Ski Equipment Based Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, or SEMSP, is a relatively rare behavioral disorder found in the ski industry. It affects a primary caretaker, often the owner of the skis. The person with SEMSP gains attention by seeking ski maintenance for exaggerated, made-up symptoms or deliberately facilitated damage of a ski in his or her care. As ski maintenance providers strive to identify what's causing the suspiciously recurring ski damage, the deliberate actions of the ski owner or caretaker can often make the symptoms worse.
The person with SEMSP does not seem to be motivated by a desire for any type of material gain. While ski maintenance providers are often unable to identify the specific cause of the skis inordinate amount of ski damage, they may not suspect the owner or caretaker of doing anything to deliberately harm the ski. In fact the caregiver often appears to be very loving and caring and extremely distraught over his or her ski damage.
People with SEMSP may create or exaggerate a ski’s damage in several ways. They may simply lie about the damage such as a difficult to detect bend of the ski, alter the wax base such as contaminating wax with super glue when no one is looking, falsify ski maintenance records, or they may actually induce damage through various means, such as skiing into the parking lot, doing park rails on a SL ski, kicking the lift poles while on the chair and waiting for these symptoms to linger well beyond the time to bring it into the shop. At times, an owner with SEMSP will sacrifice their own body to acquire seemingly legitimate damage to their skis and resulting in a visit to a real hospital.
Other tell tale symptoms are the owner wishing to visit their skis days after drop off but prior to the tune, signs of chemical deposits in the wax not found anywhere in that particular ski shop, a history of damage not coinciding with documentation of days skied, the owner referring to their skis as “Baby”, “Sweetie Pie” or anything of a similar nurturing tone, is seemingly overly concerned and highly receptive to sympathy, rock damage from a mid-season powder day, hovering in the backshop area for an unwarranted amount of time and the list goes on.
Until now, SEMSP has gone uncovered amongst the busy and chaotic nature of a ski shop during winter. Those that bring deliberate damage to their skis, regardless of mental health status should be brought to justice and exiled to snowboarding for the remainder of their snowsports life. Similar to a kitty or a puppy, a ski does not posses the wherewithal to defend itself and therefore society as a whole is responsible for its safety. If you have a friend or know anyone who you suspect of these types of behaviors are asked to call the National Ski Abuse Hotline at 1-800-754-4276 that’s 1 - 800 - SKI - HARM.