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Zoricic family, ski body settle fatal crash issues

The family of Nik Zoricic has settled issues with the International Ski Federation over the Canadian racer's 2012 death in a skicross World Cup event.

The sport's world governing body will pay CAN$250,000 ($225,000) over five years to the Nik Zoricic Foundation, which works to improve safety for skiers, the family's lawyers said Monday. "This new partnership between the FIS and the Nik Zoricic Foundation, places skier safety first. This is something to be celebrated. This is Nik's legacy," Toronto legal firm Danson Recht said in a statement.

"FIS highly welcomes this initiative and is proud to support its efforts and to offer its close cooperation," the governing body said in a statement from its headquarters in Oberhofen, Switzerland. The settlement was announced on the anniversary of 29-year-old Zoricic's fatal crash at Grindelwald, Switzerland.

All parties now "accept that Nik was not responsible for his own death," the family's statement said. He sustained head injuries when landing wide right off a final jump into safety nets, before being pushed back across a bank of snow.

One year later, a Swiss police investigation said the incident was "a tragic case of sporting accident." However, the family and friends of Zoricic objected to ski officials describing the fatality on the day as a "freak accident."

"It was not true. Nor were they prepared to accept that there were not important lessons to be learned from Nik's tragic death so that such tragic accidents would not occur in the future," the legal firm's statement said.

A letter dated March 3, 2014 from FIS leaders to the Zoricic family was published by Danson Recht. It cited improved safety guidelines for the Olympic sport which sets four skiers racing side by side down a twisting course of jumps and banked turns.

"We believe that they include important changes which will be regarded as the legacy of Nik Zoricic to the sport of ski cross," said the letter signed by FIS's president Gian Franco Kasper and secretary general Sarah Lewis.

Zoricic raced on the World Cup circuit for more than three years and placed fifth in the 2010-11 World Cup standings. He finished eighth in that season's world championship held at Deer Valley, Utah. He was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, one year before the city hosted the 1984 Winter Games as part of the former Yugoslavia.

Aged five, he moved to Canada where his father, Bebe, became an established Alpine coach at the Craigleith Ski Club in Ontario. At the Sochi Olympics last month, Canadian skicross racers wore denim-style ski pants as a tribute to their former teammate, who was known for wearing jeans on the mountain.

The Zoricic family's lawyers said the safety-focused "conversation between the Alpine/Ski Cross community over the past two years has produced a wonderful outcome." "Nothing can change the past. Nothing can bring Nik back," the statement said. "However, his legacy can be one of inspiration, hope and opportunity."

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