By Eric Gruneisen
GET THE F@$% OUT OF THE WAY! How many times have you said this or thought about saying this while skiing or riding at one of Colorado’s beloved ski areas?
Maybe it’s just me! Maybe I have become too aware of my surroundings and think too much on… Wait, here it comes! Others! Maybe by being in the construction industry and having the countless hours of OSHA training, I’ve become someone who looks for hazards. Maybe I’m one of the few that focuses on being courteous to others by my behavior while skiing or riding. Or maybe I’ve just become a grumpy old man. But this really pissed me off while riding this year in several Colorado ski areas!
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the unwritten rules of how you should behave and pay attention to your soundings while skiing or riding. It’s the whole announce of dealing with being in large groups of not just people but strangers, kind of like driving. Everyone with “common sense” knows that the left lane is for passing and the right lane is for cruising or not passing, but yet we all deal everyday with that one guy in the fast lane clogging it up, or pissing you off!
I guess in short and as nice as possible I could be talking about you! Are you the guy or gal that walks to the lift line and drops your gear right in front of the entrance and creates one more obstacle for the rest of us to have to maneuver around to get to the
lift? Or how bout the at the top of the lift do you drop your board directly in the middle of the unloading area and strap on? How about the group that falls down while getting off the lift and decides to just lay there and laugh while the people having to get off behind you are doing everything they can to not run into you?
Signs. Signs everywhere are signs, but no one can read so who cares!? That’s how I felt when I went riding this past weekend at Loveland Ski Area. It didn’t take me long to get in my, as I like to say, my observation mode, I love to people watch. It took my first ride up the lift to have that annoyance feeling take over my emotions. There it is the unloading zone. Great, look some people are standing right in the way having a chat. In my mind they might as well have been sipping tea together. So I do what most people do. Dodge them, look at them with a little annoyance, enough to get at least one to tug the others arm of their jacket and say, “Hey, let’s get out of the way”.
With my day starting in this fashion I decided that I was going to spend a little time observing the unloading zone. I did this for about 20 minutes and I have to tell you I am blown away at what I saw. It was at the top of lift two. I think I pretty much saw every possible situation that should not happen at the top of the lift happen. The good thing is I took lots of photos to back up what I saw. I did I saw everything I described above; not just once or twice, but over and over. Getting off the lift sometimes can be a bit scary, especially if it’s near beginner runs.
The most common was the groups of people having a discussion most likely of which direction to go or who knows what’s for lunch? In this first set of photos shows just what I’m talking about; a rider with a small child trying to get off the lift while fighting not to run into the group standing in the way. The funny part of the whole thing is that they’re clueless, meaning nobody flinched, not so much as a “Hey, did you see that see almost ran into us?”. Nothing.
In the next set of photos we have the too embarrassed for falling down with my buddies group to think about getting out of the way, but when we do, it’s going to be in the worst possible spot!
Oh! The entrance to the lift at the bottom of the hill isn’t much better; mostly people in the way waiting for a friend or gearing up at the actual spot where you enter, not just some of it or half of it but they put their board sideways and block the whole damn thing.
I even saw a few decide that inside the roped area was a good place to get in the way as well. Let’s face it, we are all responsible for safe skiing and boarding. We all have an obligation to know how to behave while on the slopes. Most people tend to look at the hazards as speed, going to fast. It crosses peoples’ minds less to think about the hazards of not just the still objects, but the ones that are moving slow. Once again back to driving. When you drive in the snow and icy conditions, the rule is drive at a speed that you can slow and stop the car with as little brake use as possible, not too fast and not too slow your job as the driver to determine. Now back skiing. If you’re the dbag standing in the loading zone, you’re making that rider behind you have to slam on their brakes in order to dodge you standing in a spot that should be clear at all times just for that reason. It can be stressful to some, especially if your new at this just getting off the lift without you in the way.
But what obligation did Loveland have in making sure those enjoying the park are following the “rules” of how you should behave. Sure you can put up the sign, but remember the photo of the big neon sign about equipment and keeping it behind. Well, it’s a bigger problem than you would ever imagine.
So do we pick on the lift operator? No! Could we? Sure, he could have been screaming at everyone to get out of the area and to bind up on the side out of the way, but he too probable assumes that everyone has common sense. At the end of the day it comes down to this, read the sign and follow the instructions posted and know the things you should know before heading up. First timers take a lesson or two. You never know the guy coming off that lift next just might be his first time with waxed boards strapped to his feet and headed right for you, yeah the one standing in the way!