Young ski patrollers hone skills on Blue Knob’s slopes

BLUE KNOB — The ski slopes at Blue Knob All Seasons Resort are the backdrop this weekend for about a dozen young ski patrollers from across the region looking to hone their skills.

“I’m learning a lot with the medical part of taking care of people,” said 16-year-old Dominic Urbani of Marion Center, who is part of Blue Knob’s Young Adult Program, a National Ski Patrol program aimed at high school ski patrollers ages 15 and older.

Outdoor Emergency Care, or OEC for short, was just one of the areas covered this weekend as instructors took the young skiers out on the slopes to learn techniques and maneuvers to sharpen their skiing and teach them the effective use of a toboggan so in an emergency and under varying conditions, they’ll be able to remove an injured skier from the mountain.

Urbani said it’s his second YAP weekend and he not only enjoys the challenge of learning some new things, it’s also a chance to see friends and meet some new people to ski with.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Urbani said Saturday as the skiers finished up the last activity of the day, a scavenger hunt called a trail sweep where two teams of skiers were sent out to find colored flags planted along the edges of the trails.

Liz Hermann, a regional adviser with the Eastern Division and organizer of the YAP weekend, said the game reinforces a ski patrol responsibility — going out to ensure no one remains on the slopes after closing.

Hermann said having good ski skills is essential to being a member of the ski patrol, especially when attempting to bring an injured person off the mountain in a toboggan — and in all types

of circumstances.

“We have to be able to ski in these unfavorable conditions,” Hermann said.

Hermann said that each ski resort has one or two YAP members so the regional gatherings give them a chance to get the kids together to teach them these valuable skills.

Bart Gabler of Pittsburgh, who is part of the National Ski Patrol Eastern Division’s steering committee that sets protocols on the use of toboggans by the ski patrol, said Saturday’s activities were focused on skiing and toboggan skills with today’s activities dedicated to medical skills. The teenagers will also have to ski up on various scenarios and use what they’ve learned to determine what is going on and what they need to do to help.

“Part of ski patrol is building camaraderie,” Gabler said, adding that the activities involve teaching teamwork and can lead to lifelong friendships.

It’s 15-year-old Blue Knob ski patroller Charles Deitke’s first YAP weekend, and he said he’s learned a lot already that he feels will make him a better ski patroller. Deitke, of Johnstown, said he especially picked up good instruction on skiing better, especially on ice, and it’s given him a chance to do what he loves.

“I love the mountain and I love being up on the mountain,” Deitke said.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.

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