Letter: Here are a few ideas to promote skier safety
I have been lucky to not be injured by another skier or snowboarder, but I have had many close calls with people zooming by me within inches, some of them unable to control their speed. I see people on trails above their ability every day. I see someone going down the mountain on a stretcher far too often.
Here are three ideas to increase safety:
1. Post the skier responsibility code prominently at all base lifts and potentially other locations. I did not know about the code until my sixth ski trip to Colorado and would have benefited from the ideas I’m proposing.
2. Create a brochure that contains the skier responsibility code and at least the first six levels of skier ability. Define the skills required to move to the next level (already on the website for lessons). For each ability level, list the lifts and trails appropriate for that level (e.g., Wild Blue Way, Sundial and Broadway are all green, but just because someone can get down Wild Blue Way doesn’t mean that they’re ready for the other two. A little more practice might be needed). This information could be included with trail maps and gamified in the app. Steamboat is a difficult collection of mountains for a novice to navigate, and I think this information would help those who want progress safely at the resort.
3. Work to improve the safety culture. I worked at a refinery and witnessed first-hand the effect that management can have on improving safety when it is a priority. Require lift bars to be lowered. Link alcohol purchases to lift tickets at bars up the mountain (if not already). At least warn people who are skiing or snowboarding unsafely or are skiing on trails for which they aren’t ready. Make injury rates one component of bonuses or incentives (if not already). Consider making lessons cheaper and have a safety component to lessons (the only safety-related item that was mentioned in the four lessons that I’ve taken is to fall down if I think I’m going to hit something). View lessons more as means of improving safety and less as a revenue source.
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