Promoting ski safety in Vail in the flashiest way |

Promoting ski safety in Vail in the flashiest way

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyPaula Zellen, right, checks out Dr Sandy Kuvis' light-covered helmet Friday on Vail Mountain.

VAIL, Colorado ” Sanford Kuvin might be the flashiest skier on Colorado’s Vail Mountain ” for safety’s sake.

If you’ve seen the 79-year-old doctor on Vail’s slopes, you’ve probably noticed him ” he’s the one with the blinking lights all over his helmet and ski suit.

It’s an effective safety measure, and it ensures that he’ll be seen by other skiers and snowboarders on the mountain, said Kuvin, who owns a condo at Vail’s Simba Run and has skied Vail for more than 10 years.

He got the idea for the light ensemble after he was hit by a snowboarder in Vail three years ago, he said.

He was headed down the edge of a blue run when the snowboarder came sailing out of the trees, out of control, and hit Kuvin in the ankles. “He stopped and said, ‘Sorry, dude,’ and took off,” said Kuvin. “I was left there counting my body parts.”

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At first he was livid. Then he hobbled around for six weeks recovering from his injuries. Then he got the lights.

“I said to myself, ‘What’s an old man like me doing on the mountain, and what can I do to draw attention to myself to prevent this?'” Kuvin said.

So he purchased six flashing bicycle lights and zip-tied them to his helmet and belt. The whole thing cost about $95, a small price to pay for safety, he said.

He also carries a locator with an emergency call button and a plastic sign in his pocket that reads, “Please help.” The homemade sign conveniently attaches to Kuvin’s’ ski poles should he need to flag down help. The entire outfit is topped off by a blue Vail golf ball on the top of his helmet, covering the extension for a helmet camera.

Sure, it looks pretty funny, Kuvin said, but then again, everyone has stories of their own crashes or close calls.

“Many people have stopped me, but nobody has ever made fun of me,” he said. “People ask me where I got it, and say I should patent it. I do get strange looks, but then they smile. There’s always the smile.”

His wife, Gabrielle, doesn’t ski anymore after a big fall. She laughed when asked if she had anything to do with her husband’s outfit.

“Of course not,” she grinned, shaking her head. “But everyone who stops him thinks it’s great, and it’s for a good reason.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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