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Ski season kicks off in Colorado as COVID-19 cases are on the rise

Posted at 5:43 PM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 22:05:22-05

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Mountain towns are ready to welcome skiers and riders once again, but as opening day approaches for several ski areas, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Colorado.

Summit County Public Health officials issued a countywide advisory two days before Breckenridge is set to open. According to the advisory, the state and Summit County is continuing to see a steady increase in COVID-19 cases as well as hospitalizations.

Colorado's seven-day incidence rate is one of the fastest growing. On Nov. 9, it was the seventh highest in the country.

Last ski season was filled with uncertainty after resorts were forced to abruptly shut down during March 2020 when COVID-19 was first detected in Colorado. Vail Resorts committed to staying open for the entire season during 2020/2021 while guests adjusted to mask mandates and a mountain access reservation system.

This season, gondolas and chair lifts will be loaded at full capacity for all Vail Resorts. Guests will be required to wear a mask when they're at Vail-owned indoor dining halls, restaurants, hotels and retail stores. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will also be required at large cafeteria-style dining halls. Guests can show a vaccination card, a photo copy or use an app.

"What we did is focus our safety protocols and our commitment to safety on the indoor experience.We are so fortunate that so much of our experience here is outdoors," said John Plack, senior communications manager for Vail and Beaver Creek.

If pass sales are any indication, it's going to be a busy season. According to Vail Resorts, pass sales for the 2021/2022 North American ski season increased approximately 42% when looking at numbers through Sept. 17, 2021.

At Rebel Sports, a snowsports shop with three locations, ski and snowboard rentals are already off to a strong start. Last season also proved to be positive despite all the uncertainty.

"It was difficult but it was a busy season for us, so even though we still had struggles and challenges, we were still able to get through that and make the best of that," said Abdoul Wylie, Rebel Sports manager.

Businesses are also bracing for any changes, like mask mandates or a reduction in capacity, but, then again, they've weathered the storm before.

"It doesn’t worry us," said Marisa Knox with Daylight Donuts. "I know we followed every protocol that they’ve given us, and as long as we maintain that, I feel like we’re going to be just fine."