Originally Posted by Bob Barnes
I stayed away from this thread for a few days, as it didn't appear to be going anywhere else that would be productive or enlightening. Should have stayed longer, but I have just read all of the posts and caught myself up. I must say that I am astonished--beyond astonished--with some of the inane arguments some of you are stretching to somehow justify collisions.
High-speed collisions on skis are so incredibly dangerous--whether with another skier, or a tree, lift tower, or other hard object--that they MUST be avoided at all costs. It's just common sense. They must not be taken lightly, or written off as just something that happens. Anyone who thinks it's somehow "OK" to cause a collision is either stupid or some kind of a sociopath.
In my opinion, there is never a good excuse for a collision. Post-collision investigations virtually always reveal that the collision did NOT "just happen"--that someone was, in fact, at fault, through some sort of lack of judgment, inattentiveness, or lack of care. Nor is insufficient skill a legitimate excuse--we are all responsible for knowing our limitations and acting accordingly. We don't even need to talk about "the law" here--it is just common sense. However, since not everyone has an abundance of common sense, sometimes we need a law. It's unfortunate.
Matthias99--I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your well-reasoned posts here. I agree with you 100% on everything you've said, and I hope that many people will take the time to read and consider your excellent posts. Bob Peters--your post #164 was absolutely brilliant, and I am astounded to see some people having trouble with it. Walt, and others, please keep up the fight on the side of common sense.
CTKook, I lose more respect for your argument with virtually every post you make in this thread. You seem insanely proud of yourself for repeating the words "stuff happens" over and over and over, as if it somehow justifies your position.
It does not. OF COURSE "stuff happens"--that's the PROBLEM! That's why we're having this discussion. It goes without saying. The fact that collisions happen, and that many of them cause injuries or worse, is a very big problem that has been growing larger for the past several years. It is insanity to think we must justify something simply because it exists. Murders happen too--does that justify them as "inherent risk of living"? Robberies happen. Rapes happen. Car accidents happen. Hunting accidents happen. Does that make them OK? Should we just look the other way and shrug and accept them? I'll bet that even you wouldn't buy that argument, CT--although it is what you have implied with your incessant repetition of "stuff happens."
Just because accidents happen, does not absolve the responsible party from responsibility--I believe that should go without saying as well. Because high-speed collisions are so dangerous, we all bear the responsibility to do whatever it takes to avoid causing them--and to accept full responsibility if we ever do cause a collision. Common sense should be all the "law" we need to convince us of that. "Stuff happens" is one the weakest excuses I've ever heard!
Self-preservation should be all the justification we need to make sure--damned sure--that we don't hit a lift tower at speed, no matter what. Yes, skiing can be a risky activity--that's why skiers need to be smart. Smart skiers take into account ALL of these risks, including the likelihood of making a mistake, losing balance, catching an edge, and so on--and they don't make excuses. Awareness of your "spill zone"--where you're likely to end up if you screw up--is as constantly on the mind of good (smart) skiers as awareness of who's in your blind spot is on the mind of responsible (smart) drivers. When you get right down to it, hitting a lift tower at speed is just stupid.
Endangering other innocent skiers, though, is beyond stupid--it's inexcusable, and irresponsible. High--and even moderate--speed collisions are exceptionally dangerous, but also completely avoidable, with a little common sense and good judgment. BECAUSE THEY ARE AVOIDABLE, they are not an acceptable "inherent risk" of skiing. Because they are inexcusable, we all bear full responsibility for using the good judgment it takes to avoid them.
With a little speed you become, literally, a deadly weapon. If anyone believes that that doesn't entail the requirement to demonstrate extraordinary judgment--100% of the time--you are missing a very big point and you are, quite simply, a hazard to everyone else and should be removed from the slopes. Fortunately, that is exactly what will happen in areas where sanity rules.
This is, again, just common sense. We shouldn't need judges and lawyers and legislation. But unfortunately, we do. If everyone would take personal responsibility for our own actions, we would not need laws. But the number of people trying to excuse skiing collisions as "inherent risks" (they are not even accidents!)
shows exactly why we do need laws.
- "He turned in front of me." Not an excuse. (He WAS in front of you--where else could he have turned?)
- "It wasn't intentional" (It better not have been!) Not an excuse.
- "I lost my balance." Not an excuse. (You should have considered the possibility of losing your balance, and not come so close that your mistake would put other people at risk.)
- "I caught an edge." Not an excuse. (Same as losing your balance--"it happens," so we have to take it into consideration.)
- "You were in my carve" (Yes, I was actually told that once, as an "excuse.") Not an excuse.
- "Well, I hollered 'on your right' to warn you I was coming." Not an excuse. (What--you expect skiers ahead of you to have to stop turning and get out of your way? Even if you think that such "communication" should grant you a right-of-way, what if the person is deaf/dyslexic/doesn't speak English/has headphones on/loses balance/whatever?)
Good, responsible skiers simply do not put other skiers at risk. No, CTKook, that does not mean that skillful skiers never cause collisions--simply that when they do, they are responsible.
Yes, we all make mistakes. We all have lapses of judgment. "It happens"--but that does not excuse it, and we must take responsibility when those lapses cause harm (and at least apologize, and consider ourselves fortunate, when they do not). "The law" will step in if necessary, but it should not have to. (And by the way, I do not know why you keep using the fact that instructors sometimes have collisions to somehow justify your points. Sure they do, although it is exceedingly rare, from my experience, and when it does happen, they are held responsible just like anyone else. It is such a serious mistake that sometimes their clinician will be held responsible too! At the very least, there will be paperwork....)
Well, that's about all the time I need to spend in this thread again for a while. There have been some strong points made, and I sincerely hope that common sense will prevail. I wish everyone happy, fun, and safe skiing!