This year for the ski industry, there’s “good” news, “bad” news and “who knows” news. According to Snowbrains, a popular ski industry media outlet, “(Colorado) ski resorts that have been open during the summer have reported unexpectedly good visitation numbers, despite the global pandemic, and are using the insights they glean from these months to guide their operating process during the exponentially busier winter months”.
However, Snowbrains also noted that Colorado resorts are concerned that the state will require operating at 50% capacity, a level that concerns resort operators. They claim that 50% capacity is not sustainable especially in regard to uphill lift transportation. Discussions are continuing to determine viable answers.
Regardless, Vail recently announced its plans for opening “on time”, with all lifts and terrain operating “conditions permitting”. Vail COO Beth Howard made the announcement recently in an interview with the Vail Daily. Howard noted that operations this summer have given the company important insights in how to operate lifts, restaurants and other amenities safely as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. “Winter is the focus now”, she said.
And one of the first major consumer ski/snowboard shows of the season – the Windy City Ski and Snowboard Show seemingly is set for September 25 – 27, 2020 at the Schaumburg Convention Center near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Sponsor Viking Ski Shop is describing it as Chicagoland’s “newest and largest Consumer Ski and Snowboard Show to hit the Midwest. With 70,000 sq.ft of Retailers, Resorts, Clubs, Manufacturer Reps and a huge SUPER SALE”.
This should be interesting considering the current Covid guidelines issued by the Illinois governor regarding the use of face coverings and crowd sizes.
Demonstrating cautiousness, one of the nation’s largest ski/snowboard networks – the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) – is taking a different tac for its annual Summit gathering. In a letter to members, President Henri Rivers said ” with safety in mind and the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we will be hosting our 2021 NBS Black Summit through a virtual platform,. The Summit attracts approximately 5,000 enthusiasts and was last held in March at Sun Vally, ID. NBS is a nonprofit focused on organizing and supporting African American skiers. The NBS comprises dozens of predominantly-black ski clubs in the United States.
And in the Midwest, the future of Spirit Mountain is uncertain, according to a story published by saminfo,com. Spirit is an authority of the City of Duluth, Minn. A newly established task force to examine Spirit Mountain’s financial future, according to an article in saminfo.com. The task force will conduct the city’s first ever Economic Impact Statement on Spirit Mountain and make recommendations for a more sustainable operation, including the possibility of a sale. Due to the pandemic, the ski hill has been closed since March, with plans to remain shuttered until the 2020-21 winter season. Spirit is typically open during the summer, with revenue-driving activities such as a mountain coaster, Soaring Eagle zip line, scenic chair rides, mountain biking, and more.