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Ski resorts: Are they sufficiently regulated or not?

Chances are, if you are a long-tenured Colorado skier or have friends who are, you have a few close-call or downright harrowing stories to share.

And this is why, of course: Ski slopes are slippery venues, and not everyone negotiating his or her way down one is an Olympic-caliber performer.

A flatly dispassionate and empirical observation about skiing is that, notwithstanding the joy it brings and instant allure it commands for many millions of people, it also yields fatal outcomes, and more than just occasionally.

In fact, a recent media focus on skiing-related dangers and injuries reports that "Colorado resorts have been linked to 14 fatalities during the current ski season."

And that season is not yet over.

Dan Gregorie, a doctor and strong national advocate for skiing safety and better disclosure by resort officials of accident data (Gregorie's daughter died skiing about a decade ago) contends that the industry purposefully obscures negative stories and information regarding downhill risks. He points to research indicating that the risk of death during an hour on a slope "is significantly higher" than the same amount of time spent driving a car. And, he adds, "the risk of injury is 10 times higher."

Gregorie, of course, has fierce industry naysayers, with one representative and spokesperson stating that skiing is a highly regulated realm.

The doctor doesn't dispute that, but he counters that the layers of rules, standards and guidelines that do exist are mostly confined to things like resorts' food service and lift operations.

"[T]hat's far from having a true safety plan," he says.

Colorado is, for obvious reasons, the Holy Grail of skiing for many downhill enthusiasts.

Understandably, they well appreciate the joys of the activity. It is equally important that they note the risks and take all reasonable precautions to address them.

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