Way back in college I was introduced to the concept of "The Common Good" which dates back to Ancient Greece. Great societies are built mainly on this principle. We must all sometimes make sacrifices and live by certain rules in order to effect a better outcome for everyone. This is one of those times.
Ski areas need to shut down for the season, they need to do it now, and we need to applaud them when they do. It is plain as day that this is what is best for not just ourselves, but for our country. This isn't going to be easy for the millions of people in the Northeast who love skiing and riding, or to a much greater degree the hundreds of thousands of people who work at these resorts and in the surrounding communities. The faster we do this however, the faster we will solve this problem and be able to move forward.
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I wrote Jon Schaefer of Berkshire East and Catamount after I broached this subject here for the first time just 4 days ago. I saw that he had shared an article from Medium where it talked about "flattening the curve" and I figured I knew where his mind was at. I asked him if he was going to stay open past Sunday and his response was "I’m wondering if we should even be open then". I then asked him what is there to be gained, and his reply was "exactly". Staying open longer at that point was only stealing days from the inevitable, and it wasn't going to change the outcome for his staff, or make or break his ski areas. The only real loss was in depriving a handful of his customers of a few days more maybe of enjoyment, but at what cost? He was already familiar with that cost as Berkshire County had already become a hot spot with 9 confirmed infections and 70 medical professionals quarantined due to exposure that emptied out their medical center of staff. Jon knew that the risk of exposing his customers, staff, and his family just wasn't worth a few more days of skiing, and so he called it, and he was the first. He was joined by Mt. Abram later that day, and then the next day there were at least 5 more, all stating that despite their regrets it was the right thing to do, and it was.
So for the people at the open ski areas that are battling with this decision still, I want you all to know that this is inevitable, there's nothing to be gained by staying open any longer, and it's for The Common Good. I'm afraid that due to the dynamics in the industry, some of these decisions are being made through a chain of command that sits somewhere else, and this is causing a delay in making this painful yet necessary call. So far only independent resorts in this country have announced plans to close early, though in most cases probably only because decisions require much less deliberation. Clearly many more resorts are gearing up to close soon, but not wanting to shock their employees or customers.
The reason why this must end now is that we actually have a bad situation developing should these resorts remain open longer. In some areas. Individuals and families who have been put on leave and had school canceled are booking accommodations all over Northeast ski country looking for some recreational fun. Some hotels are already booked solid in the following week. Some employees of these supporting businesses even have very close or even physical contact with clients are being told to stay and go to work because of this demand. You see, this is far more than putting just one person on a chair at a time, this is every single person who works or lives in the whole micro-economy connected to these resorts that needs to be socially distanced also. I'm afraid that this is a disaster waiting to happen.
This is in fact already happening around Vail in Colorado, and around Park City and Deer Valley in Utah where both areas currently have more confirmed infections than the much larger cities in those states. Ski areas are in fact mass gatherings, and they are vectors for spreading the virus among their clients, their staff, and in their communities.
Skiers and riders also have a social responsibility to not travel and congregate for the purpose of mere recreation. People will be traveling that have been infected, likely many of them without any symptoms, and they will come in contact with many others as a part of their travels. It's that simple. The way that resorts can combat this isn't simply by separating people on chairs and frequently cleaning high-touch surfaces, it's by ceasing operations and encouraging these people to stay home.
So this all needs to end now. The majority of people should know by now at least in the back of their mind that it's coming despite the disappointment they feel. It's the right thing to do and we are all in this together now. Our ski season should end no later than this Sunday. We need to flatten that curve, and we need to do it fast. We will save lives if we do. That is what is to be gained.
As far as my role goes, I made my decision earlier in the week before my first post on the subject. I will not be covering ski area weather and conditions again this season because I don't want to encourage people to travel while we are still getting our hands wrapped around this problem. I want people to act responsibly and socially distance themselves, and I think the snow will melt before we wrap our hands around things sufficiently enough to start moving forward again. I will remain optimistic so long that we are also diligent. This is a small sacrifice while experts from around the world work on creating treatments and vaccines at a record pace, and our ability to respond improves.
So when the next resort announces that they are closing, let's all cheer them on for helping to combat the spread of this virus in the interest of The Common Good.
NOTE: This article was republished from the Skiology Community on Facebook exactly as it appeared. In the early evening later that day it was announced that Colorado Governor Polis had ordered all ski areas in his state to shut down due to uncontrolled spread of COVID in many resort communities which then set of a chain reaction of closures causing over 95% of ski areas to close in North America by the end of the next day. You may view the original post as well as comments from members of the ski community at that time by following this link (group membership required): https://www.facebook.com/groups/252514958745258/?multi_permalinks=512322806097804