Category Archives: National Ski Patrol

Ski Patrol Pioneer, Nelson Bennett, Dies at 102

Ski Patrol pioneer, rescue toboggan inventor and 10th Mountain Division skiing skills trainer, Nelson Bennett, passed away just a few months after his 101st birthday. Sun Valley, Idaho, Ski-Patrol 1940-41 Bennett was the recipient of a National Ski Patrol (NSP) National Appointment, #1304, in the 1950s.

Bennett, a native of Lancaster, New Hampshire, graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1940 with a degree in Forestry. He was also an early member of the UNH Ski Team, and during school breaks worked at Peckett’s Inn on Sugar Hill in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, one of America’s first resorts and ski schools. During World War II, Bennett was drafted in 1942 and served as a skiing skills trainer for the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division and in Italy, as a member of this US alpine infantry Continue reading Ski Patrol Pioneer, Nelson Bennett, Dies at 102

Obituary: Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler

Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler. J.D., died at 64 in April. Lawler grew up on a farm in Iowa, and that work ethic continued throughout his years of service as an attorney and through his volunteer efforts, where he passionately represented the interests of patrollers, farmers and consumers. David Lawler

Lawler was an attorney in private practice in Iowa, where he was admitted to practice law in 1975, and at the federal district level in 1978. In addition to his non-profit contributions at Ski Patrol Inc. and its Ski-Patrol.net publication, Lawler dedicated much of his time over the years as a volunteer to many worthy causes.

Lawler held a number of positions as an attorney during his 40 year Continue reading Obituary: Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler

Ski Patrol Unions: Isolated Occurrences or the Latest Trend for Ski Patrol Organizations?

Patrollers at Telluride are the latest to organize a union, bringing the count of unionized “Pro Patrols” at large resorts around the US to eight. Telluride patrollers, in a 47 to 1 vote, joined the ranks of Colorado’s Crested Butte and Steamboat, and Utah’s Canyons Resort in February of 2015. Those resorts are represented by the United Professional Ski Patrols of America (UPSPA), operating as Local 7781 of the AFL-CIO’s Communications Workers of America (COA) union. 2015 Unionized North American Ski Patrols

Patrollers at Aspen SkiCo’s four resorts, Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, have been separately unionized since 1986 as the Aspen Professional Ski Patrol Association (APSPA). The Steamboat Professional Ski Patrol Association voted in a union in a December 1999, 44 to 12 vote. Canyons patrollers unionized in April of Continue reading Ski Patrol Unions: Isolated Occurrences or the Latest Trend for Ski Patrol Organizations?

Computer Virus Targets Patrollers Looking for Free E-Version of OEC 5 Manual

If you happened to have a Google alert set up to track the term “Ski Patrol”, you would have received a story touting a free e-version of the National Ski Patrol’s Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) 5th Edition. It’s unknown how long the hoax has been out there, but Ski-Patrol.net staff became aware of it on Saturday, 11 April. If you didn’t click on it you’re one of the lucky ones. Those that have tell a horrific tale of an insidious virus that many may still be attempting to eradicate from their systems, if it is even possible. OEC5 Free Edition Virus Hoax - do not visit this site!

The image to the left shows a copy of one such hoax alert heralding “Outdoor Emergency Care 5th Edition by National Ski Patrol Staff”, from a site named Continue reading Computer Virus Targets Patrollers Looking for Free E-Version of OEC 5 Manual

Ski Patroller Among Worst Paying Jobs in America

A recent study by Ski-Patrol.net found that Ski Patrollers, Lifeguards and others involved in recreational protective service work (“Patrollers and other RPS Workers”) are among the lowest paid workers in America. Data for our research came from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, a reputable source, so we decided to take a closer look at the statistics to see if we could determine why that is.

After all, “paid” patrollers are highly trained workers with certifications across a number of skill areas, many of which are re-certified annually. It seems illogical that their compensation would rank somewhere near the bottom of the pay scale for American workers, below parking lot attendants and just marginally above wages that waiters and waitresses “claim” on their tax returns. In fact, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, over 97% of all US professions have higher compensation than Patrollers and other RPS Workers. Recreational Protective Service Professionals, Median Hourly Compensation

It’s important to note that 90%+ of ski patrollers that are also National Ski Patrol members in the US take no compensation for their work, and do not appear in this category of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The compensation of those 20-25,000 or so patrollers Continue reading Ski Patroller Among Worst Paying Jobs in America

Ski Area Management Magazine “Outs” National Ski Patrol Acrimony

Ski Area Management (SAM) magazine has published the first article in a two part series, “Rescue Me: The National Ski Patrol has been through years of turmoil. Can it be saved?”, which proposes to explore the acrimonious multi-year battle between various factions of the US National Ski Patrol System, Inc.’s (NSP) membership. The battle has resulted in NSP vs. NSP civil litigation on two occasions over the past 8 years. SAM

At first glance the SAM series appears to be an attempt to explore solutions to problems that have been plaguing the organization since 2005. The two warring factions are largely comprised of a majority of NSP’s senior leadership on the one hand that propose that a small group of vocal and well organized members are wasting the time of senior leaders on issues that are of little strategic importance to the organization or the majority of its members.

On the other side there is a loosely-coordinated group that fashions itself as “members’ rights” advocates attempting to force NSP senior leaders to re-focus on the strategic interests of the organization. They say the NSP has strayed in recent years toward a primary focus on the financial interests of resorts and other for-profit entities, and they would like to put the strategic focus back on skier and rider safety and care, and conservative actions to protect members’ rights in support of that strategy and protecting the NSP’s non-profit status.

There is certainly truth to Continue reading Ski Area Management Magazine “Outs” National Ski Patrol Acrimony

Ski Patrol Legend, Curt Chase, Dies at 91

Longtime Aspen resident, Ski Patrol pioneer, 10th Mountain Division member and skiing instruction legend, Curt Chase, died in early June at 91 at his Colorado home. Chase, born on 3 October 1922 in Manchester, NH, lived and worked in Aspen for more than 40 years.

Curt Chase

Chase was a member of the University of New Hampshire ski team in the 1930s. He was also recruited by the National Ski Patrol in its early years to join the 10th Mountain Division and became a survival training instructor for the US Army in 1943. He later organized, trained and directed the Aspen Ski Patrol in 1946. Continue reading Ski Patrol Legend, Curt Chase, Dies at 91

10th Mountain First Aid Film: State of the NSP Art Circa 1942

A few short 10th Mountain Division “ski patrol” first aid films have recently been published to Shutterstock. The videos show state of the art procedures for treating freezing and frostbite, and knee and ankle sprains, circa 1942 before the US entered World War II.

1942 Ski Patrol Video - Frostbite

National Ski Patrol (NSP) Founder, Minnie Dole, was instrumental in founding the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division alpine fighting force, after founding the NSP in 1938 at the urging of NSAA (National Skier Association of America, not to be confused with NSP’s main partner 75 years later, the National Ski Areas Association) President, Roger Langley. During the height of the 10th Mountain Division’s build-up, its training grounds were located near what is now Continue reading 10th Mountain First Aid Film: State of the NSP Art Circa 1942

Wolf Creek Patroller Colin Sutton Killed in Backcountry Avalanche

Wolf Creek Ski Area Patroller Colin Drew Sutton was killed in a backcountry avalanche incident on 4 March 2014.

March 2014 Conejos Peak Avalanche Scene

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), Sutton was in a group of four patrollers from Colorado’s Wolf Creek that were transported via helicopter to Pt. 12,505, which is approximately one mile west of Conejos Peak, and around 16 air miles SE of the Wolf Creek area where they typically Continue reading Wolf Creek Patroller Colin Sutton Killed in Backcountry Avalanche

Breckenridge Ski Patrol Blows Up “Leo’s Pot Shack” After Inside Edition Report on Colorado Stoners

The Breckenridge Ski Patrol obliterated “Leo’s Pot Shack” following an Inside Edition report pointed out some of the safety risks posed by the now quasi-legal use of marijuana on some Colorado ski slopes. This follows the legalization of marijuana by Colorado voters in late 2012. The video below shows the shack as it was reportedly being blown up by the Breckenridge Patrol.

Continue reading Breckenridge Ski Patrol Blows Up “Leo’s Pot Shack” After Inside Edition Report on Colorado Stoners

NSP Searches for New Executive Director

National Ski Patrol (NSP) Executive Director, Timothy White, resigned from the NSP and the search for his successor is under way. White unofficially announced his resignation at an April meeting of the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) in Palm Springs. A rushed member communication came from the NSP National Office within a few days of the NSAA session.
Former NSP Executive Director, Tim White

White left the NSAA in 2007, where he served as Education Director, to join the NSP as Executive Director. His resignation was effective 31 July 2013, but he left around 15 May upon the appointment of Darcy Hanley, the NSP’s Education Director. Ms. Hanley now serves as NSP “Managing Director”, a temporary position, until a successor for Mr. White is found. The NSP formally announced its search for a new Executive Director on 27 June. Continue reading NSP Searches for New Executive Director

Colorado’s Worst Avalanche in 50 Years Claims Lives of 5 Industry Pros

Highlighting the danger inherent to backcountry boarding and skiing, five industry professionals were killed in an avalanche at Loveland, the most tragic Colorado incident in 50 years. All were part of the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash, an event that was put-on to help fund avalanche safety and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

2012 Loveland Avalanche Incident

According to a report from the CAIC, a backcountry touring party of six, on splitboards and skis, was caught in an avalanche in the Sheep Creek area near Loveland Pass. According to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department (CCC SD), the avalanche occurred on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 1pm, on the north-northeast aspect of the Sheep Creek drainage of Loveland Pass, along US 6.

Four of the riders and one skier were killed. Each of those fatally injured was an expert boarder or skier, and was using the latest avalanche gear. Ski-Patrol.net analysis of CAIC data has found that 50% more people have been killed in the 2012-2013 season than the average of the preceding 3 seasons in Colorado. We have also found an alarming statistic that may be emerging in CAIC fatality data. While only 19.1% of skiers died (14 of 73) after being caught in an avalanche over the last 4 seasons, 37.93% of boarders died (11 of 29) after getting caught in an avalanche. Continue reading Colorado’s Worst Avalanche in 50 Years Claims Lives of 5 Industry Pros

Ski Patrol Volunteers Stuck in Legal Limbo

A new Denver Post report highlights the legal limbo that well-informed ski patrollers find themselves in when participating in rescue operations beyond the boundaries of resorts where they serve the skiing and boarding public.
Backcountry Patrolling
While many resorts allow their volunteer and paid patrollers to participate in rescues outside area “boundaries”, some Colorado resorts are washing their hands of the liabilities resorts may otherwise bear – even notifying paid patrollers that they are “off the clock” when they participate in off-piste rescues, working as “volunteers”. Back country public safety officials at the local, regional and national levels are now scrambling to plug that risk gap so patrollers are able to do their dangerous work without bearing the universe of liability, life and health risks personally Continue reading Ski Patrol Volunteers Stuck in Legal Limbo

NSP Responds to Denver Post Report on Resort Accident Investigation Conflict of Interest

The NSP has endorsed a response to the series of articles published by Denver Post reporter Karen E. Crummy. An NSP member news release on its Web site directs patrollers to a response by Dan Whiting, Chief Accident Investigator at Wolf Creek Ski Area, and NSP Executive Director Tim White has released an official NSP response. Both are posted on the “Club Colorado” blog. The YouTube video that accompanied the Whiting response is included here. The NSP and Wolf Creek responses, however, appear to miss the “conflict of interest” point of the Post series.

The Denver Post report criticizes the practice of resort accident investigations becoming de facto legal findings, and the fact that Ski Patrol representatives Continue reading NSP Responds to Denver Post Report on Resort Accident Investigation Conflict of Interest

Denver Post Publishes Scathing Review of Skier Safety

The Denver Post has published a three-part series of articles offering a scathing review of the skiing industry, with a focus on Colorado ski areas and “ski law”. Breckenridge Patrol

The first article, “Colorado system for investigating ski accidents raises concerns“, highlights the high degree of control that ski patrol and mountain management have over accident investigations on resort-owned and leased property.

The second in the series, “Colorado ski industry enjoys protection from law, waivers“, attempts to demonstrate that through effective lobbying, particularly in Colorado, resorts have been able to focus on limiting their exposure to liability through legislation, reducing the need for resort operators to Continue reading Denver Post Publishes Scathing Review of Skier Safety

Happy 75th Birthday NSP: Mission Accomplished?

Seventy-five years ago this week, two guys from Massachusetts met at the National Ski Races on Stowe’s Nose Dive trail and the National Ski Patrol (NSP) was born. 1938 Stowe Mens Nationals Cover

As the NSP enters its 76th year and reflects upon its legacy, ski patrollers serve a very different skiing population and group of industry stakeholders. In this article we explore whether the National Ski Patrol System has accomplished its mission, and pose the question, “Has the U.S. network of ski and alpine touring resorts now evolved to the point where it can more effectively assume the NSP’s mission to prevent skiing accidents and assist those sustaining accidents?”

The past may inform the future on that point. Continue reading Happy 75th Birthday NSP: Mission Accomplished?

NSP Lawsuit Dismissed: No End to Internal Battles On Horizon

NSP v NSP SettlementThe NSP officials that filed the NSP v NSP Complaint in August have now settled all matters related to that suit. The member list has been provided to the plaintiffs without the restrictions originally imposed by the NSP that violated Colorado law. The Colorado District Court for Jefferson County approved the parties’ requested dismissal, with each side agreeing to pay its respective court costs and attorney fees.

From the settlement filing approved by the court:

“The concerns of the plaintiffs have been resolved and all of the parties who have appeared in this action stipulate and agree, by their respective attorneys, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 41(a)(1)(B), that the Complaint and action herein shall be and is hereby dismissed, with prejudice, and that each party shall bear its own costs and attorney fees.”

The “with prejudice” notation confirms that the matter was settled to their mutual satisfaction and that neither feels the need to re-file on that issue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this matter is even close to being over, Continue reading NSP Lawsuit Dismissed: No End to Internal Battles On Horizon

Obituary: Theo Meiners, Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides Founder and Former NSP Northern Intermountain Division Avalanche Advisor

Theo Meiners, 59, a well-known Alaska heli-guide tour leader and snow science expert, died in an incident at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska on 20 September. Meiners fell more than 30 feet to his death when, according to witnesses, he appeared to be sliding-down the escalator rails between floors. Police are investigating the incident, and are seeking information from anyone that may have interacted with Meiners at the International Snow Science Workshop banquet being held at the facility that night.

Meiners worked during his career as a ski patrol trainer in Chile at Centro de Ski, El Colorado, and at Snow King in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He was the former NSP Avalanche Advisor for the Northern Intermountain Division. Continue reading Obituary: Theo Meiners, Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides Founder and Former NSP Northern Intermountain Division Avalanche Advisor

Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum Announces 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees, Including NSP Founder Minnie Dole

STOWE, Vt. The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum has announced its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. NSP founder, Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole, will be inducted into the hall of fame at a ceremony on Saturday October 20th at the kick-off of the National Ski Patrol’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

Jake Burton and Donna Carpenter will be the first snowboarders inducted into the hall since the museum added snowboarding to its name in December 2010. The 2012 group also includes D. Trowbridge Elliman, Thompson Hall and Tiger Shaw. The contributions of all inductees will be celebrated on October 21st at the Trapp Family Lodge.

Current Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum Chairman, Rick Hamlin, said, “This group of pioneers, athletes and special contributors embodies what the museum is all about. Their contributions represent Vermont’s critical role in the evolution of skiing and snowboarding.” Hamlin is also a former NSP Board member, Easter Division Director and Smuggler’s Notch Patroller. Continue reading Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum Announces 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees, Including NSP Founder Minnie Dole

National Ski Patrol: In-fighting Begins Anew

Minnie, they’re at it again! The organization founded in 1938 by Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole, the National Ski Patrol (NSP), has been sued again by 6 patrollers, 5 of whom serve on the 28,000-member organization’s National Board of directors.

Minnie Dole, 1940s

NSP watchers and members couldn’t forget, as much as they might like to, the last time this happened just 7 years ago. A group of Division Directors and patrollers was forced to sue the NSP in 2005 to have a say in how the organization was run, by electing their representatives on the NSP National Board. That group ultimately represented just under 8,000 NSP members before the organization relented and settled the litigation. That resolution led to a complete turnover of the NSP’s Board and National leadership team over 18 months. The settlement agreement resulted in a re-write of the NSP’s bylaws as it relates to member voting. Well, apparently old habits die hard.

The current suit was filed on 1 August 2012 in Colorado’s Jefferson County District Court, near the organization’s Lakewood headquarters. Continue reading National Ski Patrol: In-fighting Begins Anew