When winter sports thrills turn into nasty spills, ski patroller Alyson Dutch rides to the rescue.
With her Malibu address, soigné bob, and PR clients like Champagne Mumm, Alyson Dutch does not seem the rugged mountain type. But on winter weekends, she loads her Jaguar XK8 convertible with her Dynastar skis and yellow Lab and drives two hours to Mountain High resort in the San Gabriel Mountains for ski patrol duty. "I look forward to it more than anything in the world," she says.
Dutch, whose father was a competitive ski racer, grew up a casual skier. In her 20s, she joined a mountain safety team in exchange for free tickets. Eight years later, she shot for ski patrol. That meant a rigorous, three-month outdoor-emergency course, plus a year shadowing patrollers, undergoing written and physical tests, and staffing first-aid rooms. Put through her paces, Dutch shone, becoming a National Ski Patrol member in 1998. Patrollers respond to accidents all day, then scour the mountain to make sure no one's left when the resort closes at night.
She's seen her share of dislocated shoulders, fractured "tib-fibs" that "feel like Rice Krispies," sprained wrists, and lacerations from errant snowboards. "Ski or ride within your means," cautions Dutch, 39. "Young kids especially think they're invincible."
With weekends devoted to the slopes, the CEO of Brown & Dutch Public Relations has to wrap up work on Fridays, which isn't always easy. But somewhere on the mountain, someone's giving invincibility a shot.