Riding the slopes then hitting the books: University students’ new reality

Quebec ski hills are seeing more weekday student skiers than ever

Fresh air, mountain views, and crowded ski slopes are where you can find some university students from Monday through Sunday.

With universities going forward with a complete online semester due to COVID-19, many students have resorted to a flipped schedule: hitting the slopes during the day and hitting their books at night. Students explain that it is a way to keep healthy, motivated and free during the lockdown.

Spending a day in the mountains and enjoying the great outdoors are just some of the reasons why skiers and snowboarders love their sport — but, it is also the reason for which they are currently sharing the slopes with so many more people this year.

In order to combat the influx of skiers and snowboarders, many snow resorts have adopted and implemented new policies. Les Sommets ski resort in Saint-Sauveur, much like many other resorts, has decided to suspend the sale of season passes for an indefinite period of time while reducing the number of tickets sold per day. These measures were put into place to ensure that the mountains are not too crowded, in order to maintain COVID-19 ski regulations at all times.

Stoneham Mountain Resort, located twenty minutes from Quebec city, has seen a 4 to 5 per cent increase in the number of season passes sold, compared to the 2019-2020 season, according to an interview with CTV News. As for the global Canadian market in this sector, a reported 8.1 per cent increase in the growth of the ski and snowboard market is expected by the end of 2021, according to IBISWorld.

Hannah Tiongson, a Journalism student at Concordia University, explains that for her, skiing is about more than staying active.

“Skiing helps me become a lot more motivated. I find that when I ski on a Saturday morning and I return home in the afternoon, I feel more mentally fit to start on my homework,” explained Tiongson.

For others, shredding the slopes brings a sense of liberation and freedom. Students not only feel trapped in their everyday lives amidst the lockdown but also in their personal lives, explains first-year student Kiana Gomes.

Last year I went skiing three times — this year, I go every single weekend. Since everything is currently closed, there really is nothing else to do. When I stay home, I feel trapped. So I go skiing and I feel absolutely free,” she explained.

Although, with the increase of skiers and snowboarders on the slopes, not everyone is happy. The more people there are, the longer the wait times are.

For Quebec City brothers Marc-Olivier and Vincent Jacques, who ski at the Stoneham Mountain Resort in Quebec, the wait was too long. Instead, they took the ski slope less travelled and started back-country skiing.

“We saw the waiting line for the chair lifts and knew that we would spend half our day waiting in them, so we decided not to. Back-country skiing lets us get a workout in and ski, while not waiting in line — and we can do it anywhere,” explained Vincent.

As for Marc-Olivier, he explained that the tranquillity of the first tracks in the morning and being alone on the slopes is soothing.

“It starts the day off on a good foot because you have the mountain to yourself,” he said.

Nonetheless, students are making the most of the pandemic and are keen on taking advantage of their flexible schedules to explore the variety of ski resorts that Quebec has to offer. Since the thought of an over-crowded ski resort is not for everyone, many students have decided on doing day trips to Charlevoix, Mont-Tremblant, Sutton and Quebec City to diversify their skiing activities and their routine days.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab

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