10 ways covid is changing snowboarding and skiing this season

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So most of us don’t live in a resort and pretty much all international travel has ground to a halt. That may change as we get into the new year but this season is looking pretty much a write off for most of us. There are some of you who may get to put your feet on snow this season and our man in Whistler, Chris Eyers is one of them. Here he goes through the big changes you can expect if you are lucky enough to make it to a resort any time soon.

Over to Chris.

Times they are a changing, and snowboarding will be no different this year. In this video I look at the 10 trends that are having the biggest effect on snowboarding.

1. Reservation System

This summer saw the first roll out of an online reservation system to book your place on the mountain. The resorts it was used at in Australia are much smaller than their North American counterparts, and the implementation has not always been smooth. Vail Resorts account for many of the resorts currently using it, but many others including the resorts on the Ikon and Mountain Collective are set by the individual resorts and are subject to change.

snowboarding and covid
This guy was waiting in line for a season pass

2. Keeping it Local

With all the regulations being placed on travel at the moment the best thing to do is keep it local! This is not only better to help reduce spread, but also reduce stress on you and help support the local economy.

3. Social Distancing

Probably more of this.

Of course social distancing will be in place in all resorts this winter, but specific rules will vary depending on the resort/ country or even time of year. Masks are gonna be a key, as well as having extra buffs, gaitor, neck warmers etc. Social distancing will also be in effect for chairlifts and depend on the size of the chair. Due to short staff and precautions some resorts have stated that they will be working at a reduced capacity, not only for chairlifts, but also terrain and other things including staff. Staff shortages were highlighted in early Autumn by Colorado resorts that often open early November, as working visas for foreign nationals have had a heavy reduction which disproportionately effects the ski industry compared to national averages.

4. Self Catered Trips

The catered chalet industry which is a staple in many European ski communities and has been on the rise globally has more or less stopped entirely in order to reduce social interactions. Another bonus of the kitchen is the flexibility, peak times of the year are busy already, and with limits placed on restaurant capacity having a kitchen is a good back up, of course almost all restaurants will be offering take-away or delivery.

snowboarding and covid
Probably not what they meant when they said ‘bring your own refreshments’

5. Chilled Out Party Scene

‘Après’ scene at some resorts is as much of a reason to go as the quality of the mountain. Places like Ischgl, aka Ibiza in the Alps, have built a reputation around the apres ski scene and nightlife. The resorts are now offering a return to “traditional skiing values”, ie just the skiing. Bars and clubs may be open, but are generally moving people outside, away from the bar, and even to-go back to your room. Numbers will be limited and of course, everything is subject to change!

snowboarding and covid apres
Not scenes likely to be on show until winter 20/21

6. Cashless Resorts

So far Whistler, BC and Park City, UT are going entirely cashless this year, at least in all resort properties. In Whistler town though, this is not currently the case. Just be sure to have emergencies in place in case anything happens to your cards!

7. Lessons Getting Smaller

Not only are they getting smaller they are getting more independent. Many lessons are meeting on snow instead of inside, the lesson is considered a bubble and you are strongly discouraged from extended interactions with anyone outside of you lesson bubble or family bubble. Some resorts are moving to exlclusively private or semi-private lessons, and some resorts and getting rid of their daycare altogether, so be sure to check in advance.

8. New Rules For Buying Gear

“Don’t touch those!” You might hear this season, especially with things that come into contact with your face, most notably goggles. You may or may not be able to try on goggles in store, as some stores will quarantine the goggles before putting back out. Also don’t forget to book your boot fitting, many places in Whistler are requiring appointments to get boots fitted.

snowboarding and covid
Some stores are still letting you try stuff on but under much restricted conditions

9. Rise of Backcountry Snowboarding

Probably won’t surprise you to know backcountry sales are on the up, which will no doubt put extra pressure on the system. Resorts allowing up-hill access to parts of the mountain isn’t new, but there has been a jump in the resorts offering this. A Backcountry Resort: Blue Bird Mountain, Colorado. There is a new resort which is entirely based around backcountry. It is similar to a normal ski resort: lodge, ski patrol but no chairlifts or groomed runs. The idea is to give the experience of backcountry in a more controlled environment. Very cool!

10. Cancellation Coverage

Now Included In order to help convince people to go a trip, many companies are offering various ranges of cancellation coverage not all equal. So be sure to read the fine print before you declare you got a good deal! Any I missed! What’s the one you’re most/ least looking forward to? If you enjoyed please share, and despite any uncertainty going on I plan on snowboarding as much as many body allows, the constant hiking at the moment is exhausting. So stay tuned for more vids on snowboarding and snowboard gear.

Happy Shredding! ig: @chris.the.mountain.man

Keeping it local?

Comments (8)

    Good article, would welcome a similar one on what we can expect in Europe this winter. From what I have read so far its very depressing if you like riding the white stuff. Unless of course the miracle vaccine is rolled out across the continent in super quick time, unlikely I think.

    Great to see “backcountry” has infiltrated other sports. How long until we see “downcountry” in the snow sports too?

    I would say your best bet is to head up to Scotland, but I know that’s not possible either.
    Just like 2020 in general rules are changing by the day so could probably update this list in a couple weeks… Here in British Columbia it’s expected they’ll announce today; travel restrictions within the province for two weeks, one week before Whistler opens. We need Mark Alker to get Mystic Meg on here…

    Not seen my place in Morzine since last Christmas , the Jabs are being rolled out in December so if it means having one just to be able to travel Ill be front of the que!

    @dales rider – Trouble is the vaccine may only prevent severe symptoms of the disease and you could be asymptomatic and therefore able to pass it on unknowingly. I have flights booked for January to go to the French Alps, but can see this winter being a wipe out rather than a white out.

    Just imagine if you could , that the fall in the covid rates in uk , italy , france etc had nothing to do with lockdowns.
    Then where would we be

    Here in Chamonix the lifts operating will be dependent upon how full the local hospital (Sallanche) is. As I understand, if they have more than 50%occupancy the lifts will close with several days notice.
    Of course, you can always earn your turns with some “ski rando” in the worlds back country capital, in which case fun can be had with or without lifts.
    Fingers crossed those of you that ski get to the moooooountains where ever that may be,
    Peace and Love people

    No doubt the hospital will be overwhelmed “next month”

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