We get to the mountain, put on our boots, click into our skis and…you know the rest.

But how often do we stop to think about the people we rarely see; those who get the mountain ready for us and who keep it going?

Some will read this and tell themselves, “We pay for these services.”

My response is, “Yes, but take a moment to appreciate the people whose job it is to assure that you have a good experience.”

There are electricians who keep the lifts going and the lights on, and technicians who keep the snow guns running, That’s just to name a few.

We see some who prepare and serve food. But we rarely see the men and women plowing and maintaining the parking lots.

Patrol proactively stakes poles to warn us of hazards, control avalanches, and perform other dangerous tasks, all on our behalf.

Look up the hill at night, and you’ll see headlights from the grooming crew getting slopes and trails ready for the next day. Larger areas have late afternoon and graveyard shifts. Skill is required to operate those 10-ton mechanical behemoths. They groom in the dead of night in blizzard conditions when it’s impossible to see the trail’s edge. They groom steep slopes winching their cats around stanchions and groups of trees.

Last season, I spent an hour in a highly computerized mega-cat in the Dolomites. There, the entire trail network – which, end-to-end would extend from New York City to Chicago – is groomed every night by an armada of cats. The driver exhibited a quiet, professional pride as he explained his complicated nightly chores.

I left the cab with a new appreciation of what these unseen people do to make our skiing experience more pleasant.

The next time you go skiing, take a moment and look around. All the organization, safety measures, snow making, grooming, food prep, lift operators, reservations personnel – everything that makes up and maintains the infrastructure of what you’re about to enjoy – deserves our attention and our appreciation. 

What would we do without them?

Alta Patrol Featured in New Short Video 

Apropos of my thoughts on appreciating the people behind the scenes, click here to view a wonderful and informative video about Alta’s Ski Patrol. The area’s patrol has more than 80 men and women, with 20-30 working most days.

Helicopters Deliver Snow To French Resort

That’s just one piece of discouraging news about the impact of warming on the ski industry. Among other things, this CNN article reports on a study showing that by 2050, about one-half of the past Winter Olympics venues will be too warm to host the event.

Bumps in the Road Scholar Ski Offerings?

People tell me that they loved the Road Scholar alpine skiing trips. Good prices, convenient lodging, great camaraderie. A look at their current offerings shows one trip to Steamboat (CO) and another to Sunday River (ME). That’s much reduced from the days when Road Scholar had trips to numerous other areas. When I emailed the organization’s PR person to ask why these popular programs had been eliminated, she responded saying they currently offer 18 different ski programs and advised that I consult the Road Scholar website. There, I found a total of four skiing activities: the two aforementioned alpine trips and two X-C trips (VT and NY). She also said that Road Scholar is exploring new downhill destinations for 2021. We’ll see.

Vermont Adaptive To Build New Sugarbush Facility

Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports plans to build a new $2 million adaptive sports facility at Sugarbush Resort’s Mt. Ellen. The non-profit hopes to break ground in the spring. Friends and participants of Vermont Adaptive’s programs at Sugarbush have pledged a generous challenge to match every dollar up to $1 million for the facility. Donations may be made on Vermont Adaptive’s website.

PhotoEssay on Killington Snowmaking

Last weekend, The New York Times ran this informative photoessay about snowmaking at Killington in Vermont.

Mikaela Shiffrin Graces Cover of March Sports Illustrated

Skiing’s female rock star is dubbed “the world’s most dominant athlete” by SI. This is her third time on the cover. The first was leading up to the 2014 Olympics; the second, after she won slalom in those games. She is all of 24.

Video: Runaway Truck on Ramp

Drivers in mountainous areas are accustomed to seeing runaway truck ramps. They’re generally located on the right side of long downhill roads. Truckers and bus drivers experiencing brake failure can direct their rigs to these uphill emergency ramps that have sand or gravel beds to help slow them down. This recent video was shot on the west side of Eisenhower Tunnel on the Colorado stretch of I-70.

Ski Area Safety Survey

We know that on-snow safety is an issue for our readers. Please take a minute to weigh-in on the subject by participating in a survey from the SnowSport Safety Foundation. See the article about the survey in this issue or click here to go directly to the survey.

How To Wash Your Hands

The New York Times just issued this video about hand-washing. It shows the technique advised by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and the slightly more rigorous and effective technique advised by the World Health Organization (WHO). A skiers’ hotel in Kitzbuhel closed because of coronavirus. Washing your hands correctly is a first line of defense.

 

 

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