Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Resort should penalize dangerous skiers


   We have gotten to know Bald Mountain quite well this winter, having spent nearly a month here, skiing nearly every day. There are so many good things to say about skiing here that I won’t bore your readers by enumerating them—they are well known. There is one safety aspect, though, that troubles me greatly.
    I refer to the “bombers” that ski straight down the mountain, whizzing past the 95 percent or more on the slopes that are traveling at slower speeds—turn after turn. It is well known that many of the most serious skiing accidents occur when fast skiers overtake slower ones. Most of us have friends or family members who have suffered serious injuries from such situations, and some of us have suffered them ourselves. And there have been fatalities. It seems that the innocent party, the slower skier, is more likely than the overtaking skier to suffer serious injury.
    It is an overtaking skier’s responsibility to stay well clear of skiers he/she is passing. This admonition is posted on the parking lot buses and elsewhere on the mountain. This rule is not well observed at Baldy, and of course at other mountains as well, but having skied many mountains here and abroad over the years, I can report that the rule is enforced better at some other resorts.
    I have a suggestion: The ski patrol should be hyper-vigilant in observing fast skiers and snowboarders who either appear to be skiing at risky speeds on crowded slopes or are passing slower skiers dangerously closely. They simply mark the ticket or pass of the offender and give notice that their skiing privileges will be suspended if there should be a second offense. If the offender is skiing extremely dangerously, there need be no need for a warning—the ticket should be lifted immediately.
    I had several close calls recently—one by a snowboarder who seemed to be trying to set a speed record by getting down the mountain with virtually no turns. Why he didn’t choose to give me a wide berth is known only to him. In another case, a senior skier, as am I, was schussing down Lower College at high speed and narrowly missed me as he sped past. Fortunately, I saw him approaching out of the corner of my eye and did a quick turn to avoid a serious collision. I approached him at the base, and asked why he had skied so close to me. His reply was that he was under control.
    I sincerely hope that our ski patrols improve the safety of this wonderful mountain in the way I suggest. I’d rather see them spending their time dealing preemptively with risky skiers than taking their injured victims down the mountain.

    Eldon Mayer is a skier from Chebeague Island, Maine.

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