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So what's going to happen next season?

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
Well, this isn't good. According to a piece in Snowbrains.com, Aspen Ski Company is considering blackout dates for locals to help manage crowds. I understand that something has to be done to keep things viable during the pandemic, but it's going to make a lot of people unhappy.

Controversially, it was revealed yesterday by Aspen Skiing Co. (Skico) senior vice president of strategic planning Rich Burkley that the resort is looking into the possibility of ‘blackout dates’ for local skiers to help manage crowds.

“We are looking at spreading pulses throughout the day, throughout the weeks, and throughout the season. So we may be asking locals to ski a lot more in early December than in the holiday season, when we may have other capacity-constraint limitations in place, as well.”


– Rich Burkley
 
Well, this isn't good. According to a piece in Snowbrains.com, Aspen Ski Company is considering blackout dates for locals to help manage crowds. I understand that something has to be done to keep things viable during the pandemic, but it's going to make a lot of people unhappy.

Controversially, it was revealed yesterday by Aspen Skiing Co. (Skico) senior vice president of strategic planning Rich Burkley that the resort is looking into the possibility of ‘blackout dates’ for local skiers to help manage crowds.

“We are looking at spreading pulses throughout the day, throughout the weeks, and throughout the season. So we may be asking locals to ski a lot more in early December than in the holiday season, when we may have other capacity-constraint limitations in place, as well.”

– Rich Burkley
Do locals really want to be skiing during holiday periods? Looks like it wouldn't be for all four Aspen mountains. Keeping locals away from Snowmass is mentioned in the Aspen Daily.

Didn't realize that weekday passes weren't standard at Aspen. If local schools are closed or virtual between Thanksgiving and Christmas, some families could take advantage of such a pass.

July 31, Aspen Times
Aspen locals could be in for a season-pass curve ball this winter
https://www.aspentimes.com/news/aspen-locals-could-be-in-for-a-season-pass-curve-ball-this-winter/
" . . .
Skico previously decided to delay the release of ski pass options and prices eligible for the chamber of commerce discount until after Labor Day. The price structures typically are announced and put on sale in mid-August.

Skico also is looking at offering weekday passes, which would signal a new approach toward its business. It could also provide incentives for passholders to ski Buttermilk rather than Snowmass during certain times, Burkley said.

“We are probably going to be looking at changing local skiing habits,” he said “So you may ski Two Creeks (Snowmass) on an afternoon versus other areas that you would normally do on a Saturday morning.”

Skico already is selling its full-season pass for 2020-21 without the chamber discount; those passes are fully refundable through Nov. 20.

“We recognize skiing and snowboarding is fundamental to everybody in this valley,” Burkley said, “and our goal is to be fair and as equitable for all users with all of the capacity restraints.”
. . ."
 
As for restrooms at Aspen . . .

July 31, Aspen Times
Aspen locals could be in for a season-pass curve ball this winter
https://www.aspentimes.com/news/aspen-locals-could-be-in-for-a-season-pass-curve-ball-this-winter/
" . . .
As well, Skico could create picnic areas where people can eat while on the hill, Burkley said. Examples include using the defunct Ruthie’s restaurant near the top of Lift One on Aspen Mountain and the Spider Sabich area at Snowmass, among other possibilities, he said.

“Every little warming hut becomes a picnic area,” Burkley said. “We’re going to have picnic areas all over the mountain. Think of Buckhorn Cabin (on Aspen Mountain) is expanded in a socially distant format.”

Locker rooms likely won’t be accessible, and bathrooms will be located outside, Burkley said [Skico senior executive]."
 
I at least don’t think that would be a thing in the Northeast, since we are not destination resorts. I would hope it’s more “passholders” specifically, i.e. not Ikon/Epic/day passes versus local/tourist distinctions. New England Pass has said their 150 day open guarantee applies to every passholder with the only distinction being blackouts based on your pass level, so I don’t foresee that particular approach.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
The more I read, the more I think I’ll spend this winter on My indoor exercise bike, getting fit for the following season.
I have a paddle erg. It's like a rowing machine, but with a paddle. Still looking for a bike. There doesn't seem to be any anywhere. Hopefully some will come in by fall. I'm not all that hopeful about this coming season. And since I'm assuming I need to "re qualify" for the world team, I need all the help I can get.
 
Here’s an appeal from VT ski areas to wear masks etc. now if we want to have a ski season.

https://www.rutlandherald.com/news/...cle_2ffaeb6b-1b0b-58ed-a43e-ec29539a2cc4.html
Similar appeals were done in Australia back in May-June. One difference between New England and Australia is that the Australian public health authorities didn't decide until very recently that face masks were important to limit community transmission because their numbers were so low. Unfortunately in recent weeks, the number of cases for COVID-19 are spiking in more than one Australian city or state. Even with large fines and mandatory quarantine when crossing certain state borders, there are too many people who aren't following any rules designed to limit community spread.

July 30, 2020, VT: Resorts: Wear a mask if you want a ski season
“There are states who have done well, Vermont especially, and if we’re going to have a ski season, we need to keep our numbers down and the way to do that is pretty simple — wear a mask,” said Geoff Hathaway, president of Magic Mountain Ski Resort in Londonderry. “It’s probably the easiest thing we can do to protect each other and to look out for our neighbors and to help small businesses stay open.”

Hathaway said Thursday he has communicated this sentiment through emails to Magic Mountain’s regular guests and via social media.

“What I’ve been trying to emphasize to people is, how they behave and how they act and how we go about interacting with each other now will basically lead to whether we’re going to have a ski season or not, and how restricted the ski season will be,” he said.
. . ."
 
If there were a really reasonable weekday pass, with breakeven after 4-5 days, that might be of interest to a skiing family with a couple kids who live within a day's drive of a destination resort in any region. Especially if the kids have virtual classes and/or parents are working from home.

The way I read the statement about Aspen Ski Co. is considering, that's what I think they are wondering for the locals within day trip distance. Doesn't really apply to Colorado residents driving from Denver who are working.

The ASC situation is a bit unique because even a day ticket applies to four distinct mountains, each of which is more than big enough for a full day of skiing. My sense is that local families ski a lot more at Highlands than Snowmass. Snowmass has a lot of lodging options that are condos or houses. Presumably that's where out-of-state travelers would be booking for 1-week ski vacations during holiday periods. For a mixed-ability group with a few beginners/intermediates, Buttermilk is actually quite a fun mountain a day or three after a powder storm. It doesn't have extreme terrain but does have legitimate black terrain that is not groomed.
 
Here’s an appeal from VT ski areas to wear masks etc. now if we want to have a ski season.

https://www.rutlandherald.com/news/...cle_2ffaeb6b-1b0b-58ed-a43e-ec29539a2cc4.html
The same appeals were done in Australia back in May-June. The difference is that Australians didn't have the sense that face masks were important to limit community transmission because their numbers were so low.

July 30, 2020: Resorts: Wear a mask if you want a ski season
“There are states who have done well, Vermont especially, and if we’re going to have a ski season, we need to keep our numbers down and the way to do that is pretty simple — wear a mask,” said Geoff Hathaway, president of Magic Mountain Ski Resort in Londonderry. “It’s probably the easiest thing we can do to protect each other and to look out for our neighbors and to help small businesses stay open.”

Hathaway said Thursday he has communicated this sentiment through emails to Magic Mountain’s regular guests and via social media.


“What I’ve been trying to emphasize to people is, how they behave and how they act and how we go about interacting with each other now will basically lead to whether we’re going to have a ski season or not, and how restricted the ski season will be,” he said.
 
Win Smith wrote a blog entry about plans for the coming season at Sugarbush. Clearly his gut feeling in 2019 that the time was right to work out a sale to Alterra has worked out in ways he didn't expect.

July 29, Sugarbush blog
https://www.sugarbush.com/blog/wins-word/so-what-is-going-to-happen-this-winter/
"Wherever I go, with my face partially hidden by my Sugarbush logo face mask, I inevitably get asked, “So what is going to happen this winter?” Since many jokingly believe I predicted the onset of the current pandemic and sold Sugarbush just a few weeks before COVID-19 hit, I am sure they are looking for a definitive answer. So, I am happy to give one.

Let’s start at the beginning. We will surely begin snowmaking as we normally do around November 1st if the temperatures permit. In fact, while you may think we have been taking the summer off and relaxing amid the uncertainty, we have actually been hard at work all summer long performing our routine maintenance on our 16 lifts and fleet of on-mountain vehicles. We are also starting to recruit for the winter season, and we are giving a lot of thought to what the new normal for this winter is going to look like. I am very confident for skiing and riding, but exactly what that will look like and what it means for auxiliary activities will only be known as we get closer to opening day. As our plans continue to develop, we will be sure to share them with you.

Science increasingly shows that wearing a mask outdoors lower the risk of contracting the virus significantly. To help simplify things a bit, we do not have gondolas or bubble quads to the chagrin of some, but now that seems as though it could be an advantage. Open air doubles, triples and quads as discussed in a recent New York Magazine article appear to be less of a risk than an enclosed space. Science is showing that the greatest risks come from poorly ventilated indoor environments when masks are not worn, social distancing is not practiced, and when the duration of the stay is fifteen minutes or longer. We will likely continue to know even more about the virus in the weeks and months ahead.
. . .
Being part of Alterra Mountain Company has been a real advantage, as we are able to share ideas and create solutions together as a large team rather than having to go it alone.
. . ."
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
Well, this isn't good. According to a piece in Snowbrains.com, Aspen Ski Company is considering blackout dates for locals to help manage crowds. I understand that something has to be done to keep things viable during the pandemic, but it's going to make a lot of people unhappy.

Controversially, it was revealed yesterday by Aspen Skiing Co. (Skico) senior vice president of strategic planning Rich Burkley that the resort is looking into the possibility of ‘blackout dates’ for local skiers to help manage crowds.

“We are looking at spreading pulses throughout the day, throughout the weeks, and throughout the season. So we may be asking locals to ski a lot more in early December than in the holiday season, when we may have other capacity-constraint limitations in place, as well.”

– Rich Burkley
Following up on this: Aspen Skiing Co. execs yesterday addressed the prospect of blackout dates going into the 2020-21 ski season, and clarified that access would not be discriminated on the basis of passholders versus tourists.

More here.
 
Following up on this: Aspen Skiing Co. execs yesterday addressed the prospect of blackout dates going into the 2020-21 ski season, and clarified that access would not be discriminated on the basis of passholders versus tourists.

More here.
Makes sense, it's hard to tell a grouping of people in a sweeping manner when they can and can't ski at a destination resort..
 
Win Smith wrote a blog entry about plans for the coming season at Sugarbush.

Since many jokingly believe I predicted the onset of the current pandemic and sold Sugarbush just a few weeks before COVID-19 hit, I am sure they are looking for a definitive answer.
The last indoor meal I had before the state shut down was with Win and a few members of the management team celebrating the sale. I remember thinking it was a bit irresponsible to go out to dinner in light of the threat of pandemic. Ha ha!
 
Without a guarantee of being able to ski, why would tourists pay for airfare and accommodations?
Unlike the process that was used in May by the few U.S. ski areas that re-opened for a few days, the Australian ski resorts limited capacity during the first half of the season but allowed people to buy online tickets well in advance. During early season when fewer lifts were running, per usual, there were fewer tickets available. At Thredbo only day tickets were sold but season passholders had discounted rates. At Perisher (owned by Vail Resorts), Epic passholders had a different allocation than non-passholders. The first weeks were a little confused due to high demand, but things settled down once more terrain could be opened up. Buller didn't require reservations for passholders, but it's a smaller less popular mountain.

There are a lot of ways to limit capacity. Each resort has unique issues due to location, market, and terrain availability.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
More fallout from the Covid crisis: Aspen Skiing Company says it expects to lose most of its international business next winter.

From the article in the Aspen Times:

Aspen Skiing Co. officials are acknowledging that one of their bread-and-butter markets could be reduced to crumbs this winter.

International travelers comprise between 10 and 20 percent of Skico’s annual skier visits, typically fluctuating due to the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies and the condition of the world economy. But international travel has been highly restricted by governments around the globe and airlines have drastically cut back on international flights in response to the coronavirus crisis. No change in conditions is anticipated soon.

“January is going to be significantly impacted by our lack of international,” Rich Burkley, Skico senior vice president of strategic planning, said at a community teleconference meeting last week in Aspen. “We’re expecting international business to be about zero.”
 
More fallout from the Covid crisis: Aspen Skiing Company says it expects to lose most of its international business next winter.

From the article in the Aspen Times:

Aspen Skiing Co. officials are acknowledging that one of their bread-and-butter markets could be reduced to crumbs this winter.

International travelers comprise between 10 and 20 percent of Skico’s annual skier visits, typically fluctuating due to the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies and the condition of the world economy. But international travel has been highly restricted by governments around the globe and airlines have drastically cut back on international flights in response to the coronavirus crisis. No change in conditions is anticipated soon.

“January is going to be significantly impacted by our lack of international,” Rich Burkley, Skico senior vice president of strategic planning, said at a community teleconference meeting last week in Aspen. “We’re expecting international business to be about zero.”
Sounds like a good time for locals to ski? lol Stinks from a business aspect, but also quite expected now..
 

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