ARAPAHOE BASIN — There are a lot of words to describe skiing and snowboarding. “Moral” and “victory” are not usually among them.
But that’s how the staff at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area talked about reopening Wednesday after being shuttered for more than two months because of the coronavirus crisis.
“This is a moral victory,” said Katherine Fuller, a spokeswoman for the Summit County ski area, the only resort currently open in Colorado. “Financially, it’s really not (impactful). We took a big hit over the last two and a half months, and this really isn’t going to make any of that up. For us, it’s being able to get some people back to work, get some people skiing and riding again.”
Yes, only 600 people with reservations were allowed on the mountain and they had to wear masks and keep their distance from each other. And yes, A-Basin was not its normal, lively and festive self.
But the return of skiing and snowboarding in Colorado represents the promise of better days ahead as the state’s tourism industry continues reeling from the impacts of the pandemic. The reopening could also provide a roadmap for resorts across the state as they look toward the 2020-21 season and recoup some of their losses even with the pandemic still underway.
“This is a big experiment in a lot of ways,” Fuller said. “There’s no precedent for this. We’re going to learn a lot from this experience.”
Skiing has been shut down in Colorado since mid-March, when Gov. Jared Polis ordered closures to help keep COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, from spreading out of control. He said it was one of the toughest decisions he’s made given how skiing and snowboarding are such a large part of the state’s identity and economy.