Felber: Ski accident series raises valid questions
March 22, 2013
Re: Sheriff John Minor’s guest column of March 21, “Sheriff shoots down Denver Post series”
Contrary to what Sheriff Minor implies, the Denver Post series did not offer any criticism of ski patrol personnel. In fact, Ms Crummy’s three part series portrayed ski patrollers in the same positive light that Sheriff Minor does. The concerns raised in the series revolved around the poor handling of accident and fatality investigations by ski resort management here in Colorado, and the higher level of protection from liability lawsuits enjoyed by Colorado ski resorts than by ski resorts elsewhere in the U.S. Both concerns are valid. Would Sheriff Minor tolerate any tampering with a fatality scene in Summit County before his department had concluded the investigation? That’s exactly what happened at Vail when a 13-year-old was killed by a Vail Resorts snowmobile, and the snowmobile was moved before police could arrive to investigate. Should IntraWest or Vail Resorts ski areas in Colorado enjoy greater protection from liability than IntraWest or Vail Resorts ski areas in California, Nevada or any other state?
A lot of the criticism of the Denver Post series revolved around the fact that skiing and snowboarding entail certain risks, which is true. But it is also true that the ski and snowboard industry has spent a lot of money promoting snow sports as a safe activity for families, and they sell that experience at a very high price. Anyone who wants to risk avalanches, unmarked obstacles or reckless snowmobilers can head for the backcountry and take his chances. People who have been sold a safe experience should get a reasonably safe experience from the seller, as far as is reasonably possible.
Mark Felber, Frisco