La Crescent man dies in Welch ski accident

  • Article by: PAMELA MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 17, 2011 - 8:49 PM

The 65-year-old man lost control and hit a lift tower post. It was Minnesota's second ski death this year.

A 65-year-old man from La Crescent, Minn., was killed Wednesday when he hit a chairlift tower post while skiing at Welch Village Ski Area near Red Wing.

George Conway lost control about 2:15 p.m. on the Wild Finale trail, a slope rated single-black-diamond, or "More Difficult," said law enforcement and ski hill officials.

According to Capt. Pat Thompson of the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office, Conway was skiing under "normal spring ski conditions" and there was no evidence that alcohol was involved, he said. An autopsy has been conducted to determine whether any preexisting health condition might have contributed to the accident.

It was the first ski fatality in the history of Welch Village, which has been in operation for 45 years, said Thompson and Leigh Nelson, major owner of the ski area.

Conway and his adult grandson were on their fourth run down Wild Finale when the accident occurred, Nelson said Thursday. When Conway failed to show up at a lift where his grandson was waiting for him, the grandson alerted officials.

The hill manager and the head of Welch's ski patrol found Conway next to the tower, Nelson said. They, sheriff's deputies and land and air ambulances from Red Wing came to Conway's aid, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It's been a shock to us here," Nelson said. "Through the years we'd been fortunate in never having this kind of thing happen."

It was Minnesota's second ski death this year. Trent Stellrecht, 12, of Grantsburg, Wis., died Feb. 18 when he struck a tree while skiing at Duluth's Spirit Mountain.

Pamela Miller • 612-673-4290

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