Vail Versus All: Colorado Ski Resorts to Shut Down Due to COVID-19


Davis Ortonward

Davis Ortonward (11) and Sam Richardson (11) took this photo from the Peru Lift at Keystone, Colo. on Friday, March 14th. All North American resorts closed one day after this picture was taken and this was the last day of night skiing at Keystone for the entire season.

Samuel Richardson, Photo Editor

On Saturday, March 14th, all Vail Resorts announced that they would be closing until March 22nd, due to the rapidly evolving situation with the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Keystone and many other resorts had made dramatic changes leading up to their suspension, such as halting all food services and only allowing specific amounts of people on chairlifts to prevent contamination. Unfortunately, Vail Resorts announced on March 17th that all North American ski resorts will remain closed for the entirety of the 2019-2020 season, which directly caused public outrage. At the beginning of the 2019-2020 season, Epic Passes launched for $939, giving the pass holder unlimited access to all Vail Resorts with no blackout dates. Keystone, Vail, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek all had their closing dates listed somewhere around mid-to-late April, which would give pass holders eight months to enjoy the slopes (October to April). Once Vail closed, the domino effect took place causing all resorts in the United States to suspend operations, including Monarch Mountain and Arapahoe Basin.

While individuals who pre-paid for rental gear, ski lessons and lodging under Vail Resorts will receive a full refund, those who purchased Epic Passes have not been notified on whether to expect refunds or discounts for next season. Many pass holders were aggravated with the comments of Vail Resorts’ social media and expressed their discontent with Vail Resorts for not giving any “heads-up” about the situation.

One pass holder, jdun59, commented on an official Keystone Instagram post explaining their unforeseen closure, “Where do I get my refund for my Epic Pass!” Keystone’s Social Media responded with a very unhelpful message that has been posted hundreds of times throughout their comment section.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time. We are reviewing our existing pass policies and will provide updated guidance in the coming weeks,” explained Keystone’s Instagram. As of now, Keystone has not updated their existing pass policies from non-refundable, meaning they could potentially offer zero discounts for next year or any assistance to those who haven’t used their passes this year.

To breakeven at Breckenridge, a pass holder would only have to ski a total of five times. The Epic Passes for adults are $939, and day passes are $189, do the math and the cost of an Epic Pass is worth 4.96 day passes, meaning pass holders who have not skied at least five days have been left without a remedy and quite a bit of cash.

“I have been to Epic Mountains this season at least eight times, so I got my money’s worth. However, March and April are, in my opinion, the best months of the year to ski,” said Rylan Dowling (11), who is an avid skier and snowboarder. Dowling was not able to ski in the early months of the season because he “Participated in a winter sport this year at Manitou [Wrestling] and was busy at tournaments most weekends.”

There is still hope for the 2019-2020 season, depending on how fast the Coronavirus escalates in the United States. Vail Resorts announced Breckenridge in Colo., Heavenly in Cali. and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada all have the potential to re-open in late April if the spread of the virus slows down significantly. Arapahoe Basin, which is normally the last resort in Colorado to close, had also made a statement before the Coronavirus had spread to the United States that they were shooting for June 7th as their closing date. Skiers and snowboarders alike have been shredding Loveland, Hoosier and Vail Pass since the closure, and many other high elevation areas. The unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19 does not look like it’s going anywhere, and all the public can do is wait for clarification in these desperate times and pray the resorts reopen.