Is it safe to ski during the pandemic?

is it safe to ski coronavirus
Photo via Nils Rinaldi/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Many ski resorts closed early last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But resorts are opening up again, and skiers are eager to hit the slopes. But those who are ready to return to the mountain should ask themselves this: Is it safe to ski during the pandemic?

The answer: If you take precautions, skiing should be OK. 

“Skiing is an outdoor activity, many people already wear a mask, there’s space between people, and there’s no prolonged contact with others on the slopes. All of these are good things and fall in line with current public health precautions,” Lauren Bryan, a registered nurse and infection preventionist at Yampa Valley Medical Center, told UC Health.

Skiing and snowboarding may seem like a safe, outdoor activity to return to, but mountains are still operating with extra safety measures in place. Mountain capacity is limited at most major resorts, and reservations are required. And in addition to reserving a ski pass, you may need to reserve a time to use shared spaces like dining rooms.

There are also precautions you should take in shared indoor spaces. Masks are required when you are indoors or when you cannot socially distance outside. And skiers will need a plan to warm up on cold days. Experts are warning skiers to avoid the traditional aprés-ski drink at a bar or restaurant, as it’s high-risk to hang out at a crowded bar.

According to one poll, not all skiers are interested in returning to the slopes at this point. Magellan Strategies polled 788 skiers about their pandemic plans, and 31% said they weren’t likely to ski this season while 39% said they hadn’t bought a pass. “I can go a year without skiing downhill,” one Colorado woman told pollsters.

As rates of COVID-19 rise to record levels across the U.S., experts recommend looking at the coronavirus rate at your destination to help evaluate the risk to determine whether it’s safe to ski. Though skiing is considered a low-risk activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says traveling, especially by plane, is still risky.

Experts recommend doing what you can to stay safe, which means wearing a mask, wiping down common surfaces, and avoiding other people.

“We have, as an industry, put in a ton of time and effort working collaboratively to put safety policies and procedures in place,” National Ski Patrol Executive Director Meegan Moszynski told the Washington Post. “The biggest piece of advice I have for people is to respect the rules and protocols [of] your area. Because we all want to go skiing and … we want to stay open. The sport is supposed to be fun, and we want everyone to be safe and respectful.”

Is it safe:

Sources: Washington Post, CDC, UC Health

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