Ski Safety Programs Broadened
Oct. 21, 1999
DENVER (AP) _ Concerned that hot-dogging skiers who go too fast are scaring others off the slopes, resorts across the nation plan to crack down this winter with tougher safety programs.
Skiers or snowboarders who fly through congested areas may find themselves pulled off the hill. Others who engage in outrageous behavior may lose their season passes.
``More people will be more closely watching the slopes this year,'' said Paul Witt of Vail Resorts, who expects the guests as his resort west of Denver to help police each other. ``If people don't feel the resort is doing something about safety they are not going to come to the slopes.''
The National Ski Areas Association launched its new safety campaign, called ``Heads Up,'' on Thursday, just days before some ski areas officially open.
While insisting the slopes remain safe overall, industry officials point out that many deaths and serious injuries involve young men who ski too fast.
In the last ski season, 39 people died on U.S. ski slopes, compared with 26 the year before and an average of 34. The record was set in 1994-95, when 49 people were killed while skiing.
Serious injuries, such as paralysis or other spinal cord injuries, also increased slightly, even though the number of people skiing or snowboarding nationwide declined slightly.
Melissa O'Brien of the Park City resort in Utah said officials there decided to implement a patrol program after guests suggested it.
``They were complaining about people speeding through slow skiing zones,'' she said.