Katie Van Hess, Sun Valley, ID.

Editor Note: Here’s our first contribution from a reader about an incident she was involved with. To submit your story, try to follow the same format. Send to [email protected]

Where: Sun Valley

What Happened: Uphill skier heading fast towards a ridge to jump it.  I was heading along the ridge towards a congested area to load on the lift.  He tried to stop but hit me anyway, sending me into another skier while skidding along, flat on my back with skis still attached.   The uphill skier came out of his skis.  No one was seriously injured (but no apology from the guy who hit me). I took time off in the lodge to collect myself and did notice a previous meniscus injury was again compromised. This was at my home base of Sun Valley, and this particular run has always needed a slow down sign or better traffic control. 

Role of the Ski Patrol: I’ve suggested a slow down sign to a ski patroller, and he did agree its been needed but nothing has been done.

Lessons Learned: I rather “panic” when I hear a skier or boarder behind me.  I try to set a definite rhythm to my turns so they can judge where I’m going.  I’ve gotten hit by them too many times over the years.  One time, I did go to the emergency room with a huge hematoma on my arm (which I stuck up to protect myself as a boarder slammed into me while I was standing still).

Advice:  Uphill skiers/boarders need to be reminded of their obligation to be able to safely pass those below them.  I do agree that all mountains need more staff or volunteers to slow down the  “indestructible” younger skiers. Resorts seem to be hesitant about ruining their good time.


  1. I agree, I was hit by a young “indestructible” skier coming from behind me at Mount Snow. I was skiing downhill, but not out of control as he was doing. Ski patrol watched and did nothing. I still have some swelling on my hip (from two years ago!).

  2. Ann Huminski says:

    Skiing can be dangerous no matter how careful the downhill skier. I always ski very slowing on moderate slopes with a regular turn rhythm. One time a snowboarder knocked out my skis from behind with no injury. Then, I got up and went off again and 5 minutes later another young snowboarder knocked me down in the middle of the mountain and I went unconscious. When I got up, I was bouncing off people because I had lost my balance. It took serveral minutes for me to get my equilibrium back. I had a headache but didn’t get any help. I am sure I had a concussion. No more skiing for me that day. I don’t ski too much any more because of that.

    • Ann, I hope you are now doing well. I am sorry that you and others have to endure the results of reckless skiers and riders. But more important, if you do fall, take some time to access how you feel. don’t just get up. You could have had a worse outcome, had you fallen again, attempting to ski while you recognized your equilibrium had been disrupted.

      We have all had our incidences, and wish there was far better policing of out of control skiers and riders. While it’s OK that people post their experiences, here, I doubt ski areas are reading this blog.

      Perhaps Senior Skiing can publish a position paper to the National Ski Areas Association and to state departments of tourism. Publish their responses, or lack there of.

  3. Katie makes a good point. Most mountains are very lax in disciplining skiers or boarders who ski out of control. With the price of lift tickets now I don’t think it is unreasonable for ski areas to either hire more people or put more “patrol” in ski patrol. If enough people speak up and complain then ski areas may start to listen and take action. Be proactive and go to the General Manager of your ski area and tell them to be more diligent in controlling out of control skiers and boarders.

  4. Into the 1980s areas had ski monitors all over the hill. Rule violators we’re either cautioned, made to watch a safety movie, or had their passes pulled. No areas have ski monitors now—-It’s a cost factor. The rule requiring uphill riders to yield to downhill riders is now not honored; it has achieved myth status. Anyway, an uphill rider who “gets air” cannot turn to avoid hitting you. (Remember, in the old days you had to keep your skis on the snow; you couldn’t even build a small jump.) You just need to keep your head on a swivel and be looking uphill every time you turn. It’s just the way things are now. As the Eagles sing, “Get over it!”

  5. Elliot Tannenbaum says:

    I certainly agree with the risks posed by uphill skiers. There is also a risk with respect to stationary downhill skiers who begin skiing perpendicular to the slope without first turning to see if there are any downhill skiers skiing down. If fact many skiers believe that they always have the right of way with respect to downhill skiers, even when they are starting from a stationary position mid-slope. This is a particular risk when the stationary skiers have been standing below a rise and are not visible to a downhill skier.

  6. I still contend that Ski resorts are negligent by law if they do not enforce the “Ski in control” signs that are posted at most resorts. We ski under the assumption the signs are enforced.
    It only takes a few pulled tickets for the word to get out. I was hit from behind two years ago with a knee injury that put me out for the season. Takes all the fun out of skiing.

  7. I actually know an ex ski patroller who stopped a couple of teens on snowboards, blasting and jumping through a slow zone. They gave him lip and their helmet cam recorded him resorting to an F word to get his point across…the video went viral and the patroller was fired. If management won’t support them after a verbal altercation with rude punks, why would patrollers risk their jobs to enforce safe skiing?

    • Thanks for your post.

      One time when I talking to a young adult, his father verbally accosted me turning four letter words into twenty word paragraphs. I of course had to take it and smile.

      • Thanks for your post.

        One time when I talking to a young adult, his father verbally accosted me turning four letter words into twenty word paragraphs. I of course had to take it and smile. Teach your grandkids, your kids aren’t doing the job.

  8. Ski patrols and most ski area managers are now almost worthless in doing anything about safety. Ski associations are just talking and sympathy people. A few good lawyers and a few million dollar class action law suits are the only thing that will start a new approach to ski slope safety.

    • Carolyn Hughes says:

      I totally agree. Unfortunately money ALWAYS talks. I’ve been taken down several times by complete young idiots who laughed as they continued their way down the hill, leaving me in stunned silence. They had no idea how to ski and obviously didn’t care. I choose my ski areas carefully and watch my back/front/sides constantly unless I know the hill is clear for awhile. Skiing wasn’t as dangerous as it is now even 10-15 years ago, before some of the little monsters who mow people down these days were born. Big problem.

  9. It’s sad to read this commentary, and I also have similar problems on the ski hill, it’s like skiing etiquette has gone the way of politics! RUDE

  10. Skiing has changed with the introduction of snowmaking and/or snow grooming; except for most double-black-diamond trails and ungroomed terrain, trails have been widened, flattened, and hazards removed or covered over. I like to say the worst conditions at most ski areas today are better than the best conditions yesterday. The unintended consequence is that skiers at all levels tend to out-ski their abilities, usually by going too fast. Shorter lift lines have been achieved by putting lots of skiers/riders on the snow. Collisions happen. Recognizing this, as a slower, older skier, I try to stay away from crowds of skiers, narrow trails, and struggling novices. I avoid posses of skiers challenging each other; there is always at least one trying too hard to keep up. Too bad all this caution doesn’t always work!

  11. MPaul Hansen says:

    From an ex-volunteer patroller: My brother-in-law was almost KILLED at Sun Valley ID by an unknown hit-and-run skier who came from behind out of control. The Pro-patroller happen to have an ‘air-splint’ stopping the blood flow and saving his life. He was hit so hard and pushed downhill w/ such force his leg sheared off a 4×4 wood post. In regards to this incident and those above etc., ski area lawyers have in some cases advised their clients to be as risk-adverse as possible. See disclaimers on tickets . . . No more needs to be said. So it goes . . .

  12. wayne a magnoni says:

    I had a similar experience on big wide Warm Springs at Sun Valley. a boarder clipped me from behind. He said it was my fault because he couldn’t tell which way I was going. Do we need rear view cameras?

  13. I had to have a complete ACL replacement on my left knee after an out of control snowboarder hit me from behind. I was standing still waiting near a ski lift line. Guy just got up and went on his way without a word. I now use my ski poles as a defense when standing on the slopes. Totally agree that more needs to be done in terms of educating people who are new to the sport especially since a lot of snowboarders don’t take official lessons but just learn from their friends.

  14. Rude people with a lift ticket think they can do anything they want to on the mountain. In todays world, lift tickets are all RFID and are concealed and are not visible to management/patrol and a search warrant would be needed to seize them. So where does this lead someone with resort authority encountering a dangerous act? Westerners should learn to use and carry a lasso to nab these trouble makers. Easterner should carry shock sticks and touch these bad boys/girls to get their attention and recite the etiquette rule violation. I think every safety bar on every chair on every lift should have the skier/snowboard etiquette rules posted, similar to trail maps. Etiquette rules need to become as familiar as the “Ten Commandments!”

    • Ski area personnel do not need a search warrant to require a skier to show them his or her ticket. Search warrants are required only of law enforcement officersworking for the government (state or federal).

  15. Morgan Graham says:

    Interesting discussion. Ski/Snowboarding magazines should include Skier/Snowboarder Safety in their rankings of resorts. Have the annual surveys include a Safety category, along with the usual “Terrain”, “Quality of Snow”, etc. Let the readers decide, regardless of whether there is a resistance or difficulty in the publication of accident statistics or common criteria for determining resort safety on the slopes.

  16. Irwin Buchholz, PSIA, NSPS says:

    Wow, I’ve known for years this was a nasty situation and we senior skiiers are targets. Fortunately I have been aware and avoided accidents but I have seen the results of the accidents.

  17. kenneth a soule says:

    Just had to comment. I spent a few years on ski patrol. Wwe did slow people down, pulled there passes. It worked. However this was before snowboarders. IE. skate boarders, they have have brought their language, attitude, with them to the slopes. There used to be specific area for snowboarders, and even a few resorts, for skiers. Do we need to go back to that? The bottom line is there are more snowboarders than skiers. It’s a matter of money for the resorts. So , my opinion is slow them down , or seperate them or remove them. I have been skiing for 60 years. I believe I have seen it all.?

  18. Michael Maginn says:

    We are analyzing these comments and are committed to bringing this to the NSAA.

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