Steamboat skier, 13, killeds in collision with snowmobile in Vail | CraigDailyPress.com
SUSAN CUNNINGHAM

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Steamboat skier, 13, killeds in collision with snowmobile in Vail

Ashley Stamp dies in collision with

A 13-year-old Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete died early Sunday morning in a tragic skiing accident on Vail Mountain.

Ashley Stamp, an Alpine ski racer who competed at an international level and who was known as one of the Steamboat’s “brightest talents,” was preparing for a race when the accident occurred at about 8:20 a.m.

Stamp was skiing down the Golden Peak Race Course of Vail Mountain when she collided with a snowmobile carrying two resort employees assisting with the race.

Vail Ski Patrol responded immediately, and Stamp was transported to the Vail Valley Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Stamp’s family was in Vail and unavailable for comment Sunday. Services have not yet been scheduled; however, the Winter Sports Club will hold a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. today at the base of Howelsen Hill.

Stamp was a seventh-grade student at Steamboat Springs Middle School. She is the second student at the school to die in an accident this year. Seventh-grader Travis Taber died Oct. 9 in an all-terrain-vehicle accident in Moffat County.

Stamp was at the Vail Ski Resort with other Winter Sports Club athletes competing at a race series sponsored by SmartWool.

She was a “tremendous young lady” and an “outstanding athlete,” said Andy Wirth, president of the Winter Sports Club’s board of directors. “Ashley Stamp represented the absolute best of this club.”

Last April, she competed at the Whistler Cup in Canada, a prestigious international event. She was among a small group of young men and women to represent the United States in the competition.

Tony Nunnikhoven, former Alpine director of the Winter Sports Club, described Stamp as a tough competitor who loved the sport and her teammates and never missed a practice. She was “the kind of athlete who defines the game for the rest of us,” he said.

He called Stamp “one of our brightest talents at the Winter Sports Club and in our community as a whole,” an athlete with big dreams and hopes for skiing and everything else life had to offer.

“Her future was so bright,” Nunnikhoven said.

At the time of the collision, Stamp was taking practice runs before the race, Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Shawn Olmstead said. She was wearing a helmet.

She reached a “blind spot” on the run where a flat section met a grade, Olmstead said, and a resort snowmobile was driving uphill on the right edge of the run.

The snowmobile, which was driven by Vail Ski Resort employee Mark Chard, 27, collided with Stamp, Olmstead said. Another employee, Thomas Conville, 40, also was on the snowmobile. Chard and Conville were working on the race crew, Olmstead said.

There were several witnesses at the top of the hill, but the closest were 20 to 30 feet away when the collision occurred, Olmstead said.

Olmstead said that the incident was under investigation. “Right now I couldn’t say that anybody’s at fault,” he said.

Jen Brown, spokeswoman for Vail Ski Resort, said that “the entire Vail community is grieving for this family at this time.” The incident is being investigated by the resort and the State Patrol, she said.

“Our deepest sympathies, condolences and support go out to the girl’s family and friends, to the close-knit racing community and to the entire community of Steamboat Springs,” said Bill Jensen, chief operating officer of the Vail Ski Resort.

The Steamboat Springs School District’s Crisis Support Team met Sunday to plan how to provide support after the tragedy, said Tim Bishop, principal of the Steamboat Springs Middle School.

Counselors will be available today, and a grief counseling session for parents on how to support children who are grieving will be at 5 p.m. today at the middle school.