Skico: No more tots in packs | AspenTimes.com

Skico: No more tots in packs

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Beginning today, skiers and boarders are no longer permitted to hit local slopes while carrying a child in a backpack.

The Aspen Skiing Co. has joined a host of other ski-area operators in Colorado and across the country that prohibit kids in packs strapped to the backs (or fronts) of skiers and snowboarders.

Mike Kaplan, Skico vice president of mountain operations, issued a brief announcement outlining the new policy Tuesday afternoon.

Guests have voiced concern about the practice of skiing with tots in packs, and the Skico reviewed it as part of its ongoing look at on-mountain safety, according to Kaplan.

“We researched existing policies at other areas and discovered that virtually every major resort in Colorado and most of the large areas across the country do not allow people to carry children while skiing or riding,” he said.

The National Ski Areas Association reports about 50 percent of U.S. ski resorts prohibit carrying a child in a pack, including about 70 percent of the “major resorts,” Kaplan said.

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At the Skico’s four mountains, there aren’t large numbers of skiers and boarders carrying children in packs, but it’s not uncommon either, he said.

“It does happen most days, or many days,” Kaplan said. He suspects most of the individuals carrying children are local residents as opposed to out-of-town guests.

Kaplan said he is unaware of any accidents involving children in packs on the local mountains. In fact, the Skico executive said he hit the slopes with his own kids on his back a few times when they were younger.

“It was not something I did frequently or very comfortably, but I did do it,” he said. “I was always looking behind me.”

Even those who feel confident they can ski or ride safely with their children in a pack, however, can’t necessarily protect themselves or their child from mishaps involving other skiers or boarders, Kaplan said.

“You can’t control the abilities of someone else on the mountain,” he said.

The Skico’s new policy does not address the practice of simply hoisting a child onto one’s shoulders while skiing or boarding.

Individuals will be permitted to hike and snowshoe on the slopes while carrying a child.

Last year, the Skico took the lead in the ski industry when it became the first ski-area operator in the country to make helmet use mandatory for children age 12 and under enrolled in its ski schools.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]