Local ski resorts are busier than they have been in more than a decade.By Kristine Sorensen

CHAMPION, Pa. (KDKA) — With entertainment options so limited in the pandemic, the local ski resorts are busier than they’ve been in more than a decade.

People are flocking to Seven Springs in the Laurel Mountains, especially on sunny weekends.

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More people this year are learning to ski and snowboard for the first time or returning to the sport after time away.

Alex Moser, 7 Springs Director of Marketing, says, “I’ve been here 13 years, and this is probably the biggest winter we’ve had from a standpoint of just consistent guest arrivals and consistent weather.”

Bob and Nancy Ball brought their 13-year old twins from Baltimore to 7 Springs to learn to ski for the first time.

“If it’s not a pandemic year, you’ve got a zillion things going on. In a pandemic year, the choices are limited in what you can do and what you can do safely,” Bob says.

His daughter, Miranda, agrees. “It’s been really boring sitting at home so it’s a great experience coming here with friends and family.”

Within an hour of their lesson, the girls took the chairlift up and skiied down a beginner, or “green” run.

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Daughter Kaelyn says, “I was hoping it was going to be good, and I would not be really bad,” as her Dad teases her about taking her on a “Black Diamond” which is an advanced ski run.

This family came during the workweek when there are no lines, but weekends are much busier than a normal year, at 7 Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain.

Moser says, “We needed patience from our guests because you weren’t able to get on the lift with anybody that you didn’t know, so the lift lines got a little bit longer this year, and most people were very understanding and appreciative that we were able to ski at all.”

You naturally have to social distance when you’re skiing because you have sticks on your feet that stick out 3 feet and while you’re turning down the slope, you steer clear of others.

Most skiiers wear a thick gator which is a mask anyway, and it really is one of the few places where it doesn’t even feel like you’re in a pandemic.

The ski resorts are also the largest employer in the region with 18-hundred people, so more skiiers means more people working and a boost to the local economy.

Mom, Nancy, says, “This is a no brainer. We can’t go to the movies. We can’t go bowling allies and feel safe about it, but getting out here, I feel much safer. I don’t have that anxiety.

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The resorts are open daily through March 14, and they will decide whether to stay open after that based on how long the snow lasts.

Kristine Sorensen