SnowSport Safety Foundation: Granlibakken safest among Tahoe resorts | SierraSun.com

SnowSport Safety Foundation: Granlibakken safest among Tahoe resorts

Staff report

A snowboarder makes turns at Granlibakken Tahoe resort.

TAHOE-TRUCKEE — Granlibakken Tahoe, Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Dodge Ridge have the best safety scores in the state of California, according to the 2016 California Mountain Resort Safety Survey by the SnowSport Safety Foundation.

Granlibakken, a family-owned resort on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, scored 8.68 out of a possible 10. It is being recognized by the foundation as California's top-performing small resort and will be presented with a certificate by the SnowSport Safety Foundation to commemorate its achievement.

"Granlibakken Tahoe achieved the highest small resort (5 lifts or less) scores in both the 2010 and the 2016 Foundation surveys," SnowSport Safety Foundation President Daniel Gregorie, M.D., said in a statement. "We applaud Granlibakken's concern for the safety of their patrons demonstrated by these survey scores. They also raised their score by over 1.8 points from 2010 to 2016., also demonstrating a commitment to improvement."

Granlibkken is the smallest resort in California. It has one surface lift that accesses one slope rising about 100 feet.

Gregorie also congratulated Kirkwood Resort for the top score, 6.83, for large resort category (more than 5 lifts). He said the Foundation would also recognize Kirkwood for being the "most improved" of all the resorts, with an increase of 2.46 points, from the 2010 to the 2016 survey.

Dodge Ridge, located in Pinecrest, had the second highest score in the large mountain resort category by scoring 6.55 in 2016 and 6.53 in 2010. Dodge Ridge opened in 1950 and currently has 67 runs.

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Foundation board members surveyed 19 mountain resorts during the 2015-2016 winter season on mid-week days in January, February and March, and scored them according to 17 safety metrics.

"Several major resorts in the Tahoe region received average scores of less than 6 out of 10 on two consecutive surveys (2010 and 2016), including Squaw Valley and Homewood," according to the news release. "Three resorts consistently scored less than 5 out of 10 year over year — Boreal Ridge, Donner Ski Ranch and China Peak (formerly Sierra Summit). Northstar and Sierra-at-Tahoe both scored below 6 on the 2016 survey."

The SnowSport Safety Foundation, launched in 2008, describes itself as an "education, research and public information organization."

Gregorie, a board-certified internist, established the San Francisco-based nonprofit not long after his 24-year-old daughter Jessica died in a snowboard accident at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort in 2006.

Its mission is research, education and publication of safety information to help consumers become more aware of mountain resort safety practices and to make better informed choices of resort partners, considering ,ore than 12,000 skiers and snowboarders end up in California emergency rooms and hospitals each year, according to the foundation.

"We created survey teams to anonymously visit California mountain resorts and evaluate them based on impact protection, trail design and maintenance," said Richard Penniman, SnowSport Safety Foundation board member, ski safety expert and member of the team that surveyed the mountain resorts. "Utilizing standardized criteria, we found significant variation in the safety practices between and even within the same resorts."

Gregorie emphasized that the foundation's survey results should not be considered a complete evaluation of safety at any resort.

"However, the results provide patrons some indications in terms of potential resort specific areas of concern and some guidance in seeking additional information from resorts, and completing their own more complete safety evaluation of the resorts they are considering for themselves and their families," according to the foundation.

Areas of scoring included:

• padding and/or shielding of lift-related structures and outbuildings

• marking and impact protection of snowmaking hydrants, guns and pipes

• identification and shielding of parked vehicles

• elimination or impact shielding of trees on beginner runs

• impact protection of obstacles below side-sloping trails

• chairlift restraint bars

• safeguards (e.g advance warning signs, separation of merging traffic, speed controls) at blind intersections and intersections of advanced into lower ability runs

• safeguards (e.g. warning signs, speed controls) at trail congestion areas; preventing inappropriate traffic through designated learning areas

• controlling speeds through slow and family areas

• marking and shielding surface hazards: preventing inadvertent entrance into extreme terrain and terrain parks

• safeguards for moving hazards such as vehicles and low hanging chairs

• signage and fencing to prevent inadvertent entry into natural or un-managed areas.

Learn more: Visit http://www.snowsportsafety.org to see full survey results and to learn more about the organization.