Things Get Rocky On Bullwinkle

[Editor note: is collecting stories from readers about incidents and accidents that they have experienced. We intend to review these for patterns and themes and use that data to influence the safety policies of resorts and other stakeholders. The following is the fourth article submitted by a reader in our new feature “Incidents and Accidents”. If you have a story to tell, please follow the format used below and send to [email protected]]

Jan Brunvand, Snowbasin, UT

What Happened

My wife Judy and I, both octogenarians, were skiing a blue run called Bullwinkle at Snowbasin, UT, on a nice clear midweek day with smooth groomed snow and few other skiers or riders. I had my helmet cam turned on, and I skied down first in order to get a video of Judy’s run. Looking back up the slope I noticed a skier and two snowboarders entering the run at the top, but Judy was on skier’s right, and they were on the left. What could possibly go wrong?

Skier veers toward Judy. Credit: Jan Brunvand

When Judy was about three quarters of the way down, suddenly the skier veered towards her and barely missed cutting her off. Then, just as she reached the run-out at the bottom, one of the boarder dudes cut straight across the hill towards her and ran over the back of her skis. The kid toppled, but Judy managed to stay upright by waving her poles to offset the collision.

Boarder crosses Judy’s skis. Credit: Jan Brunvand

The boarder, probably noting Judy’s white hair sticking out from under her helmet, apologized profusely. Judy checked her skis, and they had remained solidly attached. We proceeded to the base, keeping careful eyes on the others around us.

Boards goes down, Judy is waving her pole for balance, not repelling boarders. Credit Jan Brunvand

Back home I checked the video and saw again what close calls these had been. I took screen shots of three frames showing the two near misses plus the aftermath. In the last one it looks like Judy is poking the boarder dude with her ski pole—fighting him off. Not true, but it all happened too fast for us to realize how it might have appeared to a bystander.

Role of the Ski Patrol

No patrollers in sight

Lessons Learned

Danger can come from anywhere, no matter how much you try to stay in your lane and watch out for others on the hill. Not all skiers and riders are out of control or aggressive, but neither are they necessarily aware of their surroundings, so YOU have to be the aware one.


As in photo 3 above: Don’t Mess With Grandma!


  1. Amazing! A practically empty slope and your wife nearly gets taken out. I guess there’s not much we can do except start wearing body armor!

  2. so true, how great it was to have your helmet cam to catch it all. Some of the skiers and boarders are oblivious to their surroundings. either they don’t care or they have ear buds on and can’t pay attention. I will send Jon a drawing for him to post of an occupied snowboarder.

  3. It was Snowbasin that recently fired a patroller for arguing with a couple of boarders skiing too fast with their helmet cam on…it recorded him yelling back at them “shut the f… up” when they wouldn’t stop arguing about it..then they posted it. No support for employees trying to do the job, so why would they bother?

    • Roger Buddy Coffman says:

      Having been a patroller for 35 years; I say that the patroller should have been disiplined for the foul language but not fired, unless this was not the the first time it happened.

  4. Frank Scharo says:

    From the posture and lack of form of the skier who almost hit Judy he looks like a beginner with no hill smarts. I do not think there is an answer for stupidity or lack of respect. I almost feel safer on black runs free of the complete novice. As others have said, complaints seem to go unnoticed.

  5. Frequently see other skiers being used as “slalom gates” by skiers and boarders who then lose control and take people out
    Everybody give some room!

  6. at our mountain, Belleayre in NY we give out cards asking/telling skiers and boarders to keep at least 15 feet from others. As a staff trainer each time I send an instructor down a slope I repeat “15 feet”. In addition we give guests cards about the 15 ft rule. I also encourage my newer instructors to announce “on your left or right” as they pass others. I can remember when such a “warning” was common place but let’s try to bring this warning back again. The few times people announce this I commend and thank them for doing so. Jack Jordan, PSIA-E

  7. Harry Benas (PSIA-E, retired) says:

    On your left or right is what I learned and later taught. I have been told, more than once, that ski schools are no longer using that phrase because is might startle a skier. Makes no sense to me.


    • Irwin Buchholz, PSIA, NSPS says:

      I still use that alert both on skis, Hiking , Biking and walking on the sidewalks. I know I appreciate the warning as well and it is still used in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

  8. Eileen Fishkin says:

    Just came in on a snowy, low visibility run on Snowshed at Killington VT. As an advanced intermediate skier in my 80s, I steer clear of other skiers and boarders, and I am predictable, skiing a line. With not one person around me, on this very wide slope, a young male skier sped by me, brushing my arm and turning directly in front of me, just missing my skis. Not a word or look back to see if he creamed me. This was just the latest of many incidents. I am not a slow skier, with lots of Nastar pins to prove it. What is wrong with these people?

  9. I’ve had two snowboarders hit me in the last 4 years. One skier crossed the back of my skis. I am 82, but not a slow skier. There are too many Boarders who have no regard for others on the hill and do not ride within their skill level. Suggest that all ticket buyers must read and sign a code that they are responsible to avoid those ahead of them. And that they will be held liable for any damage or injuries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *