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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 13:18 GMT
Skier jailed over death collision
Vail in Colorado
Vail in Colorado is a popular ski destination
By the BBC's James Cove

A skier in America has received a jail sentence after crashing into a British skier and killing him in the resort of Vail in Colorado.

It is the first time a skier has been jailed for an accident on the slopes and lawyers say the case has serious implications for skiers in American and Europe.

The most dangerous thing in the mountains is not an avalanche it is an out of control skier

Conrad Bartelski, British skier

Nathan Hall has been sentenced to 90 days in jail, put on probation for three years and ordered to do 200 hours of community service after being found guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

The 21-year-old Californian was skiing at Vail in Colorado three years ago, when he collided with Alan Cobb who later died from head injuries.

Bill Jenson, the chief operating officer for Vail, said: "I am not surprised the case got to a criminal court. cause an accident is dividing the skiing world.
Map of Colorado
The British skier in Vail died from his injuries

"It has now led to a much higher level of responsibility among skiers and if you step over the line in Vail you will get punished."

The question of whether skiers should be prosecuted if they

Conrad Bartelski, Britain's most successful downhill racer, welcomed the decision of the court.

He said: "This is the best thing that has happened to skiing recently as it means skiers will now take responsibility for their actions.

"The most dangerous thing in the mountains is not an avalanche it is an out of control skier".

Ski code

More than 800,000 British skiers will head to the mountains throughout the winter season, and all are being urged to read the skier's safety code and to ski safely.

But not all seem to be in favour of having to face legal action if they are involved in an accident on the slopes.

Aprylle Stuart, a snow boarder who rides regularly in Chamonix, France, is opposed to the move.

It has now led to a much higher level of responsibility among skiers

Bill Jenson, chief operating officer, Vail

"If everyone is worried about being sued then they won't enjoy themselves. Skiing is about freedom and doing your own thing."

Insurance companies have reported a sharp increase in claims in the last five years as skiers in Europe follow the American example and become more litigious.

Antonia Lee-Bapty from the Ski Club of Great Britain has seen an increase in litigation.

"People are seeing what is happening in the USA and are taking legal action much more often - the trend is set to increase," she said.

Experts advise that skiers should have at least 2m of personal liability insurance and should read the small print carefully to make sure they are covered.

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22 Feb 99 | Europe
Skiers face 'danger' charges
02 Jan 99 | Europe
Winter sports warning
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