Skiing During a Pandemic


Photo by Vanessa Jones

Jones and friends on the slopes

Sailor Ciluzzi, Staff Writer

Skiers and snowboarders all around the world are concerned and wary of the risk of skiing this winter due to COVID-19, although, mountains across the nation are working to make it safe and enjoyable by enforcing mask and social distance restrictions on the slopes and in the lodges.   

Senior Rileigh Nickulas recently experienced what it is like to ski during a pandemic. Nickulas said it is extremely difficult to travel to mountains out of state. Therefore, when she skis she usually goes to Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts because it’s conveniently close and no one is supposed to cross state borders anyway. 

“You have to wear a mask at all times which isn’t that bad because it’s cold, but there are times it’s awful because you get hot,” said Nickulas. 

Nickulas said Wachusett Mountain is limited to a certain number of people. “Instead of buying day passes, they have time slots that you pick from, for example, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Nickulas, adding that she isn’t happy with this regulation since it limits her time on the slopes. 

“The lodges weren’t open so you had to get dressed and do everything in your car which is hard to do because you don’t have a lot of space and it was also difficult because if you wanted to warm up you have to go all the way to your car,” said Nickulas. 

Wachusett Mountain enforces a social distance regulation at all times on the resort. Nickulas said they only allow three people on each quad chair lift to maintain social distance rules.

“There is ski patrol on the mountain, and if there were a lot of people around, they would tell you to put your mask on while you ski down the mountain,” said Nickulas. 

Furthermore, Wachusett Mountains’ bathrooms are closed but there are portable toilets around that you have to wait in line six feet apart to use. 

Widening the spectrum to the west, Steamboat Resort in Colorado has made skiing safe during the pandemic as well. 

Cape Cod realtor Chuck Tuttle traveled to ski at the Steamboat Resort and said the whole environment at Steamboat is extremely different. 

Although, unlike other resorts in Colorado like Aspen, Steamboat does not require a negative test result to ski.  

“There are definitely fewer skiers, and there are significant changes to the resort, like limited capacity in restaurants, always wearing a mask, and social distancing,” said Tuttle. 

Alison Berg writes about the reopening of the resort and restrictions in the Steamboat Pilot & Today. “Guests are required to wear face coverings on shuttles, in lift lines, while loading and unloading from chairlifts and the gondola and in all indoor facilities,” wrote Berg. 

Tuttle said transportation is difficult. “There used to be a drop-off area near the base of the mountain, which is very helpful but they have eliminated that resource because they don’t want a lot of people gathered in the same area,” said Tuttle.  

Tickets must be purchased in advance and online, and ticket windows will be closed. “They are working very diligently to offer a touchless way for skiers to access the mountain and it is very difficult,” said Tuttle.

Berg writes, “The Ski Corp. limited capacity of riders in the gondola and chairlifts, and guests are encouraged to ride only with those in their household or traveling party. Guests not from the same party may ride in a chairlift together, but with a minimum of one seat separating them.” Tuttle said this regulation makes the lines much longer.  

Senior Vanessa Jones recently skied at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. “Because of the virus, only certain chair lifts are open and everyone must wear a mask at all times,” said Jones. 

Jones said the restrictions for chair lifts are that you ride alone or you ride with the people you came with, which slows down the rhythm of things. 

Loon Mountain has a limit on how many people can ski each day to minimize the risk of the pandemic. Furthermore, the lodges at the resort are closed due to workers getting COVID-19, but the bathrooms are still open.   

“Skiing was basically the same as every other year with a few changes,” said Jones.