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Two Resorts, Two skiers, Two collisions, Two deaths. (sad)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
63 year old man and 15 year old girl. Both went off groomed runs at hit trees. The yound lady was wearing a helmet. Beaver Mtn and the Canyons. 3rd death at the canyons this year.

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=2919474

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=2919598
post #2 of 22
Terrible. This is a good time of year to remind folks to avoid complacency on the groomers.
post #3 of 22
That's awful. Somehow I'm not surprised though.

I've been hearing so many people who after taking a half-day never-ever lesson, ask me if they can ski down a blue-green run from the top. Some people are dead-set "doing" a run from the top as soon as they've learned how to put on their skis. Also lots of family/friend groups put peer pressure on them to join them.

Put somebody on a long crowded green groomer who doesn't have the skills and/or endurance to ski in control, add several hundred spring-breakers ripping past them, and you have a sad mixture of bad outcome possibilities.

Condolences to the friends and families.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkXS View Post
That's awful. Somehow I'm not surprised though.

I've been hearing so many people who after taking a half-day never-ever lesson, ask me if they can ski down a blue-green run from the top. Some people are dead-set "doing" a run from the top as soon as they've learned how to put on their skis. Also lots of family/friend groups put peer pressure on them to join them.

Put somebody on a long crowded green groomer who doesn't have the skills and/or endurance to ski in control, add several hundred spring-breakers ripping past them, and you have a sad mixture of bad outcome possibilities.

Condolences to the friends and families.
Not the case here, at least not with the girl. She was a very good skier for a 15 yr old. She had been skiing since she was 3 years old. I did not personally know her but after seeing her picture I remember seeing her in the locker room at the mountain quite often.
post #5 of 22
I have an uncle and a cousin that were killed in skiing accidents . [not this year] Both were expert skiers. But I still think the drive to my local ski area is more dangerous than skiing.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkXS View Post
That's awful. Somehow I'm not surprised though.

I've been hearing so many people who after taking a half-day never-ever lesson, ask me if they can ski down a blue-green run from the top. Some people are dead-set "doing" a run from the top as soon as they've learned how to put on their skis. Also lots of family/friend groups put peer pressure on them to join them.

Put somebody on a long crowded green groomer who doesn't have the skills and/or endurance to ski in control, add several hundred spring-breakers ripping past them, and you have a sad mixture of bad outcome possibilities.
Being a beginner I'd like to comment on this . I don't believe a lot of very bad accidents happen with beginners. The simple reason for this is that 99% of the beginners don't move at any speed. Last vacation I made one normal fall (and another one in gruesome snowconditions ) and yes, that was on a piste that was too hard for me and for most people in that spot (about a third of the people there were falling; it was supposed to be a french red, but steeper than any black I saw). Including my own fall I saw maybe 10 people falling before I went. You can safely conclude this bit was dangerous. However, no falls I saw were anywhere near dangerous (unless you count sliding down 50 or 100 mete), simply because everyone was too slow.

So I don't think there is a great amount of danger in beginners trying out their possibilities. Actually we have to to be able to improve some of the time. The real danger in my opinion is in people just beyond beginners. In France I see a lot of people (for some reason a lot of snowboarders among them, probably an age thing) going really fast down an easy run which they are capable of. The only thing they cannot do is avoid that one beginner making an unexpected turn. I believe if you want to go down a mountain fast you just have to go where it is more quiet or so hard there are no beginners. In a perfect world all of us would have runs to ourselves (skiing in early december came close), but since this is not always the case we just have to adjust.

To get back on the subject: an accident like this is always terrible and unwanted, regardless of the level of the skier. While it is good to analyse and see the dangers to prevent them in the future we should watch out with pointing fingers.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkXS View Post

Put somebody on a long crowded green groomer who doesn't have the skills and/or endurance to ski in control, add several hundred spring-breakers ripping past them, and you have a sad mixture of bad outcome possibilities.

it's not usually the beginners that i see ripping at highway speeds at the extreme edges of trails. it's overconfidence like that that gets people killed.
post #8 of 22
I agree, beginners might get hurt but they ski slow. It usually takes SPEED to cause the life threatening injuries.
post #9 of 22
I know many of you like skiing amongst the trees.....but every time I read something like this I just shake my head and say I dont get it.

I have to wonder if these people are the same type that like to run across freeways and dodge cars....
post #10 of 22
Richie -
THere is a big difference between skiing IN the trees and skiing NEXT to the trees. It is the experts on the edge of the blue groomers that are in danger.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post
Richie -
THere is a big difference between skiing IN the trees and skiing NEXT to the trees. It is the experts on the edge of the blue groomers that are in danger.
yeah, i've never seen anyone ski 50 mph through the trees, but plenty of people doing that 3 feet from the trees on the edge of a trail. a snowboarder hit a tree was killed at holiday valley, where i ski a lot, this year on cindy's run, an easy blue, easily the widest run of the whole resort, about 75 yards across, and straight as an arrow. standing at the top of that run, you would never believe that could happen, it's like you would have to try and aim for the trees. but every day i've skied there, i've seen people ripping down the edges right next to the trees. that run is never even crowded, i don't get it. if you really want to die skiing, at least make it on some 50° pitch in valdez or a gnarly couloir in chamonix or something.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by epl View Post
yeah, i've never seen anyone ski 50 mph through the trees, but plenty of people doing that 3 feet from the trees on the edge of a trail. a snowboarder hit a tree was killed at holiday valley, where i ski a lot, this year on cindy's run, an easy blue, easily the widest run of the whole resort, about 75 yards across, and straight as an arrow. standing at the top of that run, you would never believe that could happen, it's like you would have to try and aim for the trees. but every day i've skied there, i've seen people ripping down the edges right next to the trees. that run is never even crowded, i don't get it. if you really want to die skiing, at least make it on some 50° pitch in valdez or a gnarly couloir in chamonix or something.
There are ways that rich people get themselves killed, and ways that working class people get themselves killed. I remember when two holocaust survivors who had become wealthy died, back in the 80's.
One guy fell off his yacht and drowned; the other crashed his helicopter into a power line. If they'd survived the holocaust but never gotten rich, they might have had to go skiing to get the same result.
post #13 of 22
I still lean to the shaped ski innovation correlation with increased tree impact deaths. Hook an edge on a straight ski and it still goes straight so you tend to continue or fall in the direction you were already headed. Hook an edge on a shaped ski and your direction changes more dramatically while you are a bit out of control. There's also the fact that most folks skiing shped skis don't have the same ability to force the ski to change directions or can't throw a "hockey stop" either way on a dime. The combination of lacking those skills (not needing them?) and the amplified change of direction when hooking a shaped ski edge vs straight ski edge results if folks skirting along the edge of a groomer to suddenly smack a tree if they hook an edge on a shaped ski. Of couse, it can also happen on straight skis, but does anybody else see why I think it is more likely to happen to someone on shaped skis that has never skied much on straight skis?
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remco View Post
In France I see a lot of people (for some reason a lot of snowboarders among them, probably an age thing) going really fast down an easy run which they are capable of. The only thing they cannot do is avoid that one beginner making an unexpected turn.
emphasis mine

Then by definition they are skiing/riding out of control. If they can't avoid a beginner doing something unexpected in front of them, they are not skiing in control at an appropriate speed for the conditions (terrain, crowds, speed of the other skiers, etc.) where they are.

Unfortunately most of the skier deaths around here do seem to be beginner/intermediates going down a crowded blue or green run near the edge of the trees. They lose control and have an unpleasant close encounter with a tree. The better skiers may have more ACL tears, more fractures, more other injuries but don't seem to have nearly as many fatalities.

However it happens, it's a very sad event and my heart goes out to their loved ones.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
I still lean to the shaped ski innovation correlation with increased tree impact deaths. Hook an edge on a straight ski and it still goes straight so you tend to continue or fall in the direction you were already headed. Hook an edge on a shaped ski and your direction changes more dramatically while you are a bit out of control. There's also the fact that most folks skiing shped skis don't have the same ability to force the ski to change directions or can't throw a "hockey stop" either way on a dime. The combination of lacking those skills (not needing them?) and the amplified change of direction when hooking a shaped ski edge vs straight ski edge results if folks skirting along the edge of a groomer to suddenly smack a tree if they hook an edge on a shaped ski. Of couse, it can also happen on straight skis, but does anybody else see why I think it is more likely to happen to someone on shaped skis that has never skied much on straight skis?
I think you're absolutely right about that. People who learned to ski on straight skis had to learn a variety of emergency moves to get themselves out of trouble, such as quick hockey stops.
Nowadays, a lot of people only learn to ski with shaped skis working exactly as expected; and when they hit something unexpected and the shape isn't working for them, they have no reflexes to do something different and avoid disaster.
Shaped skis lead to over confidence by making skiing easy.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkXS View Post
Unfortunately most of the skier deaths around here do seem to be beginner/intermediates going down a crowded blue or green run near the edge of the trees.
Who was a beginner that ran into trees along a green run and died? I haven't read that story this year.

Hubris isn't good.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
I still lean to the shaped ski innovation correlation with increased tree impact deaths. Hook an edge on a straight ski and it still goes straight so you tend to continue or fall in the direction you were already headed. Hook an edge on a shaped ski and your direction changes more dramatically while you are a bit out of control. There's also the fact that most folks skiing shped skis don't have the same ability to force the ski to change directions or can't throw a "hockey stop" either way on a dime. The combination of lacking those skills (not needing them?) and the amplified change of direction when hooking a shaped ski edge vs straight ski edge results if folks skirting along the edge of a groomer to suddenly smack a tree if they hook an edge on a shaped ski. Of couse, it can also happen on straight skis, but does anybody else see why I think it is more likely to happen to someone on shaped skis that has never skied much on straight skis?
Well, my feeling is that you are half right. I think the real reason shaped skis cause problems is because they make carving more accessible. Back in the old straight ski days I never had any reason to aim myself at the trees. Now if I'm on an uncrowded groomer, I'm making big sweeping round arcs at higher speeds, and point at the trees at some point in almost every turn.

Knowing about the issue doesn't keep me from enjoying skiing -- statistically, it is still a fairly rare accident. But I don't delude myself that it can't happen to me.

Actually, I suspect the most important safety move is not to let your mind wander on easier trails (where easy is relative to your own personal comfort level). Hard trails keep us engaged and thinking automatically. Easy does not.

(Some of my hardest falls have been on flat runouts -- I'm deciding which trail to ski next, or where we are going for dinner, or whether to take a break, and WHAM, I'm down on the snow, hard.)
post #18 of 22
Hmmm

In retrospection

As a patroller, our most serious injuries, life thretening and beyond, Have been to inexperienced skiers, often on "suggested" runs. But always envolve troublesome conditions( Ice) and trees.

Satistics would suggest that beginning skiers NOT try to ski off the top on days when icey conditions exist.

Just an observation

CalG
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
I still lean to the shaped ski innovation correlation with increased tree impact deaths.
As far as I can determine, skier deaths have been staying the same or decreasing over the years. There's an interesting article here that comments on skier death and injury rates. One of their interesting stats is that skiers are three times more likely to be involved in collisions with others than snowboarders (and collisions account for only 6.4 percent of reported accidents). Also, a decrease in serious knee injuries is attributed to the use of shorter skis, which somewhat contradicts your "straight skis are safer" argument.
post #20 of 22
I've noticed over the years that the tracks near trees are getting closer and closer, and the volume of those tracks is increasing.

Meaning that more and more people are trying to milk the chop and softer now along the edges, regardless of their ability level.

Meaning that the problem may lie partly with snow conditions in the middle of the slope.

Meaning that with the emphasis of grooming all the bumps down, even on "black" runs, plus the combination of boarders skidding and sideslipping down a run, and beginning/intermediate skiers doing same, produces scratchy center hardpack that's tougher to ski in control, and more of a payoff for seeking out those softer margins.

Prediction: Stop flattening so many runs, and you'd see fewer injuries/deaths.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrbd View Post
As far as I can determine, skier deaths have been staying the same or decreasing over the years. There's an interesting article here that comments on skier death and injury rates. One of their interesting stats is that skiers are three times more likely to be involved in collisions with others than snowboarders (and collisions account for only 6.4 percent of reported accidents). Also, a decrease in serious knee injuries is attributed to the use of shorter skis, which somewhat contradicts your "straight skis are safer" argument.
I didn't comment on deaths in general or knee injuries at all.
Originally Posted by crgildart
I still lean to the shaped ski innovation correlation with increased tree impact deaths.


I postulated that a hooking a ski deeper sidecut results in a larger change of direction while out of control than hooking an edge of a straighter ski.

No ski company or resort association would dare sponser research to confirm my suspicions. That would be commercial suicide. So I don't think you'll see real data anytime soon.
The data in your link only lists one number (average for the past 10 years). If we had seperate numbers for the period 11-20 years ago and the 21-30 years ago periods we could then regress and spot any trends.
post #22 of 22
A ski instructor recently told me she thought the most dangerous skiers tended to be intermediates....they get overconfident, their skills aren't really as good as they think, and they go way too fast. They always look one mistep away from a wipeout. I'm always amazed at people absolutely tearing down a slope who look like they're going to wipe out any moment....they can turn (sort of), but they go incredibly fast and nearly hit people all the way down. My own pet peeve is the skiers and boarders, good or not, who go so fast down the green slopes. Dangerous for the beginning skiers, and very disruptive. If they're that good, why not go to the harder slopes?
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