Letter: Suggestions for Vail Resorts to build upon already-stellar safety programs
Editor’s note: This is part of a series regarding safety as a subset of something larger that could be called WeCare, by Paul Rondeau.
Vail Mountain, in May of 2017, was awarded by the National Ski Areas Association the No. 1 award in employee and guest safety awareness amongst the larger resorts. With the letter in the Vail Daily on Saturday, Nov. 25, from Vail Resorts (“Vail Resorts promotes #RideAnotherDay campaign”), it’s clear they have a full commitment to safety on the mountain to back up the coveted award. I’ll just add a specific suggestion to this stated direction.
The most obvious area to me is expanding the influence of undoubtedly the best ski and snowboard school in the country. Few know the Professional Ski Instructors of America regularly picks up ideas and training material developed here to be used regionally or nationally.
One could envision out-of-the-box, broad-based approaches to have some of the ski and snowboard school’s experience and information trickle down to the general public. This would complement the terrific Devo program for children and the emphasis programs at local schools.
So what might be done — assuming it does not cost too much?
• Yellow Jackets: Start with the mind-set — are these folks the enforcers or on-mountain customer service reps who have been through part of skiing/riding skills and communication training instructors receive. This would enable them to give “you might want to try” tips, in addition to behavior adjustment warnings. Yes, they do need the new, small, hand-held megaphones.
• Fenced-off, “drive-through” areas for quick tips by an experienced ski or snowboard instructor.
• Signage, such as “skiing and riding are all about turning,” “trees … they need their space,” “the ability to carve is what you paid for on your feet,” “stay behind less experienced in your group,” “improve your skiing and riding — its safer for all” and, of course, “take a lesson, you will be glad you did.”
• Chalk Talks: Just as Home Depot offers free classes on various topics, similar gatherings early morning or afternoon in some location, on or off the mountain — in short, sharing some of the same skiing/riding skill information new instructors are receiving.
• Tip-of-the-day for skiers and riders via programmed display boards, on daily grooming reports, etc.
• Finally, a “WeCare” motto — what you can expect from us and what we ask of you.
The key is to be broad based, as there is no single program that will get the attention of all. While person-to-person collisions get most of the publicity, the larger number is with self-inflicted injuries to limbs, head and body. Further, don’t expect massive changes in the actions of the majority of the guests all at once.
But you have to continue building on success, and it’s something you can talk about in marketing promotions and even the Ski magazine resort rating issue, with its short description of each area. Finally, by whetting the appetite with skill and safety improvement focus, it will drive more ski and snowboard school business!