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2021 Winter Buyer’s Guide

How to Ski COVID-Safe This Winter

What you need to know about navigating the ski season to come

We called up some experts for tips on how to ride consciously this season. (Photo: Sofia Jaramillo)
We called up some experts for tips on how to ride consciously this season.

Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.

This may not be the winter for flights to far-off destinations, but that doesn’t mean good skiing is out of the question. With resorts adjusting to make in-bounds activity as safe as possible, your best bets are staying local or stringing together a low-contact road trip. We called up some experts for tips on how to ride consciously this season.

Wear a Face Covering

Masks can prevent COVID-infected droplets from traveling far when we cough, sneeze, or yell to our friends. Most resorts, including all those on the Epic Pass, will require a mask in common spaces and lift lines, as well as on lifts. Your simple neck tube is not ideal, but it may be more effective if doubled up. “If you can blow out a candle through your face covering,” says Daniel Pastula, an expert in ­neuro-infectious diseases at Colorado’s UCHealth, “that’s probably not enough fabric or material to be protective.”

Stay Outside

“The biggest risk to skiers isn’t riding lifts,” says Brent Russell, an ­emergency-room doctor and COVID survivor from Ketchum, Idaho. “It’s indoor dining. People take off their masks to eat and drink.” For lunch, sit outside or go back to your condo. For après, tailgate or go somewhere with outdoor space. Layering up your clothing with the intention of being out all day will keep your options open. Resorts like Steamboat and Mammoth Mountain—both Ikon Pass destinations—are beefing up outdoor decks with fire pits, heat lamps, and open-air tents.

Space Out Six Feet

“Ideally, people should only ride chairlifts with those in their group,” Russell says. “Strangers would need at least one space in between.” Aspen Snowmass, among other resorts, will allow only existing groups to load the gondola together. (Jackson Hole will do so upon request.) Even then, keep the windows open for airflow.

Skip the Bus

This is the year to splurge on slopeside lodging for easy lift access. “Buses could be OK as long as the windows are open, there are six-foot barriers and everyone is masked,” Russell says. But ideally, you should walk or drive your own car. 

Use the Apps

Many resorts are moving to improved apps, so you can sign waivers, buy passes, ­order food, and reserve lessons ­without any ­face-to-face contact.

Filed To: WinterSnow SportsCoronavirusSkiing
Lead Photo: Sofia Jaramillo