I'm confused--it sounds like you're saying that every individual is at fault? I'm not sure how that makes sense if someone gets boxed in through no act of their own negligence and then cut off, assuming the coast was clear when the individual started off. One cannot control the actions of others. When you're boxed in, your corridor width for turns can be zero. And you can't just "not let people box you in" if they move up to you, short of skiing into them. That's the crux of the problem. Does it happen often? No. Can it happen? Yes. (I pity the person with such bad luck to be boxed in right before a boarder plops themselves down in front though.)
We must be careful when making absolute statements - particularly in situations with a large number of variables. Then again, we've often discussed the falliability of the skier's code on epicski.
But that's really the problem, isn't it? The Skier Responsibility Code is poorly written, leaving room for many arguments about who had the right of way, and who had the duty to yield, and generally who is at fault in a collision. If it is the responsibility of one person to yield to oncoming traffic coming from above, but the responsibility of the oncoming traffic to avoid "the skier ahead" (or the skier below, as the Code was written until fairly recently), then both are clearly at fault in a collision. There are so many loopholes in the current Responsibility Code that I think it is nearly worthless.
Even the language of the "skier ahead" or the "skier below" is fuzzy. So, if a beginning skier is making a shaky, low-speed braking wedge down the hill and some hotshot rips a high-speed carved turn that passes the beginner and carves back uphill resulting in a head-on collision, who is at fault? Common sense says it is clearly the high-speed carver, doesn't it? But that carver was the "skier below" at the moment of the collision, and both skiers were "the skier ahead," since the collision was head-on.
How about the situation I found myself in earlier this season at Breckenridge? I was linking high-speed short-radius "reaching slalom" turns down a blue run--consistent radius and tempo, complete turns that carried me well across the hill. As I looked back up the hill, I saw another person--yes, it was a snowboarder in this case--bearing down in a very high speed straight line steep traverse on a collision course, with several others in tow. When I first saw him, he was a long ways off and far above me, but it was clear that our paths would intersect. Sure enough, he continued on and just before he would have cleaned me out at about forty mph, I hit the brakes and let him pass. Had I not that done that, he would have run over the front of my skis and clipped me hard, probably taking my knees with him. At the moment of collision, he would have been the downhill skier, and he would have been in front of me, even though his downhill velocity was much greater than mine and he was both uphill and behind until the very moment the collision would have occurred. Had I not looked uphill, I never would have seen it coming. Who would have been at fault? It happened right under a chairlift, and several people on the lift told me later that they thought I was going to be killed. Since I saw the potential incident far in advance, I was actually well-prepared for it, and took appropriate evasive action. But had there been a collision, by the letter of the Code, I would probably have been at fault.
My biggest concern with "the Code" is that it seems to equate "control" only with speed control, ignoring "direction control" entirely. I know that it was derived from automotive rules of the road, in which "direction" is assumed to be limited to the lane, or at least the roadway, and avoiding the driver ahead pretty much means slowing down before you hit him. But on skis, we often (not always, particularly on a narrow cat-track) have the ability to "change lanes" and go around others often by a huge margin. And as I've often tried to describe here at EpicSki, braking on skis and turning are nearly mutually exclusive. Braking--intentionally skidding sideways--literally skids you out of the turn you may have been making. Pure braking--as in a hockey stop--involves no direction change whatsoever. On the other end of the spectrum, pure carving involves holding your line precisely with no skidding--and therefore no braking effect. So if we focus exclusively on speed control, we risk creating a mountain of skiers and riders with virtually no control of their line and direction. And that's pretty much where we are right now--hoards of skiers and riders skidding down the slopes at varying speeds, feeling completely "in control" because they are going a speed that they choose and because all they are told to control is speed. They are doing all they are asked to do, even as they put themselves and everyone else at tremendous risk as they practice horrendously "bad" technique.
Good turns are about direction control. Neither braking nor pure railed-out ride-the-sidecut carves entail much direction control, and turning skills have become a nearly-lost art. Collisions happen both from grossly skidded braking and from skiers locked into "their" carved line (I've been told, "you were in my carve, dude"), both lacking the ability to control their direction with any degree of precision. Our entire industry has come to worship bad skiing, and it, perhaps more than any reckless individual, is largely responsible for the frightening rise in irresponsible skiing over the past few years or decades. It's rampant on the slopes, and since people tend to mimic the examples they see, it perpetuates itself. Today alone, teaching a small group of Level 4-5 skiers (intermediate skill, tentative parallel turns), I must have had to take evasive action at least ten times to avoid getting creamed by skiers and riders who, in their own minds and by the Code's requirement and Ski Patrol and "Safety" Patrol orders to control their speed, felt completely in control.
When I look up the hill and see the very rare skier or rider making real turns, I am not concerned about how fast they're going--I know they're in control of their line, and I don't care how fast they miss me by!
Best regards, and Happy Holidays to all! Please be safe.