Jim Webster: Dark side of powder days

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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.

It may be white powder snow, but there is a dark side.

Jim Webster

Steamboat Springs

Comments

beverly lemons 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry for your experience, but it's not a surprise. It's human nature. A percentage of folks are always going to be rude and feel wrongly entitled to act like spoiled brats.. The hardworking people at the lifts, and even the ambassadors would never get anything done if they just handled rude behavior, I am sure they get treated improperly as well.

As an avid summer cyclist, I get the same thing from people in cars on 20 mile and county road 14. I have had cigarette butts thrown out windows at me, people honk or yell, and been deliberately driven off the road.

It makes me pretty angry, but I know that people are not all courteous, respectful, or share our sense of connectivity and politeness that is so ingrained in us locals.

I am confident every one in town has their own stories of rude actions and words from retail clerks to hotel staff to food workers.

Compensate for it by being even more courteous to others, and there is nothing wrong with calmly informing people that their words or actions are not appreciated without using aggressive language or body signals.

There is something really empowering by doing someone a very nice solid after you have been treated badly. The "feel good" of letting someone go ahead of you, or kind words to a stranger really helps alleviate the frustration of other people acting like jerks.

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Bill Crosby 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Hi Jim. Thanks for taking the time to write this. When I read the letter, I immediately knew that you were the person in front of me in Pony's lift line. Those guys were not good representatives of Steamboat and the friendly attitude we're known for. I was embarrassed to see them behave in that manner but was heartened to see those guys catch some "flack" from the crowd of powder-hounds in the vicinity. Nothing like a bit of public shaming to help keep temper-tantrums like they exhibited in check.

Frankly, you should have been congratulated. You were doing your part to fill those lifts to capacity on a day with close to a 30" snow report... perhaps we should add "no empty lifts on a powder day" to our lexicon.

Hopefully the day's deep powder snow rewarded you for putting up with that mistreatment. Best wishes for more powder days in 2017!
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