Third of Colorado skiers, snowboarders consider skipping this season due to coronavirus, survey says

Nearly one out of three Colorado skiers and snowboarders is considering sitting out the winter because of concerns over the coronavirus, a survey conducted last month suggests.

The survey of 788 skiers and riders by Boulder-based Magellan Strategies found that 31% were considering not skiing or snowboarding while 68% said they weren’t considering skipping the season. Of those who were, 14% reported they were strongly considering not skiing or snowboarding; 17% were “somewhat considering” not going.

The 41-page report included comments from unidentified respondents, including this one from a woman identified as an Arapahoe County resident: “The risk of potentially getting COVID is (the) biggest reason but also the experience of the mountain I feel won’t be the same,” said the respondent, who was in the 35-44 age group. “Reservations to park, the restrictions on (the) number of people in lodge/restaurants. It just doesn’t seem worth the cost for a less-than experience.”

Related: Summit County reduces ski area capacity to prevent spread of COVID-19

Asked how confident they are in the ability of ski resorts to keep visitors and workers safe from the coronavirus, nearly one in five said they either were not confident at all (11%) or not too confident (8%), while 41% said they were somewhat confident and 28% said they were very confident.

The vast majority of respondents believes there’s a good chance that ski areas will be shut down at some point of the season because of the pandemic. Nearly one in five (18%) thinks there is a 100% chance the season will be interrupted, while 29% believe there is a 75% chance and 36% give it a 50/50 chance.

“I’m nervous about skiing this season. I understand resorts are trying hard to make it safe, but I worry the number of people allowed to ski on a given day will not allow for a safe environment,” said a woman identified as a Clear Creek County resident in the 25-34 age group.

Related: Backcountry ski interest reaching “record” levels, nearly tripling signups for avalanche safety classes

But a man in the 45-54 age group from Cheyenne County disagreed. ”The resorts should stay open. It is vital to our economy and our healthy lives. Stupid politicians need to stay out of it. Americans are free to make their own choices.”

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More than three out of five respondents (62%) said they had skied or ridden in the backcountry. Of the 300 respondents who said they hadn’t, 17% said they had “plans or a strong interest” in trying it this winter. When 50 of those respondents were asked if they planned on buying avalanche gear or taking an avalanche awareness course, 42% said they planned to do both; 26% said they planned to take a course.

“I love to ski,” said a Routt County woman in the 45-54 age group. “I love being outside. Encouraging tourism during COVID is stupid. I’d be more inclined to participate if it was locals only. I live in a small resort town. This winter is going to be a mess. I’m snowshoeing and Nordic skiing instead. Maybe backcountry skiing if I can get into an avalanche class.”

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