You and I can keep skiing open through this pandemic. Here’s how.
Remember last March? When ski resorts had to shut down for the rest of the season due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Of course, you remember that. How could you forget? Back then, we couldn’t go to the mountains. We couldn’t see our friends. We couldn’t do much at all. But this winter, we’ve learned, we’ve adapted, and now we may just be lucky enough to go skiing, to be with friends—we just have to do things differently now.
Last year’s shortened winter and our summer of abnormal times has left me yearning for skiing more than I ever remember. I want Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows to be able to stay open because it will not only be an amazing escape of joy and fun, but it will help keep our community afloat and sport alive.
But here’s the deal. In order to keep ski resorts open during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a few relatively easy steps to follow. If we can all mind the policies put in place by our local and state health officials and the mountain operations teams, then we can do our part to keep the virus away. It’s quite simple actually. If you help do your part, we all stay healthy and we get to keep skiing and riding.
What the resort is asking of you isn’t that hard. Wear a face covering in common areas. Give everyone space. Load lifts only with the people you came with. Book your lift tickets, lessons, and rentals online ahead of time. Eat your lunch outside or at your car. (There will be heat lamps outside, or pack an extra layer in your car.) If you’re feeling sick or you’ve been exposed to the virus, sacrifice your powder day for the greater good, please. Stay home. When it comes to something as important as first, saving lives and second, keeping a ski area open so that we can all enjoy some degree of normalcy, none of that seems like too much to ask.
As skiers, we’re already used to wearing masks. We’ve been wearing neck gaiters and face coverings for years. Just keep it up over your nose and mouth this time. Some of the guidelines feel like we’re going back to an old-school way of ski culture. Imagine that we’re back on 220-centimeter-long Super G skis. That’s about how much room you should give between you and the next person in line.
Like my parents did for me when I was a kid, bring a brown bag lunch to the mountain and eat on your tailgate, so you can avoid crowding into the lodge. You know what my parents did in the ’80s when I was a little Mighty Mite at Squaw Valley? They brought PBJs to the hill. I’m a grown man now, so maybe I’ll pack a salami-cheese sandwich, with a bag of nuts and an apple. But you get the idea.
Here’s a novel idea to make this season a little easier on all of us: Come during the times when it’s not so crowded. There’s a reason Tahoe locals love skiing Squaw Alpine midweek and afternoons. The place feels empty compared to a busy Saturday morning. Plan on hanging out at home in the morning, then skiing from noon to 4. There will be less people on the hill, and it’s really not that hard to take your time and drink coffee a little longer in the morning.
Or plan your trip for early or late season. Early December is often very quiet. So are March and April. Spring brings great snow and none of the crowds. It can be by far the best time of year. Plus, you can eat outside comfortably, thanks to the California sun.
We’re all in this together. If we as skiers and snowboarders can do our part to help prevent further spreading of the coronavirus, then, if we’re lucky, we can hold onto the pure joys of sliding down snow. We need some joy in our lives right now. If ski resorts have to close, it’ll be a huge hit on our local community, our economy, and obviously, a big bummer for all of us who call ourselves skiers and snowboarders.
Sure, it’s all different than what we’re used to, but once you’re standing atop that snow-covered face about to drop in, it’ll feel like old times. The skiing and riding part, at least, should feel just like it did back in the carefree days of 2019.