Parents are often concerned about safety when their kids start skiing or snowboarding.
Even if they ski or ride themselves, it’s easy to imagine accidents happening.
The same is true for biking, football, and even ballet. It’s easy to let our imaginations run wild.
Luckily, it’s also easy to prevent most accidents and mishaps. Here are some safety tips from Jake Ziemski, the Colorado Patroller of the Year.
What’s the most important step families can take to be safe on the mountain?
Be prepared. Make sure everyone has good gear, that works properly.
Next, wear a helmet and goggles. This is one of the most important things you can do.
You also need to be able to deal with inclement weather. Some days may be sunny and you’ll need sunscreen. Others may be blowing or snowing. You need to be prepared for all weather conditions.
What advice do you have specifically for parents?
This is good advice for anyone, but especially for parents. Stick together and don’t ski or ride alone.
If your children are old enough and skilled enough to ski or ride on their own, communicate with one another. Choose a meeting place and a time to meet. Ask each other, “Where will you be skiing?”
And, have a plan just in case someone gets lost. Look out for one another.
Also, parents need to be aware of their children’s limits. Don’t push your child to be the next Lindsey or Bode. The goal is for your child to build their skills and learn to love the mountain. This means every ski day should be enjoyable.
What’s the biggest safety mistake someone can make?
The biggest mistake you can make is to cut a rope and enter closed terrain.
Terrain is closed for a reason. It is never closed because we “want to keep it for ourselves.” Our goal on ski patrol is always to get the whole mountain open and get it open safely. We want to enjoy the mountain just like everyone else, with everyone else.
Entering closed terrain can cost you. In Colorado, there is a $1000 fine if you get caught. Plus, closed terrain is not swept at the end of the day. If you get hurt in closed terrain, you’ll be on your own for a while. We may not know you’re in there.
How did you become a patroller? Would you recommend this job?
It all started when I was going to school in Duluth, Minnesota. I had to get my EMT for my fire science degree.
I was looking for ways to use my EMT. My father-in-law was a patroller at Spirit Mountain Ski Area, so I decided to try that, too and volunteered for patrol.
I liked it so much that when I graduated I moved to Colorado and took at job at Keystone.
That summer, I went to Queenstown, New Zealand for an endless winter. Then I came back to Colorado. I’ve been at A Basin now for seven years.
Any tips for skiing or riding at Arapahoe Basin?
Definitely come up and check it out. A Basin is a pretty unique place for the state of Colorado. With the summit at 13,050 feet, almost 3/4 of the resort is above tree line. It is true Rocky Mountain skiing.
Thanks Jake, and congratulations on being the Colorado Patroller of the Year!
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