Sunday, November 19, 2000
Steamboat Springs Just as Steamboat's skiing population got ready to tear up the powder this weekend, a ski racer from a nearby ski town was convicted of criminally negligent homicide after a fatal collision with another skier in 1997.
Former Vail lift operator Nathan Hall could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison for the charge.
At the Steamboat Ski Area, incidents like collisions are handled by the Routt County Sheriff's Office.
In the past five years, the Sheriff's Office has dealt with collisions in which they charged a skier only about four or five times, Undersheriff Dan Taylor said.
"The majority of these accidents on the mountain are just that accidents," he said. "But obviously, if someone is skiing out of control and is a threat to you or your family, we're going to take that very seriously. It's no different than if you hit someone with a car."
After accidents in which someone is injured, the Sheriff's Office questions the participants in the accident and any witnesses. It is rare that charges will be filed, but, in some instances, the department feels it is necessary to take action.
"If you're skiing recklessly, you should be held accountable," Taylor said.
Reckless skiers in Steamboat are in danger of losing their ski passes this winter if they fail to heed warnings to bring themselves under control. That measure would be exercised only after the skier has received a number of warnings.
To make sure the area is well-patrolled, the Steamboat Ski Patrol is employing 55 full-time and 25 part-time patrollers, in addition to 11 full-time courtesy patrollers.
There will also be 62 skiing ambassadors on the mountain who will aid in the process of ensuring skier safety.
The last skier fatality at the Steamboat Ski Area came in 1997 and was not related to a collision.
To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org