Road To The Olympic Games

Nik Zoricic's family questioning skier's fatal crash

Lawyers for the family of Nik Zoricic are challenging the claim from the Canadian skier's team that his fatal crash in a World Cup skicross race in Switzerland last month was a "freak" accident.
Canadian National Ski Cross team member Nik Zoricic poses for a photo following a media event at Cypress Mountain on Sept. 15, 2009. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Lawyers for the family of Nik Zoricic have challenged the claim from the Canadian skier's team that his fatal crash in a World Cup skicross race in Switzerland last month was a "freak" accident.

Zoricic sustained head injuries when he fell into safety netting on landing wide right off a jump approaching the finish line at Grindelwald. He was 29.

"Many have characterized Nik's death as a 'freak' accident," legal firm Danson Recht said a statement released Monday. "Such a characterization distorts the truth and does a serious disservice to Nik."

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has called the crash a "terrible, tragic accident."

The Zoricic family's lawyers, however, said that "a more informed and honest discussion is needed."

Zoricic's parents, Bebe Zoricic and Silvia Brudar, are scheduled to speak at a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday alongside counsel Timothy Danson.

"The real facts leading to Nik's death will be fully discussed," the statement said, promising to raise "initiatives which the Zoricic family feels are essential to avoid such tragedies in the future."

Swiss authorities and FIS both launched investigations after the March 10 incident, including analyzing the course preparation and safety overseen by a local race organizing committee.

Bern police has declined to reveal details to The Associated Press of its investigation conducted by the cantonal (state) attorney-at-law office.

Skiing's governing body is expected to appoint a formal panel that will examine safety in skicross at its two-yearly Congress, which will be held in South Korea next month.

Skicross involves four racers jostling for an edge down a course of banks, rolls and ridges. It debuted as an Olympic sport at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.

Zoricic raced on the World Cup circuit for more than three years and was competing in his 36th event in Switzerland. He placed fifth in the 2011 World Cup standings and eighth in that year's world championships held at Deer Valley, Utah.

He was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, one year before the city hosted the 1984 Winter Games as part of the former Yugoslavia.

Aged 5, he moved to Canada where his father became an established Alpine coach at Craigleith Ski Club in Ontario.

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