Okemo’s Focus on Safety

By AlpineZone News |
Dec 19 2006 - 12:41 PM

LUDLOW, Vermont — Okemo Mountain Resort is renewing its commitment to safety this season and will use the upcoming National Safety Awareness Week, January 13-19, 2007, to help educate guests and promote on-snow safety initiatives.

“One of our main goals here at Okemo is ensuring safe and responsible skiing and riding,” says Okemo Ski Patrol Director Jim Livingston. “The Okemo Ski Patrol has always placed a major emphasis on safety and we are constantly striving to do better. This winter, we are stepping up our safety program on the mountain by adding additional personnel and stopping many skiers and riders to promote respect of others. You will notice an increased presence of patrollers and other staff on the trails, making sure everyone is practicing safe skiing and riding. Additionally, we’ve increased the consequences for those who ski or ride in an unsafe or disrespectful manner. Displaying behavior judged by mountain personnel to be offensive or potentially unsafe will result in the loss of skiing and riding privileges. There may be no warnings,” he added.

Okemo will kick off National Safety Awareness Week on January 13 with a Vermont Snow Sports Research Team PHAT (Protect Your Head at All Times/Protect Your Head on All Terrain) Day. The Vermont Snow Sports Research Team is a partnership of Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Over the past four years, this team has been focused on developing a program to prevent serious head injuries by increasing voluntary ski helmet use among both children and adults. The team of physicians and health care providers is headed by Robert Williams, M.D., pediatric anesthesiologist, and critical care specialist at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen. In addition to education, the team’s project includes observations of skiers and riders to determine baseline data about helmet use. Their work has been presented at medical conferences, accepted for publication in medical journals and has been extensively covered by news media nationwide. The program’s presence at a resort includes the use of posters in strategic locations around the resort, distribution of brochures and a “Phat Day,” where a few members of the team come to the resort, set up an exhibit, give away stickers, prizes and talk with kids and parents about helmets. The program is non-coercive and is designed to promote both helmet use and skiing and boarding as a healthy lifestyle.

Starting January 13 and running through National Safety Awareness Week, anyone who purchases a helmet at Okemo’s Snowsports shop will receive a coupon for 50% off a group lesson or specialty clinic, or 50% off a full day lift ticket, or 50% off a full day equipment rental or high-performance demo.

Okemo’s Rental and repair Shop will also rent helmets all that week for a “buck a bucket.” From Saturday, January 13 through Friday, January 19, all helmet rentals will be just $1 each.

In addition, Okemo will be conducting a Safety Awareness Poster Contest for elementary-school aged children. Posters will be judged based on relevance to the Skier Responsibility Code with winners to be announced and displayed in time for Safety Awareness Week. In addition to prizes, all winning entries will be posted at the resort and online at okemo.com.

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 National Safety Awareness Week and the Safety Initiative campaign 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.

For more information on National Safety Awareness 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).