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Tragedy in Sierra Nevada should serve as a lesson for skiers

Tragedy in Sierra Nevada should serve as a lesson for skiers
Tragedy in Sierra Nevada should serve as a lesson for skiers

The tragic death of young snowboarder Shawnte Marie Willis not far from the Californian ski resort Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, which is located on the north shore of the Lake Tahoe, though it may sound cynical, is a good example of the consequences of ignoring safety rules of downhill and snowboarding in particular, and common sense in general.

Twenty-five year girl, who lived in the town of Tahoma with her boyfriend and worked at the local ski resort, disappeared this week on Tuesday. Extremely adverse weather conditions prevented the rescue group to go in search of her immediately. Placer County Sheriff Capt. Jeff Ausnow reported that the weather was so extreme that the rescuers simply could not get into an area where was subsequently found the body.

On Wednesday the Black Hawk got to the search area to inspect the area, where the ground group did not managed to get. However, the body of the missing girl was found only on Thursday evening. The deceased was found on a wild hillside in an area known among the local population as “Granite Chief Wilderness”.

According to the results of the preliminary investigation it was found that Miss Willis skied out of the marked slope and died after hitting the tree at a high speed. It is likely that at the time of the tragedy the visibility was so bad that she simply did not have time to notice the barrier and slow down or ski around it. Official results will be published by the authorities after an autopsy.

The news of the tragic accident quickly spread among the fans of alpine skiing. It did not remain unnoticed by officials. Troy Hawks, the chairman of the National Ski Areas Association expressed his condolences over the incident: "We are always saddened by such tragic incidents".

But at the same time Mr. Hawks stressed that, if appropriate security measures are followed by skiing and snowboarding are relatively safe sports, and constant education and information campaigns lead by the authorities and the ski resorts have helped to significantly reduce the number of serious accidents on the slopes in recent years.

Anton Linden

Date: 06/01/2011

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