By Joe Stevens
Hello Everyone –
Some may not agree with me and that’s okay with me, as I enjoy a good give and take conversation, as I believe it’s good for the soul. This country was formed on disagreement and debate. So, let’s just move forward and make some turns together.
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With the 2020-2021 ski season just a few weeks away, what has become a good sign that the season is right around the corner occurred last week. Ever since my son Christian learned to ski, it’s now a yearly rite to get him geared up for the season a few weeks before the season starts, as, well you know he is a growing boy and that means larger sizes.
As most parents do, we have marks on a door molding indicating growth stages. Now we judge growth by the size of his ski boots and the length of his ski poles. Both of which took a leap since the last time we geared up and, well our boy is growing up. Now let’s get some snow and have some fun out in the fresh air. Who’s with me on that one?
As most of you understand, beside scribing this weekly column, I also serve as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association. Each year I try to come up with a phrase we can hang our skis and snowboards on, when describing playing in the mountains of West Virginia. In the past we used, West Virginia, “Where the west begins,” catch phrases like that for folks to chew on.
Recently I was talking to an industry associate and said to him, “Skiing is nature’s way of social distancing.” He told me to write that down right away, so not to forget what I said. Well that’s what we, and I think the entire industry, can put out there for skiers and snowboarders to chew on. Meaning, for the most part, when out on the slopes you try your best to try and stay away from others on the slopes. That six-foot distance is easily obtained when you are letting gravity be your friend. By the way, that’s another one of those types of sayings.
To say a lot of preparation is taking place by all the resorts in the region to get ready for the upcoming season is an understatement. Don’t be surprised with all of the plexi-glass that has been installed by each and every resort. More than one person has made the comment to me that they wish they had purchased stock in a company that is now manufacturing the clear see-thru barriers that have popped up everywhere. Our son’s upcoming college education would be taken care of, needless to say.
Still I am here to tell you there are still a lot of questions that pertains to the upcoming season. One question is the same as it is every season, when is it going to start. Heck people begin asking that question just a few days after the end of the previous season. Well the season will start when there is snow on the slopes, not before. Nothing different about that situation. Here’s another one of my favorite phrases, it’s about the snow stupid. With all the changes we all have had to deal with since March, that’s a constant that is still with us and will be with us until there isn’t any more skiing or snowboarding.
When we were sizing up Christian for his gear for the upcoming season, Morgan, the manager of Ski Barn in Ghent, West Virginia (home of Winterplace Ski Resort), asked me what I was hearing. You see, the shop’s phone started blowing up with the temperatures started dropping and chill was in the air.
That’s always a good sign when the phones start ringing, that means skiers and snowboarders are starting to get ready to head to their favorite resort. If this past summer is any indication, people are wanting to get outside and get the heck out of Dodge and have some fun in the vast outdoors.
My conversation with Morgan centered around how folks were going to be able to enjoy themselves safely on the slopes. We both agreed that is going to be the easiest part of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. As stated, before in this column, social distancing out in nature is not a hard thing to accomplish. Now as it pertains to inside a lodge or rental shop, that’s going to be where the challenge comes. I am here to say though, that challenge, with patience can be overcome by planning ahead.
This is not going to be the season to wait for the last minute to call and reserve your skis or snowboard. If you know when you are going to travel to your favorite resort, we both recommend for you to call and reserve whatever you are going to need ahead of time, so that you don’t have any last minute surprises. Most of the time, those experiences don’t turn out for the best.
If you have any questions how resorts are positioning themselves with their COVID-19 practices, I recommend going to their websites as soon as you can. Resorts in the region have done a good job with being transparent on how they are planning a safe season with dedicated pages for those of you out there with pandemic questions. If you can’t find your answer on the website, I recommend going the old fashion route and give the resort a call. I have found getting that real person on the phone can help tremendously. Don’t be afraid to ask and then go and make some turns.
That’s it for this week, thanks for joining me for my weekly thought process. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. I still believe this season is going to be a lot of fun but challenging. But we can do this, if we all just work together.