Photographer suspended for Vail skier pic
Ryan Summerlin January 6, 2009
VAIL, Colorado ” What skier Marty Odom thought was the ski shot of the season in Vail, Colorado might end up costing him his job.
Odom, a Vail resident and photographer for Sharpshooters, was skiing in Vail on New Year’s Day when he witnessed a skier caught in a compromising position on the Skyline Express Lift (Chair 37). The skier was trying to upload the lift, but the seat had been left up on the chair, and the skier fell through, according to Odom.
The unfortunate skier’s pants got caught, and he was left dangling by his pants in mid-air with his backside exposed, a moment that Odom caught on camera. The photo was published the next day in the Vail Daily, and has now been posted on several major Web sites.
“I was out on my own with my own camera, so I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Odom said. “I thought it was going to be the photo of the New Year.”
However, when he arrived at work on Monday, he was told that he was suspended until further notice.
“We all know what that means,” said Odom, who has been working for Sharpshooters since the beginning of the season. “I guess it embarrassed Vail Resorts, and they called (my) shop.”
Odom said his bosses told him that even though he wasn’t working at the time and used his own camera, he had signed a no-compete clause when he was hired, and that the photograph reflected poorly on the company.
Some, including Vail Resorts officials, thought the published photo was in bad taste, and disrespectful to the skier, who was in a dangerous and traumatizing situation while suspended.
Vail Mountain officials released a statement that said the hanging skier, a 48-year-old man, was suspended on the chair for about seven minutes and was rescued without injuries.
Onlookers said that before Ski Patrol arrived, others tried to throw ropes up to the skier to get him down. Finally, lift mechanics were able to reverse the lift about 10 to 12 feet to release the man.
Odom said when he saw that the man’s family was worried, he realized it was a rescue operation and put his camera away. He said the man seemed in good spirits when he got off the lift, and everyone applauded when the rescue was successful.
Officials from Sharpshooters did not return a phone call seeking comment.
However, Odom said he doesn’t think he did anything wrong in taking the photo. In fact, he thinks he captured a priceless moment.
“Everyone is talking about it and saying, ‘Oh, you’re the guy who took that photo.'” Odom said. “People love it. Everyone said it’s going to be a legend in Vail, hung up in every bar.”
In fact, Odom said he’s not sorry for taking the photo.
“I would do it all over again,” he said. “Except now I’m on the job hunt, and this town isn’t looking too good right now.”