Two boys died Thursday in separate incidents by running into trees while skiing fast on blue runs.
The first was an 11-year-old from England on Breckenridge's Bonanza run on Peak 9.
The second was a 15-year-old from Oklahoma on Wolf Creek's Silver Streak.
These crashes are both typical and unusual. About 10 people die in skiing accidents in Colorado every year. Most are male, most hit trees, and most do it on blue runs. So everything matches up there. However, these are the first deaths of the ski season, which is an anomaly. You can typically count on someone buying the farm during Christmas week. Good snow and extremely low temperatures can often lessen the likelihood, so that may be a factor this year. It barely got above zero degrees during all of Christmas Week in Summit County.
It's also unusual for someone as young as 11 to ski aggressively enough to be fatal.
But perhaps the most unusual aspect is that one of the kids died at Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek hasn't had a fatality for 13 years, according to owner Davey Pitcher. One reason is the lower skier numbers. It probably takes Wolf Creek a month to handle as many skiers as Breckenridge does in a day. The other reason, I think, must be the snow. Wolf Creek gets about 500 inches of powder a year. It's very rare to get the fast, icy conditions where most ski accidents occur.
Yesterday, however, Wolf Creek was reporting "packed powder" conditions. Looks like we need another big dump to keep us safe.