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KUNR Youth Media goes behind the scenes of Mt. Rose ski patrol

Ferrari is wearing ski pants and looking at something out of the frame, while Morris wears headphones and holds a long microphone to record the interaction.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
KUNR Youth Media student reporter Kesley Morris (right) interviews Patrol Director Mike Ferrari at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe in Reno, Nev., on March 25, 2022.

A ski patroller helps create a safe environment on the mountain and assists people as needed. KUNR Youth Media’s Kesley Morris is interested in pursuing this line of work, so she headed up the mountain to learn more about it.

Mike Ferrari is head of the Mt. Rose ski patrol. He said ski patrollers deal with a variety of different injuries every day and need to know how to respond to them appropriately. Even the weather can affect how many people get injured and the ski patrol’s day-to-day workload.

“When it snows a lot, snow is softer, it tends to slow people down because you can’t go as fast. There’s more friction. Whereas if it hasn’t snowed for a long time, and the snow is harder, people tend to be going faster, and the potential for injuries is higher,” Ferrari said.

They must maintain a safe environment and be able to react appropriately to emergencies as they happen.

“I wish people didn’t think ski patrollers were policemen,” Ferrari said. “I mean, in essence, we do enforce order on the hill, but that’s not what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to facilitate a safe and fun experience, and be able to respond to accidents as needed.”

Skiing is an exhilarating recreational activity that allows you to go down a hill at high speeds, much like a moving vehicle. But Ferrari said it’s important that you respect the terrain and wear protective gear.

“You have to realize that nothing is failsafe, meaning we do avalanche mitigation, but there is still a potential that avalanches can occur inbounds at ski areas. So it’s more understanding what the risks are of the activity you’re undertaking, and being prepared to deal with the consequences of that risk,” Ferrari said.

This is only a snippet of what it takes to be a ski patroller. After getting her EMT certification, Morris is hopeful she will be able to experience being one for herself.

Kesley Morris is a graduate of Spanish Springs High School and is now a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno. KUNR Youth Media is a special partnership with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists.

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