Can Snowboarders Be Ski Patrol?

Can Snowboarders Be Ski Patrol? [The Inside Scoop!]

by Ben

Every ski resort has some kind of ski patrol. They perform various tasks around the mountain, ensuring the slopes are in great condition and remain safe. But why don’t you see snowboarders on ski patrol? Can snowboarders be ski patrol?

It is perfectly legal for a snowboarder to be a ski patroller. In fact, most ski patrol teams allow advanced snowboarders to join. But you don’t see many snowboarders doing the job for a couple of reasons. Firstly, some ski resorts are still anti-snowboard, but the main reason is that having both feet strapped in is not practical for specific tasks.

Want to know more? Luckily for you, I used to be a patroller myself. Keep reading buddy!

What Does The Ski Patrol Do?

The ski patrol ensures that skiers and snowboarders are as safe on the mountain as possible.

They do this by removing hazards from the slopes and monitoring their condition. They often perform maintenance on the slopes, including keeping equipment running and in a safe condition. They also put signs up to close unsafe slopes and warn users about hazardous areas.

On top of all this, they look after anyone who’s been injured by performing first aid and getting them off the mountain to safety.

can snowboarders be ski patrol - the Canadian ski patrol
The Canadian Ski Patrol (notice the snowboard)

Can't Snowboarders Do These Tasks?

Snowboarders with the right skills and experience can obviously do the above mentioned tasks. However, snowboarders face a few practical problems that might hinder their effectiveness as ski patrollers. 

Let’s take a look at a few…

1. Flat Sections

The main problem for snowboarders is that to move over flat sections or go uphill, they have to remove their snowboard. This is a disadvantage when compared to skiers who can skate or step as necessary.

2. Avalanche Rescue

An example of this is that ski patrollers sometimes have to deal with avalanche danger. This often requires them to move uphill in deep snow, which is fine for a skier as they can attach skins to their skis and hike up.

A snowboarder would have to remove their board to do this. They would also be slower, moving through the snow (unless they put on snowshoes, which would also slow down their progress).

3. Recovering The Injured

Another scenario that would hinder a snowboarder as a ski patroller would be manoeuvring a stretcher on flat ground.

The snowboarder would have to unstrap at least one foot and skate forward or walk. This would be tricky until they could strap back in and ride down the mountain.

So Are Patrollers Better Off On Skis?

It pains me to say it, but this is one of the few scenarios in which I recommend skiing over snowboarding.

Skis are much more practical overall. You’ll find that most of the ski patrol drills and procedures are designed with skis in mind. 

In my ski patrol days, I reluctantly dusted off my skis. It made my life easier and gave me an excuse to play around on skis again. 

How To Be Part Of The Ski Patrol

There are few requirements to be a ski patrol member as they need to deal with potentially life-threatening situations. They are also subjected to some pretty intense training to ensure they are as effective as possible.

Much of this training is done in the resort, so the ski patroller is familiar with all the areas.

ski patrol

A ski patroller must be able to get around the mountain with a high level of skill and ease. A Ski patrol is often the first responder to an accident, so they have to get to the casualty as fast as possible, with all the necessary equipment. This takes experience and training.

Interestingly, the National Ski Patrol website states the following under most job descriptions:

Candidates are required to Ski or Snowboard at an advanced level

This a pretty good indicated that snowboarders can be ski patrol. So you might not need to put on those skis after all!

Next, a ski patroller has to have a medical certification. Each country has their own requirements for the medical qualifications of its ski patrol members. Check on your local website!

Final Thoughts

Can snowboarders be ski patrol?

Yes. If you still want to be on the ski patrol and are a die-hard snowboarder, you still can!

However, bear in mind that several of the jobs you’ll be tasked with will be much harder on one plank than two. 

Remember, there are easier ways to find work on the mountain. Working in bars, restaurants, snowboard shops or ski schools can be a lot easier. If you’re really lucky, you could even try and become a sponsored rider.  

Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

Happy riding!

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