Snowboarder doesn’t want girl’s father charged


By Electa Draper
Denver Post Staff Writer
Dec. 6, 2006

Durango – A snowboarder whose collision with an 8-year- old girl Saturday at Vail Mountain led her protective father to allegedly punch him in the face asked investigators not to charge the dad with assault, an Eagle County sheriff’s official said.

"The young man was remorseful and respectful," sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Andree said. "That’s huge in a situation like this. In his interview he said he wished we hadn’t charged the dad. He said he understands the dad’s anger."

Christopher Dunsmore, 22, of Avon was cited for two petty violations of the Ski Safety Act – skiing while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. Later, he was also cited for third-degree or misdemeanor assault.

Kiril Petrovski, 56, of Edwards, received a summons for misdemeanor assault for his part in the episode, which left 8-year-old Zoya Petrovska with a cut lip and bruised hip.

While it is at least the second case of "slope rage" following a collision to make headlines in Colorado this year, industry officials say on-mountain accidents are on the decline.

The National Ski Area Association’s last survey, in 2000-01, indicated that alpine accidents were half as common then as they had been in 1980-81, spokesman Tim White said. And they haven’t been on the rise in recent years, he said. Officials elsewhere agreed.

"The situation that occurred on Vail Mountain this weekend is an isolated incident that is not typical of the experience of our guests," said resort spokesperson Jen Brown.

"If anything, we’re seeing a slight decline," said Rich Berkley, Aspen’s director of mountain operations. "There is more awareness. Ski patrol saturates key areas at certain times."

And ski areas and associations aren’t the only ones saying the numbers of injuries and fisticuffs have held steady for many years. Nothing has increased but vigilance, agreed industry outsiders, such as sheriff’s offices, including Eagle County’s. Whether Petrovski will be charged against Dunsmore’s wishes will be up to the district attorney, said Andree, the sheriff’s spokeswoman. Dunsmore said he came over the hill and saw Zoya Petrovska but couldn’t avoid hitting her.

"I hit the brakes as hard as I could," he told KUSA. "From the bottom of my heart, I truly was sorry. I felt awful, and anyone in that situation would feel the same way." Dunsmore said when he went to apologize, Kiril Petrovski punched him twice in the face.

"I walked up … and I put out my hand and he hesitated for probably a good five seconds. He didn’t want to shake my hand and I completely understand that. I would feel the exact same way if I was in his position," Dunsmore said. He told the station that he had consumed five drinks before the accident but was not drunk.

Petrovski couldn’t be reached for comment. His wife, Luiza, said the family has had enough attention because of it and didn’t want any more. But their daughter is fine and wants to go skiing again Friday, she said.

Routt County officials responded to a similar incident at Steamboat Springs in January. After a 16-year-old girl accidentally ran over the back of a 7-year-old girl’s skis and knocked her down, the younger girl’s father struck the helmet-wearing teenager in the head several times. The 52-year-old Littleton man received a sentence of few days in jail, a year’s probation, a week of community service and a course in anger management.

"Incidents like that are few and far between," Routt County sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Kelliher said. "Skier rage is like road rage. It’s always been there. Some incidents get more attention than others. But we’re not seeing anything out of the ordinary." Collision accidents, skiers with other skiers or snowboarders, account for up to 7 percent of reported accidents nationwide – a figure that hasn’t changed significantly in 30 years, according to Jasper Shealy, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y.

In Colorado, where a record number of skier visits, about 13 million, took place last ski season, the number of serious injuries and collisions was typical, said Molly Cuffe, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA. On average, about 26,000 serious injuries occur on the slopes, and about 5 percent, or 1,500, involve collisions, according to attorney Jim Chalat.

"That’s still too much," Chalat said. "The No.1 safety tip is wear a helmet. And if you’re a parent, think about skiing behind your child. … If there is a collision, people need to remain calm. They need to call the ski patrol. They need to remain at the scene."