Improving the safety of the sport of skiing through standards has long been the goal of numerous organizations within and associated with the United States ski industry. Organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), and the National Ski Patrol System (NSPS) have all established extensive safety standards for ski equipment, ski lifts, skier education, and/or emergency response. Many of these standards have been codified into state and municipal laws.
In addition to these areas of concern for safety has been the use of marking and signing by U.S. ski areas to warn skiers of hazardous conditions on the ski slopes. For various reasons, however, few standards have been formally adopted on the principles and methods for identifying and/or mitigating common hazards often encountered by recreational skiers. Despite this lack of written guidelines for the U.S. ski industry, a common custom and practice for identifying and mitigating many of the hazards found on ski slopes has evolved.
Most common hazards at ski areas are not unique and can be identified according to several basic principles. In this paper, principles for identifying common hazards at ski areas will be presented, and the most common methods for mitigating those hazards as observed by the author will be discussed.