Liability releases are not new to the ski industry - Mt. Hood Meadows has required those taking lessons, renting equipment or purchasing a season pass to sign a liability release for decades. This season, Meadows will also require those purchasing day tickets to sign a release and offer a $20 opt-out fee for those who don’t want to sign the release .
The release is conveniently integrated into our online store process as is the $20 opt-out fee for those not wanting to sign the release for daily lift ticket, lesson or rental products. Meadows will also offer the opt-out option for those purchasing at the ski area, however, we urge guests to purchase online in advance to assure the best price and product availability, particularly on peak days as lift tickets, lessons and rentals may be limited. The day-of process for signing the release may involve using a phone to purchase any available tickets, or going to a special area to make the purchase, which could be a more cumbersome process, taking extra time and costing more money compared to purchasing online in advance.
This “bifurcated” pricing - paying a fee for not signing a release option - is the result of a 2014 court case decision that made it unclear whether a release of liability could be enforced in Oregon, without the purchaser having an option to sign or not. Since that time, Meadows season pass purchasers could opt-out of signing a liability release by paying $100 more. This season, those purchasing daily lift tickets, lesson and rental products will be required to sign a liability release, but will be given the option to pay $20 more and not sign the release.
This change acknowledges the current legal landscape in Oregon, a state that has a Skier Statute that states, “An individual who engages in the sport of skiing, alpine or Nordic, accepts and assumes the inherent risks of skiing insofar as they are reasonably obvious, expected or necessary.” The statute and releases have provided ski area operators reasonable protection from potential law suits. Neither the statute nor an executed release of liability excuses a ski area operator from gross negligence.
Oregon Skier Statute ORS 30.970 - 30.990
This is in response to increasing insurance premiums and the expense of law suits, even when the ski area prevails, are very costly. Oregon is unique in the western United States in terms of legal enforcement of liability releases, and not having this protection is threatening, and in some cases, putting outdoor recreation providers out of business. We believe you will be hearing more about these challenges as the outdoor recreation industry engages in efforts to restore legal protections for outdoor recreation providers in Oregon.
Every RFID media ticket at Mt. Hood Meadows alerts the purchaser to the inherent risks of skiing and sets expectations for behavior consistent with our Code of Conduct.