Sheriff’s deputies arrested pioneer backcountry skier Roland Fleck on Saturday at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and ski patrollers tobogganed him off the mountain in handcuffs after he refused to stop skiing uphill.
Each time the deputies asked him to cooperate, Fleck allegedly became argumentative. The deputies decided to arrest him, and he pulled away when one of them took hold of his arm. They got his hands behind his back and used two sets of handcuffs linked together to restrain him. They sat him in a toboggan with a deputy, and patrollers sledded them down the mountain. A second deputy took a chairlift down.
Fleck, 78, a longtime Jackson doctor, fitness buff and one of the original investors in Teton Village, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass, interference with an officer, unsafe skiing and theft of services. His extrication from the mountain came after up to seven ski patrollers spent 3.5 hours trying to stop him, reports said.
Roland Fleck has always been a big supporter of the ski area but believes he has a right to ski uphill, Dan Fleck, an attorney with The Spence Law Firm who is representing his father, told the local paper.
Ski patrollers told deputies who responded to the resort Saturday that a 78-year-old skier defied their orders to stop skiing uphill, skied over several patrollers’ skis, refused an offer of a free day pass and refused to leave the resort, sheriff’s Capt. Scott Terry said.
Deputies were transported to Roland Fleck’s location at the NASTAR course under the Casper Lift in a toboggan, Terry said. They told Fleck skiing uphill was a violation of Wyoming law and that it is considered unsafe, he said.
They asked him to meet them at the base of the mountain so they could issue him a citation, but he refused to cooperate, Terry said. Deputies arrested Fleck and used two sets of handcuffs linked together behind his back to restrict his arms, Terry said. They sat him in a toboggan with a deputy as ski patrollers sledded him down the mountain, Terry said.
Fleck spent about seven hours in the Teton County Jail, an arrest summary report shows.
Whether prosecutors will file any charges against Fleck in 9th Circuit Court remains unclear. Teton County and Prosecuting Attorney Steve Weichman said Tuesday that if his office receives an investigation from the sheriff’s office he will request that county commissioners appoint a special prosecutor in the case.
Terry questioned whether deputies were correct when they told Fleck skiing uphill is a violation of state statute. The statute says a skier cannot move uphill when impaired by alcohol or drugs or when the activity is done with reckless disregard for self or others. Nothing in police reports indicates deputies suspected Fleck was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The trespassing charge likely would apply to Fleck because resort regulations prohibit skiing uphill and the resort has a right to ask someone engaging in prohibited activities to leave, Terry said.