It was a day of firsts for Harper Fuchs.
Saturday marked the first time the nine-year-old clicked on skis, rode up a magic carpet in them and sped down a hill — a whole host of new experiences in a pandemic, a new experience in and of itself.
With her dad, Brandon Fuchs, by her side, she navigated her way around both the terrain and coronavirus protocols at Mission Ridge Winter Park in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.
“I feel like this is definitely a safe outdoor environment for us to enjoy some time together,” Brandon Fuchs said. “I think all the protocols should allow things to flow really nicely.”
For Mission Ridge’s business manager, Anders Svenson, it’s new terrain as well. He said a lot of careful planning went into Boxing Day’s opening.
Masks are required everywhere on the property, including outdoors. People are required to maintain two metres of distance while in line-ups, as there were Saturday for both lift tickets and the chair lift. Only members of the same household can share a seat to ride up.
“The reality is you’re not getting on a lift, you’re not entering a building, you’re not going anywhere without a face covering,” Svenson said.
“We’ve got staff at all pinch points to make sure everyone’s following the rules,” he said. “The vast majority of people are taking it very seriously.”
Neil Henneberg was one of those people taking it very seriously.
“Keep in your family cohort and you’re fine,” he said through his mask while waiting to reconnect with his wife and two children by the chair lift.
“We’re all having a blast,” he said. “Everybody’s just happy to be here.”
To start the season off, Mission Ridge has been able to open five or six runs, according to Svenson.
He added it’s a relief to see them busy, but not too busy.
“We’ve been blessed with having a season and we’re very fortunate. We’re very grateful for that,” he said. “The reality is a four-month business doesn’t survive very long when you cut a third of it out.”
He said he’s hopeful that with the right weather conditions and people continuing to abide by the distancing and masking requirements, the winter park will be able to have a full season.