Safety - Race Organisers role

5 years 2 months ago #22734 by jocuba
My ski race experience has only been as a paddler & so I’m curious to understand more about the position & perspectives of ‘organisers’ regarding ski event safety. Just an opportunity as a participant/paddler to have a more informed awareness of what the reality really is going into an apparent ‘responsibly’ organised race. Understandably, this is a sensitive topic at the moment – so not a ‘bashing’ session in any way.

My experience is that there is a fairly broad spectrum with regard to safety.
On the one side it could resemble little more than a bunch of blokes getting together for a collective down-wind dash with some focused agreement on the course, where & when to meet, transport arrangements & clear instructions of which pub to gather in afterwards; & perhaps a brief mention of trying to stick together & looking out for each other along the way. Then someone shouts ‘go’, greets you at the other side & tells you the time & order of your arrival.

On the other side – you have high profile races with meticulous detail including a safety craft per paddler, very specific & prescriptive safety related gear & kit requirements, signed official indemnity form & a detailed safety & race briefing that goes on forever. Chopper/s above & full emergency services on standby etc.

And then you have anything in-between…

So – questions that come to mind…
Are there any safety related minimum or recommended standards/ rules-of-thumb/ legal requirements etc that organisers are obliged to have in place when holding a ski-race… & if so what are they?
[Be interested to know if there is anything adopted as common standard essential safety measures to be in place at international ski races unilaterally or if its random according to organisers &/or national maritime coastal laws etc; or quite how it varies around the world from anyone in the know in their respective regions.]

If it doesn’t end well - who actually carries the can?
Do race-organisers have any responsibilities, legal obligations &/or stipulations for safety &/or negligence; or are they in most cases free from blame?
Any possible consequences when it goes wrong?
I mean – how are organisers judged to have provided a sufficient amount of safety cover… is that by popular opinion of stakeholders or after formal scrutiny/inquest from investigators?
Or does/should the paddler carry full risk & responsibility for their well-being in any event… organiser does their best or makes an effort towards safety (as best they can or see fit) but is not actually liable for a paddlers safety in any way… take it or leave it? i.e. any safety measures provided are a gesture of goodwill type of approach?

My thoughts on the face of it… perhaps it should be very clearly emphasised to ski race participants that they approach a race with a mindset that they are essentially entirely responsible for their own safety during an event. Anything made available by the organisers is a bonus that might be of assistance but can’t be depended or relied on in any way.

Another way to look at it – on race day, would you go for a paddle on your own in the prevailing conditions? … because that’s what a race often is for most paddlers – a long solo paddle. A lot of recreational skirace paddlers don't train at sea on their own yet race in adverse conditions under the (false) perception, I’d suggest, that they have safety in numbers & rescuers close by looking out for them ready to assist.

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