Fall Education Seminars - Hood River, OR
Sponsored by MountainGuard

In addition to NSAA and MountainGuard staff experts, we will have three ASDA attorneys at this event: Brad Stanford from Oregon; Ruth Nielsen from Washington; and Katie Brereton from Idaho. We will start approximately 8:30 a.m., break for coffee and lunch, and wrap up 4:30 p.m.


Session 1, Tuesday, approximately 8:30 a.m.
Industry Overview: Rulings & Releases, Cases & Claims, and their Impacts on Ski Areas

There has been a surprising amount of key legal rulings around the country this past year in the ski industry. The opening session of the NSAA Fall Education Seminars will look at some of the of the high profile rulings from around the country, with a specific focus on regional legal and regulatory issues in the Pacific Northwest. With the assistance of ASDA attorneys Brad Stanford, Ruth Nielsen, and Katie Brereton, we’ll analyze how recent rulings affect the future of release and waiver issues, for both winter and summer activities. We will also analyze some key contractual issues impacting resort operations, and how to avoid the same mistakes. From competition events and pond skims, to new educational grant opportunities for smaller ski areas, this session is an excellent preview of broader operational challenges to be addressed in later sessions.

Session 2, Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.
Wildfire Preparation Recommendations—and—Unique Labor and Employment Legal Issues Impacting Volunteers

Admittedly, this unusual combination of topics could warrant individual sessions alone. This season, both of these disparate issues are front and center for ski areas due to recent events. Tis important session will dive deep into the use of volunteer and professional ski patrol, analyzing everything from liability insurance coverage, the legal use of volunteers, and contractual protections under state and federal laws. We will address how ski areas can limit their exposures from employment and labor law issues, and manage worker compensation challenges with volunteers. We will provide areas with some great tools and address recent audits involving volunteers. Also, give the high level of wildfire risk in the West, we will shift gears to address the insurance challenges in the ski industry with the growing risks from wildfire, and constructive recommendations for developing wildfire plans, mitigating fire risks, and analyzing tools and information available to the industry to protect your property and assets.

Session 3, Tuesday: 1:30 p.m.
Mountain Operations: A Deep Dive into Recent Mountain Ops Issues Impacting Your Risk Exposure

Recent incidents have shown a number of unique “on mountain” challenges that have been highlighted in recent claims, lawsuits, and guest safety. In this session, we’ll dive deep into these mountain operations challenges, using some current trials to emphasize the need for re-examining your mountain ops departments—grooming, snowmaking, ski school, lift operations, and patrol. We’ll examine some take-aways from two avalanche trial victories in the industry that apply to all ski areas. We will address the need for significant improvements in how you close trails, parts of trails, or other areas of your facilities—including terrain parks and tubing venues—and marking and correcting unexpected hazards. Recent trials and near-misses highlight the constant need to stress more—and better—inter-departmental communications. Lastly, we have some critical tools and considerations for wildfire mitigation and operational plans for fire-prone areas.

Session 4, Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.
New Resort Technologies to Improve Lift Operations and Overall Safety

In this final session, we will dive in to some great and novel technologies, and how ski areas are embracing them to improve mountain operations and management. We will update area personnel on a wide variety of unique lift operations issues that impact all departments—mountain operations, ski school, lift operators, mechanics, race teams and special events, and of course ski patrol. We will have updates on unique lift issues impacting resorts around the country, OSHA and employee training, the growing, and compelling, impact of chairlift video surveillance, unique technologies, and the growing need—and tools—for improving kids and chairlift safety. We will have some updates on drones, artificial intelligence, and GPS devices that the industry needs to embrace to minimize risk and improve efficiency.