Thinking About Hitting The Slopes? How to Ski Safely During COVID-19!

2019-2020 saw just over 51 million ski visitors, with the ski industry experiencing a 2 billion loss in profits. 

Compare that to the previous year of 2018-2019, which saw over 59 million ski visitors, according to the recently published NSAA report. 

The profit-loss was not all due to decreased ski visitors, however. The NSAA report estimated that the 2 billion loss included the March shutdown, where 93% of ski resorts shut down. Those resorts lost revenue from lack of their usual summer activities, conferences, weddings, and other venue events as well.

Over 51 million visitors still went skiing. And many are looking forward to skiing this year. During a national (and global) pandemic - how can you enjoy the mental and physical benefits of skiing, while also protecting your health? Let’s look at what some of the experts have to say on ski safety. And how ski resorts are increasing health and safety measures to keep you safe during your ski visit!

How you can practice ski safety during Covid: 

  • Start with a good mindset! Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatrician, Gina Robinson, MD, shared some encouraging words - “Just try to have fun and acknowledge the fact that we can’t do the things that we would normally do in the way that we would normally do them, but try to focus on the things we can do and get creative.” She added that many winter activities are okay, as long as the standard safety measures are in place. She went on to stress the importance of staying active, especially during the winter. 
  • If possible, eat outside. According to Sankar Swaminathan, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah Health, you should try to keep an adequate distance from others when possible. Everyone needs to eat. Of course, eating is an essential part of life. So Sankar Swaminathan, MD, recommends fueling up on food in the great outdoors, and only around those you came with or those in your family (i.e. your “bubble”).

    • Plan ahead - review the ski resort guidelines before visiting. Many resorts have adapted their policies (keep reading to see some of those policies). It would be quite a disappointment to get to a ski resort, only to find out that tickets have to be purchased in advance online! Avoid this by reviewing the resort guidelines before you arrive at the resort (ideally before you leave for your trip). Sankar Swaminathan, MD highlights preparation as something you can do to protect your health. (If you want to prepare, you can read NSAA’s published document outlining best practices for the winter season: “Ski Well, Be Well”.

    • Don’t just read the resort guidelines - follow them. Ski resorts have undergone significant changes and added numerous protocols to protect your safety. While it may seem tedious to read through all the policies and guidelines, you’ll be fully knowledgeable about what that specific ski resort expects of you (and what exemptions apply). 

      • Wear a Face Covering. Daniel Pastula, an expert in neuro-infectious diseases at Colorado’s UCHealth, provides a litmus test for your face covering - “if you can blow out a candle through your face covering, that’s probably not enough fabric or material to be protective). 

      • Reserve and order online. Ski resorts now offer most of their amenities online. Most ski resorts will give you the online option to book ski lift tickets, resort lodging reservations, ski equipment rental, and even dining reservations. Some ski resorts have revised their accommodations entirely by using a snowcat to bring food and drinks to you on the slopes! (Can that be a permanent accommodation? I know that skiing is an active hobby, but I could get used to that lazy luxury!) Businesses such as Epic Mountain Rentals provide additional contactless services. The ski rental company brings ski rentals to your doorstep. 

While Covid prevents many Americans from traveling and enjoying typical hobbies, skiing is one hobby that offers low-risk exposure. 

The president and CEO of the National Ski Areas Association, Kelly Pawlak, noted - “Ski areas provide acres upon acres of wide-open natural space for recreation, allowing guests to enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor recreation while maintaining a physical distance.” 

The NSAA’s director of marketing and communications, Adrienne Saia Isaac, also provided input “The ski industry is focused on a return to skiing and riding that demonstrates the high value our industry places on the health and safety of our guests, staff, and communities.”

So if you are considering a ski trip this winter, prepare with these tips: start with a good mindset, eat outside when at the ski resort, plan (read AND follow the resort guidelines), use the resort apps, wear a face covering, and enjoy the slopes! 

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