Back in 2019, when COVID-19 was an unknown entity, Killington Mountain Resort opened for the season on Nov. 3. It was the first resort to kick off its season in the East, beating Sunday River to the punch by seven days.
The race to open is normally an annual competition between the two resorts. As early as September, Killington and Sunday River are apt to show off their first attempts at snowmaking, laying out the message to skiers and riders that the season is near.
But, of course, nothing is normal in 2020, which means the competition is not likely to happen.
Killington president Mike Solimano announced on Thursday that the resort is aiming for an opening date of Nov. 14 this year, a date that he believes will allow the resort to “achieve top-to-bottom skiing and riding with access to multiple base area lifts.”
It makes sense. A race to open the minimum terrain — a white ribbon crowded with skiers and riders — as early as possible would go against the mission of social distancing that all winter enthusiasts will experience this upcoming season. Like Vail Resorts announced late last month with its Epic Pass holders, the first period of time will be reserved for Killington season pass and Ikon pass holders only. Information about when day ticket holders can access the mountain will be announced at a later date.
Sunday River has yet to announce its opening plans for the season, but it stands to figure that it will also be focused on opening as much terrain as possible before running the lifts.
Among some of the other items of interest from Solimano’s open letter:
— Face coverings will be required.
— Guest capacity will be limited.
— Parking reservations are required for both season pass and day ticket holders.
— The season will begin with private lessons only. Group Learn to Ski and Ride programs will not be offered, nor will youth group lessons or childcare be available at neighboring Pico.
— Bags will not be permitted to be stored in the lodge, and the complimentary bag check will be closed.
Basically, treat your car like the lodge, Solimano said.
Changes in dining, après, and crowd control are going to be prevalent across the skiing landscape this winter. From reservations to limited amenities at the ski areas, the challenge is not only lie in the planning, but in the maintenance of each particular day.
While social distancing will be universal, other new wrinkles like reservations may not be. Wachusett Mountain plans to sell day tickets in four-hour blocks. Cannon’s famous aerial tramway may not operate for the entirety of winter. Magic Mountain, one of the friendliest ski areas in terms of its uphill policy, may have new restrictions in store for the 2020-21 season.
It’s 2020. Nothing is normal. It’s best to prepare for the winter season to be anything but as well.
Which resort will be the first to open? In all likelihood, based on snowmaking capabilities, it’s going to be one of Killington or Sunday River once again.
But the race to open with a small patch of snow for hundreds of skiers and riders? That’s over.
We still look forward to the snowmaking photos though.
Meanwhile, in Colorado…..
TODAY!! As forecast September pow in Silverton. Limited visibility for sure, but who cares its September and we are…