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Mt. Hood Ski Bowl Loses $10.5m Lawsuit, Suspends Mountain Biking

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5/12/2022 7:20 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/12/2022 7:24 AM

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Unfortunate for everyone involved.
https://skibowl.com/services/bike-operations-suspended.html

"In light of a recent unprecedented plaintiff verdict in a mountain biking lawsuit against Mt. Hood Skibowl, we have made the difficult decision to suspend all mountain bike operations for the summer of 2022. After 32 years without a serious mountain bike claim of any kind, the winds have shifted. Our industry has focused heavily on user education and operational best practices, while working hard toward mitigating risk where possible. Eliminating all risks with recreational activities—especially in downhill mountain biking through forests at high speed— is something that is just not possible.

Oregon ski area operators and other recreational outfitters are facing the enormously impactful challenge – recreational liability for activities that are inherently risky. Oregon has seen some significant lawsuits in recent years (now most recently hitting home at Mt. Hood Skibowl) with outcomes that make operating a small, recreational business in the state exceedingly challenging. Liability releases in Oregon currently offer recreation providers with practically little to no protection, and they are less effective as they are in neighboring states and others across the country, which allow for the use of liability waivers in recreational contexts.

Given the current legal landscape in Oregon, the future of Mountain Biking at Mt. Hood Skibowl remains uncertain while we work through the judicial process with hopes to find more effective ways of protection for offering these popular—albeit inherently risky—recreational activities."

More info here, too - https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/skibowl-bans-mountain-bikes/283-2a944a45-c640-4da9-b37b-3b819564a9f2 - explains accident happened in 2016 leaving the rider paralyzed from the waist down : (

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5/12/2022 7:38 AM

One of my favorite places when I lived in Oregon. Real shame. Ultimately I’m a firm believer that a rider is responsible for their decisions regardless of the quality of trail. But with price of health care and the weak social programs this country has to offer people like the rider I can’t blame them too much for seeking compensation either. Hopefully they can address their liability issues and find a way to reopen.


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5/12/2022 7:47 AM

Dang, very similar story to Snow Summit in Cali, that left it closed for over a decade.

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5/12/2022 8:49 AM

Horrendous.

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5/12/2022 8:51 AM

bulletbass man wrote:

One of my favorite places when I lived in Oregon. Real shame. Ultimately I’m a firm believer that a rider is responsible for ...more

I get that but at the same time, if someone doesn't have enough health insurance to cover injuries without suing the freaking park and ruining everything for everyone, they don't need to be there in the first place. There is no good reason for any of this kind of shit. Its just stupid.

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5/12/2022 8:53 AM

Stiksandstones wrote:

Dang, very similar story to Snow Summit in Cali, that left it closed for over a decade.

I remember that one.. And part of that guy's claim involved him stating how much he spent of protective gear and still got hurt...Doesn't that seem like acknowledging you're voluntarily participating in a potentially dangerous activity?

The guy in Oregon claims to be a former pro cyclist? He didn't know the risks on a double black run? Don't get me wrong, it sucks what happened to him, but he knew the risks...

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5/12/2022 9:16 AM

The lawyer must have found some loophole in the park's waiver, most ski/bike resorts have a pretty buttoned up "rider assumes all risks" liability waiver.

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5/12/2022 9:17 AM

There's some things about the USA that really, really, suck. Such a shame.

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5/12/2022 9:22 AM

Poleczechy wrote:

The lawyer must have found some loophole in the park's waiver, most ski/bike resorts have a pretty buttoned up "rider assumes ...more

It's not too difficult.. I don't know about Oregon, but in California, the waiver isn't really worth the paper it's printed on..

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5/12/2022 9:56 AM
Edited Date/Time: 5/12/2022 9:58 AM

re: snow summit incident - please correct if wrong, but i recall it was the rider's insurance company forcing the lawsuit? i thought the rider didn't want the suit to happen, but insurance wouldn't provide $ for lifelong care if they didn't go after summit?

also, really curious how the case was presented to the jury and if the sign post was in a reasonable location or not.

regardless, bummer all around

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5/12/2022 10:03 AM

sspomer wrote:

re: snow summit incident - please correct if wrong, but i recall it was the rider's insurance company forcing the lawsuit? i ...more

Very well could have been the case... But, I do remember lost wages over his lifetime being part of the amount. But, that is also a lawyer looking to up his cut...

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5/12/2022 10:04 AM

Poleczechy wrote:

The lawyer must have found some loophole in the park's waiver, most ski/bike resorts have a pretty buttoned up "rider assumes ...more

Brian_Peterson wrote:

It's not too difficult.. I don't know about Oregon, but in California, the waiver isn't really worth the paper it's printed ...more

Similar here in Ontario (Canada). We had our biggest bike park closed for many years following a lawsuit (if I recall, it was a younger individual who went OTB at the skills park drop, broke a lot of things, lawyer parents sued). I have also heard that it's almost impossible to create a waiver in our province that is 'lawyer-proof' for these sort of things which is difficult for any recreation-based industry. I do wonder why/how skiing/snowboarding gets away with all of this in comparison; maybe it's just a money thing (apparently our hill made more from one busy winter weekend than all of summer DH).

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5/12/2022 10:15 AM

sspomer wrote:

re: snow summit incident - please correct if wrong, but i recall it was the rider's insurance company forcing the lawsuit? i ...more

Maybe someone with knowledge in the health insurance industry could speak to how common this practice is? I broke the $hiz out of my ulna a few years back. A few months after everything had been buttoned up, I received a call from a 3rd party company who claimed to be retained by Kaiser (my health insurance) that was attempting to ascertain potential parties at fault for my injury.

While not surprising that there are individuals who are chasing payouts for injuries, I would guess a large number of these liability cases are also driven by big medicine identifying this as yet another revenue stream.

this is why we cant have nice things.

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5/12/2022 10:20 AM

@dubc - likewise. son falls off trampoline and breaks arm. we get a call from insurance company sniffing around about specifics of what happened. was it at our home or somewhere else. condition of trampoline etc...all for xrays and a cast. system sucks.

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5/12/2022 12:16 PM

sspomer wrote:

re: snow summit incident - please correct if wrong, but i recall it was the rider's insurance company forcing the lawsuit? i ...more

I ride at skibowl alot and I believe the sign in question was towards the bottom of a trail called cannonball, which is basically a high speed road bomb. Lawyer argued sign should have been collapsible.

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5/12/2022 12:59 PM

sspomer wrote:

re: snow summit incident - please correct if wrong, but i recall it was the rider's insurance company forcing the lawsuit? i ...more

The crazy thing about the signage is that no one would say peep if it was an immovable object like a tree.

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5/12/2022 1:23 PM

It's nice to see the conversation here being more subdued than the Facebook discussion. Over there, the guy's name was identified which seems a bit extreme, especially with how folks are speaking / burn him at the stake kind of vibe. Hoping no one makes a stupid decision when they don't understand all the stakeholders and who's driving what.

Let's be honest, Skibowl management hasn't given a flying f*ck about their "bike park" in years. It's a decrepit facility, where bikes have fallen off the lifts, SOME of the lifties don't treat the bikes with care resulting in unrecouped damage, the lifts are slow AF. Management also caters heavily with their money towards the wedding operation (and alpine slide).

All that said, Skibowl has a ton of history and nostalgia. I personally raced and rode there from 2011 to 2018, have immense respect for the pro track, and enjoyed riding what they had on offer.

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5/12/2022 1:30 PM

smelly wrote:

The crazy thing about the signage is that no one would say peep if it was an immovable object like a tree.

Go ahead and explain how a post-holed sign post has any similarity to an organic growth that is a species of Tree.

Be sure and continue your legal terms of 'peep' and 'crazy thing'.

Kudos on the 'signage' though. Such depth.

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5/12/2022 1:32 PM

broccoli rob wrote:

I ride at skibowl alot and I believe the sign in question was towards the bottom of a trail called cannonball, which is ...more

Leaving aside my personal opinions on assumed risks in MTB, trail design, worthy Liability Waivers and America's Health Care System Etc... Can't say this is the same as at the time of incident - but I'd wager if you go to 1:04 in this video dated Sept 2016... Rider almost eats stem on compression and then buzzes 2x4 mounted sign riders right. If that post is vaguely secured into the ground, hitting that at the trail speed of "really quite brisk" is gonna be a bad day. Not putting blame anywhere, just wondering if this shines some light on what is a shitty situation all around. Photo

#t=63s
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5/12/2022 1:42 PM

Poleczechy wrote:

The lawyer must have found some loophole in the park's waiver, most ski/bike resorts have a pretty buttoned up "rider assumes ...more

Brian_Peterson wrote:

It's not too difficult.. I don't know about Oregon, but in California, the waiver isn't really worth the paper it's printed ...more

Masjo wrote:

Similar here in Ontario (Canada). We had our biggest bike park closed for many years following a lawsuit (if I recall, it was ...more

Ontario (Canada) is frustratingly an Omni-shambles in this regard. LOTS of incidents of "well, did you sign the waiver?!", followed quickly by Legal Representation picking it apart and going Gangbusters to reclaim the Insurance Company's expenditure. (Usually against the initial wishes of the injured party, who gets tarred and feathered in the public court of Facebook)

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5/12/2022 2:32 PM

EhDub wrote:

Leaving aside my personal opinions on assumed risks in MTB, trail design, worthy Liability Waivers and America's Health Care ...more

The post on the right side which broke his back was actually a solid 4 x4 post. It was never there previous to that year and was taken down immediately after. If you lost control on the previous rough water bar section you were heading right into the sign post at high speed. The trail was an old service road that they converted into a downhill trail, but they did not remove most of the water bars even though the person involved in maintenance of the trail was encouraged to. Then years later they put in a hiker crossing in this dangerous location. Riders had complained about the safety of this section of trail the previous season, and there were at least 3 serious accidents previously because of the water bar, one involving an air lift out. The hiker trail was eventually closed off after the crash and should have never been there in the first place. Poor initial planning followed by poor ad hoc decisions to deal with it, which led to unanticipated negative results. Skibowl is no stranger to negligence lawsuits.

I am friends with the rider and he does not deserve some of reaction he is getting, including people posting his info online and contacting him with hate mail and threats. It's a bummer this happened but it could have easily been avoided and hopefully a lesson to other bike parks about how not to design and maintain trails.

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5/12/2022 2:39 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/12/2022 2:42 PM

broccoli rob wrote:

I ride at skibowl alot and I believe the sign in question was towards the bottom of a trail called cannonball, which is ...more

thanks everyone for the info/updates.

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5/12/2022 7:03 PM

MetalDH wrote:

The post on the right side which broke his back was actually a solid 4 x4 post. It was never there previous to that year and ...more

Shouldn't make light of this considering this incident, however that is a errr..."lively"... location for a Hiker Crossing.

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5/13/2022 7:33 AM

bulletbass man wrote:

One of my favorite places when I lived in Oregon. Real shame. Ultimately I’m a firm believer that a rider is responsible for ...more

Cougar797 wrote:

I get that but at the same time, if someone doesn't have enough health insurance to cover injuries without suing the freaking ...more

Even with decent health insurance any extended hospital stay is expensive. Any major surgery is expensive. A lifetime of physical therapy is expensive. Very few Americans have the type of plan where they can paralyze themselves and not be massively financially effected even disregarding potential lost income.

That also assumes his insurance wasn’t tied to a job he can no longer work at. His cobra plan will likely be around 400 a month. And going forward Obamacare has costly premiums and is still expensive to actually use for services. Besides most employers offer plans that aren’t much better they just pay a portion of your premium regardless of your income.


I also personally wouldn’t trade 30 million for a life changing injury like the rider has had. He’s the biggest loser of everyone in this. Ultimately from the evidence it seems the park is atleast partially at fault. I’m not saying I agree with the juries decision or reward. I just have a lot more empathy for the rider in this than I do resort operators or someone who has to drive further to not pedal their bike uphill. Ski bowl was good but it’s not the crown jewel of Oregon mtb.

There is a major reason you aren’t seeing tons of small paid bike parks like you see in other countries in the us. I started plans for one locally until liability issues made it completely impossible in the price range I thought wouldnt be too high for average joes to afford. The only reason we can get liability covered at our public spots is a law that basically prevents people from being sued for recreational activities that there is zero profits from. (Though they can still sue you and try to prove you profit from the activity to open you up to liability, even in a situation where the person who got hurt was trespassing. Happened to a friend of mine with a skate ramp in his yard, ultimately the lawyer costs were so expensive he settled for a small sum).



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5/13/2022 10:51 AM

Good thoughtful discussion here, and it confirms some of my hunches about what was going on in reality with this lawsuit. I couldn't even read the PNW FB thread, it was a mess.

I don't know the OR laws, but I've heard they're similar to WA where there's a big difference between paid access and free access, which falls under our recreational liability statute. On trails without paid access, unless a hazard is (1) known, (2) latent (not evident or visible) and (3) artificial, the case usually gets thrown out on summary judgement. This is just to say that what happens on a resort with paid access does not affect public trails.

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Founder of Abit Gear MTB shorts

5/13/2022 11:24 AM

Assanine world we live in. If you get on a bicycle, you've just accepted that you will fall and nowhere on this planet is going to be responsible for making you whole again or paying you any money.

I don't care if you ride it straight into a pit of drug needles placed under a hidden tarp in the woods by Bill Gates himself.

Be responsible for your own actions.

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.

5/13/2022 2:38 PM

sspomer wrote:

re: snow summit incident - please correct if wrong, but i recall it was the rider's insurance company forcing the lawsuit? i ...more

that was tried by my insurance after a broken C1/C2 at a resort in Utah. Arbitration?

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5/13/2022 4:03 PM

bizutch wrote:

Assanine world we live in. If you get on a bicycle, you've just accepted that you will fall and nowhere on this planet is ...more

What a performance.

Since you want to come off as the fact-guy and the ultimate online persuader - what's the current status for the round pole from Maribor 2017 DH? You know - the one which snapped Greg Minnaar's V10 in half??

My guess is - it's not there anymore and, because it was a poor decision to have chosen to install it along the tape-line. But hey - people have to live with their decisions and the effect those decisions have on others, amiright??



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5/13/2022 4:52 PM
Edited Date/Time: 5/13/2022 5:01 PM

bizutch wrote:

Assanine world we live in. If you get on a bicycle, you've just accepted that you will fall and nowhere on this planet is ...more

Totally disagree.

How about this for a scenario: When I was first riding at Whistler, I ran out of talent and flew over the right hand berm at the bottom of Canadian Open, the one after the goal post double. After shaking myself off, I noticed, there was a 3' piece of #4 rebar just stuck in the ground next to me - had I landed on that, I'd be f*cked.

I acknowledge that "I ran out of talent" but still - I don't think it's reasonable to expect and anticipate that there will be pungy stick-embedded rebar (without a cap at a minimum) strewn 3-4' off a track. Seems like negligence to me.

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5/13/2022 6:04 PM

bizutch wrote:

Assanine world we live in. If you get on a bicycle, you've just accepted that you will fall and nowhere on this planet is ...more

bstens wrote:

Totally disagree.

How about this for a scenario: When I was first riding at Whistler, I ran out of talent and flew over the ...more

My good friend DIED from a root sticking out of the ground at Snowshoe DH National one year. Got a staff infection from a football sized hole in his leg that just refused to heal. He was 16.

His family didn't sue for a root ball. He fell.

If you fall, no one owes you a safe place to land. If you steer your bicycle down a mountain, no one owes you a buffer zone.

No one needs to square an 8000 ft mountain in the Pacific Northwest to remove all rebar, barb wire, ten penny nails, lag bolts, sheet metal, etc.

YOU HIT A STATIONARY OBJECT! Does not matter if it's a manufactured or organic object. You...not the object....hit.

Everyone wants a last ditch "my worst case scenario" lawsuit. Geez. Bunch of litigious meek minded individuals.

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.