Norden, CA – California’s Sugar Bowl resort is asking authorities to prosecute a snowboarder after his video of an avalanche he triggered in a closed portion of the ski area on Friday has gone viral.
According to Sugar Bowl officials, Christian Michael Mares, 29, of Kings Beach, Calif. on Lake Tahoe, caused the avalanche at approximately 12:45 p.m. on Friday after knowingly traversing into an in-bounds area of the East Palisades called “Perco’s,” which has not been open to the public since the 2010/11 ski season.
“The area is clearly marked as closed from both the Mt. Disney and Mt. Lincoln directions, and it is a very active avalanche area. As such, Mares put himself, his friends, ski patrol and the skiing public at risk,” resort officials indicate in a statement issued yesterday.
In the video, which includes a third-person view in addition to the first-person perspective shot by Mares’ POV camera, Mares is seen being carried for a considerable distance by the slide, before coming to rest buried up to his chest in snow. He was apparently uninjured in the incident. The video’s posting to Heckler Magazine indicates that the avalanche was filmed by Matt Shaffer, although it is unclear if resort officials intend to pursue charges against anyone else who may have been present.
Sugar Bowl is unable to penalize Mares as he’s not a resort season passholder. “Given the magnitude and severity of this situation, and the fact that patrol, staff and public were put at serious risk from Mares’ decisions and actions, Sugar Bowl has now turned this incident over to the Placer County Sheriff’s Department for prosecution under California Penal Code 602(r), which refers to trespassing into a closed area of a ski resort,” the resort’s statement continues.
The sheriff’s office has said that it has referred the matter to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution.
For his part, Mares has denied ducking any ropes or knowingly riding in an area marked as closed.
“No, I didn’t duck any rope — there was no ropes to be ducked,” Mares told the Sierra Sun newspaper of nearby Truckee, Calif. on Wednesday morning. “I just woke up and saw this … I haven’t even been contacted about being prosecuted. I actually talked to Sugar Bowl the day it happened, and also (on Tuesday) that it happened, and at no point did anyone mention anything about prosecution. As soon as it happened, I talked to ski patrol, just to let those guys know that I was in an avalanche, and where it happened. We only saw one sign, referring to the backside is closed at Sugar Bowl.”
Later on Wednesday, Mares posted to Facebook, “I like how Sugar Bowl can make a biased press release, but when I call to talk to someone no one is available to talk to. #bitchmade”
As Wednesday wore on, Mares complained on Facebook that he had been unable to speak with anyone at the sheriff’s office or at Sugar Bowl regarding the matter. “Ya but John Munson (Monson, Sugar Bowl’s Director of Sales & Marketing) just wants to be a total dick head. I gave them my phone number yesterday and they didn’t even bother to call. And then run his mouth and make a Buncha claims,” Mares posted on Wednesday afternoon.
The Friday avalanche that engulfed Mares is not connected in any way with the search for missing Sugar Bowl ski instructor Carson May, who has been missing since Thursday. The search, which has since been suspended, was still ongoing in another part of Sugar Bowl Resort when the avalanche struck Mares on Friday.