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Slope safety

Yes, the resorts can do more to make the slopes safe from reckless skiers and snowboarders. But how much more, that’s the question.First off, let’s stipulate that skiing and snowboarding are inherently dangerous. They are gravity sports. We can do ourselves in all by ourselves. We don’t need other people to hit us, or vice versa, to cause trouble.We accept that. Every skier and boarder must. Besides that, it’s the law as embodied in the Skier Responsibility Code.Everybody who clicks in or straps on equipment is potentially a moment away from a ride down the hill in a ski patrol sled.The trick is to minimize our risk with good sense, knowing the rules, conditioning, lessons and skiing and riding within our abilities. Individual responsibility remains paramount.Unfortunately, there are those who don’t get it. They may be skilled, but speed in crowded conditions, use people as human gates and build jumps in the middle of trails. Snowboarders are maligned as a group, but plenty of skiers belong to the out-of-control crowd.The problem is accentuated in early season when fewer runs are open. Every resort suffers from crowding and speeding. It’s even unnerving at Copper in the early season when the World Cup teams are training and carving high-speed turns down Main Vein. Yes, they are in control, but scary.Judging from our man on the street page in Sunday’s edition, people want draconian action, all the way to segregation or limiting the number of tickets sold. But really, nobody wants to see runs closed to their use or to find themselves blocked by a head count.It’s like a political debate between fascists who want all sorts of rules and libertarians who believe in individual responsibility and the attendant consequences of decisions.So what should the resorts do? Without a doubt, they should put more patrollers and adjunct speed controllers on the hill during early season. It’s part of the education process. More signs would help. But do we want a police state on the slopes? No way.Individuals could wise up to the gig, as well. If the early season is too intimidating, don’t go. Or go early and get off the hill before the 10:30 a.m. rush. It’s sad but true. In early season, you have to manage your recreation like you would a Sunday trip to Denver on Interstate 70. The ski resorts could learn from the same analogy. Their highways are the slopes. A few more friendly warnings, and pulled passes, would help send a message.


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