Outstanding Efforts Recognized by National Ski Patrol 

By Alicia Dziak

Allegany State Park (ASP) is known for its natural beauty on 65,000 sprawling acres. While most of us go there to enjoy the scenery without giving much thought to what goes on behind the scenes, a dedicated team, known as the Allegany State Park Nordic Ski Patrol, works hard year-round to make the park safer.

Its members work so hard, in fact, that their efforts were recognized by the National Ski Patrol when they recently were awarded second in the nation for Outstanding Nordic Patrol.

Receiving the award was no easy feat.

According to Mary MacQueen, who started ASP’s Ski Patrol in 2002, “Each ski patrol usually has an awards committee tasked with applying for and nominating their own patrol for any awards they feel that patrol is qualified to receive. The award is first received by the Region the patrol is located in (ours is the Western NY Region). If the patrol wins the award for their region, they then have to compete within their division to try to win the award at the division level. Our division is the Eastern Division, which includes most of the states in the eastern US. Once the patrol wins at the Division level, that patrol then gets submitted to the National level for consideration for the National award.”

MacQueen noted that the criteria and application process were extensive. “Criteria are based on achievements not only of the patrol, but also its individual members,” she explained. “Things that give extra credence to the application include offices currently held by our members in the section, region, division or national level. Candidate training and results are also considered. Any training hosted by our patrol, for instance ski skills, mountain travel and rescue, avalanche, first aid, search and rescue, etc., also is considered, as is the number of certified testers, instructors and students. Any lectures given to schools, ski clubs, TV, radio, newspapers, etc., and information that shows the patrol’s contributions to the sport of skiing are also considered. Per the instructions on the application, no information dating back more than four years may be used.”

And what exactly is the role of ASP’s Ski Patrol? “We are a patrol that offers Allegany State Park first-aid and search and rescue support all year round,” MacQueen said. “We patrol the cross country ski trails during the winter months and offer first-aid support during the summer at local bike and foot races. Our only source of funding is a yearly donation from the organization that hosts the bike races.”

The group consists of a number of patrollers who work above and beyond the local level, supporting the region as well as the division as instructors and supervisors in various disciplines, all on a strictly volunteer basis.

“In order to become a member, the candidate has to meet the requirements set forth by both the National Ski Patrol and our local patrol,” MacQueen explained. “This includes taking the nationally recognized Outdoor Emergency Care course. A bit more arduous than an EMT course, this course requires approximately three months of classroom time, as well as an entire ski season of hands-on practice in the winter environment. Candidates also are required to spend the season honing back-country and cross-country ski skills. These skills are evaluated at the end of the ski season as well. Candidates also are required to take the National Ski Patrol’s mountain travel and rescue level 1 class.”

Although it’s called the “ski patrol,” there really is no off season for these volunteers, as they also work hard in the summer months.

“We spend our summer months providing first aid and search and rescue for the many adventure races, mountain bike races and triathlons that take place at Allegany State Park,” noted MacQueen. “Many of our members are avid mountain bikers, hikers and runners who also enjoy using the park for these activities in the summer.”

With the Outstanding Nordic Patrol award, the hard work of these dedicated, year-round volunteers has not gone unnoticed. Congratulations to the Allegany State Park Nordic Ski Patrol!

Donations are gratefully accepted to help support the ongoing efforts of the ski patrol and can be sent to: Allegany Nordic Ski Patrol, c/o John Fitzpatrick, 2050 Maple Hill Rd., Hinsdale, NY 14173.