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Surge in CA ski accidents links to weed, GoPros, and selfies.

PollySid

Certified Ski Diva
I feel that resorts have been pretty lax about this. When I was a kid in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s in Sun Valley, the ski patrol really also functioned as speed police. I remember skiers getting their ticket yanked. Not a lot of fun for the Patrol, no doubt. I don’t have the sense that this is any longer part of the Patrol’s job at any resorts. I appreciate Mountain Hosts planting in the middle of busy runs at the Slow signs, but you’ll never see them chase down an out of control skier.
 

PollySid

Certified Ski Diva
A ski patrol at Alpine Meadows told me 2-3 years ago that they were given instructions to be more restrict on those speeding at beginner zone. And he himself had taken away someone's pass. I wish all the ski patrols could be more proactive on enforcing mountain safety. But they are also mostly volunteers with the only benefit of a free ski pass.

Apart from skiing under influence(beers, gummies or GoPro), the LA article also mentioned the ever expanding terrain park is a big contributing factor for severe injuries(Dr. Howell below is a physician in Mammoth Hospital’s ER department).

"Also playing a role in the severity of the injuries Howell treats is the rapid expansion of terrain parks equipped with enormous ramps and giant halfpipes designed for the kind of soaring acrobatics you see in the Olympics.

Years ago, when kids built little ramps at the side of a ski run, ski patrollers would demolish them with shovels and threaten to confiscate the kids’ lift tickets.

These days, resorts build the ramps — massive ones — for their customers. They’re a big draw and feature heavily in marketing materials. The hype tempts inexperienced people to go faster, bigger and higher, with predictable results.

“It’s not uncommon for me to treat several patients on a given day who have suffered what amount to 40-foot falls when they overshoot the landing on big jumps,” Howell said. “These are just massive, massive falls, and they cause the kinds of injuries we only used to see in professional athletes.”"
You said more eloquently than I:
“I wish all the ski patrols could be more proactive on enforcing mountain safety”. Thank you!
 

VickiK

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My ski club goes up to Mammoth for mid-week trips, Sunday-Thursday. Some people will ski 1/2 day on Sunday afternoon or Thursday morning. I don't have the energy for that anymore, because it's at least a 5 hr drive to get home. Another ski club in the same area, with a somewhat younger member demographic, is exploring doing mid-week trips too.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
Thanks @lwannaski! Now that I've read the article I see there's way more focus on reckless and irresponsible behavior (not just substances) than the headline suggests. Boy are the industry responses unsatisfying. It would have been great had there been explicit questions about employing more ski patrol, educating skiers about not leaving the scene of the collision, etc.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I'm fortunate enough not to ski weekends, though on the occasions that I do, I've noticed a lot more risky behavior than I have in the past, For example, more than once I've had people zip around me while I'm standing right at the edge of the trail, with little to no clearance behind me. It's a miracle I haven't been taken out. Yet.

I also think that there are a lot of people who see things being done in ski videos and don't have the sense to realize these are pros with skills that are learned and practiced over and over again til it looks super easy. They figure they can do it, too, without any lessons or guidance, and then they get injured. Imagine that.

And yes, alcohol. Probably a bigger problem than weed.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
At Northstar on Friday, saw more than one newb straightlining down a hill, poles tucked.

There should be a requirement to watch a "rules of the road" / "drivers ed" type video when renting ski gear. (Can opt out if you mark on your form that you are internmediate or advanced and then go right to the quiz.)
Say the video is 6 minutes long, and the after-video quiz is 5 min long (all done on screen.) You don't get your rental ticket unless you pass that quiz.

Resorts would never do it...UNLESS their insurance carriers gave them a hefty price break for doing so.
 

Trailside Trixie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm very lucky in that where I spend most of weekends we don't see the crazy crowds that bigger northeastern mountains see. Particuarly this time of year. However, overall I do generally see people being more reckless but I'm more prepared to get out of their way than I used to be. Granted I have the right of way being in front but I'm not going to let myself get hit to prove a point. Some kid came rather close to me on saturday. My guy said he shouted move to me. He's very lucky I didn't hear him say that because I would have chased him down as we were close to the bottom. I've a friend who is an ex racer and whenever she sees reckless behavior and she's at risk, she'll actually chase them down. She had someone's ticket pulled once. I scan lift tickets at Bromley and I see so many people come through line on cell phones.... I do find this kind of annoying... as I'm supposed to hunt for their lift ticket... No get off your phone and be present and help a girl out. I so want say hello, move it along please... it's not all about you and the phone as there are other people around you.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Thanks for that. Man though, it felt ironic to read the below paragraph in the article, as it is almost what happened to me, minus the punctured lung and accompanying ER visit:
At least two of the patients with punctured lungs had not fallen on their own. They had been hit from behind by skiers or snowboarders careening out of control. The impact had broken their ribs and burst their lungs.

It was at a junction where a blue meets a green and I was actually just skiing out from behind one of those giant neon slow signs waiting for the next slope to clear because I hate when any slope is too crowded. It had cleared a bit, so I start going, making a left turn and 2 seconds later, BAM.

A snowboarder had knocked the wind out of me and slammed into my back on the right side. Never even saw him coming. He kept asking me if I was alright, but I was still in shock and trying to ascertain if I really was alright, so I'm not sure if I ever answered before he left. I am ok, but general rib area on my right side feels bruised and it gets sore again when I sneeze. I'll monitor it, but I can breathe fine.

What's unclear to me is if I somehow skied across his path, though recall the giant slow sign. I'm wondering how he didn't see me, or maybe he did and didn't anticipate I'd move? Well, accidents happen and he seemed contrite. It was the last run of the day too, basically the time when ski patrol says most accidents happen. I left after that - I was shaken.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I've seen it all this year, with the biggest change being the plethora of people who stop in the middle of a groomed run, often in a group, and often in a choke point. This is what my friends and I call the "IKON effect". I want to know, do people drive like this? Do they stop in the middle of the road? I often yell out to people as I ski by, "that is NOT a good place to be standing"!

The rest of the reckless behavior is par for the course and has been occurring at Snowbasin for years now. Everything is exacerbated by the huge increase in number of folks on the hill.
 

mountainwest

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
There should be a requirement to watch a "rules of the road" / "drivers ed" type video when renting ski gear. (Can opt out if you mark on your form that you are internmediate or advanced and then go right to the quiz.)
Say the video is 6 minutes long, and the after-video quiz is 5 min long (all done on screen.) You don't get your rental ticket unless you pass that quiz.
This is a good idea. I have to watch a video like this every time I pick up a permit to go backpacking in Yellowstone.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The other thing I've noticed the past two seasons is the number of people who block the lift line waiting for their group. Yesterday, an older kid skied to the very front, then turned himself sideways so his skis were blocking the entire entrance, and it's one of those "coming in a bit hot" entrances that is on a slight downslope. I was coming into another entrance where you NEED to carry some speed, and there was a group of about 8 people standing there GETTING THEIR PICTURE TAKEN! The "photographer" was standing right in the middle of the entrance. WHY?! :doh::confused: If it happened once in a blue moon, it wouldn't bother me as much. But this is a multi-times per day occurrence every time I'm up.

And yes, I do often say something along the lines of "you are blocking the lift entrance!" These people, along with the middle-of-the-run-stoppers, are just begging to get hit.
 

Trailside Trixie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
We deal with that all the time at bromley. I herd people and scan lift tickets. We're constantly telling people to get out of line if your whole party isn't there yet. Or just go and they'll see you up there. There's always the ones that come in hot and try to blow right by you. I don't get out off their way and hold my arms out big and tall and make them stop.

Let's not forget about the boarders or skis who put their equipment on in line holding people up. No no no, we tell them nicely of course that you do that stuff before you get in line.

Then there the oblivious ones who just stand there and expect you to play the game of finding their pass or lift ticket. Most people hold it out for an easy scan but there's always a couple.

Sometimes by mid February I get a lil cranky lol.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
Oh yeah, I experienced A LOT of the ski to the front of the line and WAIT over the weekend. I'd suggest signs like in restaurants: You will not be seated until your full party arrives.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
I saw many people staring at a phone while skiing/boarding over the weekend, too. I use a go pro but it's mounted to my backpack strap, so I can't look at it. They make many mounts that don't interfere with you paying attention and SKIING not focusing on filming: chest strap, helmet mount, etc. There are also mounts for cell phones, too! You can get them inexpensively on ebay, amazon, etc. I wish more people would adopt a "hands free" method of filming their snow adventures.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
I saw many people staring at a phone while skiing/boarding over the weekend, too. I use a go pro but it's mounted to my backpack strap, so I can't look at it. They make many mounts that don't interfere with you paying attention and SKIING not focusing on filming: chest strap, helmet mount, etc. There are also mounts for cell phones, too! You can get them inexpensively on ebay, amazon, etc. I wish more people would adopt a "hands free" method of filming their snow adventures.
They are looking at their phones WHILE skiing?? Good grief.. this is literally what GoPros and mounts and even selfie sticks are for, what is wrong with people? If you are stopped in a safe place and taking video of friends or whatever, okay. But if you are moving and staring at your phone.. just no.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
I think k you can see people doing it in the Northstar video I just posted, or I may have edited it out. There was a young woman skiing slowly on a fairly flat area looking at her phone, I wasn't sure if filming or reading. Crazy.
 

VickiK

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
For example, more than once I've had people zip around me while I'm standing right at the edge of the trail, with little to no clearance behind me.
I had exactly the same experience at a huge, flat juncture area where 3 large green trails merge. There were lots of people hanging around, and there was a big orange Slow sign right there, which alone would tell one to be cautious. I was standing on the right edge of the trail, when a kid zipped at speed around and by me. There was no margin for error. He would've taken me out had I moved or he misjudged. Stupid, reckless, and rude.
 

NewEnglandSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Yes, I've had people pass within inches of me standing on the edge of the trail. Crazy.
Another one that was really unsettling happened several years ago, I was on an empty black run which was moderately steep. The only one on it mind you, so plenty of room. I was on the middle third of the run and all of a sudden someone blows by me straightlining so fast I didn't even see them coming and they were out of sight in seconds. They passed me with just like a few inches to spare. If I had continued my turn even one inch more to the right I would have been flattened. I had to stop right there and try to relax for a minute before continuing on I was so shaken by that one.
 

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