Durango Purgatory Resort.

Skiers are hitting the slopes in Southwest Colorado, looking for some exercise and a short escape from the whirlwind of the COVID-19 pandemic and polarized politics, but even so, a sense of normalcy is hard to come by these days.

“It’s very different coming to a ski resort this year,” said Dave Rathbun, general manager of Purgatory Resort. “It’s just not the same.”

Colorado ski resorts were among the first casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic after Gov. Jared Polis abruptly shut them down on the night of March 14, effectively canceling the rest of the 2019-20 season.

At the time, some of Colorado’s largest mountain communities – such as Chaffee, Eagle, Gunnison, and Pitkin counties – had some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the country as tourists from all over the world mixed with local residents.

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