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Category: ski safety

Are you skiing next winter?

92% of Polled Skiers Say YES
Despite coronavirus, the majority of older skiers plan to be on the slopes next season, and they expect ski areas to take measures to minimize spread of the virus.

Of  almost 3,500, or 21%, of SeniorsSkiing.com’s 16,500 subscribers surveyed in early June, 92% indicate they definitively or probably will go ski next winter!

Ski Travel Plans?
41% surveyed plan to ski locally
31% plan to take one or more long distance ski trips plus skiing locally
25% plan one or more long distance trips
42% indicate planning a ski trip to the US Rockies
15% planning a ski trip to the Eastern US
14% plan to visit the Canadian Rockies
10% will consider planning a ski trip Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or South America.

Rating the importance of preventive measures ski resorts can take to control the virus:
88% say continuous sanitizing in public areas ( dining, lodge, restrooms) is extremely important. 
74% indicate social distancing in dining areas, lift lines and other public spaces is very important. 
59% said requiring facemasks on lifts and in public spaces is considered extremely or very important.
50% favored daily limits on numbers of skiers and boarders at an area as very important.

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What Skiers Spent Last Season – When asked what they spent on skiing 2019-20 season including ski gear, clothing, lodging, food, and lifts?
51% spent  under $2500
29% spent  $2500 -$5000
20% spent $7,500 or more. 

The survey respondents of SeniorsSkiing.com Survey Monkey June 2020 poll are 73% male; 27% female.

So the question is… if Seniors are brave and bold enough to plan to ski the 2020-21 ski season, are YOU?

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide

The Future of Skiing

We are all eager to ski again, especially since our 2019-20 ski season ended abruptly with Covid closures mid-March. All Corona puns aside, our ski experience will change for the foreseeable future. What will never change is the joy of skiing, the freedom on being outside on a glorious snow-covered mountainside, the rush of flying downhill, the pull of gravity and the g-force of well-arced turn. Arriving at your ski resort next season though… will feel different…

So what does skiing look like next season? Some thoughts on crushing cord and cruising pow in pandemic times.

PPE? Skiers and snowboarders are already pretty accustomed to wearing goggles, gloves, facemasks, so that’s not a big shift for skiers. We can adapt our alpine ensembles accordingly.

“Ride with your party” may well be the new protocol. No that’s not party as in “hey nice to meet you, let’s party!” conversations on the chairlift. New social distancing while skiing could mean you only ride the chair or load the gondola with your family members that you arrived with. I loved (yes past tense) meeting new peeps on the chairlift, a behavior that is likely benched for now. I suppose Six and Eight passenger chairs might be able to allow two singles or two couples seated on opposite ends. Is that 6’ of separation (liftees please chime in)? Do you put the Big Sky or Okemo bubble down during your ascent or keep the air flowing? I do love the bubble on cold, windy, wet snow days, but I am willing to make concessions – fresh air for freshies.

Singles line! No more. This one makes me sad, as it’s a great way to meet peeps when you’re skiing alone, with the added benefit of circumventing a potentially long lift line.

Ski-Times” like golf Tee-Times are being considered for gondolas, even trams. Imagine reserving your Gondi or Tram time. Your 9:15am car is ready and sanitized for you, and you are instructed to “please proceed and ride only with your party.”

Trams are admittedly a tricky situation.  I am picturing last season’s Snowbird and Jackson Hole’s tram lines and tram cars absolutely packed on a powder morning. A thing of the past?  Ski resorts may have to configure capacity with appropriate distancing and only load that number of skiers and riders, with X marks where you are to stand on the tram floor. I do love the window spot… will there be a premium for that? Kidding, I hope. Maybe trams are on hold for next season, or by reservation only. You may have to work harder to get that big vert at the ‘Bird then. Stay tuned.

Pomas can make a strong come back, naturally distanced and isolated with a disc between your legs – oh the retro fun! Mad River Glen should thrive with their Single Chair, naturally quarantined on your one-seater for your long lonesome ride up!

T-Bars you’ll be paired only with your partner, otherwise you ride solo and do the balancing act with an L under your butt. Skilled snowboarders have been mastering this for years.

Speaking of lift lines, will corrals need to be bigger to keep skiers and riders 6 feet apart in the queue? I’m pondering a few resort that already have limited space for their lift line corrals without interrupting skier flow out onto the trail or into the resort base space.

Limited Skier Visits? Will ski resorts need to limit the number of skiers on the mountain for the day to avoid long lines and over-crowding? Powder Mountain in Utah has been limiting to 1,500 ski tickets sold each day for years, making for a genuinely unique experience on their vast 7,000+ acres. Deer Valley limits ticket sales to assure everyone has a seat at lunch, they’ll have to reduce and reconfigure that seating now.

Mountain Lodges serving food, and ski area restrooms, will have to mandate greater spacing and more strict cleaning policies (well, I’m sure I’m not alone in welcoming that at certain ski area bathrooms – lol). Buffets are likely bye-bye. I did enjoy Vail’s Two Elk salad bar, The Summit at Snowbird’s central self-serve too. As a safer template, Snowbasin has a well-designed “Servery” in the palatial Earl’s Lodge at the base of the slopes with an excellent cafeteria style service . Thinking about Snowbasin’s Turkey Pot Pie right now! Mmmm.

As for Passes, many ski resorts are offering very forgiving season pass promises  to encourage you to commit to next season. Vail’s Epic Pass has Epic Coverage – offering 2020-21 pass purchasers free insurance with refunds available in the event of resort closures (e.g. COVID-19), job loss, illness, even injury, a full or prorated refund. Also EpicPass buyers this past season can receive a credit on next year’s purchase of 20 to 80% depending upon their usage last winter. Since Vail Resorts tracks your every move on their mountains, they are able to calculate your usage, and contact you directly with their tabulation. So all those metrics and data collected can help you – or hurt you – if you hit big mountain milestones on Vail Resort’s EpicMix leaderboard – they know.

IKON pass holders are offered a $200 credit ($100 for the IKON Base Pass) toward next season’s pass, and IKON has added Adventure Assurance giving the flexibility to defer your pass to 2021-22. So there’s some compensation from IKON Pass at their 43 ski resorts combined on one pass.

Uphill skiing has already been trending upwards in recent years. This no-lift ski approach to alpine should continue to thrive as skiers seek out back-country experiences and true distancing. Hopefully uphill skiers will access remote terrain with appropriate snow safety and avalanche awareness, versus just skinning up groomed slopes and skiing down resort trails (poaching) without paying their share by buying lift tickets or a pass, or paying only $10 bucks. Ok, its a pet peeve of mine.

Après Ski? Say goodbye for now to the packed party scene at the Matterhorn, Foggy Goggle, Red Lion, Trap Bar, Grizzly… all of our favorite après ski bars …the list goes on…  Some ski regions were hot spots for “sharing” the virus last ski season. Après ski at Ischgl come to mind. We’ve skied this Austrian resort and can report the Alps-style après ski is huge, lots of hugging, and chugging, dancing, sharing drinks and super close contact included! Yeah, that’s no longer the scene ski friends (insert sad face here).

Ok, so we have more questions than answers about next season’s ski experience. Travel to the Alps, I doubt it? Japan, um no. Big events, probably not? It’s a curious time, unprecedented.

But if there is a will, there is a way. I know the ski industry and our community of skiers are resourceful passionate people and there will be a plan to SKI! I will not even contemplate ski resorts NOT opening next winter, call me naïve, I prefer optimistic and hopeful …

Stay well, stay safe, stay in ski shape –  winter is coming!

Heather –  Travel Writer, Skier since 1969

Copyright and photos by Greg Burke property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
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Social isolation – oxymoron?!

I love to travel, to ski, and I am a very social person ( I hear some of you chuckling- understatement)… therefore “social isolation”, travel bans and ski resorts closing for the season in mid-March have me in quite a quandary (okay – totally bummed out)! Did I mention that late March early April is my favorite time to spring ski and travel to fun events like Taste of Vail in the snowy sunny mountains? I love Sunrise Service via chairlift and skiing with my family on Easter. Cancelled…all of it.

This is our new reality. So, we must keep perspective, keep positive, and be socially responsible till we flatten the Covid curve.

Returning safely from our recent  “epic” ski trip to Canada, I am so exhilarated.  Epic – since it included Epic Pass partner resorts Fernie, Kimberly and Kicking Horse, and Ikon-ic Sunshine Village and Norquay in Banff.

I love traveling, but I am always equally grateful to come home. This return trip, passing through ghostly vacant airports with passengers donned in facemasks and gloves – avoiding even eye contact with each other, I felt the pandemic, panic, paranoia and our ominous new reality. … We are as fragile and susceptible as we are free and strong.

Seeing our big U.S. flag as I crossed the border, I was teary eyed, thinking of my love of home. Turns out I’ll be spending a lot of time – literally “at home.” Fortunately I can walk to a beautiful beach and breathe fresh air by the sea in my special town of Kennebunkport – I am blessed. We should never take for granted our independence, our opportunities to explore, and also our responsibilities as American citizens to respect one another and do the right thing for everyone’s benefit – not just our own.

So I will self-quarantine, with my ski partner and husband Greg. I don’t like it, but it’s the socially responsible thing to do. I miss my friends already (Day 36) …. But studies show this is the best way to reduce the spread of this powerful Covid 19. By the way, I don’t care for Corona, but can we please stop using that nomenclature? It’s not fair to the fun beer company best with lime!

Let’s be mindful of others – students who may not get to graduate with their class, of elders denied visits from their families, of medical personnel at risk caring for others who will be more overwhelmed if we don’t practice social distancing, of those who are ill. The sooner we do it, the sooner its done!

My spring ski trip to Vail seems trivial… still disappointed though 😉 I won’t achieve my goal ski days – just sayin’. Only 40 ski days this season, versus 60 last…

I respect ski resorts’ decisions to close for the safety of their people, both staff and guests. Businesses will feel the pinch, we all will in respective ways – except Charmin apparently – who’s hoarding all the TP?!

“Social distancing” saddens me, just typing the oxymoron feels wrong, as I like nothing more than to see friends and family following a travel adventure. Not this time… because I love them – I will not socialize with them right now. I’ll be posting travel stories – we are all armchair travelers for the time being. I may even post some amazing ski pictures – not to be annoying (lol), but as a promise of future adventures.

Airlines and most travel companies have been generous with their cancellation policies, so that we may all resume travel when it is deemed safe.

I look forward to emerging from isolation/quarantine and seeing you all – healthy, happy. We will all look back on 2020 with 20/20 and a renewed appreciation of our health, our opportunities, and each other. Until then virtual hug and love to your & yours,

Heather –  Travel Writer, Friend, Grown-up

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
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Top Mobile Ski Apps for Skiers

Skiing is exciting – our favorite sport – but it can also be a overwhelming if you are new to the sport. Besides using the best gear and accessories, it’s also a smart to leverage technology to on your ski trip.

Mobile apps are getting more popular in our daily lives as well as snow sports. There are lots of apps developed by skiers for skiers. With the help of these awesome ski apps, you can take your winter adventure to the next level.
Ski App reviews.

  1. Trace Snow (Android/iOS, Free)

Trace Snow is a great app for both beginner and advanced skiers to keep track of different kinds of terrain. Specifically, this app can record airtime, speed, distance travel, and jumps. If you are a fitness geek, you’ll love the calories data. Trace Snow provides how many calories you have burned! You can easily access your stats on the slope and see your progress during the season, and best of all, share your awesome stats on social media like Facebook.

  1. Waze (Android/iOS, Free)

While Waze is not a dedicated skiing app, you’ll love it as a skier. Ski mountains aren’t the most accessible locations, thus you can’t always get real-time data from Google Maps or Apple Maps. That’s what makes Wave so great – you can receive updates about the best routes to drive and road conditions,  to your desired location safely, thanks to Wave’s users who also share police traps, road accidents, etc.

  1. OpenSnow (Android/iOS, Freemium)

As its name indicates, OpenSnow is an app for snow forecasts and weather . It’s created by a group of weather forecasters who are obsessed by powder. Snow forecasts allow skiers to seek the best conditions. OpenSnow is a “freemium” app available on both the iOS Store and Android Play Store, meaning its free, though the premium version cost $19 per year for ad-free and longer-range forecasts and alerts.

  1. Ski Tracks (Android/iOS, $0.99)

If you are a skier who is not so techy and prefer apps with less complicated features, Ski Tracks is a great option. The app does what it says, tracks your skiing runs by using your phone’s sensors. Another highlight about Ski Tracks app is that it synchs to your Apple Watch, Echo Fit, etc, so you don’t need your phone. Given all the useful features and ease of use, one dollar is well worth it.

  1. SkiLynx (Android/iOS, $2.99)

If you are a social person who likes to ski with other skiers, SkiLynx is one of the best apps. It allows you to easily keep in touch with your group friends on the mountain. You can quickly create a group in the app with one click, then invite friends and  to chat with them throughout the day, see exactly what run or lift each group member is riding, all in real-time.

  1. Epic Mix (Android/iOS, Free)

From the Vail folks who brought you the game-changing Epic Pass – a super savings season pass good at all Vail’s 37+ ski resorts, here is an Epic ski app that tracks your vertical skiing, gives you real time intel on ski conditions, lift line times throughout each resort, shows how your kids are progressing in ski school, and how your race time is versus Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin. Epic Mix even offers up photos of you and your posse captured around the mountain, thanks to RFID tech on your Epic Pass. We love the lifetime vertical accumulation! 1 million vert a season anyone?

Contributor Christine, the founder of TheSkiGirl.com, a blog where she and her team share their passion with other skiers. You can find the latest ski gear reviews and in-depth knowledge of a  variety of snowsports topics .

See more at  Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
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Chairlift Chats

Part of my love for skiing is the people… skiers bring such contagious energy to an otherwise chilly snow sport. From first chair to last and flowing into aprés ski, there’s a kinship among alpine enthusiasts.

One of my favorite aspects of skiing is meeting new people on the lifts, striking up conversations within the confines of our 5 minute ride up the mountain. I have met some rally “cool” peeps in my ski travels…. pun intended. Hey chairlift chats really do keep you warm, or at least distract you from the chill. Besides, there is so much to learn from fellow skiers. We share the same passion, serious commitment to our gear, our ski fitness, our  desire to travel to new peaks, and our love of skiing snowy covered mountains from fall to spring, from nearby to far far away.

My kids would eye-roll when I’d engage in a chair chat with our new quad sharing neighbor. Now they’re grown and they do it too. It’s a great way to pass the time (5-10 minutes) on your ascent, be it in a cozy gondola where its downright awkward not to talk (god forbid someone fart), a bubble covered chair which is very conducive to good acoustics, or an open air chair (btw: a better place to “pass gas” as my mum would say).

On chairlifts, I have met colleagues- literally – people I went to college with at University of Vermont- on a Gondola in Vail and the quad at Stowe. I have connected with friends of friends and sent selfies to mutual friends from a chairlift in Park City, ran into (not literally) my brother’s first roommate in Big Sky, and extreme skier Dan Egan. I’ve met pro ski racers (Ted Ligety), the snow reporter looking for someone to photograph in the fresh snow for the day’s social media post  (yes, that’s happened 3xs),ski reps from Atomic, Rossi, Parlor, Liberty, Kulkea – good peeps to know, right?! Sure beats sitting in cold silence. Don’t you think?

A natural starter topic is to chat about the weather, a classic ice breaker – you can bitch about the cold, or boast about today’s snow, pontificate the forecast. Is today a “Top 5” day or what?!

Ski equipment is a conversation magnet for alpinists…we’re gear obsessed as a ski society. Hey, how do you like those skis in the powder? But do they hold a grip on the hard pack? Those heated gloves you are wearing – “cool” – but how warm are they – I want to know for how long, how much, how effective, worthwhile or not? So much to share, learn and laugh about in this finite ski world with infinite possibilities. And on it goes…

My favorite ski topic: ski resorts you’ve visited and where’s your favorite ski destination… best ski day ever? The topics are endless, the lift rides are not – endless – so if there is no social synergy, you’ll be unloading soon.

Friendships have formed with these folks on the lift and in lift line, ever-early Wayne at Sunday River, Mark & Ken at Gondi 1 -Vail Colorado, Darian at Sugarbush (she rips)…. The list goes on…. I love these skiers (and snowboarders – I don’t discriminate one plank vs two) for their friendliness and openness to discussion, and their dedication to our mutually beloved sport.

Technology has me concerned, specifically – ear buds, skull candy, and cell phones on the slopes and how they’ve isolated and even eliminated the natural flow of conversation among everyone- including skiing “strangers” who could easily become buds. You can at least share a laugh and an engaging opinion or outlook given your commonality as the 4% that ski and ride. My kids laugh (or eye-roll) when my “hello” goes unanswered to my chairlift neighbor because their ears are filled with music-playing wires. Or worse, I respond to my chair neighbor’s question “hey how are you doing?” only to discover they are on their cell phone talking with someone else not present… literally not present.

In Switzerland, chairlift and gondolas rides are surprisingly quiet. I guess the Swiss are conservative and not very chatty. Greg and I always try to engage… in The Alps its become a game, even with our limited German. We’d love to hear more about skiing Europe from the genuine source…. but we haven’t scored very many Swiss friends…yet. One Swiss gent said, “We’re too tired between ski runs to talk”…. hmmm. Ski lift conversations give me energy, its not tiring- its engaging, I am infused with passion from like-minded ski fans. Downloading details on a recent ski trip is anything but a downer, it’s an upper for me while riding uphill. Hearing about an epic adventure from a ski friend is not only interesting but inspiring…. So many resorts to visit – love to get the firsthand perspective to help steer future trips.

I hope technology, which has so many benefits (RFID lift tickets, vertical tracking, weathercasting…) doesn’t erode the social aspect of skiing. I love to ski, and I love to talk to equally passionate skiers. Isn’t that why we love après ski (aside from the quenching libation and music)?

See you on chairlift in the future and perhaps we can become friends too – not like “facebook friends” but like in IRL (in real life). Cheers to chairlift chats.

 Copyright 2020, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

What NOT to say to a ski friend

“Don’t get hurt”, “be careful”, “don’t break a leg”, “I worry about you”, “don’t let anything happen to you”. This is what hear when I go skiing, from friends, whom I treasure and adore… clearly they care about me too.

But…

I don’t need extraneous fears and doubts in my head, especially when I am skiing. What I need is confidence and positivity…that’s all.  I know the tight rope I walk between safety and risk when I’m skiing, I know it very well. No one is more protective of me than me! My adventures and my risks are highly calculated.

I am never “not careful”. Greg and I put safety in our skiing above all desire to adventure, to ski untracked, to conquer new unknown snow terrain.

Skiing is my element, the mountains, the snow, the high alpine, its my environment, my choice of passion. Skiing is my zone, but in order to have the best (safest) skiing, I need to be “in the zone” – strong, ready, resilient, confident, courageous, prepared, present. There is no place here for self-doubt, for Debbie-downers pointing out the obvi…yes skiing comes with risk. I have read my lift ticket and season pass disclaimers, have you?

Ski resorts’ legal waivers clearly state “skiing has inherent risk”.  We could talk endlessly about risk versus reward, in skiing and in all sports and activities.

Instead I’ll just proclaim skiing is safer than texting and driving,  ponder that instead of my choice to ski and how risky it may be.

Yes, I’ve heli skied with a pack of testosterone charged men in Bella Coola, gone out of bounds in The Alps (as they say in France – it’s better to be off-piste than piste-off– lol). I have bobsledded the Olympic track in Park City (now that was dangerous), skied the speed trial run at Verbier, cat skied the remote Monashees (with a pack of salivating Sugarloafers), and look …I’m still here to write about it. Because I take great care… of myself, my surroundings. I have immense respect for the weather, the mountains, ever-changing snow. I have been educated on slides, tree-wells, avalanches. I also have the utmost respect for those who work in the ski biz, from liftees to groomers, to patrol and 1st responders.

Last but not least, I love my own body and know its strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t wanna get injured… been there, done that. Don’t wanna die either, haven’t done that – not ready – so much more to explore, so much life yet to live…  I also want to LIVE life to the fullest, not from the safety of my home, the sidelines are not for me …thank you.

Would you tell an Indie car drive “don’t crash” or the crazy Wallendas “don’t slip and fall”? At our summer camp in Maine, my sis in law shouted “don’t fall” just as the waterski boat pulls and you are getting up on water skis. Hey, thanks…didn’t need that seed planted right now. When my friend Mary announced she’d be climbing to Everest Base Camp, I gave her only positive encouragement, not “you could die” because she knew that. Proud of her… delighted to hear of her adventure firsthand.

I enter every adventure with thoughtful consideration and caution, a heady approach and  acknowledgement of worst case scenario, but also enthusiasm and a vision of best outcome – as a goal…which we often achieve. Visualizing our safe outcome, with proper preparation and fitness, is highly effective, especially at high altitude. Self-doubt, or voices in your head telling you not to get hurt, does not play in your favor. There is no room for uncertainty when you are in a steep white room, untracked, unknown…you  need your best self. I channel my nerves and anxiety (yes, I do get nervous) into positive energy, along with a quiet little self pep talk.

I will digress to say I am so blessed to have friends who genuinely care about me, my health and wellbeing, as I do them. Friendship is such a gift… caring about another human being that’s not your family, but someone you choose to share with, and laugh with, is one of life’s greatest gifts….perhaps the best of all! Because friendship… well, you earn it…the trust, the experiences – from the silly to the sublime, the camaraderie, the crazy, the loyalty, the acceptance and appreciation of knowing each other quirks. I love my friends! #iloveus

So my friends, next time you want to say “don’t get hurt”, instead say “have fun” or “I look forward to seeing your ski photos” and “let’s celebrate when you get back”… “go get it”, “do what you love”. I will in turn be as supportive of my friends’ crazy (ok, risky) passions and pastimes: running (oh my knees), sky-diving (OMG), making candles (hot wax – yikes), sunbathing (burn baby burn),  beach boot camp (ok – not so risky – just sandy, early morning and not fun).

I’ll be skiing (safely) with good vibes, thank you very much, it’s what I love, it challenges me, makes me happy, healthy, accomplished, vibrant.

Do what you love, love what you do, know the risks, picture the rewards, life is an adventure… go get yours…

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke
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