Grieving Father starts organization to make skiing safer

I’ve written about the issues that are the reasons why people sue. See Serious Disconnect: Why people sue., Common Mistakes made by Outfitters and Insurance C…, Another lawsuit asking for change, but only going …, and It’s Not Money. This article tackles the work of a grieving father who is dealing with the death of this daughter in a different way. See One man’s mission to make skiing safer.

Dan Gregorie lost his daughter, Jessica, at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort in 2006. His daughter was walking along the northern boundary of the resort when she dropped her snowboard over a cliff. When she attempted to collect the board she fell over the cliff.

The area that Jessica fell over was not marked with a fence or a warning sign.

English: Dombai, general view of skiing routes...

Image via Wikipedia

Dr. Gregorie has started the California Ski and Snowboard Safety Organization. The purpose of the organization is to have all ski areas use similar safety language at all resorts in the US.

The organization website states:

There is a clear and pressing need for a non-governmental public service organization to: (1) monitor and inform the public regarding safety issues related to skiing and snowboarding at California resorts; (2) serve as an educational resource to the public and the industry on best safety practices; (3) inform and educate legislators regarding best-practice legislation and regulation in other states; (4) advocate for the passage of best-practice skiing and snowboarding safety legislation in California and (5) partner with health and safety organizations working to ensure the safest possible recreational and work environments for the public and mountain operations’ personnel.

The resorts website is a little lacking. It uses the death of three Mammoth Ski Patrollers as an example of what can be done after a death at a resort. Interesting, but none of the changes the organization is promoting would affect these deaths. The other examples are equally weak as examples of government regulations controlling resorts. As a physician, a member of a group that is constantly fighting more government intervention, requesting or citing more government intervention seems to be hypocritical. However that is an assumption on my part, Dr. Gregorie may like government intervention.

The one link on the website is to www.skilaw.com. This site is run by Jim Chalat an attorney who represents plaintiffs in skier v skier collisions and suits against ski resorts.

Dr. Gregorie argues that the slope ratings are not standardized. The current Green, Blue, and Black are made by each resort which the website says is not enough. He also wants resorts to mark hazards consistently such as terrain grading, managing traffic and padding trees and fences at sharp turns. I have yet to see an instrument or machine that can grade a slope. Even if done by a committee the slopes are going to grade different across the US. Even more importantly, who should the slopes be graded for, the customers or a national average. A blue or black run from Ohio or Michigan is graded that way for the Ohio or Michigan customers. A blue runs means it is harder than a green run. Skiers understand that slope grading is done for that ski area and recognize that a black run in Ohio may be different than a black run in Colorado.

The website seems to be going both directions. It quotes extensively form the National Ski Area Association but at the same time shows how resorts have been fined for problems and links to a plaintiff’s attorney.

Notwithstanding the fact the National Ski Area Association has been trying to standardize signs across the industry, the better issue to explore is why?

None of the issues that the organization is striving to achieve would have prevented Jessica Gregorie’s death? Yet her father wants to save others.

I have no answers; I’m not trained to analyze those issues. However this is an example of the energy and emotion that can be created after the loss of a loved one. Think if this energy was directed in a negative way, against the ski area.

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