The National Ski Area Association (NSAA) first adopted a Responsibility Code in 1962 making 2022 the 60th anniversary. It makes sense to me that the code was adopted in 1962 since skiing saw a marked increase in popularity about that time. The number of skiers jumped and so did the number of ski areas. Over 100 new U.S. ski areas opened in the 1960s which is roughly double any other decade. In fact the number of new areas dropped precipitously after the 1960s. The NSAA realized there was a need to standardize the rules-of-the-road on the slopes.
So do you know the code? For most of my skiing years the code has listed 7 responsibilities, but this season the NSAA has upped the list to 10! There are actually only two new responsibilities plus one of the old ones was split into two. I’m going to work backwards by talking about the new additions first.
Number 10 is one that I feel is extremely important. Partly because in Vermont it is encoded in state law and partly because I don’t think it’s widely known.
10. “If you are involved in a collision or incident, share your contact information with each other and a ski area employee.”
Now the Vermont law adds “with an injury resulting” to this, but the fact is a person involved in a collision may not know they are injured until later! So the best practice is to exchange information much like the requirement when you’re involved in a vehicle collision. By the way, the Vermont law absolves the area if the area is not notified of the collision. Typically that means notifying the ski patrol so they can fill out an incident report.
In talking to skiers my own age, fear of collisions is the number one reason I hear for either cutting back on their skiing or giving it up entirely!
The second new responsibility is:
9. “Do not use lifts or terrain when impaired by alcohol or drugs.”
Well, I guess that speaks for itself, but I wasn’t aware that this had become a significant problem.
However over the past few seasons I have observed there are a couple of the original “responsibilities” that are becoming significant problems! Or I should say that people have either forgotten them or maybe never knew them!
First is “Always look uphill before starting downhill!” The number of times last season that somebody just started in front of me as I was coming down a trail was alarming. It got so I would go closer to them than I should have to gently remind them of that “responsibility!” OK, maybe it wasn’t always gently!
Second , “Stop only where you are visible from above and do not restrict traffic.” Now I am being a little picky on this one since part of this is that we have a lot of new-to-Stowe skiers who don’t know the proper stopping places. But in that top section of Nose Dive there are hardly any stopping places that don’t restrict traffic!
The remaining “responsibilities” are left as an assignment for the reader!
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