Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Donít be a sucker


    The Sun Valley Ski Patrol calls them “sucker tracks.” These are the under-the-rope tracks laid down by skiers who ignore “Closed Area” signs on Bald Mountain.
    The tracks themselves can make others believe—even in the face of dangerous conditions and warnings—that Baldy’s closed slopes and “sidecountry” are safe to navigate.
    The patrol’s message to skiers and boarders: Don’t be a sucker.
    It’s a message all of us need to heed when avalanche conditions are as severe as they’ve been in the past two weeks.
    Olympic competitors have demonstrated for nearly two weeks that winter sports come with some level of risk to life and limb. No one can watch downhill racers, freestyle aerialists or skaters and not recognize that fact. It’s a fact that every sports participant from the least skilled to the most expert must come to terms with.

    But there’s one part of the risk calculation in skiing and boarding that’s too often neglected: the calculation of risk not only to ourselves, but to others. The calculation gets overwhelmed by the allure of mountains draped in fresh snow.
    Commercial ski areas reduce the risk of avalanches by triggering most slides before they happen naturally. They not only reduce the risk of injury and death to skiers and boarders, but also to rescuers who go into dangerous areas to retrieve victims.
    Blaine County’s Skier Responsibility Act makes ignoring closure signs within Bald Mountain’s controlled ski area a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or by six months in jail.
    The law’s message is: Think before you act. Think before you hurt yourself, and others. Don’t be a sucker.




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