Coronavirus: How COVID-19 is impacting Manitoba ski slopes this winter

Many ski resorts in Manitoba are pivoting to ensure they can open this winter while following COVID-19 restrictions.

Springhill Winter Sports Park is busy making snow and preparing to tentatively open on Boxing Day.

“We’re very excited and optimistic that we’ll have a great season, give people something to look forward to,” Springhill Winter Sports Park owner Vivianne Julien told Global News.

Springhill will have a series of COVID-19 regulations in place, including wearing masks at all times while on the slopes or in the chalet.

“We’re looking at the chalet being mostly closed, there won’t any be food or bar” Julien said. “People can come inside to use the washrooms and buy lift tickets and rentals, as well as store their personal belongings. Other than that, they cannot use the chalet.”

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Read more: Ski hill just outside of Winnipeg eyeing Boxing Day opening

Julien also says they will be monitoring the amount of lift tickets they’re selling.

“If it gets to the point where we feel there is enough people on the hill that we can’t keep it safe, we will shut down the selling of passes,” she said, adding that they will keep their website updated on passes.

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Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes in the Whiteshell Provincial Park is also set to open on Dec. 27, following a variety of guidelines.

“We’ve done some reasonably big renos, we’ve done a takeout window so people don’t need to step foot in the chalet in order to get their lift tickets and their food,” Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes general manager Brooke Christie said, adding that people can enter the chalet in a limited capacity, including to use washrooms and for rentals.

She also says they had originally planned to have outdoor fire pits and warm-up areas, but had to pivot due to the level red restrictions. Now, you’ll have to warm up and gear up in your vehicle.

Read more: Interest in Manitoba outdoor activities stretching into the fall amid COVID-19

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“We’re kind of calling people’s vehicles your base camp,” Christie said. “That’s where you’re putting on all your winter wear, you’re putting on your ski boots, you’re going there and idling your car if you need to warm up.”

Christie also says they are urging everyone to purchase lift tickets in advance online, as they are selling a limited amount each day.

“Whether we could or could not open was so unknown until probably just over a week and a half ago,” she said.

“But ultimately, what we really hold onto is that we’re excited at this time to give people something they can do outdoors. It’s good for your mental health, and as long as you can get that physical activity, then we’ll save the gathering for another year.”

Asessippi Ski Resort opened on Dec. 22, and Holiday Mountain in La Rivière is scheduled to open on Dec. 26, both with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Heather-Campbell Dewar, the co-owner of Stony Mountain Ski Area, says they felt opening this year was too great a risk.

“We just figured we couldn’t do it,” Campbell-Dewar said. “The resources it takes, the depth you need — one of us gets sick and we’re going, ‘who runs the Bombardier?’”

Campbell-Dewar says Stony Mountain Ski Area has been operating since 1967, this is her 32nd year as co-owner, and it’s the first year they haven’t opened.

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“How are you going to implement it? That was the tough call with all of it,” she said.

“The other ski areas, they maybe have more resources or better-positioned to do it. We just figured being the little guys, we couldn’t do it.”

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Coronavirus: Manitoba officials discuss COVID-19 vaccine distribution, prioritization

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