Ski area COO Breakfast centered around COVID-19 changes to the ski season
The buzz has begun! Our team was lucky enough to listen in on this year's COO Breakfast to discuss Summit's upcoming ski season. Many of the talks centered around the new Covid health provisions implemented.
DILLON — The Centura Health COO Breakfast kicked off this year in a virtual format on Thursday, which allowed ski areas to get creative in how they would present their annual spiels about the upcoming ski season. COOs at the local ski areas — Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain Resort, Keystone Resort and Loveland Ski Area — reflected on the last ski season, summer operations and shared more details about the upcoming season, which, unsurprisingly included a heavy emphasis on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated precautions.
St. Anthony Summit Medical Center Infection Prevention Manager Aaron Parmet discussed the health of the community and brought up the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in Summit County.
“The good news is we still have the time and ability to keep that under control as a community and we can help as a health care system because we all want to have a happy, healthy community and a great ski season,” Parmet said.
Parmet noted that there have been a lot of visitors to the county this summer and that if the community can do things safely, the positive effects of visitors can be enjoyed without the negative effects of rising COVID-19 cases. He said that people are typically infected by the people they spend the most time around, as visitors tend to infect other visitors they are traveling with and locals tend to infect their friends, family and coworkers.
A-Basin COO Alan Henceroth kicked off the individual ski area updates, going over last season’s great year until the shutdown hit on March 14.
“Despite the challenges we ended up having a pretty good summer,” Henceroth said. “We reopened for skiing for a couple of weeks, our business operations went really well and we had a great capital season building a couple chairlifts. The biggest news of the summer was opening our aerial adventure park.”
After a summer full of projects, Henceroth noted that the new via ferrata course is expected to be ready for summer 2021. He said that as the ski season approaches, the top priority needs to be COVID-19 safety. Henceroth joked that A-Basin has been living in the dark ages but has finally built RFID gates for the 2020-21 season. Two lifts were replaced at the Basin: the Molly Hogan and the Pallavicini chairlifts. While new, the Pallavicini lift capacity was not expanded and remains a two-person chair. Henceroth said this is because the capacity of the lift is ideal for the terrain and the two-person chair fits with the ski area’s culture and vibe.
As ski areas are expected to limit the number of visitors on the mountain this year, Henceroth said A-Basin will do this by limiting the number of season and any day passes sold, which don’t require reservations and allowing a limited number of lift tickets to be purchased online and in advance only. In addition, Ikon passholders must make reservations online to visit the ski area. He noted that limitations will mostly impact the 20-30 busiest days of the season.
While food and beverage establishments will be open, the bars themselves will be closed and Henceroth encouraged people to bring their own lunches, particularly if concerned about going inside.
“Our real objective here is to keep people skiing. We want them to take advantage of the services they can, but we really want to keep them out there skiing, having a great time. I know we’re famous for some very social raucous apres ski type affairs but those are going to be on hold for a while,” Henceroth said.