COVID restrictions at Colorado mountain resorts lead to increase on backcountry skiing gear

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DENVER (KDVR) — The staff at Christy Sports anticipated the demand for backcountry ski gear last spring at the start of the pandemic. Now, they’re ready for the steady flow of customers looking for a ski season without boundaries.

“The major thing is, people don’t want the resorts being closed or open to dictate their ability to get outside,” said Joe Liefer, category merchandise manager for hard goods at Christy Sports. “This is an avenue where people can still enjoy skiing and not have reservations control their access to getting outside.”

Backcountry ski gear has been a hot seller not only in stores but also online, with retailers seeing a sudden spike in searches just over the past few days.

“We made a very significant investment compared to what we did in the past in not just skis, boots and bindings but also avalanche safety equipment, beacons, probes and shovels,” said Liefer.

Liefer said Tuesday many of the backcountry gear customers are first-timers so they’ve partnered with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to make sure skiers know how to protect themselves and prevent an accident. 

“Joy is what brings out outside and happiness is what brings you to the mountain,” said Liefer. “I think this is going to open up a new area of skiing for a lot of people.”

It’s important backcountry skiers educate themselves before hitting the mountain, we have tips here.

“Outdoor gear stores are seeing record numbers of sales for back-country gear for skiing snowboarding, those kind of things,” said Andrew Hildner with Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue out of Boulder. “So we’re anticipating we’re gonna be more busy dealing with those kind of injuries.”

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