Vail Valley Voices: Play safe all ski season |

Vail Valley Voices: Play safe all ski season

Chris Jarnot and Doug Lovell
Vail, CO, Colorado

As we get further into the 2011-12 ski and snowboard season, we would like to address an important issue for all of us in the Vail Valley — slope safety.

Vail Resorts places the highest value on the safety of our guests and employees, and for years we’ve led the industry with innovative, award-winning safety programs and initiatives designed to help our guests and employees understand their responsibility while skiing and snowboarding.

Our mountain resorts are a place where people can recreate and relax comfortably with friends and family as has been done for generations.

This year, we’re enhancing our slope safety efforts with a new campaign, “Play It Safe, Play All Season.” At Vail, Beaver Creek and our other four mountain resorts, guests will see added messaging on the slopes stressing the importance of responsible skiing and snowboarding and reminding everyone of “Your Responsibility Code,” which is posted throughout the mountain on things like trail maps and even restaurant napkins.

Additionally, the Colorado Ski Safety Act states that “no skier involved in a collision with another skier or person in which an injury results shall leave the vicinity of the collision before giving his or her name and current address to an employee of the ski area operator or a member of the ski patrol, except for the purpose of securing aid for a person injured in the collision.”

Skiing and riding is like driving — you must always ski or ride within your ability level, check your speed and give yourself enough space and time to stop depending on the conditions.

As some of you may have already noticed, we’ve been conducting ongoing audits of initiatives like the Yellow Jacket program. We’ve adapted their daily duties and changed the locations and times of their posts to increase their visibility and effectiveness.

At Vail and Beaver Creek, we’ve implemented safety violation cards for both enforcement and education purposes, as well as a mandatory safety violator class for those whose skiing or snowboarding privileges have been suspended for any period of time.

We’ve also asked all our employees to take a closer look at slope signage, closures and traffic flow patterns to help us identify hot spots that could benefit from reconfiguration, such as the area around the bottom of the Game Creek Express Lift (No. 7) and also the bottom of Spruce Face at Beaver Creek. We will continue to develop and enhance these and other efforts over the remainder of this season and heading into next winter.

We’re all in this together, and while everyone is ultimately responsible for their actions, we feel it is our responsibility to help facilitate a safer environment for skiing and snowboarding and to continue educating both our guests and employees about slope safety.

We ask you — our loyal guests — to help us by reporting and assisting when you see irresponsible behavior at Vail and Beaver Creek and our other mountain resorts. Please let our Yellow Jackets, ski patrol or resort staff know if you witness such behavior.

On the management and enforcement side, we have a zero tolerance policy for reckless skiing and snowboarding by guests and employees and are taking appropriate measures in dealing with each instance on a case-by-case basis. Consequences vary and may include suspending or revoking pass privileges, termination of employment and referring matters to law enforcement where applicable.

We’re looking forward to many fun-filled days of skiing and snowboarding this season through April 15. Let’s all be safe and enjoy the great snow and the mountains.

We wish you a happy — and safe — holiday season.

Chris Jarnot is the chief operating officer of Vail Mountain, and Doug Lovell is the chief operating officer of Beaver Creek.

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