Feared or Funny Chairlift Rides

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Will Dumke, Staff Writer

As the snow starts to fall and the icicles form, the ski season approaches, and with it come the feared or funny chairlift rides. There are those who are terrified of floating on a chair fifty feet above the ground, and there are those who see these contraptions as just another place to sit between runs and maybe meet a snow bunny or two.

The most infamous part of the chairlift is the entry. The ominous low rumble from the wires ripples in the air like a drum roll, and then the chair swings around sometimes slow or sometimes fast. It is always a gamble.

Everyone has his or her own technique. Some say they peer anxiously over their shoulders as the chair hurtles around the corner, while others say they assume a relaxed attitude, staring up the mountain, knees bent, ready to be swept off their feet.

However, even for some of the advanced skiers such as Grant Sirlin ’16, getting on a chairlift is a daring task. “When I was younger, I tried to put my poles through my legs and under the seat like the older kids but I missed and fell off instead,” Sirlin recalled.

Chairlifts are designed to get skiers safely up the mountain, but there is always a risk involved. Caitlin Hartman ’14, Captain of the Girls’ Ski Team, recalled an accident on a chairlift describing it as, “I was riding up, under the chairlift I saw there were numerous ski patrol putting a four-year-old into a sled.” There are rarely serious accidents on chairlifts, but this was one of the rare times. “She had been fooling around on the chairlift, and her parents weren’t paying attention when she slipped under the bar. She fell roughly 30 feet and landed on a stump. She broke her arm and fractured her skull in four places. I do know that she is alive today,” Hartman said.

Next time you are preparing to hop on the lift that will whisk you to the top of the mountain, remember to bend your knees, pull down the safety bar and introduce yourself to your chairlift buddy. You never know — you could be sitting next to a future Lindsey Vonn.