Skier Safety Act eyed for update by the Legislature

Aspen Times writer

The bold new direction that skiing and snowboarding have taken in recent years forced a change last week in the Colorado Ski Safety Act of 1979.

The Legislature updated the act – which defines the responsibilities of the state’s ski areas as well as their customers – in ways such as acknowledging extreme terrain and terrain parks within ski areas.

A bill passed Thursday by the state Senate requires freestyle terrain to be specially designated with an orange oval on signs on the mountains and on trail maps. A new category, “extreme terrain,” must be designated with a double black diamond containing the letters “EX.”

The bill will also require snowboards to have a tether or leash that will prevent them from shooting down the slopes if the rider pops out of the bindings.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill. Now it goes back before the state House, then must be signed by the governor.

One of the primary sponsors of the bill was Sen. Jack Taylor, a Republican from Steamboat Springs whose district includes Eagle County and the ski areas of Vail and Beaver Creek.

“This bill is essential because it will add events and activities that were not around during the 1970s,” he said. “Those skiers and boarders who love to take risks need to be aware of the dangers, and the law from 1979 is no longer sufficient.”

The bill does not expand the exemptions for ski area liabilities or the responsibility of skiers and riders for their own safety, according to Taylor.

“Skiing down a mountain at high speeds is inherently risky, and people need to understand this,” he said. “House Bill 1393 doesn’t change the intent or message of current law, but rather it adds relevant terms and activities and clarifies existing law under the new conditions.”

Snowboarding was essentially unknown when the original Ski Safety Act was passed in 1979. Now it has grown to encompass nearly one-third of the ski areas’ business. Snowboarding wasn’t even mentioned in the original act, something the bill changes.


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