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Video of skilift malfunction shows skiers being violently flung into the air

Rick Stella

While skiing and snowboarding already possess their own laundry list of potential injury risks, an unsuspecting group of resort-goers recently experienced a very unexpected and harrowing incident at the Gudauri Ski Resort in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. On March 16, some visitors to the Eastern European resort looked on in horror as one of its chairlifts severely malfunctioned — and a few caught the scene on video.

With a number of riders using the lift to climb the mountain, it began acting erratically, switching its direction and moving backward at double it’s normal speed. Though a few were able to detach their skis and snowboards before jumping off to safety, several weren’t as fortunate, riding the lift through the turnaround at the bottom and being flung off violently. Despite many onlookers watching the incident in stunned terror — and capturing the incident on their smartphones — there appeared to be nothing anyone could do to slow the lift.

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Gudauri Ski Resort

Thankfully, no serious injuries occurred — according to Georgia Today — though the publication did say eight people reported injuries and that several others were “left shaken and shocked.” At the time of the report, Dopplerier, the company responsible for manufacturing the ski lift, had yet to make any sort of formal announcement, despite being contacted by Georgia Today for comment. Shortly after the incident, Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation into what may have damaged the lift and caused the malfunction.

“Fortunately, there are no deaths but two people have serious injuries,”  Health Minister David Sergeenko said. “One patient has an open fracture and a wound on his head, the other is a pregnant Swedish woman who is experiencing pain in her waist area.”

According to reports, the resort’s lifts were most recently inspected on December 22, 2017, with the development company responsible for the inspection claiming there was no “no substantial or critical discrepancy in the inspection.” Gudauri announced via its Facebook page that it would cover any medical expenses accrued by those injured by the lift. As of this writing, the eight people who reported injuries had already checked into outpatient centers and were receiving injury treatment. Sergeenko added that two patients were being “transported to Tbilisi for special rehabilitation and treatment.”