Bob Sweigert
Special to the Sun

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February 26, 2013
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Grasshopper Soup: Know the code for your safety

TAHOE CITY, Calif. - Maybe some of the near misses, hit and runs, torn ligaments and knee injuries on the ski slopes, all because one person had no concern for his or her own safety, can be avoided if skiers and snowboarders used brake lights and turn signals. They are already texting while skiing. I've seen them!

Not enough people have the sense to call out, "On your left," or, "On your right" when passing another skier. Common sense is not so common anymore. People don't even seem to care abut their own safety let alone the safety of others. It is time to make common sense, and the Skier Responsibility Code, more common.

The Code reads:

No. 1) Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.

No. 2) People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.

No. 3) You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.

No. 4) Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.

No. 5) Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.

No. 6) Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.

No. 7) Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely. The Code also says it is your responsibility to know the code.

Intelligent people can figure out all by themselves that it is a bad idea to ski or snowboard close to someone without warning them, and to actually touch or hit them. But one of the most common instances involving negligence on the mountain is when skiers or snow boarders approach someone from behind without calling out a warning, resulting in what amounts to negligence if not assault. Often they act surprised and scold the person they intruded upon for turning in front of them. Turning on skis or snowboards is to be expected. Scolding others for your stupidity is not. It is lame.

Nearly everything we do in life requires training, testing and licensing. But skiers and snowboarders are not required to have any certification or license. If they can get on the chairlift, they can get on the mountain, and endanger themselves and everyone else. But beginners, novices, the illiterate, brain dead and out of control skiers and boarders are not the only problem. Some of the best riders are the worst violators of The Code.

The least anyone can do is think of their own safety first, and that may make them more inclined to remember The Code. Those seven simple, common sense rules, if everyone used them, make everyone more safe. If you evaluate every situation you find yourself in on the mountain you shouldn't need anyone to tell you those seven rules, especially if you are an advanced or expert skier, or know how to use your brain.

It is astounding that so many experienced and capable skiers and snowboarders don't even think to holler out, "On your left!" or, "On your right!" before they clip someone from behind. Communicating your approach could save you, and the rider you are about to pass, a horrendous Daytona 500 wreck with unintentional collateral damage.

Scolding someone who you sneak up on from behind, and then crash into when they turn in front of you, regardless of the degree of harm, is psychotic. If you are going to ski that close to someone and not have enough sense to holler out, "On your left", or, "On your right", what are you doing, texting them to let them know you are unfriending them?

Calling out left or right should be rule No. 3 of The Code, making it eight simple rules. Experienced skiers and boarders will call it out so you don't turn in front of them.

Common sense is knowing the difference between left and right, what "on your" means, and that "I am" is implied. Be smart! Say something!

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 30 years.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 26, 2013 01:44PM Published Feb 26, 2013 01:43PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.