How COVID-19 Could Actually Be Good for Skiing
Resort executives are warning customers that skiing will be different this season. I'm here to tell you that "different" means better.
Covered parking, heated chairlifts, tissue boxes, rooftop spas, basement yoga, mid-mountain sushi, antler chandeliers, excessive grooming, free warm chocolate chip cookies with your $140 lift ticket, and ostentatious day lodges built from Canadian old-growth timber. When did skiing get so soft?
Slowly. In the 1960s, skiing was still discovering itself as 10th Mountain Division veterans built utilitarian lifts and lodges on the mountains they opened. The idea was to get people up the hill, let them figure out the descent, and house them at night in lodges akin to barracks. By the 1970s, counterculture hippies adopted those ski areas, skis got shorter, and skiing got sexy AF. Think ragers next to pond skims. Stretch pants, Moon Boots, bota bags, backscratchers, cheese pots, schnapps, sheepskin rugs, and those sensuous midcentury modern fireplaces in avocado green. The fashionable appeal spawned a skiing boom and, for a time, made glissé a national pastime.
Eventually, though, the national love of skiing died off as Americans got distracted by rival pursuits like golf and chalupas. Left in the economic lurch, resorts vied for the only fat wallets left: destination skiers who no longer cared to hook up and sleep in a hostel. Since the mid-1990s, luxury has been the winning play in the ski “resort” business—ski resorts being a breed apart from ski “areas.”