The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), along with the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, National Ski Patrol, the Professional Ski Instructors of America, and Willis and AIG insurance companies, has created the Safety Initiative 2000 campaign to help resort operators nationwide address the topic of slope-safety education for guests.

“The objective of the campaign,” says NSAA Director of Education Tim White, “is to attempt to further reduce the frequency of accidents and to unify the industry to focus on and communicate a proactive, strong safety message. We recognize there are inherent risks to snowsports. Our concern is that they are being portrayed as more dangerous than they really are. It's important to keep the risks of snowboarding and skiing in perspective and communicate how personal responsibility is key.

“We want snowboarders and skiers to know and understand that we care about them and their safety. Hopefully, our effort to generate upfront awareness and education, will ultimately result in fewer offenses on the slopes. Collectively, we have to take on a 'pro-active' approach and creatively educate our guests, employees and the media about safety issues,” he says.

“In recent years, the sports of snowboarding and skiing have experienced an unprecedented amount of media scrutiny, even though the number of deaths, both in absolute terms and per-million visits, has remained relatively low for decades. In fact, the total number of reported injuries on the slopes has been reduced by almost 50 percent since the 1970s,” says White.

“Undoubtedly, it's public awareness of snowboarding and skiing related accidents, not the injury rate, that's on the rise,” adds White.

The theme Heads Up has been chosen for the campaign. People generally identify “heads up” as a friendly safety-related reminder. Also, it's an easy concept for resorts to incorporate into their ongoing, educational programs, signage, etc. The target audiences for the campaign are guests, resort employees, and the media.

National Safety Week, slated for Saturday January 15 through Friday January 21, will take place at participating resorts nationwide. It's an opportunity for the resorts to showcase what they already do with regard to safety education and even create special activities during the week to heighten awareness for slope safety. Areas will participate at various levels and tailor events accordingly.

“We'd like to proactively remind all slope enthusiasts how we want everyone to have a fun, memorable, and rewarding experience on the slopes this year and always,” says White.