Be sure to bring a face covering when you visit Weber County’s three ski resorts.
Just like other businesses contending with the COVID-19 pandemic, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley have implemented new guidelines for the ski season to guard against the spread of the virus. You won’t necessarily have to wear a mask on the slopes, presuming you keep your distance from others. But while waiting in lift lines or riding lifts and in common areas, they will be required. Likewise, the resorts have variously implemented grab-and-go food options, outdoor eating areas, augmented online ticketing and heightened sanitizing regimens.
“We believe, due to restrictions for indoor activities, guests will find themselves looking for activities outdoors,” said J.P. Goulet, spokesperson for Powder Mountain. But while “the skiing and snowboarding might be the same,” he continued, “many other programs and amenities will be different this season.”
So far, Snowbasin is the only Weber County ski resort to open, and a company rep said the public, by and large, seems to be OK with the rules. Snowbasin opened Nov. 27 while Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley have yet to pinpoint dates, though they should launch operations this month.
“We are fortunate to work in a place where our guests want to ski and ride just as much as we do, so we hope they will continue to do their part as we are all in this together,” said Megan Collins, a Snowbasin spokesperson.
C.J. Brown, spokesperson for Nordic Valley, noted that the outdoor nature of skiing makes it a good fit for those trying to steer clear of the COVID-19 virus.
“Our company is founded on giving guests the freedom to ski, and we’re committed to offering them that opportunity while being responsible operators,” he said. “The mountains are ideal for social distancing, and we’re coming up with solutions to minimize touch points and encourage safety.”
Other measures meant to guard against COVID-19’s spread include “volume restrictions” at Snowbasin if crowds get to big — that is, caps on access to the resort. “We are gauging it on a day-to-day basis,” Collins said.
Powder Mountain, the area’s most expansive ski resort, already has caps on day passes, part of a standing operational philosophy and marketing strategy to make sure skiers have plenty of space. “Our goal has always been to offer a genuine skiing experience without the crowds, lift lines and plenty of snow for everyone. We average about 3 acres per skier,” Goulet said.
Though the resorts have taken measures against COVID-19, the precise impact of the pandemic on visitation — whether the pandemic scares any skiers off — remains to be seen.
“From what we saw this summer, there is a demand for outdoor recreation, so we are curious to see if that continues into the winter months,” Collins said.
Season pass sales were strong before the season started, she added, and the fact that many of Snowbasin’s visitors are typically from the area should help keep visitation levels steady compared to prior years.
Goulet expects “comparable or elevated attendance” at Powder Mountain compared to the 2019-2020 season.
Sara Toliver, chief executive officer of Visit Ogden, Weber County’s tourism promotion agency, expects a higher preponderance of “drive market” customers at the resorts here this season. That is, locals and other regional visitors close enough to visit the three resorts by car will probably account for a larger share of visitors this season relative to those who fly in from more distant locations compared to years past.
A NEW LIFT, A NEW BEERNordic Valley, though the smallest of Weber County’s three resorts, arguably has the biggest changes in store this season. It started work over the summer on a new high-speed lift and trails as part of an expansion on land adjacent to the resort’s original footprint. The upgrades, the first stage anyway, are nearly done.
The new lift, along a 4,213-foot-long line on the eastern flank of Lewis Peak, should open over the coming holiday season, Brown said, though weather and permitting questions will bear on the precise schedule. The upgrade will expand the skiable area of Nordic Valley from 140 to 190 acres, with plans to add to that in years to come. The Apollo Lift, Nordic Valley’s other main lift, hauls skiers 2,994 feet.
Brown also said Nordic Valley will have more challenging terrain for skiers — “incredible new black and blue terrain.”
This is Snowbasin’s 80th anniversary and Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell visited to help inaugurate the 2020-2021 season on Nov. 27. Snowbasin has teamed with Roosters Brewing Co. of Ogden to brew a new beer to mark 80 years of operation, the Snowbasin Pale Ale.