Vail chairlift picture draws mixed response |

Vail chairlift picture draws mixed response

Vail Dail Staff
Vail, CO, Colorado

We had a lively Monday with responses to Don Rogers’ column, “Did we make wrong call with picture,” about a photograph Saturday of a skier who dangled upside down from a chairlift in Vail’s Blue Sky Basin for a short time before being rescued unharmed.

Overall, the response by phone call and e-mail ran roughly two to one supporting our decision to publish the picture. Both sides of the decision made strong arguments for whether we absolutely needed to publish the photograph or we made a terrible mistake in doing so.

Whether you agreed or strongly disagreed with our decision, thank you for taking the time and making the effort to let us know what you think.

Here is a sampling of the e-mails that came in Monday:

… Your headline treats this incident as a joke; as part of the rescue effort, we can assure you that for the gentleman, his family, and the rescuers, it was not at all humorous. Fortunately, the skier was pulled to safety, but if his pants would have torn and he would have fallen head first, the event could have ended tragically.

I wonder how Marty Odom would have felt if he were hanging from a chair over the exposed rocks of a creek bank? …

Mr. Odom and the Vail Daily should apologize for their poor judgment and be more thoughtful in the future.

Timm and Liz Paxson Vail

The man stuck on the chairlift in Blue Sky was newsworthy. The problem with the photo and the news brief the way it was published is that it was a joke. The headline, combined with the brief and inaccurate “reporting,” was lighthearted and less aimed at informing the reader than at providing a cheap laugh. …

The brief failed to answer what was wrong with the chair to put him in that dangerous position, why the lift operator was slow to respond, and how the resort is working to correct the situation. I’d like to know if the man plans to sue. And are any mountain personnel being held responsible? …

The photo as published was not news. It was a distasteful joke. It failed to ask any questions and contained unverified information. Next time, before debating ethics, do some research.

Erin McCuskey Avon

We can find no fault in what the Vail Daily did regarding including the photograph of the embarrassing moment for some young man. Maybe if he had been doing what he was supposed to do, he wouldn’t have found himself in that position. You did not include his name. We looked at the photograph and article, and it was very hard to even distinguish for sure that his pants were down. Guys and gals walking around in the summer in their string thongs don’t look much different! Keep up the good job. We enjoy the paper.


I am a VR employee and loved your take on the upside down skier. For obvious reasons I must ask you not to use my name if you choose to comment on my note.

I find it amazing that Mr. Jarnot was “furious” that the Vail Daily printed the article and accompanying photo. …

I am curious why you seemed to have caved in to Jarnot and pulled the article and pic off the VD Web site. Mr. Jarnot seems to have escalated something trivial into a bigger deal.

Keep up the good work and we will look forward to reading some interesting letters responding to your article.


Since no ultimate harm was done, the picture of the skier showed good humor in a difficult situation. It may have changed my mind about those who wear their pants about that low even when not hanging off a ski lift. In terms of its taste or lack of taste, it doesn’t come close to the bad taste in the ads … that look more like an add for a brothel than a tanning salon most of the time.

All your points in “My View” are well taken. Keep up the good work.

John Snyder East Vail

… Had the skier been physically injured in a serious manner, printing the photo would have been in poor taste. …

I would hope that photos and stories like this will continue to be reported in our daily paper. This is a resort community and some lightness in attitude should absolutely be allowed. We all live here for the relaxed culture and if Vail Resorts wants to draw the corporate line, they are appropriately located in Denver. Good for you for printing this photo and sticking to the relaxed nature of our community!


Letting it all hang out. That is the issue. The skier’s butt exposure was unintentional. Therefore, we need to be informed and prepared for the risks of chair lifts. Being forewarned is being forearmed.

As usual we spend too much time on singular, unique events, but we, as humans, citizens, and consumers turn away from the horrors, yes, the horrors of daily activities.

Where is our outrage over letting it all hang out in our daily teenage attire, butts and boobs on TV and in movies and computer porn, and our lack of social skills and appropriate daily behavior? Which leads to the most crucial “hanging out” question of this century. …


You need to publish that picture. You should also write the story behind it. The story was described to me yesterday as I rode up on chair 5 from an eye witness. …

Is it an unwritten law that Vail Resorts approves of all things reported in the Daily? …

I think the picture was in poor taste as it showed a humorous slant on a very serious situation.

George Radell

I wish that picture of the guy almost falling off of the chair had been around when I was raising kids who were always goofing off on the lifts. It never hurts to be reminded that riding a chair can be risky and that picture, more than any amount of lecturing, emphasizes the point.

Patricia Dorf Eagle

First, in terms of respecting someone’s privacy and personal limits, would you be OK with your heiney on the printed page? I wouldn’t. … If he was skiing naked down Blue Sky Basin, then he might deserve a little “coverage” in the paper. But he wasn’t. He was caught in an unfortunate accident.

You drew a parallel to printing photos of surviving car accident victims. If a car accident victim came out on a stretcher with their rear end exposed, would you print that? Heck, maybe the guy hanging from the lift was fine with the photo, but did you check with him first?

My other concern is with how the picture was presented. You didn’t run a news article on the incident, merely a headline and cutline, and the headline was “cheeky,” like something we’d expect to see in Town Talk. You didn’t present it like news so your argument of “Yes, it’s news,” falls a little short to me. …

Natalie Rooney

… The skier in question should cut out the picture and post it on his fridge. If that happened to me, I’d be the one laughing the hardest. …

Don’t give in to the evil empire’s desire to save face. If it happens again or something similar and you don’t print it, I’ll send you a nasty e-mail calling you all kinds names referring to the lower anatomy of the female body.


Don Rogers raises an interesting thought in connection with the publication of the picture in the Vail Daily of a skier hanging from a Blue Sky lift. Indeed, his paper is a reflection of the mores of the community the paper serves.

Does this mean, however, the paper must emphasize the worst aspects of these? Is it not bad enough that the town of Vail has a council which needs to go bowling with Vail Resorts executives to improve “communications”? Must the town paper publish a picture of an non-injury incident which puts VR in the worst possible light, particularly if picked up by the national media? I think not. Chris Jarnot was justifiably furious.

Don Rogers and his staff might want to take a good look at themselves and ask: Should we be cheerleaders and present the town and the mountain company in the best possible light or should we continue to take every opportunity, such as in a recent New Year’s column by regular contributor Richard Carnes who took uncalled for swipes at VR and its leader, or for that matter, publish uninformed reader comments about the company’s trail grooming?

My vote is for a kinder, gentler Vail Daily, at least during the ski season. We can always go back to fighting each other once the financial life-giving visitors are gone.

John Eschenlohr Avon

… Was this embarrassing? Oh my god, yes! I suggest the guy wear a belt or buy pants that fit. … Since he was not identified and survived the incident with only a bruised ego, you had too. It was a classic!

I feel for the guy, but I’m glad you shared the experience for two reasons: One, what can I do to never be in that situation, and the laugh. How does this type of thing happen! Perhaps Vail Mountain was a little embarrassed that a lift op was not there or didn’t do their job in putting down the seat.

I don’t always agree with a paper’s decision to print certain items under the “newsworthy” umbrella, but this was not harmful. The only people who will know the identity are those that the bared skier shares it with.

Nikki Little Edwards

… I think you made the right decision in publishing the photograph. It is time for drawing attention to the importance of using a bar on the chairlift. …

A news brief in the paper reporting the accident without the picture would not have the same impact or even the attention drawn to reading the article.

I have no problem with publishing the photo, especially since the person was unidentifiable. If anything, we need more attention drawn to this.

There are some ski areas that make using the bar mandatory. I think this would be a good idea for Vail.

Janet Levine

I thought it was great! It’s NEWS. His/her name was not published. It wasn’t obscene. I thought it was terrific!

It’s also a wake up call. Skiers need to be careful when on the chairlifts. …

Tell Chris Jarnot to relax. I really don’t think that photo is going to affect his numbers this year on the mountain. Vail/Beaver Creek still has the best snow! Plus the person was successfully rescued!

Meryl Mason Edwards

Support Local Journalism