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The lawyer effect

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm watching the Blizzard of Ahhh's at the moment, and thinking about one of the big themes of the movies. They continually talk about how lawsuits, insurance companies and lawyers have limited what they can ski in the United States, and how they have to go to Europe to ski extreme terrain. 

 

It seems like that's no longer as much of a problem. Most American ski areas allow you to cross the boundary now, whether it's through gates, or at any point you like. You can ski the gnarliest lines you want. It may not still be as laissez-faire as Europe, but it's sure better than what is portrayed in 1988. 

post #2 of 7

Probably due to enough case law involving defendant verdicts and the drive for competing with other areas to offer new and more exciting venues. Athletes run fast, roller coaster get faster and terrain features get larger, however I just get older.

post #3 of 7

I think you'd be hard pressed to find an example of terrain that's been closed because a lawyer or insurance company told them too. Ski areas are pretty well protected, and have been for a long time, from being sued for injuries suffered from skiing difficult terrain, as long as it was well marked. If terrain is closed it is because patrol wants it closed--because extracting someone would be too hard and dangerous or because they can't properly control it for avalanches. Tram Face at Squaw was open once for a day and patrol spent all day doing high angle rescues. The Roof at Squaw, another closed area, is a steep face ending in a very large cliff. When it avalanches it goes huge. Wouldn't want to try and control there or do a rescue.

 

I suppose the difference in the Alps is a) easy access to helicopter rescue, b) they don't try to control terrain like that, and c) if you kill yourself someplace where they can't get you they might just leave your corpse to rot. But the biggest difference is scale. Outside of Alaska there are no mountains in NA comparable in size or glaciation to the Alps. What we ski in NA doesn't really even qualify as mountains.

post #4 of 7
Ummm, maybe not in the West, but a few decades back the trails at Camelback - a heavily-trafficked metro area hill - used to criss cross quite a bit. During the time I skied there, they increasingly blocked off more and more of those intersections, largely I believe due to the carnage. I know that something called by the patrollers "hell's half acre" they put up a fence. Those fences (we're talking chain link, no duckable ropes) steadily increased. I don't know about what's happened in the last fourteen years, but I doubt that they've ripped them out. I think the Western States have enacted more protective rules for the ski areas than some of the more sue-happy areas in the East. I know they used to yank your ticket if you went off the groomers there. I think that things started to loosen up again when skiers demanded more "extreme" skiing. I'm sure terrain parks helped with this. Now, you're paying how much for ski area insurance when you buy a ticket? I'm sure there's a study out there somewhere showing how much the access has cost us.
post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

I'm watching the Blizzard of Ahhh's at the moment, and thinking about one of the big themes of the movies. They continually talk about how lawsuits, insurance companies and lawyers have limited what they can ski in the United States, and how they have to go to Europe to ski extreme terrain. 

 

That was Schmidt doing most of the complaining if memory serves.  I always assumed he was overstating the case for dramatic license.

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
It seems like that's no longer as much of a problem. Most American ski areas allow you to cross the boundary now, whether it's through gates, or at any point you like. You can ski the gnarliest lines you want. It may not still be as laissez-faire as Europe, but it's sure better than what is portrayed in 1988. 

 

 

Have you skied in Europe?

 

And yes, over 28 years you will see some changes.

post #7 of 7
Blizzard is a great movie but there is a fair amount of hyperbole around them going to Cham and pioneering unreal stuff with IIRC not huge amounts of acknowlegement that the likes of Baud and Tardivel plus hundreds of unknown locals had been doing it forever. So I wouldn't take the lines on US lkegal restrictions
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