A professional slackliner’s skills helped save a man in Colorado Wednesday, after the skier became suspended by his neck underneath a chairlift.
According to witnesses, the man, who remains unnamed, was getting off a lift at the Arapahoe Basin ski hills when his backpack became entangled and cut off his air supply as the lift continued to drag him down the hill.
Mickey Wilson was with the group of friends skiing with the man. Wilson said he called out to the lift operator to see if the lift could reverse, but it couldn’t.
Other friends, including Hans Mueller, tried to create a human pyramid to reach their friend but couldn’t get firm footing in the fresh snow. Ski patrol was still on its way to the scene.
“It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” Mueller said in an interview with CBS. “It’s the most helpless I’ve ever felt – being two feet away from one of my best friends, watching him lose consciousness.”
That’s when a light bulb went off for Wilson, who is a professional slackliner (he won the 2015 Red Bull Baylines slackline contest in San Francisco).
“I looked at the tower, I looked at the cable going down from the tower to him and I said, ‘I can climb up that tower. I can scoot down it [the cable] and get to him and make this rescue go faster.’”
Onlookers recorded the rescue as Wilson shimmied towards his suspended friend and tried to kick the backpack free.
When that didn’t work, a ski patroller tossed a pocketknife up to Wilson — who caught it on the first throw — and cut his friend loose.
“He fell about 10, 11 feet into the powder and the patrol immediately jumped on him, all eight of them, with CPR resuscitation and he started breathing again,” said Wilson.
Friends of the man reported that after a visit to the hospital, the man was at home recovering from a few broken ribs.
Recently, there have been several reports of skiers getting caught on lifts due to their gear becoming entangled. The director of mountain operations at Utah’s Sundance Mountain Resort told Global News that skiers are encouraged to wear their packs or gear on their chest while riding the lift to avoid such incidents.Follow @jennynotjen
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