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by Joe Stevens

Hello Everyone –

To be honest with you I really didn’t know what to expect for my first trip to a busy ski resort during the holiday season this year. In my position with the West Virginia Ski Areas Association, I have sort of been on the front lines in helping plan for the 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19.

I have been connected with the industry since 1985 and know firsthand just how busy the three-week holiday period can be, but with everything going on with the pandemic, I didn’t know if there were going to be many differences.

At the end of the day, what my son Christian and I found on the slopes of Snowshoe Mountain last week, didn’t surprise me in the least. I mean, it’s the holiday season, large crowds were expected and not to our surprise, were found.

We caught up with Shawn Cassell, Snowshoe’s Public Relations Manager and his two sons for some night skiing and snowboarding at the Silver Creek area. It was a great way to make some turns, while not having to dodge a lot of folks on the slopes.

As it pertains to COVID-19 protocols put forth by Snowshoe, I would have to say that most folks on the slopes were following the directives. There are still some out there that still think it is cool to buck the system. Come on folks, face coverings are part of the routine this year, get use to it. On top of that, when it’s 19 degrees, face coverings are a good thing.

Now it’s time to start and get to my main point of this week’s column. When an employee asks you to follow the rules, don’t make an issue of it and show your defiance by publicly debating with the employee. Everyone needs to understand that they are just doing what they have been instructed to do by their bosses. Your defiance isn’t solving anything or helping the issue at hand and that’s the safety of everyone’s health and well beginning.

Frankly, I don’t care if you think the pandemic is real or fake news, many of us in the lift lines do think it’s real and as my wife says to her PreK students, we don’t want your germs up my nose. Seriously, get a grip and just play by the rules, at the end of the day it isn’t that big of a deal.

To take your frustrations with the establishment out on the innocent employees just doesn’t make any sense right now. This is where everyone just needs to step back and take a deep breath, as we all work together to get through this situation.

When you step back and take that breath, please understand the amount of work that went into setting forth the guidelines so that everyone would get a chance to play in the great outdoors in the southeast region this winter. All the management teams, at all of the resorts worked closely with the various state governments to establish safety guidelines that allows playtime in the great outdoors this winter. If it wasn’t for the guidelines, that most folks are following, everyone’s skies and snowboards would be standing up in the corner of their garages getting gathering dust.

So, the alternative to having that happen is to follow the rules that have been set forth for this season. Come on folks, again step back and take a breath and don’t be the one that everyone is going to talk about back in the condo.

I know it’s going to take a bit extra to work through everything, but again at the end of the day, you’d be just looking at your equipment instead of using it on your favorite slopes.

Before I talked about our second day at Snowshoe, a big thumbs up goes out to Michael in Silver Creek’s Rental Shop. You see, the toe binding strap on my snowboard snapped, when I stepped out after our last run. Knowing I could rent a board for the next day, I went into the rental shop to see what could be done. I showed Michael my situation and without any hesitation, he said, “Give me a minute and we will have you fixed up.” I said take two minutes. He brought my board back to me, as good as new and ready for some turns Wednesday morning. Thanks Michael!

Christian and I know that on a normal day slope traffic picks up very quickly as any morning progresses. On a holiday morning that pace quickens. So, when the ropes dropped at 9 am, we were waiting to get those first turns in without having to dodge the holiday crowd. Mission accomplished.

Now for our first trip through the lift line maze at Ballhooter. Looking around there were some folks that again, just didn’t want to follow the guidelines that were clearly stated on signs everywhere, “Face Coverings Required.” Christian and I trying not to be face covering bouncers, still made it known through our coverings that it would be nice if the guidelines were adhered to. A few got the message. I know, I should just mind my own business. Well folks, it is my business.

I have seen some social media posts, where perception and reality are coming into play. You see most of the resort cams are showing side views of lift lines. Due to that, viewers are questioning the social distancing? What the views don’t show are the ghost lines that separate each lane. So, what is being perceived, is not reality. On top of that, the ghost lines are being used by lifties and patrollers as walkways to remind everyone, “Over your nose, or we will close.”

Back to our morning runs, the old snowboarder was able to keep up with the young skier and it was a great father and son bonding experience. When we got done, I just stepped back and took a breath and was happy my snowboard was not just catching dust.
That’s it for this week, thanks for joining me this week. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we will weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. I still believe this season is going to be a lot of fun but challenging. Remember, Mother Nature provides the best social distancing these days.


Photo compliments of Snowshoe Mountain

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