Circumstances have modified, however the resorts are doing good enterprise

If you were to close your eyes this weekend at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, your four remaining senses would likely tell you that things are as they have always followed a snowfall.

You would hear the sound of skiers moving down the mountain, you could bend down to pick up a handful of powder, and it will even smell like food in various spots around the resort.

However, once you open your eyes, the signs of 2020 and the pandemic are on every corner.

Some of them say “No masks, no service.” Others determine which direction to go. This is all part of what Alex Moser, director of marketing at Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel Mountain – the three ski resorts in Somerset County – calls the “weird” year.

The conditions are pristine and the number of skiers and snowboarders is plentiful. Moser estimates that up to 50,000 people visited the resorts this year.

However, due to the pandemic, officials were forced to throttle capacities at the resorts. Signs at the entrance on Wednesday indicated that the ski passes were sold out by noon.

“We’re seeing a lot of people returning to sport this year,” said Moser. He added that outdoor skiing is a great way to enjoy a winter sport with the family while staying away from the crowds.

The resort is geared towards the pandemic.

Eating indoors is banned as part of the state’s three-week ban on curbing the spread of COVID-19. Open-air restaurants can be found in at least one place in Seven Springs where windows are opened and grates replaced to let the air through.

Alex Moser, Marketing Director at Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain - Somerset County's three ski resorts - names 2020 a

Other outdoor seating is available. Skiers and snowboarders bought groceries at one of the many walk-in stations on Wednesday for snacks and drinks before hitting the slopes.

Lauren Galletta from Pittsburgh spends the week in Seven Springs. She is grateful for a few things this holiday season.

“There is actually snow in December,” she said. “The temperature is good.” It was Wednesday afternoon in the mid-1930s.

She said she was happy to be able to leave town for some fresh air.

“Absolutely,” she said. “The change of scenery and the skiing were great.”

Moser said he was grateful to Mother Nature for providing enough air to make snow.

Open-air restaurants can be found in at least one place in Seven Springs where windows are opened and grates replaced to let the air through.

“Mother Nature gave us PA powder,” he said of the natural snowfall.

As of December 23, there was a base of 24 to 30 inches on the mountain, about average, Moser said. 27 of 33 slopes were open.

In the nearby Hidden Valley, 14 of 26 slopes were open. Eight slopes on Laurel Mountain accommodated skiers.

The resorts employ around 1,500 people. Moser said up to 500 more will be needed. He said they need help making snow, operating the lifts and housekeeping, among other things.

“We know it’s not a full-time job,” he said. “People are looking for extra money.”

During a season preview interview at the beginning of autumn, Moser vowed to “let winter happen” on the mountain.

And while you may not be able to share a meal with a room full of other diners at any of the resort’s restaurants, many aspects of winter are present at the Laurel Highlands.

The most important thing could be snow.

“We are grateful for many things at the moment,” said Moser, as elevators carried people up the mountain behind them.

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