Snowboard instructor dies at Buttermilk
March 5, 2009
ASPEN ” Aspen Skiing Co. snowboard instructor Chris Polk died Thursday after he collided with a tree at Buttermilk ski area near Aspen.
Polk, 30, was not wearing a helmet, said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. He sustained multiple injuries, including blunt trauma to his head, chest and abdomen, according to Coroner Steve Ayers. An autopsy is scheduled.
The accident occurred shortly after noon; Polk reportedly was dead by the time ski patrollers arrived at the accident scene, though they administered CPR as he was transported down the mountain, Hanle said. Polk was taken via ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital.
Hanle said the instructor, whom he described as a snowboard pro, had not worked that day but was snowboarding on the Columbine run at the time of the accident.
He said Polk “ended up in a kind of tree island, with just a few trees,” and was found in the middle of the grove. Hanle said the snowboarder “was going fast,” according to reports from witnesses.
A passenger on a nearby chairlift saw the accident and called for help, Hanle said. The Buttermilk ski patrol reported being called at 12:23 p.m.
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Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Lumsden, who responded to the call for an ambulance to take the snowboarder to the hospital, said it took roughly 15 minutes for a snowmobile, towing a rescue sled behind it, to bring Polk down the mountain.
A news reporter at the base area said friends and fellow Aspen Skiing Co. employees could be seen weeping and comforting one another in Bumps restaurant at Buttermilk.
Polk’s death is said to have caused widespread grief in the company.
“Chris absolutely lived for snowboarding. His love for the sport was infectious and he was universally loved by everyone who worked with him. He was and all around mountain guy and was always on the last lift up the mountain at the end of the day. He will be dearly missed,” said Mark Wilkinson, Buttermilk snowboard coordinator, in a prepared statement issued at the end of the day.