What will Skiing be like this year?

Okemo Mountain Resort by Casey Ryan Richards (Fall 2019)

It is once again that time of year. All across the nation, the ski resorts are starting to gear up for the opening day. This means lots of cutting of the grass, fine-tuning of ski lifts, and hours of training for resort employees. By all means, it looks like another normal year, except of course there is nothing normal about 2020. This year's ski season will be marked by limited operations, mandatory masks, and a vastly different experience than skiers are used too.

Vail Resorts (owner of many mountains around the world) has already set out the rules for operations and they aren't pretty. The first change is that all guests to the mountain will be required to wear face coverings. When outside skiing in cold weather, that is pretty normal. The problem comes when you leave the slopes. No longer will you be able to take off that constricting mask and breath normal. Instead, you will be required to keep your face covered at all times.

The next change is a bit more dramatic. The resorts will all require reservations in advance of arriving at the resort. That means reservations to access the mountain, not just for lodging. For ski-pass holders, this is particularly problematic. No longer will you be able to decide at the last minute to run up for some skiing this weekend. Instead, trips will have to be planned in advance and booked in a competitive system against all other ski-pass holders. Good luck getting to the mountain on President's Day.

If you are lucky enough to make it to the mountain, get ready for the lines. Ski lifts will be limited to single parties or two singles on either side of the lift. This means a four-person chairlift will be carrying only two. It doesn't take much in the way of math skills to figure that one out. Expect double the waits of last year. On the bright side, with fewer people at least the holidays won't be too bad!

This year is a year of firsts for everyone and the ski industry is no different. For die-hard skiers, I'm sure they will make it work. However, for the rest of us, this might just be a year to sit out the slopes and wait for better days that are hopefully returning.

Casey Ryan Richards of Rutland, Vermont

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