By Dash Hegeman
We are approaching the end of December, which means that in a few short days it will be National Ski Safety Awareness Month, a time where ski areas across the nation put that little bit of extra emphasis on making sure that their guests stay safe while on the slopes. In the past, this event has actually been National Ski Safety Awareness Week, but in an ongoing effort to make sure that people out on the slopes are having fun and staying safe, the “week” was upgraded this year to an entire month.
Here at HoliMont, where safety is always of the utmost importance, Area Control Manager Justin Latimer and his staff have been diligent in their efforts to spread the good word of safety. One of those areas of emphasis has been terrain park safety.
As fun as the snowsports that we all love are, the reality remains that there is an element of danger in skiing and snowboarding. And while HoliMont does everything it can to ensure that its members and guests are as safe as possible, safety cannot be guaranteed. With that said, HoliMont continues to pursue more ways to make the area safer.
A couple of seasons ago, we implemented Smart Style signage in the terrain parks. Smart Style is a Terrain Park Safety initiative that was developed by the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) and Burton Snowboards. The goal of the initiative is to continue the proper use and progression of terrain parks at resorts, while also delivering a clear, unified, concise, and effective message.
To further the educational aspect of Smart Style, NSAA also teamed up with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI). Together they came up with a Get Smart consumer informative video. The video encourages park users to abide by the four points of Smart Style:
Make a Plan
Look Before You Leap
Easy Style It
Respect Gets Respect
The video also highlights the concept of ATML, which is all about looking at a terrain park feature in four steps:
For years, HoliMont has mandated that terrain park users wear helmets, but four seasons ago the safety bar was raised another level. The HoliMont Terrain Park Crew started offering a Smart Style training where people could watch a Smart Style video and then take a short test. After passing the test, skiers/riders got a sticker to put on their pass. That sticker signified they were familiar with Smart Style and knew the proper terrain park etiquette.
“We’ve had a tremendous interest in our terrain park program, which as a result has really increased our safety awareness in the parks,” said Latimer. “Statistically, the number of injuries have decreased ever since we implemented the program.”
The Smart Style test program is voluntary. However, HoliMont is looking to make it mandatory in the near future. So when you visit HoliMont this year, take the test and get your Smart Style on. You’ll be glad you did … and so will the other people in the park.