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Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Beth Howard on Thursday posted an extraordinary letter on the Vail Mountain Facebook page addressing staffing and COVID-19 challenges plaguing the resort, many of which were explored in detail in a story posted Friday on the Colorado Sun website.
Here’s the letter from Howard:
To our Vail Mountain community:
It has been a whirlwind holiday season and I am so grateful for each of you who took time to ski or ride on our mountain. This amazing Vail Mountain team has opened over 2,100 acres, including Sun Up & Sun Down Bowls, and we are running 20 of our 33 lifts. Although we had low natural snow and a warm start to the season, we’ve recently enjoyed numerous powder days and the mountain is filling in nicely.
We have faced some very difficult challenges. The biggest dynamic we are contending with right now is COVID-19. It’s why Pride Express isn’t running, why some of our retail stores are closed, and why some of our food & beverage operations have been slimmed down.
Our mountain is staffed and our employees are vaccinated, but in an effort to keep you safe we are asking any employee who is sick or has been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home – and they are. We are focusing on your experience, and prioritizing your safety. As a result of these COVID exclusions, our operation has been impacted.
Additionally, looks can be deceiving. If you look at Blue Sky Basin, it seems like there’s plenty of snow. And in some areas, there is. But in others, we still have quite a ways to go.
The operations team is hard at work preparing terrain. They are performing the careful & meticulous act of snow control – we will never risk their safety or yours in order to open more quickly. We have great respect for the Operations & Ski Patrol leaders who are guiding their teams through this process. We appreciate your understanding and patience.
In my 37 years in the industry, this has been the most challenging holiday season I’ve ever experienced. This has no doubt been a challenging few weeks for every person working at Vail Mountain – and I am grateful for all of their hard work to perform under the stress of the holidays and the resurgence of COVID-19.
I want to thank the incredible Vail Mountain team for their dedication and professionalism. I also want to thank our guests and neighbors for your patience and smiles.
Please have a happy & healthy New Year. We hope to see you on the hill soon.
Beth Howard, COO, Vail Mountain
The good news is the holiday crowds should start thinning out a bit and the snow will continue to fall into the new year.
“Snow will fall all day on Friday and continue into Friday night which means that both Friday and Saturday’s first chair should be fun times to ski and ride,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote on Friday morning. “We’ll have dry weather from January 2-4, then the northern mountains may see snow return from January 5-9.”