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Snowboarder dies from injuries at Holiday Valley

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Sad for him and his family. I know the run well. Here are the stories:

http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregio...ry/280548.html

http://www.buffalonews.com/258/story/280832.html
post #2 of 30

Fatality at HV

29 year old man who ran into a tree Saturday at Holiday never regained consciousness and passed away today.

Head injury, yes he was wearing a helmet. Snowboarder

Seems to me there are more serious accidents and deaths this year than previous. I read in the Summit Daily yesterday where a 13 year old died at Keystone.
post #3 of 30
At this point one has to ask, Why are so many people getting killed on the slopes this year? Is it the equipment? Is the equipment so good that people are going faster than they should because the gear gives them too much confidence? Are the skiers and snowboarders out there getting worse? It seams like people of all ages and ability levels are crashing and not getting back up. I go faster in powder and slower on groomers but it seams like many people do the opposite. You rarely hear about people being killed in the backcountry from impact injuries, of course the snow is usually softer, but that can't be the only reason most "crash" related fatalities happen on groomed in bounds runs. I see a future filled with more "slow down" signs and more people getting their tickets and passes clipped for skiing too fast. Ski patrollers may become more like highway patrollers.
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by danimal's dead View Post
You rarely hear about people being killed in the backcountry from impact injuries, of course the snow is usually softer, but that can't be the only reason most "crash" related fatalities happen on groomed in bounds runs. I see a future filled with more "slow down" signs and more people getting their tickets and passes clipped for skiing too fast. Ski patrollers may become more like highway patrollers.
I think some recent deaths involved either skier-skier (or boarder, actually) which just comes from increased crowding inbounds, especially with worse snow conditions that limit the number of days.

Most of the others I recall being reported involved skier-tree which I assume is less of an issue in the backcountry (never tried so I'm not sure). It's probably mostly a statistical fluke though.

Two years ago there was a similar fatality on an intermediate run at nearby Peek-and-peak
post #5 of 30
Also, the run ("Cindy's run") is (from what I see in the trail map) the NASTAR slope at HV. That by itself I think tends to increase people's speeds.

I always felt that in runs that tend to have the highest significant speeding population (every resort has a couple of these), there should be more protection of the kind that would be used in an olympic race, like nets and such. Ski areas can get away with any hazardous situation thanks to the release, so they don't currently have a motivation to prevent these injuries.

However, people will always be at risk of losing control even if they are skilled. As more fatalities accumulate, the industry as a whole will have to realize that people want more safety. There are already people who don't let their kids go skiing (my wife hates my hobby for the same reason). Eventually resorts will have to start marketing based on safety, the way the car industry in many ways does today.


a
post #6 of 30
The accident happened on a run that is a blue run, HV calls it intermediate. Cindy's Run.

Out West it would be designated a Green no doubt. There's a semi steep headwall and then just a gradual fall to a rediculous flat, wide runout to the lift. All the years I patrolled, I never saw a serious accident there. Certainly, anything can happen.

I do know the man was a pretty good Boarder and with much experience. In an interview with his Brother, he stated if his Brother could have chosen a way to die, it would have been boarding.

In my opinion, helmets can give some people a false sense of security. Maybe enough to make that person go to a comfort level where actual experience and ability is compromised to a point where one costly mistake can result in more than that person is ready to recover from. Whether it's too much speed or going places where they shouldn't. This is my opinion.

Almost every fatality I've read about the past few years, the person was wearing a helmet.
post #7 of 30
You know, some friends of mine were giving me a guilt trip because I don't where a helmet. I grew up riding bmx bikes and skateboards sans helmet in the 80's and have just never felt comfortable wearing one. I certainly think they can save your brain given the right set of circumstances but obviously a helmet is not a get out of jail free card, if you know what I mean.

It's also funny that you point out how this run was of the blue/green flat wide open variety. I was talking to a 'troller out here the other day and he said 90% of their injuries happen on flat wide open blue/green runs where people let their speed go and often relax a bit too much for their own good. Stay on your toes people.
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
In my opinion, helmets can give some people a false sense of security. Maybe enough to make that person go to a comfort level where actual experience and ability is compromised to a point where one costly mistake can result in more than that person is ready to recover from. Whether it's too much speed or going places where they shouldn't. This is my opinion.

Almost every fatality I've read about the past few years, the person was wearing a helmet.
Yeah, I agree with this. I wonder where this sense of security comes from. Is it simply an assumption made from faulty logic, or is it propagated by helmet manufacturers and/or retailers?

I always wear a helmet because it's the warmest, most comfortable hat I've found and it keeps twigs from scratching my scalp. I do find a sense of security with it on but I'm absolutely sure that if I loose control going balls out on a groomer and take a header into a tree or pole, I'm most likely going to be another dead guy with a helmet.

Maybe there should be an advertising campaign.... like signs on lift poles.... warning of the limits of helmets and the safety they provide.
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
Almost every fatality I've read about the past few years, the person was wearing a helmet.
Mot people now are wearing helmets. Wouldn't it stand to reason that most fatal accidents would also involve skiers wearing helmets. I'll bet the guy had pants on too, but they probably aren't too blame for his death either.
post #10 of 30
Accidents happen. My condolences to his family. You never know. It could happen to any one of us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post
Also, the run ("Cindy's run") is (from what I see in the trail map) the NASTAR slope at HV. That by itself I think tends to increase people's speeds.

I always felt that in runs that tend to have the highest significant speeding population (every resort has a couple of these), there should be more protection of the kind that would be used in an olympic race, like nets and such. Ski areas can get away with any hazardous situation thanks to the release, so they don't currently have a motivation to prevent these injuries.

However, people will always be at risk of losing control even if they are skilled. As more fatalities accumulate, the industry as a whole will have to realize that people want more safety. There are already people who don't let their kids go skiing (my wife hates my hobby for the same reason). Eventually resorts will have to start marketing based on safety, the way the car industry in many ways does today.


a
Aside:
NO. Many people do not want more safety. They seek out a level of danger that gives them a bit of a thrill. When they get more safety they immediately compromise it by skiing faster, closer to the trees, and pushing other limits. People are skiing because they enjoy the thrill and the feeling of power and control. Skiing IS a little bit more dangerous than watching tv on your couch. Get over it!
post #11 of 30
There's no resolution to this debate. It is disappointing to see virtually every report of a death on this board denigrate to a debate over helmets. It is pretty pointless, and a bit disrespectful to those who departed -- and are sometimes acquaintances of members of the board.

My 2 cents says if you want to debate helmets, start a thread for that purpose.

Mike
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
In my opinion, helmets can give some people a false sense of security. Maybe enough to make that person go to a comfort level where actual experience and ability is compromised to a point where one costly mistake can result in more than that person is ready to recover from. Whether it's too much speed or going places where they shouldn't. This is my opinion.
I guess I better not get a helmet then.
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
Mot people now are wearing helmets. Wouldn't it stand to reason that most fatal accidents would also involve skiers wearing helmets. I'll bet the guy had pants on too, but they probably aren't too blame for his death either.
No Epic, but he wasn't wearing pants because he thought they might keep from getting hurt or save his life either. He was wearing pants to keep his A$$ warm. I do bet he was wearing a helmet because he thought it might keep him safer or keep him from a serious head injury. Which didn't did it?

Do people spend a hundred bucks just to keep their head warm? No. They buy a helmet for safety. My contention is it's a false sense of security and is useless against head trauma in collisions over 30 mph or less.
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
There's no resolution to this debate. It is disappointing to see virtually every report of a death on this board denigrate to a debate over helmets. It is pretty pointless, and a bit disrespectful to those who departed -- and are sometimes acquaintances of members of the board.

My 2 cents says if you want to debate helmets, start a thread for that purpose.

Mike
Point taken mike.
post #15 of 30
I grew up the same way with bmx and skiing and never had a major injury, though not for a lack of trying on bmx. I did wear a helmet and pads when I knew a crash could be bad. I think I was always aware if my surroundings and was aware of potentially bad things.

When I started skiing I remember being told to be aware of your surroundings (common sense to me) and they also taught us was how to fall and the importance of falling vs. trying to save yourself if the situation looks bad. These days many people learn to ski pretty good without any lessons or some obvious guidelines.

When skiing near the edge of a tree lined run I make sure I am ready to release my edges or fall when I make any turns toward the trees. I also don't ski extremely fast next to them either. Again to me that is common sense.

PS. A few years ago I finally got a bike helmet, and last year got a skiing helmet. Both are more comfortable than I originally thought.
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
No Epic, but he wasn't wearing pants because he thought they might keep from getting hurt or save his life either. He was wearing pants to keep his A$$ warm. I do bet he was wearing a helmet because he thought it might keep him safer or keep him from a serious head injury. Which didn't did it?

Do people spend a hundred bucks just to keep their head warm? No. They buy a helmet for safety. My contention is it's a false sense of security and is useless against head trauma in collisions over 30 mph or less.
The point is that if everyone that is skiing were wearing ahelmet, then everyone who died skiing would be wearing a helmet.

I'm going to go out and replace my cars airbag with a knife. I'm sure I'll be much safer that way.
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post
Yeah, I agree with this. I wonder where this sense of security comes from. Is it simply an assumption made from faulty logic, or is it propagated by helmet manufacturers and/or retailers?
I don't really think that helmets provide a sense of security when it comes to self-caused accidents (though I do believe it is useful in some cases that you are hit by another person on the slopes). I wear helmet all the time here in the east coast for that reason.

Growing up before I took up skiing, my perception of skiing injuries was that they were caused by full-body collisions with things; and in fact, some of the recent accidents were of that type. The chance of a head-on collision with a tree never struck me as a serious risk because I figured that you would be flying to the trees if you missed a turn, and then you would be swung with your entire body than just your head. The head issue only makes sense to me now after falling headfirst a few times due to a binding release.
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
NO. Many people do not want more safety. They seek out a level of danger that gives them a bit of a thrill. When they get more safety they immediately compromise it by skiing faster, closer to the trees, and pushing other limits.
I'm not sure I agree with that statement. If you want thrills and danger, improve your skiing to be able to do black diamonds, double blacks, and backcountry.

If I go for an inbounds low-intermediate racing slope, it means that I am interested in exploring my speed skiing in a more protected environment.

At least that's my perception.

BTW: IF someone does know a ski resort with a protected slope of this sort, I'd be glad to know about it. I wish I was skiing Europe where you have much wider slopes and without trees. Never understood why the tree line is so low in North America.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
Do people spend a hundred bucks just to keep their head warm? No. They buy a helmet for safety. My contention is it's a false sense of security and is useless against head trauma in collisions over 30 mph or less.
That statement doesn't make that much sense to me.

Splurging for safety doesn't mean you are invincible, and if you're the type to think you're invincible, you probably won't splurge since it can't happen to you.

For example, when I bought my Camry I splurged for vehicle stability control figuring that in some situations it would protect me. After one close call on an untreated road, I was familiar with the benefits (great thing!) and yet with the limitations (all wheel drive would be better). I do not think I have a false sense of security, I still avoid winter driving, and I never thought it would be much good if I got hit by a truck. Did I make a mistake buying it? I don't think so. In fact, I am sure it would have prevented an accident I had when I was much younger.

Also, I bought my helmet against other people. In situations where you are skiing and someone else is running into you, your relative speeds may be less than 30mph even if you are going higher than that. In addition, it does somewhat protect you from some gear that hits your head.
post #20 of 30
Last season 2006-2007 fatalities were down to 22 for the year, which for the last 10 years averaged 37 fatalities.

Facts About Skiing/Snowboarding Safety 9.1.2007


Fatalities for some of the previous years:

22 - 2006-07
41 - 2003-04
37 - 2002-03
45 - 2001-02
47 - 2000-01
30 - 1999-00
39 - 1998-99
26 - 1997-98
36 - 1996-97
35 - 1995-96
49 - 1994-95
41 - 1993-94
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by danimal's dead View Post
At this point one has to ask, Why are so many people getting killed on the slopes this year? Is it the equipment? Is the equipment so good that people are going faster than they should because the gear gives them too much confidence?
I can say that this is true for me. I have never skied this fast on a regular basis. The equipment performs well at speed, so we go fast. This is true for the guys I ski with - we all ski faster now.

Lars, I think that helmets are benificial at 30 plus mph, just not if you score a direct hit on a tree or a rock or what ever. I have had bad falls at much above 30 mph where my head contacted the snow hard. The helmet kept me from getting hurt without a doubt. Once I fell backwards and smashed my head on the snow/ice. Without the helmet it would have been a serious hit.

The 30 mph thing, that it doesn't help, is just not true. If you hit a tree squarely, it's not going to matter. Look at the guy who was in the down hill and split helmet in half. It helped him.
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by catskills View Post
Fatalities for some of the previous years:

22 - 2006-07
41 - 2003-04
37 - 2002-03
45 - 2001-02
47 - 2000-01
30 - 1999-00
39 - 1998-99
26 - 1997-98
36 - 1996-97
35 - 1995-96
49 - 1994-95
41 - 1993-94
We are more aware of fatalities because of the internet and forums like EPIC and TGR. In the past I would not have known about those killed in the West ftmp.
post #23 of 30
Note that there's less than one fatality for every million skier days. That's really not that high, in my opinion. There have been quite a few backcountry avalanche deaths this year; I'd guess the death rate in backcountry skiing is much, much higher.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrbd View Post
Note that there's less than one fatality for every million skier days. That's really not that high, in my opinion. There have been quite a few backcountry avalanche deaths this year; I'd guess the death rate in backcountry skiing is much, much higher.
jrbd - good point. BC is probably significantly higher give the lower number of BC visitors. I don't know if anyone has tried to estimate BC visitors per year.

Last seasons 22 fatalities was better than 1 fatality for every two million skier visits.

My personal view is more skier / rider safety education is the way to further decrease fatalities. We need to create better safety videos that demonstrate safe skiing and riding principles that can be shown on TV monitors in lodges through out North America. Helmets could be part of this video as well. Helmets should be the last line of defense. Good skier/ridier safety education has got to be our first line of defense. IMHO
post #25 of 30
46 deaths this year in the backcountry in North America. I am sure that number will go up, though the warming trend has stabilized the snow around these parts quite a bit. Of course now if a slide is triggered it's probably going to be larger and more deadly. It could also be a record year for avalanche related deaths this season. That certainly doesn't help.

Backcountry use is not really tracked. I guess it's a hard one to track from what I have read. I would definitely say that the bc user death rate is higher than resort riders. Even with that, the rate is pretty low but avalanche accidents make good news stories.

If you broke it down to human powered vs machine users the rates would go down by almost half. You could also break it down by those who are out snowboarding/skiing vs those who were doing other recreational pursuits and the rate would drop quite a bit. Still not as low as ski area collision fatalities by any stretch.

Hmmm rambled a bit here...
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
The accident happened on a run that is a blue run, HV calls it intermediate. Cindy's Run.

In my opinion, helmets can give some people a false sense of security. Maybe enough to make that person go to a comfort level where actual experience and ability is compromised to a point where one costly mistake can result in more than that person is ready to recover from. Whether it's too much speed or going places where they shouldn't. This is my opinion.

Almost every fatality I've read about the past few years, the person was wearing a helmet.
I expressed that same opinion in a discussion of helmets on this list, about 4 years ago. It seemed obvious to me at the time that men wearing helmets were taking much bigger chances while skiing than men without; this was based entirely on what I saw on the slopes.
I'm sorry to see that these fatalities seem to support my impression; and this year I'm seeing a lot less helmet use than in previous years.
post #27 of 30
So helmet use leads to more risky behavior? That argument reminds me of the argument some are using against the HPV vaccine (if you vaccinate your 12 year old daughters against these cancers, they will feel safe and have sex earlier). I guess they feel their daughters will be safer if they aren't vaccinated...

For me, I don't even notice that I have a helmet on, so it certainly doesn't affect my ski attitude - nor those helmet wearers that I ski with, but I don't think it should be mandated.
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by catskills View Post
Last season 2006-2007 fatalities were down to 22 for the year, which for the last 10 years averaged 37 fatalities.

Facts About Skiing/Snowboarding Safety 9.1.2007


Fatalities for some of the previous years:

22 - 2006-07
41 - 2003-04
37 - 2002-03
45 - 2001-02
47 - 2000-01
30 - 1999-00
39 - 1998-99
26 - 1997-98
36 - 1996-97
35 - 1995-96
49 - 1994-95
41 - 1993-94
The per visit rate was not down that much. Last season was a lot shorter than any of the others in the list in number of days. This year Colorado has now surpased it's record which was previously the 01-02 season, both in the shaped ski era. Nothing yet to support it in terms of documentation, but I think hooking an edge on a shaped ski can have more catastrophic consequences than hooking an edge on a shaped ski because the deeper shaped side cut causes one to change direction more dramatically while out of control than the straighter side cut does.

I did manage to finally find some data on skiing fatalities that includes both pre shaped ski years and post shaped ski years. The conclusion is:
"Results: A total of 274 skier deaths occurred between 1980 and 2001 in Colorado. Death rates ranged from 0.53 to 1.88 per million skier visits. The majority of deaths were among males (>81%). Ages ranged from 7 to 77 years with an average of 32 years. The greatest number of deaths associated with downhill skiing (76 deaths) occurred between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. while the greatest number of deaths associated with cross-country skiing happened between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. About 65% of deaths associated with downhill skiing (133 cases) died of traumatic injuries resulting from collisions." And that figure appears to have increased more between 02 and 08, the 06-07 wasn't as high but was a shorter season in number of days. This year it is back up to record levels again.

If you want the full text and tables it costs $31.50.

http://www.injuryjournal.com/article...055-X/abstract



Also though according the data the ski industry puts out voluntarily (Facts about Skiing/Snowboarding Safety link above), you are a lot more likely to die riding a bike, or even being struck by lightning (playing golf).

I think the moral of the story is:
1) Learn good hockey stop and skidding skills (both sides) even if you are using shaped skis.

And

2) Ski under control especially when skiing along the edge of trails close to immovable obstacles

3) Live every day like it is your last because anything can happen, it just might be.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
29 year old man who ran into a tree Saturday at Holiday never regained consciousness and passed away today.

Head injury, yes he was wearing a helmet. Snowboarder

Seems to me there are more serious accidents and deaths this year than previous. I read in the Summit Daily yesterday where a 13 year old died at Keystone.
This article on the death of Wallace Westfeldt said there were 17 deaths on CO slopes this season, a new record.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_8814591
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlogiston View Post
This article on the death of Wallace Westfeldt said there were 17 deaths on CO slopes this season, a new record.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_8814591
There was another death at HV last week, two in less than a month but there were also people Lifeflighted out in the past few months. No one hears about those but they are still statistics.
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