2011 - 2012 LEGISLATURE
January 25, 2012 - Introduced by Representatives Strachota, Brooks, LeMahieu,
Kerkman, Ballweg, Kestell, Petrowski, Doyle, Severson and Williams,
cosponsored by Senators Grothman, Galloway, Wanggaard, Schultz and
Kedzie. Referred to Committee on Tourism, Recreation and State Properties.
1An Act to amend
101.12 (1) (c), 101.19 (1) (b), 101.981 (1) (c) and 895.525 (2); 2
and to create
101.19 (1) (bm), 167.33 and 895.526 of the statutes; relating to:
3 duties of ski area operators and participants in snow sports, liability of ski area
4operators, and granting rule-making authority.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
Under current law, a participant in a recreational activity, including skiing,
sledding, or tobogganing, on a premises that is open to the public for such purposes
is deemed to accept the risks inherent in the activity of which an ordinary prudent
person is or should be aware. Current law also imposes certain responsibilities on
participants in a recreational activity, including the responsibility to act within the
limits of his or her ability, heed all warnings regarding participation in the
recreational activity, maintain control of his or her self and the equipment he or she
is using, and refrain from acting in any manner that may cause or contribute to the
death or injury to himself or herself or to other persons while participating in the
Under current law, if a participant in a recreational activity is injured or killed,
his or her own actions may be considered contributory negligence in a civil suit
brought against the owners of the premises if the participant failed to comply with
any of the responsibilities set forth for participants in the activity.
Under this bill, the same rules of liability and negligence apply to skiing,
sledding, tubing, tobogganing, and other snow sports (snow sports) that take place
outside of a ski area. The bill establishes a different scheme for determining whether
the operator of a ski area is liable for injuries sustained by a person who participates
in a snow sport at a ski area.
Under the bill, a participant in a snow sport is deemed to know, and accept,
certain risks inherent in the snow sport, such as changes in weather or visibility, the
presence of certain snow conditions and difficulties with the terrain, and the risk of
collisions and to accept that the operator of a ski area may not mitigate certain risks
by padding items or obstacles within the ski area. A participant is also deemed to
acknowledge that his or her decision whether to wear a helmet while participating
in the snow sport may contribute to his or her injuries, and that he or she is solely
responsible for ensuring that a helmet is properly fitted. Under the bill, a
participant's responsibilities when participating in a snow sport include knowing
and complying with all safety rules established by the ski area, knowing the limits
of his or her abilities, and being able to maintain control of himself or herself and his
or her equipment while participating in the snow sport.
The bill also sets forth several safety requirements for ski area operators and
requirements designed to inform participants of the dangers inherent in snow sports
and of the responsibilities each participant has for his or her own safety. The
requirements include inspection of lifts at the ski area and placing warning signs and
informational signs as to the level of difficulty of ski trails.
Under the bill, the operator of a ski area is immune from liability for any injury
sustained by a participant in a snow sport or by an observer if the injury was a result
of any of the risks accepted by the participant and the operator of the ski area has
complied with the requirements.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB495, s. 1
101.12 (1) (c) of the statutes is amended to read:
(c) Elevators, escalators, ski lift and towing devices lifts, as defined
3in s. 167.33 (1) (f),
and power dumbwaiters.
AB495, s. 2
101.19 (1) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) The required inspection of boilers, pressure vessels, refrigeration 6
plants, liquefied petroleum gas vessels, anhydrous ammonia tanks and containers, 7ski lift and towing devices,
escalators, dumbwaiters, and amusement or thrill rides 8
but not of amusement attractions.
AB495, s. 3
101.19 (1) (bm) of the statutes is created to read:
(bm) The inspection by the department of lifts, as defined in s. 167.33 2
(c) "Conveyance" means an elevator, an escalator, a dumbwaiter, 6
a belt manlift, a moving walkway, a platform lift, and a stairway chair lift, and any 7
other similar device, such as an automated people mover, used to elevate or move 8
people or things, as provided in the rules of the department. "Conveyance" does not 9
include a personnel hoist; a material hoist; a grain elevator; a lift
or towing device 10as defined in s. 167.33 (1) (f)
; an amusement or thrill ride; or a vertical platform lift, 11
inclined platform lift, or a stairway chair lift that serves an individual residential 12
AB495, s. 5
167.33 of the statutes is created to read:
14167.33 Snow sports. (1)
In this section:
(a) "Affiliate" means:
1. With respect to a partnership, each partner thereof.
2. With respect to a limited liability company, each member thereof.
3. With respect to a corporation, each officer, director, principal stockholder, 19
and controlling member thereof.
(b) "Competition" means any event authorized by a ski area operator, or by an 21
agent of a ski area operator, that involves a comparison of skills used in one or more 22
snow sports. "Competition" includes training sessions for such an event.
(c) "Freestyle features" means man-made features that include boxes, jumps, 24
hits, jibs, tabletops, spikes, take-off ramps, landings, banks, half pipes, picnic tables, 25
logs, and pipes.
(d) "Freestyling" means mogul jumping, mogul skiing, ski jumping, aerial 2
skiing, ski cross, ski ballet, snowboarding, and any other similar snow sport.
(e) "Hazard" means any man-made or natural obstacle or hazard. "Hazard" 4
includes ridges, sharp corners, jumps, bumps, moguls, valleys, dips, cliffs, ravines, 5
and bodies of water.
(f) "Lift" means any aerial tramway or lift, a surface lift, a tow, or a conveyor 7
used by a ski area operator to transport participants in snow sports at a ski area.
(g) "Participant in a snow sport" means an individual who is engaged in a snow 9
sport or who is walking or otherwise traveling within a ski area for purposes of 10
engaging in the sport. "Participant in a snow sport" also means an individual who 11
is present at a ski area to observe others engaged in a snow sport or who is a 12
passenger on a lift. "Participant in a snow sport" includes an individual that is an 13
employee of a ski area operator when he or she is acting out the scope of his or her 14
(h) "Ski area" means trails, terrains, and other areas that are used by 16
individuals engaged in snow sports and that is administered as a single enterprise 17
by a ski area operator.
(i) "Ski area infrastructure" means lifts and any associated components, 19
snowmaking equipment and any associated components, and utility structures, 20
buildings, huts, signs, lift mazes, fences, or other structures located within a ski area.
(j) "Ski area operator" means a person that owns or is responsible for operating 22
a ski area or its affiliates. "Ski area operator" includes the employees and agents of 23
a ski area operator.
(k) "Ski area vehicle" means a motorized vehicle used in the operation and 25
maintenance of a ski area or used as transportation within a ski area.
(L) "Skiing" means downhill skiing, alpine skiing, nordic skiing, cross-country 2
skiing, telemarking, or snowboarding.
(m) "Sledding" means sliding down a prepared course on sleds, toboggans, ski 4
bikes, or comparable devices. "Sledding" excludes tubing.
(n) "Snowmaking equipment" includes pipes, hoses, hydrants, snow guns, fans, 6
wands, pumps, and any other equipment associated with making snow.
(o) "Snow sport" means skiing, sledding, tubing, or freestyling.
(p) "Tree skiing area" means an area open to skiing, that is not groomed for 9
skiing, and that is forested.
(q) "Tubing" means sliding down a prepared course on inflatable tubes, 11
minibobs, or comparable devices.
12(2) Conditions and risks of snow sports.
For purposes of this section, 13
conditions and risks consist of all of the following:
(a) Changes in weather or visibility.
(b) The presence of surface or subsurface conditions, including any of the 16
1. Snow, ice, crust, slush, soft spots, holes, grooves, bare spots, cuts, rocks, 18
boulders, or tracks from ski area vehicles.
2. Forest growth or debris, including stumps, logs, or brush.