Whilst acknowledging there are many questions about how ski areas will operate next winter, senior management from North American ski centres have said that part of the message they’d like to convey is that ski centres remain good for physical and mental well-being.

“It’s important to share the benefits ski areas have to offer – there’s space to spread out,” said Kelly Pawlak, president/CEO of the National Ski Areas Association in the USA, pointing out that the majority of the day is spent outside on a ski trip and that snowsports are great for one’s mental health.  “Face coverings are part of our culture,” she added.

Kelly Pawlak was speaking at an online briefing for journalists organised by the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA) and also featuring Patricia A. Campbell, the president of  Vail Resorts Mountain Division; Nick Sargent, the president of Snowsports Industries America (SIA)  and Rick Kahl, the editor of trade publication Ski Area Management (SAM).

The overall message from the North American ski industry was that there will be a 2020-21 ski season. Temperatures will drop. Snow will fall and enthusiasts will return to the slopes. However, it’s likely new protocols will be in place.

“Everyone is so hungry for information and firm answers,” commented Vail’s Campbell, who added that they plan to be fully open and are working on ways to make guests feel safe while providing a compelling experience. “We want people to get out and do what they love,” she said, while adding that people need to be flexible as the situation will be constantly changing.

Kahl said there is a need for journalists to educate the public on what will be happening, especially come November. “It’s important for people to know what the preconditions are,” he added, such as whether there will be temperature checks before entering a resort. He said resorts are looking at different plans depending on restriction requirements.

“They are now taking steps figuring things out like how to decrease crowding in restrooms with markers on floors, adapters on door handles and other things to reduce touch points,” he said.

Contactless transactions, shuttle bus capacity limits, lift line management and restaurant expansions were also discussed.

(Pic credit: Beartooth Basin)

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