Letter: Vail Mountain No. 1, revisited; staying on top with safety campaigns
Editor’s note: This is a follow-up to a previous letter submitted by Paul Rondeau (“Vail Mountain receives the No. 1 award,” Sunday, Oct. 22).
Vail Mountain, on May 6, 2017, received the No. 1 award for safety from the National Ski Areas Association. It was awarded to the Vail Resorts mountain operator for “exceptional resort initiatives to educate guests and employees about skiing and snowboarding responsibly.”
I believe there is now an opportunity for Vail Resorts to put additional substance into its award. I reference the November 2017 issue of Ski magazine and an article titled #RideAnotherDay.” It’s a story of really two families that were impacted by a horrific accident at a small ski area in Wyoming.
The heart-breaking event, on Christmas Eve 2010, involved a local 23-year-old snowboarder who violently collided with a 5-year-old skier and her mother as the mother was helping put her daughter’s ski on. The 5-year-old, Elise, was killed, along with the snowboarder. Kelli, the mother, a former ski instructor, suffered severe brain injury involving weeks in a medically induced coma and months of therapy learning how to do the most basic daily tasks.
Following this tragedy, the father, Chauncy Johnson (also a snowboarder), and Kelli have teamed up with NSAA and others to produce the #RideAnotherDay video and, in fact, a whole NSAA campaign. Note, it spite of the title, it’s not just about snowboarders, but skiers, as well.
So one would hope Vail Mountain would use the NSAA #RideAnotherDay material to:
• Further drive home the notion that safety is job No. 1 in its employee preseason orientations and ongoing season meetings. In fact, is there a creative, out-of-the-box way to more empower the many employees on the mountain, both working and when free skiing or riding, to be part of proactively promoting safety behavior of skiers and riders in some way?
• Take advantage of the #RideAnotherDay campaign as part of a suggestion in my Oct. 22 letter to come up with a new safety mindset. The notion was an exclusive Vail Resorts “WeCare” campaign, spearheaded with a motto saying, in essence, what we (Vail Resorts) will do for you (our guests) and what we expect from you.
Hence, can the #RideAnotherDay story be woven into two areas. First, Vail Resorts saying what it will do for the guest in terms of safety enforcement, yes, but also caring about overall skills improvement, self-inflicted and collision accident avoidance, dealing with varying snow and trail conditions, etc. Second, Vail Resorts willing to set forthright expectations of guest behavior for respectful action and voice courtesies associated with on-mountain interactions with others.
Way out of the box? Yes, but you have to continually raise the bar to deal with changing demographics and continuing to be No. 1.