Smaller mountains won’t be as affected by travel restrictions

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 4:13 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 7:37 AM EST
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BOLTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Ski resorts all over Northern New England are working on prepping for the start of their season if they haven’t already opened.

But with travel restricted all over the country, some resorts here in Vermont say they will feel the effects more than others.

“I think what we are expecting to see this year is fewer out-o- state skiers,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, the president at Bolton Valley.

“If the out-of-staters aren’t coming, it won’t probably have an effect on our bottom line,” said Jimmy Cochran, the manager of Cochran’s Ski Area.

Larger ski resorts like Stowe and Jay Peak are expected to be among the hardest hit because of out-of-state travel restrictions.

But according to DesLauriers, that doesn’t mean the smaller mountains won’t feel the pinch.

“That reduced travel, that interstate travel is going to be challenging for the ski industry this year,” she said.

DesLauriers says Vermonters are lucky to have hills right in their hometown. And with the proper execution of guidance and protocol, the slopes still have a lot to offer, in a safe way.

“Having that little taste of normalcy, the ski industry has a lot to offer for people’s mental health,” said DesLauriers.

Despite the optimism, COVID-19 will affect more than just resorts’ pockets, but in a different way.

Cochran says for a nonprofit mountain like theirs, roughly only 3% of their skiers being from out of state, so the travel restrictions aren’t the concern.

Cochran has a goal of providing affordable skiing to all families and creating a love for the sport for those who otherwise might never learn. They rely largely on schools and groups that aren’t currently allowed to visit.

“They’re not allowed to practice right now so that’s scary for me, trying to plan because making snow and preparing the hill is expensive and takes a lot of time,” said Cochran.

So getting young and new skiers to the mountain will be tough.

But Cochran says they plan to be open, working toward their mission, regardless of circumstance.

“We do feel like outdoor recreation is really important for kids and is really healthy. A year like this where so many of those options to play have been removed, we are hopeful we can still play a role in their wintertime outdoor play,” said Cochran.

Cochran says he hopes people from the local towns will join them as well as take advantage of other mountains that have less traffic. That being said, they say they are working on systems to make sure people visiting can be tracked in case of a positive case and, of course, they are prepping now to make sure they are following all state guidance just like all the other resorts.

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