‘Stay Alive and Survive’: Ski Resorts Brace for a Pandemic Season

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — A trickle of skiers recently zigzagged down the slopes at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Couples and families wandered through the resort’s village, which was decorated with golden Christmas lights and frosted with snow.It looked like the beginning of a merry season. But a closer inspection revealed it was anything but.Restaurant patios were nearly empty as masked workers swept through with lime green disinfectant sprayers strapped to their backs, part of the $1 million that Squaw Valley has spent on sanitizing equipment and other safety measures. At ski lifts, sparse groups waited in socially distant lines. The resort felt “so dead,” said a skier, Sabrina Nottingham, partly because it was limiting ticket sales to fewer than 50 percent of the norm.
Squaw Valley, a marquee destination for winter sports enthusiasts, is one of many ski resorts across the country bracing for a highly unpredictable season. Forced to rethink how to operate in the coronavirus pandemic and with vaccines still rolling out, resorts have made a plethora of changes in places such as Aspen, Colo.; Park City, Utah; Taos Ski Valley, N.M.; and Killington, Vt. Many are setting visitor restrictions and requiring ticket reservations; New Mexico has limited resorts to 25 percent of capacity.
ImageSkiers and snowboarders waited to board the Squaw One Express lift at Squaw Valley Ski Resort recently. The resort has enacted social distancing measures. Skiers and snowboarders waited to board the Squaw One Express lift at Squaw Valley Ski Resort recently. The resort has enacted social distancing measures. Credit…Cayce Clifford for The New York Times

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