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State should do a better job informing skiers of risks

I have been praying for snow, or for the temperatures to skyrocket overnight. Across the country ski resorts, in an attempt to extend the season, risk lives. Higher than average numbers of deaths occur in the month of March.

My brother, Dr. Robert Cunningham, died on March 30, 2008. He had been skiing at a local resort well over 25 years, as well as around the world. He was not a daredevil, drinker or irresponsible in any way.

I started to notice after his death the many incidences of skiers and snowboarders killed or severely injured in the month of March, both locally as well as nationwide. Users of resorts across the country sign a waiver due to the inherent risk of skiing. However, that is misleading, because the average skier knows little about the meanings of the jargon of “conditions.”

There are at least 15 categories identifying skiing conditions. Skiers are not informed of this nor what each rating means. Each can increase your risk and they are not all inherent risks, but rather man-made dangerous “enhancements” utilized to lengthen the season.

Signing waivers of rights and responsibilities without being given full knowledge of the risks is not informed consent. Laws vary from state to state setting certain statutory duties for operators and skiers. In New York State, operators have statutory duties to provide warning and notice.

Without full disclosure, and understanding, this is a misleading ruse offering a false sense of safety.

New York State needs to review current statutes and provide specific legislative directives regarding informed consent and as well as safety practices in the push to extend the season.

Laura Wright

Amherst