For the most part our community exists because of the ski resort, and the ski resort exists because of the community. When I think community, I think of all the unique and amazing people who live, work and ski here. Most of them are here because of the ski resort and the ski resort is successful because of them. Our successes and failures are intimately tied together. That is why it bothers me that the ski corporation would distance itself from the concerns of the community. In this instance the concerns being that of the safety of everyone enjoying the mountain.
When a child (or anyone for that matter) dies in an avalanche on the “front” side of the mountain, I would want to know that the corporation is searching for ways to improve their operations, decreasing the likelihood that this would happen again. I would think this would include adequate avalanche mitigation even in so-called “closed” terrain, especially when that terrain is readily accessible and known to be prone to poachers. Vail Resort should not accuse a guest of intentionally making poor choices in skiing into inadequately marked terrain. When an access gate is left open and that gate has no signage indicating avalanche danger, how is one to determine that it is not advisable to access that run. I believe that it should be made clear that there is no decision or choices to be made; a closed gate and signage indicating no choice, an open gate inviting one in.
I understand that there are risks associated with skiing. Although we cannot expect Vail Resorts to control all conditions, skiing within the boundaries of a ski resort is not the same as skiing in the backcountry. When you ski in the backcountry, you need to be aware, prepared and equipped to deal with avalanches. A majority of people who ski within resorts do not have that kind of knowledge, training or equipment. They should not have to make a decision as to whether terrain “in bounds” is at risk for an avalanche or not.
I found the article in the Nov. 15 Vail Daily distasteful. It is inexcusable, insensitive and resorting to journalistic sensationalism to print a photo from Taft’s GoPro moments before his death. Vail Resorts also uses the paper as a medium to promote inaccurate statements that slander Taft Conlin and his parents. And why the need to cover up inadequate avalanche mitigation on the run where Taft was killed?
I believe that if only Vail Resorts had acted in a manner that respected the community to which it is so closely connected, we might never have gotten to this point. How much more positive to be in a mutually beneficial relationship, where the common goal would be to continually search for and improve the safety and overall experience for the guests, the community and the corporation.
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