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Published on Thursday, June 2, 2016

Colorado Supreme Court: Ski resorts not liable for avalanches

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that ski resorts cannot be held responsible for avalanches that occur on their land.
 
They are part of the 'inherent dangers of skiing' the court said.
 
The Supreme Court ruled 5-2 against a lawsuit brought by the widow of Christopher Norris, who was killed in 2012 on a ski run in the Winter Park ski resort.  
 
She said the run should have been closed due to the high risk of avalanche and no warning signs were posted.
 
Colorado's Ski Safety Act lists a number of hazards that skiers assume the risk for, such as ice, trees and cliffs, but it does not specifically mention avalanches.
 
 
However the act states 'snow conditions as they exist or may change' which the court ruled covers avalanches.
 
One of the dissenting judges, Justice Monica Marquez, said the average skier is not qualified to adequately assess the risk of an avalanche, and it should be the duty of the ski resort.
 
"Under today's holding, even a family of novice skiers traversing the mountain must be expected to look uphill, gauge the steepness of the slope, the quantity of fresh snow, and the multitude of factors that avalanche forecasters consider, and assume the risk of being swept away by an avalanche," she wrote.

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