Long-time ski instructor injured in an on-mountain collision

Victim of hit-and-run out for season

By Katherine Nettles

Roxie Lypps says she was minding her own business, teaching a private ski lesson to two adolescent boys on November 23, when, at approximately 12:20 p.m. in the Keystone Flats just above the Jib Park, someone collided with her and continued on without stopping or saying anything to her, the skier left lying on the ground.

Lypps describes the other person involved as a large male snowboarder. “This person was totally out of control. He hit me from behind, and I was knocked off my skis,” she says.

One of her skis came off, and she landed on her left side on the outer edge of her ski. Patrol showed up, but there were no witnesses to help identify the other party. The Colorado Skier Safety Act requires that both parties in a ski area collision are to remain at the scene and exchange contact information with one another, regardless of fault.

The boys she was teaching were ahead of her so she could observe them from behind to give feedback on their skills, and they had a plan to meet at the entrance to the terrain park below. They never saw the incident.

Lypps, who is 74 years old, suffered a tibial plateau fracture and a torn meniscus on her left leg, and was in surgery by 4 p.m. that afternoon. She was in the hospital for four days, and says she had to have bone grafting and medial meniscus repair, as well as two compartments on her leg drained to avoid infection. “I won’t be able to put any weight on my foot for at least 10 weeks. And I’m out for the season,” she says.

Lypps has lived in Crested Butte for more than 40 years. Having moved here in 1976, she started working for the public relations department at the ski area in 1988/89, and then started teaching in 1991. “I’ve been teaching since then. I had my lifetime pass. I teach both skiing and snowboarding, and I love both,” she says. “I was looking forward to the season.”

This was the first collision she has ever been involved in, and also her first-ever skiing injury. “I’ve never had anything like this happen,” she says.

“If I had done it to myself—I wouldn’t be as upset. But to have been taken out and have the person just take off is so much worse,” she said. “This person never even slowed down.”

The only other time Lypps has ever been injured, in fact, was in the Crested Butte State Bank explosion of 1990, when she was working at the bank. She spent six weeks at St. Mary’s Hospital in the burn unit, she recalls, “But that was in March, so I didn’t miss the ski season.”

She admits that in addition to not missing a season, “I’m very grateful that didn’t kill me.

“I was thinking I might get through life without a knee replacement, though.” Lypps didn’t start skiing until her late 30s, and learned to snowboard when she was 55.

“I’m always trying to get all my friends in my demographic to try it. Be easy on your knees: Snowboard,” she says.

The next step is for Lypps to get settled in at home after having stayed with friends for a few days, and figure out how to navigate her stairway and snow removal for the season ahead.

“People are wonderful. They are helping out,” she said, and expressed gratitude for her swift medical care.

While she is frustrated by the snowboarder’s lack of consideration, she is not interested in filing charges, she said.

“I’m not going to sue anybody. And I don’t even have a positive ID.” Lypps never actually saw the perpetrator’s face, since he had left the scene immediately, and did not appear to have gotten knocked down in the collision.

Marjorie Trautman, public information officer for Mt. Crested Butte, says officers are continuing to work on the incident. “In the event of an on-mountain collision, witnesses are most helpful in piecing together what has occurred. If you witness an accident, please stop to assist, get help for the injured and report the names of the involved parties to either the Mt. Crested Butte Police Department or CBMR Ski Patrol,” she says.

CBMR has declined to comment on the incident.

“I’ve never felt like Crested Butte Mountain was a dangerous place to be,” says Lypps. “I’ve always felt like if you pay attention and stay in control you will be okay. And now…that bothers me.”

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