WHITEFISH - Folks throughout northwestern Montana have been enjoying one of the deepest snowpack in North America. Although the skiing has been great, reporter Jack Ginsburg shows us why safety is the number one focus on the mountain for all riders.
January is designated as the National Ski Association of America’s safety month and all resorts across America take the month to remind skiers and snowboarders of the seven points of the ski code they agree to every time they hit the slopes.
The seven points range from staying in control to observing all the warning signs and boundaries ski patrol sets up. Although these are very important, Whitefish Mountain Resort Ski Patrol training director Brian Hiner says that proper safety starts before you even get on the snow.
“It starts in the parking lot with the proper gear, helmets, having your skis or snowboard, having your dins tested once a year. Making sure everything is tight, safe and you didn’t just drag it out of the garage and came out skiing for the first time in a long time," Hiner said,
He also touched on the importance of the right of way -- no matter where you are on the mountain, you must yield to riders coming down the mountain from above you.
“That goes for merging points where you are coming into something that may or may not be blind. Or if you are a skier or snowboarder coming out of the trees, you need to be aware that you are coming onto somewhere and you need to check it out and look uphill to make sure you aren’t intruding on the groomer," Hiner advised.
Hiner told MTN News that although a lot of the injuries occur among beginning skiers, it’s the advanced skiers who are skiing black diamonds or double black diamonds that need to be the safest on the mountain and set the example for others.
“If my friend is going too fast, I need to tell them to slow it down in the slow areas. I need to tell them hey I don’t like the way we’re skiing this, let’s approach this in a different way," Hiner said. "So, I think the experts have a kind of responsibility to be an expert everywhere not just when you are skiing and snowboarding.”
Hiner also touched on the importance of wearing a helmet and how they are becoming increasingly popular for both safety and warmth. But at the end of the day, Hiner says he just wants everyone to have fun and be safe on the Mountain that he adores.
“I love my job, I love this place and I want to see people out here shaking hands and high fiving and not meeting you lying face down in the trees or something, so keep it safe and keep it slow," Hiner concluded.
Click here to learn more about the National Ski Association of America’s safety month.