On February 9 and 10, the Kelly Brush Foundation (KBF) , U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the Olympic Regional Development Authority at Whiteface Mountain (ORDA) and the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) hosted a safety seminar in conjunction with the FIS NorAm Cup races at Whiteface (February 10- 13).
The primary objective of the seminar was to educate stakeholders such as coaches, officials, volunteers and athletes on the importance of a comprehensive protection plan, effective on-hill communication and proper protocol during a large scale race event. “Sports like alpine ski racing have inherent risks. However, we work hard to provide the best possible venue for our athletes with the proper protection in place. Our dedicated staff, officials and volunteers are passionate about providing a safe environment – we’re happy that we were able to partner and host this unique learning opportunity for visiting coaches and officials,” said John Norton, NYSEF Executive Director.
The safety seminar was made available to the first 20 individuals to sign up and hosted free of charge. It included lift tickets, one-night lodging and meals. The attendees began their first day by inspecting the NorAm Super G venue, reviewing homologation reports and identifying the safety installations on the race hill. Technical Advisor for the NorAm event, Trevor Wagner, mentioned how important it is to be aware of your space, “it only takes a few minutes to review your surroundings and place b-net and/or padding to prevent a major injury.”
Following their inspections, the group held a round table discussion led by seminar leader and Chief of Race, Paul Van Slyke. Other alpine program experts joined the discussion including Norton (Chief of Course), Royce Van Evera (a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Technical Delegate) and Bob Leitch (Chief of Race for the Lake Louise NorAm).
The day ended with a final safety presentation by Van Slyke and Kelly Brush of the KBF.
The following day, attendees began their morning with a 7:00 AM chairlift ride where they inspected the Nor Am Super G course along with the Jury. They reviewed the safety installations and gate placement prior to opening athlete inspection. Van Slyke commented, “this was an eager group…they traveled from North Carolina, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and New York to attend and were highly motivated and enthusiastic to learn new concepts in improving athlete safety.”
Although not a part of the Safety Seminar, NYSEF and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association saw an opportunity to educate more individuals on the importance of “Stop the Bleed” training. With rapid developments in alpine ski technology and preparation, there has been an increase in life-threatening lacerations to ski racers. Stop the Bleed is a national campaign to educate people on how to save the lives of people with severe bleeds. The effort in the alpine ski racing community is being led by the KBF together with the Davis family, whose son was severely cut in 2018. Executive Director of KBF, Zeke Davisson added, “we are thrilled to use opportunities like the Safety Seminar and Stop the Bleed training to continue to highlight the best safety practices. Our mission within the ski racing community is to work with all stakeholders to improve and maintain the focus on safety…this Seminar allowed us to lead that conversation at a high profile event.”
Shelley Davis, an RN and alpine skiing enthusiast offered this training in the NYSEF Training Center for interested families and Whiteface staff. Davis trained small groups of people through the Stop The Bleed protocol and did a more formal presentation to discuss the risks and factors associated with bleeds specific to the sport of ski racing.
“Our community is thankful for the organizations that push to provide these educational opportunities that make ski racing fun and safe…we appreciate the hard work, dedication and willingness to partner that makes this possible,” said Norton.
Information on future Safety Seminars can be found at usskiandsnowboard.org.