Illegal Ski Lessons Make International News

Illegal ski lessons were in the news over the weekend, with ski areas announcing plans to crack down on the practice from Colorado to Austria.

According to a report from CBS4 in Colorado, the Breckenridge Ski Resort is talking to the town of Breckenridge about helping them curtail illegal lessons at the root of the problem—meaning the ski area’s base area. That’s because while it’s a federal crime to offer illegal lessons within the U.S. Forest Service property on the mountain, the base area is within town limits.

If the town were to make it illegal to offer bootleg lessons, it would make it easier for Breckenridge to enforce the law, and to prosecute violators.

“They (violators) would all have to drive to either Denver or Grand Junction for federal court, whereby having it in municipal court it stays right here in Breckenridge,” Assistant Police Chief Greg Morrison told CBS.

Morrison said the main reason to crack down on illegal lessons is to ensure customer safety. He said the resort and the police department hope to have a law in place for opening day on Nov. 19.

In Austria, the Salzburg region also has laws prohibiting instruction by private teachers. Only instructors with an established office near the base ski lift are now able to offer lessons, but an Austrian constitutional court has challenged that rule, and is being supported by an association of Austrian ski instructors. Ski instructor spokesman Nicolaus Winterstein told the Austrian Times that what was happening in Salzburg was effectively unfair trading, and that “The recent ruling involving a court in Tyrol made it clear that a single person is entitled to take private customers.”

Tourism officials, however, have said that having private instructors would create “chaos” on the slopes, and that the association of ski and snowboard rentals companies support the present rule.

32 Degrees Magazine just tackled this very same problem in the Fall 2012 issue, in an article by National Ski Areas Association Director of Risk Regulatory Affairs Dave Byrd titled “Underground Teaching: You Don’t Want to Go There.” Click here to read the article.

— Peter Kray

Illustration by Kevin Howdeshell

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