Mike Roth Photo

By Mike Roth

Cartoon and photo by the Author

SAFETY CONCERNS.

March 31, 2009

Over the years I have found that it has become more and more unsafe on the slopes because of other people. Don’t get me wrong, this situation will not deter me from my favorite sport, but it does concern me.

While skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland this year, Dieter Bogner, Head of Marketing Services was our guide for the day. He voiced many of the same concerns that I have and it is happening all over Europe. People are not coming to the slopes because they feel that it has become less safe.

The following comes from a press release that was sent to me by Mr. Bogner:

They are approaching skiing lessons and safety in a new campaign. They are calling it Chillout Riding. It started when many winter sport enthusiasts want to be able to enjoy skiing with their family and friends. The extreme sport is still admired and racing down the slope is still cool. Just watch what is shown every preseason as people flock to the Warren Miller film of the year. However, there is a time and a place for that to happen and it is not everywhere on the mountain.

Although safety has improved and injuries decreased due to better equipment and helmets, the personal feeling of the individual skier has not. The European media and even the Swiss council for accident prevention has been tough and very critical in their regular reports on accidents, injuries and risks thus fueling fear of potential sports enthusiasts. In recent years more and more skiers (myself included) have felt insecure and some have even stopped skiing. (Not me!)

The goal of the Chillout Campaign is to have public awareness that they should be able to enjoy their winter sport of skiing and riding and it is justified and cool. This should also appeal to those who have stopped in the recent past. It is not about slow skiing but about controlled, considerate and adaptive skiing (adjusting to the condition at the time) so everyone feels at home on the slopes.

The term Chillout riding is based on the fun and pleasure of skiing and snowboarding. This new approach is being developed throughout Switzerland at many of the ski areas. It’s a positive approach designed to make appropriate and considerate skiing appealing to everyone.

The three values characterizing “Chillout Riding” are:

  • Attitude- “relaxed”  - practicing conscious relaxation and composure
  • Perception “enjoying nature” –appreciating nature more
  • Experience “have fun” Enjoying the pleasures of skiing

These values support the conscious relaxation and composure so participants can enjoy the slopes more without the additional stress of the speeding skier coming up behind you and any of the extreme experiences that might be encountered.

The Swiss have designated special chill-out terrain for those people who want to follow the rules stated above.

Now lets look at what is being done here in the United States. Many areas have designated slow skiing terrain. It helps but I don’t think some skiers can read because the idea of slow is entirely ignored.

The skiers code which is posted at ski areas, on napkins in the lodge, on signs at the lifts seem to be totally ignored. (Of course the printing is so small it is hard to read). However when you look at the code the most important one seems to be lost. I know it was there years ago, but now it is gone, kaput, lost!!!!! That is when passing someone; announce that you are passing on their right or on their left. Now if that rule were adhered to, it would take care of most of the problems, except for those who are going so fast that they don’t have time to announce that they are passing you. they should have their tickets removed because of their creating unsafe conditions.

There should be traffic signs up on the slopes, like we have road signs. We obey the road sign, lest we have a traffic violation. I had mentioned in an earlier article of seeing some signs as you got off their lift up at Jiminy Peak relating to skier safety. I felt this was a plus but it can go further as the cartoon below indicates.

Right Left Cartoon

A few weeks ago I was at Stratton and they have gone a step further. At all their major lifts they have a large screen TV’s that broadcasts warnings, notices and commercials.
This is a perfect place to be putting up. Please announce when passing someone “on your left and on your right” everyone standing there waiting for the lift can’t miss the TV. Plus you know the American public when it comes to TV. The next place should be signage on the lift towers to help drive home the message. Just like the Armed services do in driving home the message to their recruits. They learn by repetition. The more it is out there the better chance it will sink in.

Stratton Sign

Let’s see if we can get Stratton to put the message up and then see if after awhile it sinks in? Better yet, let’s see if we can get all the ski areas to post these rules and hope that we can get on the slopes without having to be stress out about being hit.


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