It's National Safety Awareness Week through Jan 27. Annually the National Ski Area Association reminds us to ski and ride with care, and "know the code. "
Everyone on the slopes should "know the code," but I continue to witness cluelessness on occasion. Maybe we need to "break it down" for those bone-headed boarders and stubborn skiers. Let's make the 7 ski safety tips crystal clear:
1. Always stay in control.
Translation: you should be able to turn and/or stop at any moment during your skiing and riding. This includes avoiding stationary objects - lift towers and trees that won't move out of your way ever, and other skiers who make an unexpected turn or stop. Note to Bomber Boy flying straight down a groomed boulevard at 35mph:your perfect elevens to the base are not evidence of "control."
2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
Like driving your car, if you are going to pass someone - you need to be sure you can do so with plenty of space so as not to impede their safety. Sorry, this even applies to trail hogs sweeping across the entire trail, if they are below you, you have to give them all that space and more.
3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
The best placed to stand is usually on the side of a trail and on the top of a knoll clearly visible to others but not in bowling strike range. Chilling out under a big joey jump or snow whale could result in you as a landing pad.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
This may be my biggest ski peeve. Don't just push off down the hill or pop out of an intersecting trail without looking up to be sure you don't cut someone off. Didn't you mother teach you to look both ways before crossing? Same concept only simpler - just look up!
5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
Ski brakes, snowboard retentions straps - I hope this one is self explanatory. If you have ever searched for a lost ski in deep snow, or watched a ski soar like a javelin down a steep slope, you'd know.
6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
Don't duck ropes, the patrol put them there for a reason - yes, without consulting you. Ask a few of the 45+ skiers and riders who became search statistics this season how "cool" it is to be lost on a snowy mountain.
7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
How about, if you cause the lift to stop because you're ill-prepared, prepare for the wrath of everyone else in lift line? Take a lesson, ask a liftee or another skier for instruction before your first time.
Have a fun safe time on the slopes and follow the 7 rules. Ski patrol have been known to give free ski passes to those who know the code. If you are due for a new helmet, purchase one at Killington Sports this week and get a free lift ticket.
Dress warmly, see you on the slopes!
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.