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For the week of December 20 through 26, 2000

Local man convicted of reckless skiing

Former Sun Valley ski instructor Peter Schneeberger was convicted by a jury Friday of violating Blaine Countyís reckless skiing ordinance.

The misdemeanor charge had been filed under the rarely used ordinance in May as the result of a March collision on Bald Mountain between Schneeberger and two other skiers.

The accident occurred just downhill from a cat track that leaves the skierís left side of Lower Warm Springs and connects to the Race Arena run. A witness told the six-person jury she had watched from the lift as Schneeberger skied fast down Warm Springs, disappeared behind the trees, then come off the cat track and hit the two skiers while he was in the air.

"If this isnít reckless skiing, what is?" said Blaine County deputy prosecuting attorney Jill Bolton after the trial. "This guy treated the ski area as his own private race track."

Shneeberger did not testify at his trial. However, he told the Mountain Express after the accident that he could not remember what happened when he crested the cat track, but said he knew he had been skiing in control up to that point.

Following the accident, Schneeberger was airlifted in critical condition to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. He suffered severe head injuries, facial fractures and a broken leg. One of the other people involved sustained liver injuries, a broken wrist and facial cuts.

Bolton said the severe nature of the injuries convinced the prosecutorís office to file the charge since they indicated Schneeberger must have been traveling very fast.

A date has not been set for a sentencing hearing on the conviction. Schneebergerís attorney, Stephen Thompson, said he and his client are considering whether to file an appeal.

Blaine Countyís reckless skiing ordinance states: "No skier shall ski in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. Each skier has the additional duty to ski in a safe and reasonable manner and under sufficient control to be able to stop or avoid other skiers or objects such as snow grooming equipment, vehicles, lift towers, signs and any other equipment within the ski area."

Bolton said she hopes the conviction will help prompt Sun Valley Co. to report more incidents of reckless skiing to the prosecutorís office.


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