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It Might Be Wise To Skip That Last Run.

Who: Arlene Condon Maginn

Where: Bretton Woods, NH

What Happened: On the third day of our ski week, Bretton Woods had a two-for-one ticket day.  The crowd, still very modest, was noticeably bigger than earlier in the week.

John and I were skiing the last run of the day around 3 pm. John followed me down from the top, and, at the very bottom run out, he zoomed past me. At least three trails led into the base area, marked by a big “Slow” sign. No one was slowing in the slightest. Suddenly, a boarder crossed directly in front of me and went right over the back of John’s skis, not 15 feet away. John launched into the air without his skis and landed head first in a snow bank off the trail. The boarder also fell and lost his board.

Both John and the boarder stood up and shook themselves off. John said he saw stars and was thankful he was wearing a helmet.  The boarder also said he was okay and was very apologetic to have caused the mishap. 

I am a nurse with a recent head injury, so I was very careful to ask John several times about any symptoms, like blurred vision and headache. The boarder stayed with us while John put his skis back on. We went down the 50 or so yards to the base.  We were done for the day and headed back to the lodge.

Lesson Learned:

1. We should have asked for identification from the boarder, just for future reference. And we should have reported the incident to the resort. Later, in the lodge, we learned from an employee that there is a formal process for reporting accidents. Since we never exchanged information with the boarder, reporting didn’t seem that useful.

2. The last run of the day can often be problematic. We had fatigued muscles, slowing down our response time.  John should have curbed his enthusiasm and his speed at the bottom of his last run.

3. Skiing in crowded areas—merging trails, near the base, or where there are lessons—requires more diligence and focus on what’s going on. Clearly this is where the risk for collisions is highest.

4. As a senior—especially someone who is recovering from a head injury—I try to be very careful about injuries.  I stay in shape, stretch, wear a helmet and bright-colored parka. My lesson is to ski defensively, especially in tight places and at the end of the day. 




  1. I ski now like I drive my motorcycle, very defensively, someone is going to do something stupid so anticipate it whether it’s going to happen or not. I ride with the idea that the person in front and behind stay far enough away and sometimes I will wave someone back or pull over and let them pass. Also there is someone coming out on a side street whether I see a car or not!
    skiing is getting that way and actually more so than on the road since there is less regard for the fellow skier.

    • So, imagine this parallel: you motorcycle in a bust city w/o speed limits and all ‘courtesy corners’…defensive is good but only goes so far. Regard for fellow skiers/riders could be bolstered by a publicized reckless endangerment conviction and some jail time. Your thoughts?

  2. Ferdinand R Stout says:

    Some resorts like Jackson Hole could care less about enforcing reckless skiers. Likely a consequence of being such a small place everybody knows everybody so no ones pass gets yanked. Because of this things can get dangerous. First day I was there in December I observed a skier jumping over a ‘No Jumping’ sign. Two days later a skier nearly took me out, had to fall to avoid collision throwing up a huge cloud of snow. He didn’t lose either ski so hopped up and continued on his way. Myself yelling not very polite things at him. So a notice a ski patrol person not 50 feet away. Ski Patrol person heads down the mountain. I follow and get his attention and ask him why he didn’t yank that person’s pass. He said he didn’t see anything -Yeah right!

  3. See link below. This ski area while large by New England standards is configured in ‘old world’ terms and dangerous. Too many converging ski runs with too many skiers/riders, going too fast with no policing of slow zones. I estimate about 10,000 patrons on 464 acres, is just unreasonably dense, (even if 5,000). Probability of collision is too great, speeds add to severity of injuries.

  4. I will never again have a “last run.” Back in the 80’s I was skiing Snowbird with my good friend Dante Melotti and it was the end of the day. I noticed a run next to the gondola that I had not skied so I asked Dante if he would wait for me to ski it. It turned out to be a great run so I asked again to ski it. It was even greater so I asked again to ski it for a 3rd time, On the “final run I wiped out on a mogul and my knee was hurting. I could not get up – result an ACL tear.!!! The ski patrol did a good job but I obviously didn’t ski again that year. NEVER AGAIN DID I HAVE A”LAST RUN”!!!!

  5. Irresponsibility is the theme of today’s adult and adolescent. Everyone wants ski patrol to become police patrol. Do we need the all seeing eye, a camera on every trail twist. Think of all the people who would have jobs Q-tipping the lenses every hour. If the Jackson Hole syndrome is our future, then I think it is essential that a new focus is created in how to stay safe. Eliminating the “last run” is not paramount. Maybe helmets need to have a built-in rear view mirror similar to an attachment on a bike rider’s. Maybe a warning beep device needs to sound when you get within 15 feet of another, or a ski brake engages on each party’s skis or board. It reminds me of a dog collar that delivers a sharp electrical shock when you are training the dog to comply. Maybe the shock collar isn’t such a bad idea to police our etiquette code.

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