Risk Awareness

Risk Awareness
and the Law 

The sports of skiing and snowboarding are inherently dangerous sports.  They consist of the mastery of controlling a skid or slide on a very slick medium - snow.  They require the participant to safely maneuver around many kinds of obstacles, both natural and man-made.  Such obstacles include but are not limited to trees, fences, lift, light or snowmaking poles, rocks, other skiers or snowboarders, variations in snow cover including holes, ice, and hard chunks of snow, etc. 

 Injuries are a fact of life in any sport.  The Tusky Valley Ski and Board Club usually endures a couple minor injuries per year, some of which have required emergency room stays.  One on slope injury resulted in serious corrective measures.  Therefore,  people with prior back injuries should check with their doctor about skiing and are not recommended to snowboard.  Serious injuries and even death can and do occur at ski resorts across the country.  An average of 34 people die at ski resorts annually.  Some of these deaths are as a result of avalanches out West but many are from people trying to do things that are beyond their ability.  Excess speed, high jumps, inverted tricks, etc. are errors in participant judgement that could have tragic consequences.  

  Ohio law states that a participant must ski in control at all times.   The Responsibility Code  is based on this Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code  4169.08  (a and c) and 4169.07(b) ).  View all the Ohio ski laws on the Internet at the LAWriter site. Find XLI Labor and Industry, then 4169 Ski Tramway Board

 These laws and similar ones in every skiing state, serve two purposes.  First they protect the participants in specifying undesirable behavior.  Second, they may be used to prosecute those who violate them.  The following is a compilation of articles from Skiing Magazine, The Associated Press, and Reuters news agencies.

On April 20, 1997, an 18-year-old Vail employee was ripping down a high-speed run. He launched off a bump, and as he returned to earth his ski struck another skier who died minutes later from massive head and brain injuries. Three years later, the accident has become the catalyst for a watershed decision that could pave the way for criminal prosecution of out-of-control skiers. After two courts dismissed charges, the case made its way to the Colorado Supreme Court. In a decision that effectively sets a new standard for what's considered criminal behavior on the slopes, the court ruled that the man "disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk" that death could result from his conduct. The skier had been charged with reckless manslaughter but the jury convicted him of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. He was sentenced to serve 90 days in the Eagle County Jail, followed by 3 years of heavily monitored probation including random drug and alcohol test, monetary restitution to the victims family, community service, and daily contact with a probation officer. He could have been sentenced to up to six years in prison and reckless manslaughter would have carried a sentence of up to 16 years. In light of this conviction, every skier, snowboarder and snowblader- especially speed freaks - should take note: The stakes have been raised.

In light of this information, participants should be watchful of reckless behavior by other people on the slopes and be mindful of their own behavior.  Any club member spotted putting him/herself or other people in danger will be removed from the club with no refund.
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