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With the recent snowfall beckoning skiers and snowboarders, the SnowSport Safety Foundation (SSF) commemorates the death of its founder’s daughter by launching the next phase of research and reporting on California mountain resort safety.
Released one year ago, the California Mountain Resort Safety Report was the first study of its kind based on information collected from unannounced site surveys of on-slope safety practices at 25 California mountain resorts during the 2009-2010 snow season. The second phase of the safety practice research and reporting will mark the sixth anniversary of Jessica Gregorie’s death on February 5, 2006, at Alpine Meadows mountain resort in Lake Tahoe, California.
This phase also will include unannounced surveys at randomly-selected resorts to update the information collected on safety practices and determine if the selected resorts have made improvements in those areas specifically outlined in the initial Report.
“Devastating accidents like Jessica’s and the one that claimed the life of a 7-year-old boy at Lake Tahoe’s Sugar Bowl resort this past December beg for a continued focus on improving safety and accident prevention,” stated SSF’s Chief Research Officer Dick Penniman.
This research and reporting effort will include revisiting up to eight of the 25 resorts and reassessing the same practices surveyed in the first phase of the study. The survey’s focus will be on identifying improvements made in safety practices, particularly new or more extensively implemented injury-prevention measures that have been adopted.
Examples of these practices include types and placement of signs and warning markers; fixed obstacle padding and fencing, traffic and intersection management;, types and placement of fencing and other separation methods and materials; and trail intersection and terrain-park design and management.
“The absence of standards, as well as the inconsistency of existing safety practices, puts skiers and snowboarders in harm’s way and at risk for severe injury,” stated Penniman. “Without any regulations or documented standards to guide them, each resort chooses its own safety policies and practices and monitors its own compliance.
There is no reporting of injury frequency and severity and there are no measures of injury prevention effectiveness. At this point in time, the resort safety surveys are the only way to measure the nature and extent of on-slope safety practices and injury prevention efforts. Through SSF’s research, we hope to develop best practice standards that resorts will embrace.”
Upon completing the random surveys, SSF will compare the data from selected ski resorts against the data collected during the 2009-2010 snow season to determine if safety improvements have been made. The information will be made available to the public.
“The SnowSport Safety Foundation is the only organization of its kind,” noted SSF’s founder Dr. Dan Gregorie. The Foundation’s research is an apt tribute to Jessica’s life by helping to prevent avoidable injuries and deaths of snow sport enthusiasts like my daughter.”
“The Foundation’s goal has always been to conduct research and analyses as well as provide information and education in support of improving safety and preventing injury,” explained Penniman. “We are committed to providing snow sport enthusiasts with reliable information about ski resort safety practices, so they can make informed decisions for themselves and their families about where they can enjoy the safest possible experience.