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COVID-era Skiing Isn’t Canceled (and Neither is Your Apres-ski Moscow Mule)

Winter is the season of relaxing and warming yourself by the fire with a drink in hand. Unless you love to ski or snowboard, that is. In that case the opposite is true, but one constant remains the drink in hand.

For some, that means a nice après-ski beverage after they’ve squeezed out of their boots. For others, it’s a small swig before carving up the mountain. It doesn’t matter where you’re hitting the slopes — Utah, Colorado, Vermont, or the Swiss Alps — few things cap off a successful day of snow sports like a cold one (or hot one, depending on your preference). Yet this year things are different for the same reason everything else is different: We’re living in the age of COVID.

One thing that is not suggested on the slopes this season? Nursing beers in the food hall. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your ski or snowboard trip is canceled. It will just look a little different.

apre ski

The safety of the whole thing

There’s no hard answer to the question of whether it’s safe or not to trek out to your favorite local mountain. There are plenty of things to consider, from who you’re going with, to the safety precautions at the resort, to how crowded the destination is. In short, skiing and snowboarding this winter means finding where you fall on the risk acceptability spectrum, and it’s going to be that way until the vaccine makes it to the population.

That said, the mountains are perfect for the safety measures we’ve all gotten used to following. You’re outside, for one. Six feet also happens to be a good starting point to avoid crashing into others — though more distance is always better for the occasional weekend warrior. After all, you never know when you’ll need the extra space to avoid the bomber flying out of control down the mountain. And don’t forget the fact that skiers and snowboarders donned masks to keep their face warm long before masks became a required article of clothing to always have on hand.

Ski lodges and enclosed gondolas are a different story when it comes to the risk factor, though. Ski lodges are one of the most cherished aspects of a ski trip (especially for those who are more into the après part of après-ski than the ski part). We’re all going to have to wait a little longer before enjoying the ski lodge again.

About that après-ski…

Eating and drinking indoors is out this year. Yes, it can be cold outside. Don’t think about that. Instead, live by the great Norweigan saying regarding how to handle the elements: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing (Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær in Norweigan).

So forget the shotskis at the bar and clink of Champagne glasses at large communal toasts this season. The same goes for mulled wine, which requires too much equipment that needs to be plugged in for it to be a proper outdoors-only drink.

Instead, grab something that’s easy to pack in and pack out. A flask of your favorite whiskey, for example. Or, if you want the experience of the perfect cocktail despite not having a bar to get one at, bring a cooler of canned cocktails. A sip of a canned cocktail filled with invigorating ginger — a Moscow Mule, for example — will make you forget all about the fact that you can’t sit down with a frosty copper mug. A Kentucky Mule in a can does one better by swapping the vodka for some warming whiskey.

Skiing and snowboarding this season will look different than it ever has. But if we all follow some guidelines and safety measures, the ride will go on — après-ski and all.