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Downhill and mask up – Resorts try to stay safe in a pandemic ski boom: NPR



There are many social distances on the slopes, but the resorts require masks in the lift lines and huts and limit the use of the hut. Most skiers and boarders are happy to comply, but Mount Schweizer in Idaho had to stop seasonal passes for some who refused to wear masks and were verbally forced to pick up attendants.

Schweizer mountain resort


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Schweizer mountain resort

There are many social distances on the slopes, but the resorts require masks in the lift lines and huts and limit the use of the hut. Most skiers and boarders are happy to comply, but Mount Schweizer in Idaho had to stop seasonal passes for some who refused to wear masks and were verbally forced to pick up attendants.

Schweizer mountain resort

Looking forward to getting out of the house and enjoying the outdoors, more people than ever hit the slopes of skis and snowboards.

“Oh, yes. I mean, we’ve probably sold a thousand more season tickets this year than we’ve ever had,” said John DeVivo, general manager of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire. “We had about 20% better sales.”

These omissions allow skiers or snowboarders to ski all season and can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the resort. DeVivo says there is also a high demand for one-day lift tickets. “Every lift ticket we put there is for sale.”

DeVivo says it would like to sell more, but to keep COVID safe, it cut off additional seasonal sales and limited the number of daily lift tickets.

Cannon Mountain CEO John DeVivo skis and takes the lifts every day to make sure safety rules are followed. He wants to make sure the ski area can stay open and hold more than 500 workers.

Chris Arnold / NPR


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Chris Arnold / NPR

Cannon Mountain CEO John DeVivo skis and takes the lifts every day to make sure safety rules are followed. He wants to make sure the ski area can stay open and hold more than 500 workers.

Chris Arnold / NPR

Looking at a wide path called Avalanche, between steep snow-capped mountain slopes sinking down to an alpine lake, Devivo says: “This is probably one of the best things you could do during the winter months. But at the same time, you want to limit the numbers because you want to have more room for everyone. “

Although there is usually a lot of space on the mountain, in normal times people get stuck together in lift lines or inside huts.

So this year the mantra is “your car is your hut.” Skiers and snowboarders must wear their shoes and equipment in the parking lot of their vehicles. Elevator tickets must be purchased in advance online, reducing the long queues at shop windows.

And you should wear a mask or neck cuff over your mouth and nose when you are close to other people. This means that in the hut or outside waiting in the elevator line. Those present with small bull horns will remind you if you forget – “pull your mask all the way, please, all the way!”

In the line of lifts waiting to climb on a chair to climb the mountain, skiers and boarders are reminded to wear masks of signs and companions with small bulls. The rows are also more scattered, with every other row empty. These are called “ghost lines” to create more social distancing.

Chris Arnold / NPR


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Chris Arnold / NPR

In the line of lifts waiting to climb on a chair to climb the mountain, skiers and boarders are reminded to wear masks of signs and companions with small bulls. The rows are also more scattered, with every other row empty. These are called “ghost lines” to create more social distancing.

Chris Arnold / NPR

Most skiers and snowboarders are happy to comply. But some ski areas have encountered problems with people refusing to wear masks and verbally abusing service lifts. The mountain resort of Schweizer in Idaho recently closed night skiing for the holiday weekend and therefore stopped some ski passes for customers.

“The F-bomb has been dropped a lot,” said Tom Chasse, president and CEO of Mount Schweizer. He says there has been strong resistance in Idaho against the disguise of mandates in general.

“It’s very politicized here,” he said. Still, he says vocal and stubborn anti-masks are in the minority in his ski area. Most people follow the rules.

“95% of the people here understand them. They are completely on board,” says Chassis. He says that this year, too, Mount Schweizer had record sales for the season.

The lifts of the lifts in the Schweizer mountains remind skiers and boarders to wear their masks. Ski Area President Tom Chassis says, “95% of the people here understand them. They’re fully on board. They want us to stay open all season.”

Schweizer mountain resort


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Schweizer mountain resort

The escorts of the lifts in the Schweizer mountain remind skiers and boarders to wear their masks. Ski Area President Tom Chase says, “95% of the people here understand them. They’re fully on board. They want us to stay open all season.”

Schweizer mountain resort

Ski areas want people to follow the rules, in part because they want to be able to stay open. Many of them employ many people in rural areas.

DeVivo in Cannon Mountain says it has more than 500 workers who rely on it – elevator operators, restaurant workers, drivers of large trimming machines, crews who have weapons that shoot artificial snow on the trails.

“We manage the budget, we manage the infrastructure, we manage the car fleet and the equipment of a really medium-sized city in New Hampshire,” says DeVivo.
He says his first priority is to keep people safe, but that’s exactly what it’s like to be a major employer in the area. “People need to eat,” says DeVivo.

Outside the main base in Cannon, Alyssa Sherburn is happy to get a lift ticket and escape from her house and get out into the fresh air.

“Oh, that’s fantastic,” she says. “The conditions are great and just the process of putting on your clothes and going out to the mountains, you do a few runs, that makes for a good day.”

Sherburn came here today with her parents, who are helping a 2 1/2 year old toddler walk in a snow suit nearby.

“My parents had breakfast here at the picnic table,” she says. “It was more comfortable for them outside, there was enough room for them here.”

The chair lifts, designed to accommodate 4 people, have many more riders with one or two couples this year, as you only have to ride the chair with your family members or the people you came to the mountains with.

Chris Arnold / NPR


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Chris Arnold / NPR

The chair lifts, designed to accommodate 4 people, have many more riders with one or two couples this year, as you only have to ride the chair with your family members or the people you came to the mountains with.

Chris Arnold / NPR

Sherburn says he ate inside the hut – the first time he ate indoors at a restaurant since the pandemic began. But she says she felt good about it because there was almost no one in the box.

“They took my name and took the time of day so that contact could be traced if something happened,” she said. “I felt very safe.”

Still, at Cannon, most people don’t eat inside. There is a lot of queue in the parking lot. People bring chairs for camping and lunch or drink apre-ski beer in front of the car or truck.

“We would really like to see an increase in revenue,” says DeVivo about the decline in restaurant and ski school sales this year. But he says, “We have to play things safe.”


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