“It’s not like the virus is magically going away; it’s something we’ll have to deal with for months, years, who knows for how long, with various variants and things of that sort,”– Geoff Hatheway, President of Magic Mountain.
The ski season has already started in Vermont. Killington got the ball rolling by opening on November 5th, and other resorts will likely follow in the coming weeks if the weather allows. The question for resort officials in the state of Vermont is whether they can regain the momentum that was lost from the Covid-19 pandemic. The state of Vermont issued the strictest Covid-19 restrictions the country saw during the pandemic, requiring out of staters to quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival or present a negative Covid test after quarantining in their home state. According to Seven Days Vermont, the results were brutal for the state’s ski industry. Skier visits were down 30%, and revenues nosedived by $100 million. But with relatively high vaccination rates across New England, Vermont has dropped most of its Covid restrictions, and demand is surging.
Multiple resorts, including Sugarbush and Smugglers Notch, are saying that season pass sales are back to normal or even better in some circumstances. Burke is seeing potentially stronger demand for skiing and staying overnight during Christmas vacation and MLK Weekend compared to the 2019-20 season. With this rising demand comes another issue for ski resorts and local tourist sectors: a lack of job applicants. Resorts will have some help from the J-1 visa applicants compared to last year, but it won’t fill all their needs. Employers are also being more stringent about their requirements for working, which includes vaccination against Covid-19.
Some of the pandemic-related amenities that were introduced last season will stay around for this winter. Some of these include the Snack Shack located right next to the single chair at Mad River Glen, outdoor dining at Magic Mountain, electronic ticket kiosks at Killington, and outdoor rental pickup at Bolton Valley.
A big event that could help in this recovery effort is the Homelight Killington Cup on November 27 and 28th. The female World Cup event was canceled last season due to the pandemic. Killington was just given the green light to run the event for this season and will give the state a boost for a season that has started off slowly. The Slalom and Giant Slalom races will occur on the notorious Superstar trail, which snowmaking made glacier frequently makes it to May and June. Spectators can purchase tickets here, but will need to either present a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination. Videos and photos from Killington and likely participant, Mikaela Shiffrin, are below.