Skiing in Control
Growing up skiing in Telluride has ingrained a few major safety protocols in me: the downhill skier has the right of way, look before merging, and ski in control. I've skied here for 15 years now, and following these rules I've never collided with another skier.
After an unexpectedly busy winter break on the mountain, Telski has stepped up efforts to crack down on reckless skiers, posting Ski Fast Lose Pass” and “Slow Skiing Zone” signs around the mountain. Ski Patrol has begun enforcing ski safety act laws more aggressively than in years past. Along with new signs, Ski Patrol has stepped up penalties for at-fault-skiers in collisions. A no-injury collision warrants a relatively skimpy 30-day suspension of one’s pass, but collisions causing injuries warrant 1-year revocations, and second time and hit-and-run offenders will lose their pass for 5 years.
While Ski Patrol’s new approach to reckless skiing is clearly appreciated by tourists and locals alike on the mountain, I feel that these new regulations have become over enforced, and enforced in the wrong ways.
Late in the day at the bottom of at the cat track before Kid’s Hill, I’ve seen patrollers camp out by the gondola lift towers, blowing their whistles at skiers who they deem to be skiing too fast and out of control. Some signs, such as the “Ski Fast Lose Pass” sign between the top of Gold Hill lift and Tempter house, are out of place and they miss the point. Skiing fast is not necessarily skiing out of control. Often, the pizza-wedger cutting across See Forever is more dangerous than the skier carving GS turns.
I don't disagree with the ski area's efforts to cut down on reckless skiing, but I think it’s important that we make sure we define what reckless skiing is. With the recent tragedy of Kevin Greene’s death, there may be no more appropriate time to step up these regulations. But punishing skiers who are in control and maybe going a little faster will not help this mountain become a safer place, and it will make it less enjoyable and free for local, more experienced and in-control skiers.
I personally feel that if you’re skiing on your edges, then you’re in control, and that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with speed. Youare the best judge of whether or not you’re in control, so be mindful, be aware, and ski within your limits. That's safe skiing.
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