30-year Casper ski patrol veteran set to retire

By Christine Peterson

Casper Star-Tribune

Published: Wednesday, March 21 2012 1:55 p.m. MDT

He felt good. With three gates to go he caught the edge of his ski and went down. The momentum ripped his skis off and sent them 50 feet in the air. His left boot stuck in the snow ripping his femur out of its socket.

"I can tell you, that made me thankful for ski patrol," he said. "These people are some of the best I've ever met. They are caring and experts in their field."

Like he had done so many times before, his fellow ski patrollers came to the rescue, stabilizing him and making sure he reached the emergency room.

He calls himself lucky. Eight years later he had the whole hip replaced and his body felt like new.

Other patrollers have volunteered longer, but most started earlier. Maiers joined the patrol at 45.

He has also worked more days than most patrollers, Vantrease said. Most average seven or eight days a year on the mountain. Maiers averages between 15 and 20.

And after 30 years, he's decided it's enough.

"I don't want to outlive my usefulness," he said, still standing near the bottom of Boomerang. "In a way it's sad, but I will keep skiing."

Maiers paused, then deftly turned his skis and finished sweeping the rest of the hill.

Runs cleared, he stopped by the ski patrol hut to make coffee and check with the other two patrollers on duty for the day.

A crackling sound came through all three ski patrollers' radios. They stopped talking and listened. A fifth-grade girl hit a tree during ski lessons. She was walking to the patrol hut for examination. Each ski patroller needs first aid and CPR. Some are certified Emergency Medical Technicians.

The patrollers ushered her into the hut, Harshman and Walker calming her, Maiers starting the paperwork process with the girls' mother. Each knew his or her role.

For Maiers, helping people like others had helped him is what kept him in the job so long.

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com