We Need Your Ideas.

Correspondent Jan Brunvand captured an incident in action.

Our editorial this week calls for the ski industry to re-consider the Responsibility Code with the goal of reducing on-slope collisions, near misses, and even hit-and-runs. This is a serious problem that we’ve explored all season in our Incidents And Accidents series. While a comprehensive solution requires leadership, commitment, and investment by resort management, SeniorsSkiing.com believes a simple, realistic, feasible, and achievable first step is for the industry to update the Responsibility Code.

What do you think? How would you update or amend the Responsibility Code to reflect today’s reality?

Please respond in the Reply Box below.



  1. Thomas S. Bunn says:

    It would be good to have required signage stating; location of slow skiing areas, responsibilities of any skier/boarder involved in any incident/ accident to report this and where the report would be taken and the consequences of not reporting. Make forms and slop side communication available. The resort where is was a lift operator this season did not even designate slow skiing areas or have a radio/phone to call for ski patrol assistance at each lift shack.

  2. Safety patrols on designated slow trails/areas with Authority to enforce code. I ski “plane guard” in back of my much slower wife, listening, watching, and with my poles pointing outwards.

  3. Any responsible code must solve this puzzle as these situations are ambiguous in the code.

    Two skiers collide as one is entering a trail from the woods or two skiers collide as one is starting downhill.

    Obviously for a collision to happen one skier must be above the other. Who had right of way?

    • Richard Kavey says:

      True. I have never seen a skier roll up hill and collide with the skier above him. The downhill skier deserves protection from the uphill skier. The uphill skier is always ate fault.

    • Richard Kavey says:

      Collisions on skis/ boards must be handled the same way automobile collisions are – seriously. I am continuously amazed, saddened, and furious about the dangerously poor judgement I see everyday on the hill. I was almost hit by National Ski Patrol while standing a few feet from the forest while coaching a group of ski racers. Unacceptable! The amateur patrol is part of the problem, not the solution. At my home area there is no serious effort to control the menace of reckless sliders.

      Skiing gives us all a wonderful sense of flying and independence. To have police all over the hill is an affront. Never the less, I can think of no mechanism other than pulling the passes of reckless skiers, and criminally charging skiers who cause injury with assault. If people behave responsibly, we wouldn’t need laws: they don’t, we do.

      The skiers responsibility code has no visible impact on the problem other than to manage the liability of the resort. If areas were sued, and found liable for not responsibly managing the problem perhaps they would have more interest in managing the problem. Money talks!

  4. Sue Trent says:

    Safety from other skiers has become a worrisome issue in recent years. I have been shocked that ski areas have avoided tackling the issue head-on. There must be liability issues; if they recognize they have a part in creating such safety, then they are liable if they fail. I’m guessing here.

    That said, IMO the most important elements of the responsibility code need to be plastered on lift towers in simple language. I’d add some things.

    1. People ahead of you have the right of way.
    2. SLOW DOWN to pass! Pass WIDE!
    3. Look uphill before starting after a stop.
    4. Stop and look uphill before entering an intersection or merging.
    5. Stop on the side, not in the middle of the trail.
    6. Do not stop where you can’t be seen by oncoming skiers.
    7. Be thoughtful of others on the trail. Be CIVIL.
    8. You could cause a life-changing accident. Don’t!

    The ski area also needs to station “traffic cops” on crowded trails, and give them the power to pull passes.

  5. Everett E Bedenbaugh says:

    signage signage and more signage. And not just the boards that list the code but large letter signs along the trail with each emphasising one of the codes.

  6. While I agree the Responsibility Code needs to be revised, if the Code isn’t enforced its value is greatly diminished. Many resorts appear to be more concerned about offending skiers/boarders especially younger participants possibly because of the impact to the bottomline…they’ll go elsewhere. I’m sure we have all seen situations where the ski patrol have ignored violations of the Responsibility Code most likely because they are not supported by area management. I do like the idea of a “time out” but add an educational component about safety. Additionally, the ski/snowboarding teaching programs may need to re-evaluate how they teach safety/responsibly. Lastly, resorts should take a hard look at their current trail configuration…multiple trails dumping on to one trail, etc. Some are accidents waiting to happen.

  7. Boyd Allen says:

    Each area should have “Ski Ambassadors” in area branded clothing who can model good behavior, speak to people breaking the rules and have the capacity to pull tickets. It used to be you could clip a corner of the ticket as a warning with the second offense pulling the ticket. Not sure how you handle that these days with the RFID passes. Can you scan the RFID code and have the gate or ticket scanner reject the pass or give them a “timeout” for an hour or two?

  8. Elliot Holar says:

    First, I’m not an overcautious person, and will speed into a lift line or even around people if I’m sure things are safe, i.e. there’s plenty of clearance. So I don’t believe in strict rules. I’ve also been warned unnecessarily roughly by ski patrollers or ambassadors in slow zones when I’ve never hit anyone – it’s the common case of the minor transgressors getting admonished and the real troublemakers getting away with things. Also, I’ve been hit hard, with shoulder disabled a whole season, while slowing down by a big mid-trail slow sign, by an irresponsible (fast and capable) skier, so I’m also wary of others and will tell people when they’re out of line.
    Second, rules are good but as noted by others above, people have to feel that someone actually cares about their enforcement. Not necessarily with over-hasty pulling of tickets – again, often the wrong people are punished – but first by speaking to them seriously, then maybe even a time-out as suggested, only in extreme cases pulling the ticket.
    As a matter of fact, a snowboarder zoomed dangerously close to me – as I turned into a roped off lift line, just squeezing in beside me – one start-of-day this winter at Snowbird. I said something to him, to alert him to his recklessness and he didn’t respond; I repeated it louder and he said ‘sorry’ – but then said I also needed to take more care. That set me off and I yelled at him and as we were both going thru the RFID gates, looked at the supervisors watching the screen and asked what they were going to do. I got a bit heated as they gave me dumb stares and a brush off. Fortunately, the lift attendant came over, said he saw the incident, and talked to the guy as he got on the lift. That calmed me down and I thanked him. Both of them were young so I think hearing from the liftie could have made a difference. That’s showing you care, and putting a bit of authority behind it. That’s what the management has to encourage and recognize, even reward. Thanks for listening.

  9. The code is livable as it exists; enforcement is a major thorn, how to convince our would be World Cupper they have been endangering others (or convince their parents)?

    How about drones? A small high flying drone with a camera , controlled from the bottom of a run, might work. Pilot sees a lot more area, can tag an offender, hs proof to show the offender (or parents when they scream at the area). It is a modified idea from traffic cameras without the mailed ticket. The pilot is at the bottom where our public enemy is headed so you don’t have a speeding skier chasing another one on the hill.

    Just a thought, time for more coffee.

  10. M. Auriemma says:

    Several times this winter, I have had close calls. Young men pointing their skis downhill, picking up speed along the way, making 0 turns. Most did not look in control. One even crossed over the front of my skis, while I was pulled over to the side to catch a breath on a bump run. I have never seen anyone attempting to slow these people down. Something’s gotta give! I am becoming really afraid for my safety.

  11. Norm Reynolds says:

    The concept of the downhill skier having the right of way is lost on some people. They get “cut off” by a downhill skier and think it is the downhill skier’s fault, because he/she changed their turning pattern. Somehow we need to point out that we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads, and can’t very well ski while looking back all the time. A good graphic sign getting this across to people might work.

  12. Steve Massee says:

    Signage won’t alter the behavior of the inconsiderate and reckless who are at the root of this problem. There is no substitute for on-hill safety skiers, “cops” if you will, wearing bright recognizable uniforms. Patrol the mountain and ENFORCE aggressively. Behavior modification is what’s needed, and this won’t happen until the offenders know they are likely to be held accountable. Not so different than how safety violators are handled on our roadways. The reprobates will never change, but many will adjust as enforcement and consequences make them think twice. I saw a decent attempt at this at Breck this year.

  13. In my experience the most dangerous skiers are those going super fast (almost straight downhill) on easier slopes. I can’t count how many times I could have been clipped if I had turned a couple feet later. I’m not sure those people belong on the easier slopes.

  14. Rich Spritz says:

    I posted a longish perspective about this topic from an instructor’s standpoint over on the editorial page. I won’t repeat it here. Vail Resorts takes this topic seriously, and has had prominent on-mountain “Yellow Jacket” ski safety enforment staff for many years; I don’t recall seeing similar staff at non-VR resorts. We’ve all had close calls, many involving barely-controled speeding youngish males. It’s hard to imagine what real “enforcement” would look like caveat a lot more heavy-handed Yellow Jackets. Do people really want that?

    • Bob Margulis says:

      I ski weekly at Stevens Pass (a Vail Resort) and have never seen a “Yellow Jacket.” Would love it if they did.

  15. Some ideas for the industry to make snow life safer:

    – Ski resorts should profile the areas around the lifts, make them smooth and even to facilitate loading on and loading off for both snowboarders and skiers.
    – Installing benches in convenient and safe areas will direct snowboarders to those areas.
    – Signs – “do not stay/sit in the blind spots” can be helpful.
    – In case of reckless behavior a resort may force a person to attend a paid training, pass a test, and watch a documentary with real accidents, blood, etc.
    – Ski passes must have Responsibility Code on the back side.
    – Cameras are cheap! Resorts and people should use them. Wise people use dash cams.
    – Chair lifts with no restraints are not safe!
    – More symbols and less words on slopes will work better.

  16. Lee Ann Ross says:

    Revise state laws to require that parties involved in a ski accident have to stay on the scene and exchange information. Make it comparable to an auto accident. There is no other sport where you can leave the scene of a bodily injury accident with no penalty attaching to your actions.

  17. Cansnowplow says:

    With today’s mindset, the “Skiers Code” is a paper tiger.
    No teeth! The new world order is “me first and I am only concerned about me.” Further, if you can’t arrest me, why should I be worried about a rule or a code? Uniformed on-hill resort employees still can not address this selfish attitude. Either law or a monetary loss must be invoked onto these dangerous customers. Deactivating a RFID lift ticket is the fix. All resort employees who are on-hill will have to become, through the power of new resort’s policy and tech support, watchdogs. New action policy being taken against a customer or a tag team who switch day pass so name and picture do not match, should provide no appeal. This policy should be printed on all lift passes, when a pass is purchased, customer is agreeing to the subjected de-activation if a reckless or inconsiderate action is observed of the pass holder by an resort employee. The employee must be able to take a photo of the violator and the ability to scan an RFID chip on person, similar to the customer passing through the lift line gate reader. When the hazardous customer approaches lift gate and it won’t open they”ll go to a ticket sales kiosk, where a picture and a reality statement will be explained of customer being too dangerous to be on the trails. This explanation could be handled by an on-hand security “bouncer” at the ticket kiosk, requesting the dangerous customer to leave (on-hill) and not come back until their on-hill behavior improves; maybe next year.

  18. Michael Maginn says:


    At least two things should be done.
    1. MAINTAIN A VERTICAL DISTANCE FROM SKIERS AHEAD OF YOU.. Never ski side by side. This is a recipe for a collision. The Skiers’ Code says that you are responsible to avoid the skier in front of you. But, when two skiers are skiing side by side, who is responsible then? Best to avoid this situation. Don’t try to outrun the skier next to you. They will try to keep up with you, creating even more danger at greater speeds. Instead, if a skier stubbornly clings to your side, simply slow down for a turn or two and let him/her go ahead. Raise awareness of this issue.
    2. SKI AREAS SHOULD SLOW TRAFFIC DOWN ON STRAIGHT WIDE TRAILS. When a trail is too straight and too wide, it becomes very boring, so skiers speed up to get through the boring part. This speeding is a danger to others. So, ski areas should not build straight and super wide trails. The existing wide trails should be made more interesting and engaging by adding various types of obstacles. Create a terrain park for turning (not jumping) by adding tree islands or single trees, adding a maze of traffic cones or whisker gates, to make the slope more interesting and to let people practice their turning skills. Whisker gates should not be set in a straight line like a race course. Instead, it should be a maze, inviting people to find their own way through. It would give people a taste of what tree skiing is like but on a safe groomed slope.

    Emilio Trampuz

  19. keith perlmutter says:

    I am a ski instructor at a major CO resort and see way too much bad behavior on the slopes.
    Folks are skiing and sliding too fast on crowded slopes, especially green and blue runs. Also, folks are passing way too close to others on the slopes.

    Politeness with calling passing on your left or right is always helpful.
    Recommend that folks not wear both headphones, leave one ear open to hear what is going on around them and the other ear for music.

    The ski patrol must actively pull lift tickets from folks who are skiing or sliding in a reckless manner. If there is a local newspaper, publish how many tickets are pulled on a weekly bases to let folks know that adhering
    to the skier/snowboarder code is the expectation.

    Since CO treats skier accidents as car accidents in that if one person is responsible, they can be sued for causing injury, etc. Don’t think most folks know that this law is on the books.

  20. Snowski/swimmouse says:

    A friend with a winter home at the mountain in CO was skiing a black slope with a senior group midweek when a young boarder rocketed out of the woods. His board broke both of her legs in two places, shoulder, ribs, head injury. … a year and half in recovery. Her 75th birthday she rode her bike from east coast to west coast. Her 80th birthday was a ~much~ shorter ride. She returned to skiing, but with lifelong after affects.

    Personally, I was skiing afternoon at a small local mountain when an approximately 14 year old girl cut just inches in front of both of my skies perpendicular to them. It scare me to death, but we both kept going. The next run, SHE DID IT AGAIN!!! She did the entire run without a single turn. By now I’ve seen that she’s skiing in a family of 6, two parents and 4 teens. I caught her at the lift and stated to her that she’d twice nearly caused a bad accident and I would have been the one hurt! I’m certain that her parents heard me and I hoped they would help. She did two runs with attempted turns (blue slope) and then returned to her reckless ways nearly wrecking with me again! The next trip up I went to ski patrol who did ZERO!!!

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