California ski group releases safety guide |

California ski group releases safety guide

by Bill Rozak
Snowboarder Austen Thibault catches air during the epic winter season last year.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

With the first blast of winter this weekend and Heavenly and Kirkwood ski resorts planning openings in the coming weeks, the California Ski Industry Association has issued the Mountain Safety Guide.

Unveiled Wednesday, the pocket-sized, waterproof book is a collaboration by the association’s 32 members — including Heavenly, Kirkwood and Sierra-at-Tahoe.

The guide has been in the process for more than a year and was completed to “share a more unified safety message that guests can pick up at all our member resorts and take with them anywhere,” Michael Reitzell, president of the California Ski Industry Association, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune on Friday. “It wasn’t related to last year’s snowfall but that certainly helps get our message out there.”

The guide will be available at every member resort as well as online in a downloadable version at It covers what people should do before hitting the slopes, such as gear, clothing and knowing personal limitations, and then moves on to information for once you are at the resort, like avalanche, deep snow, lift safety and universal trail signs.

“Safety is our top priority,” said Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Thea Hardy. “We do not cut corners when it comes to keeping our guests and employees safe and do our best to eliminate possible threats. From a marketing standpoint, we put much emphasis on safety messaging. While we still want to promote the fun and quirky elements, we’re transparent about risk. The safety guide solidifies our commitment to safe practices and gives us tangible materials to help communicate our standards.”

The guide will be complemented by a series of public service announcement videos featuring Olympic gold medalist Maddie Bowman, who calls Sierra-at-Tahoe her home mountain, and professional snowboarder and founder of Protect Our Winters Jeremy Jones.

The video announcements are separated into three categories: safety education for children and their parents; being “Park SMART” in terrain parks; and specific guidance for new skiers.

The guide is supported by the Association of Professional Patrollers, the National Ski Patrol, the National Ski Areas Association, the U.S. Forest Service, the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, the Professional Ski Instructors of America, the Sierra Avalanche Center, the High Fives Foundation and lead sponsor KÜHL clothing, Reitzell said.

“This guide is designed to help the millions of guests be our resorts’ partners in safety,” Reitzell said.