Joel Schiavone’s letter in the Feb. 24 Herald made an excellent point concerning the fact that the downhill skier or boarder has the right of way, and the uphill skier is required to yield to the person downhill and keep a safe distance.
I would like to add that Durango Mountain Resort has some responsibility here. My impression is that the reckless skier situation at Purgatory is pretty bad. I have had many near-misses from reckless skiers and boarders coming down behind me. I have seen many more involving others. I have never even witnessed any enforcement in the slow-skiing areas.
I think that DMR and other ski operators feel no urgency in dealing with this problem because, in most areas where there are ski hills, the operators have been immunized from lawsuit.
I am not against protecting ski-hill operators from lawsuits for injuries that occur because of skier error, weather conditions or other hazards associated with the sport, but they should not be immunized against liability for conditions over which the skier has no control and the operator does. Shoddy lift maintenance would be an obvious example. I think another is reckless and marginally proficient skiers who threaten those downhill from them.
In my opinion, DMR is doing a very poor job in this area. It should be made clear to all skiers and boarders that reckless conduct threatening others has consequences, including loss of ski passes. And until the situation is under better control, a vigorous enforcement policy should be instituted.
Perhaps it is time for state legislatures to revisit the issue of ski-hill operator liability. You have no control over what is coming down behind you. Ski-hill operators can do more to enforce the skiers’ code of responsibility.