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Canadian ski school liable in $2,705,166 lawsuit

post #1 of 104
Thread Starter 

It looks like this just recently passed through the Quebec appeals court in favour of the plaintiff:

 

http://skipromag.com/?p=974

 

Basically, a level 1 instructor teaching her first group lesson had a class of nine children at the beginner or slightly better level. At the end of the lesson on the wide bunny hill, one of the girls panicked and couldn't get down the hill. The instructor sent the other kids down the hill. A nine year-old boy was injured, helmet split in two, and was in a coma for 12 days. The parents sued the resort and the appeals court upheld the verdict for $2,705,166.00 plus interest and fees.

 

According to the court, the instructor was considered negligent in her duty of care of the 8 other children by releasing them onto a potentially dangerous slope (so identified because the girl panicked and the boy was injured.). 

 

My questions are: what are the implications for ski instructors? 

 

 

Under what conditions can an instructor be released from their duty of care? A 9 year-old does need to be returned to a "responsible person" (parents, teacher, a ski school person responsible for children) for duty of care to end. What about less clear cases? Is it safe to end a lesson with 18+ year-olds at the top or middle of the same green run you’ve skied all day?
 
What if a participant gets injured–do you keep all of your skiers with you until another ski patrol arrives? Even if this extends past the end of the lesson and your participants are getting anxious?
 
What if you have an adult participant who wants to ski off on their own midway through the lesson (end early)? Does this release you from duty of care? How about a teenager? What if it's a hill with only three easy runs on 200' vertical? Or Whistler?
 
[edited: link correction]

Edited by Metaphor_ - 11/6/10 at 4:58pm
post #2 of 104

That sucks...  No one wants to see ski areas held liable in big lawsuites.   However, truth to be told, it looks like the instructor made a questionable (translate: a dumbass) move.  He/she could have called for help, or waited with the kids for patrol to pass by.  As a parent, I would not want my kid to be sent down the slope without adult supervision in ANY circumstances (regardless of whether they are getting anxious or not).  Even if they can get down the slope without any issues, there is always a possibility of getting hit by an out of control idiot and I would like my kids' instructor to be around.   With kids it is clear-cut, they are released only when they are picked up by an adult.   With adults, it is a lot less clear-cut, but I think that if a middle-aged guy bolts in the middle of the lesson, the instructor is responsible only for telling him to be careful and for explaining how to get down safely.  

 

post #3 of 104

I got left behind from the group in a tree well at Mt. Spokane when I was like 6.  She took us through a trail somewhere near the top of 2 I think.  I fell in one, just had skis burried at the bottom.  She tried coaching me out for awhile then took off and told me to catch up.  Eventually I did, but I cried.  And since tree wells are much more dangerous than I could have known back then, that was a bad call.

post #4 of 104

Assuming most of the kids were under 10 years of age, 9 to1 is too big a ratio for kids that young to adult instructor.    I honestly do remember both learning in, and then later in life teaching lessons to groups of 10 junior high students.  But, honestly I'm pretty sure best practice with very little noobs is to either have smaller groups of kids or at least have two instructors.  Are we talking about a magic carpet or tow here?  I'm still trying to understand how one instructor chaperoned 9 kids under 10 up the lifts  It's not like they were experienced on chairlifts if they are never-evers or one timers.  If it was the carpet run then I don't see much negligence because the kids should have all still been in plain sight.  But, if it was a lift served run then I have some other concerns for how this beginners class of youngsters was handled.

post #5 of 104

I'm glad to hear the plaintiff won, or will be heard further. hire idiots, pay the price. I see it a lot at Squaw, instructors with the brain of a flea, sick and tired of it. destroy that school and maybe directors will think twice about who they hire. dumb, dumb, dumb. she had a phone or radio right! What I see a lot is a class of 5 yr olds in the singles line. how many things are wrong with that. woman instructor about 19 idiot years  old. I told her a few things that were wrong with that, but she just decided that I was un-cool.

post #6 of 104

Taking groups of 5 year olds through the Terrain Park is a no-no also.

post #7 of 104

Was passed by a group of about 6 young "Whistler Kids' on Seppos (old black chair lift line) the day after a big storm (long skied out though), with one instructor. The run is off piste single black with a couple of small cliffs that can be navigated around. Kids all seemed to be having fun if a little out of their depth but did think it was a little inappropriate.

post #8 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

It looks like this just recently passed through the Quebec appeals court in favour of the plaintiff:

 

http://skipromag.com/?p=974&cpage=1#comment-117

 

Basically, a level 1 instructor teaching her first group lesson had a class of nine children at the beginner or slightly better level. At the end of the lesson on the wide bunny hill, one of the girls panicked and couldn't get down the hill. The instructor sent the other kids down the hill. A nine year-old boy was injured, helmet split in two, and was in a coma for 12 days. The parents sued the resort and the appeals court upheld the verdict for $2,705,166.00 plus interest and fees.

 

According to the court, the instructor was considered negligent in her duty of care of the 8 other children by releasing them onto a potentially dangerous slope (so identified because the girl panicked and the boy was injured.). 

 

My questions are: what are the implications for ski instructors? 



I think it means you better not mess-up with kids that need to be baby sat!   Good luck to you all!   Let this be a lesson.   Is this sounding like BP? 

post #9 of 104

Hmm...no winners here.

 

I have acted as an expert witness for 2 similiar cases.  These are always tough calls.

 

As others have written the facts are not overly clear.  What needs to be recognised is the article just reflects the findings, the judgement and rationale for it are not presented.  The supporting facts to reach the judgement exist obvioulsy, but a full judgement it typically 50-60 pages.

 

So it is important not to jump to conclusions, ultimatley this was likely a "he said, she said" case.

 

Having said that, a few take aways for me are:

 

  • The larger the class size the more skill required to manage risks.
  • Never let people who may be vunerable (kids/beginnners/tired/unfamiliar territory/conditons) ski further then you can see them, or leave them where they do not have access to a way home where their vunerability can be safely managed alone.
post #10 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques View Post





I think it means you better not mess-up with kids that need to be baby sat!   Good luck to you all!   Let this be a lesson.   Is this sounding like BP? 


All kids need to be "baby-sat", and on the mountain that term involves a lot of responsibility and judgement, clearly lacking here. ski dude, the important facts do not seem to be missing, as it's pretty f'ing simple. she ditched her class. Jacques, what, are you blaming the kid for being young and tiny? You'd like to blame the kid in the lesson for not being a better skier perhaps? muddy the waters is all.
I don't follow your abreviations

post #11 of 104

Quote:

Originally Posted by davluri View Post


. ski dude, the important facts do not seem to be missing, as it's pretty f'ing simple. she ditched her class.  

 

 

Are you sure?  What if the bottom of the run was 30 m away and in plain site?  What if you she actually did tell the kids to stop at that "tree" over there...but the judge beleived little johnny who said "no we were told to ski away as fast possible?" 

 

"He said she saids" are tough...the judge is forced to decided who to beleive, and that is not always easy.  The judegment would include all the details as presented from both sides, then the judge would say which parts he discounted, or believed and why....often it is simply I found this person to be more credible then that person.  Not really sceince.  Having said that, I am not suggesting the judge erred, just saying that their is likley more to this then the article shows.

 

post #12 of 104

What I don't get is even if the instructor had been right with the plaintiff boy how does that ensure his safety?  If he suddenly went out of control into the trees & smacks his head, how does anyone stop that?  I really don't believe anyone can "guarantee"  someones safety anywhere doing anything, especially in a slippery sport like skiing.  I don't think that having 9 children in this age group with 1 instructor is that uncommon in a lot of ski schools.  Sending a group of children on their own was not a good call, but that does not mean the incident wouldn't have happened anyway.

 

I hope there is more to this decision than we have information.  I have empathy for the boy & his family, & glad it wasn't any worse.

 

Like Skidude,  I have also had to testify in a wrongful death suit.  It was not instructor related, but had to do with trail ratings & ski level designations.  The ski area prevailed in that one, but this is not always the case.

 

JF

post #13 of 104

 Mont Olympia  is really a small area.  It looks like the run they were on was about 200 meters long. There is a magic carpet that looks about 20 m.  The next step up is a T-bar.  If the instructor manageed to get all of the kids up a T-bar they had to have some skiing skills.  If they were on the carpet, then they were literally in fornt of the lodge. The trail map is at http://www.montolympia.com/Sites/olympia/images/Carte%20des%20pistes/Pages%20de%203905_MO_CartePiste_03.pdf  The kids would have been visible from anywhere on that run.

 

Every instructor that I know has many stories of the errant student.  That includes tales of both adults and children who for one reason or another don't stay with the group.  I've had lessons ruined because someone decided to explore or saw a friend. (Ski patrol, suspended group lesson, credits to the other students) I've also been saddled with kids in a group lesson who's parents know that the kids have no intention of following directions.  There are many battle weary instructors who have shared their opinions on this board.

 

There is enough fault to go around.  I'm sorry the kid got hurt but I can see the predicament the instructor was in.  They can see the bottom of the hill and a student straightlines it for the trees.  It could have happened even if the instructor was within 30 feet of the kid.  You never know when someone will forget how to turn, get scared or want to do the fun trail through the trees.

post #14 of 104

Add

 

terrain that's too dangerous for first timers,

 

+ young underpaid instructors with large classes,

 

+ kids with diagnosed problems, eg asperger's, attention deficit disorders, downrightus naughtynessus.  

 

= $5 of the Lift ticket because that'll be about the insurance premium we're all paying.

post #15 of 104


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

I'm glad to hear the plaintiff won, or will be heard further. hire idiots, pay the price. I see it a lot at Squaw, instructors with the brain of a flea, sick and tired of it. destroy that school and maybe directors will think twice about who they hire. dumb, dumb, dumb. she had a phone or radio right! What I see a lot is a class of 5 yr olds in the singles line. how many things are wrong with that. woman instructor about 19 idiot years  old. I told her a few things that were wrong with that, but she just decided that I was un-cool.



So the instructor had a class of 5 year olds and was putting them in the singles line so they could ride with adults? That's pretty standard practice, I always wait with my kids and ask people if they are ok to ride with them, but if you have a big class of kids, you can't ride with them all, so else could you do it?

 

It sounds like the instructor in this lawsuit made a bad decision in letting their kids ski down the hill on their own, but is that worth 2 million? No. People suing ski areas make me sick, it's a dangerous sport, that kid could have easily hurt himself in the same way in the best supervised lesson in the world. Things like this make me glad I no longer instruct in the States.

 

 

post #16 of 104

Every adult knows if you take a child into your care (even temporary) you assume all responsibilities.

 

The ski school knows the liabilities, that's why they have attorneys that write SOP's, a training program & insurance, not holding them responsible would be an injustice.

post #17 of 104


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim. View Post


 



So the instructor had a class of 5 year olds and was putting them in the singles line so they could ride with adults? That's pretty standard practice, I always wait with my kids and ask people if they are ok to ride with them, but if you have a big class of kids, you can't ride with them all, so else could you do it?

...

 


Thank you...the idea that 5 year olds would all be, what, safer riding on a chair all by themselves than with an adult?...is pretty darn ignorant, particularly since as you note the standard practice is to get them to ride with someone.

 

As far as the case at hand, the parents put their kids into a group lesson for a dynamic sport done on a slippery surface.  As a parent, I feel very strongly that my kids are better off for being introduced to sports like skiing and riding, but I am also always aware that they are sports with some element of risk to them.  Parents need to always be very mindful of that, and take responsibility themselves for that.  Or, find another sport.

 

In terms of causation, I fail to see the link between any breach of duty of care and the injury.  I infer the court was finding that the instructor over-terrained the kids by taking them up the slope, and using the "release" of them, versus her skiing with them, to buttress this.  Of course, this ignores the reality of skiing -- unless the injured skier had been harnessed, the instructor can't physically control him, anyway.

 

Another $5 a lift ticket may be about right.  The sport won't get "safer," but the economy's going well and we're all flush with cash, so another $5 a lift ticket, and $5 for just about every other recreational opportunity we want to engage in, will be easy to pay...oh, wait, maybe we aren't so flush anymore, except for a few plaintiff's attorneys (the ones who haven't gone to jail like a number of leading members of the plaintiff's bar over the last few years) sitting on their millions and grinning away.

post #18 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post


 


 

As far as the case at hand, the parents put their kids into a group lesson for a dynamic sport done on a slippery surface.  As a parent, I feel very strongly that my kids are better off for being introduced to sports like skiing and riding, but I am also always aware that they are sports with some element of risk to them.  Parents need to always be very mindful of that, and take responsibility themselves for that.  Or, find another sport.

 

In terms of causation, I fail to see the link between any breach of duty of care and the injury





Yes, it is a dynamic sport done on a slippery surfaces... Does it mean that the instructor can send a bunch of 10- year-olds down the slope by themselves? You know that they will be racing one another in no time. If you send your child to a day camp, would you expect them to release them to play on a busy street? Sure, life in urban areas involves risks associated with traffic, but that does not mean that the camp should not supervise the children, this is really negligence...

My kids ski stuff that would be considered fairly dangerous for a child on many other ski areas, but either I am with them or they are with anninstructor. My daughter was so psyched a few years ago when an instructor took her class down KT22. But he did this at the end of the lesson where he knew what those kids could do, he was there to help them, and on that day her group was just 3 or 4 girls, so he could watch over them and control the group. Had he let her go on KT22 by herself, I would have personally strangled the guy.

No one likes lawsuits, and unfortunately many people sue for very frivolous reasons, but in reality, people should follow common sense, and in this case common sense has been violated. I mena, this is different from a guy suing the resort because his pants have been caught on a chair and he was dangling with his bare a$$ off the lift. I don't want to comment on the award amount, but the parents of this boy had a lot of reasons to be upset...
post #19 of 104


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post







...
My kids ski stuff that would be considered fairly dangerous for a child on many other ski areas, but either I am with them or they are with anninstructor. My daughter was so psyched a few years ago when an instructor took her class down KT22. But he did this at the end of the lesson where he knew what those kids could do, he was there to help them, and on that day her group was just 3 or 4 girls, so he could watch over them and control the group. Had he let her go on KT22 by herself, I would have personally strangled the guy....
 


Was your daughter in a harness or belayed from above on a rope?  If not, in any meaningful sense she was on KT22 by herself.

 

We are social animals, and if anything the combination of a group dynamic and a comforting authority figure (ski instructor) makes people, kids included, more likely to take significant terrain risk when with others than they would by themselves. 

 

In general I note that ski instructors also don't tailgun if they are the only instructor with the class, making it all the more clear that the students are all to themselves if anything happens.  I also don't think that this is wrong -- there are lots of reasons to not tailgun when leading a class -- but it underscores that a lot of people are kidding themselves about how much control any instructor can have. 

 

To be more clear, if you and your daughter continue to ski regularly, then you and she will experience one of her good friends from the hill getting all banged up in a bad way.  It's awful when it happens, but if you think a lawsuit is the appropriate response when it does happen because the victim wasn't in some sort of risk-free environment that can't exist on a ski hill, leave the sport.

post #20 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

In general I note that ski instructors also don't tailgun if they are the only instructor with the class, making it all the more clear that the students are all to themselves if anything happens.  I also don't think that this is wrong -- there are lots of reasons to not tailgun when leading a class -- but it underscores that a lot of people are kidding themselves about how much control any instructor can have. 


Right, and if they are tailgunning there is nothing to stop a student from skiing out of sight.

post #21 of 104

Once kids are in my care, they don't ski alone. When someone is injued, you stay with the injured person, with your group ideally off to the side. If a kid falls off the rope tow, they are to move to the side and wait. If the rest of my class has to wait at the bottom or top of a lift, while sorting out the kids that may fall off, too bad. In Switzerland there are lots of rope tows (button and T-bar lifts) and it's not unusual for even an intermediate skier to fall off. So we make sure all the instructors know what to do and make the kids know what to do ie Wait for me.

 

Usually I lead the class from the front skiing the pace suitable for the class, always stopping every couple of hundred meters and always stopping before intersections. Good group control is paramount, and even the young kids 8-12yrs learn to stop below me, to the side and form a line.

 

In this case, it was the instructors first day. I don't what experience with group control she has had, but it's just horrible that this happened.

post #22 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post




Right, and if they are tailgunning there is nothing to stop a student from skiing out of sight.


Correct.  One of the reasons to not tailgun is that, plus the student may not be aware of a hazard, one may head down a wrong trail and get followed by the rest of the class, ending up an hour out of the way...etc.  Since kids are more subject to all of these issues than teens or adults, reasons to not tailgun are heightened for them.

 

However, without tailgunning the physical ability to intervene if something goes wrong -- injury, panicked student who freezes, etc. -- is reduced to near zero.  Again, not a bad thing, but the implication is that when skiing in a class people are reliant on themselves more than they might think, anyway. 

post #23 of 104


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

Hmm...no winners here.

 

I have acted as an expert witness for 2 similiar cases.  These are always tough calls.

 

As others have written the facts are not overly clear.  What needs to be recognised is the article just reflects the findings, the judgement and rationale for it are not presented.  The supporting facts to reach the judgement exist obvioulsy, but a full judgement it typically 50-60 pages.

 

So it is important not to jump to conclusions, ultimatley this was likely a "he said, she said" case.

 

Having said that, a few take aways for me are:

 

  • The larger the class size the more skill required to manage risks.
  • Never let people who may be vunerable (kids/beginnners/tired/unfamiliar territory/conditons) ski further then you can see them, or leave them where they do not have access to a way home where their vunerability can be safely managed alone.


Hey! Skidude's an expert!  (So is 4str; it is rare indeed to get anyone on EPIC to admit to being anything more than advanced )

 

Good call.  The judge sat through the case and has a lot more of the details.  We just don't have enough info to make the call.  Media reports aren't worth much in my books.

post #24 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Hey! Skidude's an expert!  (So is 4str; it is rare indeed to get anyone on EPIC to admit to being anything more than advanced )

 

Good call.  The judge sat through the case and has a lot more of the details.  We just don't have enough info to make the call.  Media reports aren't worth much in my books.


Wait a minute Ghost!  I purposely left the word "expert" out of my post .  You are right though... The fact is that we don't know all the facts in this case.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post

 

Like Skidude,  I have also had to testify in a wrongful death suit.  It was not instructor related, but had to do with trail ratings & ski level designations.  The ski area prevailed in that one, but this is not always the case.

 

JF



JF

post #25 of 104

Couple observations:

 

Many of the posts here are speculations of what happened based on the OP and not reading the article in the link.

 

Everyone seems hot to trot to blame the instructor, who did make mistakes in judgment, but I'm not sure she knew she was doing anything wrong.  Because of her age, I think folks are assuming she didn't care.  That might not be the case.

 

This wasn't her first solo lesson but it was her first solo group lesson.

 

From reading the posts here, it sounds like everyone believes this instructor woke up one day and decided to take nine 9 y/o out for a beginner lesson by herself.  Didn't the Ski Snow sports Supervisor assign her to that class.  Doesn't the SS owe it to all to make sure assignments are done accurately?

 

Maybe because I'm old school Marine Corp by if someone in my charge did something wrong, it was either mistake or misconduct.  For it to be misconduct, they had to know it was a wrong and did it anyways.  If they didn't know it was wrong and did it, then I failed as a leader.  There is assumed knowledge (i.e. don't look at the sun or you'll go blind)  and we assume the risk that they will know that.  Was she ever trained how to handle these situations or is everyone assuming she should just know better whether she was trained or not?  Did you know that at 17 years old?

 

Would you let one 17 y/o (new) lifeguard take 9 non swimming, might be able to float, kids into the ocean or lake?  I sure wouldn't.  That in my mind is equivalent to what the SS did.  Taking nine 9 y/o to do anything is pretty much herding cats.

 

Don't forget, they had already made three runs and this was his second season/lesson and had made at least three other runs prior to this with his dad.  If they had already made three runs that day in that class, she at one point or another HAD to be separated from the kids, to some degree, even if the were following her like little lemmings in a snow plow as the link stipulates should have happened.  She had no experience (that we know of) that would have her believe this boy would end up, sadly, skiing out of control and end up in the trees.  He had at least three runs without issue with her and at least that many with his dad.

 

In order to get money out of the resort, they had to find fault with the instructor but the root cause is with the Snow sports School, which I'm sure would blame SAM because of lack of funding (no communications) and probably not enough instructors to go around.

 

JMHO,

Ken

post #26 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Assuming most of the kids were under 10 years of age, 9 to1 is too big a ratio for kids that young to adult instructor.


+1

post #27 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

Was your daughter in a harness or belayed from above on a rope?  If not, in any meaningful sense she was on KT22 by herself.

 

To be more clear, if you and your daughter continue to ski regularly, then you and she will experience one of her good friends from the hill getting all banged up in a bad way.  It's awful when it happens, but if you think a lawsuit is the appropriate response when it does happen because the victim wasn't in some sort of risk-free environment that can't exist on a ski hill, leave the sport.

 

Whoa....  Hold on...  Don't you understand the difference of being on a dangerous slope with an adult who skis better than you, knows the slope, and tell you where to go and when to stop?  Have you ever taken a small kid on a black diamond slope?  Do you think your presence there was important in mitigating some of the dangers (I am not claiming it mitigates ALL dangers)?  The statement you make is, frankly, astounding. If you truly think it does not make any difference, god help you and your kin...

 

Accidents do happen and for various reasons; some have to do with unfortunate circumstances, and some result from irresponsible human decisions.  The accident in question was a direct consequence of a boneheaded judgment by the instructor.  I sympathize, but that does not make the decision right, and as a certified professional she had an obligation to do better.  

post #28 of 104


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post



 

Whoa....  Hold on...  Don't you understand the difference of being on a dangerous slope with an adult who skis better than you, knows the slope, and tell you where to go and when to stop?  Have you ever taken a small kid on a black diamond slope?  Do you think your presence there was important in mitigating some of the dangers (I am not claiming it mitigates ALL dangers)?  The statement you make is, frankly, astounding. If you truly think it does not make any difference, god help you and your kin...

 

Accidents do happen and for various reasons; some have to do with unfortunate circumstances, and some result from irresponsible human decisions.  The accident in question was a direct consequence of a boneheaded judgment by the instructor.  I sympathize, but that does not make the decision right, and as a certified professional she had an obligation to do better.  


1.  Mitigation.  Well, I've taken both my own kids on terrain that they wouldn't have skied if they weren't with me or some other adult.  I know my kids pretty well, and I can say pretty confidently that without an adult present neither at those ages would have felt confident enough to ski some of that terrain (including some decently challenging terrain at Snowbird, Jackson, etc.) by themselves.  So, the presence of a comforting adult, rather than mitigating risk, greatly increased their exposure to risk.  Physically I couldn't do much to have helped either.  The older kid I actually do always tailgun in those situations (I again am not saying tailgunning should be standard) and the younger kid, it depends.  So if junior loses a ski, say, he's on his own for a bit if he's above me.  While they sometimes act stupid, they're not, so I don't think my presence there helped keep them out of trees, etc. etc.  One, while freeskiing with a group while not with me, did take a really long slide, but no one could have stopped her from sliding given the circumstances and the adult who was with her was in no way at fault for either her initial fall or subsequent slide (terrain was appropriate, etc. etc.).  However, I again believe that if she had headed off with the same group of kids they would not have been where they were -- the adult effectively greatly increased their exposure to risk.  Backcountry and mountaineering guides do the same for clients who wouldn't ever do the same activities without a guide.  Even with perfect observation of all safety protocols some risk can't be mitigated, and social factors causing you to take on more risk in now way leaves you safer.  Not a bad thing, but it simply is -- football players are placed at risk by their coach and parents who organize the game, etc. etc.

 

Education as to proper etiquette and safety certainly can greatly mitigate risk, and that I've drilled into both pretty hard.  But, that's not an issue for the current discussion, because it's not like the kids were taken through the terrain park with no observation of good etiquette there or something.

 

2.  It sounds like the accident in question was the direct result of a kid skiing a bit out of control into some trees.  Nothing suggests that the instructor told him to ski fast, told him to ski into trees, etc. etc.  Plenty of ski instructors, while leading a class from the front, have had a student end up in the trees as well.  From the perspective of legal risk management, I agree that allowing the class to head down on their own may not have been the best choice, given the hyper-litigious world we live in.  That doesn't even mean it was a bad substantive judgment. 

 

I've been out with my kids, while they were several years younger, and allowed one to ski down to the lodge because the other was throwing a tantrum and I knew mom was down there.  At a small ski area where the instructor knows the kids' parents are waiting, what the instructor did was very similar.  It might even have been a better judgment than holding the whole class up while she tried to calm the one kid.  There is a huge difference between bad outcomes and bad judgment -- there clearly was a bad outcome in this case, but a world where people can act reasonably and not be punished for negative outcomes from reasonable actions isn't a bad thing. 

post #29 of 104

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

 

Don't forget, they had already made three runs and this was his second season/lesson and had made at least three other runs prior to this with his dad.  If they had already made three runs that day in that class, she at one point or another HAD to be separated from the kids, to some degree, even if the were following her like little lemmings in a snow plow as the link stipulates should have happened.  She had no experience (that we know of) that would have her believe this boy would end up, sadly, skiing out of control and end up in the trees.  He had at least three runs without issue with her and at least that many with his dad.

 

 I'm with Ken on this.  The kids had all negotiatied the T-bar multiple times.  It doesn't look like there are any visual obsructions on the trail.  The instructor very likely could have seen the child ski to the bottom, if she hadn't diverted her attention to the child who balked.  I'd like to hear from someone who has skied that hill about how the sightlines are on that run.

 

There is no way to predict the behavior of kids in a lesson.  I've had kids in front of me take the wrong trail even when given specific instrutions to stop at a designated spot.  "See that sign?  The big red one?  Stop right there.  Do you understand?"  Child says yes and still goes right past it.  Converesly, I've had kids in the middle of a snake behind me veer off and miss a turn.  All they had to do was follow me or the kid who is 10 feet in front of them.  There is no predicting the obstinate or distracted child no matter how close you are to them.

 

Most ski schools have policies that state maintaining visual contact with lesson participants.  They also have injured student policies similar to the one skiingaround mentioned.  This wasn't an injured student.  It was a child who decided not to ski the last run. Sometimes there is little or no warning when a kid will throw a tantrum or collapse because they are tired.  I could see how the new instructor may not make the connection between the policies.

 

You can also imagine the pressure to have all of the students back to the corral/ski school area on time.  The parents are waiting.  The next class goes out five minutes later.  The expectation is that you will start and end classes on time.  If you bring the kids in early you get yelled at by the parents for not providing the full value for their dollar.  Bring them in 15 minutes late because of a crying child the results will be the same.  You get yelled at by your supervisor and the parents.  Instuctors get good at assembling their classes out of view of the base and doing recaps and sationary games(tag-simon says)  to fill the last few minutes of class when there is not enough time for a full run. 

 

Smaller class sizes drive up the price.  Fewer people can afford lessons.  Roving lesson supervisors drive up the costs again.  Radios for all instructors.  GPS on each child to track where they are. Line every run with safety fencing. Ski in inflatable bubbles.   Airbags.  Speed limits and automatic ski brakes.  Individual instruction with the kids in harnesses( Imagine the lawsuit when a kid strangles themselves)  Again higher costs.  If we want skiing to remain affordable and a vital sport, we need to know that there is some risk.  You could always stay at home and ski on the Nintendo Wii. ( I could sue for carpal tunnel syndrome.)

 

 I feel sorry for everyone involved in the incident.  It was a tragedy.  I won't let it take a way from my love of the sport and I won't let it take away from my love of teaching.  I will continue to manage risk in my lessons the same as I've always done.  Parents need to know that kids get hurt sometimes.  It is my job to minimize those occasions.  I've run across parents who understand this and some who don't. Football has risk, baseball has risk, bicycles have risk.  If you don't want you child exposed to some risk then don't bring them to a ski hill. 

post #30 of 104

This 'tailgunning' is just bloody ridiculous. I've done ten seasons teaching and always led from the front. You stop often, and get real good at skiing while looking behind you. If I let the kids have a bit of free reign, it's when I ski ahead on a slope and let them ski to me. Occasionally if a kid knows the slope and I can still see them, I will let them ski to that point, then ski to them. The purpose is so they can see me ski a certain technique as I go towards them.

So often though kids will ski faster than their ability level, so I'm pretty strict about things.

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