Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility dissolves after 3 years of promoting safety on Summit slopes

Katherine Jeter,left, of the Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility recognizes Summit Mountain Rental owners Mark and Mary Waldman for their support in helping to improve skier safety in 2020. The Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility recently announced it will be dissolving after three years.
Sawyer D’Argonne / Summit Daily News

Since they were formally organized June 12, 2019 the Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility has had one sole mission, and that mission is to improve the level of safety on ski slopes. 

The Alliance tirelessly worked for the past three years, through a global pandemic, but after three years of hard work the Alliance board has decided to dissolve. 

“Our desire was to start in Summit County and then expand to the rest of the United States believing that we needed more safety education for the public,” founder of the Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility Katherine Jeter said. 

Jeter started the Alliance after she broke both her legs in multiple places when a snowboarder crashed into her from behind while in a ski lesson.

The accident inspired Jeter to start a nonprofit group that educated and informed the public of the “Responsibility Code” while out on the slopes. 

One of the first things the Alliance did early on was conduct informal surveys on shuttle buses to the ski slopes. The Alliance asked fellow skiers and riders if they were aware of the “Responsibility Code” all skiers and riders are expected to abide by while out on the slopes.

“We found that the knowledge was meager, meager, meager,” Jeter said. 

The skier and rider “Responsibility Code” consists of seven codes of conduct but according to Jeter these codes are seldomly posted anywhere at local ski resorts.

With minimal posting of the codes and fewer people taking ski lessons due to the expense, the result is that more and more people do not know the codes of the mountain.

The Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility attempted to mitigate this issue by advocating for readily available and visible safety information at Summit ski resorts.

“Our goal was to have safety information in every hotel room, every rental unit for the season, on all the Summit Stages — everywhere we could think of,” Jeter said. 

The Alliance even hosted several meetings and seminars to discuss their mission and plans for the future. The Alliance found success through the posting of the “Responsibility Code” on Summit Stage buses for three ski seasons including the 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22 ski seasons.

The posting of the code on Summit Stage buses was funded by Summit Mountain Rentals and Summit Resort Group in the name of the Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility.

Despite the Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility making great strides to improve the safety on Summit’s ski slopes, the group had trouble gaining the support of the ski resorts themselves.

“We were surprised and greatly disappointed that we were not welcomed and included and collaborated with by the ski resorts and related organizations,” Jeter said. 

The Alliance of Skier and Rider Responsibility feels like one of the reasons for a lack of support was because some people believed that the mission of the group was to advocate for “family friendly zones” or be watch dogs on the mountain.

“It was quite clear that we wanted to educate, promote and reward responsible and respectful behavior,” Jeter said. 

The Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility attempted to pinpoint ways it could mitigate the disconnect between their mission and ski resorts but couldn’t come up with a solution. 

“The board remained perplexed at the resort’s disinterest in educating, promoting and rewarding respectful behavior,” Jeter said.  

Instead the board for the Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility ultimately had to make the difficult decision to dissolve the Alliance after three years due to the amount of time and money that was being spent without viable returns. 

“Our voice was awfully faint for the amount of time and energy we were spending,” Jeter said. “Complicating the issue, we just couldn’t get any youthful volunteers to beef up our efforts. We didn’t hear from one person.”

Following a heartfelt letter sent by Jeter to some of the Alliance’s supporters over the years, multiple people have reached out thanking the Alliance for the impact they have made in the last three years.

“That warms my heart,”Jeter said of the messages. “But we didn’t make enough strides to justify continuing as a nonprofit organization. We really imagined tags on clothing and hardware with the ‘Responsibility Code’ signs at every rental outlet — that was one of our big goals.”

Two women don Alliance for Skier and Rider Responsibility stickers on their backpacks at an event. Founder, Katherine Jeter had hopes of promoting safe skiing and riding not only at Summit ski areas but across the nation.After three years, the board was forced to dissolve the nonprofit due the Alliance not seeing viable returns for their efforts.
Katherine Jeter/Courtesy photo

Despite the Alliance dissolving, Jeter still has big hopes for the organization as she is hoping that someone else can run with the groundwork that has already been paved by the organization.

“I just hope that someone else — some other organization or person — will pick up the baton and take it forward,” Jeter said. 

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