Story, photos and drawing by Mike Roth – As I get older, skiing is still a thrill and I look forward to every chance I get to go. The major concern that I have is skiing safety and skiing with courtesy, which do go hand in hand.
As a senior, I worry about falling (which doesn’t happen very often, I might add) and more so about being “taken out” by another reckless skier. In my skiing past I have learned courtesy on the slopes, following the rules of skiing that were posted then. Today those rules may be posted here and there, but I fear that people either don’t know how to read today or just don’t care about other people on the skiing terrain.
I have seen notifications posted on the monitors at lifts at Stratton and placed in very conspicuous places in the cafeteria at Mount Snow, but it doesn’t seem to matter! When was the last time you heard someone coming up behind you making the statement, “on your left” or “on your right”? In the 60’s and 70’s, you heard it all the time. Now never! I have kept track of this lately and of all the times of my being passed, it was like one or two times out of 100. Not very good odds. I say it every time I am going to pass someone because they do have the right of way. The other day I saw a truck on the highway with the notification to be careful when passing. If you note the sketch included in this post, it does the same.
I ski very cautiously. For one, I ski along the edges of a trail. I do run the risk of falling into the trees, but that’s my decision. The reason for skiing along the edge is two-fold – the snow is always better there since it’s pushed to the edges as the day progresses and if someone is going to pass me it will be on one side only, reducing the chances of collision by 50%! However, I must admit that I have been passed on the tree side at least a couple of times in my life.
In addition to skiing along the edges, I ski totally under control at a pace that is comfortable to me. I also have reduced my choices of trail to the cruisers rather than the steeps and the less traveled trails on the mountain rather than the more popular ones.
As we age, it is also a problem to be able to turn our bodies and look behind us as we decide to turn, so I am going to try something new this year. I am putting rear-view mirrors on my poles to see if that will help – or will it even work?
I am always looking for suggestions as to what can be done to solve the safety situation. We shouldn’t have to just take our chances! I for one will take my chances because I am not going to give up skiing. I will be skiing ‘till my body won’t let me anymore and I don’t want someone else to make that decision for me – other than my doctor. And he’s a skier.