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Quebec teen’s death raises concerns about common ski hill stunt

Linda Dalterio isn’t surprised to hear that kids sometimes jump off ski lifts before they get to the summit.

“Of course I’ve heard of stuff like that happening,” she laughs. “It happened a lot when we were much younger.”

“A lot of kids would jump off and they’d go off-trail.”

They do it for the thrill and usually, nobody gets hurt.

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But on Wednesday, a teenager in northwestern Quebec was killed after jumping from a chairlift onto a boulder.  The accident happened at the Mont-Video ski centre in Barraute, Quebec.

According to police, the teen was attempting to pull a stunt with a friend.  The friend wasn’t injured.

“We hear about it,” says Penny Paris, assistant director of the Snow School, and snowboard instructor at Ski Saint-Bruno near Montreal.

“Some people love that thrill of ‘Oh, I’m going to jump,’” she says shaking her head.

There are several videos online of thrill seekers doing just that and it’s the kind of thing ski authorities say can be dangerous.

“You don’t know what’s underneath [the snow],” says Paris.  “You don’t know the depth. You don’t know where you’re at and honestly, if you look at the weather conditions we’ve been having, the snow looks amazing but still, it’s a hard packed groom.

“It’s not a fluffy, soft thing on top that’s gonna pillow your landing at all.”

Most ski hills have provisions in place to discourage people from going to extremes.

“The industry itself has a comprehensive [safety] strategy,” explains Christopher Nicolson, CEO of Canada West Ski Areas Association in British Columbia.

“It that involves everything from signage to training and the actual devices or lifts themselves have restraining bars and so forth.”

The penalty for safety violations can be severe. In many cases, violators can lose their season pass and be banned from the ski hill.  Ski industry officials are reminding people that the consequences for breaking the rules aren’t always predictable.

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