Aspens ski hit-and-run rewards dwindle
ASPEN Nearly 11 years ago a couple of skiers fed up with hit-and-run accidents on ski mountains around Aspen decided to do something about it.Jim Watson, a part-time Snowmass resident and the late Dick Durrance, anAspen skiing legend, started the nonprofit Ski Hit & Run Reward Inc. The idea came to fruition after Watsons 73-year-old wife, Ann, broke her leg in 14 places after another skier struck her and then disappeared. Ann never skied again, and the rogue skier never was identified.But with Ski Hit & Run Reward Inc., Watson and Durrance had put maverick skiers on alert, and in doing so, helped create safety awareness programs on the slopes. Ski Hit & Run Reward Inc. accepted donations and would offer between $500 and $1,000 to anyone who caught a hit-and-run skier. It was the first program of its type, and it even generated national publicity, including coverage in The New York Times.Today, Ski Hit & Run Reward is a shell of its former self. While it officially is solvent, it is hardly operational. Durrance, a former Olympic skier and 17-time national champion, died in 2004. Watson no longer has a home in Aspen.It was run by older guys who were really dynamic, said Aspen attorney Paul Taddune, who sat on the nonprofits board of directors and managed its budget. Dick Durrance just did stuff like that, and that was the true local spirit.At one time the fund had nearly $30,000. Now its down to $1,400.Its not winding down, its down, Taddune said.But its not as if the money just dried up. In March 2006, Ski Hit & Run Reward cut a $12,500 check to Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club to help promote responsible behavior and educate young skiers and riders about mountain etiquette. Another $3,000 given to the club was earmarked as reward money for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 ski seasons, Taddune said.Taddune said several rewards were handed out to people who caught hit-and-runners. We concluded it was not only important to give rewards but also money was spent on ads and work with the [Aspen Skiing Co.] to put up warning signs [on ski areas], Taddune said.
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