Skiing & Riding

Setting the Bar for Safety

January is Safety Month in the ski industry.  And while Sun Valley is well known for being home to some of the best terrain, high-speed lifts, food, entertainment and accommodations in the industry, it also has a another claim to fame: Sun Valley has the best overall ski safety program in the country—a title it plans to fight for again this week as it celebrates National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Safety Month.

Last year, the NSAA selected Sun Valley as the winner of the Best Overall Safety Program for ski areas with over 350 thousands visits. It was the third straight year Sun Valley’s safety program was honored by NSAA, but the first time it was named the best.
Being selected as the finest in a contest that includes nearly 500 resorts is quite an honor, one that requires lots of hard work and the support of the entire company and community.

“We’re proud of that,” said ski patrol supervisor Bryant Dunn. “The entire Sun Valley team and people from every department worked hard to make that happen. We are all part of the initiative and it makes big difference.”

One big part of Sun Valley’s initiative—and one of the big reasons the NSAA selected America’s original destination resort for having the best safety program—is the introduction of the “Mountain Community” movement first rolled out last season.

It’s the rather simple idea that we should always be respectful of our fellow snow sports enthusiasts, regardless of their ability or where they come from, because the mountains are for all of us to share, enjoy and treat with respect.

Besides putting up signs around the resort and creating a Mountain Community Facebook page, Sun Valley also takes the message to the schools. Each winter, Bryant and some of his fellow patrolmen visit with local elementary school kids to promote safety and the idea of the Mountain Community.

“We remind the kids that we should treat everyone with respect so we can enjoy it all together safely,” Bryant said, who added that the patrol will often also take the avalanche dogs to do interactive demonstrations at the schools as well, which is always a big hit with the kids.

Safety Week at Sun Valley
While Sun Valley focuses on safety through the season, it celebrates the movement during its annual Safety Week, which runs from January 19th through 25th this year.

This year’s highlights include:
-Ski Patrol avalanche dogs performing simulated rescues on volunteers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. Anyone interested in participating or watching the search should meet at the Lookout Restaurant. The avalanche dogs also will be featured guests at a “meet and greet” at the top of the Roundhouse gondola.

-Patrolmen will be asking skiers and riders on both Baldy and Dollar about Mountain Community and Skier Responsibility Code*(see below). Anyone with the correct answers will receive free swag, including free bandanas, lanyards, sunscreen and tickets for free cocoa. The Race Department will also offer discounted racing.

-On the top of Baldy, a gigantic mountain community snow sculpture has been built and snow safety beacon drills will be performed for the public throughout the week. On Dollar, there will be a classic 1979 Tucker Snowcat wearing all sorts of safety signs and messages.

-A “Chair-Aware” practice will be set up on Dollar to refresh proper loading and unloading skills while Pete Lane’s will offer half-price binding checks and free helmet checks.

-For more details, please call the Ski Patrol at 208.622.6265.

*The National Ski Areas Association lists seven tenets of the Skier Responsibility Code.

1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.


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