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Watch Rock Center at 9pm for Why are so Many Extreme Skiers Dying

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ski_it
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 2:00 AM GMT
Edited: Feb 23, 2012 - 2:01 AM GMT

Watch NBC Rock Center at 9pm for Why are so Many Extreme Skiers Dying - right now people

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MissDaEast
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 5:35 AM GMT
Edited: Feb 23, 2012 - 5:36 AM GMT

Linkified:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/46490767#46490767
mapnut
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 1:39 PM GMT

I was going to say, duh, because it's extreme. But I just watched the first minute or so and the question is a better one, why do they risk their lives?
MissDaEast
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 2:37 PM GMT

Very good question, mapnut! I have a close friend whose two sons do this professionally. I don't know how she sleeps at night. There seems to be a community of risk takers who egg each other on and justify their actions by spewing nonsense about the honor of living one's life to its fullest. Case in point, here is a direct quote from the website of one of these: "Losing friends to the same activities that you do is never easy. It tends to bring that reality of risk vs reward right to the surface. This though is what keeps us human and striving for the ultimate adventure. You keep charging for you’re fallen comrades just as they would keep charging if you should pass. "
effigy
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 3:06 PM GMT

Got it all figgerd out there, eh MissDaEast?
MissDaEast
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 3:18 PM GMT

Obviously not, effigy. I stated that it was a mystery to me, and that the explanation seemed like nonsense (to me). So, if you can shed any light on the subject, please do so!
mapnut
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 3:36 PM GMT
Edited: Feb 23, 2012 - 4:29 PM GMT

Anything that's worth living for is worth dying for, right? No, wait. Anything that's worth dying for must be worth living for. But if it makes you die, then you can't live for it. Does that mean that if you can't think of anything worth dying for, your life isn't worth living? "He died doing what he loved." But now he can't do it any more. I ( and Miss, I'm sure) have no trouble finding something worth living for that won't kill me. Hope that's clear.
effigy
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 3:48 PM GMT

Do we not all come up with nonsensical explanations in our heads to cope with losing those close to us?

Virtually regardless of the way in which a dear comrade or family member dies, if the person is close enough it will send you for a loop. That much emotional stress does strange things to our thought processes and even the most sure-footed of us can find-ourselves confused and grasping at "nonsense" to rationalize the situation. Humans, after all, do not deal well with random.

In my opinion, eye-rolling is not the most empathetic way to respond to hearing such "nonsense" verbalized.
70s gore kid
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 4:01 PM GMT

I'll be frank here: I think this freeskiing is hurting, not helping, our sport.

They say there is no such thing as bad publicity: yes there is.

If Corvairs are in the news every day for flipping over, and Ralph Nader writes a book calling them Unsafe at Any Speed, guess what happens? No one buys Corvairs anymore. And they are done.

All the general public and once-a-year-casual-skiiers are seeing this year is report after report about skiiers being killed in avalanches, doing an extreme free skiing stunt, or hitting their head on the side of a half pipe at Park City.

Does the Sarah Burke death make you want to encourage your kid to become a half pipe shredder? Me neither.

Add to that 50 degree weather in the east all winter, and no snow in anyone's backyard in New Jersey or Connecticut, and this has been a bad, very bad winter for the ski industry.
mapnut
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 4:20 PM GMT

Quote:

In my opinion, eye-rolling is not the most empathetic way to respond to hearing such "nonsense" verbalized.

Sorry about that, effigy.

jgreco
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 4:25 PM GMT

Quote:
I'll be frank here:


Hi Frank!


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MissDaEast
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 4:43 PM GMT

effigy, you are 100% correct in that. I apologize for my lack of sensitivity.

Still, I remain stymied. We all enjoy a thrill - I get that - but...(forgive me, I have a strong desire to hit that eye-rolling picture again). I don't get the part where the thrill is to see if you can find an even cooler way to cheat Death one more time. It doesn't seem courageous or brave to me, it seems reckless and decidedly selfish.
I admit that I will probably never change my mind on this issue, but if you're up for a challenge, I dare ya!
bmwskier
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 5:09 PM GMT

I'll be a bit parochial here, but every time I read about these extreme skiers going off of cornices, going deep in avalanche country, etc, etc. I can't help but wonder about the rescuers that have to go in and get them when things go wrong. An SAR event puts many lives in danger, is a huge expense and takes a lot of resources that could be utilized on situations that were truly accidents, rather than glory seekers. I wonder if they think of the folks that have to come after them when they go in the back country?
ski_it
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 5:18 PM GMT

Quote:
..... I think this freeskiing is hurting, not helping, our sport....

Kind of agree with that. I have run into people (non-skiers of course) who think that is what all skiing is about, because all they see on TV is extreme freeskiing.

MissDaEast, maybe it is evolution or de-evolution.
Of course thinking back I've done so not so swift things on skis myself. I think we had a thread for that once. And haven't we all seen other people doing dumb things on the slopes? Like; skiing White Heat on a hard pack day as a rank beginner, jumping from out of the woods on to a trail and stopping below the lip of a jump.

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rickbolger
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 6:06 PM GMT

look at auto racing in the 1950s. it had made amazing advances in speed and performance in just a few years, but no advances in safety. drivers were dying routinely at tracks all across the country by 1955, risking life and limb for minimal reward. of course back then, nobody blamed the sponsors. nowadays it is still inherently dangerous but infinitely safer.

the driver's psychology didn't change, the sport ultimately policed itself after enough of their own died and the public was outraged, and promoters faced cancellation by local officials.

how many of today's world cup racers would be dead if not for netting and multiple catch fences, etc. Consider how much faster they are, and how little safety they had -- none -- in Portillo in 1966.

now consider how much halfpipe tricks & cliff hucking have advanced in recent years, yet safety remains in the paleozoic era.

once we have a bit more carnage, ramp up the public outrage, etc. the sport will -- hopefully -- police itself.

One thing for sure, you ain't gonna change the way those race car drivers and cliff jumpers are wired.

millerm277
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 6:35 PM GMT

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once we have a bit more carnage, ramp up the public outrage, etc. the sport will -- hopefully -- police itself.


With what? Most of the people dying are not professional skiers competing, and often are not even people skiing within the bounds of the ski area.

I do not want to see a return to the era of skiing off trail or OB being prohibited with bans and fines, and I certainly don't want to see every trail being lines with continuous safety fences and every interesting curve/terrain feature being removed in the name of safety.
jimk
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 6:56 PM GMT
Edited: Feb 23, 2012 - 6:57 PM GMT

I didn't watch the video yet, but...

"He died doing what he loved." That one always kills me.

Seth Morrison is one of the elders of extreme skiing at this point (age late 30s). He's famous for throwing inverted aerials off cliffs during 60mph runs down huge Alaskan mountain faces. In the recent film on his life story, The Ordinary Skier, there is a quote from his Mom that captures MissDaEast's sentiments exactly. An interviewer asks his Mom how she handles his risky line of work and paraphrasing her the answer was, "with wine and psychotherapy."

Having made the above points, I'm not sure I agree that the high visibility of the extreme side of skiing/snowboarding is killing our sport. I think the younger demographic is fascinated with it and it draws them to the hill. Obviously, there are degrees of how far to take this. Agree with miller, the real pros are probably not the problem because of sponsorships, oversight, and a measure of professionalism. It's the wannabe extreme skiers/boarders running amok inbounds and out of bounds that we have to worry about.

abubob
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 6:58 PM GMT

Quote:
In my opinion, eye-rolling is not the most empathetic way to respond to hearing such "nonsense" verbalized.

Sure eye rolling isn't empathetic but how else to you respond to nonsense?


Quote:
once we have a bit more carnage, ramp up the public outrage, etc. the sport will -- hopefully -- police itself.

That's how they justify traffic lights.
rickbolger
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 7:44 PM GMT

Quote:
With what? Most of the people dying are not professional skiers competing, and often are not even people skiing within the bounds of the ski area.

I do not want to see a return to the era of skiing off trail or OB being prohibited with bans and fines, and I certainly don't want to see every trail being lines with continuous safety fences and every interesting curve/terrain feature being removed in the name of safety.


We might be talking about 2 different things here, did you see the vid? I thought the vid was about pros. And I apologize if my post wasn't clear to that effect.

Regardless, I was talking about the pros....pro or not, I certainly didn't mean to imply that people would stop jumping off cliffs. Quite the contrary. The things you're concerned about wouldn't stop them anyway.

My reference to safety fences, etc. was an example to show how the ALPINE racing community took efforts to add safety. You certainly wouldn't want to remove those fences from a competition on Birds of Prey, would you? And yet the sport continues to advance in both speed and performance, at a greater rate than the increase in risk.

I think the safety features you'll see in extreme skiing and halfpipe will be things that are real think-outside-the-box type stuff. Nothing to do with fences or anything to inhibit the competition, but rather innovative stuff that permits them to compete safely. Just as the casual race fan in 1955 could not possibly imagine custom molded seats, fuel cells, run flat tires, safe barrier walls, HANS devices, etc.

And regardless of who the video was about, the safety innovations will be used by pros and non-pros alike, just as the advances in auto racing safety benefit world champions and weekend warriors.



powderstud
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 - 7:50 PM GMT

Interesting thread, and I think there are some very good points being made here.

My $0.02, for what it is worth. I lived in UT and skied fulltime two ski seasons when I was younger. I "know" these people, have lived with them, skied with them, drank with them, played with them, etc. No, not these specific people, but they are the same people in effect who I was spending my time with.

I never opened my mouth at the time, but what was really clear to me was that much of what drives a lot of extreme skier types are 1) impressing others; and 2) standing out in a crowd (which is a form of #1). For those who do this professionally, what drives them is the next sponsorship deal. I had friends who were sponsored skiers, and if you don't keep up doing things that attract attention (and win contests for those that enter them), your sponsorships become less valuable, or you lose them outright.

I think a lot of guys do these things less for their personal reasons (meaning, because it's something they want to do for themselves), than for reasons involving others. I am sure that if there were no cameras or videocams to record some jump/trick/extreme maneuver, a lot of these wouldn't happen at all.

It's a very "live for the moment" world, and virtually none of the people I spent time with were thinking long-term about anything.

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