Keystone man pleads guilty in skier rage case
BRECKENRIDGE – Keystone realtor Michael Woods pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to charges of harassment, a Class 3 misdemeanor, stemming from a skier rage incident in December.
Woods, 64, agreed to waive his rights and proceed to sentencing in county court. In exchange, County Court Judge Ed Casias dropped assault charges associated with the case. Casias sentenced Woods to perform 20 hours of community service and pay a $138 fine.
Woods was skiing on Keystone Mountain Dec. 31 when 60-year-old Carol Welsh, a ski instructor at the resort, told him to slow down. He ignored her and continued to the bottom of the run, at which point Welsh tried to take his lift ticket. Woods pushed her once, then grabbed her by the helmet, pushed her to the ground and struck her, said deputy district attorney Ford Shanahan.
According to Sheriff’s Office reports, Wood told officers he’d gotten into an altercation with “a crazy bitch” who works for the resort. He admitted grabbing Welsh by the helmet and throwing her on the ground.
Shanahan said the charge should stand, not because there were any aggravating circumstances in the case or because Woods has no prior criminal record, but because he has a reputation for unruly behavior on the slopes at Keystone.
Defense attorney David Tyler said Woods’ story differs somewhat from Welsh’s. He said Welsh skied on top of Wood’s skis, effectively preventing him from moving, and tried to reach into his jacket to get his lift ticket.
“It was a pushing and shoving match,” Tyler said. “Mr. Woods acknowledges he didn’t handle this as he should have. He acknowledges that he has some trouble with verbal responses in some situations.”
“I angered her so much that she, without asking, without giving me the opportunity to respond, skied up on top of my skis and was literally trying to reach under my jacket and tear the ticket from it,” Woods said. “I told her to get her hands off me, to get away from me. And I pushed her.”
Woods said he takes complete responsibility for his behavior and has completed a four-week anger management class in Denver.
He added that he has never struck anyone in his life.
“I am verbally aggressive, and I’m not proud of it,” he said. “I don’t handle situations like that well. But I didn’t know of another way to handle it. At the time, I just wanted her out of my face and away from me. That was all I could do.”
Casias said he hopes Woods has learned his lesson.
“There is nothing stopping Vail Associates from saying you are prohibited from being on their mountain – or all five of them,” Casias said. “I’m not sure that, because you live up here, you want to have that happen. But if it happens again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they wouldn’t want anything to do with you or your business.”
Ski area officials said in January they have the right to ban anyone from their mountains; it is not known if Woods will be allowed to continue to ski at Keystone or other Vail Resorts-owned areas.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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