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Zig-zagging B.C. snowboarder not at fault for collision with skier, says tribunal

A young snowboarder moving side to side collided with a skier going straight down the hill, resulting in an injury to the skier
Grouse Mountain Resort
Grouse Mountain ski hill above North Vancouver.

A skier injured in a collision with a snowboarder on Grouse Mountain above North Vancouver has had her small claim denied, in a test against duty of care standards on a ski hill.

Skier Mari Nakagawa lost her $5,000 claim against snowboarder Gabriel Parent, after claiming Parent collided into her, from behind, resulting in an injured shoulder on March 14, 2020, according to a Civil Resolution Tribunal decision on Aug. 8.

Nakagawa described herself as a skier of 30 years and former ski instructor in Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

But Parent, believed to be a youth at the time, said he was snowboarding from “side to side” on the hill and Parent was the one who came from behind, in a more direct trajectory.

Civil Resolution Tribunal adjudicator Micah Carmody was challenged to determine the nature of the trajectories of Parent and Nakagawa, which is vital in determining fault.

“It is settled law that recreational mountain users owe each other a duty of care,” stated Carmody.

The National Ski Association makes clear, said Carmody, that people “ahead or downhill” have the right of way and must be avoided.

This was Nakagawa’s claim, summarized by Carmody: “She was in control and skiing with moderate speed, making consistent short turns down the run. Suddenly, she was hit from behind by Mr. Parent. She did not see him at all before the collision because he came from behind her.

“One of her skis released from its binding and her goggles and hat came off. She hit her face on the snow. She found herself lying in the snow, unable to move, with pain all over her body. She looked back and saw Mr. Parent uphill from her.”

Parent’s claim, on the other hand, state that he was “snowboarding from side to side, maintaining a proper view of his surroundings and travelling at an appropriate speed.”

“As he was turning right, with his chest and body facing downhill, Ms. Nakagawa was skiing downhill and collided into him. She was further uphill just before the collision. Despite shoulder checking, Mr. Parent had limited vision to uphill traffic because he was facing downhill. He did not see Ms. Nakagawa until it was too late to avoid a collision, although he did his best to do so. He was in control at all times.”

Carmody ultimately found that given the two accounts of who was uphill and downhill, a lack of witnesses and the burden of proof being on Nakagawa, the claim could not stand. Nakagawa also never specified her injuries and what they cost her.

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