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Colorado: Vail Resorts to stand trial for avalanche death of local teenage skier

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Vail Resorts compliance with Colorado Ski Safety Act signage requirements is at issue in a lawsuit over the death of a Vail-area teenager in a January 2012 avalanche on Prima Cornice. Photo courtesy CAIC.

Judge refuses to dismiss case, says it’s not clear that Vail Resorts followed all legal requirements for signing and closing dangerous terrain

By Bob Berwyn

*More coverage here

FRISCO — A final legal determination in the case of a January 2012 inbounds avalanche death at Vail Ski area could hinge technical details of how the ski area manages its terrain, and whether Vail Resorts complied with signage requirements of the Colorado Ski Safety Act, according to the latest ruling from District Court Judge Chris Melonakis. Continue reading

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Vail Ski Area revamps management of Prima Cornice terrain after last winter’s deadly inbounds avalanche

Resort says it will use more ropes and signage when needed to discourage uphill traffic and warn of potential hazards

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A diagram prepared by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center shows the approximate locations of various gates used to access Prima Cornice at Vail Ski Area.

*Read more Summit Voice coverage of the inbounds avalanche deaths at Vail and Winter Park here.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With the discovery phase of a trial over last year’s inbounds avalanche death of a teenage skier under way, Vail Resorts this week announced that it has changed the way ski patrollers manage the Vail Ski Area terrain where the deadly incident occurred.

Based on its own review of the avalanche on Prima Cornice, Vail officials said there may be times when patrollers use more ropes and signage to indicate closures and potential danger. The changes were instituted at the start of this season, according to a statement from Vail Resorts.

“Vail Resorts takes safety as its highest priority, and we continually re-evaluate and adapt based on new information or changing skier behavior. The Company remains a defendant in a lawsuit concerning this incident and will not be making additional comments. We remain incredibly saddened by the events of that day, and our deepest sympathy continues to go out to the family of Taft Conlin,” the company said in it statement. Continue reading

Forest Service review clears Vail in avalanche death

Families not happy with conclusions, say the resort and Forest Service can and should do more to prevent similar accidents

A Google Earth view shows the location of the two gates on Prima Cornice. IMAGE COURTESY GOOGLE EARTH/CAIC.

This Google Earth view shows the size of the avalanche in relation to the terrain of Prima Cornice. IMAGE COURTESY GOOGLE EARTH/CAIC.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said his agency won’t require Vail Resorts to revamp its snow safety procedures in the wake of a large inbounds avalanche on Prima Cornice that killed 13-year-old Taft Conlin last winter. Read the Forest Service review here.

Conlin’s mother said she, as well as the families of some of the other youngsters involved in the accident, aren’t completely satisfied with the agency’s conclusions. Read the full statement from the families here. Continue reading

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