Ski racer death probe ongoing |

Ski racer death probe ongoing

Veronica Whitney
Preston Utley/ Residents of Steamboat Springs leave candles under a tree Monday night in Steamboat to mourn the loss of Ashley Stamp, 13, a Steamboat local who collided with a snowmobile Sunday at Vail Mountain.

VAIL – Although Ashley Stamp wasn’t part of ski team here, many people from the Vail ski racing community traveled to Steamboat Springs Monday night to remember the 13-year-old skier who died in a collision on Vail Mountain Sunday.About 500 people attended the vigil, said Andy Wirth, president of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, of which Stamp was a member. Stamp, described as a promising racer by her coaches at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, was warming up for a slalom race on Sunday when she collided with a race crew snowmobile driven by Mark Chard, 27, on Vail Mountain. The coroner’s report says she died of a blunt force injury to the chest.Aldo Radamus, director of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, organizers of Sunday’s race on Golden Peak, provided one of the vigil’s special moments, Wirth said. “One of the most touching moments of the evening was when Aldo Radamus placed Ashley’s race bib from Sunday morning on the memorial tree we planted at the base of Howelsen Hill, the headquarters of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club,” Wirth said. “I know there’s a great deal of pain.”

In the meantime, the Colorado State Patrol is still investigating the collision that happened at 8:20 a.m. Sunday. Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Shawn Olmstead said that Vail Mountain officials are cooperating in the investigation.”All aspects are being looked at closely,” Olmstead said.Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said he is still waiting for State Patrol to finish the investigation to determine if criminal charges should be filed.”I can’t speculate on potential charges, it could be a misdemeanor or a felony,” Hurlbert said.Olmstead said witnesses have given conflicting reports about the accident, including whether the snowmobile had a siren or light on, and whether Ashley was wearing headphones. Initial reports said the siren and light were on and that Stamp was wearing headphones. But Wirth said she wasn’t wearing headphones when she collided with the snowmobile.

“Coaches on the scene told me that she wasn’t wearing headphones at the time of the accident,” Wirth said. “It wasn’t plausible because the headphones wouldn’t fit under her racing helmet.”Outpouring of compassion In ski racing, when a tragedy such as Ashley’s death happens, competing ski clubs’ athletes unite and a kinship emerges between people who live in the mountains, Wirth said.”It’s a tight-knit racing community. Most people are involved with the winter sports club here – we have more than 900 kids in the club in a town of 10,000, so it’s hard for them not to be involved,” he said. “It’s important for everybody in Vail to know that in Steamboat Springs we know that fine people in Vail, including the Vail Ski Club and Vail Resorts, are mourning the loss of Ashley,” he added.

Wirth said Steamboat Springs community has received condolences from Vail Resorts chief executive Adam Aron, Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Bill Jensen, and Radamus.At this point, Wirth said, residents in Steamboat Springs can only say Ashley’s death was an unfortunate tragic accident. Even Aaron Stamp, Ashley’s father, told Wirth he saw his daughter’s death as a tragic accident.”When I spoke to Aaron Stamp on Sunday night, his thought was this is a tragedy that can hit anyone, it doesn’t matter where you live,” Wirth said. “He wants to make sure that now it’s a time for healing and to celebrate the life of this incredible young lady.” The Stamps, who have another daughter, Samantha, 9, are doing well, all things considered, Wirth said. “These are grieving parents,” Wirth said. “Their thoughts have been on celebrating the life of their daughter, making funeral services arrangements and attending the candlelight vigil.Wirth described Ashley, a seventh-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School, as an accomplished ski racer who had been racing since she was 7. Stamp was familiar with the Golden Peak race course, he said.

“She had a warm smile that would have melted the coldest of hearts. She was truly a special girl of her generation,” Wirth said. “If there are people in Vail who feel compelled to come to the funeral, we’d like them to,” he added. “This tragedy isn’t unique to skiing, it just focus how precious life is and how important our loved ones are.”Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or Saying good-byeA funeral service for Ashley Stamp will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Steamboat Springs High School.

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