- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

Ski areas nationwide last week became active advocates for slope safety through participation in National Safety Awareness Week, a program sponsored by the National Ski Areas Association.

The observance, which ended yesterday, drew attention to the message the sport is a risk activity and skiers and snowboarders must take personal responsibility for their safety.

To promote safety, resorts developed programs such as demonstrations, on-mountain contests, helmet promotions, redeemable coupons for guests who can recite portions of the responsibility code, employee competitions and participation in NSAA’s Kids’ Safety Poster Contest — the last for elementary-school children in resort communities to design safety-related posters.

“Most resorts do think it raises safety awareness,” said Keri Hone, the NSAA’s director of events and projects of the weeklong project. “Guests are interested in the messages, especially when resorts have on-slope demonstrations like avalanche safety.”

Ski resorts have always emphasized safety and are constantly upgrading, testing, checking and replacing infrastructure to insure that the lifts, terrain and other features maintain the highest standards.

But there are factors pertaining to risk associated with skiing and snowboarding that fall on the individual and not the resort. Examples would be how fast a person skis, where he chooses to ski and if he is in control of his skiing.

The crux of taking personal responsibility is NSAA’s Your Responsibility Code, seven principles that, if followed, advance slope safety. The code:

• Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

• People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.

• You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.

• Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.

• Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.

• Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

• Before using any lift, you must have the knowledge to load, ride and unload safely.

“We’ve found that parents really enjoy the kids’ programs at the resorts,” Hone said. “Ski schools implement a lot of the safety issues in their instruction. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

Liberty schedules clinic — The OP Girls Learn to Ride series will make a stop at Liberty Mountain Resort, Carroll Valley, Pa., on Saturday..

The Op GLTR Snowboarding Clinic is an opportunity for girls (8 and older) and women to learn how to snowboard. Registration for the clinic includes a two-hour beginner snowboard lesson, full-day snowboard and boot rental, lift ticket valid at the lower portion of the mountain, a goodie bag, entry into a raffle for snowboards and boots and other prizes and a donation to the Boarding for Breast Cancer Foundation. Registration, opgirlslearntoride.com.

The clinics, which are offered all day, are two hours long and begin at 9a.m. A credit card and driver’s license are needed for snowboard/boot deposit, and girls under 18 must have a parent or guardian present at the time of registration. The clinic costs $52. Contact: 717/642-8282.

Tubes of Fire at Wisp — It will be a night of tubing and music during the Tubes of Fire, Annual Mountain Reggae Fest at Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort, McHenry, Md. Unlimited snow tubing is scheduled from 6p.m. to midnight Friday, Feb.20 at Wisp’s Bear Claw Snow Tubing Park.

Tubes of Fire also features live reggae band Mama Jama, a barbecue dinner, games and giveaways. Tickets are $25 a person, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Maryland Special Olympics. Tickets are available at Wisp’s Web site. Contact: 301/387-4911; skiwisp.com.

Snow Sports appears on Sundays in The Washington Times during the winter. Contact: bclapper@washingtontimes.com.

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