Our View: Don’t try this at home
February 15, 2014
Millions of skiers and riders have been inspired and motivated this week by the high-speed turns and aerial gyrations of Olympic athletes in the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center and Extreme Park in the mountains outside Sochi, Russia.
As tempting as it is to act out some of those high-speed turns and throw a little air from a mogul, this week and next are the wrong times to do it. Instead, with large numbers of holiday skiers taking advantage of this winter's abundant snow, it's essential for the safety of everyone on the slopes to ski under control and with awareness of others around you.
Sitting in a newsroom with the police and emergency scanner on at all times, we have a heightened awareness of the numbers and types of injuries suffered by vacationing skiers, and a certain number of them are inevitable. But many more could be avoided if skiers and riders knew their own limits, and stayed within them. As Steamboat Ski Area employees repeat frequently: "Know and obey the code." That would be the SlopeWise code of conduct.
It goes without saying, that a fundamental requirement of the code, is that all skiers and riders must stay in control and be able to avoid other people and objects on the slopes. We've observed that the newest equipment, which has made acquiring intermediate skills easier to do, can also inspire a false sense of accomplishment among some skiers and riders.
It isn't our role to sell ski school lessons. But it's true that the professional ski instructors at Steamboat can help people learn to ski and ride with much more control at reasonable speeds. Just as it's true that you will become a more accomplished golfer or tennis player by working with a pro, you will become a more accomplished skier, with the skills to ski more precisely at speed, if you know how to carve a turn. You'll also get more enjoyment out of the sport when you achieve the next level.
Another fundamental aspect of the SlopeWise Code calls upon skiers and riders to yield the right of way to downhill skiers; if you are approaching from behind, it's incumbent on you to slow down enough to avoid others before a collision results. But those skiers below you also have responsibilities. It is unsafe to stop on a ski slope where terrain obscures you from the view of those approaching from above – avoid stopping beneath the lower rim of a cat track, for example.
When you have come to a stop to rest and re-focus, always look above you for oncoming skiers before resuming skiing. Unexpected stops and starts can make it more difficult even for well-intentioned and skilled skiers to avoid a collision.
Thou shalt not hit and run. The Colorado Skier Safety Act requires that you give your name to a resort employee before you leave the vicinity if you are involved in a collision resulting in an injury. Witnesses are also encouraged to contact a resort employee. Local law enforcement officials will respond to collisions under certain circumstances.
If you are skiing Steamboat's gladed tree runs, go with others, and stop at regular intervals to re-group. Give the base of large evergreen trees a wide berth — the wells around those trees have trapped skiers with tragic consequences.
If you want to ski more like an Olympian, wear your helmet, acquire new skills and continue to ski under control.
We hope you gain a lifelong passion for the sport.