Roger Marolt: Ignoring the gravity of this situation could very well put ski season in jeopardy
I am not a pessimistic guy, but the idea of not having the ski lifts run this winter is like a dark cloud hanging over me dumping loads of powder and all I have at my disposal is skinning gear. Don’t get me wrong, skinning gear is a little bit better than nothing, but it is to actual skiing what jogging around the high school track is to NASCAR racing.
I have heard rumors. Nobody knows the odds of the lifts not running this winter, but any chance is enough to induce panic. You remember the day the season died suddenly premature in March. We know this can happen.
It’s hard to imagine a winter without lift-served skiing. Aspen would go from being one of the best wintertime places to being one of the worst. Nobody in their right mind would visit. We would be skinning and cross-country skiing so much that we would be forced to admit that neither is very much fun.
The only ways to make money would be shoveling sidewalks, driveways and roofs or fixing boilers. We would get cabin fever so bad that we’d start making face masks out of dirty ski socks for sentimental reasons. Imagine the quality of produce we’d be getting off the back of the truck if it was only us bumpkins up here in February. How many jigsaw puzzles can a person do? How many online articles can a person read about the best home workouts to firm your abs? I don’t want to find out!
We have to get our crap together. Who doesn’t feel like this summer is becoming a giant experiment about how a resort town, a melting pot for tourists, a virtual petri dish for communicable disease, a veritable international living germ magnet can handle a killer pandemic? People are watching; people who have the authority to pull our plug. If we screw this up and erupt into a coronavirus volcano, we can probably kiss next ski season goodbye.
We have grown very complacent. I see lots of people suddenly not social distancing or wearing masks. I saw acquaintances hug in public. None of us think we are going to die from this thing, and 98% of us are probably right. Many have convinced themselves that maybe feeling super weak and crappy for a month wouldn’t be so bad. Even the possibility of permanently losing our sense of taste and the pure enjoyment of food and beverages for the rest of our existence doesn’t seem to scare many. But, for crying out loud, what will we do if they close the ski areas for an entire season? Is that worth wearing a mask for?
I am having an epiphany as I write this. Yesterday, I got the second round of my shingles vaccination. It is doing what it is supposed to which is using dead viruses to trigger an immune response in my body to produce antibodies. In fact, it is working a little better than it needs to, in my humble opinion. Last night I woke with a fever. My muscles ache. I alternate between chills and sweats. My head feels like Earl Anthony’s bowling ball in the last frame of a 300-point game. The thing is, I’m not sick. It’s just that my body thinks it is. And, I can barely stand it. That this might go on for two or three days, sounds like forever.
I knew the possibility of these side effects. My reaction was pretty much like “whatever.” Now I am like “ugh.” The point is that feeling like I do now — perfectly healthy but exhibiting mild and very temporary flu-like symptoms — has made me adamant that I want nothing to do with this coronavirus. What my wife says is true: I am really lousy at being sick. Even if they don’t close the lifts, this coronavirus is wicked enough that it could knock out a month, or more, of skiing for any of us.
If you are adamant about not wearing a mask, if you insist on exercising your right to gather in large, tight, sweaty groups while breathing all over each other, if you stopped washing your hands again, if you think contracting the virus would be like a two-week paid vacation, I think you might be wrong. If we are not more careful now, there might a terrible price to pay. It might be worse than death. It might be an entire winter in Aspen without skiing.
Roger Marolt’s first ski dream of the summer was a nightmare with him heading up Spar Gulch on skins rather than schussing down on fresh wax. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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