Drawing by Mike Roth

By Mike Roth – As much as I may want to put my golf clubs away and get the skis out, early season skiing is always a temptation. But now a days it’s more questionable. Over the 50 years of my skiing life making the trek to Killington to be able to say that I skied on Nov. 9, or spending Thanksgiving weekend at Hunter was almost a given. Now I’m waiting ‘till after the holiday season.

The main reason is that the slopes are getting more dangerous. Skiing when there are limited trails, marginal conditions, and the world of skiers all trying to use the same trails; something undesirable is bound to happen.

I went out and skied during the holiday week and it was pretty crowded at the lifts. There were sufficient numbers of trails open to disperse the crowd so you did not have to worry about skiers flying by you with little or no announcement. And still I had at least 3 close calls.

Also, the temperature was hovering just above 34 degrees so each run was a totally different experience with regards to the snow surface. I’ll write another blog about the changing snow surface shortly.

Mount Snow has posted signs, Stratton has video boards at their lifts with changing images, Gore has signs at the lift showing to maintain 15 feet between you and your fellow skier. All of which helps but certainly not enough. This morning I heard from a friend who is a ski instructor, who was blindsided by another person on the slope. He was instructing a group of 9 or 10 skiers near the base of the mountain. They were all good skiers in their teenage years. Well, he was knocked unconscious and the person who collided with him took off. No-one knew who he was other that he had a blue jacket.

Skier responsibility signs at Mount Snow

Now while on the slopes you assume responsibility of your getting hurt but when someone hits you, they have to assume some responsibility as well. None of the students went after this person, which seemed weird since I would have chased him down to get his name and get him to assume some responsibility. Maybe these teenagers thought little of the collision and that it was something they would never be concerned with since they too ski close to others below them? The instructor wound up with a concussion and the doctor wouldn’t let him ski for 2 weeks until he sees him again.

Approving the code marker. Photo by Mike Roth

I can only stress this over and over again. The responsibility of a skier is to announce that you are approaching from above. “On your right or on your left “used to be the order of the day. Today this important safety and yes, courtesy is all but nonexistent with the exception of a few of us older guys. Now it’s “how dare you get in my way!” I only hope that younger skiers start to take on some responsibility and that the ski areas help stress the importance of cautious skiing.