After 3 Utah ski resort deaths in 2 weeks, expert shares safety message

Feb 16, 2022, 12:43 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Ski experts are sharing a message of safety after a deadly month so far at Utah’s ski resorts. Three people have died in incidents at three different resorts since the beginning of February.

Craig Gordon with the Utah Avalanche Center usually focuses on danger out-of-bounds. But he’s been following the deaths in controlled terrain and had some insight into how this season’s weather has been creating tricky conditions both in and out of ski resorts.

“These are unusual snow surface conditions for us in Utah, particularly going into the second and third week of February,” Gordon said.

Well-known and highly respected Intermountain Healthcare transplant surgeon Dr. Andrew Gagnon saving hundreds of lives after falling down a 100-foot cliff at Solitude and continuing to slide several hundred feet.

Gagnon had been credited for saving hundreds of lives, so his death came as a total shock with a wide impact on the medical and transplant communities.

On Friday, a 35-year-old man died following a ski crash at Snowbasin after colliding with something, though it’s unclear what.

And on Sunday, the Alta Town Marshal confirmed 14-year-old Henry Kendell, of Millcreek, ended up in a collision at Alta and died from his injuries.

Conditions right now, Gordon said, aren’t normal for Utah. Temperatures are rising and rapidly falling. Snow is moving in after weeks of dry and sunny weather.

“Right now, the snow’s surface conditions are super variable. They’re hard in some places, they’re icy in other places on steep slopes,” Gordon explained. “It’s very hard to stop yourself from falling once your skis, your board, your snowmobile is knocked out from underneath your feet.”

A small crash, Gordon indicated, can become catastrophic on the icy, unforgiving slopes.

His message to those heading into the mountains: No matter if it’s resort or backcountry terrain, it’s best to slow down and stay aware of conditions at all times. Even what may seem safe inbounds, can still cause problems.

A round of snow moved in Wednesday, and while fresh powder is great news for resorts, Gordon said it means danger in the backcountry will rise — something to keep an eye on in coming days and weeks.

“Our snow surface conditions aren’t quite as soft and forgiving as we normally expect this time of year,” he said. “So maybe it’s time just to temper down our objectives, pump the brakes a little bit, and size up some of the situations that we’re getting in so that we can enjoy a great weekend out in our amazing mountains.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Zachary Crane and Gabriella Arnold, two students who had their tests destroyed....
Debbie Worthen

High school students retake AP tests after school mix up destroyed them

Two dozen Green Canyon High School students in North Logan won’t get credit for AP tests they took last May as the tests were mistakenly destroyed in transit.
24 hours ago
Photo illustration (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Your credit card can up your interest rate without telling you

If your credit card company raises your interest rate even just a little bit, it could have a significant impact on how long it takes you to get out of debt. A relatively new law means your credit card company can do just that and they do not even have to give you the heads up.
24 hours ago
Police closing the road of Mountain View Corridor and 9000 South after an accident. (UDOT)...
Michael Houck

Three vehicle crash closes Mountain View Corridor, one passenger ejected

Police closed a portion of Mountain View Corridor after a three-vehicle crash Tuesday night.
24 hours ago
Kevin Linford (Facebook)...
Michael Houck & Andrew Adams

Additional charges filed for Utah business owner accused of sexually assaulting two women

The Utah business owner arrested for assaulting two women at a party is facing additional sexual assault charges.
24 hours ago
The sewer line rapid assessment tool or SL-RAT in use in a Salt Lake City street,...
Shelby Lofton

Singing sewer technology saves water for Utah

Singing technology is being used underground across Utah, saving the state a lot of water.
24 hours ago
A holy bible and crucifix rest atop the United States Constitution and American flag, which is embl...
Canice Madsen & Boyd Matheson

‘A More Perfect Union’: Upholding the Constitution

Many people from across the political spectrum believe the Constitution is in crisis. In the upcoming KSL Special ‘A More Perfect Union', Boyd Matheson takes a closer look at how we as individuals can uphold the guiding principles of the Constitution.
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
After 3 Utah ski resort deaths in 2 weeks, expert shares safety message