Jim Webster: Dark side of powder days
January 8, 2017
I read with interest the recent article on the excitement of skiing 20 inches of fresh powder on Thursday. Unfortunately for me, some guests who felt entitled to a selfish, uncontrolled behavior spoiled my day on the slopes.
The snow on Thursday was wonderful, and the mountain worker-bees did their best at keeping the crowds moving up the mountain. Given the extreme cold and the large amount of snow, their work was challenging. There were extended breakdowns on some lifts while the crowds waited. Most of us appreciated the lift-line workers' efforts to get things going again, particularly because these workers have to work while we play.
The dark side of a powder day is the fact that some snowboarders and skiers get bonked. I call it a “testosterone high” where they forget what courteous behavior is. A few feel entitled to cut lines, to ski/board too fast or too close to others, to be rude or to get on a four-person chairlift with only one, two or three riders. At the extreme, there is line rage, which is similar to road rage.
I was skiing alone Thursday. At various lifts, I would ask politely if others were a threesome or a foursome. Regrettably, a group of three boarders felt they had no obligation to ride with others, despite the long lines. My seemingly innocent question, "Are you three?" provoked a tirade of abuse and confusion. I suffered their insults, curse words and threats.I was told I should be in the singles line, as if I could magically move there. I was perplexed, confused and embarrassed. I could not withdraw, as skiers surrounded me.
For the most part, ski patrol and ambassadors are unable or unwilling to address these incidents. So it behooves all riders to be courteous and respectful. Misunderstandings do occur, but it does not justify an aggressive behavior.
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It may be white powder snow, but there is a dark side.