VailResorts Snowboarders walk towards Gondola One at Vail Resort on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, in Vail. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

Coronavirus is still a worry, but now ski hill operators must wrestle with too few workers and not enough places to house the ones they’ve hired.

It wasn’t that long ago that ski resort operators lost sleep over snowfall. Then they had to fret over once-in-a-lifetime protocols to limit the spread of contagion at their ski areas. 

Now, the worries are stacked even deeper, with affordable housing, dwindling numbers of workers and ever-lengthening lift lines joining the perennial fretting over snow and looming threat of spiking COVID cases.

This year, ski area bosses are praying for snow, hoping for declining coronavirus cases and tinkering with a variety of strategies to entice more workers, get them into housing and manage the pending tsunami of ski vacationers.

“The primary focus this season, I think, will be to keep the lifts running. Everything else might fade some, but you need to keep the lifts spinning,” said Chris Diamond, the former boss at Steamboat whose two “Ski Inc.” books document the growth and recent rapid consolidation of America’s resort industry. “You can be sure of only one thing this season: it’s all going to change and it won’t be the same as any previous season. It could get better, it could get worse.”

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