Alaska Ski Law

The “Alaska Ski Safety Act of 1994,” Alaska Stat. §§ 05.45.010 et seq., creates duties among skiers, passengers, and operators. A skier may not recover from a ski area operator for injuries resulting from an “inherent danger and risk of skiing” unless the operator has breached a duty created by the Act. Id. at § 05.45.020. Skiers may recover for the negligence of another skier from that skier, but not from any operator. Id. at §§ 05.45.100, 05.45.200. In cases against ski area operators, “inherent danger and risk(s)” are defined as the “integral” parts of the sport, and includes skier/skier collisions and another’s failure to ski within their ability. However, it does not include operator negligence or other breach of a statutory duty. Id. at § 05.45.200. Operator duties include providing notice of 1) inherent risks and 2) the risks’ limiting effect on operator liability to skiers. Ski area operators must also adhere to an annual ski safety operation plan that includes a ski patrol. Ski facilities are precluded from requiring liability waivers as a condition of facility use, except in cases of competitions, or third party operation. Id. at § 05.45.121. Breach of a statutory duty by skier or passenger(§§ 05.45.030, 100), without an attendant and contributing “inherent danger or risk,” serves as a complete defense, unless there is also an operator breach. Id. at § 05.45.020. Owners of “unimproved” land used for recreational purposes are granted immunity from tort liability. Alaska Stat. § 09.65.200.


Hiibschman ex rel. Welsh v. City of Valdez, 821 P.2d 354 (Alaska 1991)

The court held that it was a question for the trier of fact whether a manmade jump was a dangerous artificial condition or an inherent danger; the court also held that a skier’s breach only serves to reduce recovery on a theory of comparative negligence. In University of Alaska v. Shanti, 835 P.2d 1225 (Alaska 1992), the court adopted a three-part test for determining whether land is “unimproved” for purposes of granting immunity under what is now Alaska Stat. § 09.65.200, the general unimproved landowner immunity statute. The court in Moore v. Hartley Motors, Inc., 36 P.3d 628 (Alaska 2001), upheld a waiver obtained by an ATV rental operator, refusing to apply of § 05.45.121 of the Ski Safety Act to void it.