This is all very interesting to read--lots of creative ideas. Maybe we need to be getting somebody from the National Ski Area Association's Safety Council to read it.
Much of it is also very much in line what what I have been thinking. As Uncle Crud says:
The code might have some flaws, and perhaps, as several people suggested, we need a cooler, more abbreviated version to get the word out to some of the younger folks. I liked the idea of a mnemonic device for little kids. Hard to get those out of your head when they're put in there when you're small. (Sounds a bit like brainwashing, doesn't it?) However, it's less the code that's broken than the idea that:
1. Plenty of people are never put in situations where they hear/see the Code, or the common sense behind it
2. The Code's out there, but in contexts that make it seem irrelevant (like in fine print on the back of a ticket), or worse yet, something lame and *stoopid* for the old fogies, rather than something for the young skiers who are the ones who need it.
3. Lots of kids growing up in the last couple of decades weren't learning the skills they need to make something like the Code seem like common sense.
It's interesting that you raise the idea of a *cool* resort employees who hang out in the park. One of the best influences I can think of is a guy who skis at Vail and teaches skiing and works with the development team, among other things. Now, he's older than you'd think and he has a family, but you'd never know it. And I mean that in a flattering way from the perspective of a kid--he adores his family, but he doesn't seem like a fogie at all. And he's an unbelievable
skier. He's cool in an unassuming way, and you can tell he speaks the kids' language. He told me one day that he sometimes has to be their conscience in the park or out freeskiing, that some of them haven't really developed in that way yet. And you just know when he tells them not to try something or to be careful that he does it in a way that's cool, not old and crusty. Which raises a question: How do we get more *older* people people who are still in touch with their own youth and with youth culture out on the mountain with the kids? Are there active mentorship programs of a sort? Since kids are so into the idea of people who rip, wouldn't there be an opportunity for them to bond over time with some cool *geezers* ('cuz I realize many of us are starting to look pretty old to these kids) who can ski the same sick lines and aren't afraid of some air? They/we would have the experience to pass along the *rules of the road,* as iskitoofast4u mentioned.
Several people have also posited that those of us who have skied for a long time have created versions of the Code to protect ourselves, and maybe they'd rub off by osmosis, too, if we were spending more time with these kids? They're based on many of the same ideas, only from a defensive perspctive.
I really like the idea of getting the folks the kids like the watch--the rappers, certain actors, the park skiers, the racers--to make some sort of public service announcement. It is a shame the X Games are over for the year. And it's too bad that the Warren Miller movies have changed so much, and that focus has really shifted elsewhere in ski movies. I can just hear his great, sardonic narration pointing out things about etiquette and the code, at the same time finding humor in it.
I just can't help but think that ski resorts hurt themselves sometimes, the way they approach the Code. Posting it in bits and pieces on liftlines is a good idea, because it's not in your face, it's just out there. But some of the dorky slogans I am seeing on *slow skiing* fences on the mountain? Egads, if I
think they're lame ("Tempo is low and slow") then what is a 17-year-old thinking? Probably, "I'll ignore that
and take a blind jump right here!" Somehow I don't think that those signs are the sort of *protection* that a beginner or family area needs, because they seem to invite contrary behavior. I can't tell you how many times I have seen kids laugh at the signs at a crowded junction of green trails, and take a big jump or decide to ski switch at high speed through a bunch of little kids. If those signs & slogan-ed fences are going to be out there, then somebody with an understanding of the psychology of teenagers (and aggressive, angry people in general) needs to be writing them. Right now many of them come off as if they were written by some dorky, 1950s Pollyanna. And that's only my
opinion. I can only imagine what I would have thought 15 years ago. (Sorry if their author is posting here!)
Ideas that include a reward of some sort, like a free lift ticket, for knowing the Code are awfully creative. I don't think they'd be too hard to implement. Heck, I have seen resort employees conducting marketing and customer service surveys on the lift, why not use the lifts for some sort of safety game, too? And efforts to quiz people could be focused on specific areas of the mountain, on lifts and runs around the park and beginner/low intermediate areas.
But of course we also can't forget:
Because at the end of the day it's about recreating and having fun. I wonder if some of these people have forgotten how. They seem so angry, even when they're on the hill, when maybe some of that stress should have melted away.