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Over 70 Resorts in North America Closing Due to Coronavirus

At its root, the role of snowboarding and other leisure activities is to provide a respite from the stresses, complications, and responsibilities of everyday life. Bringing all of one’s senses and faculties to bear while descending the slopes provides the rare opportunity to be present, exhilarated, and above all else, living in the moment.

Photo Credit: Chris Wellhausen

Today, March 14, 2020 is unprecedented in the history of the snowboarding as both Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company announced that within the next twenty-four hours they will be suspending their resort operations because of growing concerns about the well-being of their guests and employees due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. These announcements come after similar closures took place across all of Europe in the last week. While the closures began as voluntary measures, late in the evening on the 14th, the governor of Colorado, Jared Polis issued an executive order requiring all ski resorts within the state to cease operations.

With thirty-seven mountains in fifteen states and three countries, Vail Resorts is the largest ski area operator in the world. Among Vail’s marquee destinations in North America are Vail, Breckenridge, and Keystone, Colorado; Okemo, Stowe, and Mount Snow/Carinthia, Vermont; Northstar and Heavenly, California; and Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia. Today, Vail Resorts CEO, Rob Katz issued a statement addressing the motivation in taking this step. According to Katz, “This decision provides a pause for the entire ecosystem of our mountain resort communities. It gives everyone the time to assess the situation, respond to ever-changing developments, and evaluate the approach for the rest of season, if we believe it is advisable or feasible to re-open. This was not an easy decision to make, as we deeply considered the impact it will have on our guests, employees, and the people and businesses in our communities.”

Rusty Gregory, CEO of Alterra Mountain Company, owners of Bear Mountain, Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley, California; Sugarbush and Stratton, Vermont; Winter Park, Colorado; and Crystal Mountain, Washington issued a similar release stating, “After careful thought and deliberation of our duty in the face of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, and in what I believe is in the best interest of our guests, employees and local communities, Alterra Mountain Company will suspend operations at our fifteen North American ski resorts, starting the morning of Sunday, March 15, until further notice. All lift operations, food and beverage, retail and rental services will be closed until further notice.” In addition to large operators like Alterra and Vail Resorts, several independents have followed suit, including Jay Peak, VT; Arapahoe Basin, CO; Loveland Pass, CO; Aspen/Snowmass, CO; Sugar Bowl, CA; and Brighton, UT.

Both Katz and Gregory communicated that their customer-facing teams would work diligently to mitigate any inconveniences that this turn of events has imposed on their guests.

Powdr Corporation, which in addition to owning Woodward Camps is also the proprietor of Killington, VT; Copper, CO; Boreal, CA; and Mt. Bachelor, OR posted a message to social media Saturday evening which included the following: “Our top priority—the health and safety of our staff, guests and local community—remains at the forefront for us and, with this in mind, we are suspending all resort operations starting March 15, 2020, through March 22, 2020. We will continue to monitor the dynamic COVID-19 situation and reassess our approach for the rest of the season.”

Up until this afternoon, most resorts were turning to local, state, and national authorities to determine next steps as a large number of areas are located in National Parks. With governors from California to Colorado making declarations about what types of gatherings, activities, and locations would be permissible for the time being, many hills were in the early stages of implementing protocols for scaled-back services, which included the closure of baselodges and other indoor functions, while still keeping the chairs spinning, albeit with relaxed liftline protocols so that guests could maintain a conservative space from other clientele. This morning, news broke of employees at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort having launched concerns to upper management about their own well-being in light of their company’s implementation of this type of strategy, including the tram being shuttered and other amenities being scaled back as a part of a “social distancing” plan.

While many slopes were in the home stretch of their season, as most official closing days were coming in late March and early April recent snowfalls had provided an optimistic development with regions like California, Utah, and Colorado enjoying a spring reset. Unfortunately, the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has on the lives of virtually every person on earth is constantly increasing. Normally, riding is an ideal escape from this type of calamity. Not since 9/11 has our sport been upended in this fashion, and even then, it was the inability to travel to the mountains that was affected, but once you found your way to a peak, the slopes were steadfastly waiting to provide solace. SNOWBOARDER Magazine will continue to update our readers on how this pandemic is impacting the alpine community while keeping everyone whose health and livelihoods have been impacted in our thoughts.

This content was originally published here.