Lessons from the lift line | SteamboatToday.com

Lessons from the lift line

Make your ski days more enjoyable with a little etiquette

Margaret Hair

— Asking skiers what annoys them most about lift lines, while they are stuck in a stagnant lift line, does not elicit serious or patient responses.

That might be because in ideal circumstances, and in many visiting skiers’ minds, the mountain is covered in fresh, deep powder. There’s no wind, all the trails are basking in sunlight and all the lifts are open.

It’s perfect – or it will be, once that 500-person-deep wait for the gondola lets up.

To keep the line moving in the most bearable way, here’s a run-down of the most common ski lift pet peeves, as suggested by the clumps of out-of-town skiers hanging out around the base of Steamboat Ski Area on Thursday morning:

Back off

We know that you are eager to get on the mountain. And especially when the gondola is closed, we know that it doesn’t take long for the lines at Christie Peak Express to resemble an especially compressed tin of sardines. But one of the most common pet peeves of those interviewed was people who creep up on their space in a crowded lift line until skis are tangled or poles are poking backs. “If you’re standing there and people run over the back of your skis, that (makes you angry),” said Rachael Bollinger, of Georgia.

Know your place

Charming though it is to barrel through the patient crowds with an entire family, saying things like, “These nice people know our flight was delayed, and we’ve been waiting to ski all day,” it’s best to avoid cutting in line.

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Luckily, selfishly sliding through the masses to get to the top faster isn’t all that common here – especially not when you compare Steamboat to any ski destination in Europe, said Niki Coutts, of Scotland. “Europeans just don’t know how to queue. Here everyone is so courteous, so it works out well,” Coutts said.

Practice proper merging

On busy days when all the lanes to popular lifts are spilling over the crowd-control railings, it’s important to keep things orderly. Ticket checkers at Christie Peak Express said when things get especially backed up, they use a “shotgun” system, lumping skiers into groups of six and letting the front row of each lane go at the same time. The most common complaints they’ve heard is that people go in smaller groups or push ahead of those in lanes closer to the lift.

Be patient

Generally, people can understand that they are not champion ski racers – or that they appear to be walking through Jell-O while navigating the lift line. Try to avoid mowing them down.

“There are some people who will run past you. But we’re first-time skiers, so we’re probably in people’s way more than anything,” said Heath George, of Mississippi.

Figure out the lift first

For most Steamboat locals, this last one probably goes without saying, but the first step to knowing how to handle a lift line is to know what to do when you get to the front of it.

– To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204

or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.