Area gets tough on unsafe skiers

Eaglecrest giving warnings for reckless behavior on the slopes

Posted: Friday, February 11, 2000

Serious injuries and deaths in the Rockies have pushed the Eaglecrest Ski Area to emphasize safety this month.

So far during what Eaglecrest named ``Ski Control Month,'' some 20 warnings for dangerous behavior have been issued by the ski patrol, said ski area Business Manager Gary Mendivil. One person lost skiing privileges for a week.

Mendivil said the heightened attention on recklessness on the mountain isn't a result of a growing problem at Eaglecrest, though some customers have complained about inconsiderate and reckless skiers and snowboarders. Rather, it's a part of a national effort.

``I think the entire ski industry has just spent a lot of time focusing on safety,'' he said. ``We figured it was time to do something about it.''

Recklessness is punished on ``a sliding scale based on the severity of the situation,'' Mendivil said.

He said ski area managers understand that some skiers and snowboarders like going faster and farther than others. In an effort to channel some of that energy away from runs frequented by novices, a ``snow terrain park'' has been set up on Eaglecrest's Cheechako run.

Tom Mayer, part-owner of Adventure Sports, said Eaglecrest isn't particularly hazardous, but there's always some risk associated with hitting the slopes.

``I wouldn't say the situation is dangerous, but there are certainly opportunities to get injuries,'' said Mayer.

Skiers and snowboarders share the slopes and the responsibility to keep their eyes open for others, he said. About two years ago, Mayer's son was hit in the head by a snowboarder who took a jump without knowing what he'd be landing on. The boy, 6 at the time, was OK. He was wearing a helmet.

``Really it comes down to watching what you're doing,'' Mayer said. ``I think everybody should be able to ski under control.''

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