The pandemic has made nearly everything worse, but we are going to take a step back and highlight a few changes to the skiing experience that we wouldn’t mind sticking around in the long term.
Beyond the utter death and destruction this thing has wreaked on the world, the pandemic has not been kind to the ski industry. That said, buried in the pain, there are things that have changed for the better, arguably.
Capping skier numbers at resorts
This is something I called for long before anyone knew what COVID-19 was.
Saturdays at the major ski resorts are nothing short of a nightmare when conditions are good. There is almost no reason for hours-long traffic jams and lift lines at the ski area, other than greed.
This year, many resorts have required reservations and limited day pass sales in an effort to reduce crowds. It worked for the most part, but the last few weekends show that lines can still build up.
So here’s where I introduce an unpopular opinion.
I think the resorts should require reservations every day, even for passholders, in an effort to reduce crowds and keep the experience better for those at the hill.
You know who this hurts? Us! We flatlanders who live nowhere near the major resorts and have to travel a long way to chase snow. Ultimately, though, I think the experience will get better for everyone with fewer people in lines.
This is nothing new, but the pandemic has forced skiers and riders into the parking lot for their celebrations.
The ski areas with great parking lot apres scenes (looking at you Arapahoe Basin) have a fantastic vibe. And for the consumer, you’re skipping the $12 resort beer for the stuff you already bought. The ski area has taken enough of your money anyway.
I hope ski areas can loosen their rules about tailgating to let folks spread out in the parking lots, especially when the sun shines in the spring.
Ease of travel
Here’s one that will certainly never change, but I can dream, OK?
Blocking off middle seats, cheap fares, empty airports and low-cost rental cars are all by products of this pandemic that I would love to see stick around.
I honestly feel the airport experience is the best it has ever been in my lifetime. (I’m too young to vividly remember pre-911 travels.)
It makes flying to the mountains a breeze. I truly hope (naively) that the airlines understand how much better the experience is now than it was pre-COVID.