BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah — Skiers and snowboarders are getting a hint of what Utah winter resorts will look like during the pandemic.
Temperatures in the 90s make it hard to think about the winter, but all summer, Utah resorts have brainstormed ways to safely jump start the season.
Utahns can expect things to be different on the slopes this winter, but exactly how remains up in the air.
“We are excited to open. Exactly what opening day looks like is just something we don’t quite yet know,” said Snowbird spokesman Brian Brown.
Snowbird’s planning to open the Friday after Thanksgiving, despite canceling Oktoberfest because of COVID-19.
“That was not an easy decision but we felt it was the right decision,” said Brown.
Utah winter resorts are grappling with changing normal operations during the pandemic.
While it’s too soon to get specific, some hints include social distancing on trams and lifts, requiring masks and limiting the number of tickets sold each day.
“We are anticipating less crowds, less focus on food and beverage specials and lessons. You may have to make a reservation for ski school lessons instead of just walking up and doing it,” said Brighton spokesman Jared Winkler.
The 2019-2020 season was cut short in the early weeks of the pandemic, which was on track to break records with more than 5 million visitors.
With Utahns enjoying outdoor summer activities en masse during the pandemic, Ski Utah’s Anelise Bergin expects that to continue into the next winter season.
“There is no doubt that people want to get out and ski Utah ski resorts. Like I said, if it snows then we will be out there skiing,” Bergin said.
Some resorts may encourage visitors to bring bagged lunches and tailgate instead of eat inside the lodge.
That is one of many options that may strip skiing and snowboarding down to the old-time winter experience.