Ski Season, Take Two

Alterra prioritizes adapting to change to get skiers and riders back on the slopes.

Rusty Gregory has learned a lot in his 40-year ski industry career. Today he finds himself, like many skiers, in uncharted territory. The CEO of Alterra Mountain Company—which owns Steamboat, Winter Park, and is the force behind the popular IKON ski pass—argues nothing could really prepare any CEO for the rough and tumble rollercoaster of 2020. “Mother Nature really owns the place, we really just take what she gives us,” he says, climate change and pandemics included. 

Last March’s abrupt end to the Colorado ski season was unprecedented when Governor Polis issued a mandate effectively shuttering resorts to prioritize the health and safety of Coloradoans. With ski season just around the corner, Alterra’s season pass sales are higher than anticipated, considering the pandemic. To say skiers are anxious to return to their favorite mountains might be an understatement, even with the prospect of new operations designed to keep visitors safe that range from limited to no day-of pass sales to mandatory face coverings to socially distanced lift loading.

“We’ve lived in this very fluid place of running a business in Mother Nature that gives us a certain level of experience in being prepared to deal with the unknown,” Gregory says. With policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of the Alterra staff, guests, and mountain communities, Gregory guarantees only one thing for this season. “The biggest thing will be our reactions to the things that we can’t foresee today. We will be changing [operations] as the season evolves based on data and improved scientific understanding. If there is a better way to keep people healthy and safe, we’ll do it.”

At the end of the day Gregory just wants guests to go skiing, even if it’s not at an Alterra resort. “I really hope people just can enjoy themselves during these difficult times. It’s the best thing for the ski industry as a whole, long term.” And above all, Gregory hopes resort visitors leave feeling like they had “A great, uplifting experience that took me a way from the day-to-day challenges that we all face.” 

Make the Most of Your Season

A guide to Alterra’s Steamboat and Winter Park Resorts *Subject to change without notice, be sure to check for updates online.

  • Buy a season pass. 

    • Both resorts, along with many other Colorado ski areas, are limiting or in some cases completely eliminating walk-up single- day lift tickets. The best way to guarantee you’ll get on mountain this year is investing in a season pass.

  • Reservations not needed.

    • While reservations are currently not required at Steamboat or Winter Park, Gregory reminds us that things could change as the season progresses.

  • Face coverings are required.

    • Specifically while waiting in line, loading, unloading, riding lifts, inside any buildings, and outside when a minimum of six feet of distance cannot be maintained. 

  • Expect crowd control.

    • Heavily trafficked areas like the base area will have systems in place to control and prevent crowding, and distancing while in lift lines will be required. 

  • Lift loading will be modified.

    • Expect new procedures for loading lifts to encourage social distancing.

  • Modified ski school 

    • Class sizes will be limited to five skiers or riders with shortened half-day lessons that don’t include a lunch.

“We’ve lived in this very fluid place of running a business in Mother Nature that gives us a certain level of experience in being prepared to deal with the unknown”

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