Aspen Times Editorial: Skico put together a solid season despite the challenges

Aspen Times Editorial Board

When judged by the usual metrics, the COVID-plagued 2020-21 ski season will go into the books as a horrible one for Aspen and Snowmass.

Skier visits tanked. Restaurants struggled to keep afloat while wrestling with capacity limits. Lodge and hotel occupancy started slowly before warming up in March.

But in an odd winter such as this one, the usual statistics should be tossed out and the bottom line viewed differently.

Skiing injected sanity into a season when the world seemed headed to hell in a handbasket. There was pandemic anxiety, political strife and economic uncertainty.

Aspen Skiing Co. officials deserve credit for making the best of bad circumstances. For the most part, they did a good job of establishing procedures that kept people socially distanced and safe, yet enabled them to have fun. Most lift mazes were set up so people in different parties could stay separated. The exceptions, at times, were the mazes at the Village Express six-pack chairlift and Elk Camp Gondola, both at the Snowmass base. Some skiers and snowboarders said they were uncomfortable being in the crowded jumble at the bottom of those lifts.

Skico also successfully undertook firm but professional enforcement of mask requirements. Skico employees could be seen on multiple occasions politely and professionally reminding customers to put up their masks.

Skico expanded its ski pass offerings this year in an effort to spread people out. The company was able to avoid a reservation system — something nobody wanted.

Ski instructors said they stayed busy, once snow conditions improved after January. And some also helped remind folks in the lines to keep up their masks.

As usual, Skico’s mountain operations departments — from snowmaking to groomers to ski patrol — did a top-notch job throughout the winter.

Extending the season at Snowmass for a week put a cherry on top. Snowmass was scheduled to close Sunday, along with Aspen Mountain. Instead, Snowmass will remain open through April 25.

It was a difficult year — one that will be best remembered as being endured rather than thoroughly enjoyed. But, hey, it would have been worse without the slopes being open.

The Aspen Times editorial board is comprised of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause, reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason and copy editor/columnist Sean Beckwith.