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liability and ski tuning

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I would be interested in opinions regarding liability for tuning issues on skis. Is an instructor obliged to point out potentially hazardous issues of railed skis and such or better to stay uninvolved and avoid getting caught in any legal crossfire. Do people see or has there been cases of shops being held liable for a unskiable tune resulting in injury? I know Intrawest has started to pay attention to this potential issue. Just curious on legal perspectives.
post #2 of 13
I'm not sure if you are serious here, or is this a joke at my expense?

I'm happy to say that I've never been on a ski that was tuned that badly though. Obviously, the ski shop has all kinds of exposure to liability, thus all of the release forms. I assume that you do have those in Canada?
post #3 of 13
Yeow, were you downwind of all that B.C. crop that was burning Up?!
post #4 of 13
I think it's a reasonable question. It would be great if one of our online attorneys would weigh in on these issues. I am certainly not one of them, so take my thoughts for what they're worth!

Like most liability issues we face, it all has to do with "standards of care." If someone gets injured, and it could be demonstrated that the injury was somehow related to the tune of the skis, and that those skis were tuned by a shop to a condition below some reasonable standard of care, there could be legitimate grounds for a law suit.

Suppose someone skids off the slope into a tree because freshly tuned skis were dull as hoes. Or someone catches an edge and hits a lift tower--or another skier--on skis that were badly railed or concave. Either of these accidents could possibly be directly linked to the poor tune of the skis.

I'm not aware of any LEGAL standards of care regarding ski tuning. In other words, there are no laws that I know of regulating how skis should be tuned. But there ARE, I would argue, INDUSTRY standards of care. And if a shop advertises anything particular about their tunes--"razor sharp" or "perfectly flat," or something, they may fail by their OWN standard of care.

Again, I'm NOT an attorney. But I do suspect that, if a professional tune fails to meet some legitimate standard of care, and that poor tune could be linked to an injury, whoever tuned the skis could be on shaky ground.


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 13
Not an attorney, however, I feel certain an optimal word would be;

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Wow I expected a more serious response. Yes I am downwind from BC fires and went for a long smoky ride yesterday. However I'm unsure of the active hallucigenic ingredient of woodsmoke. This also wasn't a joke at anyone's expense and I'm not sure why you would think that. Are you a lawyer epic? At any rate Intrawest has begun to pay attention to this but mostly in the context of return visits of first time skiers. Railed skis are the norm in a great many rental fleets. As first time skiers usually rent and railed skis make a somewhat daunting activity downright impossible it's easy to guess the impact on return rates for first time skiers. In teaching I have had many clients show up for a lesson unclear on why they're having so much trouble. A few questions; skis just tuned? new skis? rented from which shop? and I take off the skis and check them. A majority were in a pretty much unskiable state. I have been on skis that were so bad as to be dangerous and it's not hard to imagine railed skis causing anything from a minor crash to major impact. Not being able to turn something that is pointed downhill is not good. What I'm constantly amazed by (and maybe this board is no exception) is the lack of awareness of railed skis in either their existence or impact. As an instructor when faced with a client who can not achieve what I hope them to achieve (I can't turn or skid a railed ski either) I will advise them of the problem and suggest they address it with a tune or exchange of rentals. I have if situation permits also taken a file or diamond stone to the edges to try to lessen the problem. Yes in the backwaters of Canada we do have release forms however I'm not sure they release anyone from gross negligence as in knowingly sending someone out on a dangerous ski. So to re state the question, does anyone know of a case where poor tuning has caused a shop or perhaps an instructor to be held liable. The instructor is a stretch but an instructor knowingly ignoring what turns out to be a dangerous situation isn't that big a stretch in reality.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you Bob and Rusty for weighing in while I was writing a small novel. I appreciate the thoughtfull responses.
post #8 of 13
I will always advise people if I think their equipment is affecting their skiing, be it their horrible rear entry grey boots which fit poorly or are encouraging them into the backseat, or conventional sidecut skis that are too long, or the dry oxidised bases that are collecting a great clump of snow, or their bindings are missing bits (like AFDs) or the DIN appears to be er, imaginative.

I think it's part of the instructor's role (provided they take an interest in equipment).

I advise them to return to the rental shop and discuss the fit of their boots or get bindings with all the bits on, re-calculate their DIN, or run the skis through the grinder or wax machine.

surely bringing this stuff to their attention couldn't result in legal action? The instructor hasn't manifestly affected the equipment, they are meant to be qualified to at least comment on such issues, and could even be accused of negligence for not noticing and advising on it?!
post #9 of 13
L7 - I'm not a lwayer, just a skier.

I think I've been lucky re: the state of my students skis. We replaced the whole rental fleet with new Heads at the beginning of last season, so I guess I don't see the skis that you do.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by epic:
L7 - I'm not a lwayer, just a skier.

I think I've been lucky re: the state of my students skis. We replaced the whole rental fleet with new Heads at the beginning of last season, so I guess I don't see the skis that you do.
It's not so much the newness of age of the equipment but the quality of the tuning that is done to them through the season. Around here the rental shops on the hill have a tendancy to pay little attention to tuning machines and even less to the quality, payroll and training of the people running the skis though those machines. In the past there has also been one or two shops in the area notorious for low prices and horrible equipment. I'm happy to believe that it's better in other places.
post #11 of 13
Years ago I had a 'terminal' student who was a strong and athletic college guy who charged it. By all accounts he should have been easy to teach, but NOTHING worked. His movement patterns remained unchangeable, until in frustration I talked him into switching skis for awhile.

Lo and behold MY movement patterns immediately changed to mirror what he had been doing! I simply couldn't ski the way I wanted to on his skis. It blew me away. After a couple runs on my skis he had no problem making adjustments. Turns out he had a buddy in a shop who 'tuned' his skis for free!

So tuning has a large effect on skiers of any ability level. Seeing what noobs come out of on the rental shop most areas should be sued for hardship & mental anguish (by students and instructors) anyway.

It wouldn't surprise me if lawsuits cropped up over this at some point, but thankfully, the world at large just has NO idea about gear other than a ski is a ski. Hopefully the skiing lawyers of the world will continue to keep it to themselves.

Thanks for putting the idea out there. Just what we need. More frivolous suits. Although I'd bet areas would pay more attention to the shape of rental fleets if it started happening. Too bad it's pretty much what has to happen for anything to really change.
post #12 of 13
I'm with Bob on this issue. I have refused to ski with a student who I felt was using unsafe equipment. I would rather deal with the frustration of a student, than be in court being asked "as a professional, is it not customary to ensure that your students are skiing on safe equipment?". And, there is precedent for this kind of suit.
I always check equipment-I usually send at least 10-15 people a season to rental/repair for equipment problems. Last season, I had the case of the middle-aged woman who had just come from a group lesson, and was waiting to go on a private with me. In checking her equipment, I discovered her boots were on the wrong feet!! Seen it with kids many times-but that was my first time with an adult.
post #13 of 13
Roto - that is the main reason my instructor buys, mounts & tunes my skis etc etc etc... Removes one set of possible problems from my skiing - then he KNOWS what he is seeing is MY problem - not an equipment one...
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