Though Deputy Jesse Steindler did not provide further details, Aspen Public Radio reported last night that the police have identified a subject believed to be the skier, and Aspen local, who did not do us proud when he pushed a snowboarder off the Lodge Peak chair at Aspen Highlands last Sunday.
Snowboarder Seth Beckton, a 28-year-old photographer, fell 20 to 25 feet from the high-speed quad into a pile of soft snow and was unhurt, according to the Aspen Times.
“I honestly thought I was dead,” Beckton told the Times. “Because I didn’t know where we were [within the lift path]. It’s not cool to think anyone would do that.” But, he continued, “because I wasn’t hurt, I wasn’t super outraged. I didn’t want to let it ruin my day. I decided to continue on my way.”
The skier, who wore a burgundy and tan jacket, loaded the chair with an axe to grind, reportedly saying to Beckton, “Oh, you’re a snowboarder, huh?” As Beckton later wrote in a Facebook post, the men continued to have a “seemingly normal conversation… about pow,” until Beckton remarked that “to get tits deep pow shots you just need to be on your edges.”
The skier seemed to find the comment offensive, and asked Beckton if he was mocking him. “If you think that’s funny, do you think this is funny?” he demanded, then shoved Beckton off the chair as they approached the lift’s last tower. Beckton waited below the chair to confront the skier, but never saw him again.
“I was really shooken up,” Beckton said. “I was like, ‘Was that a joke? Did that really happen?’…I think the guy was maybe on drugs. Maybe he was partying the night before and maybe he was tweaking out on something and he did that.”
It wasn’t until Beckton told his friends about the incident that he realized how serious it was and brought it to the attention of resort officials. The resort launched a full investigation, which included working with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office to review Sunday’s video.
“I’m not sure ‘egregious’ is the word, [but] I’ve been skiing since I was 2, and I’ve never heard of anyone being thrown off a ski lift,” Deputy Alex Burchetta, director of operations at the Sheriff’s Office, told the Times. He urged Beckton to file a formal police report.
“On the positive side, you know you can send a 30-foot cliff and be good,” someone commented on Beckton’s Facebook post, though that’s a silver lining in what some are calling a clear case of criminal assault. “You can’t push someone off a chairlift and expect it not to be a crime,” said Deputy Steindler.
“If there was any sort of warning, I would have gotten a grab in or something,” Beckton later joked on the radio. ”But it was instant. Snap of the fingers and I was over the chair.”
Beckton returned to work Tuesday.