Two years ago today (March 10, 2012), Canadian World Cup Ski Cross racer Nik Zoricic, died in a World Cup ski race in Grindelwald Switzerland. A number of officials blamed Nik for his own death. As a consequence, his death was falsely and unfairly characterized (among other things), as a “freak accident” and “pilot error”. Neither the Zoricic family nor the Alpine/Ski Cross community in Canada and throughout the world were prepared to accept this. It was not true. Nor were they prepared to accept that there were not important lessons to be learned from Nik’s tragic death so that such tragic accidents would not occur in the future.
The Zoricic family expressed publically at two news conferences held on April 25, 2012 and March 6, 2013, how they felt about this mischaracterization of the accident, and the lost opportunity to learn valuable lessons from the tragedy. The family was clear in stating that this mischaracterization, along with no lessons learned, was not going to be Nik’s legacy.
Over the past two years an important dialogue and conversation has taken place within the Alpine/Ski Cross community, and a very focused conversation between the Zoricic family and the International Ski Federation (FIS) and Alpine Canada (ACA). As a result of this dialogue, the Zoricic family is pleased to announce that the FIS and Alpine Canada accept that Nik was not responsible for his own death; that Nik was a talented, experienced and skilled World Cup skier who did not accept unnecessary risks; and that his death was not a “freak accident” caused by “pilot error”. More importantly, as a result of the important acknowledgment and acceptance that Nik was not responsible for his own death, a very important discussion has taken place within the Alpine/Ski Cross community about the “lessons learned”. The new and updated Guidelines issued by the FIS reflect the lessons learned and incorporate important changes that will make Alpine/Ski Cross racing much safer. These Guidelines remain very much a positive work in progress as all parties maintain their commitment and vigilance to ensure skier safety. The Zoricic family, the Nik Zoricic Foundation, the FIS, ACA and the Alpine/Ski Cross community see these changes as the legacy of Nik Zoricic.
Nothing can change the past. Nothing can bring Nik back. However, his legacy can be one of inspiration, hope and opportunity. In this respect, the conversation between the Alpine/Ski Cross community over the past two years has produced a wonderful outcome. Apart from allowing for a serious, constructive and meaningful discussion and debate, the FIS has agreed to support and closely work with the Nik Zoricic Foundation, a foundation committed to skier safety and sport development. To that end, FIS has agreed to commit $250,000.00 to the Nik Zoricic Foundation payable over five years. This new partnership between the FIS and the Nik Zoricic Foundation, places skier safety first. This is something to be celebrated. This is Nik’s legacy.