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Winter Sports Shift This Season

Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling have always been popular sports in Michigan. This winter, changes caused by COVID-19 could compress the sports into slow bursts and warming up in the car.

The major change at ski resorts like Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs as of December is that lodges and indoor dining were off the menu. But general manager Ben Doornbos said that won’t ruin the enjoyment.

“The good news about winter recreation is the state of Michigan so far has shown us they want to keep outdoor recreation options open for residents,” Doornbos said.

The ban on indoor dining is one restriction. The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association formed a committee in July to work on other protocol for ski areas.

“What we stress is to know before you go,” said Executive Director Mickey MacWilliams. “Check out the website of the ski area you are planning to attend so there will be no surprises. Dress warmly and wear a face covering.”

Wearing a mask shouldn’t be a huge change for winter sports enthusiasts.

“At a ski area people will be asked to wear face coverings when they ride the lift and when they load the lift. So when you approach the lift queue area you will have to wear a face covering, which really shouldn’t be a big deal for skiers, as most of us wear some sort of face coverings anyway,” Doornbos said.

MacWilliams warned COVID-19 could have a negative impact on the industry.

“Although interest in skiing and snowboarding is very high, because dining and indoor facilities are limited, revenue will be limited as well,” she said.

“I think in some ways it might be a real special season. And although there’s a lot of darkness right now, there’s some real bright spots too, and I hope skiing can be a bright spot for people,” Doornbos said.