While the prevalence of avalanche-related deaths in the United States this year has only reaffirmed the dangers of skiing out of bounds, two deaths over a four-day span at Breckenridge Ski Resort and Squaw Valley Ski Resort have illuminated the danger present while skiing inbounds.
On Saturday, at Squaw Valley in the Lake Tahoe region of California, 62-year-old local Elizabeth Danel fell while skiing on steep, expert terrain and slid into a stand of trees. Despite wearing a helmet, Danel was unconscious and unresponsive when ski patrol arrived on the scene, and she was pronounced dead at 2:27 p.m.
On Tuesday, in a separate incident, a yet-to-be-identified 26-year-old male was skiing at Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado when he fell on an intermediate trail around 11:15 a.m. Per the Denver Post, ski patrol “provided advanced life support” to the man, but he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a local emergency clinic.
Though it might be tempting to attribute their deaths to two skiers recklessly skiing above their skill level, all signs point to the incidents being freak accidents.
According to family members, despite her age, Danel was an extremely advanced skier who had moved to the Squaw Valley area so that she could ski nearly every day.
“Skiing was her passion. She lived for it,” Danel’s daughter, Rachael Lohrey, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Her children and skiing were her passions. My mom had a wonderful life. She biked, she did triathlons, she traveled. But I think most importantly … she loved her children.”
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