by Tracy Greenhalgh


Happy (and Safe) Holidays         

While sleigh bells jingle on Pandora and that mug of hot cocoa is steaming on your desk, you’re dreaming of all that fluffy white powder you’re going to dive into over the holidays. You’re plotting first tracks in Upper Enchanted Forest and to pack in as many turns as your burning quads can stand. At the end of the day you want to be plopped down all noodle-legged, pink-cheeked, and windblown to bask in the fire’s glow with your brew in hand, right?

Ever stop to think about who helps keep your mountain adventures all Currier and Ives dreamy and safe?  Copper’s Shauna Bocksch, Mountain Safety Patrol Supervisor for the past 12 years, her staff, and a posse of volunteers continually have a laser-lock focus on safety and preparedness first, to help ensure your fun-filled day flows right into your après ski without a hitch. 

Ski patroller carrying equipment through snow at Copper Mountain Colorado

Ski Patrol and Volunteers have your back

Shauna says that “Copper owes a lot of its success in the safety realm to its MSP volunteers. This group of 135 members is trained and skilled at providing valuable skier safety education and enforcement.  With an average of 14 volunteers a day, this group spends the majority of their time on Copper’s slow skiing and family trails enforcing speed and rope cutting restrictions.” 

Shauna says this high-visibility presence is there not to hinder your fun, but to help keep you safe so you can keep enjoying all that fun.

“This year we are really focusing on collision awareness and prevention by encouraging guests to ski and ride in a manner in which they can stop and avoid other people below them. Nobody wants to be involved in a collision on the slope,” says Shauna.

“Other tricks, like waiting for a group to pass before pushing back onto the slope, not stopping where you can’t be seen from above and by really paying attention to your surroundings and how much space is between you and other people are a few examples to lessen the likelihood of crashing into someone, or being crashed into,” adds Shauna.


Mountain Safety Patrol and snowboarder on the snow at Copper Mountain in Colorado

NSAA Safety Month

Because January is NSAA’s (National Ski Areas Association) safety month, Copper is sponsoring Copper Mountain’s 2-day Safety Fest 1/13-14 chock-full of demos, giveaways and the Flight for Life landing at Patrol Headquarters.


Safety Tips from the Experts

“All in all, skiing and boarding are relatively safe with a low rate of injuries when you compare them to other sports in the industry,” says Shauna.

Nonetheless, prevention and awareness will further lower your risk. Here are some of Shauna’s best tips to keep you safe, healthy and happy on the hill:

  • Hydration. At higher altitude the rate of evaporation from our bodies is greater, so we need to drink more water and avoid things like coffee and sodas with caffeine. Studies show hydration can decrease injury rate by providing muscles with more fluid so they don’t get fatigued. Water also increases mental awareness.
  • Awareness is key. There’s a lot going on around you on the mountain. If you’re absorbed in your own world (and maybe wearing headphones) and not paying attention above and below you, that’s when collisions can occur. You also might end up stopping where it’s unsafe or get on a trail above your comfort level. Be aware and expect the unexpected!
  • Skiing/boarding with young kids. It’s important for parents to know they can speak to the lift attendant and ask them to slow down the incoming lift.  Make sure your child is closest to the lift attendant so they can seat them, then you can pull the safety bar down.
  • Clothing prep.  The temperature at the base of the mountain is quite different than at the top, so be sure to layer for varied conditions. Goggles, sun protection, and helmets are strongly encouraged.
  • Avalanche awareness. The average skier exploring steep terrain needs to be aware. If you’re venturing to these areas, always ski with a friend in case you get stuck in a tree well or find yourself on a slope where snow is sliding.

“Ski patrol does its absolute best effort to mitigate all terrain, but it’s not an exact science. A fair amount of terrain at copper is extreme, so to be on the safe side, a smart skier skis with a buddy, and carries a beacon, a shovel and a probe. Tucker mountain, Copper Bowl, Union Bowl, Spaulding Bowl, Resolution Bowl, Drainpipe, Triple Zero—all of these areas can be amidst slide paths. Although some areas are closed or marked extreme terrain, not every entrance is marked with avalanche danger.

“By carrying this equipment, you might even be able to help someone else someday,” says Shauna.


Ski patrol with avalanche dog at Copper Mountain Colorado


The Golden Rule

The rules are there to keep your day fun and safe. We all have a responsibility to keep the slopes safe for each other and to create a culture of respect.

“We’re not trying to rain on your parade! When we get that twelve inches of new powder our aim is to make sure you get to stay out and play in it rather than having you be nursing an injury inside on the couch,” says Shauna.


Ski patrol and skier smiling for the camera on the snow at Copper Mountain in Colorado

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Stay safe during your next trip to Copper Mountain.
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