MANSFIELD ─ The 60th season of the slopes opening at Snow Trails is slightly different from previous years.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ski resort added more safety protocols and adjusted the opening hours. Marketing manager Nate Wolleson said the slopes are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Jan. 3 to follow the statewide curfew.
The changes did not stop people from visiting on Saturday. Lance Barnett of Delaware, Ohio, was one of them. He enjoyed skiing and snowboarding with his wife and their four children. He said it was the first time his 2-year-old son, Zane, could do snow sports with them.
“My wife and I both grew up skiing from 2 or 3 years old. So, pass on those traditions,” Barnett said of taking his son to the slopes.
He also said it was nice being able to get out and get some fresh air. The family usually would get a spot in the indoor area and hang out. The pandemic changed their routine this year.
To provide a safe environment for the guests, Wolleson said Snow Trails came up with the COVID-19 Safe Season Plans. Masks are required at indoor facilities and the capacity has been reduced 25 percent. Also, social distancing is encouraged.
“We like to say physical distancing instead of social (distancing). We want people to be social. We just want them to be apart when they're being social,” Wolleson said.
The good news is winter sports lovers are used to staying apart and covering their faces. Wolleson said skiers keep their distance from others on the slopes to avoid any incident. They normally would also wear facial coverings to keep the wind off their faces.
Snow Trails will provide more sessions for its children’s program this season. Wolleson said they have limited the class sizes and offer two sessions a day rather than one. The program is for any children 4 to 9 years old.
While reservations are not required, Snow Trails encouraged people to get tickets online. Wolleson said Snow Trails will monitor the bookings to help set limitations when needed.
As for the tubing park opening, that has to wait for a few more days. Wolleson said the team expects cold temperatures below 30 degrees to come toward Thursday or Friday which would make a better base of snow for the lanes.
Snow Trails plans to offer glow tubing on the first evening the tubing park is open. LED lights will string over the top of the area. Wolleson said when people slide down, they will see the snow glowing.
With limited days of cold temperature and high humidity, Wolleson said preseason snowmaking was more challenging this year. A temperature around 29 degrees and 60 percent relative humidity or lower is what the team prefers.
Snow Trails will be open until 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 and be closed on Christmas. Opening hours after Jan. 3 will be from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.