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Mission Ridge ski park aims to reopen with COVID-19 restrictions

File photo. Mission Ridge in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., is to open Dec. 19 with several new restrictions aimed at cutting the spread of the coronavirus. Dave Parsons / Global News

Fort Qu’Appelle’s Mission Ridge ski park is hoping everything goes downhill, in the most normal, alpine way possible.

The long-time downhill ski and snowboard resort is set to open on Dec. 19 with several new restrictions aimed at cutting the spread of the coronavirus.

Among those are mandatory face coverings indoors and outdoors and cancelled group lessons larger than a single-family unit.

Read more: SJHL season paused until 2021 due to COVID-19

In a Nov. 26 update on its website, the ski resort said it picked Dec. 19 “given the most recent announced restrictions from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and the marginal temperatures that have prevented us from making snow.”

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Business manager Anders Svenson didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story.

The resort’s online statement said it co-developed a document with other ski resorts across the continent called Ski Well Be Well. It “will be the standard at every resort in North America.”

The document says, among other items, resorts are to follow local health authority guidelines specific to each locale.

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For Mission Ridge, it is asking guests and staff to wear masks or face coverings all the time. Ski or snowboard school lessons are by-appointment-only for individuals or family-only cohorts.

The resort isn’t recognizing medical exemptions for skiers or snowboarders unable to wear a mask.

“If a mask cannot be tolerated, it is strongly recommended that public spaces be avoided,” the statement said, adding guests are to maintain a two-metre distance between each other.

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“Not everyone will agree with our plan. Some may feel that our approach is too aggressive while others may feel it is too moderate. We recognize that some of these changes will be inconvenient yet we ask for your patience and understanding as we navigate these times together,” the statement said.

Indoor spaces at the resort, like its rental shop and lift-pass purchasing area, will use single-direction traffic flow procedures; its bar and eatery require face covering all the time, except when a person is eating or drinking.

Rentals for gloves, jackets, pants and goggles aren’t allowed; staff will rent out equipment like skis, boots and snowboards, disinfecting them after each rental. The online statement didn’t mention helmets.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced the Regina Alpine Race Team to adjust training for its approximately 60 athletes.

“A huge amount of revamping from the club’s organization and coaches,” vice-president Colleen Silverthorn said.

They’re renting “box modular units” as warm-up stations “to put our athletes in so they will be socially-distanced,” she said as an example.

When Mission Ridge opens, the race team will start using them, hoping to “take pressure off the clubhouse so we’re not contributing to a crowded situation.”

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She said the team looks forward to when Mission Ridge does open so it can hit the slopes for the first time.

“We support their plans to get fully operational and adhere to any of the guidelines that are being imposed on businesses and ski resorts — Mission Ridge has done a ton of work.”

For now, the alpine racers are doing dry-land training at Regina’s Level 10 Fitness.

The team has had to cut its inter-provincial travel, which would have taken it to the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia for early-season training.

Under non-pandemic conditions, competitive racing usually starts in early January, Silverthorn said.

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