To bar or not to bar: ski lift etiquette |

To bar or not to bar: ski lift etiquette

Tamara Miller
Vail Daily/Shane MacomberSafety bar is up and they aren't talking. An example of chairlift etiquette at its best.

BEAVER CREEK – You know how to set the table and how to kindly refuse a wedding invite. But when should you put the safety bar down on the chairlift? Do you dare try to chat up the stranger riding the lift with you or is that rude? Does the ski pole go to the right or to the left of the skis?Emily Post may know where the salad fork goes and how to write a killer thank-you note. But the decorum diva knows nothing about good skiing and snowboarding etiquette. So we quizzed local skiers and snowboarders and got advice straight from the source.Lesson No. 1: Put the safety bar down, but ask first Sheila Reed is a proud Wisconsinite who calls herself “pro-safety bar.” Lucky for her, she is surrounded by other “pro-safety bar, chatty” types with whom she can enjoy a mutually satisfying chairlift ride. Becky Bowers, Reed’s friend from Breckenridge, agrees that putting the bar down is best. Let’s hope neither will have to share a ride with Sam Mott someday.”I don’t like having the bar down,” Mott, a Thornton resident, said. “Only boarders like having the bar down because they don’t have poles.”

Mott doesn’t usually talk to people on the chairlift, either. And he would prefer it if people would just leave him alone on the lift. Ignoring people is just plain nice.”I’m grumpy, I admit it,” Mott said. No. 2: Out of the wayAlejandro Amon is loving life here in Eagle County. The Chile resident just moved to the valley for the ski season and said he’s enjoying the “champagne” powder and the charming American people. “People here are so kind,” he said. “They treat their employees totally differently. They’re so kind, there’s almost too much respect.”Respect, apparently, is seriously lacking on the Chile slopes. People cut each other off on the slopes all the time. Most people in Chile snowboard and Amon thinks that might have something to do with it, he said. He was quickly shushed by his cousin, Paul Amon, for saying that. “We like snowboarders,” Paul said. “No, I don’t,” Alejandro muttered under his breath.

Paul, who lives in the United States, agreed with his cousin’s synopsis of the Chilean slopes, however. “People there don’t respect the right-of-way,” he said. “There are a lot of accidents there. People here are pretty respectful. You rarely see accidents.”On the topic of getting out of the way, Jared Richert, of Vail, hates it when people stop at the bottom of a hill. It’s not only uncouth, but kind of dangerous, too.”You can’t see them when you are coming over a lip,” said Joel Schmoll, an Avon resident. No. 3: Not so close too meYou can talk to Reed on the lift, but don’t snowboard too closely to her. It really bugs her, she said. “When I was boarding in France, people get really close to you on the slopes,” Reed said. Nothing peeves Ken Hilt, also a Breckenridge resident, more than when a skier or snowboarder tries to ride sideways down a catwalk, he said. Since no one else interviewed for this story Saturday can recall a time when this had happened to them, we question the validity of this statement.Avon resident Justin Ritts noted that many skiers and boarders seriously forget their manners on catwalks. They turn too wide. People get too close to him. It’s so unthoughtful.

And while we’re talking about rudeness, enough with the bad rap about snowboarders, Ritts said. “There’s a perception that we are the bad people on the mountain,” he said. His snowboarding friends agreed and pointed out that skiers really aren’t so hot after all. “They’re too old to be on the mountain,” Richer said, but was swiftly shushed by his friend Melissa Russell.”They’ll put that in the paper,” she said. Indeed.Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 607, or, Colorado

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