December 3, 2010

Slippery Slope Of Ski-Area Security!!! You have Got To Be Kidding Me?! UNBELIEVABLE!

Denver Post
written by Editorial
Friday December 3, 2010

Pat-downs for Colorado skiers and snowboarders are a sign of excessive security concerns in a supposedly free society.

What's next? Pat-downs at the church confessional?

As travelers rightfully fret over excessive groping in airport security lines, it now seems skiers and snowboarders are subject to this growing game of pat-down.

New policies at several Colorado ski resorts also are placing uniformed police in visible and active roles to curb excess in the very places that otherwise go out of their way to cater to excess.

The most extreme example? Those waiting to board Steamboat Springs' gondola first must submit to police pat-downs, according to 5280 magazine's Kelly Bastone.

Skiers and snowboarders "must unzip, de-layer, and turn out their pockets," Bastone writes. "Like travelers at Denver International Airport, these would-be gondola riders must run through a gauntlet of security checkpoints before taking to the skies."

And it's either submit to the searches, or forgo the nearly $100 you just spent on a lift ticket.

Other resorts also are using police to patrol for drunken skiers or look for thrill seekers who stray out of bounds. While we don't relish an overbearing police presence on the slope, we can understand how it occasionally might be justified.

The resorts have the right to pat down their customers. Though most resorts make use of U.S. Forest Service leases, the gondolas and chair lifts are privately owned.

The increased police presence apparently comes with the overwhelming family-oriented atmosphere of resorts these days. Parents obviously want their children to be safe, so some welcome the crackdowns.

But we haven't heard of studies that show there's a growing safety problem on the slopes, even with the increasing number of skiers. Also, alcohol sales are still prevalent on the mountain.

A cynic might wonder whether the searches for flasks are actually more of an effort to force riders to pay for drinks at resort bars and restaurants, just as concert-goers and sports fans are increasingly made to do.

Not so long ago, we encouraged air travelers to endure the full-image body scanners at the airport and avoid a proposed boycott during Thanksgiving travel. Our concern was for those travelers already forced to endure the Transportation Security Administration's invasive new policies and practices who then would be further victimized by long lines. But we also encouraged the TSA to streamline and dignify its protective measures.

We can't allow the fear of a few people — whether they are evil terrorists or drunken college kids — to turn a free society into a police state, where pat-downs and shakedowns tarnish a powder day, a trip to the mall or a date to a movie.

Clearly we need law enforcement and laws, but a heavy police presence on the slopes stands in stark contrast to our idea of fun-filled days on the mountain.

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