October 26, 2021

Ensuring safety on the slopes

Ski patrollers raise funds for first aid, other costs at Labrador event

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Ski Patrol Colleen Mancuso patrols Labrador Mountain during the LabFest fundraiser Saturday. The event raised $2,255 to benefit skiing safety.

When Joe Corcoran heads out to the slopes of Labrador Mountain in Truxton, he has one thing on his mind: identifying hazards skiers or snowboarders could encounter.

On Saturday, more than 20 members of the National ski patrol held LabFest to raise $2,255 for first aid kits and other expenses. Among the activities were selling waffles and hotdogs.

Corcoran is in his seventh season as a member of Labrador Mountain’s ski patrol, a separate entity from the National Ski Patrol that performs a similar function. Labrador Mountain’s ski patrol was established in 1960 to assure people’s safety while they were on the slopes.

“We try to get out there as soon as the lifts start up to ski the routes and see what the conditions are and identify any hazards,” he said Friday, the day before the fundraiser.

Corcoran got the job after attending a ski instructor class with his daughter as a way of spending time with her. When the instructor saw Corcoran’s application and noticed he had been a firefighter in Belgium Cold Springs near Baldwinsville and an emergency medical service provider in northern Onondaga County, the instructor turned the application over to Labrador Mountain’s ski patrol.

“It sounded like something interesting to do,” Corcoran said. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity ever since. I guess I have my daughter to blame for that.”

However, Labrador Mountain’s ski patrol isn’t the only one out checking the slopes. Corcoran said there are usually six to eight patrollers out on the slopes per shift.

But not all of the patrollers on the slopes are paid by Labrador Mountain. Some of them are part of the National Ski Patrol, which was established in 1938 and made up of both paid personnel and volunteers, who received six months of training similar to what emergency medical technicians learn. They are also trained on how to safely get an injured skier or snowboarder off the slopes.

John Costello, who has been part of the National Ski Patrol for 18 years, joined because he got to help people while doing something he loved — skiing.

“The other patrollers are all here because they want to be and they’re all good people,” he said.

Colleen Mancuso has been a part of the National Ski Patrol since 1990, except for five years she took off for knee surgery.

“One of my good friends, Tracey Loveland, in college got me into it,” she said. “It’s always nice to help people in need.”

The other big plus about being in the organization is getting to ski all the time, Mancuso said.

“The training also gives you a high degree of confidence out on the slopes,” she said. “You fall, we haul.”