Vail Daily column: Ideas for a safer mountain |

Vail Daily column: Ideas for a safer mountain

The Jan. 6 Vail Daily had a letter titled “Imagine” by Joyce Chizmadia on the usual boring subject of safety on the mountain. But she brought life to the subject in a poignant way. Paraphrasing her article, she imagined a new buzzword of courtesy among skiers and riders. Imagine parents being able to take their little ones out on the slopes to have fun and admire the mountain beauty without the fear of their being run over. Imagine seniors gathering for lunch without the main topic of who had the best story of almost being run into. Imagine a world where skiers and riders of all ages and abilities took a moment to think first before their next movement or path taken — all without sacrificing fun and enjoyment.

Now imagine a series of perhaps crazy but related reminding steps that might just help moving toward an imagined perfect world:

• Reminding beginnings: Imagine a competition among the public for one-liner slogans to get folks attention? “Please” works better than the hard line — so imagine a format stating a situation and let the intended audience mentally fill-in-the-blanks of their actions? Imagine examples such as:

1. “Others need their space, so please … “

2. “It’s all about turning as anybody can go straight, so please … ”

3. “Assume others are your aged grandparents, so please … ”

4. “Emergency rooms suck, so please … ”

5. “Those below and ahead rule, so please … ” and most importantly,

6. “Defensive awareness is always the watchword of the day, so please … ”

• Spread them around: Imagine the reminding slogans exemplified above permeating everything: One, signage around the mountain, on lifts, on towers, in trail maps; and, two, lift attendants in competition as to which crew is best at providing high energy greetings and tips as they load, such as “thanks for coming to Vail and remember to give others their space”? Imagine the public picking up on these one-liners to do some “gentle reminding” to their friends or as other skiers and riders whiz by?

• Icons or mascots: Imagine a creative new safety reminding mascot and have it being at every mountain portal and more — or just use the Disney characters with a let’s-all-safely-enjoy-the-mountain message.

• There’s a place: Imagine active reminding to steer athletic and pushing-the-limit guys/gals to top-to-bottom terrain parks — a great place for GoPro selfies. Imagine more sustainability by using earth as the foundation of terrain features, rather than the energy, water and time required to build them with all snow — coupled with being able to have them ready to go when the mountain opens.

• A little extra reminding: Imagine more slow zones, more Yellow Jackets coached to use a combination of master-of-ceremonies type humor and the hard line — while equipped with some fun, yet serious tools such as radar speed guns and bull horns? Imagine creative ways to get a pulled pass back — such as sincere reminder testimonials of transgressions by telling their story live or via video to school kids, other transgressors or even on TV8?

• Getting religion: Imagine all guest services type departments firmly on board with a new, fun, reminder approach to skier and rider safety. Imagine if there was a downside to doing all of this. Imagine if it would keep guests from coming to Vail, if it would embarrass Vail or if the cost would much impact the overall numbers in an annual report. If no, then imagine turning a comprehensive set of reminder safety initiatives into a “we try harder” type marketing motto!

In the meantime, for individuals who think there is a problem and something can be done, their hopeful expectations can be captured with John Lennon’s music and lyrics of “Imagine” (“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. ”). I just hope this time response to the “Imagine” dreamers is not the “Sounds of Silence.”

Paul Rondeau lives in Vail.

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