Feature

Canada: Making extreme skiing safer

Skiing is not supposed to be a blood sport.

EditorialThe Globe and Mail

Skiing is not supposed to be a blood sport, said the Toronto Globe and Mail. But two top Canadian skiers have died on runs already this year. Sarah Burke, 29, was killed in a fall during a training run in Utah in January. Then, just last weekend, Nik Zoricic, 29, died of head injuries after slamming into a fence at the final jump of a ski-cross race in Switzerland. Ski cross is an extreme sport in which competitors race at the same time down a narrow course featuring sharply banked turns and stomach-dropping jumps. It’s a “tough, dangerous, and sensational event” that bills itself as “winter sport’s answer to a roller derby”; others have called it “NASCAR on skis.” Alpine Canada, the country’s governing body for downhill ski racing, said Zoricic’s death, like Burke’s, was a “freak accident.” But it was obviously preventable. If the finish line had been flanked not by pillars and fencing but simply by ropes, Zoricic would have been disqualified for straying out of bounds, but he would be alive today. The term “freak accident” is “an insensitive way to describe something that happens once a month.” Ski authorities need to modify the courses—and soon. Isn’t skiing exciting enough without the risk of death?

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