Steamboat Ski Patrol to talk about slope safety

Annual classroom program includes coloring contest

— Starting this week, members of Steamboat Ski Patrol will enter Routt County kindergarten classrooms to talk with students about safety on the slopes.

Michelle Baxter, who’s worked for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. for 24 years, 23 of those with Ski Patrol, started the annual program 10 years ago. She said that after an introduction from two Ski Patrol members, students will watch a video that includes the Skier’s Safety Code, which includes staying in control, yielding the right-of-way to people ahead of you and stopping in safe places, among other guidelines.

The video also addresses Smart Style, terrain park etiquette. And it will provide other safety information, such as always skiing with a buddy, what to do if you get lost or what to do if you or a friend gets stuck in a tree well or in deep powder.

Afterward, the Ski Patrol members will ask students questions about what they’ve learned. Baxter said it’s important to start teaching children early about skier safety.

“If they’re more aware of the safety situations, we’ll have less incidences on the hill,” she said.

Baxter added that by teaching children, they’ll teach others.

The program is scheduled in conjunction with the National Ski Areas Association’s National Safety Awareness Week, which is Jan. 16 to 22, Baxter said. She said during that week, a number of safety programs will be available at Steamboat Ski Area.

Presentations will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa, and on Thursday at North Routt Community Charter School.

Ski Patrol will speak with kindergartners at Strawberry Park Elementary School on Jan. 19, Christian Heritage School on Jan. 21, Hayden Valley Elementary School on Jan. 22 and Lowell Whiteman Primary School on Jan. 25.

Baxter said she still is working to schedule the presentation at Soda Creek Elementary School.

At the end of the presentation, Ski Patrol members will give students instructions about the annual coloring contest. Baxter said students have two to three weeks to design a picture that Ski Patrol hopes includes a safety message.

The coloring contest entrants will be judged, and a winner will be selected from each school, Baxter said. From that group, she said an overall winner would be chosen and awarded a season pass for next year.

The winners from each school’s drawings will be sent to the National Ski Areas Association, where they will be judged against other entrants from ski-resort communities across the country.

Baxter said she also hopes to discuss skier safety this season with students in middle schools, high schools and at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus.

Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said safety programs next week include a Ski Patrol information booth in Gondola Square, snow awareness seminars in the yurt at the top of the Pony Express lift, a “Know the Code” contest, and patrol safety tips during Steamboat Ambassadors’ free tours and Billy Kidd’s daily 1 p.m. ski run.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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