The Inertia for Good Editor

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The Inertia

A report published by the Colorado Sun Wednesday revealed that at least 14 people died on Colorado ski slopes this past winter season, all on intermediate and beginner slopes at various resorts. The data was compiled by surveying 16 county coroners throughout the state and listing the different causes of death. According to the Sun, individual resorts only reveal details or news of a death on their premises when asked.

While one would assume the 14 total deaths on ski slopes this past season represent fatal ski-related accidents, the number also includes health complications like heart attacks while skiing. A majority of the deaths were among skiers over 45 years old, but the incidents ranged from as young as 14 years old to as old as 78. For example, five of the deaths listed in the Sun’s survey simply list “heart attack” or a cause of death that suggests natural causes and no mention of any ski-related accidents. All of those skiers and snowboarders were aged between 53 and 78 years old.

As for the deaths stemming from ski and snowboard accidents, many of the incidents listed in the Sun’s report were caused by individuals colliding with trees. Three of the six deaths involving trees note that the skier or snowboarder was wearing a helmet when the accident occurred, including a 14-year-old snowboarder from Monument, Colorado, who collided with a tree on a beginner trail. He tragically died from brain trauma in a Denver hospital on March 4. One brain trauma death states that the skier was definitely not wearing a helmet while another says it was unclear if the 22-year-old snowboarder was wearing a helmet when she collided with a tree on an intermediate run.

The report gives an objective look at safety on Colorado’s slopes, although it exclusively looks at incidents resulting in deaths. A report in California earlier this year showed that ski-related ER visits were up as much as 50 percent in the Golden State and suggested there was no significant increase in resort visits. The Sun’s report, however, references statistical averages of how many deaths can be expected in a given year based on the total number of visitors to resorts across the nation. Approximately .74 deaths occur for every one million skier visits, according to data from the National Ski Areas Association.


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