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Small Area - Big Air - Big Risks

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
This is mainly directed to those of you who ski at midwestern or southeastern areas, but of course all responses will be appreciated.

This is my very first post. I haven't seen anything on this subject addressed here in what I've read so far, so apologies if this is not an appropriate forum for this. And beware, I've been holding this in for awhile, so it's gonna be a long one! Here goes...

I am age 42, started skiing at age 29, teaching at about 35, am female and fairly cautious by nature. I do not enjoy the sight of blood. I love skiing fast, but not as a contact sport.

In the last two weeks, I've been first on the scene at not one, but two, accidents where folks left in ambulances. At the first one, a 13 year old slammed into the wall of the lodge. As he crumpled, face down on metal grating, his friends stood there laughing, not because they were sadistic, but simply because their little brains didn't register that he was hurt.

Our area is populated in large part by these children and teens. Sometimes, in a lift line, it seems the ratio of adults to kids is about 1/100. And it gets extremely crowded on the slopes.

So that's the setting. To compound this, over the last three years, I have seen a huge shift in emphasis at our hill from old-school snow sliding to new-school big air. We have a very dedicated group of teens/20's who are incredibly skilled and awesomely brave. They even built a summer practice ramp at a local lake so they could practice all year. Truth be told, I worship these kids!

What preoccupies me though is the "wannabe" factor I think might be at work on the first time skier who has no idea how long these folks practice, and then goes out and tries the same jumps, and/or skis at speed before learning how to turn or stop. Even those who know how to control their speed often choose not to. The goal seems to be to straight run everything, no matter how crowded the slope.

So, my questions are:

1)Do your areas also give big air high a high priority on the hill?

2)Do you talk about jumping with your beginner students?

3)Are there any controls in place?

4)Am I just a wimp for being afraid of getting hit by these kids?

5)Am I the only person who fantisizes about a hill reserved for adults-only skiing?

It's getting harder and harder for me to watch the parade of ambulances every day. More energy is going into worry, less into fun. Any thoughts, other than suggusting I move to a less crowded area, which I am already working on?

And last but not least, am I too old to try big air myself? Maybe the real answer to all my questions above is, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em?

Thanks for reading!
post #2 of 6
does your hill have a terrain park, i.e. a segregated area for jumps and rails and stuff? if so, why are you worried about these kids running into you?
post #3 of 6
Adema, I suspect that her area is like many here in LA, where there are jumps and rails on virtually every run.
post #4 of 6
DM, I ski at a couple of areas just north of you at Boston Mill/Brandywine between Cleveland and Akron. Although they allow a jump at one point on one of the main slopes, there are a couple of areas set aside out of the way for rail and table tops etc.

At Brandywine there is a large half pipe and terrain park where competitions are held, see the pictures at http://www.bmbw.com/winter/bigair2003/ , but those are seperate slopes and the ski patrol keep the schussboomers on the main slopes in check. Yet there are still some collisions.

post #5 of 6
If you are talking about Perfect North, I've been there once and it was ridiculously crowded. I know what you mean.
Yes, most ski areas do have jumps, rails, etc. But they do need to be somewhat isolated from the general public. The solution at our hill seems to be to make the jumps unreasonably large, and scare away the wannabes! I know it has worked on me.
I think this new-school thing is here to stay, so resorts should focus on what can be done to make it as safe as possible. Clinics would be a good start. If they are going to do it, they should learn how to do it right and mimimize the danger. Will people still get hurt? Of course. Hopefully, as everyone learns more about this still new type of skiing, injuries will be minimal.
post #6 of 6
I know an instructor who skis his kids over a very small jump & they see if they can land it - none of them ever can - but of course he does... then he explains that if they WANT to do REAL jumps they have to learn to do the skiing so they can land the jumps & not be hurt(they all see the ski patrol carting people away too) - he says it works well when they all pester to do 'cool skiing' & they work harder at skiing better
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