Ask Ripperoo: Slope Safety
Ripperoo, the official mascot of Breckenridge, loves to interact with guests of all ages. You can ask Rip a question here , and maybe you’ll see your name in the Mailbag! Otherwise, the questions will just get made up. This week, Ripperoo fields questions about safety:
I’m all for safety, but I’ve been skiing for forty years. What’s with the guys in yellow vests? Why do they expect me to slow down? I’m an expert!
– Need for Speed, Jackson, Wyo.
Dear Need for Speed:
I’m sure you’re an excellent skier, as are many of our guests. We also have many novice skiers on the mountain who make unexpected turns and stops – it’s part of learning the sport. Even if you are in control, skiing fast may make it impossible to avoid a collision if somebody does something unpredictable in front of you. Remember, as the uphill skier, Colorado state law places the burden squarely on you to avoid the downhill skier. Our Mountain Safety employees are strategically positioned in areas that mix ages and ability levels to keep speeds appropriate for safety. If you really want to let ‘er rip (no pun intended), head for the high stuff, amigo!
I really believe in being safe, but a Ski Patroller suspended my pass for a month just because I went under a rope with orange flagging. I don’t see the big deal! Can you get my pass back for me?
– Limbo Queen, Sarasota, Fla.
Dear Limbo Queen –
As one who believes in safety, you will surely understand that going into closed terrain is a HUGE hazard. In some cases, closures are in place because of avalanche danger. Other times, there may be mechanized equipment operating. There could be hidden obstacles – a creek, for example – that could cause some serious damage. Or the run may not have enough coverage to negotiate safely. The point is, Ski Patrol works diligently to open terrain as soon as possible; if it’s closed, it’s closed for a reason. Failing to respect the ropes puts you – and potentially others (including staff members that may need to rescue you)– at serious risk.
As for getting your pass back, I have bad news: no. The policy is that a person caught in closed terrain for ANY reason will face a one-month suspension and be required to attend a slope safety class. Unless you were rescuing a baby from ravenous wolves on the other side of that rope, you’re out of luck.
Let me first say that safety is my number one priority. As a family man, I cherish time on the slopes with my family. Last week, my daughter skied her first blue. And did she ski it! She went into sort of a power wedge and went straight down the mountain, screaming with delight. At terminal velocity, she caught an edge and blew up – yard sale!! It was hilarious and the stuff memories are made of, but a guy in a yellow jacket came up to me and told me it was super dangerous. What’s with Debbie Downer working for you guys?
– Dad of a Princess, Bixby, Okla.
Dear Dad of a Princess:
What you just described is a dangerous, dangerous situation! If your child was unable to turn or stop, she basically became a 40-pound missile streaking downhill. If she had hit a tree, she might have been seriously injured; if she had hit another person, they could have both been hurt. Remember: you should always ski in control. If your child is having trouble turning or stopping, move to easier terrain until she has a better grasp of those basic maneuvers.
That’s all for this edition of Ripperoo’s Mailbag. Remember, you can submit a question here, in the meantime, be safe out there and happy holidays!
— Ripperoo (as told to Brad Stewart)