And the message isn’t just for visitors from out of town. Local kids participating in the Summit School District’s winter-recreation program also are being asked toi focus on safe skiing and good mountain values.
“Look around,” said Arapahoe Basin instructor Jake Jacobsen as his group of fourth- and fifth-graders from Summit Cove Elementary unloaded at the top of Pallavicini Chair.
“You are so lucky to be able to live here and do this,” Jacobsen said before asking his students to recite parts of the skier-responsibility code.
Local kids like this group, who grow up skiing the toughest terrain Summit County has to offer, can be ambassadors for safe skiing and mountain culture setting good examples.
The skier-responsibility code is an on-slope adaptation of the basic courtesy and common sense values taught at home and in schools, and even if someone can’t recite the code by heart, it’s not hard to understand:
• Ski in control and be able to stop or turn to avoid other people;
• People ahead of you and below you have the right-of-way;
• Don’t stop where you are blocking a trail or aren’t visible from above;
• Look uphill and yield to other before starting down a trail;
• Know how to ride the lifts;
• Observe all posted signs and don’t cut ropes or enter closed areas;
• Use ski brakes or straps to prevent runaway skis and boards.
But safe skiing also goes beyond that simple list of basic rules. It starts with being in good physical shape, staying hydrated and using safe and well-maintained equipment. Sharp edges, a good coat of wax and a binding check can go a long way toward preventing injury.
For the Summit Cove students, Jacobsen had a few additional words of advice.
He told the group to team up in a buddy system when skiing in the trees or steeps and to always have a set meeting place in case they get separated.
Taking a lesson is another great way to keep it safe on the slopes, and some local ski schools are offering great deals this month. Stop in at the ski-school desk, or check your favorite resort’s web site to sign up. Developing better skills is the best way to get more enjoyment from the sport and ensure you can ski in control.
Local resorts are featuring ski-safety events as part of this ski weekend, including Copper Mountain, which will have some safety tents set up with a chance to win passes, tickets, discounts and other goodies. Local experts will offer tips on terrain park safety, helmet safety and demos with avalanche dogs.
Look for other events and safety messages at other local resorts as well.
Bob Berwyn can be reached
at (970) 331-5996, or at firstname.lastname@example.org