Op-Ed: Skiing During COVID-19

A+view+of+Loon+Mountain.+Photo+by+Karly+Hamilton+21.

Karly Hamilton

A view of Loon Mountain. Photo by Karly Hamilton ’21.

Kate Hirschen, Journalist

Winter break was very different this year, to say the least. With flying to a fun destination ill advised, many families opted to take part in activities closer to home.

For many, including myself, that meant skiing—a fun activity, even during these unprecedented times.

For the most part, hitting the slopes is perfect for social distancing. It’s warming up inside that proved difficult. Because of COVID-19, lodges were only open for quickly grabbing food without sitting; this also made lunch a struggle. Luckily, most mountains have ample outdoor tables, properly spaced six feet apart.

This year, Loon Mountain—where I do my skiing—introduced a new system for purchasing lift tickets. Instead of buying a ticket upon arrival at the mountain, the number of tickets are limited and sold exclusively online. This led to fewer people on slopes, creating more opportunities for social distancing. I found that the lack of people made for a better day skiing, and shorter lift lines allowed me to get in even more runs.

Still, Loon did its best to warn winter sports enthusiasts about increased risk.

“When visiting a public space, including Loon, risk of being exposed to COVID-19 does exist. Understanding that no reasonable efforts can entirely wipe out possibilities of a virus being transmitted, we remain committed to taking every step to help protect the safety of our team members and guests,” the mountain’s website reads. “Face coverings must be worn by all team members and guests when at Loon.”

Another popular destination, Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, advertises a similar caution.

“Our approach to safety will be consistent across our family of resorts to provide you with a familiar and comfortable experience regardless of where you choose to ski,” Okemo’s website reads.

Skiing is one of the few activities that has not been significantly impacted by wearing masks.

I really enjoyed skiing this winter. Despite the lack of opportunities to warm up, the days were not all that different from previous years. It’s still easy to ski or snowboard with friends, eat food, and have a good time. I definitely recommend getting outside to hit the slopes sometime soon. Just bring some added layers.