Mountain Blog

Slopewise Sensibilities
Nancy Story - Monday, February 17, 2014


Ruth Cunningham, Crystal Mountain Pro Patroller

Here in the mitten, preaching safety on the slopes is nothing new. Michigan’s Ski Area Safety Act was passed in 1962, making it the nation’s oldest ski safety act. Skiers have been advised to be slope-wise since Crystal Mountain’s early rope tow and Poma days.

Charged with enforcing those safety standards are Crystal’s four paid weekday patrollers and six paid weekend patrollers, augmented by 50 volunteer patrollers. And for 30 years, Crystal‘s first paid patroller, Ruth Cunningham, has been out on the snow helping to keep our slopes safe.

Her observations?  There have been plenty of positive changes over the years with regards to slope safety, according to Ruth. “Fewer ropes and fences on the sides of runs, lifts which are much more user-friendly, and skiers wearing helmets have contributed to a safer skiing environment,” she noted. “The new equipment makes it so much easier for people to ski. More people are skiing longer, and we’re seeing huge groups of 80+ age skiers on the slopes, plus children who are starting very young. And since the arrival of power tillers, the grooming has been wonderful”.

When injuries occur, the most common are injured wrists for snowboarders, and injured knees for skiers. “Not many of the snowboarders are wearing wrist guards, which would probably prevent a lot of fractures,” Ruth observed.

And the biggest rule infraction? Skiing in control, which seems to be ignored especially by males in the 16-25 age group. “We also see a lot of young children going straight down black diamond hills with no turns, skiing completely out of control”.  Ruth said that patrollers talk to those skiers once they catch up to them.   

Being slope-wise applies to every vertical rise, whether it’s Crystal’s 375 feet or the mountains out West. A recent editorial in the Steamboat Pilot, the daily paper in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, addressed the Slopewise Code of Conduct:

“It goes without saying, that a fundamental requirement of the code is that all skiers and riders must stay in control and be able to avoid other people and objects on the slopes. We’ve observed that the newest equipment, which has made acquiring intermediate skills easier to do, can also inspire a false sense of accomplishment among some skiers and riders.

“It isn’t our role to sell ski school lessons. But it’s true that the professional ski instructors….can help people learn to ski and ride with much more control at reasonable speeds. Just as it’s true that you will become a more accomplished golfer or tennis player by working with a pro, you will become a more accomplished skier, with the skills to ski more precisely at speed, if you know how to carve a turn. You’ll also get more enjoyment out of the sport when you achieve the next level.

“Another fundamental aspect of the SlopeWise Code calls upon skiers and riders to yield the right of way to downhill skiers; if you are approaching from behind, it’s incumbent on you to slow down enough to avoid others before a collision results. But those skiers below you also have responsibilities. It is unsafe to stop on a ski slope where terrain obscures you from the view of those approaching from above………when you have come to a stop to rest and re-focus, always look above you for oncoming skiers before resuming skiing. Unexpected stops and starts can make it more difficult even for well-intentioned and skilled skiers to avoid a collision.

 “If you want to ski more like an Olympian, wear your helmet, acquire new skills and continue to ski under control.”





Bridal Expo 2014
Nancy Story - Thursday, February 06, 2014

Let’s get off the snow train for a moment and think about June. And July. And September. Those three months are 2014’s most popular pick for weddings held here at the mountain. Couples planning to tie the knot should also be thinking about April – because that’s when we host the annual Crystal Bridal Expo on Saturday, April 5th from noon to 4pm at the Crystal Center.


 Most weddings held at Crystal are destination weddings – which makes this April Expo so valuable for brides-to- be.  Once the location venue and number of guests have been determined, it’s time to start working on details.  “Attending the bridal show is an excellent way to find reputable local vendors, especially if you’re not familiar with this area,” explained Chelsea Chapin, Crystal’s Catering and Events Sales Manager.

.“Meeting face to face is always a better way to see if a vendor is the right fit for your wedding, rather than relying solely on phone and email contact.”  Using local services alleviates a lot of stress for the bridal couple, too.   “Hiring a favorite baker from your hometown to make your wedding cake may sound like a good idea, but you must consider the logistics of getting their product from point A to point B.” Chelsea noted.  “Northern Michigan has many talented vendors right in our immediate area. There’s no need to worry, for example, about how to transport flowers in a four-hour drive north in the July heat. Our preferred vendor list will help you start making choices of tried and true vendors.” 

 Planning a destination wedding event at Crystal Mountain offers lots of advantages for out of town guests.  “Having all your closest friends & family together like this will probably never happen again, so we see many brides looking for a wedding weekend that includes lots of activities for guests staying on site,” Chelsea noted. “Crystal Mountain offers beautiful ceremony & reception locations in one convenient location for every size guest list. Lodging, dining, spa and recreation are just steps away”.  On-premise casual barbeques are a popular choice for rehearsal dinners prior to the big day.  “We’ve become experts in laid back pre-wedding gatherings, complete with lawn games and marshmallows toasted over a campfire.”

For a destination wedding, the bridal couple should accommodate their guests by giving them plenty of background regarding the venue. “Providing information about the destination, including nearby airports and driving directions from major cities, will help guests first gauge if they are able to make the trip,” Chelsea said.  “Offering them lots of lodging choices and area activities is also very beneficial. Destination weddings are expensive for guests, so they’ll want to make the most of their time at the wedding venue. Even though the bride may love northern Michigan and knows what it has to offer, she has to consider that some guests are totally unfamiliar with the area.” 

According to Chelsea, the most common mistake brides make when planning a destination wedding is not using a wedding website.  “These are amazing tools that are offered for free by most wedding planning websites, such as” she pointed out.  “A personalized wedding website will allow you to cater to your guests and provide much more information than could ever fit in a ‘Save the Date’ postcard.”


 For all you brides and grooms-to-be, save THIS date: Saturday, April 5th.    Regardless of the season, Crystal Mountain serves up a special venue for wonderful wedding memories. Contact Chelsea, our in-house  expert, at ext. 6605 to begin mapping out your memorable Crystal Mountain wedding.