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Safety on the slopes

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Ian Gronau | January 5, 2014

If an accident on the slopes sends you tumbling this ski season, you may earn yourself a ride down the hill on Chuck Sommers' tobbogan. Whether it's someone trying to catch themselves from falling and landing on their wrists, twisting their knees too hard or just flat out crashing, it's just another day at the office for Sommers. After a nasty spill, he is just the guy you want to see, because after 20 years as a National Ski Patroller on the Grand Geneva mountaintop, he has seen it all.

"Some of the most common injuries are to the wrist or knee," said Sommers. "It happens often with snowboarders."

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Most days you can find the Genoa City resident working his day job at the Grand Geneva Ski School and front desk of the Timber Ridge Resort, but around this time of year he spends a lot of his time at the mountaintop, ready to jump onto the slopes at a moments notice. Sommers not only has the benefit of experience to offer a guest in need, but fairly extensive training as well.

"To get into Ski Patrol, you have to go through OEC, Outdoor Emergency Care Training, which is basically first aid training," said Sommers. "After that there is ski training and toboggan handling training. If someone is injured out on the ski hill we have to bring them back to our ski patrol room, and we have to know how to properly use a toboggan for that. We are considered first responders."

The snow may be soft and fluffly, but you can still fall hard. Sommers recommends that first time skiers take a class at Grand Geneva, and veteran skiers exercise caution, but he is quick to point out that should an accident happen, they are there to take care of you.

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