26 year old Hayden Wright is an heap of trouble after crashing into a group of spectators leaving one with a broken collar bone after trying to jump over them Saturday afternoon at the Slopesoakers pond-skimming event at Copper Mountain. He faces charges of third-degree assault and a violation of the skier safety act, both misdemeanors.
It needs to be noted that the Slopesoakers even isn’t what you might expect from traditional pond skim where you hydroplane across single body of water. Slopesoakers is a hybrid terrain park pond skim with jumps and rails.
“A twist on the traditional pond-skim, the 7th annual SlopeSoakers contest gives competitors the chance to strut their stuff across ﬂoating rails, helping Copper end another winter season in style.”
So the mental image we all had of a dude aiming for the crowd rather than a single body of water is incorrect.
While intentionally launching over a crowd which could surely result in injury of innocent spectators is wrong (remember the woman with who suffered a broken collarbone) putting the crowd so close the event could have just as easily resulted in injury from an unintentional course deviation and was mistake by Copper.
As you can see in the video below there were all kinds of silly stuff going on and plenty opportunities for flying into the crowd if you didn’t take the center line. Reference this snowboarder that crashed into the crowd during the event:
In the seven years of the Slopesoakers event there hasn’t been any major incidence of crowd injury to my knowledge but that doesn’t make the proximity of the audience to the jumps wise.
I’m not a lawyer and I don’t condone Hayden Wright’s decision but I do think a skier or snowboarder accidentally veering off into the crowd could have happened with the course set up as it was. Also the atmosphere created by the event basically encourages reckless borderline dangerous behavior (lets not kid ourselves about that). Mix that with a few beverages and you have a perfect storm for a fun springtime event turning into a trip to the hospital.