It’s been one heck of a year. When alpine resorts closed last spring, skiers swapped boards for skinny skis and took to the trails in a surge of “just get me out in the snow” enthusiasm that has carried over to date. While 2020’s pandemic has hindered travel and posed challenges for lodging and dining, it spurred a surge of enthusiasm for any and all outdoor activities.
All in all, this is good news. New-to-the-sport Nordic skiers are showing up to buy passes and gear, supporting resorts and small retailers. Seasoned skiers are diversifying, buying up backcountry or alpine touring gear. An appreciation for the outdoors and a yearning for space is turning a whole new audience onto the beauty and joy of the sport.
What you Need to Know
Things are looking different this year, of course. Here’s what you need to know as we head into a season like no other.
Inventory is flying.
Particularly backcountry or off-track, metal-edge skis. Retailers are upping their late-season purchases due to demand, and are constantly getting in new inventory due to high and earlier-than-usual demand. When shopping, don’t wait—it’s already getting tight out there. If you’re still searching for a gear package, be sure to check with Nordic retailers, centers, and guest ranches, who may have significant inventory stashes that big-box retailers don’t.
Season pass sales are up.
Early indications are showing for most areas that both season and day pass sales are up already, some as much as 30% pointing to increased interest in safer, outdoor activities.
Precautions are in place.
Walk-up windows, private lesson groups, limited indoor foot traffic, and more are being introduced to keep skiers safe and socially distant.
Snowmaking is happening.
Although early season conditions have been dry, there is skiable terrain at most centers. Breckenridge Nordic and Snow Mt. Ranch/YMCA Nordic have the snow-making capacity and have been making snow for several weeks.
Events are scheduled but stay tuned.
Early-season events have thus far mostly been canceled, but some bigger events remain on the calendars as we wait to see how case numbers play out. In the event that races are held, they might be spread out in waves, over the course of several days (such as the Birkebeiner) as organizers work to limit exposure.
How to Navigate It
Plan to plan.
You’ll want to find out in advance what the protocols are at each center where you plan to ski. Are there reservations? Peak or off-peak times? Any limits to skier numbers? Anticipate that things might be slower in terms of gear rental or purchasing passes, and plan to do as much as you can in advance and online.
Get your gear.
If you haven’t shopped yet this year, do it now. See above about scouring Nordic retailers and centers for inventory and good deals.
Spread out and explore.
This is the year to hit the Nordic resorts that are on your radar but you haven't checked out. Consider a cross-country ski/guest-ranch getaway as an option to steer clear of the alpine resort crowds in mountain communities. Or check out the CCCSA Punch Pass gives you 18+ trail passes at 10 resorts plus great lodging, rentals, and tour discounts for $150. The pass is valid anytime during the 2020/2021 season, and punches can be shared with guests as long as the punch-pass holder is present, too.