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Speed on the trail - too fast or too slow?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
Last saturday I was up at good old Mt. Wachusett for one last day of skiing this year. I noticed a couple things, from the lift and on the trail itself. First was the incredible number of people wedgine down the blues and blacks. I knew of this phenomenon before, of course, but it still worries me.

The second thing was something that actually happened to me. I was cruising down 10th Mountain, a Wachusett black (probably a blue on most big mountains) that is, by Wachusett standards, a four-lane highway. I was about halfway down, cruising along and carving at probably 25 mph or so, when I came up on a little snowboarder, maybe 8 years old, just cruising along at almost nothing. He wasn't quite sidescraping, but it was close. I was already in a steady carve to the right that would take me right around him when he turned hard to the right, maybe trying to stop or something, right in the middle of the trail. This brought him pretty squarely into my path :. Scared to death, I pressured the tips as hard as the anemic rental boots would let me, praying to the ski-gods that the dull edges would't let go and let me skid into the poor kid. Thankfully, I cleared him by maybe a foot, but there are a number of things wrong here.

First of course, I'm willing to admit that I may have been a bit fast. This isn't because of the trail, but because of the people on it, mentioned above, who ski a trail beyond their level and so take it waaaay too slow. It definitely would have been my fault if I hit the kid, and it wouldn't have been pretty. Thank goodness, he had a helmet on. Someone's parents are thinking clearly.

But still, there are other things about this that bug me - we were in middle of the trail when this kid, already going quite slowly, made a turn that slowed him to a near stop. Hello people! You DO NOT stop on the trafficked part of the trail - get off to the side first! This is simple common sense. The other thing that bothers me is what I mentioned twice already. If you can't ski a trail competently and comfortable, you shouldn't ski on it! You are only going to get hurt, either by yourself or because of another skier.

I don't think we can (or should) try to keep lower-level skiers off of harder trails, but shouldn't we try and be sensible about where we ski? Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and skis on the wrong trail, yes. But c'mon, why do it consistently? If you insist on doing it anyway, stay to the edge! If I hit you from above, this is absolutely my fault, but remember that YOU chose to ski or ride on this trail, and YOU chose to do so slowly and toward the center of the trail, and so the responsibility for being a "traffic cone" is YOURS. For crying out loud, if you don't want to get hit, don't increase the risk by skiing where you shouldn't!

Bah, that's my rant... other than that (and catching an edge [yes, I really, truly caught an edge, I'm not lying here] at 20 mph, it was a fine day. Thank you all for listening, the exit is to your left...
post #2 of 48
You make some good points, but WAY too much common sense. Beginning skiers, slow skiers etc. exhibit NO common sense. The skier in control has to be aware of everyone around him, including high speed maniacs approaching from behind and abrubt turners in front.

While we're ranting, stay away from Snowshoe W. Va. I went back last month after a 5 year absence. I could not believe how dangerous it is to ski there. I went with a ski club, and before our trip leaders would give us our lift tickets, we had to sign a waiver! I found out why on my first run. A complete free-for-all on the slopes. Wreckless skiers bombing out of control everywhere! Snowboarders sitting 4 and 5 across the narrow trails, you name it. A complete lack of safety. The vast majority of the skiers there are from the south, (nothing wrong with that), but they don't ski much, and when they do, they don't know slope safety. The ski patrol is too busy removing the carnage to educate anyone. It's sign a waiver and ski at your own risk. We could not run the race course until we signed another waiver!
I remember that area as having to pay attention a bit more, but not like this.

Be careful out there. That's my rant.

BTW...Intrawest did build a beautiful village up there.
post #3 of 48
I'm sorry but your rant here isn't right.In away I understand what your saying, but as you said if you had hit that Kid you would have been Your fault.I agree that everyone needs to be more aware of were they are and of other skiers and riders on the Mountain.You were the uphill skier looking down the trail you saw someone who looked to you like they were not a skilled rider. When i see someone like that an alarm goes off in my head,WARNING DORK AHEAD, That can Do Anything and most likly will do Anything!At that point you should be dumping speed and looking for a vary wide way around that guy.If no exit around him looks good start doing short swing turns if he zigs right You can zag left and be around him.The fact is that it really dosen't matter how fast or slow anyone else is skiing.You can't control them, you can only control You and your skiing.I'm glad that you didn't hit the kid.This incident seemed to have made an impression on you. I'm sorry if this seems like a lecture In some ways my rant on your rant is a reminder to myself to be more aware of others out there.
post #4 of 48
Grolby, Welcome to the wonderful world of weekend skiing at Wachusett Mountain. Yes, good old Wachusett, where everybody thinks they are an expert skier/rider, even if it is their very first day on snow. Where the traffic density is greater than the New Jersey Turnpike at rush hour, and it is everybody's birthright to be on the expert trails even if they have no business being there. I refuse to go anywhere near that place on a weekend or holiday and usually drive up north to areas with more acreage. If you can hit Wachusett during the day midweek, you will have the place to yourself, and it is actually a pretty nice little ski area.
post #5 of 48
you have got to be kidding,if you cannot ski in control at a speed reletive to how crowded the slope is you are skiing to fast,we have all had to wait for people to clear a trail so we could rip but that is part of skiing.it should not matter where someone stops but they should not block the trail & hopefully they would stop on the side but in the real world that does not always happen. the worst is when they stop just past a drop where you can't see them.you are right that you would have been in the wrong if you had hit this kid.what if someone like me who skis fast goes to pass you on the left while you are carving right & you suddenly carve left like some of the hypercarvers will do & we crash just because I assumed you would keep going to the right from your point of view you are somewhat in the wrong.I ski extremely fast most of the time but am very carefull where & when.thats also why I like to ski at night when the slopes are less crowded.when I am about to overtake a slower skier and am unsure about where they might go I say on your left or right loud enough for them to hear & have never even came close to hitting anyone.but I was hit for the first time this season very hard by a student in a mountain master class I took,I was on an axis x shape ski carving & he was on a sraight ski blasting down the mountain,I was the down hill skier but he blamed me for carving into his path.the instructor saw what happened & explained to him he was in the wrong but he would not see it that way. bteddy
post #6 of 48
I feel your pain, man. But gotta say, when it's crowded you just have to give up on tryng to ski the perfect line, with perfect carves, with perfect form. If there is anyone on the trail in front of me and the trail has more than a scattering of soles, I head for where they aren't. That way they can never suddenly put themselves in my path. Even if this means giving up a perfect line. If there is a crowd like some of the Blue avenues have, then it's time to do a Paul Simon - Slip Slidin' away, the nearer the [person] the more you slip slidin' away.

Fortunately I get to spend most of my days up in chutes where a crowd is two people and clears relatively quickly.

It's sorta like driving in a parking lot. Ever notice how all rules of the road pretty much go out the window when in a large parking lot. That's what skiing on a crowded hill is like.

By the way - good for you for having the fore thought and skill to notice the kid, plan and execute an escape. Some of the best skiers don't even do that much.
post #7 of 48
Wachusett, more commonly refered to by the locals as WAWA, has way too many people skiing down the upper part of the mountain that clearly shouldn't be there! I live only 15 minutes away, but rarely go there because of that.

Have you ever seen a skier in a "flying wedge" totally out of control and only able to stop by falling? This is a common sight at WAWA on the Upper Mountain and the entire mountain for that matter.

I once witnessed an out of control snowboarder come over a lip and get airborne, very close to the tree line and land on top of a patroller who was being pulled down the hill in the tobogan as part of a training session. This kid (15-19) had the audacity to get up and yell at the patroller pulling the tobogan for being in his way. Unfortunately, most of the patrollers in this group were visiting patrollers(myself included) and didn't have the authority to pull his ticket. The WAWA patroller gave him a verbal warning and sent him n his merry way.

I was at WAWA on Sunday. To my surprise, it was not nearly as crowded as it usually is. There is usually a 10+ minute wait in the lift line. Unfortunately, the slopes were still relatively crowded and full of "flying Wedges", "tag sales" and generally rude people.

Most, if not all of the trails had "SLOW SKIING" signs up and messages that said if you skied fast you would loose your pass.

I had the "privilege" of riding up the Polar Express (summit lift) with a beginner who was out for his first time ever on a snowboard. He headed right for the black trail (blue or less by other area's standards, but even so), cutting right over my skis and leaving a nice gouge in them as he took off out of control and out of balance, falling 10-20 feet away. Fortunately, I had my old skis as WAWA is known for equipment disappearances, even out of their ski watch. They were skied over more than once that day!

Skiing down the slopes you not only had to be aware of skiiers in front of you, but beside you and behind you as well. More so than you do at any other area. Sometimes it's like taking your own life in your hands there.

I was skiing relatively slow for me, making nicemedium radius carved turns, down probably the hardest trail at the area and an out of control kid came flying up behind me, fell and took me out like a bowling ball hitting the pins. He clearly should not have been on this trail. His father came up to me and told me I should think about skiing a little more carefully, afterall, there were kids around. I had all I could do to hold my tongue and not give him a piece of my mind.

I have been skiing for better than 30 years. In this time, I have been a patroller and an instructor at another area. I have skied many other New England areas as well. I can tell you that the majority of skiers at WAWA generally do not adhear to many of the skier's responsibility code items. They use little if any common sense and are always found skiing on slopes way above their ability level, many of them are rude and feel that they own the mountain(everyone else out of my way).

I have to add, if you want a nice, smaller area in New England, where skiiers follow the rules of skiing and for the most part and ski within their ability, the best place to go is Burke in Vermont.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 26, 2002 07:25 PM: Message edited 3 times, by skierteach ]</font>
post #8 of 48
>>>. Hello people! You DO NOT stop on the trafficked part of the trail - get off to the side first!<<<

Obviously that took you by surprise, but say he would have fallen in your path, would you still lay some/any blame on him?

post #9 of 48
snowboarders sitting on their asses lined up across the middle of the hill are one of my biggest pet peeves.

the hill was kind of slushy/sloppy today... i was cruisin down and lo and behold -- 5 snowboarders perfectly spaced so as to block off the entire run. as long as i have to weave between the little snots i don't really have a problem w/ slingin my tails around a bit as i go by.... i just about buried one of 'em... i didn't think my tails would throw that much slop. honest, i didn't.
post #10 of 48
They drive like they ski,
and ski like they drive... :

Clumping theory... Riding the traffic wave...
Check out this link:

post #11 of 48
Word, Utah49.. learn to go into instant short turns, look way ahead and expect the dork to cut you off. I usually wait for a clear slope before I let it rip. Usually. Should more often. Met a beautiful ex instructor the other day named Kirsten doing those patented moderate speed medium radious ski school turns so elegantly now I'm trying to do them too everywhere I go. (thought of Siggie, Ott) Skierteach; your descriptiomn of Wa Wa is really funny.. except it's really not.. Sheesh. Bears in Utah next year. :
post #12 of 48
Yes, Grolby does need to be in control to avoid a skier/rider below BUT the Code does also say that you have the responsibility to stop where you can be seen AND where you are not obstructing traffic on the hill. Why does everybody have to stop at the top of each roller and face and form a human blockade of the run? And it ain't just the boarders that do this, folks!!
post #13 of 48
Thread Starter 
Utah, thanks for the tips... now if only they weren't necessary! Tag nailed it; my responsibility is to be in control and not the hit the guy below (and thank goodness I was in control, because I would have really creamed that kid if I hadn't been able to make that turn). His responsibility is to stop in a safe place.

Skierteacher, when I was there on Saturday, the place was relatively uncrowded, for Wachusett. The slopes weren't even terribly crowded, especially during the lunch hour. Still, I witnessed some incredible stupidity from the lift. Like the skier that passed another at the beginning of the steep section of 10th Mountain, only to have the other turn and collide as she was completing the pass. The result was a scary looking, tumbling wipe-out. Fortunately, I think no one was seriously hurt. It was an example of why I and others need to look and think ahead a lot better, and if there is room to give other skiers a wide berth, then give it! If I had seen that diminuitive boarder sooner, I could have put myself on the other side of the trail from him, thus eliminating the near-collision that occurred.

I was also treated to the amazing sight of a father coaching his kid on when to turn when unloading from the lift. If the kid needs help getting off the lift, WHY did you bring him up here!? I'm glad I didn't see them on the way down, it must have been messy. Incredible, some of the people on this mountain... I almost got nailed merging onto Lower 10th (which had traffic from Conifer, our blue summit trail, that day, due to thin cover on lower Conifer).

Skierteacher, are you referring to Smith as the hardest trail? I stay away from that trail and its sharp drop (relative to most WAWA drops) as much out of fear of and for others as myself.

Heck, while I'm at it, can anyone guess why Wachusett is called WAWA?
post #14 of 48
Wachusett is only an hour away from me. All the rest of the places I go are over 2 hours away. So, I'll go there on a weekday morning for a few hours when I have the chance, but I'm gone by 12:30 (they give you $5 back when you turn in your ticket). I avoid the place like the plague at all other times.

Llama posted a very funny (and accurate) description of Wachusett in another thread recently.

"Wa ... Wa-Wa-Chusett - Mountain skiing minutes away!" (Jingle from Boston area TV/Radio ads.) And, one more thing: I DO think Carolyn is as 'perky' as Katie Couric!
post #15 of 48
when they start posting signs that say IF YOU CAN'T SKI FAST ENOUGH, etc. STAY OFF THIS HILL, i'll go with it but otherwise, sorry. whether he should've been on the hill is quite apart, i think, from The Code. he has every right to be there and it's the responsibility of the skiers above to be aware and slow down.
when i ski, i EXPECT the unexpected, and if i'm on a trail where it's crowded and/or there are slow/tentative skiers/boarders, it's TOTALLY and ALWAYS on ME to be alert and prepared to ski accordingly, no ifs, ands, or buts. i understand your frustration but seems to me it's part of the game. people stop in the wrong places ALL THE TIME at EVERY HILL. to be surprised by that is, well, surprising.
if they disallowed "slow" skiers from certain runs you'd have every yahoo "fast" skier testing their mettle on the so-called speed hills and then you'd get real carnage.
how many times have all of us gotten off the chair, moved over to the trail we want to rip on, only to find it inexplicably packed with slow skiers, poor skiers, stop-in-the-wrong-place skiers? hey, that's how it is sometimes. that's when i work the slow short-turn stuff.
as far as burning or jumping the rollers, hey, i like it too, and it gets me when i get up to 'em only to see some hoser who's parked it RIGHT THERE. but i'd rather keep the frustration than go ahead and go for it, clobber someone (taking myself out in the process), but be able to say "hey, i'm in the right, you were in the wrong place, i can't feel my legs." if i'm with someone and we scope a jump spot but see also that it's "blind" from above, we'll take turns, one going down to spot while the other gets the jump, then alternate. slows things down but that's how it goes sometimes.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 27, 2002 07:21 AM: Message edited 2 times, by ryan ]</font>
post #16 of 48

I hate to bring this up, but according to your profile you are new to skiing and therefore still a beginner or maybe an intermediate. If indeed you were skiing at 25mph, you were probably not in complete control yourself. An expert could easily ask himself (or herself) why are you on an expert trail.

The best advice is to assume that the skier(s) around you are like flies: impossible to predict the direction they will take or when they will stop. I am exaggerating, of course, but if you start with that premise, you will find that your disappointment in others will greatly diminish.
post #17 of 48
Ignoring the possibility of further roasting Grolby (I think he was rather forward with his own acknowledgement of possible wrong doing) I would rather focus on a comment several have made here about the unpredictability of how skiers or boarders will move.

I believe it is this unpredictability that leads to 90% or more of collisions. Several years ago I was blasted into a treewell by a boarder who hit me from behind. I never saw him coming. His defense? "I didn't know a skier could move like that". Last year I watched a boarder run over my son (fortunately no one was hurt). My son was skiing rythnically down an intermediate run and had established what I refer to as his lateral space. The boarder was trying to catch his buddys and did not take the time to recognize the pattern. "He kept getting in front of me".

I don't want to start yet another skier vs. boarder thread but it seems to me skiers tend to move more rythmically down the hill, establishing their "lateral space" - a swath down the slope that they ski within. Many boarders tend to move more randomly, probably because of the backside / frontside (sorry, I don't know the terminology) difference. Certainly there are boarders who are a rythmic as skiers and skiers who are as random as boarders.

Remember, it isn't your right to get in front of the guy below you, it is your responsibility NOT to hit him.

End of random ramble....
post #18 of 48
All bets are off when they are that young or beginners. Avoid them!
post #19 of 48
This strikes a chord.I too like to let'em rip on occasion and find rolling road blocks to be a pain in the ass.I really can get ticked when I see someone bent over at the waist, snow plowing their way down a diamond slope, making it about 50' prior to sitting down on the tails of their skis and zipping off the side of the hill.99% of the time,these bozos are on crap rental gear and have been "taught" to ski by their friend who is also on his ass right beside them.
post #20 of 48
You've got to take the high road and not crash into children.
post #21 of 48
As a skier not far removed from the lesser skilled skiers described here I suppose I'm more understanding of their situation so I just give them a WIDE berth or wait til they clear. My wife sprained her ACL thanks to a hot shot who whipped by her at speed on the "easiest way down" when we were relative beginners. During that lesson I fell on a icy narrow but steep section on the same run and got to watch high speed bombers fly by my head as I tried to get up( they couldn't see me til the last minute) As far as having beginners ski the edge of runs that usually isn't that practical because they have the least amount of skill and have the most difficulty with the variable conditions near the edge and the smaller margin for error next to the 20' drop into the trees. I just avoid the crowd best I can and accept that I can't ski fast if the people are all over the place. skidoc
post #22 of 48
I think when you’re skiing, you’ve ALWAYS got to expect the other person to do something erratic. The other morning I was in Vail in Sun Up Bowl coming out of the bumps and trees in Over Yonder, which dumps into the groomed Yonder. For those not familiar with Sun Up Bowl, think of this illustration, Yonder Gully is at about 1 o’clock, Yonder is at 2 o’clock, and Over Yonder is at 3 o’clock on a ridge with a double and off camber fall line, with all the runs converging at the center of the clock like an ice cream cone. This double fall line is difficult to explain. I was skiing a relatively fast line in the bumps, when I noticed someone in the back seat “driving the bus” at Mach 10 on the groomed Yonder skiing his line, which was the same as my line that converged at the bottom of the cone. I slowed up, changed my line, and actually stopped high and away to avoid getting nailed. This guy looked up at about the same time, freaked, got further into the back seat, slammed on the “brakes”, had the mother of all yardsales, and slid about 50 yards before he stopped. While I stood there waiting for my girlfriend, that guy’s buddy skis up to him and says, “Dude what happened?” “I don’t know, I was cruising along and caught an edge.”

I’ll tell you what happened; first, you were in the back seat; second, you going way too fast – he slid for at least 50 yards; and third, go back to Gitalong Road! Unlike his buddy, I was kind enough to ski over and pick up his trail of gear. I love to ski fast as much as the next person, but when the slopes begin to get crowded you’ve got to expect other people to pull bone headed moves, which is why I prefer to ski blacks down to the Village at the end of the day.

I think speed is a relative term. Just ski in control.

Oh, B/T/W, it’s March and it’s Spring Break out here. :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 27, 2002 01:02 PM: Message edited 1 time, by woodpile ]</font>
post #23 of 48
The mountain belongs to all and especially the children. They are immune from any breach of RULES.
I am responsible for every thing in my path. Our destiny lies before us.

I love skiing the very edge of the trail, Half the traffic is stationary (trees) and the other half tends to keep it's distance.
At least they only come after you from one side.

Work on yourself, there are too many of them to change them all!


post #24 of 48
I agree, the mountain does belong to all. Wachusett is very much a learning mountain. Many of the skiers that frequent the area are novice and low intermediate skiers. As an experienced skier (30+ years) I find it necessary to be extra vigilant of not only what is in front and beside me, but also what is behind me.
Wachusett is too crowded usually, and this is true for any ability skier. Their lift capacity is fairly high for the size of the area, and they sell more tickets than that can handle most of the time.
post #25 of 48
While i believe that the downhill skier always has the right of way, skiers/snowboarders that stop in the middle of a trail alway pis me off. Had a small incident in verbier last year. I was skiing down a trail about 5 meters wide. A bunch of englishmen stood at he side of this trail (not so smart). They all stood behind eachother(smart) so there was plenty of room (2/3 meters) to pass the group. Then the last woman of the group who was still skiing stops facing the group and blocks the whole trail. So i had 2 choices: 1 try to stop (spray them all with snow, didn't think I could stop in time, the trail was icy). 2 Jump over her skitips and ski on (The elegant solution [img]smile.gif[/img] ). So I jumped, I never even touched her or or her ski's. I looked behind me and saw a big Englishman following me. So I skied a little bit uphill where he couldn't get to me right away ( I had more speed than him) and waited for him. So he starts ranting about how I could have killed the woman (yeah right) and how he was going to kick my ass. So i did the smart thing and pretended i didn't speak english. So I just smiled at him and shrugged my shoulders. I didn't want to explain the skiers responsability code to him and get into an argument or worse. After a while he realised that I wasn't giving him a reason to start fighting and went away. Could have been fun though if he had tried to get it on. I was skiing with my friends from college sports (martial arts) 3 Ju Jutsu black belts were standing behind him at the time. [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 27, 2002 04:04 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Crosscarver ]</font>
post #26 of 48
Thread Starter 
Tom, I think you're coming from the right place with that, but a couple things - #1, I have no idea how fast I was really moving. I put it in a range of 15-25 mph, because I do not know what 25 or 15 mph feel like on skis. I certainly felt fast, but not out of control fast. I absolutely agree that a skier of greater ability will be able to make better turns, and be more effective at controlling their speed down the slope than myself. I was in control, and could turn out of harm's way. From what I'm reading here, it looks like I made two significant mistakes: First, I was looking ahead enough to see the people below me and how fast they are moving. My thoughts are often on my technique. Second, I did not adjust my skiing to be safer near the slow person. Of course, it didn't really register that he was going so slow until I was already in that carve to the right, which takes us back to item #1.

I also might add that Wachusett blacks are not expert by the standards of most mountains. This trail is a reasonably wide groomer, steep enough for speed, but not really steep, per se. It's definitely within my abilities to ski this trail. As your average skier, I screw up sometimes. Maybe I cross my tips, maybe my skis get away from me as I'm going from turn to turn, or I "catch and edge." It happens. I will freely admit that the other black on Wachusett makes me feel out of control on the steepest section, and so I avoid it because I know that I can't take it safely unless I take it very slowly.

Haha, Tominator, precisely. But you live in the area, cheater! Oh man, did I hate that ad compaign...
post #27 of 48

let me know when and where you are skiing so I can make sure I am no where near the place

Mate its your responsibility to avoid other skiers ... no ifs, buts or maybes!!!!

post #28 of 48
It sounds to me from grolby's last post that he has learned a valuable lesson without anyone getting hurt... let's just be thankful for that and not be too hard on him, after all he did bring this to the board for discussion in the first place.
post #29 of 48
I agree with CalG and others that emphasize that everyone must ski in control and be able to avoid the skiers and boarders that are below you. The operative word is: YEILD! Even if less skilled skiers are on a trail that is too difficult for their ability level, they have the right to be there and challenge themselves if they want to.

My rant begins when people ski/board too close to my kids as we ski down a "green". My kids are 5 years old and ski well, although slowly when a section of the "green becomes a little steeper. They have been taught to control their speed by finishing turns across the fall line. On a narrow green, I have to ski behind them to protect them from faster skiers who don't respect the "lateral space" they need to use.

I am generally opposed to having a lot of signs posted on the mountain. However, it might be a good idea to set aside some "standing zones" and "through traffic lanes" at busy trail intersections. This might reduce the annoying blockage of trails by standees and boarders sitting in the middle of trails.

And finally, even the standing on the side of a trail has become hazardous. If I am standing only 3 feet from the side of the trail, no one should ski between me and the side of the trail. Not even the best skier in the world! It is ridiculus that the same advanced skiers that complain about unsafe skiers will be the same ones to squeeze into the 3 feet of space between me and the side of the trail! I always ski the sides of the trail for good snow and crowd avoidance but, I do not endanger others by not detouring around (toward the middle of the trail) someone who is standing where they are supposed to.

To review:
2) Give the kids extra room!
3) Respect those that stand where they should!

Thank you!
post #30 of 48

good on ya for putting this out here and listening while not getting defensive. obviously, we're all addressing a hypothetical situation (to a degree) as we didn't see the situation. anyway, it's good to see that some folks can catch a little flak (deserved or not) and not want to rant and argue about the responses.

good job.
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