More tips for this Pandemic ski season

As skiers and riders get out for their first runs of the year – and with most resorts either now open or just about to open we’ll all be taking those runs soon – we turned to those who have been out there to double-check on preparations.
Because as we all know, planning is one thing; implementing quite another.
Skiers and riders who’ve headed out report that while yes, they’ve had to wait in some longer lines (and some of that may be an optical illusion. With six feet between each skier and rider, a line can twist out pretty far), but all report that overall, their experience was excellent.
Kathy Bennett lives in Mount Washington Valley and worked for years in the ski industry. She headed to Bretton Woods last week, where she found great snow, an enthusiastic staff and a few hiccups – some her own and some resort-based – that she’s tweaking for coming ski days.
First, Bennett said, her day at Bretton Woods was fantastic. (Being a resident meant she had no testing or quarantine guidelines to follow. If you are coming from any other New England state and have not been anywhere else or on a cruise in recent weeks, you can too. But you will have some extras steps when you return to most states, including Massachusetts).
“The resort has a great plan and the staff is clearly dedicated to making this season work” she said. That said, it is a little more work – and some out-of-the-norm steps – to get skiing and riding.
The arrival: Surprise, surprise — It’s not that easy to put your ski boots on in or outside of your car. A mat to place your feet on is a must, but Bennett is adding another thing to the trunk of her car: a foldable chair to sit in while putting the boots on or off.
Balancing while pulling a ski boot on or buckling boots can be tricky. A chair is the solution. If your car is short on room, bring one and take turns putting boots on and off. A chair like you’d bring to, say, a youth soccer game will suffice.
It’s also a really good idea to drop your skis, poles or board off first, before putting boots on, so that there’s less lugging from the parking area. Shuttle space is limited, so be prepared and willing to wait or walk a bit if need be.
A good option for families may be to stop just ahead of the ski area at a rest stop, boot up and dress everyone but the driver then, drop the rest of the gang off with the gear, and then park, boot up and ride the shuttle or walk as one.
If you’re bagging your lunch, that same person can be responsible for zipping back at lunchtime, grabbing the grub and delivering it to the family at the picnic table or bench you’ll dine at.
On the trails: Masking is tricky while skiing and riding, Bennett said, with the biggest challenge being getting to the mask to pull it up or down, and doing so easily.
With neck gators (which do not qualify as masks on their own), goggles, thick mittens and more, the mask isn’t as easy to grab at as when we are, say, on a walk.
Bennett said she’s found that stretchy material masks that fit snug but pull up and down easily (like the ones at www.skitheeast.com) are easier to maneuver.
Suggestion: Practice at home. Gear up in all you will wear on the coldest day and try out a few of your masks until you find the one that works best. Have children do this as well.
At Wachusett Mountain, Spokesman Tom Meyers said that reminding folks to pull those masks up in the places they are required (when you’re out on the hill skiing or riding they are not) has been a constant for staff.
Meyers said it’s easy to forget you need to mask in lines, walking around and indoors when you’re out on snow. After all, skiing and riding is about escape. They’ve not had problems of folks refusing, he said. Rather, many are forgetting.
“As we say, ‘be the reason for the season,’” he said. “Try to remember to mask when required.
Check when dropping off a skier or rider for the day: If you are dropping of a skier for the day, call ahead to find out if there is storage available for that person. Some resorts have limited day storage, most are not allowing bags under tables in the base lodge. Knowing what is available will guide that skiers plan for the day.

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