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Monday, November 5, 2012

Safety Tips from Tom Sherry

This week, we've got a great blog post from Tom Sherry, a great instructor who also happens to be a ski patroller. Before you here all about keeping your family safe on the slopes, here's more about Tom from a recent bio.

Tom has been teaching children and adults alike for almost 20 years. He started instructing tennis after playing on his division III college team. He's been a medical and sled instructor with the National Ski Patrol for almost a decade. He's been teaching skiing since 2008 and is certified professional.

Before living the dream in the land of fruit and nuts, he attained his degree in Multimedia Technology and Business. He was a  project manger for over a decade with various different start-ups and dot-coms. Tom and his wife Kathy live in the Sacramento Valley with their two children, Sierra (8) and Rourke (5). In the summer he is the Assistant Tennis Director for Millennium Sports Club in Vacaville, CA.

As an active patroller for the last 11 seasons I've seen people's worst day of skiing. It says it on the back of all our tickets, skiing is inherently dangerous. Even with little skiers and riders the forces that come into play are serious. Believe it a or not a lot of these events could be avoided with some common sense and planning.

I'm going to discuss ways you and your children can be safer on the slopes. If your children learn these points early they'll be safe with or without you. We all know it won't be long before they say they want to ski with their friends :-)

When I'm teaching anything, Safety, Fun, and Learning are always in the back of my thoughts. Is the activity or skill, or game SAFE is always my first question.

Some of the points that I've passed along to both my students and children are as follows. 

Don't break anyone's "magic bubble". This bubble extends from the tip and tail of your skis to the top of your head. If you never break a magic bubble you can't get hurt. 

Learn and follow the responsibility code:  
  1. Always stay in control.  
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way.  
  3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.  
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.  
  5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.  
  6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.  
  7. Know how to use the lifts safely. 
Learn and follow the slope style: 
  1. Make a plan.  
  2. Look before you leap.  
  3. Easy style it. 
  4. Respect gets respect.
Have a meeting place and time in case you get separated. The top or bottom of a lift is always a great place or near a "super sign". Teach your children that people in uniform with name tags can help.
Move quickly at the top of lifts and don't linger at the bottoms because these areas are the most congested. You could also choose lifts that are less congested, even if they are slower chairs or don't access the best terrain. 
I like to keep my students and children behind me, that way if they loose control I can stop them. If you have another parent or friend that can be the "caboose" they can block from behind. I always keep my head on a swivel, like a fighter pilot :-) 
Bar up or Bar down? I've heard arguments made both ways. Vail resorts requires all employees to have the bar down at all times. Other ski schools I've worked for specifically stated that the bar was not to be down for ski school. Children will assume that if the bar is down there is NO way the can fall and creates a false sense of security. Whether you put the bar down or leave it up, have your children "Sit Back, Sit Still, and Look Ahead"! 
I hope you will find these tips as helpful as I have over the years and I wish you, your family, and friends safe snow sliding this and all seasons!

**Extra Tip from Coach Jay**
Tom can be reached for questions or to arrange a lesson at ski@thomassherry.com
His mobile is (707)365-9361

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