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Equipment improves, but skier safety doesn’t

Brief by Allen Best

Skiing – September 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

Jim Chalat is Colorado’s best-known lawyer in ski-related cases. He told The Denver Post recently that the ski slopes are not necessarily safer than they used to be.

Helmets have been proven to improve safety, and he’d have ski areas make sure skiing employees used them, to serve as role models.

Still, no substantial statistical decrease in injuries has occurred since the advent of the modern alpine release binding. He believes an increasing percentage of collisions is due to increasing skier density. “You’ve got high-speed lifts pouring skiers on trails that were cut … for a different era.” The Forest Service, he suggests, needs to administer its property better.

He also sees consequences of fewer people learning to ski from professional ski instructors. “Statistically, we see a higher incidence of more serious injuries, particularly with children, and largely as a result of collisions.”

Skiers, he says, are no safer than snowboarders. “As my grandpa used to say, it all depends on the nut behind the wheel.”