Letter to the Editor: Winter Sports Technology International

Nick Bradley, Editor
Winter Sports Technology International
Abinger House, Church Street

Re: April 2011 Issue, Winter Sports Technology International
When Two Skiers or Snowboarders Collide on the Slopes, who is likely to be held responsible in the event of serious injury to one of them?

Dear Editor Bradley:

I enjoy your magazine and always let students and graduates know when it is available on the Ski Area Operations blog for Colorado Mountain College. However, I read with interest and a little concern your article about Skier collision liability in the April issue of Winter Sports Technology International. As an instructor in Risk Management in the Ski Area Operations at Colorado Mountain College. This month I added a disclaimer about your article when I posted information about it on the blog.

Mr. Exall statement that “Once the Ski patrol has dealt with the immediate aftermath of a collision, then becomes necessary to consider fault – who was to blame.” is incorrect. Most states a person involved in a skier collision assumes the risk of such a collision (Cheong v. Antablin, Calif 1997).[1] A code of conduct is not the standard of care for determining liability of a skier involved in a collision, it is only a public service announcement, a suggestion to people on how to behave on the slopes.

Unless a skier is skiing recklessly or intentionally, no liability exists for someone involved in a collision in most states (Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., ID 1994).[2] Mr. Exall is correct in his statement of Colorado law, but that is the exception to the rule in the US.

Mr. Exall states Your Responsibility Code and liberally quotes the line the uphill skier has the right away. However, the code has 7 points and two of those are to look uphill before starting out and not to stop where you can’t be seen. The code does not put a priority on any of the statements because it was not created to find fault, it was only created as a guide for people on the slopes.

Consequently, someone who is downhill maybe liable for the injuries of someone they ski into, even if the other skier was uphill if they started skiing without checking up hill or had stopped where they cannot be seen.
Mr. Exall’s statement “The lesson is simple; whichever rules you choose to apply a court will find in favour of any skier or rider who is run into by another skier.” is just wrong in the US (Fontaine v. Boyd, RI 2011).[3] Skiers can both not be at fault or be equally at fault (Stewart v. McKarnin, ID 2005).[4] Many states do not allow suits between parties in a collision on the slopes such as Pennsylvania (Hughes v. Seven Springs Farm, Inc. PA 2000) and Utah (Ricci v. Schoultz, UT 1998).[5][6].

The issues of liability in any collision very by state, by the parties and by the way, the person was injured. However, you cannot make blanket statements that someone is always to blame or that someone should be to blame when two people collide on the slopes.


James H. Moss, J.D.
Attorney at Law
Instructor Ski Area Operations Risk Management
Colorado Mountain College

[1] Cheong v. Antablin, 16 Cal. 4th 1063; 946 P.2d 817; 68 Cal. Rptr. 2d 859; 1997 Cal. LEXIS 7662; 97 Cal. Daily Op. Service 8851; 97 Daily Journal DAR 14317
[2] Collins v. Schweitzer, Inc., 21 F.3d 1491; 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 8692; 94 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2889; 94 Daily Journal DAR 5550 (Ninth Circ 1994)
[3] Fontaine v. Boyd, 2011 R.I. Super. LEXIS 27
[4] Stewart v. McKarnin, 141 Idaho 930; 120 P.3d 748; 2005 Ida. App. LEXIS 81
[5] Hughes v. Seven Springs Farm, Inc. 563 Pa. 501; 762 A.2d 339; 2000 Pa. LEXIS 2894
[6] Ricci v. Schoultz, 963 P.2d 784; 348 Utah Adv. Rep. 24; 1998 Utah App. LEXIS 57; 75 A.L.R.5th 745

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