Hahn: The snowboarder’s unique blind spot (letter)
A recent assertion in our local paper’s Dialogue section caught my eye. It was in regards to the legal fight of snowboarders to gain rights to shred at Alta. This individual claimed that Alta’s safety claim is bogus, and that skiers and snowboarders have identical blind spots. This is simply not true. As a diehard skier and a staunch defender in Alta’s rights to non-discriminatorily (you choose your sport) limit which snow sports are allowed on the mountain, I felt the need to respond.
Skiers and snowboarders both travel in the same general direction: Forward, downhill. However, snowboarding sets itself apart from skiing with its sideways stance. Since a skier travels forward while facing forward, he is able to look both right and left with equal effectiveness, while carving from right-to-left. His “blind spot” is behind him, and as all responsible ski area users should know from the responsibility code, it is the downhill skier/snowboarder that has the right of way. A snowboarder, by contrast, travels forward, downhill, while facing to the right or left of the mountain. As with a skier, his blind spot is behind him. However, since he is carving front-to-back, his blind spot is actually in a direction that’ll he’ll be turning.
The best example that I can give is driving a car forward on any normal, public highway. A skier is like a normal driver; he is traveling forward while facing forward. He can look to the right or left with equal effectiveness before merging right or left. His “blind spot” is behind the forward-traveling car. A snowboarder, however, is a driver that is for some reason facing 90 degrees away from the windshield and steering wheel, facing the right or left side of the car. He can see forwards, backwards, and in one direction that the car is likely to merge. His blind spot is to either the right or left of the forward-traveling car, which isn’t going to do him any good if he needs to merge (or you know, carve) in that direction. He’s likely to cut somebody off…
I won’t deny that the safety element is not my top concern when it comes to the possibility of snowboarders invading one of my favorite mountains, but to say that skiers and snowboarders have identical blind spots is just nonsense.
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