Skier hits rock and dies

26th December 2010, by Chris Gill

Les Deux Alpes

Les Deux Alpes

What should have been a fun family holiday has ended in tragedy for a British man, killed when he skied into a rock.

John Atkinson died in Les Deux Alpes, France, during the Christmas weekend. He was reportedly skiing on a blue run with his children when he crashed into a rock. The resulting force killed him – he was not reported to be wearing a helmet.

The weather at the time was poor, so although on an easy slope Mr Atkinson was navigating in low visibility and light snowfall; a difficult situation for any level of skier. There are no witnesses to the accident, and officials are also considering whether any other factors could have contributed to his veering off towards the rock.

Skiers and boarders are being warned to watch out for hazards, such as exposed rocks, especially if heading away from the piste. While early season snowfalls have been good in many areas, snow depths are still building and cover may be thin in places.

It is the time of year when the media highlight accidents: a five year old girl and young man have also died, following a collision in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Christmas Eve. The man, a snowboarder, crashed into the young girl and her mother at high speed. The man and the girl both suffered severe impact injuries and died; the mother suffered a head injury. Of the three, only the young girl was wearing a helmet. But a double fatality is very rare, and US accident rates have fallen significantly in past twenty years, with improving equipment and helmet use.

It does however highlight the increasing problem of busy pistes, and how to behave on them. Skier rage seems to be on the rise too: in another highly unusual incident, an American man has been charged with child abuse having punched a teenager thought to have bumped into his young son at Beaver Creek resort.

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