Liability issues threaten spring events at Breck
BRECKENRIDGE – Liability concerns voiced by Breckenridge Ski Resort have caused organizers to cancel some of this year’s spring events.Breckenridge Ski Resort spokeswoman Emily Jacob said Monday that the E-chair Challenge will not happen this spring because the event does not produce enough exposure for the ski company to assume the event’s liability.The event could have stayed on the schedule if event organizers paid their own insurance – a figure estimated to be $30,000, according to John Shand, owner of Avalanche Sports and the event’s sponsor.”I can’t afford that,” Shand said. This would have been the third year for the E-chair Challenge, which is a timed event that counts team laps on the lift.”It doesn’t cost them an extra penny, it just hurts them if someone gets hurt,” Shand said.Jacob said an event’s level of exposure is only part of the ski company’s decision. All events are being more closely scrutinized, she said, because Americans like to sue.”We’re a publicly traded company,” Jacob said. “We have stockholders to answer to. As a company, we have to protect ourselves.”Shand said the company is “stripping true soul from the mountain” by canceling locals’ events.Two other popular events – the Breckenridge Bump Buffet and the Imperial Challenge – are facing a similar quandary over insurance.Breckenridge Ski Resort wants to continue with the Imperial Challenge and Bump Buffet by looking at different insurance options, Jacob said, although no clear answer is available on whether those events will happen this year.Imperial Challenge sponsor Marc Carlisle, co-owner of Great Adventure Sports, also said he wasn’t sure on the future of the event.”We’re up in the air,” Carlisle said. “The insurance answer is that it’s not available or prohibitive in terms of cost.”The resort is asking some event organizers to cover participants, which would increase the price for Carlisle – if he could get that level of coverage – to much more than the $500 he paid in the past.Breckenridge resident Monique Merrill, who has won the Imperial Challenge six times, said the event’s demise would be disappointing.”Events … are great opportunities for sponsorship for businesses, advertising, marketing and just getting the locals together,” Merrill said. “The reason I race isn’t to win – it’s nice and I’m competitive – but it’s more to get out there are have interactions and have a great time. Nothing’s better than having a race in your back yard.”Merrill said there are plenty of other winter adventure events around the country, many of them held at ski resorts nationwide.Bump Buffet organizer Elisabeth Lawrence said Friday she is under the impression that the event will go off as planned this year under a $500 coverage plan used in the past.Lawrence, who works for Mountain Outfitters, a Breckenridge gear shop that sponsors the event, said she was originally told it would cost about $4,000 to cover participants.”There’s no way we could swing that as a small business,” she said. Jacob said the company is still interested in hosting the events – even the “crazy” ones like the Bump Buffet, which is known for its debauchery and sometimes downright lewdness.”That’s part of Breckenridge, it’s part of what makes it special,” she said.
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