No more fatality charts for skiing fatalities

For 10 years, I kept track of fatalities while skiing/boarding inbounds at resorts. Lately several news agencies have been doing the same but with what I consider an evil intent, to create liability for the ski areas or the NSAA.

I’ve never wanted to track this information with the intent of placing blame. People die skiing. People die in the bathroom, getting ready to go skiing, and more than anything, people die driving to and from the ski area. However, these news agencies seem to believe that dying with a pair of skis on or a snowboard requires special reaction from the ski area or the National Ski Area Association (NSAA).

Even funnier, they seem to get upset when the NSAA does nothing when someone dies out of bounds. The name is Ski Area association?

I wanted to know why people died skiing. I wanted to be able to talk with my students at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in the Ski Area Operations (SAO) program about deaths. I thought if I looked at these deaths, I might learn something.  I did. Dying at a ski area is more bad luck than anything else that I can track or understand.

If you don’t want to die at a ski area:

Don’t ski near trees (tress attack skiers!)

Never ski alone (because if you get ill, there is no one to help)

Never ski out of control.

Other than that nothing else seems to make a difference. Definitely, as I’ve always said, wearing a helmet is not going to keep you alive skiing. Helmets were designs to protect your head from minor injuries, nothing more. More people are dying these days wearing a helmet than not wearing a helmet. Maybe Risk Homeostasis is a thing.

The one thing I have learned is there is very little if anything a ski area can do to prevent fatalities while skiing or boarding. Ten years of looking at reports in the media from fatalities and the liability of a ski area does not pop out as a cause of the death.

Several news organizations have been collecting similar data and publicizing it with an obvious intent to create liability for a ski area or kick the NSAA for whatever reason. I don’t want to be associated with those organizations.

I represent several trade associations and am a member of several. The American Bar Association does not track how many lawyers die at work. However, several news organizations, some in ski area country, now believe that is a requirement of the NSAA, and they are not doing their job if they don’t.

I never see reports from the Association of Alternative Weeklies about how many journalists died last week. Should journalists know, probably? Should students know how risky their profession might be, probably? However, you don’t see articles condemning the association when they don’t write up stories about a writer found dead on his keyboard; coffee spilled over his notes and a burnt out joint in the ash tray. (I’m talking Colorado here.)

Nor do these news reporting businesses look at other outside activities. They don’t track mountain biking, road biking, scuba diving, or anything else with any interest. They certainly don’t start a headline about a fatality with the number of deaths in that sport this year or season. Maybe because skiing has such a big economic impact, it gets the special treatment? But then all their reporting is going to do is decrease the amount of money coming into the state.

People die every day all sorts of ways. Some at ski areas, some because they were thinking about skiing I suspect. People die going to and from the ski areas, but I don’t see headlines about how and why the Colorado Department of Transportation is not reporting these deaths. Another person dies on I-70 coming home from a great day of skiing.

I just don’t want to be associated with that group. So last week’s report will also be the last one.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Author: Outdoor Recreation Insurance, Risk Management and Law

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