Ski Cross In The Cross-Hairs

Ski cross racing is coming under fire in the wake of a crash that killed a competitor last winter. The curve- and jump-filled sport–in which four skiers race downhill through a winding course and often reach speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour–may now be in for an independent review.

The family of Canadian racer Nik Zoricic is demanding further investigation on the circumstances of their son's death.  Zoricic died of head injuries sustained from colliding with safety nets directly next to the course in a 2012 World Cup race in Grindelwald, Switzerland. The Daily Mail provided a breakdown of the crash (viewer advisory: photos of the segment are included).

Zoricic's family wants an independent investigation of the Grindelwald course, as well as a review of the sport's safety in general. In addition to Zoricic's fatal crash, CBC reports that as many as 10 of ski cross's top 16 women competitors sustained season-ending injuries last year.

Ski cross is certainly exciting, but is the sport in its current form just too dangerous? Among other things, critics argue that having four racers on the course at once creates additional, unpredictable hazards.

Dave Duncan, a perennial member of Canada's national ski cross team and a close friend of Zoricic, feels that changes must be made.

"I fully support what the Zoricic family is trying to do. Not just ski cross but the entire sport of skiing will definitely benefit from an independent investigation to find out what exactly happened and what is the solution to fixing it so ... this doesn't happen again," said Duncan.

The International Ski Federation initially called Zoricic's crash a "freak accident," but has now created a committee of its own on course and general safety.  At its annual meeting last month in South Korea the federation also voted to require more protective equipment.