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Informal poll on life-threatening skiing hazards - Page 2

post #31 of 59

You probably already know the popular rivers in this area are the Nantahala and the Chatooga. There have been a number of drownings in the tougher sections of the Chatooga. In one instance the body was inaccessable for weeks until the river level dropped. We are getting a lot of 'cane rain so watch out, esp. if Ivan moves north through Georgia and the Carolinas.

As far wintersport, last year at Beech mountain a student boarder when full bore into a tree. She was the only fatality I know of.
post #32 of 59
Yes, I did see with my eyes a young (35, very pretty) woman skier die during a GS race. She was very fast and making very tight lines on an extremely icy course. At the penultimate gate, her left arm caught the pole. She jumped in the air and fell on her head; the helmet broke. The helicopter could not land because of the strong wind, and one hour later she was dead. It was a combination of speed, hard snow, wrong line and bad luck.
The impression on me was enormous and I could not avoid thinking of the episode for weeks, getting nauseated at the thougt of what I saw. Also thinking of my family, I decided never to race anymore; however, about a month later, I wanted to try just one race, and I was hooked again.
post #33 of 59
I know of a few deaths in resorts in North Carolina. (One last year where a beginner went down a black, hitting a pole and dying). I've even seen people break their necks at that resort, but I have never known anyone that has died skiing. Whitewater scres me in general. I've also heard life insurance rates go sky high if they find out you're a kayaker.
post #34 of 59
I've just taken up kayaking so this is interesting for me. I haven't taken any formal lessons yet but practiced exits plus some not a drill exists which is abit scary. The thing I didn't understand/know before is that your body from waist down is in there tight just like a ski boot. First you have to release skirt then pull your body out. Several times I've had to go for air before I was fully out.

Its interesting that are so many parallels to skiing.
upper body lower body seperation
fit of your boat to transfer motion just like a ski boot
post #35 of 59
One of my ski mates died last february 14th, because of the resort bad conditions. The lift trail?(sorry, I don´t know the word for it, it´s de trail you follow to go up in a ground lift, hope you understand) has icy, and there was no snow arroyn. She fell, started sliding and crashed into a rock. She whore helmet. She died one hour later, during the flight to the hospital.
post #36 of 59
I'm not surprised the consensus is that whitewater is more dangerous than skiing. I used to whitewater canoe (not kayak) a lot when I was a kid / young adult; took up skiing a few years' back in middle-age, and have taken the occasional whitewater trip recently as well. I've come way closer to dying in whitewater than skiing (leg pinned under canoe for 2 hours, passed out, hypothermia ... took a tractor to pry the boat off my leg ... ).

Why? Two factors:

1 - Gravity is predictable. Hydraulic pressure is not.

2 - Even if the two activities were not inherently different in degrees of danger, they are managed quite differently. For in-bounds skiers, trails are marked, instruction is the norm, ski patrollers (and other skiers to some degree) assist participants in identifying and managing risks. And by the time skiers go off-piste, presumably they've had a lot of warnings drilled in and take safety steps. In contrast, whitewater is just THERE - and a lot of the dangers are hidden. A decent paddler can get over his head (not just a figure of speech, folks), without knowing it. A safe stretch of river most times of year can be treacherous in the spring. But Bubba the boat-rental guy will send you downstream anyway, and there you are.
post #37 of 59
I have knocked myself out for 2-3 minutes. Made a simple mistake while skiing a groomer at high speed. Was just sliding on my side when I took an ice chunk to the forehead. I wear a helmet now.

I have known 2 people to lose their lives on the hill. Both crashed while DH/SG training and died from head trauma. They were obviously wearing helmets.

I know a third, a non-racer, that lives in a rehab hospital because he can't move or speak. Head injury. No helmet.

I knew 2 people that died whitewater rafting. They were young and extremely inexperienced.

I know a very seasoned paddler that sustained a head trauma because of a very simple mistake. He had paddled this same stretch of water countless times before, but hadn't scouted it the day he sustained the injury. A tree had fallen across the river in a fast, steep section. By the time he saw it, there was nothing he could do. Took the tree across the nose. Miracle he didn't drown. Although he's basically OK now, it took him 2 years to get there.

I also know somebody lost in the WTC.
post #38 of 59

This was a buddy of mine from middle/high school who died last month in Colorado. He was an experienced rafter. While I've personally witnessed some fairly bad skiing accidents (shattered wrist, another buddy had a bad concussion in the park last year in Breck), I've never actually personally known someone who died skiing.
post #39 of 59
This is from anotoher thread recently posted by Bob Barnes:
"On Friday, June 17, one of Vail's most talented instructors perished in a tragic whitewater accident on the Upper Animas River in southwestern Colorado. It is the river originally named by Spanish explorers in the 1700's, "Rio de Animas Perdidas"--the River of Lost Souls."

We've had I believe four deaths on whitewater rafts in NM this year because of high water (a consequence of unusual runoff from the great snow we skiers enjoyed) I believe one was on a private trip from a military base, one a boy scout, and the rest tourists in commercially guided trips. And these are big, rubber rafts mind you, not kayaks.

Although I dindn't know him personally, we also had a liftie killed this year trying out a new pair of skis on a groomed black run before the lifts opened. young kid, well liked, very sad.
post #40 of 59
Personally, I worked a few fatalities as a patroller, helped save a few that should have been, and was almost one myself. Eventually this led me away from the life and death scenarios that a patroller can and must face. Having said that, I was horrified when I learned my race cub watched Ashley Stamp lose her life during a practice run over at Vail. The Steamboat team lost one of their brightest young racers and their club just didn't seem to be the same after that. I can't imagine what her parents went through this winter. Perhaps because skiing related deaths are rare, their impact is greater.
post #41 of 59
I've only known one, the girl that was killed at Wachusett Mountain in the 2003-2004 season. She was a friend of my neice and was in plays and music. I knew her from these. I saw this girl frequently because my niece stayed with me a lot when she was in high school. She was a "school choice" student (something that I don't really support, but in her case it was an necessity as the school she came from did not have a Music Department. She is now a Senior at the New England Conservatory of Music).

The only other close call was when I was in 4th grade. One of my good friends ran into a Tucker SnoCat. He should not have been on the hill, it was after closing. He made it, but it was a close call, they did not expect him to make it. The first thing he wanted to do when the doctor gave him the ok to be active again...go skiing. He tells me that there was a SnoCat parked at the top of the lift when he got off. He skied beside it, the operator knew he was there, and he said, you can't keep me from skiing.
post #42 of 59
Originally Posted by Manus

I have however seen someone who did die (from an on-snow accident), but he died en-route to the hospital (full speed head first into a tree, out of control - cracked his head open - sorry for the graphic image).
This just brought me back. At a major Rocky Mtn ski area one year a bunch of Instructors skiing together witnessed a young man about 13 ski into the only island of trees on a pretty wide trail ... head first.

He really looked bad when we got to him....patrol eventally got him down and he was flown out....

At the end of the season our Asst. Director asked a bunch to us to stand together at line-up (very odd). A young man limped out to line-up and with what speech he had available to him...thanked us for helping him and vowed to ski again.

I wish I could find this young man and take a run with him.

Closest I have come to knowing anyone who died on skis.
post #43 of 59
Years ago a fellow I used to ski with died while he was guiding heliskiing. Another died from a heart attack while skiing, not really what you're getting at though. I've known of numerous deaths of people close to people I know well but either I didn't know them or couldn't figure out who they were. I also know of several that should have died. Not that I wanted that but their injuries were certainly severe enough that odds were they should have. I guess I also know several people who were involved in accidents where someone died. I have also seen the aftermath of a couple or more deaths to do with tree or cat impacts.

I guess I run with a rough crowd and/or spend a lot of time on the slopes.
post #44 of 59
Back in 69, while skiing at Big Powderhorn MI, my wife witnessed a skier fall in front of her and die of a heart attack.
Last year right after Shelley died a good friend, Dale Yaeger, who had two kids on my team 20 years ago, fell head first into soft snow at Arapahoe and suffocated.
post #45 of 59
A classmate of mine was riding a chair without the bar down, leaned over to fiddle with a buckle right as the chair lurched, went head first onto the concrete stanchion below. Was paralyzed for life.

The son of a race team founder/sponsor back at one of the PA mountains crashed into a boulder at a turn in a trail while he was showing off for his coach, emphasis on showing off. Friends of mine saw it from the chair and I knew his dad. Mysteriously (to me) the dad continued to support ski racing and produced another son which he raised to be a racer. Have lost track of that family now.
post #46 of 59
Well, I did see one near-miss at Kirkwood. Some guy was taking it way too fast, est. 40 mph or so, loses control, and goes flying into the trees. Somehow he narrowly misses hitting one directly and was able to get out unharmed.

And don't forget that Sonny Bono died hitting a tree. Those cute evergreen things are harder than you are.

Then again, snowboarder Josh Malay jumped some five foot obstsacle, somehow lost his balance and struck his head on a small rock that was poking out, and died of the resulting injuries.
post #47 of 59
I haven't know personally anyone who has died skiing. Or whitewater rafting/kayaking/canoeing for that matter. I do know several people who have died in car accidents, and about the same number who have died in motorcycle accidents, which given the level of participation makes motorcycle riding disproportinatly dangerous.

Just about everybody I know who skis has injured themselves skiing to the point where they were on crutches or in a cast. These "moderate" injuries are par for the course, and anybody who skis should expect to break, snap, strain, or pull something at some point. When it happens (not if, but when) you're out of comission for six weeks or so, followed by a year of PT. But these injuries are not life threatening. Resort based skiing is pretty safe from a fatality standpoint.

Whitewater is another matter. One of the disturbing things about the morbitity pattern of whitewater is how often the subject is truly an expert with years of experience. And even though he (yeah, it's usually he) has taken all the right safety precautions, one little mistake or miscalculation and he's dead in a matter of minutes. That's what keps me away from whitewater - if it was just the clueless the careless and the drunk who died I'd be more inclined to do it. But it seems that skill and experience aren't enough.

Note that I kayak regularly, but rarely do anything above class II.
post #48 of 59
I remember in 92 I was at a race at Vail when Lightening struck a skier on another chairlift and killed him.
post #49 of 59
I was at Sugarbush the day after a woman died while skiing with her daughter.

And I personally know a young, pretty girl (childhood friend) who broke her back and had to be choppered off Mount Snow.
post #50 of 59
One of our pros had a heart attack at the end of the day walking back to his car. I was talking with him 5 minutes before it happened (he was telling me about chest pains he had had earlier in the day). If you're dead at the hill does that count?

I had a near miss as a kid. I was on the last chair loaded before it was closed due to high wind at Okemo. Near the top, the chair was over 100 foot off the ground and started bouncing so violently (my estimate is 30-40 foot vertically) my butt was sliding off the seat (underneath the safety bar) on the downswings and I was hanging in mid air holding on to both posts of the double chair.
post #51 of 59
I heard about a young girl 7 0r 8 years old and a beginner who died after hitting a tree at Mt. Norquay last season, story was she was being taught by her father who was skiing right behind her, so sad i cant imagine,,

I also know someone personally, an old friend i played hockey with and went to school with died this past winter in Jasper. he was skiing a main groomed black run, and he worked at the hill so new the area well, and he was wearing a helmet,, unfortunately this didnt help/wasn't involved. the details are second hand but I heard he bled to death while being transfered from the small local hospital to a larger hospital 300 km away..

just goes to show that it doesn't have to be backcountry or even tough or unusual terrain,, sometimes weird things just happen ..
atleast he was doing something he loved..

this really freaked me out and i found myself skiing far less aggressively atleast some of the time this past winter,, definetly find it tough to really open it up on the groomed when there are trees/lift towers/people around, probably for the best though...
post #52 of 59
I don't know anyone who has been killed skiing, just limb injuries and the like. As some others have mentioned I believe the drive to the slopes is far more likely to result in death than the actual skiing itself. If you want to wear a helmet, wear it in the car too.

Interestingly, in NZ the sport which kills more people than any other is .... fishing. This includes fishing from boats, but the most common scenario is people fishing from rocks who get hit by a wave and fall into the sea and drown. There is a big campaign to get boaties to wear life jackets at all times, but nobody thinks to wear one while standing on the shore, so when they get pulled in it is usually fully clothed and wearing boots and you can't swim like that.
post #53 of 59
A friend of mine arrived at Chamonix the day I was leaving. We had a drink together: a few hours later he was dead. He went off a path at a sharp, icy corner and hit a tree, high up, and broke his neck.

Another person I have skied with several times was the only surviver of a party of 5 British doctors and their guide. They set out on the Tarrentaise (mostly off piste) circuit skiing from resort to resort down otherwise unskied valleys starting from Val d'Isere. It was a high avalanche risk day and they were caught off piste in an avalanche. Nobody could understand why the guide took them when it was so dangerous or why they skied so close they were all caught. My friend managed to dig himself out but was exhausted and couldn't hike the mile or so of deep snow back to the ridge. He dug a snow-hole. The group wasn't missed till the next morning when my friend was found. 2 days later I did the same circuit and skied past the holes where they dug the bodies out.

I also came extremely close to dying, falling on a 50º slope above a 300metre cliff, which I posted previously here http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...light=victoria
post #54 of 59
I did not know any of these folks who perished while skiing the same area and day as myself.

--Tremblant---young man landed on neck after clearing 35+ foot jump.
-- Verbier-----2 locals died in "in bounds" avalanche.
--Eastern Townships, CA-- young man died in terrain park (dont know how)
--White tail, PA. This year a young child went head first into a tree, no helmet. Not saying it would have helped, but it might have. I was not at this resort this day, this is our sister resort and I only heard about it. I also understand this was their second similar death in two years.

I have read that most skier deaths occur on the beginner type slopes.

Website: http://www.ski-injury.com/home1.htm

This is full of statistics on this type of stuff.

NOTE: .64 deaths per MILLION ski visits on average. '03 found 37 deaths, '02 found 45 deaths For 03, men were 31 of the 37 deaths.

Hitting a person or object is BY FAR the number one cause at .56 deaths/million visits. Jumps--is number two but only at a surprising .22
post #55 of 59
For me the most dangerous part of skiing is not dozing off on the long drive home from the hill.
post #56 of 59
We had one last year at Hdden Valley, here is what i know. It was after the New year thaw that cause us to close for a weekend. They were blowing snow on a then closed Blue run(imperial for those of you famialiar with the area) a 12 year old boy, got stuck(sticky man made snow) in a snow pile he hit a high rate of speed, was launched into the air and sent off axis at the same time. Died of head trama(no helmet).

I know 2 people personally who broke there backs skiing, both are lucky and still skiing, but both are also young 16 and 19.

skiing isnt even close to my dangerous hobby, i do trackdays and plan on road racing next year with my honda civic, 125mph plus is totally safe as long as you dont hit anything(so its not safe at all).
post #57 of 59
Originally Posted by GregGaspar
...--White tail, PA. This year a young child went head first into a tree, no helmet. Not saying it would have helped, but it might have. I was not at this resort this day, this is our sister resort and I only heard about it. I also understand this was their second similar death in two years. ...
Neither theRusty nor I heard about any death at WT this year. We both teach there. Might you have heard a corrupted re-telling of the story of the incident that happened 3 seasons ago?

Tom / PM
post #58 of 59
America is said (at least here in Europe) to be very considerate about skiing safety. It´probably true.
Someone here said that resort skiing was safe and that most fatalities occur in the backcountry.
If I give you my sad list of dead skiers I know - all of them from resorts and on groomers - you will start to consider Czechs kamikaze skiers. It´s probably not typical but:

I took part in two races where a competitor I knew crashed and died (a DH, against a tree, and a SL, stabbed through a wooden pole, embolism - both in the 70s).
I know two lifties who died after a crash (one about 6 years ago, the other this last winter).
There was a young man in the house I was staying over New Year 1972 who got lost on crosscountry skis on the Sylvester night and was found dead in a creek the next day. I escorted his girlfriend (walking, stumbling, she crying) for almost two miles to the Ski Patrol Center to confirm his identity.

But, as Bob Peters says, it was all within 35 years of skiing.

There should be more safety precaucions here. Too many skiers, limited space and no off-piste to drain some of them off. No patrollers watching the skiers behavior.
Maybe it has something to do with the typical "Russian" philosophy "there are people enough and therefore their lives are not worth much" (cf. their military history and numbers of soldiers killed - "cannon fodder")?
(Just a remark. No politics, sure.)
post #59 of 59
Will Pallmore

I was lucky to know him in Germany.
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