Vail Daily letter: Disagree with ruling
A nice ploy by the lawyers for Taft Conlin to claim the bottom of a run in Vail should have been closed. And stupid for the judge to call Vail Resorts reckless. Has that lawyer or the judge ever skied?
My parents didn’t load me on skis when I was 5. I stole my brother’s skis while he was in school and skied the snow banks along Girard Avenue in Minneapolis. I skied to grade school every day there was snow, after school and weekends at Kenwood Park (no rope, platters, chairs or gondolas there). We studied the movies and books on the Arlberg System designed by Hannes Schneider, taught and critiqued each other. In 1940, I gave my first adult ski lesson, became a professional in 1942 ($5 for a two-hour lesson).
In 1946, after three snowless years in American deserts and the South Pacific, I became president of the University of Minnesota Ski Club and a member of their alpine ski team; in 1947-48, a member of the Sun Valley Ski Patrol.
I am a charter member of PSIA (cross-country and alpine) and have been an examiner for that organization and a ski instructor in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and for the Minneapolis Park Board, Buck Hill, Aspen, Snowmass, Keystone and Vail.
Note: I am not an employee of Vail Resorts.
I relate all this because I learned one thing: A ski slope or ski run goes down. Every skier or snowboarder knows this. If a run is closed, it is for a reason. And if you enter the bottom of a run (which gives access to another run) and climb up, you are breaking rules. That gate was for the next run … down. Yes, the powder looks inviting — incidentally, I wrote a book “Ski Powder Nine Ways,” but you know you shouldn’t climb up to enjoy it.
I noticed that Taft was 13. That’s a rebellious age, the age kids love to break rules, bug adults and break away from the nest. I know because I taught eighth grade for nine years. (A friend who escaped a Nazi prison camp and joined the Polish Underground during World War II told me, “Twelve-year-olds were our best fighters. They were fearless.”)
I dare say that Taft knew he was skiing or boarding illegally.
Yes, a loss of life is sad. But if Taft had lived, he should have been given a citation for climbing a closed run.
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