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Matt's Blog

A Most Stupendous & Audacious Undertaking

How to fix Ski/Snowboard Terrain Parks
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Terrain parks are dangerous.  They often involve hard metal surfaces in high-speed unstable contact with slippery surfaces attached to people's bodies.  I usually stick to the jumps in the terrain parks, which are made purely of snow.  I also wear body armor.   Combining that with judgement and skill, I've made my risk of injury from falls in the terrain park fairly low.

It's a calculated risk.  It's a lot of fun to take a jump off a ramp and sail through the air for a second or two before landing on a downhill slope.  

However, today I saw three incidents of near or actual person-person collisions in the terrain park.  This really annoys me because it seems rather preventable.  

All of these issues came from the fact that the area immediately downhill of a terrain feature is often not visible to people about to go over a terrain feature.  Officially you are supposed to take care of this issue by ensuring that the person who just used the terrain feature leave the area, but this is not foolproof.

Three incidents today.Collapse )

This is really dumb.  There are a number of things that could be done to make terrain parks safer:

- Put terrain features in fairly flat areas that are ~30 feet downhill of a small hill of significant slope.  This lets people about to use the feature see if anyone has fallen off of it.

- Have the areas to the left and right of the terrain feature slope downwards so that people are unlikely to cut across it.  
 
- Put line fences on either side of the series of jumps to prevent anyone from cutting into the middle.  

- Dye a red X in the snow below each terrain feature to discourage people from standing there.  (This probably would have to get re-applied every day.)

- Make the surfaces of terrain features out of a transparent material, allowing people to see what's behind them.  The surfaces would have to have some brightly colored markings on them to maximize visibility.

- (the high-tech solution).  Mount a camera that looks downhill of the terrain feature, and activates a red light when the downhill area is occupied by a person.  This is 1990s-era computer vision.  :-)