Ski Resort Patron is Injured on Snow Tube Slope

    Ski SafetyThis case takes place in Colorado and involves an individual who was seriously and permanently injured while snow tubing at a ski resort located in the pacific northwest. Each year, the resort created an artificial slope for use by snow tubers, which allowed participants to reach very high speeds while remaining confined within a pre-cut lane that prevented loss of control and collisions. At the bottom of the slope, the resort had left a small area of level ground to give participants the chance to slow down. In addition to this short level run off, the resort had also constructed a small berm made of snow in order to stop tubes that were traveling too fast. Behind this berm was a drop off of several feet. At the time of the incident in question, the Plaintiff was travelling too quickly after descending the hill to stop during the short run off, and impacted the berm at high speed. The Plaintiff was thrown from her tube due to the impact and flew over the top of the berm, landing on the ground several feet below and suffering a number of serious injuries. It was alleged that the slope and landing area were negligently and dangerously designed and constructed.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Have you been involved in the construction, care, and maintenance of sled and tubing hills?
    • 2. Have you been employed by a ski resort or state park system for this purpose?
    • 3. How long exactly should a reasonable flat run out be?
    • 4. What type of medical staff should be on hand in case of injury?

    Expert Witness Response E-009261

    I have taught skiing and other extreme sports, in addition to consistent work on the ski patrol, for nearly 40 years. Over the course of my career, I have maintained, cared for, and inspected hundreds of tubing and sledding hills. As a longtime member of the National Ski Patrol, I am experienced and skilled in responding to collisions similar to the one described in this case. I was employed by winter resorts or mountain parks for over 30 years, and am very familiar with the proper maintenance and design of an artificial tube hill. I have also attended numerous continuing education seminars, classes, and meetings where case studies, analysis of snowsport incidents, and guest safety have been reviewed with ski area management, medical personnel, other ski patrol members, and ski instructors. It is vitally important that tubing runs have ample run off space at the bottom of the slope, since participants can reach speeds of over 30 mph if the conditions are right. Relying on a static berm or other structure to arrest forward movement is dangerous in and of itself, it is even more dangerous to have a significant drop off behind that berm. Snow tube participants have a limited ability to slow or direct the movement of their tube, so tubing facilities must always be constructed with this in mind.

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