By Dan Davis trekkerphoto.com
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April 13, 2009 — Vail Resorts today announced that, beginning with the 2009-2010 winter season, the Company will require all employees to wear helmets when skiing or riding on the job at each of its five mountain resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly.
Helmets will be provided to every employee next fall as part of their standard uniform for working on the mountain. This new initiative is part of Vail Resorts’ overall commitment to skier and snowboarder safety programs.
“At Vail Resorts, the safety of our employees and guests is a top priority and we believe the time has come for us to take our commitment to safety to the next level. Our employees will set the example next year for all who enjoy skiing and riding our slopes,” said John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort.
The Company also announced that it will require all children, ages 12 and under, who participate in a group lesson through one of its five resorts’ ski and ride schools to wear a helmet.
Furthermore, a helmet will become a required part of any child’s (ages 12 and under) ski and snowboard rental package offered at all of Vail Resorts’ retail and rental outlets, unless a parent or legal guardian signs a waiver to decline use of the equipment.
“We firmly believe when children are participating in our ski and ride school programs that we must provide them with the proper equipment that promotes enjoyment of the sport while also reducing the possibility of injury. Even though we will now require children in our ski and ride schools to wear helmets and make them a mandatory part of every child’s rental package, we strongly recommend the use of helmets for all of our guests, regardless of their age or ability level,” said Blaise Carrig, co-president of Vail Resorts’ Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Heavenly Mountain Resort.
In addition to the preceding press release, Garnsey and Carrig issued the followed statement to all employees:
Message from John Garnsey and Blaise Carrig, Co-Presidents Mountain Division
To All Employees:
Today our company is announcing that beginning in the 2009/2010 season, all employees will be required to wear a helmet while skiing, riding or snowmobiling during work. This was not an easy decision and both of us are intimately aware of the wide range of reactions that will likely result. However, we can assure each of you that this decision was not made lightly and was made after extensive discussion amongst the leadership team with input from numerous parts of the company including our guests. We have also been watching the behavior of our guests, the views of numerous doctors and the usage of helmets in other sports. While we are not sure there is one “answer”, we are very confident that this is the right decision for our company at this time.
The first question you will likely have is why? First and foremost, this decision is all about safety. One of our core values is protecting both our employees and our guests from injury. While there can be much debate about to what extent helmets offer protection, we have concluded that people are safer, at least to some degree, when wearing a helmet. And our conviction is even stronger about kids, where helmet usage is becoming almost universal. For many years, resorts have allowed employees to prioritize personal preference and comfort over the additional protection a helmet provides. We strongly believe that adult skiers should continue to have that right, including our employees when they are skiing or riding for recreation. However, we believe the time has come for our company to take a higher and more visible position when we are at work. Therefore, we will require our employees to set aside some of their own personal preferences to improve their overall protection and, equally important, to set an example of safety for our guests of all ages.
While many of us still remember the NHL implementing mandatory helmets in the early 80s, the cycling industry is probably a better comparison for our sport. We have all watched over the past 20 years as helmet usage has grown to the point where it is uncommon to see anyone riding a bike without one. Does that mean cycling is dangerous? No, but it does mean that people can have fun while being smart about it. Even at the professional level of cycling, where riders sometimes spend 5 hours in blistering heat, helmets have become required. We believe the race organizers both care about the riders themselves and are sending a message to cycling fans about the importance of helmet use. This is the same responsibility that all of us have as role models to the kids and adults that visit our resorts. As a Vail employee, wearing a helmet while skiing or riding in uniform will make a significant positive impression upon our guests.
There are many details that will continue to be worked out that relate to this new policy. For now, everyone should know that the Company will be covering the cost to ensure that anyone who is required to ski, ride or snowmobile for work will have the use of a helmet.
Employees will also be able to purchase and wear their own helmet, so long as it is approved for skiing.
Finally, we realize this is a significant policy change and felt that it was very important that we communicate this news before many of you depart for the off-season. While change is never easy, we strongly believe that it is the right thing to do and hope that each of you will embrace our decision in an attempt to create the safest possible environment for both our employees and our guests.
Blaise Carrig and John Garnsey
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