San Mateo snowboarder Lexington Castiglia checks out the scenery on board the aerial tram at Squaw Valley on Feb. 17. (Photos by Steve Martarano)

Photos: Hitting the Slopes

Visitors head to Tahoe’s ski resorts with new COVID restrictions in place

Back Photo gallery Feb 24, 2021 By Steve Martarano

Fresh snow and picture-perfect weather meant lots of skiers hit the slopes during Ski Skate Week and Presidents Day holiday in February. California’s Sierra Nevada ski resorts were officially back after shutting down in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Since opening for the 2020-21 season, ski resorts like Squaw Valley have been strictly enforcing masks and social distancing.

The historic Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics in Olympic Valley, has reopened and skiers have returned. The Placer County resort in Olympic Valley is accepting skiing and snowboarding pass holders and other advance-purchase ticket holders. Visitors face some operational changes at the resort, including no same-day pass purchases, food and beverage options with outdoor seating only, and retail stores operating at 25 percent capacity. Mask wearing is mandated. Lodges opened up with reservations earlier this year.

Squaw Valley remains the only California location to host the Winter Olympics.

Ticket sales overall have been significantly reduced to limit the number of people on the mountain, says Liesl Hepburn, the Squaw Valley public relations director. She says access to ski lifts and other tourist attractions such as the aerial tram are open only to ski and rider pass holders and were limited in capacity to adhere to social distancing rules.

Skiers and snowboarders get ready to hit the trails after arriving at High Camp on the aerial tram.

“The main attraction this season, though, is definitely skiing and riding vast terrain,” Hepburn says, referring to the 3,600 acres at Squaw Valley.

Seating at The Arc restaurant at Gold Coast Lodge at the top of Squaw Valley’s funitel was one of the several food and beverage options at the resort with outdoor seating.

After the 2021 season, Squaw Valley will change its name, according to a statement released by the resort last year. “After extensive research into the etymology and history of the term ‘squaw,’ it is undeniable that the word is now widely considered a racist and sexist slur,” the statement reads. “This is contrary to our company’s core values.”

Skiers prepare to head downhill in front of the Gold Coast Lodge.

Base area of the Squaw Valley resort.

Squaw Valley has 3,600 acres of skiing and riding terrain.

A view of Lake Tahoe from the High Camp location at Squaw Valley, elevation 8,200 feet.

Aboard the aerial tram above Squaw Valley on Feb. 17.

The funitel trams, like the aerial tram, are only open to skiers and riders this season.

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