm when skiing and snowboarding amid the pandemic.

This can mean wearing masks, standing 1

.8 meters in the lift lines (about the length of a typical ski), not having lunch, riding the lifts with your group alone, and not having large fees for drinking apricots.

“We are very optimistic about skiing this winter,” said Dave Byrd, director of risk and regulation at the National Association of Ski Resorts in Colorado. “The fact that we ski on the street under the ultraviolet sun and in the wind, and we are accustomed to wearing glasses, gloves and face coat. All this is good for us as a sport. “

The resorts, some of which are set to open in early November, are trying to avoid a repeat last spring, when many mountain communities were disproportionately injured by the virus, when travelers from all over the country and the world hit the slopes during one of the busiest seasons.

Several counties in Colorado, home to some of the country’s largest and most popular ski resorts, have been particularly hard hit, and state health officials have warned that small hospitals do not have the resources to treat patients with the disease. In Utah, a county called the Park City ski resort, per capita infestation rates were reported, similar to New York and parts of Italy – two major hotspots at the time.

This time, industry leaders and health officials hope that the knowledge associated with several months of life during a pandemic will help guide their efforts to provide a safer experience.

Dr. Daniel Pastula, a neuroinfectious disease doctor at the University of Colorado Hospital, University of Health, said that during a pandemic, outdoor skiing is generally safe, but the virus can spread if people congregate in places like lift lines, houses , restaurants, etc. bathrooms.

“I think you can ski smartly and safely. Again, not completely eliminating the risk, but actually reducing it, “he said. Pastula listed the current safety measures for skiers, including staying outdoors as much as possible, avoiding crowds, and staying home when sick.

Byrd, meanwhile, said the ANBA is keeping a close eye on how colleges, transportation systems and sports organizations handle the virus.

“We have the extraordinary luxury of watching what others are doing,” he said. “It’s all going to happen over the next two to three months, which is nice to give us some time. And we certainly need to reconsider how the southern hemisphere areas of Australia and New Zealand and South America handle things.”

Perisher Ski Resort off the southeastern tip of Australia ended its ski season on October 5 with several restrictions following a postponed opening day on June 24.

Staff and guests were required to wear masks and be at least 1.5 feet (1.5 meters) apart from each other on the ski slope, which belongs to the Cooradol resort of Vail. The lifts operated with reduced bandwidth to provide social distance, and skiers and snowboarders had to buy tickets online in advance. The number of guests allowed on the mountain was also limited depending on the number of terrain and the number of open lifts.

“We enjoyed the sensational skiing and landing, smiling (under masks) ear to ear!” the resort posted on its website, while acknowledging that “the chances were against us” due to the pandemic and intense fires raging across the country last summer.

But other resorts in the southern hemisphere did not escape intact.

Hotham and Falls Creek, northeast of Melbourne, Australia, shut down their lifts on July 9 due to health restrictions and did not open until the end of the ski season. Meanwhile, a number of South American resorts have also had to wipe out the winter season due to the virus, including the popular ski portillo high in the Chilean Andes.

“Restrictions, including weekend quarantine and travel restrictions, would prevent us from functioning properly,” the owners of Portio posted on the resort’s website in late August.

Many ski areas in North America have already consulted with state and local health authorities and issued rules for the upcoming season.

Most of them will require social distancing, masks and online ticket sales, as well as limiting the number of people allowed into premises such as base houses and restaurants. But many go a step further by requiring reservations, which has irritated some skiers and snowboarders who are worried about getting a place on the mountain, especially during busy powder days.

Vail Resorts, which owns 34 resorts in the United States and Canada, has announced that it will introduce a booking system that gives ticket holders exclusive access at the start of the season, an unlimited booking week and a constant choice of priority days.

Resorts will limit capacity depending on past levels of attendance, available terrain, future season traffic simulations, and how individual resorts handle COVID-19 restrictions, said CEO Rob Katz.

He acknowledged that some guests may not be able to ski and snowboard at any time, but said: “The point is that in a typical season for most days the capacity of our resorts is at a level that will not require us to set any restrictions “.

For many, reservation systems and other restrictions are not enough to keep them at home after they have been on medical orders for most of the year.

During a earnings call on Sept. 24, Katz said season ticket sales rose 18 percent this season from the same period last season, a development Bird attributes to the “fever effect” of the winter.

“I think people are looking at ski areas – 470 ski areas in the United States – as a way to get a safe vacation outdoors,” he said.


Associated Press writer Lisa Ratke participated in this report from Marshfield, Vermont.

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