Sledding has its ups and downs |

Sledding has its ups and downs

Sleds have never been known for their steering capability.

Some models attempt to give a rider some control with movable handlebars of some sort, but that doesn’t mean rocks, tree stumps and other sledders don’t come at them like metal to a magnet.

Every so often those obstacles cause injury. And with an ever-growing population of sledders at South Shore, the number of injured can mount up.

Last year, the emergency room at Barton Memorial Hospital treated more than 21 people injured while sledding.

“The major injury is compression of the spine,” said Mary Flores, director of emergency services at the hospital. “Sliding down a hill on a hard plastic device, there’s no padding; they hit their tailbone.

Paralysis would be the worst case scenario, but mostly they break a limb or sprain a wrist by hitting a rock or tree.”

Echo Summit Snow Park is one of the hottest spots in the area to sled. Sitting at 7,382 feet, it gets a lot of snow, is a short drive from South Lake Tahoe and has a concession stand that sells sleds, gloves, sunglasses and food.

The park was packed over Thanksgiving weekend even with conditions being less than great.

“We were turning people away for three days. When it packs out, we let a car in as a car leaves,” said Bob Ussery, concession stand owner. “We called them (paramedics) twice. We expected to call a lot more than that for the type of snow and the fact we had 500 people.”

Thursday brought a few die-hard sledders out to take advantage of about 6 inches of fresh snow that fell the day before.

Leahanne Greenwood, an 18-year-old from Farfield, Calif., who came to the park with two brothers and her parents, said she was numb from rolling in the cold snow, but still having fun.

“The first time I went off a cliff I hit my back on a stick,” she said, “so I made a different route the next time.”

Besides Echo Summit, people sled just about everywhere. South Lake Tahoe firefighter Steve Lang said land at the very end of Ski Run Boulevard is a popular spot despite the fact that it’s posted with a “No Trespassing” sign.

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