ski tip of the week - the slopes are crowded

Years ago at Beaver Creek, a 41 year-old man punched a 14 year-old girl in the face after she swerved to avoid someone who had fallen on a beginner’s slope and ran into his 4 year old son. The son wasn’t injured and the man is being charged with misdemeanor child abuse. Not a good story, but another example of how jam-packed runs can be and how quickly things can change on the mountain.

Some tips to help keep you and your family out of the hospital and out of jail when it’s crowded on the hill:

1) Always be aware of other skiers and snowboarders, including the ones coming from behind you, periodically check up the trail to see if anyone is bombing down the hill out of control. If you are skiing with a slower child, ski between them and the uphill traffic. Children are small and all they need is a roll on the run to become invisible to people above them.

2) Before you stop, glance around to get a sense of the hill flow. When you stop, do so keeping in the fall line, staying between the same margins as your turns. Try not to cross the hill while stopping, you can cut off the people above. Never stop below a cat walk or any kind of jump or knoll where you can’t be seen from above. If you have fallen and you can’t see the whole trail above you, quickly stand up and make yourself visible.

3) Snowboarders have a blind spot, make sure if you are skiing next to or trying to pass a snowboarder, that they can see you.

4) People don’t pay attention when the trails merge, that’s why you have to. You need to protect yourself from the people skiing and boarding with blinders on and always be alert to the flow of the trails.

5) When starting again in the middle of the hill, look up first to see if anyone’s coming.

6) Never trust others ability to avoid you.

7) Share the hill, while the lift tickets are expensive enough to think you might be getting the mountain to yourself, you aren’t. Give people a wide berth in case they haven’t read these tips.