Winterplace lifts

The lifts of Winterplace are seen as the ski resort prepares for the holiday season, with precautions in place due to the ongoing pandemic.

FLAT TOP — An ongoing pandemic has curtailed many sporting events that generate crowds, but outdoor sports such as fishing, ATV riding, hunting, and now skiing are still available with some precautions, so a local resort is getting ready for the Christmas holiday season.

Winterplace Ski Resort will officially open Saturday, and its staff is getting ready for the season now, according to Executive Vice President Tom Wagner. The recently frigid weather has made the manufacture of snow possible.

“We’re getting the slopes ready and making snow,” he said. “Our goal is to try and be open for Christmas. A lot of people have time off then.”

Wagner said the resort had had “a pretty good run” of snowmaking this last week. The weather is becoming consistently colder  in the Flat Top area, so the resort’s personnel ware working hard on snowmaking to put them in line with opening for the holidays.

With COVID-19 still causing people to rethink holiday traditions, this winter’s ski season is going to look different this year, Wagner said.

“We’re going to be taking precautions,” he stated.

These pandemic precautions include wearing face coverings, limiting seating on chair lifts and encouraging as the “touchless” purchase of tickets in advance as much as possible. The National Ski Areas Association has created guidelines, and Winterplace submitted its plan to the state of West Virginia, Wagner said. The resort’s COVID-19 guidelines are described on the resort’s website.

“Yes, there’s going to be more cleaning and more space on the slopes,” he stated. “It’s not a problem.”

Precautions will included limiting the number of people who ride the slopes’ chair lifts, Wagner said. People traveling as a group will be able to ride the lifts together, but individuals will be asked to ride alone to help maintain social distancing.

In the past, tour buses filled with visitors arrived at Winterplace and other resorts, but the ski industry and other vacation venues are seeing different trends this year.

“There’s a couple of trends we’re seeing, and this is the travel industry across the board,” Wagner said. “You won’t be seeing the buses and vans coming in. You’ll be seeing the individuals coming.”

Outdoor activities like skiing at Winterplace and riding ATVs on the nearby Hatfield-McCoy Trail are examples of recreation that lets families get out and do something together. West Virginia is also a good place where people can enjoy themselves and still practice social distancing.

“With our low population and environment, it’s ideal for getting away,” Wagner said.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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