Our View: A shoutout to local ski areas | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: A shoutout to local ski areas

In a pandemic year, when reasons to celebrate are harder to find, we’d like to applaud Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill Ski Area for hosting successful 2020-21 seasons after COVID-19 forced them to shut down early last year. Our local ski areas rallied, got creative and proved nimble, and their dedicated crews were able to provide visitors and locals alike with a safe outdoor reprieve during a tough winter.

As coronavirus case counts rose at various times throughout the season, there was never any guarantee the ski areas would remain open, but with solid mitigation protocols in place, the resort and Howelsen made it through the ski season without any outbreaks occurring — a feat that required diligence and out-of-the-box thinking.

At Howelsen, skiers utilized a reservation system that ensured people could socially distance at the ski area, and the city built individual A-frame warming huts where families could gather together for lunch after a few hours skiing.

The resort instituted measures to get people up and down the mountain safely. Gondola rides were limited to people from one party, and the middle seat on the chair was left open if different parties rode a chairlift together. Masks were required everywhere at the resort, enhanced cleaning measures were adopted, and a touchless ticketing system was put into place to eliminate the problem of people lining up at ticket windows.

Our local ski industry leaders entered a season filled with unknowns and no easy answers, and when they encountered challenges, like long lift lines, they responded quickly to reassure the community that safety was top of mind. Their adaptability in the face of almost constant change was impressive, and their efforts to keep the ski areas open helped other tourism-dependent businesses survive another rough pandemic winter.

Skiing also provided an escape for many during a year filled with stress, uncertainty and isolation. Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Resort became safe outdoor refuges where people could get outside, gather together safely and leave behind the worries of everyday life for a few hours.

At a glance

At issue: Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill Ski Area were able to stay open all winter, providing people with a safe outlet from the pandemic.

Our View: Ski industry leaders showed creativity and flexibility to ensure local ski areas were safe and remained open, and now it’s our turn to do our part by getting vaccinated.

Editorial Board

• Logan Molen, publisher

• Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Marion Kahn, community representative

• Laraine Martin, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.

And now with a successful ski season behind us, we head into spring encouraged by the hope offered by a vaccinated population. As of Monday, 40% of Routt County’s residents had been fully vaccinated. And while this number is higher than the statewide vaccination rate of 26%, we’d like to see a rate that gets us closer to herd immunity and a return to normal.

The news last week that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been paused created a bit of a setback, but we encourage people not to overreact to this information. Science tells us COVID-19 presents greater health risks than the rare side effects allegedly associated with the vaccine, so keep that in mind as you make vaccination decisions.

It’s imperative we don’t let our guard down, especially as families are off enjoying spring break. Many communities are facing a fourth wave of the virus, and we’d like to avoid that. So if you travel this week, come home, self quarantine for a few days and get tested.

The county’s public health order will remain in place until the beginning of June, and until then, let’s all work together to continue practicing the habits that helped us keep the ski areas open from bell to bell this winter — mask up, maintain a 6-foot social distance, wash your hands often, stay home if you’re sick and get vaccinated.

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