Friday’s celebratory opening day of Colorado’s ski season didn’t end without a scary moment.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area CEO Alan Henceroth said that a 21-year-old man fell about 19 feet to the ground near the 11th and final tower of the Black Mountain Express chairlift.

“As a precautionary measure, our ski patrol transported him to the first aid room,” Henceroth said. “At that point, he was denying any injuries and walked out on his own.”

Henceroth said the fall happened in the mid-afternoon. Skiers and snowboarders were making last runs before the high-speed quad closed at 4 p.m.

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Henceroth said the ski area notified the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board, which tests lifts across the state and sets regulations.

“I don’t know what happened other than he slipped out,” Henceroth said. “No malfunction with the chairlift.”

The incident on day one of the season follows a 2016-17 that saw a third fatality from a lift fall since the tramway board’s establishment in 1965. During a December trip with her young daughters, a mother fell to her death at Grand County’s Ski Granby Ranch in what the board ruled was due to a lift malfunction.

Also last season, A-Basin made national headlines when a professional slackliner climbed a tower to rescue an unconscious man whose backpack got tangled high on a lift.

Falls happen “a few times a year” at A-Basin, said Henceroth, beginning his 30th season at the ski area off Loveland Pass. He said most of the incidents happen in the process of loading or unloading, repeating what the national industry reports. The National Ski Areas Association goes on to state that 86 percent of lift incidents every year are “human error” and that riding an elevator is more dangerous than riding a chairlift.

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The Black Mountain Express has pull-down bars on its chairs, but Henceroth said he didn’t know if the man who fell Friday had pulled his down.

Six people who said they witnessed the fall said the man appeared drunk. Asked if that’s what Henceroth observed, he did not comment.

“I think people need to continue to be attentive when riding chairlifts,” Henceroth said. “We’re all very comfortable and used to riding chairlifts, but we should be attentive, sit still and put the bar down if the lift has a bar.”

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