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Freak Chairlift Accident Leaves Woman Dead at Hunter Mountain

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

From the Times Union:

 

Quote:
 

Filkin was on D Lift by herself when the triple seat began to rock, he said.

The restraint bar was down at the time, said Gerry Tschinkel, Hunter Mountain vice president of sales, marketing and sponsorships.

Filkin's ski got caught on one of the lift support poles, pulling her off the chair and causing her to fall to the ground, Mitchell said.

Emergency medical personnel at the mountain worked on her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Read more at: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Woman-dies-after-falling-off-Hunter-Mountain-ski-5983295.php

post #2 of 25

According to this article in the NY Post, she fell 22 feet about 100 feet from the loading area.  Very sad.

 

http://nypost.com/2014/12/29/woman-dies-after-fall-from-chairlift-at-ny-ski-resort/

post #3 of 25

An very experienced instructor's spouse.  Very nice people, all so sad.  She will be missed.

post #4 of 25

Can anyone speculate how her ski could have got caught on a support pole?  I've ridden that lift tons of times.  I'm tall and sometimes my skis get dangerously close to to the towers but I still can't see how it can get caught in a way to yank you out of the chair.

post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by hespeler View Post
 

Can anyone speculate how her ski could have got caught on a support pole?  I've ridden that lift tons of times.  I'm tall and sometimes my skis get dangerously close to to the towers but I still can't see how it can get caught in a way to yank you out of the chair.


Have heard she was on the triple chair alone and turned to look downhill.  The drop was 22 feet.

 

From the Dec. 29 Times Union article:

 

A New York City woman died Sunday in what State Police are calling a freak accident after she fell from a ski lift in the Catskills.

Olga Filkin, 44, of Brooklyn, was on a weekend ski trip at Hunter Mountain with a large group including her husband and 20-year-old daughter, State Police Investigator Daniel Mitchell said.

 

Filkin was known as a "pretty good skier," Mitchell said

An investigation found that about 2:15 p.m., Filkin was on D Lift by herself when the triple seat began to rock, he said. 

The restraint bar was down at the time, said Gerry Tschinkel, Hunter Mountain vice president of sales, marketing and sponsorships.

Filkin's ski got caught on one of the lift support poles, pulling her off the chair and causing her to fall to the ground, Mitchell said.

Emergency medical personnel at the mountain worked on her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by hespeler View Post
 

Can anyone speculate how her ski could have got caught on a support pole?  I've ridden that lift tons of times.  I'm tall and sometimes my skis get dangerously close to to the towers but I still can't see how it can get caught in a way to yank you out of the chair.

..... and that force to pull her out of the chair (while holding on), didn't cause the binding to release first??  So sad.

post #7 of 25
Probably turned around to look at the chair behind her.
post #8 of 25

If not for the grace of life, there goes I.

 

I had a frightful near catch like that when I was not paying attention once.  Now I'm paranoid of yet another hazard riding a chair lift.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by hespeler View Post
 

Can anyone speculate how her ski could have got caught on a support pole?  I've ridden that lift tons of times.  I'm tall and sometimes my skis get dangerously close to to the towers but I still can't see how it can get caught in a way to yank you out of the chair.

I've played around on that chair, trying to tap my ski tip on the those towers, my legs are long and I couldn't reach, even when the chair was rocking. It must have really been swinging but what would cause it to swing that much?

post #10 of 25
Wind? I came into the lift terminal yesterday, had just raised the bar and was almost shaken off the chair by a violent shake as the guides overhead straightened the chair. I was sitting in the center, but a gust must have hit just as I arrived. I already had begun to get ready to stand up and the shaking was violent and I almost came off. Lasted amazingly long time. Have had the odd shake in the past, but nothing even approaching this. There were 40 mph gusts, so that must have been what happened.
post #11 of 25


I can speculate.  1)  It is one of their oldest chairs.  2) It must have been windy  3) Hunter is at fault.

How can I speculate on this?  A friend forwarded to me an email he sent to Hunter.  He skis there every weekend and often takes the "D" lift.

He stated that he got on the lift in the morning and it immediately swung wildly banging into the first tower and lifting him off the seat.  He had the bar down.

He reported this after  hearing the tragedy.  This seems to me to be more than a "freak" accident.  I wasn't there that day to testify to the lift.

But I have been skiing at Hunta for 30 years.  I like the place because and only because it is 2 hours from the metro area and it is challenging. I hate the mtn. because it is madhouse crowded during in-season weekends.  But this sounds very very questionable.  

post #12 of 25
Speculation here also ... From people that work there, conflicting reports on if the bar was actually down ? Second story we are hearing is that the riders loading behind her used the back of her chair to pull themselves to the loading area as I've seen dozens of times by both skiers and boarders. Apparently it caused the chair to start rocking! Regardless of how it happened its a tragic day for her family and the entire catskill area.
post #13 of 25

Came here to see what people are saying about this freak event. I was at Hunter the Tuesday after this happened. We rode this lift just to see how the bar was and how close the towers are. The only thing that I noticed about that lift is how far you have to reach back to grab the bar. You cannot reach the bar from overhead or the side. You really have to turn around to get the bar. My theory is that she was sitting all the way to the right side (support pole side). This would have made the chair lean towards the pole. She then turned to the right to reach back for the bar. While doing so, her whole body twisted, causing her skis to hit the pole. She fell while putting the bar down, which is why the bar was down on the chair she fell from. It really wasn't windy that day. In fact, it was quite gloomy, rainy and warm. Her phone was found on the ground next to her. Some people are saying that she might have been turned around taking a picture. I doubt this because there really isn't anything to take a picture of from where she fell. Only view would be of the parking lot/sidewalk area. That lift never has a line, even when it's perfect conditions and insanely busy. It's actually tough to get a view of the first tower. Even if you were on line at that lift, the housing is sort of in the way. Really freaky and so, so sad. I ride Hunter 20+ times a year so this accident hits home. I really do not think Hunter is at fault. I wonder where she purchased her skis. I'm sure they're going to go after who ever set her bindings. I've seen skis fall off from people smacking the poles with them. If she considers herself a level 3 skier and she's only 44, her bindings could have been set really high.

Just some thoughts. It's always when this happens. Would like to find out more info.

post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tdizz11 View Post
 

1) My theory is that she was sitting all the way to the right side (support pole side). This would have made the chair lean towards the pole.

 

2) I wonder where she purchased her skis. I'm sure they're going to go after who ever set her bindings. I've seen skis fall off from people smacking the poles with them. If she considers herself a level 3 skier and she's only 44, her bindings could have been set really high.

 

1) Sitting to the right, alone, would make the chair move to the left, not to the right.

 

2) catching a ski tip on a lift pole is really nothing at all like a fall while skiing. It is pure slow twisting force... bindings, no matter how they are set, do not deal with these forces very well. Heck, her bootfit could be called into question if they go down this road. An oversized boot would allow some movement of the foot within the boot, absorbing some initial shock, contributing to the binding not releasing... this isn't going to come into play, waaaayyy too many ways for blame to be diverted, and, seriously, a shop tech didn't cause this.

post #15 of 25
Oh it's totally skier error. I'm just guessing how the finger pointing will play out
post #16 of 25

No matter how it happened, this is awful.  Thoughts go out to all who are touched by this. 

 

Heck, all of us are touched by this.  How many of us have had close calls on a chair, be it personal or someone else on the chair with us? 

post #17 of 25
Hunter is where I learned to ski. This is so sad, she was in the prime of her life. Prayers up for her family.
post #18 of 25

My condolences to the family may she Rest in Peace.

post #19 of 25

Devastating way to lose a bride. Much vibes for the husband and family.  So sad.

post #20 of 25

ABC News just aired a short segment about fatal ski lift accidents.  Mrscrgildart is now becoming more concerned about us going skiing.  

 

A sudden and gigantic JOLT out of nowhere could certainly knock someone off though, especially a little kid or light weight adult.  That said, sitting in the middle of the chair with the bar down seems like it is the safest way to ride the lift solo, in the wind.  You can grab the back of the chair.  Sitting on either side causes the chair to tilt to one side or the other.  In the wind, and/or while bouncing due to whatever external factor sitting to the far side making the bench tipped could make things worse.  I don't see how anyone in the middle of a triple could reach the tower with their ski, but I can certainly visualize that happening if they were sitting on the end of the chair, tower side, turning around to look 180 degrees behind.  You'd have to stretch, but it seems possible to catch your ski while doing that.  In a violent wind, even with the chair slamming the tower I find it difficult to imagine getting knocked off unless the person wasn't holding on for dear life the way I would if the chair was bouncing all around like that.  Either they messed up or a sudden and violent event occurred.

 

We can learn from knowing more about how it happened, but it is definitely a terrible tragedy.  I feel sorry for the family and those that witnessed the horror.


Edited by crgildart - 1/4/15 at 9:00am
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

ABC News just aired a short segment about fatal ski lift accidents.  Mrscrgildart is now becoming more concerned about us going skiing.  

 

A sudden and gigantic JOLT out of nowhere could certainly knock someone off though, especially a little kid or light weight adult.  That said, sitting in the middle of the chair with the bar down seems like it is the safest way to ride the lift solo, in the wind.  You can grab the back of the chair.  Sitting on either side causes the chair to tilt to one side or the other.  In the wind, and/or while bouncing due to whatever external factor sitting to the far side making the bench tipped could make things worse.  I don't see how anyone in the middle of a triple could reach the tower with their ski, but I can certainly visualize that happening if they were sitting on the end of the chair, tower side, turning around to look 180 degrees behind.  You'd have to stretch, but it seems possible to catch your ski while doing that.  In a violent wind, even with the chair slamming the tower I find it difficult to imagine getting knocked off unless the person wasn't holding on for dear life the way I would if the chair was bouncing all around like that.  Either they messed up or a sudden and violent event occurred.

 

Yeah, our first lift ride up the chair at Silverton, my husband (on the inside) leaned over/back to look at the helicopter, which was just taking off from the pad. He caught his right ski on the tower, and it did almost knock him off. We were pretty low, I don't think that it would have been catastrophic; we were laughing at how embarrassing that would have been to fall off right there.

 

Unfortunately it was the knee that was missing an ACL (he skied with a brace for 3 or 4 years  before surgery), and it really tweaked it, which kind of sucked for the rest of the ski day. But I can totally see how this could happen if you lean over for some reason, on some chairs.

post #22 of 25

Anyone can change a binding setting after the ski is returned from the shop to the customer. Hard to prove.

 

The area where she fell is not really affected by the prevailing westerly winds.

post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tdizz11 View Post
 

Came here to see what people are saying about this freak event. I was at Hunter the Tuesday after this happened. We rode this lift just to see how the bar was and how close the towers are. The only thing that I noticed about that lift is how far you have to reach back to grab the bar. You cannot reach the bar from overhead or the side. You really have to turn around to get the bar. My theory is that she was sitting all the way to the right side (support pole side). This would have made the chair lean towards the pole. She then turned to the right to reach back for the bar. While doing so, her whole body twisted, causing her skis to hit the pole. She fell while putting the bar down, which is why the bar was down on the chair she fell from. It really wasn't windy that day. In fact, it was quite gloomy, rainy and warm. Her phone was found on the ground next to her. Some people are saying that she might have been turned around taking a picture. I doubt this because there really isn't anything to take a picture of from where she fell. Only view would be of the parking lot/sidewalk area. That lift never has a line, even when it's perfect conditions and insanely busy. It's actually tough to get a view of the first tower. Even if you were on line at that lift, the housing is sort of in the way. Really freaky and so, so sad. I ride Hunter 20+ times a year so this accident hits home. I really do not think Hunter is at fault. I wonder where she purchased her skis. I'm sure they're going to go after who ever set her bindings. I've seen skis fall off from people smacking the poles with them. If she considers herself a level 3 skier and she's only 44, her bindings could have been set really high.

Just some thoughts. It's always when this happens. Would like to find out more info.


Sounds like the most reasonable explanation.

post #24 of 25

I was riding a chairlift at Heavenly years ago--one of the notorious YAN's--and it was swinging so badly I refused to ride it again. It was calm, no one was horsing around or doing anything to make it swing. I assume the loading ramp was somehow misaligned. The next day the cable came off the pulleys. One young woman was paralyzed. I wish I had said something.

post #25 of 25

In the last week or two the lifts at Stowe have suddenly been retrofitted with metal shields to keep a ski from getting stuck between the tower and the ladder. I couldn't help wondering if it was related to this accident.

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