Ski Happy: Know the responsibility code


By Kimberlee Hutcherson
SUN Columnist

One ski season, I was out on the mountain with a group of students. These particular students were quite proficient on their skis and enjoyed speed.

I sent this group ahead and followed down behind them and, as I was coming down, a guest who was not in my class flagged me over to where she had stopped. She was miffed and wondered if we even bother to teach skiing etiquette.

She wanted me to tell my students to ski, “on the other side of the trail from her.”

At first, I didn’t know how to respond to this. Was she asking me to tell my students to always look for the lady in the blue hat and ski on the other side of the trail from her?

I replied that there is not a book of skier etiquette that I am aware of, but that there is a skier responsibility code. People have the right to ski wherever they like, as long as they stay off closed trails and don’t run into you. Apparently, she did not like this response. My employers got a disgruntled guest letter.

I really was not trying to be rude, but etiquette leaves a lot of room for interpretation, whereas the skier responsibility code does not.

All people who participate in snow sports should know this code.

Why? Because if you break the rules, such as colliding with someone and injuring them, you could be held financially responsible for their injuries.

So, here’s the code:

• Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

• People ahead of you have the right of way. It’s your responsibility to avoid them.

• You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.

• Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.

• Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.

• Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

• Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

Kimberlee Hutcherson is a certified ski instructor with Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and has been teaching skiing for the last 22 years.