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Collision with Child by Race Team members at Squaw Valley


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Collision with Child by Race Team members at Squaw Valley

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ABC news article

The child, who now has spine injuries, was hit from behind by the second of two (young teen) Squaw Valley Ski Team members who were free riding at the time.  Part of Squaw's statement said: "...After an investigation, our ski patrollers concluded that this collision was not caused by reckless skiing, but rather was an unfortunate example of the inherent risk that all skiers and riders take on when they approach any ski slope..." 

It feels as if straight-line skiing/boarding has become more popular with riders and accepted by ski resorts, presumably in an effort to please guests.

Edited by rjnakata
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While the ski racer was in the wrong we're still talking about a 13 y/o boy. Not the personality I would expect to show much good judgement. 

You could go all the way and ask where were the parents or coaches but honestly they were both skiing on expert terrain. It was an accident and as bad as it is I don't think wreaking the 13 y/o life is the proper response.

If I go beyond my knee-jerk reaction I think the patroller's decision of not calling it reckless is probably the right one.

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3 hours ago, JRAZZ said:

If I go beyond my knee-jerk reaction I think the patroller's decision of not calling it reckless is probably the right one.

In reading the post, article and parents' letter to Squaw, it sounds like the father and son were skiing a black diamond near the Siberia Express lift poles.  The father stated they are both double black skiers.

The Dad says this:  "[the injured child] was making a broad turn far downhill, in an uncrowded segment of the run. These skiers were barreling down at incredibly high speed. They saw my son far downhill and chose to ski right up in him. Like inches away." 

The first narrowly missed the child and the second crashed into him.  It sounds to me the team members were skiing close together and maybe buzzing the injured kid.  Other eye witness confirmed the team members were going fast.

A "broad turn" is what our forum members do...and we look uphill even if not required by the code.   But IF all the dad says is true, and if it were me riding there I'd think reckless.  I look uphill all the time and I still miss the occasional straightliner.

I've seen a greater prevalence of fast skiing (maybe its the equipment?) over the years and that is a negative for me.

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Best wishes for the kid. As a father, I can say I would have struggled to keep my cool if someone hit my kid like that. 

"Inherent risk"? WTF? The skier's responsibility code disagrees. This must have been favoritism at its finest. These kids consciously took a large risk, and someone else paid the price. 

If you've spent significant time on the snow, you've no doubt received a random lecture by some blowhard patroller for some incredibly petty thing. How would that same patroller treat this ski racer? 

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I hope the young boy heals fast.  I agree with the above.  I would probably have lost my pass for "dealing" with the two boys.

Membership has its privilage  I would bet if the kids did not have the local race team jackets on the decision would have been quite different.

There is no ambiguity or interpretation of the skiers code.  The down-slope skier/snowboarder has right of way...

Edited by Rusty Edges
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Our local hill is home to a ski race team, and I can vouch that these kids have a definite attitude of "we own this mountain". They often haul race speed down the front of the hill getting back to the lift, never mind that there's a couple of totally blind rollers at the bottom where they'd have zero hope of avoiding anyone making a turn below them. I've been told by patrollers that "I" should avoid making carve turns on that part of the slope, because apparently it's "my" responsibility to stay out of "their" way. Uh-huh.

I doubt they were buzzing the kid here, I suspect they were just tunnel-vision straightlining down the hill and simply didn't see him until the last minute. 

9 hours ago, Rusty Edges said:

Mambership has its privilage  I would bet if the kids did not have the local race team jackets on the decision would have been quite different.

Had it been some teenage dirtbag snowboarders, I'm sure they'd have been booted out and told not to come back.

Edited by Allee
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3 hours ago, Allee said:

I doubt they were buzzing the kid here, I suspect they were just tunnel-vision straightlining down the hill and simply didn't see him until the last minute. 

After reflection I agree with this.  If it were my 13 yo self (except with mad ski skills) I would probably be more focused on beating my buddy (behind or in front of me) to the bottom than be concerned with what's ahead.  I would have probably been on this run 100x already so I'd be concentrating on my buddy.  Seeing a small kid/dad ahead my much older self would break carve, skid,  "waste" the run and try again...no problem.

Some "expert" skiers/riders have unspoken rules: stay in your lane, don't cut in front, make only certain kinds of turns on expert runs, don't make ruts in the piste.  Of course these are nonsense and more like self generated expectations. All we have to go by is an objective standard: the skiers code which mentions none of these.  

Edited by rjnakata
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Alpine Responsibility Code

#2  People ahead of you have the right-of-way.  It is your responsibility to avoid them.....regardless if your a local pass holder on the ski team!

And those two racers losing their pass for 1 week is Nothing!   Squaw has turned off season pass holders passes for 30 days or more for just bad mouthing Squaw on social media!

 

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1 hour ago, barryj said:

Squaw has turned off season pass holders passes for 30 days or more for just bad mouthing Squaw on social media!

Really?!  How did you feel about the patrollers there.  Do you think they would evaluate the situation objectively?

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1 hour ago, rjnakata said:

Squaw has turned off season pass holders passes

Obviously it's the corporate arm/media Gestapo  of Squaw in those situations.

I respected the few Patroler's i knew at Squaw ...it's a serious, difficult and prestigious gig to get.....  but I  can say in the 6 years and 100+ days a season I  rode and worked there I  only saw Squaw Patrol dealing with triage (it is a Big Mtn. with 500+ inches per season and a Destination resort within 3 hours drive of the Bay area)  never prevention like you would see at a family/locals Mtn. like Northstar or Alpine or Homewood  where Patrol has a Presence and is stationed  at  heavy traffic areas or converging trails  or  just uphill from the base area to get people to slow down coming into the lifts.

1 hour ago, rjnakata said:

Do you think they would evaluate the situation objectively?

Well if you go with the known information, the Skiers code #2 was violated when the two racers overtook and ran down the other/younger boy...............that should be enough in itself or I would of thought so.

Makes me wonder if there wasn't something else the Patrolers  had to consider like the father and son had just merged onto the same trail or something that would shift some of the responsibility on to them also....but it doesn't read like that!

I would like to think the Patrolers would have evaluated the situation objectively, but based on the known info and outcome it doesn't seem so.  Seems like  favoritism   to me  also......

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How many race coaches talk to their racers on a regular bases about safety? My guess, almost zero. Those of us who have to share runs with youth racers free skiing, know this is a real issue. Instructors in many states are not allowed to free ski in uniform, to protect the ski school from law suits, In the same way, race team members during official practices should be the responsibility of the race team coaches.

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1 hour ago, BobD said:

How many race coaches talk to their racers on a regular bases about safety? My guess, almost zero. Those of us who have to share runs with youth racers free skiing, know this is a real issue. Instructors in many states are not allowed to free ski in uniform, to protect the ski school from law suits, In the same way, race team members during official practices should be the responsibility of the race team coaches.

I ride at one of the earlier opening and later closing resorts here in Colorado,  and I have seen a fair amount of idiocy that springs from entitlement through the years.  We get teams from Alaska to New England for both early and late season training.  The behavior ranges from a complete lack of lift line etiquette, coaches setting up drills under rollers, sending their charges across the slopes blindly, to treating a public slope like their own private race lane. Having experienced  such behavior, I am not surprised by the racers action in regards to the collision, nor by the resorts decision to barely punish the culprits.

Back in the olden days, I remember a time when you couldn't take a lift ride, grab a beer or a burger without seeing the responsibility code plastered allover the lift towers,  bar coasters, and resort napkins. Not so much anymore. 

mario

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There are some strange attitudes in the race clubs... My son is a member of one. 

Few years ago I was standing on top of a race course, while kids were coming down a steep mogul field, coach nowhere near. My kid fell, while a girl that was almost tail riding on him, crushed into him. In the process, she made a small ripp in her speed suit, against his ski pole. They skied towards us, where she started crying and blaming my son for the accident. In no time, all her girl friends were onto the scene, supporting her and swarming my kid. The thing looked a bit out of control, so I tried to explain that downhill skier can not be blamed. The girls carried on insisting, while I stood to my opinion, in a firm yet respectfull way. Eventually they calmed down. As soon as the coach showed up, I reported entire incident and conversation with the girls. Later, I recieved an angry email from the girl's father, insisting that I "mortified" his daughter, that my kid is still partialy guilty and expecting an apology... 🤪

Edited by BlueB
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On 1/12/2020 at 2:32 PM, BobD said:

How many race coaches talk to their racers on a regular bases about safety? My guess, almost zero.

At coaches' orientation at Carrabassett Valley Academy, this was the first topic discussed, and it was repeated several times.

On 1/11/2020 at 9:00 AM, Rusty Edges said:

There is no ambiguity or interpretation of the skiers code.  The down-slope skier/snowboarder has right of way...

Unfortunately there is some ambiguity, like when someone blindly enters a trail from the side.  Also the downhill person cannot simply do whatever the heck they want.  If they start downhill without looking uphill or if they stop where they cannot be seen they are putting themselves at greater risk.

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There's no excuse for hitting someone below you that was on the run and clearly visible from far away, as it seems was the case here. I agree that ski team members tend to ski / ride inappropriately fast for conditions, and Ski Patrol's assessment of this collision sounds way off base to me. 

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I've seen the youth ski racers freeski around the hill and usually they know how to ski. Interesting he couldn't avoid him. I'm thinking there's more going on than the article reports since it says a ski patroller witnessed it.

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6 hours ago, nuisanceIV said:

I've seen the youth ski racers freeski around the hill and usually they know how to ski. Interesting he couldn't avoid him. I'm thinking there's more going on than the article reports since it says a ski patroller witnessed it.

In my experience, they're great skiers, but have the unshakeable confidence of youth, and as a result don't leave much room for error. I got buzzed at Bachelor over the holidays by a ski team racer - he was going pretty much full-tilt and passed me (behind me) about 3 feet away. He probably felt that was a safe pass, but if things had gone a little differently, it would have been bad for me. 

"With great power, comes great responsibility." When you're one of the best riders on the hill by a wide margin, there's really no excuse for intentionally cutting things that close. 

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On 1/14/2020 at 11:16 PM, BlueB said:

There are some strange attitudes in the race clubs... My son is a member of one. 

Few years ago I was standing on top of a race course, while kids were coming down a steep mogul field, coach nowhere near. My kid fell, while a girl that was almost tail riding on him, crushed into him. In the process, she made a small ripp in her speed suit, against his ski pole. They skied towards us, where she started crying and blaming my son for the accident. In no time, all her girl friends were onto the scene, supporting her and swarming my kid. The thing looked a bit out of control, so I tried to explain that downhill skier can not be blamed. The girls carried on insisting, while I stood to my opinion, in a firm yet respectfull way. Eventually they calmed down. As soon as the coach showed up, I reported entire incident and conversation with the girls. Later, I recieved an angry email from the girl's father, insisting that I "mortified" his daughter, that my kid is still partialy guilty and expecting an apology... 🤪

This sounds like an example of the entitled attitude common to a lot of parents that gets transmitted to their kids. 

I did stupid stuff when I was a kid. I was an accomplished skier and when I was a teenager I was sure my shit didn't stink. Fortunately nobody got hurt. However, my folks made sure I was completely aware of the skier's code and if I had ever collided with someone where I was at fault, my parents would not have coddled me. 

 

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19 minutes ago, Deuxdiesel said:

I patrolled for almost 20 years at a local area that later became part of the Vail conglomerate.  After that we were highly discouraged from curtailing reckless behavior on the hill because it might turn away customers. 

Really? The Vail Culture! Skier friends who regularly ski Vail have lots of stories about the patroller squad expressly tasked with nabbing fast and/or reckless skiers & riders. My skier friends have often skied fast but always in control. The difficulty is that the patrollers often can't or won't distinguish between the two. Maybe their mandate is fast=dangerous? 

Vail seems to be very careful to not offend well-heeled customers. 

They probably have calculated whether they will scare off more well-heeled customers by nabbing reckless riders or living with collisions that injure people. 

Edited by JohnE
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6 hours ago, Deuxdiesel said:

I patrolled for almost 20 years at a local area that later became part of the Vail conglomerate.  After that we were highly discouraged from curtailing reckless behavior on the hill because it might turn away customers. 

I wondered if this was occurring.  In an effort not to turn off customers patrollers are asked by Management to not strictly enforce safety rules.  That would be a turn off to me.   

Is it just me getting old or are there more straight-liners now than in say the 90's or 2000's?

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