Vail, Beaver Creek win safety honors |

Vail, Beaver Creek win safety honors

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyBeaver Creek avalanche dog Blu sniffs and digs out a snow cave searching for buried "survivors" while her owner, Beaver Creek ski patroler Brent Reddon encourages her during an avalanche rescue drill. Beaver Creek was recently honored for having the best overall safety program among larger ski resorts.

VAIL, Colo. ” Both Vail and Beaver Creek received top awards for their safety programs from the National Ski Areas Association, a nationwide ski industry trade organization.

Aspen/Snowmass was not singled out for any awards. The other Colorado resort earning recognition was Telluride, which was commended for having the best avalanche safety program.

Each season the awards recognize those resorts that have done an outstanding job of educating employees and guests about skiing and snowboarding responsibly, according to the association.

Beaver Creek was recognized for having the best overall safety program for a larger resort, and Vail was recognized for the best safety week program.

The resorts were chosen from among more than 70 others from around the country.

Beaver Creek, which has now won the award for the sixth straight year, has always had a consistently top-notch program that involves the entire mountain staff, said Dave Byrd, the association’s director of education and risk.

Beaver Creek’s safety program involves education in area schools, visits around the community with the mountain’s avalanche dogs, backcountry safety classes, and cartoon safety ambassadors Harry and Milli.

“We are continually impressed with the innovative efforts our member ski areas make all season long in educating their guests about skiing and riding safety,” Byrd said. “Based on the results reported by this year’s applicants, it’s clear that these efforts are making a big difference.

“They did an excellent job to get entire employee staff involved,” he added. “You could tell from their submission they had patrolers, lift operators, ski school and everyone on the mountain involved.”

Vail Mountain won for its safety week program in January, which included opportunities for the public to join Ski Patrol on their daily sweep of the mountain, appearances by Pork Chop the safety pig and Henry the avalanche dog, helmet fittings, adult ski tip clinics and a safety fair with giveaways.

“They had messages all over and the employees were all involved,” Byrd said. “They just did so many things that added up into this quilt of safety.”

Polls conducted by Vail Mountain also showed that skiers had a heightened awareness of mountain safety and said they felt safe while on the slopes.

For more information on the awards or other National Ski Area Association safety initiatives, visit the safety and education section of