Coroner finds no fault with mountains or boarder
The RCMP has identified the snowboarder who died on Whistler Mountain Jan. 28 as 21-year-old Manobu Ishikawa of Japan.
He had been living in Whistler for about three months and was an avid snowboarder heading up the mountains at least 40 times on his ski pass.
According to Cst. Michelle Nisbet the RCMP were told of the accident at 11:05 a.m. Jan. 28 th .
According to the investigation it appears that Ishikawa took air off of a terrain feature in the bowl below Harmony Piste. When he landed he glanced off of a couple of rocks before completely impacting another car-size rock. He died at the scene.
Coroner Brian Pothier, whos investigating the accident, said Ishikawa was an excellent snowboarder who was even thinking of becoming an instructor.
"We talked to (the boarders he was with) extensively and he was a responsible boarder," said Pothier from Pemberton.
"It just happened that when he landed he landed on a pyramid shaped rock.
"And pyramid shaped rocks and boards dont get along well and that threw him off balance, which caused him to tumble forward. He was flying forward and downwards and those were car-sized and truck-sized rocks he was in amongst."
No autopsy was done. Pothier found that Ishikawa died of blunt force trauma to the head and chest.
"I view this as a very unfortunate accident," he said.
"I dont see (Ishikawa) at fault and I dont see the mountain at fault."
Pothier said he found all the markings on the mountains to be appropriate.
Ishikawa and his friends came off the T-bars and dropped in to Harmony Bowl. Pothier said they had to do quite a few turns before arriving at the accident site.
In order to get there from the T-bar side Ishikawa would have had to go under a rope, which runs for several hundred yards from the T-bar side toward the Harmony Piste, which runs under Harmony Express chair.
"Basically what it does is guide people along Pikas Traverse or out further into the bowl along Harmony Piste," said Brian Leighton, safety manager for Whistler-Blackcomb who arrived at the accident scene shortly after the incident.
The area is not closed and "(Ishikawa) wasnt going to get in trouble for being there," said Leighton.
At that time of the accident there was not enough snow coverage in the area to allow skiers and boarders to use it without the risk of damaging equipment so the rope was put in place said Leighton.
As more snow falls, as it has done in the last week, and the bowl becomes a better place to ski and board the rope and markers will change position.
New ropes, which were put up at the scene of the accident that day, were to secure the area for investigation said Leighton, and were not a belated attempt to close off the area.
There were other people enjoying the fresh powder in the same area that day said Leighton. But Ishikawas track was the only one found above the rocks which killed him.
Norm Riverin of North Vancouver was skiing Harmony the day of the accident.
"From the chair (the accident site) is just a typical mound with rocks on the blind side and there were a lot of people skiing in that area," he said.
"And it was very, very obvious you could see from the tracks what happened. The fellow came to negotiate that mound and he got air all right but right into the rocks."
Riverin said he understands that Whistler-Blackcomb cant rope off every obstacle but he feels that this one should have been marked, especially since skiers and boarders get there other ways than by going under the Pikas Traverse rope.
"I feel there are other ways you can get to that area and it is so close to the chair and right in the middle of the terrain so it should have been marked," said Riverin.
"That was certainly not obviously a closed area."
Ishikawas family flew in last weekend and have returned to Japan with his remains.