Rider fair after slide accident

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— A 30-year-old Walden man who hit his head while riding the Alpine Slide in Steamboat Springs is in fair condition at Denver Health Medical Center, said Johanna Ladis, a hospital spokeswoman.

Joe Spike Meyring was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center at 3:15 p.m. last Friday with a closed head injury and a skull fracture and was then transferred to Denver, said Christine McKelvie, Yampa Valley Medical Center spokeswoman.

Meyring was injured when his plastic sliding cart tipped over near the top of the course, causing him to hit his head on the track, said Rick DeVos, director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which operates the Howler.

DeVos said that sort of accident is more likely to happen to larger men who might be riding down the course too quickly or leaning to far over an edge.

After the accident took place, workers examined the course and the cart Meyring was riding and DeVos said they didn't find any problems with the equipment.

The slide has been in operation since two summers ago. Last summer, people took an estimated 75,000 trips down the slide, DeVos said.

So far, rider injuries have been limited to minor scrapes and bruises, and DeVos said last Friday's incident was the first involving a serious head injury.

"We don't like to see anybody get scraped or anything," DeVos said.

"Our real goal on everything here is to continue to try to make this as safe as possible."

This summer, more signs warning people to keep a moderate pace while going down the slide were put up and the plastic carts used on the slide were slowed down with new pad skids.

DeVos said additional safety measures are under consideration.

"We'll try to be looking at what else we can do to see if we can make any other adjustments," he said.

Although it's unlikely that speed was a major factor in Friday's accident that took place near the top of the course's hill, one of the best measures is for people not to race down the course as fast as they can.

"Something like (the slide) definitely comes with some risk," DeVos said.

"But it's rider-controlled you've got a break handle in your hand."

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