Controlling speed, staying safe on the slopes |

Controlling speed, staying safe on the slopes

Dan Gregorie has been on a mission since his daughter, Jessica, died at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort – a death that he believes was preventable.

Jessica Gregorie, 24, fell 200 feet down a series of embankments in February 2006 when she tried to retrieve her snowboard that had fallen. The icy precipice had no fences or warning signs.

Gregorie believes ski resorts can help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries.

During the 2006-07 season, ski resorts nationwide saw 22 fatalities out of the 55.1 million skier and snowboarder days reported. Yet the industry lacks established safety standards that could reduce accidents, Gregorie said.

The Maine physician founded the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization, based in San Francisco, last fall to get ski areas to use similar safety language across the United States.

With better equipment and well-groomed runs, today’s skiers and snowboarders have more control. But more control often means faster speeds.

According to The Coloradoan, most fatal accidents happen on well-groomed trails where the average speed of skiers is 25 mph to 40 mph.

Ski resorts in the Tahoe area have taken different approaches for controlling speed. Northstar-at-Tahoe’s Mountain Safety Manager, Nicole Dean, has used a radar gun to make skiers and snowboarders aware of their speed.

“Most people think they are going 30 or so miles an hour,” Dean says. “When we clock them and inform them they are going 55 to 60 mph, it really registers in their head … I can really hurt myself.”

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