Thursday brought not only the first big snow storm of the season, but a crown of winter sports enthusiasts to Yawgoo Valley Ski Area. Snowboarders and skiers hit the slopes and enjoyed the fresh air, while some newbies took lessons from Yawgoo Valley staff.


Opening day at Yawgoo Valley was nothing less than spectacular! It all went down two days after  the region was buried in fresh natural snow. Skiers and snowboarders lined up early to get a taste  of the fresh, groomed surfaces on Rhode Island’s only ski area. For the first time in many years,  every trail was open from top to bottom. Many of the veteran riders said that this was the best  conditions they had seen in decades.  

With the Corona Virus putting the brakes on Northern New England ski trips, Yawgoo Valley is  now a very popular destination for not only Rhode Islanders, but riders from Connecticut and  Massachusetts. No better indication of this was the packed parking lot and the long lines at the  lifts, this past Saturday.  

“The place was absolutely crazy today,” said Ezmarelda Kenyon, as she checked in patrons in the  ski area office. “Some skiers and snowboarders had to be turned away today. They did not realize  that they had to get day lift tickets online. We are completely sold out for the next few days.”  Ski School Supervisor Patti Davis prepared a fleet of professional ski and snowboard instructors  to handle the huge demand for private lessons. “The phones have been ringing all day with  customers wanting both single and group lessons,” said Patti. “We are taking private groups of up  to five students as long as they are either family or friends.”  

Some of the big changes brought on by the Corona Virus include no more lounging in the ski lodge  either before or after riding. While customers can use the rest rooms, they must exit right  afterwards. Even the ski school instructor’s room is now limited to only a few people allowed in at  a time.  

While rules and regulations can change daily, based on the whims of state officials, the restaurant  and bar areas are closed. Food can be ordered from a take-out window in front of the ski lodge.  Everyone, regardless of whether or not they are a student, lift customer, or instructor, must wear  a mask on the premises, including the lift. The only time a mask can be taken off is when someone  is riding down the hill.  

For the first time since the 1960’s, there are no longer daily group lessons that the public can sign  up for. In previous years, walk on patrons could sign up for a ski or snowboard lesson with a  group that could vary from 2 to 15 people, of all ages. Due to the virus restrictions, these are no  longer offered to the general public. The alternative is to schedule a group or single private lesson  in advance.  

Jake Bloomberg of Narragansett was running instructor training courses all day, preparing the  staff with the new virus rules. “We are emphasizing that each private lesson group, including our  5-week program classes, spread out on the trails, leaving everyone with plenty of social distance,”  he said. “And always keep those masks on, especially near other riders in the group.”  

Patti Davis suggests that the best thing for customers to do, is to go the ski area website for any  questions on operating hours and ski slope protocol. This is also the place to buy daily tickets and  book private lessons. The retail end of the ski area, the Yawgoo Pro shop, remains unchanged,  with a full selection of sunglasses, helmets, clothing, and snow/ski gear. Staff is working on  getting the tubing park open. According to management, more snow and colder weather is needed  before operations can start.  

Right now, Yawgoo Valley has a solid snow base to work with, and ski area officials think this  might end up being the best season ever for skiing and snowboarding in Rhode Island. If there was  ever a time to think about trying out Rhode Island’s premier ski area, this is it.

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