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Staying safe on the slopes starts with knowing the rules

I spent last weekend skiing with my 10 year old daughter and her friend at Crystal Mountain.  With fresh snow and a long holiday weekend, it was busy on the slopes.  Unfortunately, the busier the slopes get, the more often collisions between skiers tend to happen.  A collision on the slopes can cause serious, even life threatening injuries.  Over the weekend I witnessed two collisions and a third very narrow miss.

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Seeing these collisions on the busy slopes with plenty of season left, reminded me that it would be a good time to brush up on the skier responsibility code.

In addition to keeping yourself safe, consider legal implications for not following the responsibility code.  Below is a link to a recent article in the Aspen times.  It reports on a lawsuit arising out of a snowboarder vs. skier collision.  As a lawyer I’ve worked on many similar cases.

http://www.aspentimes.com/news/20214493-113/snowboarder-overdue-on-800000-judgment-to-snowmass-crash

The National Ski Area Association publishes a simple, easy to remember code:

Seven Points to Your Responsibility Code

  1. 1)  Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. 2)  People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. 3)  You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. 4)  Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. 5)  Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. 6)  Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. 7)  Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

Washington State has a similar, yet slightly harder to remember version of these rules embodied in statute.  Take a look at RCW 79A.45.030.    http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=79A.45.030

Knowing and adhering to these seven points won’t prevent every incident, but it will make a big difference in safety for everyone – including yourself.

If you ski with kids, make sure they know the rules.  Make the learning them a game and practice them until they know the rules and understand how to follow them.  The Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol often hands out trading cards with pictures of their avalanche rescue dogs on them to kids when they learn the code.

Finally, if you involved in a collision or happen to witness one, make sure everyone is ok, stay at the scene and contact the ski patrol.

Stay safe and have fun out there!

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