SELF-APPOINTED SAFETY GROUP RATES CALIFORNIA RESORTS
SAM Magazine—San Francisco, Calif., Feb. 5, 2013—The self-proclaimed California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization (CSSSO), headed by individuals critical of resort safety practices, has released a "Family Safety Report Card" in an effort to prod California areas to become more proactive regarding skier/rider safety. The report card rated 36 safety features at 25 resorts and graded them for safety. Overall grades ranged from B to F.
The report is largely based on the observations and opinions of a team led by former ski patroller Dick Penniman, who has been a frequent plaintiff's witness in lawsuits against ski resorts.
The California Ski Industry Association (CSIA) did not participate in the report. In a statement, CSIA president and CEO Bob Roberts said, "Ski areas declined to participate due to the well-known biases of the author.” Roberts noted, for example, that the report “failed to address the behavioral side of the safety equation."
“Our industry takes safety very seriously,” Roberts said. “Resorts in California annually commit thousands of hours and millions of dollars to the maintenance and ongoing training.” He added that resorts prepare detailed safety plans that “are reviewed annually by the government”—i.e., the Forest Service.
Resorts are not required to release data on injuries, though. That irks CSSSO’s founder, Dan Gregorie, who has been crusading for more information on resort injuries ever since his daughter died in a 2006 snowboard accident at Alpine Meadows. Two bills requiring injury reporting at resorts have passed the state legislature since 2010. However, Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed them, saying they were not needed. So Gregorie turned to the concept of the Safety Report Card on ski areas.
Some ski areas are taking notice of their grades. "I don't like being an 'F.' We're going to take a look at the recommendations from the report card, and see what we can do to improve on them," said Mt. Baldy president Ron Ellingson.