South Dakota Ski Law

No ski safety statute, but some regulation at local level has been attempted (see Rantapaa, below). Statutory assumption of risks “inherent in the sport of snowmobiling” at S.D. Codified Laws § 32-20A-21, together with ordinary motor vehicle regulations. General recreational use statute protecting landowners at § 20-9-14.


An 11-year-old was injured when struck by an expert skier at the intersection of a trail. Guardian ad litem brought suit alleging negligent design and operation by ski area. Jury was instructed on common law negligence, as well as on a county ordinance prohibiting suit arising from the inherent risks of skiing. In settling an indirect challenge to the validity of the local ordinance, the court held the jury instructions improper on multiple grounds, including that the local ordinance: 1) barred a claim available under preemptive state law, and 2) improperly shifted burden of proof on assumption of risk defense defendant to plaintiff. Rantapaa v. Black Hills Chair Lift Co., 633 N.W.2d 196 (S.D. 2001).