Dec 11, 2020 | SPORTS | By Zeke Lloyd | Illustration by Bibi Powers
Winter is coming. While Colorado Springs’ climate seldom allows snow to last more than a few days, just to the west lie higher, colder regions. In the mountains, when the snow comes, it stays. There, the coldest season truly takes hold. As is well known by Colorado natives, altitude and snow make for a dangerously fun combination: skiing.
The season for alpine skiing has come, and in the mountains, it’s here to stay. “Just being out there with your friends and family, spending an entire day out in the mountains and just getting lost in a new resort or skiing your favorite resort, it’s just the best feeling,” said Xanthe Demas, communications manager at Aspen Skiing Company. Unlike other winter sports, many of which are merely snowy variations of summer activities, downhill skiing has no true counterpart. “It’s almost like the feeling of flying,” Demas said. “It’s like the ultimate freedom that people are drawn to.”
That liberating sensation is surprisingly achievable, even during a pandemic. Every resort, from Vail to Purgatory, has slopes for all skill levels. From first time skiers to advanced veterans, Colorado has a run fit for every skill level. The Aspen / Snowmass resorts alone cover 6,000 acres. “In general, having so much space allows for people of all different skill types to be able to have something for everyone in their party,” Demas said.
That extensive skiing space is also useful in social distancing. Ski resorts prioritize their skiers’ health. “We’re doing everything in our power to get open and stay open,” said Demas on COVID-safe skiing.
Due to travel restrictions and varying levels of trust in the U.S., mountains will certainly see a decrease in international visitors. Demas mentioned that they might also see an increase in automotive travelers. Family trips to the Rockies are a great way to get out of the house to the safety of the outdoors. “I think especially heading into the winter season where it’s going to be cold, it’s going to be dark, and with the pandemic: this is the perfect activity for everyone to be able to do right now,” he said.
Ski resorts are taking extensive precautions to keep their visitors safe. The Senior Communications Specialist at Vail Resorts, William Shoemaker, laid out resorts’ simple priority: “Keeping our guests safe and providing them with a great skiing season.” At Vail, guests are required to wear masks on the slopes and in all buildings. Non-affiliated parties will have to keep a seat empty between them on lifts, and liaisons and restaurants will function at limited capacity.
Most importantly, skiing takes place outdoors, and it does not require physical contact. It’s a COVID-safe sport for the winter. Skiers can fly down the slopes or get lost in the glades. “[There are] lots of opportunities for fresh air and wide open spaces,” Shoemaker said. So whether it’s cabin fever or actual fever, skiing is the perfect winter pastime for you.