Up to 55 injured skiers and snowboarders arrive at Colorado emergency rooms each day, analysis shows
Chris Arnis was with his crew, carving spring snow on his home hill. It was a good Sunday for the lifelong skier.
It was a little shy of 4 p.m., March 15, 2015, when it happened. Arnis, a ski coach in Steamboat Springs, hit some deep ruts where a speed-controlling fence had just been pulled to prepare for snow grooming that evening. He lost a ski and flew face first into the flats on a run called Rainbow.
He’s been in a motorized wheelchair ever since.
“They pulled the fencing and left these trenches. If they had left those up, I would not be sitting here in this chair playing computer games right now,” the quadriplegic husband and father of two said from his home in Steamboat. “It could have easily been avoided.”
There are many stories like Arnis’ — the tragic recounting of falls and crashes that changed lives in an instant. But they provide little insight into the severity and frequency of injuries at the nation’s 460 ski areas.
Skier safety laws that require skiers to recognize inherent risks in the sport and be responsible for their own behavior have for decades protected the resort industry from large legal settlements and kept the public from understanding how often people are seriously hurt on the slopes.
But new statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offer a peek behind the resort industry’s curtain. A study of ski-season hospital admissions in 20 mountain ZIP codes shows as many as 55 skiers and snowboarders a day arriving at emergency departments.
Read more from Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun.
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