Skier died at Vail on Saturday:
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.
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.
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.
I found some more concrete data that has a data set form the early 80s compared to one from 01-02. If you add those in there in definately a statistically significant trend.
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