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What If You Are Both at Fault ... or... Is the Downhill Skier Wrong

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
With a few dissenters it is usually agreed that the the uphill skier has the responsibility to avoid hitting anyone downhill. But are there ever situations where either you can place the blame on the downhill skier or at least that the fault of the collision should be at least spread between the two?

For an example I will refer to the closest I have ever come to hitting someone.

First two code quotes:
Quote:
People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
Quote:
Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
Way back when I was just a beginning skier, about 10 ski days ago, I had an incident one morning. I was taking the first run of the day down this terribly crowded beginner slope. I was going along, trying to avoid the people and get warmed up. Just making some nice linked turns down the hill. I see this guy ahead of me, stopped just to the left of the center of the trail, skis pointed to the left side of the trail, looking back up the hill in my general direction. I yell at him to let him know I will be passing to his left. Traffic was heavier to the right and since I am generally fairly slow it seemed safer to go off to the left. I figured I'd be fine by moving away from traffic, going where I would be in his line of sight untill completely past him and letting him know where I was headed. Just as I get a few feet from him he pushes of downhill, goes a few feet, and makes a big 180 to face the other way. (By watching him later, I figured out that what he was doing was skiing a short distance at a time, stopping, and then yelling directions back up at his kid whom he was teaching to ski. I infer that being on the left side of the trail and facing left it was hard to see back up the hill so he wanted to face the other direction.)

With him moving into my line I tried to turn as hard as I could. I missed him but went over the tails of his skis. The whole thing through me way off balance and I was maybe 40 or 50 feet downhill before I regained my balance enough to turn across the hill and see if he was still standing. He was so I went on. Several seconds later he flies by me at ward speed and skids to a stop directly in my path. As soon as I stop he takes a big swing at me with one of his poles which I instinctively blocked with one of mine. (Cool, sword fighting on the slopes.) Words and obsenities fly. I sorta smart off, mildly, and ski off.

Now, if I had plunked a downhill skier fine, I can admit a mistake. But should he have not at least equally shared the blame for not yielding when starting downhill and potentially for obstructing a trail by stopping in the middle of a busy slope? I don't know. Sometimes I think I might should have let the nearest patroller know about the swing.
post #2 of 20
Is the other guy wrong, well, no. Is he stupid? yes.
post #3 of 20
While skiing the trees at Powderhorn,Co. one year I turned around a tree and so did this lady from the otherside. We hit head on and but no harm was done and we both skied off. Sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don't.
post #4 of 20
My opinion only of course but if he KNEW you were coming and stil pulled that move, I'd say he's even 'most' at fault. That being said, some people would say "if you were going so fast you couldn't stop or go around him", it is your fault. But then what do I know, I'm kind of big on COMMON SENSE.

The tree example was going to be one I used, if you're coming downhill on a 'groomed/marked' run and somebody bails out of the trees right in front of you (it's probably me!!) and I'd say that he's at fault again.

As for letting the patroller know, I would personally never go to a patroller unless somebody was so reckless that they were a DANGER to others. My daughter was in a lesson last week at Mammoth and was almost hit by a reckless flyer (Instuctors statement, not mine) on a blue run loaded with people. He managed to get 1/2 way down th erun before colliding with a lift pole...they called the patrollers on him...so they could call the medics to take the guy away...that's called justice!!!
post #5 of 20
Look at your list of two cardinal rules of skiing. Which one comes first? You're responsible for being in sufficient control to avoid the folks downhill from you regardless of how idiotic they may be. Sounds like your speed was too great for the conditions and your ability level.

Your yell may have been meaningless to the guy who's watching his kid and has a bunch of other skiers sliding by making noise.

Of course, fisticuffs are not the appropriate answer, and he's more to blame than you for that.

My question for him would be where's the kid he was watching before he went tearing after you?
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
You're responsible for being in sufficient control to avoid the folks downhill from you regardless of how idiotic they may be.
Yeah, I've got no problem with that. I nearly popped somebody downhill of me so there must have been something more I could have done. I personally took it as a lesson to be even more aware of your surroundings and to always expect the unexpected. It was one of the first days of skiing for me so I am happy to have gotten the message from nothing more than a close call. I was going very slow on very gentle terrain but I still didn't have the ability to avoid him completely. IMHO my biggest mistake was taking a poor line. Knowing I was on a crowded beginner slope full of unpredictable people and that I was low on the ability scale I should have left him much more room. There would have been ways to do that or I could have just stopped above him so I could wait until the coast was clear.

In all honesty, I am just seeing if I can't stir things a little by seeing what the reaction is to asking what the downhill skier's responsibility is. I will whole heartedly agree that the primary responsibility falls on the uphill skier. I also agree that regardless of what rules are in place it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe and to be aware of what is happening around you. I just want to see if I can't get some of the hardliners on this to admit that when the downhill guy is breaking the rules that he too should share blame.
post #7 of 20
I've seen similar instances where someone or some group has decided to stop and create a blockade, and then continue without checking if anyone else is coming. I always expect the worst so I'll alter my speed and/or trajectory to keep myself safe. If I scare them and they fall because of the fright, it isn't my fault (is it?), since no contact was made between skier or equipment.

Another thing I might do, depending on how many times I've been cut-off or blocked by morons that day/week/month, is to throw up a huge rooster tail as I pass them while they are idle in a not-so-safe/smart place. Sometimes they figure it out, but most just yell and remain clueless. I did this to the ski team one day, and of course they knew it was me with my logoed attire, so I explained to the coach at the lift why I did it, and he agreed that he shouldn't have blocked the run like he did, and totally deserved to have his athletes sprayed (he didn't get sprayed).
post #8 of 20
I was riding a cat track the other day just behind a little kid on a snowboard. The tips of my skis were maybe a foot behind the tail of his board. Suddenly he pulled a 90 degree turn in front of me to fly off the cat track. Didn't look, just turned. He barely missed a shin to the head. I think that was a situation were the downhill rider had the responsibility to look where he was turning.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Brandon:
Just as I get a few feet from him he pushes of downhill, goes a few feet,
This to me is the important point. In Canada (I'm not sure of the states) we have the skiers/boarders code, there are 6 basic concepts. Most people don't seem to read past the first one which is downhill skier has the right of way. Following points include yield to uphill skiers went entering or crossing a run. Do not stop where you cannot be seen from above. I think there's on about not blocking the trail AND when starting down the hill yield to uphill (oncoming) skiers. It's really no different than a car. Basically you have to beware of the driver in front of you. However you can't just pull out of parking spot in front of oncoming traffic, you still have to yield to the oncoming (uphill) cars. When idiots do it I generally buzz them and suggest they look up hill next time. I'll miss them but if they keep it up and one day they'll get clocked. It won't really matter whose fault it was when they're gurgling and drooling with tubes stuck in everywhere.
post #10 of 20
Beta, you could be held responsible if your actions result in anothers fall. On crowded runs, especially groomed runs, most patrollers/speed control personnel are taught to look for that very thing. We were told to stop and talk to anyone who could scare a beginner and force them to loose control. There is still some judgment, but if you are hauling ass down a run and scare someone into falling, you are at fault. It is just like cutting off a car in traffic, your vehicle may not have been involved in a collision, but your actions casued the collision.

Ski Monkey: You are following too close to the snowboarder and are not yielding the right of way to him/her. Sure, he may not be practicing the best commn sense, but you have to be prepared for any sudden movements that the person downhill of you or in front of you may make. Back off a couple of more feet and there is no problem.
post #11 of 20
I was watching a ski class last week in Whistler. The instructor was making a point of having his class look uphill before starting off. Sure wish everyone did it.

I ski fast, haven't hit anyone yet, but I do try to anticipate idiotic moves. It''s like driving a car, eventually someone will pull over in front of you without warning, or stop abruptly.

I have my share of stories, the funniest is the boarder on the crowded cat-track. For some reason he decided that he wanted to turn fakie, only made it 1/2 way around and blocked the track. The pile-up resembled a 40 car collision. I was next to him and only ended up shoved to the side. No injuries by anyone, just the huge mass of bodies.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by crew cut:
...We were told to stop and talk to anyone who could scare a beginner and force them to loose control. There is still some judgment, but if you are hauling ass down a run and scare someone into falling, you are at fault...
Just to add a bit of levity to this discussion, one day last season, I was quitting for the day and had to ski a novice slope to get back to the car. There was only one person anywhere nearby, a teenaged girl, and she was standing completely still. I was making use of the runout to practice "instructor" turns, ie, going pretty slow, but carving picture-perfect "S's". I subliminally noticed her and gave her at least 30 or 40 feet of clearance in all directions as I carved around her, and never thought of her again.

Except ... unknown to me, a buddy of mine was videoing me from the bottom of the run. When we looked at the tape, you could see that this kid had started to watch me when I was way uphill of her. She kept twisting herself around and around, and never took her eyes off of me as I made a big semi-circle around her. Unfortunately, in her concentration, she forgot to un-twist, and all of a sudden after I am well past her, from a dead standstill, one of her skis comes up and swings around as she does a good imitation of someone attempting to auger themself into the snow. Needless to say, she goes over, but making the situation even funnier, she bounces back to her feet in less than a second, exactly like one of those inflatable figures that you punch and they immediately right themselves. She then continues to watch me ski the end of the run.

It was one of the funniest damn things I had ever seen in 30 years of skiing. Thankfully, the videocam was on for it. For some reason, even though I was initially uphill of her, I have a hard time accepting ANY responsibility for this "accident".

... if I could only make older women fall for me this easily...

Tom / PM

[ December 16, 2002, 09:24 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #13 of 20
Tom:

Post the vid. Please, pretty please, pretty please with sugar on top?

Mark
post #14 of 20
Quote:
... if I could only make older women fall for me this easily...
Hear, hear!

Quote:
L2 said:

When idiots do it I generally buzz them and suggest they look up hill next time. I'll miss them but if they keep it up and one day they'll get clocked. It won't really matter whose fault it was when they're gurgling and drooling with tubes stuck in everywhere.
Then again there might be that one day when they do something even more stupid & either stop completely, or make some stupid turn, then the line you chose to "buzz" them is all screwy. Which one ends up gurgling with tubes??? You, because you decided to turn and avoid the poor idiot and ended up face on to Mr. Tree, or someones mom, or kid, or sister, or both of you because you slammed them ??

Who's the fool that wears the crown then??

I'm not wanting to bust your chops on it I've been guilty too, especially for giving showers, but just think about it next time. It's kind of like the idiots on the highway who'll race in front of someone and slam their brakes on in order to "show that idiot". I've learned to steer clear of areas where intersecting trails meet. i.e. if a trail is intersecting to the right of the one that I'm on then I'll choose a line left. I know that the skiers from the merging trail should look but I know many don't.
post #15 of 20
of course there are always going to be exceptions ot a rule and we could all sit here all day thinking up scenarios where the downhill skier did something so ludicrous as to make themselves to blame, but why are we rehashing this tired old horse
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Maddog1959:
Tom: Post the vid. Please, pretty please, pretty please with sugar on top? Mark
It's a riot! It's really clear that I had something to do with her fall - its just not clear exactly what. Being so far away, it looks like I must have used hypnosis (a la Manchurian Candidate) to force her to become a Whirling Dervish against her will, or projected an invisible vortex field around her or something. It sort of looks like a clip from the Exorcist or the X-files.

I'll ask my friend if he kept it, and if he did, I'll try to find someone with a video capture card to digitize the clip. It should be in the archives of Skiing's funniest home videos. I wouldn't mind seeing it myself again.

Tom / PM

[ December 16, 2002, 06:37 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by crew cut:
Ski Monkey: You are following too close to the snowboarder and are not yielding the right of way to him/her. Sure, he may not be practicing the best commn sense, but you have to be prepared for any sudden movements that the person downhill of you or in front of you may make. Back off a couple of more feet and there is no problem.
I was about to pass him that's why i was so close. It was a 10ft wide track and was about 4 feet to the side of him.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Ski Monkey:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by crew cut:
Ski Monkey: You are following too close to the snowboarder and are not yielding the right of way to him/her. Sure, he may not be practicing the best commn sense, but you have to be prepared for any sudden movements that the person downhill of you or in front of you may make. Back off a couple of more feet and there is no problem.
I was about to pass him that's why i was so close. It was a 10ft wide track and was about 4 feet to the side of him.</font>[/quote]That's exactly the situation to avoid.
When passing someone, I always give him/her/it a wide berth, or
if the trail is too narrow, look for another way (like stepping beside the trail) if no other option is left then I stop, wait for him/her/it to grow in the dinstance, and then I resume my own skiing.
I only ski that close (or even closer, I remember skiing no more that half a foot from the tails of a friend) only in one case, when playing what I call "follow the leader" (I think Ott would call it "formation skiing" or something like that) and even that, only with one friend, whom I know very well (and know very well how he skis, so to be able to anticipate almost every move), and whom accepts the risks we're both incurring when skiing that way. Nevertheless, it's great fun.
With no one else I'm doing it, some people could get scared, others annoyed, others, like in your case, behave unexpectedly (for you) and then, no matter what you can say if one is uphill, one is at fault, plain and simple...
Cheers.

[ December 17, 2002, 02:33 AM: Message edited by: Matteo ]
post #19 of 20
I wanna see the physicsman video too!
post #20 of 20
I second BK and MADDOG1959 request, We want to watch that video!
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