Eaglecrest Ski Area is preparing for a winter sports season in the time of the coronavirus with a planned opening date of Dec. 5, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Charlie Herrington)

Eaglecrest Ski Area is preparing for a winter sports season in the time of the coronavirus with a planned opening date of Dec. 5, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Charlie Herrington)

Eaglecrest readies for winter sports season

Equipment rentals require prefitting with the supplier.

As the winter sets in, Eaglecrest Ski Area is making its final preparations for a safe season of winter sports.

“The main goal is to keep everyone outside as much as possible,” said Charlie Herrington, Eaglecrest’s marketing manager, in a phone interview. “The last thing we’re doing right now is widening out the lines at the lift terminals. It’s the last big project before it gets too cold.”

Eaglecrest has pushed many of its facilities as outdoors as possible, putting up large tents to encourage responsible social distancing and relocating many indoor concessions, Herrington said. The resort blasted out more than 8 million pounds of rock as part of ongoing projects, Herrington said.

“We have our COVID policies outlined on the website,” Herrington said. “We’re following the city’s approach.”

Different facilities have different plans in place, based on the risk level the city has declared currently in effect. All the plans, and other coronavirus related information, are available under Eaglecrest’s COVID-19 tab. Many of their best practices have been derived from collective ski industry experience, Herrington said.

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“Treat your car as your lodge,” Herrington said. “The lodge is not a place to put on your clothes and your gear.”

Other changes include the food being moved to a walk-through model where customers will order from a window with outdoors seating and the bar being shifted outside to a tent.

“The bar is going to be outdoor only at one of these tents. Everyone must wear a face covering when they are not actively skiing or snowboarding,” Herrington said. “If everyone cooperates we should get through safe and healthy.”

Eaglecrest is also forbidding service for walk-up renters who aren’t prefitted for equipment when the city’s risk level is high, as it currently is.

“That’s super important, because if the city goes into Phase 3, we will not be allowing walk up customers who are not prefitted to rent,” Herrington said. “It will only be prefits. We’re following the ski industry’s lead.”

The equipment shop is currently open by reservation only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Once a user is fitted, they can rent equipment anytime the shop is open. Herrington said other deadlines are fast approaching, including the Nov. 8 deadline for season passes and a Nov. 4 deadline for the Hilary Lindh Scholarship, a scholarship for first-fourth-graders and sixth-12th-graders to get a free season pass.

Eaglecrest is scheduled to open Dec. 5, but it could be moved earlier if the weather allows, Herrington said.

“It’s cold right? So it feels good. When it’s cold, we can make lots of snow. Gear will be positioned on the mountain shortly. We’re ready to go,” Herrington said. “Eaglecrest has opened early. If there’s snow on the ground, we’ll be running.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.