17th Fatality Sets Colorado Ski Slope Death Record

Safety is important, people. This year’s skiing season is going out on a sombre note as a new record was set for the most skiing or snowboarding deaths on Colorado ski slopes in a single season.

From the Denver Post:

The unidentified man was pronounced dead at the Vail Valley Medical Center after a skiing incident on the intermediate run In The Wuides in Blue Sky Basin on Vail Mountain.

A call came at approximately 10:50 a.m., and Vail Ski Patrol responded immediately.

The ski patrol provided advanced life support and transported the patient to an ambulance at the bottom of the mountain.

The skier was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. Officials didn’t provide more details of the incident.

The previous record for deaths was 16, set in the 2001-2002 season.

That record was tied last weekend when a Kansas man became the 16th skier or snowboarder to die in a crash on the slopes.

The death of skier Michael Howe, 43, of Andover, Kan., on March 30 pushed the state to tie the dubious record. It was the fourth death at Keystone this season.

Industry officials say skiing remains statistically safer than many other outdoor activities, including bike riding and swimming, and every resort runs into safety programs.

“Not to sound cliché, but safety is the No. 1 priority at our resorts,” said Nick Bohnenkamp, spokesman for the trade group Colorado Ski Country USA.

Remember to ski or snowboard safely and responsibly.

17th ski-resort death sets record [Denver Post via BuzzFeed]
Ski Safely [National Safety Council]


Edit Your Comment

  1. telarium says:

    No one died at Beaver Creek this year. Ski The Beav!

  2. dragonfire81 says:

    If some novice skier wants to ride the chairlift up to the top of the highest slope and make an attempt to get down it, the resorts can’t really stop them.

    I wonder how many of these deaths are the result of people grossly overestimating their abilities and skill.

  3. apotheosis says:


    Ski The Beav!

    I bet their advertising department is a hoot.

  4. telarium says:


    Well, actually it’s “Not exactly roughing it” — thank you, escalators…

    Beaver Creek’s terrain is more advanced in many respects, so it is interesting to see how Vail garnered that notoriety this year. I suppose it has to do with volume.

  5. laserjobs says:

    Speed kills but it is so damn fun

  6. FightOnTrojans says:

    @dragonfire81: Are you *blaming the victims*? Gah! How dare you!

  7. djanes1 says:

    So, is this more or less deadly than BPA?

  8. @dragonfire81: Most of them, I’d wager. But I’m sure a lot are victims of overconfidence as well.

    When my intermediate butt is on the intermediate runs, I encounter a lot of experts boarding too fast or doing crazy stunts, and I have to navigate around their high-speed bullshit. Same for the beginners on my run. I’ve almost smacked into trees trying to avoid hot-doggers and dumb-asses who fall right in front of me!

  9. camman68 says:

    @apotheosis: You would like my “Beaver Liquor” cap!

  10. telarium says:


    I didn’t know they sold hats. Guess I gotta trek to Avon tonight.

  11. @ceejeemcbeegee: And I’m not blaming the victim, just pointing out how some of these accidents can happen to unsuspecting people of all skill levels.

  12. ARP says:

    @dragonfire81: Accidents are split down the middle with those who overestimate their skills (going out of boundries, more difficult hills, etc.) and those overestimating physics. A common accident is someone who is going way too fast for the area (i.e. its crowded)slamming into a slower moving skier (most often).

    Also, snowboarders fail to realize that skiers have a much greater turn arc (especially beginners). That lack of understanding + high speeds = deaths.

  13. Whitey Fisk says:

    Life is not without risks. Noted.

  14. spinachdip says:

    @dragonfire81: “Victims have ranged from 11 years old to 67 and included men and women, snowboarders and skiers, beginners and experts, so observers say they are not concerned about major unaddressed safety issues.”

    So to answer your question, inconclusive.

  15. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    skied vail for years, but as snowboarding got more and more popular, i liked it less, particularly in areas like mid-vail, which is like the intersection of hell most days. prefer to avoid resort-y places that have so many runs ending up in the same place, as people tend to overextend themselves (and yes, overestimate their capabilities) while on vacation.

  16. humphrmi says:

    I water ski.

    I like to go to (snow) ski resorts though. I sit in the lodge and drink. That’s dangerous in and of itself I suppose, but so far I have not gotten alcohol poisoning.

  17. Bernie530 says:

    I know this is a about the tragedy of a skiing accidents, so why are you posting about how awsome beaver creek is?

    Also, Vail kicks beaver creeks ass. Beaver Creek is for rick MILFs in tossers. Vail has real terrain. You won’t find poser following the groomers around like you do at BC.

  18. Bernie530 says:

    Alright, the more I think about this the more PO I am getting.

    We are adults. We choose to put our butts on the ski lift and take the risks associated.

    I used to work EMS at a ski resort.

  19. Bernie530 says:

    Sorry, something happened and my last post got posted before it was complete.

    I used to work EMS at a small ski resort. We would average 1 death yearly. More often than not, it was one of two types of skiers:

    -Intermediate who got in over their heads
    -Expert who let their guard down.

    However, all of the deaths I have worked were on groomed intermediate hills. People are not dying on expert terrain. I’m not sure if this is because speeds are slower on harder terrain, or if people are just more cautious when the hill looks “scary”.

    Anyway, my point is this isn’t Vail’s fault. Per the letter this happened on intermediate terrain that was groomed. Vail didn’t offer a hill with dangerous conditions, someone just got in over their head or let their guard down.

    My heart goes out to the family of the victim, but it was his choice to be there. Vail is not at fault.

  20. telarium says:


    Nah, the Beav is far less crowded, far more challenging trees, and hey – a bigger vertical drop! Rock the Talons, man!

    But you stay at Vail and Gape it up with the rest of the tourists. Less crowds for me!

  21. Sachlichkeit says:

    Skip Colorado all together. Too many 45 year old men from Texas with something to prove out skiing the double black diamonds on the E chair. Not to mention that every resort except for A-basin (and this is changing) is now overrun by fourth home owning Californians.

    Northern Rockies skiing (Fernie, Castle Mountain, Big Mountain, Whistler) is where its at. No lift lines and great snow.

  22. KogeLiz says:

    I don’t see how the resort is to blame… ?

  23. spinachdip says:

    @KogeLiz: And? I don’t see anyone suggesting that.

  24. evilhapposai says:

    Wii Fit Skiing….so many lives could have been saved if available 1 year earlier. Why freeze my ass off and die by hitting a tree when I can just hit continue if I do in the warm comfort of my own home? Might sprain an ankle but thats a risk I am willing to take!

  25. evilhapposai says:

    …..Also funny how there were 17 more deaths skiing than in trap shooting this year. Yet when I mention shooting is one of my hobbies to someone and I get looked at like I am a kill-em-all barbarian. Hell even GOLF has more injuries!

  26. RvLeshrac says:

    Hey, if you’re going to hurl yourself down a rocky mountain at breakneck speed, I really don’t have any sympathy for you if you wind up dead.

    Yet, strangely, skiing is legal and BASE jumping is not.

  27. RvLeshrac says:


    Isn’t the definition of skiing/snowboarding “underestimating physics”?


    If you jump off a mountain, it seems like you’d *expect* and *plan* to die. The really amazing thing is that there aren’t more deaths.

  28. RvLeshrac says:


    I don’t think you qualify as a “victim” when you initiate the high-speed encounter with a solid object.

  29. KogeLiz says:

    @spinachdip: Perhaps you haven’t read 99% of the posts on here?

  30. carpediemcls says:

    The Northern Rockies are where its at…I ski at a community owned ski lodge (no resort which means no yuppies and weekend warriors) Which also means less crowds and less chance to get slammed into by some jeans wearing midwesterner skiing out of control. Heard this on the radio the other day…Montana is everything Colorado thinks it is…

  31. inno says:

    Just don’t shave it. As a courtesy to the riders after you. Hur hur hur.

  32. spinachdip says:

    @KogeLiz: You mean this post or this site?

    One of my pet peeves on this site is self-righteous commenters who get all Arty McStrawman (actually, strawman builders are just annoying in general). In this case, it’s the “I don’t have any sympathy for the skiers!!!” and the “Don’t blame the resorts!!!”

    It’s really a problem in other posts too. Posts that are meant to warn consumers about certain practices or report on incidents matter-of-factly get flooded with the variations on the “I don’t have any sympathy for ____!!! Waaaahhh!!!” comments.

    It’s great that you have an opinion and have the courage to voice it. But shit, stop answering questions that nobody asked.

  33. Keat says:

    Skiing is all about respecting physics.

  34. mmbb says:

    and 18 people died in traffic accidents directly related to their trip to the ski area. WHERE’S THAT F’ING HEADLINE, CONSUMERIST?

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    “Ah, the hill isn’t that steep. Besides, everyone knows how soft snow is!”

  36. Juggernaut says:

    @Bernie530: unless you’re looking for rick MILFs in tossers…

  37. 00exmachina says:

    Going from my personal experience skiing, I’d say it’s probably a combination of the two things you brought up as a possible cause.

    When I was learning I noticed this nice point where you’re good enough that the beginner slopes are boring, but you’re still over your head on the intermediate slopes.

    And on the experts who let their gaurd down point I can agree with that one completely, as they say ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’

  38. Trai_Dep says:

    My general rule when skiing is, Choose when to fall and get back up with bruises. Have a fall choose you and get up w/ compound fractures.
    That, and gaggles of small children make excellent cushions!

  39. JustaConsumer says:

    Keep in mind that this is all taking place on public land. No, the ski areas do not own the mountains, only a little property at the base. Vail Assoc. is making many 10’s of millions and paying the tax-payers back almost nothing for use of the land.

  40. hi says:

    Ski slopes are terrorists. They must be stopped at all costs. Justice and freedom shall prevail. A new tax of 5 percent will be added to your imcome tax to battle these slopes. I urge all nations of the world to join with us to fight this axis of evil. If your not with us, then your with the slopes.

  41. JustaConsumer says:

    The point is, as a taxpayer, you are being taken to the cleaners.

  42. pete7919 says:

    It’s interesting that this article showed up here 3 days after the end of the season and 11 days after the original article. So much for prompt reporting.

    I suspect that there were more deaths this year due to the GREAT powder.

  43. chelotoyou says:

    @Sachlichkeit: Whahh? Colorado is the best for skiing – plus, you can let the Colorado Springs Jesus into your heart at the same time!