It can be the best of ski seasons. Or it can be the worst. It’s up to you and only you.

European nations are having a mighty tussle over whether or not to open their ski resorts, but it’s not even a question in the U.S., where many resorts are already open.

France, Germany and Italy, which learned the hard way in the spring that resorts could be centers for spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, are leaning toward keeping resorts closed until after the first of the year. They are basing closures on fears of spread and ski injuries that could overwhelm hospitals.

Mountainous Austria and Switzerland, where people’s red blood cells must be shaped like skis, are going to allow their resorts to open.

In Colorado, state health experts drafted guidance in October that calls for “isolation housing” for guests that may become ill, need to quarantine and extend their stays. Hotels in most resorts reportedly are complying, and ski companies with employee housing are also leaving units available in order to isolate sick employees.

Colorado resorts have put out a “Save Our Season” call to both residents and visitors. It’s a timely and worthy call.

Smokey Bear has helped the U.S. Forest Service suppress wildfires for more than half a century. The ski industry may need to invent his cousins Ski Bear and Ski Squirrel to get the message out that only skiers can tamp down coronavirus in their resorts.

Until you’ve experienced it, it is hard to understand how dangerous a single misstep in observing coronavirus prevention can be. A healthy person one day can be spreading coronavirus the next.

Droplets from a single cough or sneeze can hang in the air for hours waiting for an unwitting victim to walk through and inhale them. A single person not wearing a mask who forgets to observe the 6-foot distancing guideline can exhale enough virus to infect others close by. One infected person can quickly become 15, 25, 50 or 100. It’s the worst game of tag ever imagined.

With proper safeguards, alpine skiing should be a relatively safe sport. Unlike football, basketball or volleyball, it’s an individual sport. Athletes don’t need to clump together. Even on chairlifts, it’s possible to remain distant from others by riding alone or only with immediate family.

Sun Valley Resort can’t keep Bald Mountain open on its own, but everything depends on it doing so. It needs healthy workers to staff the mountain. It needs a medical system with healthy workers and enough hospital beds to care for injured skiers and boarders. Consequently, it needs the help of everyone who skis or boards here.

Humility is the key to keeping the mountain open, jobs intact and our communities healthy. Self-centered indifference to others’ safety will slam the brakes on the season faster than anyone can say “Slalom.”

This is a season to set entitlement aside. You are not special. The virus gives no one a pass, even for a minute. No one likes wearing masks and no one likes social distancing. No one loves putting their ski boots on in the parking lot when there’s a warm lodge nearby.

We do these things to live to hike another day and ski another day. We do it to protect jobs and family livelihoods. We do it because we want our friends around for next year’s skiing and boarding adventures. We do it because we remember the gloom and the contagion of the spring when coronavirus shut down the mountain, the hospital and our towns.

One way or another, every person in the valley is dependent on keeping operations on Bald Mountain healthy. Closure would mean long-lasting harm.

Only you can keep Baldy open.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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