“Not Our Job”: A Play In One Very Short Act

Scene: Curtain rises on an evening outdoor dinner party under a tent. Several guests are gathered around a table with a variety of appetizers: shrimp, cheese and crackers, fruit. Bottles of wine, beer, and booze are at another table. A couple of dozen guests are mingling and getting to know one another. Two characters, an Online Magazine Publisher (OMP) and A Volunteer Ski Patrolman (VSP), continue their discussion.

How many speeders can you spot? Credit: Jean-Yves Bruel

OMP: We’ve just completed our Spring Survey a couple of weeks ago. We asked an unusual question of our readers, What Pisses You Off The Most About Ski Resorts? Can you guess what the number one winner was?

VSP: Easy, speeding skiers.

OMP: Give that man a kewpie doll! Out-of-control, wild, dangerous skiers who ski with abandon and no sense of safety. How’d you guess?

VSP: We hear it all the time. People are always asking us to nail these air-heads, pull their tickets, and banish them from the mountain. (Note: This ski patrolman volunteers at a Very Big Vermont Resort.)

OMP: And?

VSP: We have to explain it’s not our job. We’re there to provide aid to injured skiers, keep the fences up, sweep the trails. You know, safety.

OMP: Really?

VSP: We’re not cops, and we are not trained to be enforcers. Besides, we’re understaffed. We need two guys at the top, a guy on the phone, and a spare on patrol. That’s all we’ve got.

OMP: So who’s supposed to…

VSP: The resorts Ambassadors. They are the people on the hill who can pull tickets, if they do. But often even they don’t. The management doesn’t want to alienate customers by pulling tickets.

OMP: Alienate customers? But what about the senior who goes out five times a year and who just spent $140 on a lift ticket and gets terrorized by schuss boomers, and no one does anything about it?

VSP: Yeah, that’s a problem. The day lift ticket guy probably isn’t coming back, especially if he’s new to the resort or the sport.

OMP: So, speeding, out of control skiers, the number one thing that seniors in our survey find that pisses them off about ski resorts, is an intractable problem?

VSP: I guess so.

OMP: (Walking away): I think I’ll have another couple of shrimp.

[Curtain]

[Editor Note: We know a lot of our readers are either active or former ski patrollers. Please let us know what you think of our play. We want to take it to Broadway, but before we do, we need to hear your opinion. Is VSP correct? What can a resort do to chill the hotshots? A complete report of Spring Survey results will be coming out in the Fall.]

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This Week

Looking for shells, early morning on the beach at the Hilton Barbados. Credit: Yvette Cardozo

In our ongoing Non-Snow activities series, Yvette Cardozo shows us that scuba diving in Barbados can be as refreshing as a run down a wide blue trail. Well, at least it’s cool. If you haven’t snorkled on a reef or scuba-dived in the Caribbean, you might want to revise your bucket list.

Moon Rocks, Davis, WV. Credit: Pat McCloskey
Pat McCloskey continues our Summer Cycling Series with a visit to Davis, WV, which is becoming the Moab of the East for mountain biking. Ride with him over the famous Moon Rocks, an apt adventure considering we’re celebrating the 50th of Apollo 11.

Finally, Murray Sandman, a new SeniorsSkiing.com correspondent from New Zealand, explains how he created a DIY, three-week tour of the Dolomiti Superski in Northern Italy. 

On to August, and summer sailing for us. Thanks so much for reading SeniorsSkiing.com. Tell your friends, and remember, there are more of us every day and we aren’t going away.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar Gary Urquhart says:

    I am an active patroller and VSP is generally correct that our primary duty is helping injured skiers, opening and closing, fences, signs, etc. We also have a “safety patrol” who are out there looking for dangerous skiers amoung other duties. However if we see an out of control skier we will also take action to first warn but then mark a ticket as a first warning or pull the ticket. If we pull the ticket we have a safety patroller escort them so we can continue with our primary role.

  2. Avatar David Irons says:

    As a former patrolman, both volunteer and professional I can generally agree with the patrolman in your play. That being said, policies vary from one area to another. Often ski patrol members will stand by slow skiing signs and warn speeders to slow down. Often tickets are marked or punched and the skier is warned that a second infraction will result in loss of ticket. This is a good warning without actually pulling the ticket. At one area where I worked I had full authority to pull tickets, but with a few exceptions the only times I pulled tickets were when my friendly warnings were met with lip and profanity. Mostly I suggested to the young men (almost all of the offenders) that they really didn’t ski well enough to ski that fast. I should also add that we rarely had a problem with racers. They skied fast, but under control. The problems came mostly from young men skiing beyond their ability. While my patrolling was mostly done before snowboards, I have observed that an athletic young male skier can achieve considerable speed and stay on his feet, while learning snowboarders don’t get that far before landing on the snow. My advice to seniors is simple. Ski mid week mornings. Before school lets out.

  3. I’m guessing that recognition technology to track and ID speeders so they can be intercepted at the lift is readily developable and would not be very expensive in the scale of running a resort. Don’t have to pull tickets either; just add software at the gate ticket reader to embarrass them as they catch their next ride; maybe flashing light. funny sounds; to ID them to other skiers as as jerks.

  4. Avatar Jonathan Williams says:

    Schuss-Boomers?
    We really are Seniors. I’ve not heard that term since…well, since I was a lot younger. we used “Klammer Stompers” for awhile, as badge of honor, not derision.
    Guilty as charged. Although I always believe I am in control, I do like long sweeping, high speed descents!
    Primarily a Beaver Creek patron, I have convinced a couple patrollers and “Red Coats” that I was in control, riding a fine edge. One, whom I barely missed as he pulled out of the trees on a snow board, was a hard sell. Since we were on the first lift, he let me go with a warning.
    Besides, the new skis are So stable at speed….

  5. Avatar Peter McCarville says:

    What pisses me off about ski resorts……I think the play needs more specificity. My wife’s first thought about an answer to the question I posed to her was “cost”. I agree with her but …..what is wrong with speed?!

    How about a little devils advocation for speed? In other words it is not speed that kills it is the poor/weak skier who kills that happens to be going fast and out of control. Isn’t that how the adage goes?

    Here are a few devils advocate statements to enliven this play:

    1. On could also look at the very slow skiers as hazards on the mountain but then it is not them being slow but an entire slope zig-zag style that many frightened and under-lessoned skiers present to the hill.

    2. One person’s fast is another person’s slow. I am 6’2″, 195 lbs and ski a appx. 180 cm ski. I am clearly going to go “faster” than a 5′, 120 lb skier on 150 cm skis. It is simple physics. My slow is maybe that person’s intermediate.

    3. It is not too difficult to see skiers who are out of control when riding the chairlift. Analyzing form from the lift will actually help one become a better skier if you know what you are looking for.

    4. Most of the people that have almost clipped me are those that run over my tails while I am stopped and talking to a buddy

    5. I have seen a million “styles” of skiing and very few are really skiing and that includes the fat-ski Shush or Starve as they skim over 20″ of new snow going 40 mph. I find that the majority of people really do not know how to ski let alone ski too fast.

    6. I find seniors obsessed with run counting, elevation counting, days of skiing counting, etc. These are all the things that apps now do for you and seniors are as addicted as the young-ins. Who cares how fast you are going or how much elevation you did before lunch?! Leave it at home.

    7. Just ignore the fast people. We do that in cars, why can’t we do that on the ski hill.

    8. My god. I hope the photo at the top of this article is a fake.[ the one credit to Jean-Yves Bruel]. There is no way I would go on that slope with all those people! Although it is tempting to use them all as slalom gates.

    Thanks for posting and I hope the play continues to evolve. Also, my 1-8 is loaded with tongue in cheek.

  6. We ski and volunteer at Holiday Valley in New York State where the area supports a Safety Patrol (which is under the NSP Mountain Host Division) to help police the area. We have been given the authority to lift tickets if needed and issue warning tickets. The warning tickets are a bright color and will stand out to other patrolmen (also the public) in case the out of control skier continues to do so. We will have 500.000 to 600,000 skier visits per year drawing from N Y, Pa, Ohio and Ontario and many of the families tell us they keep coming back because of the Safety Patrol.
    In my opinion – yes, this is an investment and expense by the area but well worth it

  7. i was a patroller at a major western Canadian ski areas for 26 years. first offence we punched our pole through their day ticket or noted the season pass to management although the latter very rarely occurred.
    only once did we pull a group of tickets for a second offence from a large group from europe skiing out of bounds in an active avalanche area twice
    thank you

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