The importance of skiing during COVID


Photo courtesy of Carolina Azevedo)

Carolyn Tanner, Gabi Echegaray, and Hannah Zack skiing and snowboarding at Snowmass Mountain while maintaining safety precautions.

As winter closes in, and the comforting heat of summer leaves us, we are finding ourselves stuck in our rooms for days on end. Usually, during the winter and holiday season, Aspen is a place of captivating gatherings and outdoor attractions. Now, during the Pandemic, activities are limited to skiing and other, more isolated attractions. The summer was lively in Aspen despite Covid-19 and people had more opportunities to go out and see their friends in outside and socially distant settings. The cold temperatures have made that very difficult, but skiing is a fun way to get out and see your friends and loved ones, in a safe manner. 

With isolation, comes loneliness and a decrease in mental health for everyone. This extended time of loneliness to keep everyone safe has more effects on people’s minds, and bodies than we might realize. Crystal Raypole touches on some of the direct effects of isolation in a July 2, 2020 article.

 “Some people who live alone and don’t see people regularly may not feel lonely at all. Yet others might spend time with people every day and still feel overwhelmingly alone. These feelings of loneliness, when left unresolved, could eventually lead to depression and other mental health concerns,” said Raypole in a interview. 

Not only does loneliness create a feeling of sadness and emptiness for many, but it also leads to many physical health problems in the future. Alice G. Walton from Forbes Magazine is a healthcare worker and has seen direct physical effects from poor mental health. 

“Studies have also shown that loneliness has some even darker consequences, like how we think: it’s been linked to problems with attention, executive function, cognitive function, and is even the risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Walton in a 2018 interview with Forbes Magazine.

Usually, Aspen is filled with new tourists everyday, busy mountains, and attractions like concerts and events. Now, due to restrictions, the Aspen community is more isolated than usual. Teens in particular are missing out on their “normal,” yet crucial high school social experience. There is already a worldwide problem of mental health in teens, and for many, school was the only time to see their friends. With school being online, it becomes especially difficult for students to socialize with others. Skiing, however, has given a special and rare opportunity for students and adults to get fresh air, socialize, and exercise while keeping Aspen safe. 

In addition to simply exposing yourself to more socialization as a way to keep yourself from being lonely, exercise has shown many positive effects on mental health. writes on the many mindful and physical benefits of exercising.

“They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.” 

Cases of COVID in Aspen are on the rise due to the increase of traveling, holiday season gatherings, and ignorance of safety precautions. While enjoying the fresh powder and amazing conditions, remember to always wear a face covering and keep as socially distant as possible. Carolina Azevedo, a sophomore at Aspen high school gives her opinion on safety while skiing, in an interview during the busy December ski season. 

Yes, I do feel safe while skiing. Everyone in the lift lines has masks on and everyone is respectful of the guidelines. I have been able to see my friends more often because it is safer to be with them in an open environment, and it’s easy to socially distance as well with skiing, and being on the mountain,” Azevedo said. 

Students are already feeling the effects of the mountains opening. Online classes have become easier to pay attention to when you have more outside activities to engage and activate your mind. Skiing, as well as other forms of exercise releases endorphins that elevate your mood and gives you clarity, which is much needed during these stressful times. Carolyn Tanner, a sophomore at Aspen High School gives her personal experience of mental health during COVID.

 “Sometimes, it was refreshing to just be doing my own thing on my own time without having to deal with social drama, but other times it got super lonely. The cold weather doesn’t help, and the fact that it gets dark so early makes me feel like I am wasting my day sitting in front of the computer. I love skiing, it really helps my mental health,” Tanner said. 

Mountains opening in Aspen have provided youth and teens with a mental health outlet and has brought some form of normalcy to these times. writes about the physical and emotional benefits when you get out on the slopes. 

“Skiing outdoors can elevate mood and create a greater sense of well-being and happiness, which we all know and which is why we love skiing so much!” According to