Second Skier Dies This Season On Whitefish Slopes - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Second Skier Dies This Season On Whitefish Slopes

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WHITEFISH -

Another skier is dead this year after falling into a tree well on the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

What authorities are calling an "unfortunate tragedy" happened during a very busy weekend at the resort, with more than 6,000 people on the powder both Saturday and Sunday.

Thomas Podivinsky, 48, was skiing with a friend on Sunday. Around 12:30 p.m., his friend got to the bottom of a run and couldn't find Podivinsky. Close to 1:00 p.m., the ski patrol was notified. They found him in a tree well in the area between the Hollywood and Silvertip runs under chair seven. When they got to him, he didn't have a pulse and wasn't breathing. The ski patrol's attempts to revive Podivinsky didn't work and the Flathead County Sheriff's Department was called.

Sheriff Chuck Curry says this was likely a freak accident, but the body is headed to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula before it will go to Calgary, where Podivinsky was from.

"When you're skiing with someone in those conditions make sure that you always keep sight of each other so any sort of rescue can occur quickly," said Curry.

Whitefish Mountain Resort spokeswoman Riley Polumbus couldn't speak on camera, but in an email she wrote "We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends as they cope during this difficult time. This accident is another unfortunate reminder that tree wells are an inherent risk of the sport. We encourage our guests to take extra caution when skiing in the trees, ski with a partner, and call ski patrol immediately if someone is missing. We will continue to help our guests understand the risks and encourage educating themselves on this subject. An excellent resource for learning more about tree wells and deep snow safety is the website deepsnowsafety.org, which can be linked to from the tree well page of our website."

"Is a couple of deaths unusual? While they're very tragic, I wouldn't necessarily say it's unusual," said Curry.

Podivinsky was the chief geophysicist for Calgary-based Athabasca oil corporation and the brother of an Olympic bronze medallist skier. His story is nearly identical to the 54-year-old California man's who died on January 11. Douglas Spring fell into a tree well. He was skiing with his son who realized something was wrong when they got separated and couldn't find his dad at the bottom of the slope.

You can find more on tree well safety here.

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