Ski resorts cautiously adopt the winter atmosphere

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People take photos and enjoy winter activities at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province on December 4. (Lee Si-jin / The Korea Herald)

After a winter with closed ski slopes, social distancing guidelines and mask warrants, Gangwon Province, South Korea’s winter wonderland, has started to come to life with the onset of a cold in the air.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with concerns about the omicron variant increasing daily, winter sports enthusiasts are flocking to popular ski resorts.

Vivaldi Park resort, about 60 kilometers east of Seoul in Hongcheon, Gangwon province, was among many ski resorts that opened their slopes on December 3.

Visitors prepare to <a class=ski and snowboard after renting equipment at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon province on December 4. (Lee Si-jin / The Korea Herald)” categoryid=”9900000000000000″ src=”http://res.heraldm.com/content/image/2021/12/09/20211209000261_0.jpg”/>

Visitors prepare to ski and snowboard after renting equipment at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon province on December 4. (Lee Si-jin / The Korea Herald)

A day later, the resort’s car parks were already crowded and winter sports enthusiasts of all ages gathered at the foot of the slopes, testimony to the long-awaited return of the ski season.

After going through QR codes and temperature checks, visitors scrambled on their way, either to the rental store or the ticket office.

Skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, however, may be a bit disappointed when they line up for the gondolas and find the slopes closed.

“Although the ski world has come back from a year-long hiatus, we still have issues with the slopes,” a Vivaldi Park official told the Korea Herald.

“With the recent rains and the relatively warm weather compared to the last few years, it is difficult to manage many tracks. For the safety of skiers and snowboarders, we have decided to open two or three pistes and seek a gradual return to the opening of all the pistes, ”added the manager.

Hongcheon’s Vivaldi Park, one of Korea’s most visited ski resorts, started the season with just three of its 12 trails open.

People enjoy <a class=winter activities at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province on December 4. On the right side of the photo some of the slopes in the park can be seen closed. (Lee Si-jin / The Korea Herald)” categoryid=”9900000000000000″ src=”http://res.heraldm.com/content/image/2021/12/09/20211209000262_0.jpg”/>

People enjoy winter activities at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province on December 4. On the right side of the photo some of the slopes in the park can be seen closed. (Lee Si-jin / The Korea Herald)

Things were not much different at the Yongpyong Resort in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, which opened on November 26.

Despite its reputation as Korea’s largest ski resort with 28 trails and 14 cable cars, Yongpyong Resort has decided to only offer three beginner courses and one intermediate course where the individual trails do not exceed 700 meters.

“After hearing the news on ‘living with COVID-19’, I was very excited to drive to Gangwon province and hoped to enjoy the winter with my snowboard club members,” an owner nicknamed Lee coffee maker based in Namyangju, Gyeonggi province, the Korea Herald reported on Dec. 2.

“We decided to wait a little longer for other tracks to become available. I’m not sure how the situation will change with the growing presence of omicron, but I really want to get out there and enjoy my favorite outdoor activity, ”said Lee.

But at Vivaldi Park, winter sports enthusiasts were already in action.

Ski resorts could close their slopes again, according to a father of two in his 30s who wished to be identified by his last name, Kim.

Visitors prepare to ski and snowboard after renting equipment at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon province on December 4.  (Lee Si-jin / The Korea Herald)

Visitors prepare to ski and snowboard after renting equipment at Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon province on December 4. (Lee Si-jin / The Korea Herald)

“Before that, I wanted to give my children a memorable winter experience. They haven’t been able to enjoy proper outdoor activities since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, ”Kim said.

The lines were long everywhere – rental shops, cable cars, restaurants and parking lots.

“I’m a beginner skier so the level of the slopes doesn’t really matter to me. But I didn’t expect there to be so many people. We must have missed all the sports and recreation outside with the fresh air, ”said a college student named Kim, 26, after returning his rented ski equipment.

Yongpyong Resort offers four types of ski lift tickets: day tickets, morning tickets, afternoon tickets, and night tickets.

Adult day tickets cost 80,000 won, and morning or afternoon tickets cost 63,000 won. For children under 12, day tickets cost 68,000 won, and morning or afternoon tickets cost 53,000 won.

Night ticket prices depend on the hours.

In addition to the morning, afternoon and night tickets, Vivaldi Park offers time block passes.

Adult passes cost 48,000 won for two hours, 68,000 won for four hours, 76,000 won for six hours and 86,000 won for eight hours. The children’s passes cost 39,000 won for two hours, 54,000 won for four hours, 60,000 won for six hours and 68,000 won for eight hours.

More information can be found on the official websites of Yongpyong Resort and Vivaldi Park.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)

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