Two ski-related deaths in New England in recent days have put renewed attention on safety protocols.
Skiers and snowboarders were out hitting the trails Monday saying they are saddened to hear of the loss of life.
“I think it does sadly make people more aware," said Kateri Demartino, a ski racer who was at Wachusett Mountain Monday.
Dawson Brady was out snowboarding and says it didn’t stop him from heading up the mountain but does have him thinking.
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“It does happen,” he said. “The key is take your time and look around for others.”
Fifteen-year-old Christopher DiPrima of East Boston died Saturday in a ski accident at Pats Peak in New Hampshire while skiing an intermediate trail. Just days before, a 67-year-old Shrewsbury man was killed when he hit a tree skiing an advanced trail on Wachusett Mountain.
“It's just an unfortunate coincidence,” said Shaun Sutner, an avid skier and Snow Sports Correspondent for the Telegram & Gazette. “It’s not related to ski trail design, not related to the ski area. It's not even really related to the skier's skill."
Sutner says he was horrified to hear of the incidents. “I mean, it's just so sad and tragic and inexplicable almost, and nowhere to really point blame on these particular accidents.”
This weekend’s death marks the third ski-related death in New Hampshire this season. But despite the attention to the risks involved Chris Stimpson of Wachusett Mountain says knowing the code and having the right equipment can help keep you safe.
“When these incidents happen, we tend to talk about the risk more,” Stimpson said. “But it is pretty rare, if you look at some of the statistics.”
According to data released by the National Ski Areas Association, 57 deaths were reported during the 2021-22 ski and snowboard season nationwide.
The majority of them involved trees and 95% of those killed were men. The data also shows most deadly incidents happened on intermediate trails.
“Skiing is definitely not more dangerous than driving a car that we do every day,” said Stimpson. “So, definitely something to keep in mind. Always wear a helmet.”
He adds that number one is always staying in control and skiing within your ability levels.
Meanwhile, Sutner says people will be skiing long into New England this spring.
“I would just caution people to be, you know, just take care and be safe. I mean, safety is paramount.” He says it’s always important to wear a helmet.
“Yield to downhill traffic. They have the right of way."
“Ski within your abilities, you know, moderate your speed, be nice and just be aware of your surroundings.”
Both incidents are under investigation and both mountains have released statements expressing their sympathies. Pats Peak- meanwhile- said Sunday it was suspending daily operations and will announce later this week if they will be reopening this week.