Okemo Promotes Safe Skiing and Riding

By AlpineZone News |
Jan 03 2006 - 10:38 AM

LUDLOW, Vermont ??” Okemo Mountain Resort promotes safety on the slopes all winter long, but celebrates its safety programs and commitment to safe skiing and riding during the National Ski Areas Assoc. National Safety Awareness Week, Jan. 14 to 20.

Staff and guests of the nation’s ski resorts will celebrate the seventh annual National Safety Awareness Week with a variety of events and activities designed to remind skiers and snowboarders to be responsible on the slopes.

“We take safe skiing and riding very seriously here at Okemo,” says Vice President and General Manager Bruce Schmidt. “There are inherent risks in the sport and our job is to educate and inform our guests, but we will not tolerate reckless behavior.”

Okemo’s staff of professional, well-trained ski patrollers is as adept at keeping the mountain safe as it is at being ready to respond to an accident or emergency. To assist the patrollers, Okemo enlists the help of 25 Safety Ambassadors who work to educate guests, patrol for unwanted behavior and assist with traffic flow in slow skiing areas or during the response to an accident. Recognizable in their red jackets, similar to ski patrol, Okemo’s Safety Ambassadors sport a blue cross instead of the patrollers’ white cross. Reckless behavior may be met with a simple verbal warning or a skier may receive a mark on his ticket as a “scarlet letter” that becomes clear for all to see. As a last resort, or for a serious offence, Safety Ambassadors and Patrollers may pull a lift ticket or season pass as a revocation of skiing privileges for the day, or longer.

Okemo’s Mountain Ambassadors are also at the ready to educate skiers and snowboarders when it comes to safety. Getting skiers and riders to become familiar with the skiers’ Responsibility Code and Smartstyle safety in freestyle terrain areas is part of their efforts to promote safety.

“We encourage all of our staff to promote safe skiing,” says Schmidt. “We empower them to promote safety and we empower our guests to make The Okemo Difference when it comes to a safe environment. We take what our guests tell us very seriously.”

In Okemo’s terrain parks and halfpipes, Park Rangers are ever-present to keep an eye on how elements are being ridden. They try to keep things positive and remind skiers and riders to “Easy Style It,” “Look Before You Leap” and “Respect gets Respect.”

“Check yourself before you wreck yourself,” says Okemo Parks and Pipes Director Dennis Brady. “We have eight park rangers on staff and we try to keep at least one ranger on a terrain park trail at all times. Their presence is key to keeping things safe.”

During National Safety Awareness Week, Okemo will be displaying signs and banners to support the NSAA’s initiatives including “Lids on Kids,” a program to help adults and parents make informed choices about whether to wear a helmet or have their child wear one.

The National Ski Areas Association, along with the National Ski Patrol, the Professional Ski Instructors of America, the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, and Willis and AIG insurance companies, has created the Safety Initiative campaign “Heads Up” to assist ski area operators nationwide address the topic of slope safety education for guests. The primary goal is to attempt to further reduce the frequency of accidents, and to unify the industry to focus on and communicate a proactive, strong safety message. As part of the Heads Up campaign, NSAA has developed a safety awareness poster contest for kids. The contest targets fourth, fifth and sixth graders, but any elementary-age child can participate. Students are asked to create a poster related to any one of the seven points in “Your Responsibility Code.” Safety Poster Contest winners will be announced on okemo.com, where their work will be displayed. They will also be entered in the national poster contest, giving local kids a chance to be recognized nationally for their winning designs. Official Poster Contest rules are available at www.nsaa.org and entries may be dropped off at Okemo’s Administration Office at the main base area.

Okemo’s staff will celebrate National Safety Week with Team Safety Talks that emphasize safety among staff members, a poster coloring contest for kids in the Snow Stars Center and “Know the Code” quizzes by Okemo’s Mountain Ambassadors and Ski Patrol Ambassadors with guests on the chairlifts and slopes.

For more information on National Safety Week, visit www.nsaa.org or www.lidsonkids.org. To learn more about Okemo Mountain Resort and its commitment to safety, please visit www.okemo.com or call 1-800-78-OKEMO (786-5366).