Firsthand Report: Liberty Mountain Resort, Feb. 3, 2007 10
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

“How I got swept off my feet at Liberty”

Liberty has terrific safety measures, and this week I saw firsthand how effective they are. For the first time in over 40 years of skiing, I was crashed into from behind and knocked off the trail into the woods. No one was hurt, and the ski patrol was fantastic! But, it was a valuable lesson. First of all, it is amazing it took this long to happen, considering the amount of skiing I do. I have gone into the woods a few times on my own, when I caught an edge. This is the first time I did so in tandem. I found out it is not much different from falling. You have to be relaxed, and be prepared for it to happen at any time.

The most important lesson I learned was, keep moving on the slopes - especially when they are crowded, hard packed, and fast (as they are on weekends this time of the year). We are all making up for the weeks we lost. Since both of us were moving forward when the encounter took place, the impact was light. If I had been standing still and meditating, as I often do in the beautiful mountains, the impact would have been greater.

The incident occurred on the end of Sidewinder, which was one of the easiest trails of the day. The young-ish snowboarder could not stop, and hit me from behind. We were tangled together as we hurtled off the trail and into the woods. He was such a lovely gentleman, and so apologetic. He gripped me tight in a cross chest hold, and kept telling me how sorry he was. The poor guy probably thought he was killing his grandmother! For my part, I was laughing the whole time until we stopped rolling and sliding. It was nervous laughter, but it was a relief to know, even in mid fall, you could be hit and not hurt.

Two professional ski patrollers were there instantly. They retrieved my polls, helped me take off the other ski, and would not let either of us continue down on our own, until they determined we were intact.

So again, the lessons here are - look uphill before you proceed, keep moving, and stay loose and relaxed if you fall or are hit. And, as for my snowboard friend, if you read this, you were lovely, and there was no need to apologize!

Charles Sneiderman, left, and Connie Lawn, right, reporting from Liberty Mountain Resort.

Safety is a major concern at Liberty, as it is at all the resorts. But, on that crowded Saturday, I was more impressed than ever. Mountain safety volunteers stood on several sections of the trails, blowing whistles and telling people to slow down. Large nets were also in place across the trails, in other sections. You had to wind through them and slow down. My husband Charles and I spoke with Michael Case, the Director of Mountain Safety. He leads 60 volunteers, and explained some of the measures they take. Mike said they try to keep Liberty safe for family-style skiing, they promote safety (by instructing school children on the buses, for example), and they enforce safety by marking or revoking lift tickets, if the user is reckless, especially at crowded times.

Of course, we all know there are risks and thrills in the sport - that is one reason we choose it over spending time as couch potatoes. The greatest risks appear to me to be confined to the terrain park areas, but those athletes seem to know what they are doing. Many wear helmets and protective gear and, thankfully - so far - I have never witnessed any major injuries among them, even when they are jumping, flipping, or cruising over obstacles.

As for the skiing Saturday, as always I had a blast. The snow was hard packed but well groomed. It was cold on Saturday, but the sun was shinning. The back side of the mountain has the best runs and is sheltered from the wind. All the trails were in great shape, but I stayed on single diamond or lower. (I don’t think the trail in the woods was rated!), The large, hard packed moguls seemed a bit much for me, but the experts out there handled them with ease. I have got to get my old confidence back!

The Verizon Luge Challenge

I love to attend special events in the mountains, and one of my favorites was this weekend’s luge challenge. We have attended it for at least 3 years at Liberty. Verizon is a leading sponsor of the US Luge team, and they do it at least as well as they do telephones!

Their group tours a variety of resorts. Those who wish to participate can do so for free. You are given a small plastic luge, taught the basics of control, and sent whizzing down a curving track. If you do not tilt your body in the right direction, you will hit the wall and probably flip over. I saw several people do this, but no one is going fast enough to get hurt.

Connie participates in the Verizon Luge Challenge. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

Since I have done this several times, and am a big fan of sleigh riding and tubing, I had no real trouble; I made it down the course in 22.5 seconds, which meant I could have qualified for the race. But that would have meant standing on the cold, windy hillside for several hours and I was anxious to go skiing. Besides, the luge is not much fun on an extremely cold day. The ice chunks fly into your face, and bite your skin. The Verizon people provide helmets and goggles, which are essential, and I had a partial face mask, but real luge racing, like bobsleds and airboards, are not for the comfort seekers!

Those hundreds who participated for the two days of racing had an exciting time. They also competed for generous gifts. Many of the families said they had never thought of skiing or snowboarding, but would do so now that they have been to the winter mountains for the first time. So the Luge challenge is a worthwhile event for the resort and for the communications company. I love it; maybe there is a space for me on the Jamaican bobsled team?

Before I close off this item, I want to put in one more good word for Liberty - the staff. They are all so warm and wonderful. Many are our neighbors, commuting up from the Washington or Baltimore metro areas. Some of the nicest people are in guest services - Shannon Boyle, Sandy Kauffman, Ava Winner, Vicky Foth, and others. So, the next time you are at Liberty, stop in and say thanks to them. They are easy to find - wedged in between the ticket windows and McKee’s Tavern!

Related Links
About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

Author thumbnail
DCSki Sponsor: DCSki

Reader Comments

sean.
February 4, 2007
Jeese! I hope that you are okay after that fall that you took with the snowborder. I ski myself but have never had any problems out of control skiiers or snowboarders. I guess i've just been lucky! Great thanks to the liberty ski patrol for keeping good care of you!

Best Wishes,
Sean
Connie Lawn
February 5, 2007
Thank you - it could have been worse. Just stay well padded and keep moving! Yours, Connie
SkiBumMSP
February 5, 2007
Nice write-up! I was there at Liberty that day as well, and your description was spot-on! Yes, it was crowded, but the back-side was not as bad. I was one of "those experts" that was skiing the moguls as well as that steep "Upper Ultra" run. You probably have seen me on the slopes - Blue Columbia jacket with a yellow strip (looked alot like the instructor/staff jackets), grey/black Leedom helmet with a blond pony-tail sticking out the back. I was also wearing goggles. I was skiing on pair of red Volkl supersport 5-stars. That Luge thing - I was wondering what was going on there. I thought about checking it out, but I did not get on the mountain until around 2 and I just wanted to go and ski. Your description of the staff is also spot-on. The patrol there is excellent and are a really great bunch of guys. The lady up in Guest Services from whom I got my lift ticket (I did not get her name) was very pleasant as well. I am most definitly going to have to go up there again. But, glad to hear your little mis-hap with a snowboarder turned out okay, and that ski patrol did a fine job of helping out and making sure you both where okay. Also glad to hear the snowboarder was courteous about the whole thing as well (and not to single out snowboarders, it could've just as easily been a skier as well). Yes, that was a great day at Liberty this past Saturday.
Matthew
February 5, 2007
Hi Connie,

Nice write-up. Glad you are Okay. My wife, Karen, was wiped out from behind a couple of years ago by an out of control snowboarder on a busy weekend day. We generally avoid skiing at the major local resorts on weekends due to the crowds. It's just no fun having to deal with the mobbed slopes, the out of control skiers(and boarders), the unpredictable tykes and the cross-slope tank-like zig-zaggers who, without fail, change thier pattern just as you are coming up from behind trying to avoid them. Ugh! It can worse that driving on the beltway at rush hour.
Jim
February 5, 2007
Connie - good to hear you weren't hurt.

Collisions have been a significant concern this season. So much so that the both the Ski Patrol and Mountain Safety at Liberty are stepping up enforcement significantly at management's request. Hopefully, everyone will see a difference soon if not already. The new initiative started this past week. Clearly reckless skiers and boarders are not going to get any warnings, except for the warning signs posted around the area. Instead, their tickets will be pulled immediately. They will only be allowed back after attending a mandatory skier/boarder re-education class given only at set times (kind of like driving school for habitual speeders!). So ride/slide safe, but stay in control!

See you all on the slopes!!
Jim
February 5, 2007
Connie - good to hear you weren't hurt.

Collisions have been a significant concern this season. So much so that the both the Ski Patrol and Mountain Safety at Liberty are stepping up enforcement significantly at management's request. Hopefully, everyone will see a difference soon if not already. The new initiative started this past week. Clearly reckless skiers and boarders are not going to get any warnings, except for the warning signs posted around the area. Instead, their tickets will be pulled immediately. They will only be allowed back after attending a mandatory skier/boarder re-education class given only at set times (kind of like driving school for habitual speeders!). So ride/slide safe, but stay in control!

See you all on the slopes!!
Connie Lawn
February 5, 2007
Thank you for the great feedback, from Ski Bum, Matthew, and Jim. That is what makes dcski.com such a great site.
Be safe and enjoy the snow! Connie
Denis
February 5, 2007
Connie,

I am so glad you are OK. Collisions on the slopes are my biggest worry. I feel much safer in the backcountry.
Denis
February 5, 2007
Connie,

I am so glad you are OK. Collisions on the slopes are my biggest worry. I feel much safer in the backcountry.
Jason
January 20, 2008
It is so great to hear that you are OK. I have seen so many times over and over again the liberty staff is upbeat and safety oriented on the mountain. I sometimes wonder what speeding actually is.

The other day I was at Whitetail and a little girl was on Exhibition. I could not see her because she was near the bottom over a hump. I came over the top to jump and she was right there. If I would have hit her I would have just died if she was hurt. Since this experience I have slowed down and appreciated the ski staff and patrols that know better than me with all they have seen what speeding can do.

Liberty is my home resort I am there all the time. They are awesome and it is getting better. This year they decided to open Ultra early. Hope to see you on the slopes. Have a wonderful winter.

Ski and Tell

Speak truth to powder.

Join the conversation by logging in.

Don't have an account? Create one here.

0.02 seconds