A survey among Czech skiers could provide some interesting data: Which of them knows the ten simple rules of the International Ski Federation? Good knowledge of the rules could come handy though because for the first time ever a Czech court is bringing criminal charges against a skier for causing serious injury while skiing. The skier is now facing two years in prison for breaching the federation’ rules.
The story started last year on Kobyla, a popular slope in Šumava. A young skier did not notice a 7-year-old girl, which was approaching the ski lift turnstiles. He managed to avoid hitting her father but was too fast to avoid hitting the girl – it is possible he didn’t see her until the very last moment. He hit her right in the hip with his fist, in which he was holding a pole. Doctors had to remove the girl’s torn spleen from her body.
“It was a reckless ride”
The police and a state attorney closed the case in the summer, saying the skier committed a battery although it was not intentional.
A court in Prachatice opened the case recently to decide whether to send the skier to prison for two years. Chances of plaintiff Josef Fraško winning the case are high, although the skier will not likely get the longest penalty. Fraško said when explaining the charges that every skier on a slope must follow the rules of the International Ski Federation (FIS), which specify who gets to go first on the slope or how to avoid posing a risk to other people. “Other European countries follow the rules, so why not us? Moreover, this was clearly a reckless ride,” said Fraško.
The Supreme Court’s decision from 2005 related to a similar case provides backing for his arguments. Although the case didn’t involve criminal charges, it was a civil suit over compensation.
A Czech skier hit another skier on a slope in Italy causing a dislocated shoulder. The Czech Supreme Court ruled she had to pay EUR 1,100 as compensation, dismissing an argument that skiing is a recreational sport: The woman should have followed the FIS rules and skied carefully.
Witnesses to testify
The skier’s attorneys, on the other hand, do not raise doubts about the skier’s guilt (the girl’s damaged skis are evidence against him), but rather claim criminal charges cannot be based just on breaching the rules.
Hospodářské noviny wasn’t able to get in touch with the skier. His attorney wants to bring witnesses of the collision before the court for a December hearings. That’s when the court may rule on the case.
Courts in Italy, France or Germany make rulings like this more often. But law application is not typically used in Czech sports, even if done professionally. There are only a few cases known: Football players charged with making brutal fouls. “There is only a small number of such rulings here,” said Michal Králík, an expert on sports law.
In 1997, a court in Brno ruled that no regulation exists that would set rules for skiing but that skiers should ski carefully to avoid injuries.
Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor