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For the week of February 14 through 20, 2001

Keep the brakes on

Anyone thinking of letting `em rip on Baldy this weekend needs to think again.

Nathan Hall let `em rip in Vail, Colorado, on April 20, 1997. A self-described expert skier, he hit and killed a man named Alan Cobb.

Hall, just 21 years old, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide by a jury that included skiers and snowboarders. A judge recently sentenced him to 90 days in jail.

Observers called the sentence lenient, but it hardly tells the tale.

The immediate price of recklessly flying down Vailís mountain was that Hall became the captive of the legal system for more than three years. Yet that pales in comparison to the life sentence he imposed on himself.

Even after he serves his sentence, he will never really be free. He will always carry the knowledge that his reckless act killed an innocent human being. He will be dogged by a criminal record.

The look of torment on Hallís face at his sentencing hearing said it all. His young life was forever changed in that instant when speed overcame control.

Itís not just Colorado that is cracking down on the slopes. So is Idaho.

Skiers who violate Blaine Countyís reckless skiing ordinance could find themselves facing a jail sentence.

Peter Schneeberger is a former ski instructor now appealing a 180-day jail sentence, with 170-days suspended, and a $300 fine imposed last month. He was involved in an accident that injured two people on Baldy.

Baldyís long corduroy runs are a dream, but they may also be an invitation to disaster. Wise skiers and boarders know that a rock, a twig or an icy patch can turn an expert into an uncontrolled flying object.

Skiers and boarders should remember Nathan Hall, keep the brakes on and keep their eyes open.

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