Bar Tender


With the festive season upon us, slopes are busy and it pays to think SAFETY. One particular topic comes to mind especially this time of year --- the potential pinching of tender bits when your chair mates lower the safety bar before you are ready for it!

Consider the possibility of having your arm pinned under a safety bar, and you begging for mercy while others stomp urgently on the footrest, wondering why it won't go down all the way. Or finding your thigh squashed by a part of the safety bar that is meant to rest on top of the seat rather than on the middle of your thigh. Or getting catapulted off the chair by a descending safety bar clobbering the back of your head.

Skiing poses enough hazards during the trip down the hill without needing added hazards during the ride up the hill. With a hasty safety bar slam-down pending, what chair plan might ensure arriving at the top of the lift relaxed and ready for the next run?

Here's what I do. First, I sit in a manner that I won't suffer any consequences should the safety bar be lowered unexpectedly. I sit with skis forward and parallel, poles pointed straight ahead and level with my skis, and my skis, poles and arms all within an envelope of space that a descending foot rest will miss. I also ensure that my head is near the back rest so the safety bar can pass cleanly above my helmet, rather than leave an indelible memory.

I also, in a friendly and lighthearted way, say something akin to 'when we lower the bar carefully and gently, I call that barrr-tender', spoken tenderly to convey the message. This usually triggers a chuckle, especially when it's late enough in the day that thoughts of apres-ski have begun to percolate. (Early in the day I might live the comic's nightmare: the silent deadpan of a tough crowd; which is why I no longer say 'barrr-tender' to friends or my better half who've heard it too many times.) With a little personality thrown in, I usually get a positive response and a round of smiles, even when I'm the only one on the chair who speaks English (they might not understand all the words, but at least they get that I'm friendly). One of my imaginings is to hear 'barrr-tender' from a stranger when we first sit down, beating me to it.

'Tender' also applies when raising the bar. Tender bar raising can ensure no lost or chipped teeth, and the related verbal utterances. Preparing to dismount well before the offload station, without raising the bar at a point so high off the ground as to risk an impactful demise, caps the relaxing and uplifting experience that every chair ride should be.

Thank you for doing your part to help raise the bar on safety bar safety. After all, it is a safety bar! If we can instill a culture of tender barring, it will be a positive for all riders. I look forward to sharing a chair ride with you someday and enjoying an upbeat conversation amidst our incredible surroundings here at Whistler Blackcomb. In the meantime, ride safely and be sure to spread the word:  barrr-tender...!