If you go skiing, here’s how to do it safely during the pandemic

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(CNN) – Avid snowboarder Jenny Leveille does not count on relying on indoor facilities at ski resorts this season. This decision, she believes, will give This is a possible benefit when it comes to the coronavirus and the swirling concerns about indoor exposure.

Jenny Leveille’s snowboarding season was cut short last year due to the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, but she plans to hit the slopes again after Thanksgiving.

Courtesy of Jenny Leveille

Leveille, who will be heading to the Western Mountains after Thanksgiving in Michigan, plans to return to her van – which includes a bathroom – when she needs a break to refuel or relieve herself.

“I hope to have at least 50 days this year at as many resorts in the western United States as possible,” said the 30-year-old.

The ski season is underway and changes are underway.

In Europe, Germany, hard hit by Covid-19, is aiming for a coordinated approach by the European Union to keep ski resorts closed in Alpine countries for the holiday season in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, reaching an agreement with neighboring Austria is proving difficult, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last Thursday, as CNN previously reported.

Meanwhile, some avenues have opened up in Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU. “The future of the next winter season looks bright,” Zermatt Mayor Romy Biner-Hauser told CNN on Thursday.

With its wide open spaces, powder stores, and even blanket to brave the elements, skiing can seem like the perfect pandemic sport – if the right precautions are taken.

A face mask, a standard part of the skier’s uniform, is a requirement this year. Hotel resorts implement mask mandates, except when actively eat and drink. Ski destinations also limit indoor capacity, adding outdoor capacity, adding hand sanitizing stations on chair lift lines, and reconfiguring chair lift filling.

Being outside on an uncrowded mountain can tempt many skiers this year, but there are still risks associated with Covid.

Courtesy of Copper Mountain

Even with those reinforced safety protocols in the mountains and in resorts, however, the question remains: is it safe to ski in the event of a pandemic?

For Dr Joshua Rosenberg, it’s not that black and white.

“Every thing you do has a risk, a benefit and a potential danger,” said Rosenberg, infectious disease specialist and president of infection control at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York. This includes skiing, which is inherently risky even without a raging pandemic.

A ski enthusiast himself, Rosenberg plans to hit the slopes this season. Here’s what he recommends if you want to join him and stay safe.

Indoor pit stops

While skiing is definitely an outdoor sport, skiers still like to head to the resort lodges to eat, drink hot chocolate, and adjust their ski boots. And to be sure, après-ski outings around a warm and cozy fireplace are as much part of the experience as enjoying the slopes.

Many resorts are planning to increase outdoor space so that guests can take a break or grab a bite to eat, as indoor capacity will be drastically reduced.

Many resorts are planning to increase outdoor space so that guests can take a break or grab a bite to eat, as indoor capacity will be drastically reduced.

Justa Jeskova

This year, however, there will be fewer opportunities to re-enter and a greater risk associated with doing so. “We certainly know that getting together indoors in large crowds leads to viral spread and super spread,” Rosenberg said.

Stations around the world are responding accordingly.

Ski California, a trade association that represents resorts in California and Nevada, reports that food and drink offerings will be available this year, but they won’t look like years ago, thanks to reduced indoor capacity.

Its member resorts will promote alfresco dining, offer take-out food and drink, and recommend the use of personal skiers vehicles instead of the lodge this season.

Some Colorado resorts also encourage the use of the car as a base, according to Colorado Ski’s Chris Linsmayer. This is where they recommend skiers eat lunch if they want to get out of the cold.

Hang out

Given the limited capacity inside, many resorts are considering upgrading their dining and lounging areas options – consider fireplaces and heat lamps.

Telluride, Colorado will upgrade old gondola cars and use them to seat family members and groups of friends.

Popular restaurants Chez Vrony and Paradise in Zermatt, Switzerland, already have plenty of outdoor seating, but before pandemic, they were generally crowded with people. This year, fewer dinners will be allowed on the charming terraces and patios, making hard-to-hang reservations even more coveted.

There is no après-ski at Swiss ski resorts at the moment and currently, meals are only in hotels, according to a previous report from CNN. Restaurants can open from December 13. Instead, resorts sell beer and wine to take away, which guests may be able to enjoy around one of the aforementioned fireplaces.

Resort staff hope this relieves some of the stress of the usually crowded lodges and cafeterias if and when they open, where it’s not uncommon to see people from different parts congregating at the same table during peak hours. lunch.

The resorts’ outdoor offerings will make it easier to move indoors for an extended period, Rosenberg said.

Rentals, courses and queues

Since equipment rentals are usually done indoors, many resorts have moved to a reservation system. This means that visitors must book rental appointments and book lift tickets in advance, with priority access for pass holders

At the Colorado Steamboat in Steamboat Springs, advance reservations will be required for ski and snowboard rental with specific set-up times.

Masks are mandatory at all times at most ski resorts around the world.

Masks are mandatory at all times at most ski resorts around the world.

Courtesy of Joey Wallis

Sanitation efforts will also be stepped up.

In Alta Badia in the Dolomites in Italy, protective screens have been installed in rental shops, and the station guarantees daily disinfection of spaces and materials. Italy, however, has sided with Germany in its attempt to shut down resorts for the holiday season, but the resolve of EU countries has yet to be resolved.

Rosenberg doesn’t worry about equipment rental – except the helmet. If you plan to ski or ride this year, consider purchasing your own helmet, as the object’s proximity to the face may be reason enough to fork out $ 20 for a budget option.

Say no to the hot tub

The world's best ski resorts you can fly in: Aspen Airfield is surrounded by Aspen Mountain (or Ajax), Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk

Nightlife in Aspen will not be the same this year as it was in pre-Covid times.

Daniel Bayer / Aspen Ski Company

Many resorts will not allow guests to enjoy a popular cold-weather feature – the hot tub.

Although there is no general ban on spas throughout the town of Mammoth Lakes in California, Mammoth Mountain will not have communal spas open in its accommodations, a spokesperson for Mammoth told CNN.

Rosenberg thinks it’s a wise move and admits he wouldn’t participate in the traditional after-ski hot tub, even if it were available to him.

People tend to congregate there, and it’s not safe, he said.

Personal responsibility

While the stations put protocols in place, they also rely on individual customers to act responsibly. That’s why you need to stay home if you wake up and feel unwell, Rosenberg said.

Regarding reimbursement, reimbursements and rain checks are the responsibility of the individual stations.

Maine pass holders this season qualify for the Worry-Free Winter Assurance program, which guarantees 150 days of skiing at Sunday River and Sugarloaf, and the ability to carry over the value of their current season pass to next year’s pass if requested by December 10.

Most purchases at Copper Mountain Colorado are non-refundable from the time of purchase. But people who cancel before or before the originally scheduled arrival will receive a voucher for the full value of their original reservation, valid for one year.

Rosenberg hopes those looking for a cold-weather activity will play it safe. “We cannot lock ourselves in a bubble,” he said, noting that skiing is “one of the few joys” that some people experience in winter.

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