The family of Canadian skier Nik Zoricic says it will not launch a lawsuit if the authorities conduct a full, comprehensive and independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death at a World Cup race in March.
Zoricic, 29, sustained fatal head injuries when he fell into safety netting after landing wide right off a jump approaching the finish line at the skicross race in Grindelwald, Switzerland.
On Wednesday, Timothy Danson, the lawyer for the Zoricic family, told a Toronto news conference that the skier's death "was no freak accident."
Danson said the race course was flawed, calling it "a death trap."
Zoricic landed just out of bounds after coming off the final jump. "The result should have been disqualification, not death," said Danson.
The family said it will not launch any legal challenge as long as the ski authorities hold the inquiry.
"The problem with any lawsuit is they put all parties concerned on the defensive. Therefore, in return for a commitment to undertake an independent investigation into all circumstances leading to Nik's death, all legal options will be taken off the table," said Danson. "We will abide by the outcome."
The request for the probe was made in a letter to Alpine Canada.
Danson said four "independent sources" told authorities, prior to the race, that the course wasn't safe.
"These concerns were apparently ignored," said Danson. He said the people concerned "are afraid to come forward," fearing for their careers.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) has called the crash a "terrible, tragic accident."
Zoricic's parents, Bebe Zoricic and Silvia Brudar, and his sister, Katarina, attended the news conference with Danson.
His mother said the death of her son has profoundly affected her — and she doesn't want to see another mother endure the same pain.
"Every cell in my body hurts — but knowing this could have been avoided, it makes it into agony," she said.
Lawyer says skier's death 'easily avoidable'
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.
Danson said those investigations have not produced any results and the family wants to ensure such an accident never occurs again, especially since what happened to Nik "was so easily avoidable."
In response to the family, Alpine Canada said it will wait for the result of the Swiss investigation.
"Alpine Canada plans to thoroughly review the findings of the investigation," said president Max Gartner.
Skiing's governing body is expected to appoint a formal panel that will examine safety in skicross at its 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 at Deer Valley, Utah.
He was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
His family moved to Canada when he was five years old. His father is an established alpine skiing coach at Craigleith Ski Club in Ontario.
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