Two close calls mark events at Squaw Valley |

Two close calls mark events at Squaw Valley

Fireworks, a torch light parade and a bonfire marked the beginning of Snowfest last Friday, but it also marked the beginning of some close calls at Squaw Valley USA.

Four people were injured when a snowcat snapped a rope into the opening ceremony, flinging debris at the audience, according to Squaw Valley Fire Department.

Although no injured parties were transported to the hospital by emergency vehicles, two adults did drive themselves to the hospital. One woman had a leg injury and one male had a arm and hand injury. They told Deputy Sheriff Roy Richner they were going to drive themselves to the hospital.

On Sunday a lift operator at Squaw Valley was buried under six feet of snow. Fortunately, he was spotted by a woman on a lift who was able to call down for help, according to Squaw Valley mountain management .

“The outcomes could have been pretty disastrous,” said Jimmy King, mountain manager at Squaw Valley, who added that no one was seriously injured.

During the opening ceremonies Friday night the snowcats were driving down exhibition run in a “V” pattern when one of the snowcats slid out of pattern.

“The driver of the snowcat stopped and shut off his lights because he didn’t want to mess up the rest of the show,” King said.

Sometime after the torch light parade the driver continued down the hill and parked his snowcat in the machine yard. A piece of rope laying on the snow that was being used as crowd control got snagged by the rear tiller of the machine and then snapped into the audience, said King.

The rope was tied to boards and bamboo stakes. When the rope was pulled tight it snapped, throwing pieces of board, bamboo and part of a wooden spool into the audience.

One child received a bump on the head and one man was hit on the elbow with a bamboo stake. Several others were injured but there was no need for an ambulance, King said.

“This was a fluke thing. The operator didn’t even know it happened until he got out of his machine and saw the commotion,” King said.

King added that the operator felt really bad about the incident.

This wasn’t the only close call at Squaw Valley

During the storm on Sunday a Squaw Valley lift-operator was buried under six-feet of snow.

And thanks to the public, the snowboarder is still alive, King said.

“When I got there all I saw was his boots,” he said.

Because a woman on a lift that yelled down to skiers that a man was buried they were able to get to him on time before he ran out of air.

“Three people from the public dug to his face so he could breath,” King said.

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