Skiers meet in court over alleged Vail collision
DENVER ” An alleged collision between two skiers on Vail Mountain two years ago caused one to smash into a 6-foot-tall pole, leaving him with injuries that have resulted in 10 surgeries, he said in a civil lawsuit that went to trial in Denver federal court this week.
Jason White, 24, a former competitive skier working at a Vail ski shop, sued the other skier, Michael Kaiden, alleging that their skis became entangled when Kaiden came up behind him and made a sharp right turn in April 2004.
Kaiden, also a former competitive skier who lives in New York, disputed the claim, testifying Tuesday that the two never collided.
White is suing Kaiden for $1.3 million in damages, arguing Kaiden was out of control and violating state law by failing to keep a proper lookout or failing to avoid a collision with a person skiing below him.
Kaiden testified that he saw nobody in front of him just before the crash. He said he was turning to his right when he saw “at my 5 o’clock, someone coming right at me.”
Kaiden said he turned sharply to the left and avoided hitting White, who then hit the post. Kaiden said he stayed nearby until ski patrol members arrived to take White to the hospital, and then filled out an incident report.
Responding to a question from White’s attorney, Beth Klein, he testified he never called to check on White.
“I didn’t know the guy, and I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “It wasn’t a major concern of mine.”
Before the trial, which is expected to continue through Friday, U.S. District Judge Phillip S. Figa dismissed Kaiden’s claim that the Vail ski area should share some of the blame for erecting the post that White hit. Kaiden also is arguing that White was “comparatively negligent” and assumed a known risk when he went skiing.
A friend of White’s who was skiing with him that day, Janel Ippolito, testified the two men were even with each other when Kaiden made a sharp right turn. In an incident report she filed the day of the crash, she wrote the men’s skis and poles may have hit each other, but that their bodies did not touch.
She also testified that White has been able to return to skiing and working in Vail.