Proper Loading

Having had a child fall off of a lift you’d expect us to be hypervigilant about our kids loading lifts now, right?  The topic of proper sitting on ski lifts is a repeated one in our household.  I hope it is so with most ski families.  From personal experience prior to the accident I know that’s not the case.  We talk of proper ski etiquette and form down the hill, but I think we assume sitting is sitting and what is there to talk of that and chairlifts?

Having my eyes “wide open” now I can’t help but stare at children as they sit on lifts and see how those children slump, wiggle, drop things and lean over with their big heads to follow those dropped objects, or bring their skis up so they can scrape the snow and eat it.  They’re children and will act as such, and now I act like the crazed parent cautioning these children on proper behavior when on the lifts.  I would hope other adults would do the same when observing my own kids should the need ever arise.

And, yes, children are riding lifts up alone- especially in ski school situations.  I would lie if I said I was completely fine with that.  I’d feel better if that lift also included a safety bar.  Just teach them how to ride properly.  The children are learning how to ski and doing such they should also be learning how to go up the hill.  Also, please lift those little children up and place them down on the chair “back to back” because it’s just too difficult for them to do this themselves with the weight of their skis and their short legs.

I am optimistic that the ski instructors and lift loaders are cautioning children on lift procedures (and sitting protocol).  From observation I know this isn’t always the case.  Especially when safety/restraint/comfort bars are in use.  And here’s an unintended consequence… the use of safety bars and children draping themselves over those bars and riding up on the edge of that seat.  One of those children is my littlest who lives in a household that discusses how to ride those ski lifts before we head up the hill.  Despite frequent conversations she is too young to think about certain consequences (see below pictures).  Children will be children so it is up to the adults involved to “be the adults” and protect them.  Help kids load properly (or design a restraint that doesn’t beckon children to the front of the chair but sits in their laps).

Cami riding up solo.

Cami riding up solo.

Cami "scooting" back.  The only thing she could scoot back when I yelled at her to do so was her head.

Cami “scooting” back.  When I yelled at her to scoot back the only thing she could scoot back was her head.

Here I emphasize again:  teach children to  properly sit on a chairlift when they are young so it is ingrained.  Do not use the safety bar as a play bar nor as a false sense that a fall will not occur.  I don’t understand the belief that if the kids drape themselves off of the bar they have a lesser chance of falling from scooting forward to disembark since they are already forward.  Our children should learn how to properly perform the “entire” sport of skiing.  That they are sitting on the edge of the seat to me means they are that much closer to slipping under the bar that is to act as a deterrent from falling forward (see Keely’s Science Project for a rudimentary idea).

What is that proper behavior on a ski lift?  The “Kids on Lifts” site is an excellent starting point for this discussion. I encourage you to stress to the ski school instructors and lift operators that they follow the NSAA suggestions found on the Kids on Lifts website.

Kids On Lifts

Yesterday I found the NSAA’s new website  The educational push of proper chair lift use has started, and we are thrilled.

“Kids On Lifts” is a very cool site with kid friendly videos and safety pointers.  Through e-mail exchange with Bob Roberts, President of the California Ski Industry Association, and Emily Griffith, Director of Member Services for the National Ski Areas Association, I learned that discussion of proper ski lift use was long in the works. This particular initiative, “Kids On Lifts”, began in the Spring of 2012.

The website repeatedly instructs that young passengers sit all the way back on the chairseat, or “back to back.”  The riders should never lean forward or rest on the restraint bar. Further that because young ski school students will often ride with another student (or solo- my observation) instead of an instructor or an adult, it is absolutely critical that parents discuss chair lift responsibility with their children.

The “Kids On Lifts” website is a good starting point to initiate discussion of chair lift safety with your child.  I suggest that you also have a conversation with the Ski School Supervisors, Instructors and Lift Operators to ensure the proper teaching of loading and riding techniques.  The professionals that teach our children the ski skills to get them down the hill should also assist the parents in teaching the kids how to safely get up the hill.

 The Kids On Lifts Logo is downloadable here.