Ski community hopes for 'lessons' from Zoricic's death
Published Monday, March 12, 2012 8:42AM EDT
As the ski community reels from the loss of a second athlete in less than two months, the president of Alpine Canada hopes there will be "lessons" learned from the crash that claimed the life of Canadian racer Nik Zoricic.
Zoricic died Saturday, after crashing on the final jump of a World Cup skicross race in Grindewald, Switzerland.
Despite questions surrounding the safety of the sport in which competitors race together down a twisting, undulating course, Alpine Canada president Max Gartner says there's no reason to believe it was unsafe.
While Gartner hesitates to assess the safety of the course from his vantage in Calgary, Alta., he notes the race has been an official stop on the World Cup circuit since 2005.
"So the athletes, the coaches, the officials know the course layout," he told CTV's Canada AM Monday, calling the crash from which Zoricic never regained consciousness "a worst case scenario."
Gartner concedes there are risks in skicross, as in all sports, but athletes confronting those dangers should not have to pay with their lives.
Struggling to contain her emotion over the loss of her teammate, 2010 Olympic women's skicross champion Ashleigh McIvor agreed.
"As with all things that we do in life, there are inherent risks associated and there's only so much you can do to minimize those risks," she said in an interview from Vancouver where she is recovering from an injury.
"I have full confidence that the FIS (International Ski Federation) do everything within their power to ensure their courses are safe for us."
As a result of the crash, both the FIS and the Swiss Canton of Bern have said they will investigate the circumstances surrounding Zoricic's death.
"We're certainly going to look at the report and see what comes out of it and there will be lessons learned from it I'm sure. Out of every accident there will be lessons learned," Gartner said.
But Zoricic's family has already made it clear they have no regrets.
In a written statement released Sunday, the skier's father, Predrag Bebe Zoricic, said: "Nik loved what he did. Ski racing was his life and he enjoyed every moment of it."
Thanking all the well-wishers for their support, he said Nik was having a great time in a sport he loved.
"Like every athlete, he had his ups and downs but he was on his way up when this happened. He was really enjoying this year. He was really happy."
Funeral plans have not been confirmed.
In January, Canadian freestyle skiing star Sarah Burke died after a crash during a training run in Utah. Both Burke and Zoricic were 29-years-old.