Skier dies after terrain park crash at Snowmass

Aspen Times Staff Report
The Makaha Terrain Park at Snowmass Ski Area, as shown in 2019.
Aspen Times File Photo

A 27-year-old man died after a ski crash in the Makaha Terrain Park at Snowmass Ski Area on Thursday, according to Aspen Skiing Co.

The Pitkin County Coroner’s Office, in a statement issued Thursday night, identified the deceased as Tyler James Updegraff of Silverthorne, Colorado. He had been program director at Summit County Public Health Department since June 22, according to his professional profile on LinkedIn. He was from Pennsylvania and a 2018 graduate of Drake University, where he played football, according to LinkedIn.

Updegraff was wearing a helmet and skiing with others at the time of the crash, which happened in in the landing zone of the park’s first jump, Skico said.

Snowmass ski patrol, after receiving a report of the crash at 2:24 p.m., found him unresponsive and began life-saving measures that continued while they transported him to the Snowmass Clinic. He was pronounced dead at the clinic, Skico said.

The cause of death is pending medical review and the manner in which he died was ruled accidental by the coroner’s office.

“This is a tragic accident, and our hearts go out to his family and friends,” Skico said.

It was the second death stemming from an inbounds crash at Skico’s four ski areas this winter. Seventy-year-old Basalt resident and Buttermilk ski instructor Dave Turner died two days after crashing into a tree at the bottom of black-diamond Why Not run at Aspen Highlands the first week of the year. He was not wearing a helmet, according to reports.

In February 2019, a Skico employee died after attempting the first jump at Makaha Terrain Park. He was riding a snowboard and wearing a helmet at the time.

The Makaha park is located on the Lower Blue Grouse trail by Village Express Lift. Skico’s website describes the park a “logical next step up the progression ladder with its mix of intermediate and advanced features, ranging in size from medium to large. There are about 25 features in total, a progressive line of midsized jumps, and about 15 jib features including all shapes of boxes and rails. Great area for learning new tricks and developing your style.”

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