There is, however, one item that either should be a part of it or a part of the ski area's contract upon purchasing a ticket -- and that is for each skier to ski the trails that are suitable for his/her capability.
We have all come accross the snowplowers descending at a snail pace down the mountain. Well, we all started that way. And that's the reason why there are green, blues and blacks. What fries my liver is when the snowplowing takes place down a diamond, with restricted visibility and where skiers and boarders with the appropriate expertise should be expected to be able to ski at their experience level.
Last year at Snowshoe, I saw a frightening accident caused by this factor. (The "Shoe" has a black diamond named "Widowmaker", a short but fairly steep run, (probably too wide) but with a hump right before the steep part that limits the downward visibility until past the hump). As several experienced skiers proceeded down the slope, past the hump, they were greeted with an entire family snowplowing down what is a black diamond. The result was a pile-up that would match I-95's Mixing Bowl on an icy day. I was downhill watching all this - as a matter of fact I had mentioned to my ski buddy that these people were an accident waiting to happen. And guess what???
I'm not advocating reckless skiing. As a matter of fact I tend to ski too conservatively unless I am in a place like Big Sky where I am the only skier on the trail. I value my life and that of others. But I don't think I'm being unreasonable if I expect to be able to ski according to my capabilities down a run that is advertised to be for people with my capabilities. As a matter of fact, I consider a "green" skier snowplowing down a diamond more of a life-threatening danger than a retro Jean Claude-Killy look-alike screaming down the mountain on their '200s and wearing tights.
In my opinion, the only ski area in the Mid Atlantic where I saw enforcement of their posted areas was Wintergreen. And that's because the trail layout allows only one trail to descend into the "black" lift and the ski patrol was there monitoring the situation.
In most of the other areas, I've seen enforcement of speed, even moderate speeds, while irresponsible (yes, I'll call them that) skiers proceed to make a safety hazard out of themselves, snowplowing down a diamond, while the ski patrol smiles.
I think you make an excellent point. Skiers and Boarders should DEFINITELY ski within their abilities on slopes appropriate for their skill level. Most areas have policies on this issue. For example, Ski Liberty (which I frequent) has a policy of "redirecting" beginners who are creating a hazards off of the expert slopes. In fact, the top of Upper Ultra, Upper Eastwind and Upper Strata (when open) will have signs that explicitly state the those runs are for experts only. To help convey that message in another way, there are signs posted at the top of each run stating that rental skis & boards (those most often used by beginners) are prohibited on those trails. If you are at a ski area and do see hazards like you mentioned at Snowshoe, I would encourage you to notify the area's ski patrol. If they are responsible, they should take action (i.e., gently suggesting that the beginner may be more comfortable skiing/boarding over at a less advanced trail).
With that said, it is often difficult to determine whether a less advanced skier is creating a hazard or not. Cases like the Snowshoe incident are pretty obvious. Others are not so clear. For example, do you discourage a lower intermediate from skiing an advanced slope when he is in control and clearly visible from above? Probably not - he is just trying to improve his skiing. Without trying to excuse some of your prior bad experiences, one of the reasons you may have seen patrollers not take action is because they may have thought a slower skier was not a hazard (i.e., clearly visible from above, in control, etc.). That doesn't mean they are right and you are wrong. It just may be that the situation is too close to call. If that's the case, you may want to reassess the situation. If you still sincerely believe that there is a problem, talk to the patroller and explain your reasons why. The responsible patroller should be willing to listen to your concerns and take action if she believes it necessary.
.......I agree with all the above.
I do agree that it is subjective, that there is a fairly wide gray area, and that a skier/boarder only gets better by expanding their horizons and skiing "the envelope". That's also the way good pilots are made. But really, there is no reason for someone to be snowplowing down a busy double black. The same way goes for a novice pilot flying into a weather pattern.... In the case of Snowshoe, there wasn't a patrol member anywhere in sight. Sad to speak ill about my favorite ski area, but in this case they batted a zero.
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