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Canadian Skier Dies in Tree Well at Whitefish Mountain Resort
Thomas Podivinsky, 48, of Calgary, Alberta, was found dead at the base of a tree on the north side of Big Mountain
Skiers ride the T-bar on the north side of Whitefish Mountain Resort. File photo by Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon
A 48-year-old Canadian man died in a tree well while skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Sunday.

Thomas Podivinsky, 48, of Calgary, Alberta, was found dead at the base of a tree on the north side of Big Mountain, according to Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Resort spokesperson Riley Polumbus said the fatality occurred in a steep, treed area between the Hollywood and Silvertip runs near Chair 7.

Podivinsky was skiing with a friend when the pair became separated. After he failed to meet his party the group reported him missing to the mountain’s ski patrol around 1 p.m. Podivinsky was discovered shortly after and attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, according to Curry.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends as they cope during this difficult time," the resort said in a statement.

"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."

The holiday weekend was one of the busiest this winter, with more than 7,000 skiers on Saturday and roughly 6,400 on Sunday, Polumbus said. The resort set a daily record for total skiers near Christmas with 7,654 skiers on Dec. 30. There were three days with more than 7,000 skiers between Dec. 28 and Dec. 31.

Last weekend's death was the second this winter at the resort involving tree wells, which are holes in the snow that form around the base of a tree.

A 54-year-old California man died Jan. 11 in a tree well near the ski runs Gray Wolf and Bighorn on the north side of the mountain. The death occurred almost exactly three years after two other separate tragedies involving tree wells.

The family of Niclas Waschle, who died in a tree well while skiing, filed a lawsuit in late December in U.S. District Court against Whitefish Mountain Resort over the death.

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