November 30, 2020

We at conSKIerge are generally optimists, particularly when it comes to skiing.  But we have to admit, there is stunning news out of Europe. While we are anxious about this ski season, we are convinced that done with care we can ski despite Covid. In theory, it should be the perfect sport – we are outside; usually cold so our faces are covered naturally; and we are moving – often fast. The problems come after we stop going fast. In fact they come when we completely stop, head to the bar to revisit the day, and retreat to lodging.

The first signs that last ski season was going to implode came from Europe, largely as a result of those apres ski activities. Whispers of the damn virus percolating in the Alps had even reached those of us hiding away in the Alta powder. And few had really heard of Ischgl, Austria (pictured above) until it was determined that gatherings there sparked outbursts of the virus in numerous countries – most significantly Iceland and Norway. Given the events of last March and the recent worldwide Covid surges, the European ski season has gained early attention. Virus-related decisions must have been complicated by widespread early season storms which allowed Cervinia in Italy and Tignes in France to open by early November. But… Not So Fast!

France, Germany and Italy have now decided to close all ski operations at least through the end of the year.  However, Austria and Switzerland are allowing resorts to open with regulations similar to what we have seen adopted in the states. Imagine all the resorts in Colorado being closed while Utah skis away! While the executive arm of the EU has proposed a European Health Union to combat the virus, no EU action has been taken regarding downhill skiing. (We should also note that Switzerland is not part of the EU.)  To add to the confusion, can you really completely close a resort? France apparently will now allow resorts to open, but ski lifts must remain closed. But wait – let’s think about that. Don’t you want people on the ski slopes instead of indoors at your resort? Let’s just say it is clearly a developing situation.

Fortunately, few states on this side of the pond have adopted the shut-it-down approach. We are starting to see meaningful Covid impacts – Taos still cannot open due to state regulations; Summit, Eagle and Pitkin Counties which house the heart of the Colorado ski industry are under Level Red or Orange restrictions (in some cases no indoor dining and severe limitations on lodging), and Vermont has imposed travel restrictions which effectively block non-Vermonters from skiing in the state. (See our Industry Update – “State Covid Restrictions Start to Impact Industry”) We can only hope stronger limitations are not needed and that we will not have to follow the lead of some of the European countries.

November 30, 2020

conSKIerge co-founder

Kevin Dennis is a life long ski bum with a 34 year legal career on the side. Now retired, he skis 80+ days a year. While he lives in Alta UT in the winters, he has traveled extensively through skiing and has skied almost every major resort in North America (and many you have never heard of). He continues to hit the road often throughout the western United States and Canada and trips over the last several years have included ventures in British Columbia, Montana and Colorado. Whether you want to know about the behemoths like Aspen or Squaw or are interested in the road less travelled (Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana or Whitewater in BC anyone?), Kevin has been there, has an opinion and you will most likely have to tell him to shut up after a half hour!