Jessie Diggins, winner of the first-ever American Olympic cross-country skiing gold medal at the PyeongChang 2018 games, reopened the Land Rover Experience center at The Equinox in Vermont, taking the wheel of the new 2020 Defender while learning off-roading under social distancing protocol.
Diggins is one of the stars of Land Rover's partnership with the US Ski Team, which began last year. Alongside her partner Kikkan Randall, she won gold in the women’s team sprint, the first cross-country gold for the United States in the almost-100-year history of the Winter Olympics. This achievement earned her the role of flag bearer at the closing ceremony – an honor which is selected from among the athletes themselves.
The three American Experience Centers have all now reopened. The Equinox in Vermont, The Biltmore in North Carolina, and Quail Lodge in California are now taking bookings for courses. There are several changes, though, to account for the “current normal” in the time of COVID.
All bookings are taken online or over the phone, and all waivers are signed via email or text ahead of time. Upon arrival, guests are presented with a PPE kit, containing a face mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Guests and staff all have to take temperature checks. Meals are now a box lunch affair, taken in an open and socially-distant setting.
The biggest change, though, is that the instructor does not ride with you during the trail run. Instead, they are in a separate vehicle, communicating via two-way radio. When needed, they will spot you on the trail through difficult sections, using the radios.
The Experience also has new Defenders available in all three locations, with limited availability. There’s also the option of a “Bring Your Own Vehicle Experience” for current Land Rover owners to get their own tires muddy on the trails, with expert guidance. There’s also still the option of a Heritage Drive, which features a North American Specification Defender 90.
The Land Rover Experience is the modern brand for the Land Rover Driving School launched in 1997 at The Equinox. For almost 25 years, these locations at luxury resorts across the country have introduced many people to the joys of off-roading.
As far as endorsements of the new COVID-era Experience experience, Diggins said: “Visiting the Land Rover Experience driving school and getting behind the wheel of the new Defender was an awesome experience. As an athlete, I also take health and safety very seriously, and the team at the Land Rover Experience did an outstanding job with their COVID-19 procedures and made me feel very comfortable. It was such a fun experience and it certainly expanded my driving abilities.”
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