Class of 2022
Innovator and Leader in West Virginia Snow Sports
Area Operations and/or Management or Development Competition
Robert (Bob) Steptoe, Jr.
Bob Steptoe started skiing in the late 1950s. He became a West Virginia snow sports industry advocate in the late 1970s. He has spent nearly four decades defending West Virginia ski areas, setting the bar as the state’s premier ski defense attorney. Bob has defended countless cases in the courts of West Virginia’s ski country and has also been a significant contributor to the Association of Ski Defense Attorneys. Bob’s service of protecting skiing in West Virginia goes beyond defending cases and providing legal advice for operators. Bob has had a tremendous impact on the WV Skiing Responsibility Act and the legal landscape of the state’s ski industry. Some of his significant impacts are as follows:
In the late 1980s, Mr. Steptoe was one of the original members of the Association of Ski Defense Attorneys (ASDA), an international organization of attorneys who defend ski areas and other recreational businesses.
Bob successfully defended Canaan Valley Resorts, Inc. in Lewis v. Canaan Valley, the first reported skiing case in West Virginia and the case which turned back a constitutional challenge to the WV Skiing Responsibility Act. Courts in other states for guidance looked to Lewis v. Canaan Valley.
Bob’s first ski case was the defense of the City of Morgantown, which operates Chestnut Ridge Park. In the late 1970s, the park had a tow rope. A young woman attending WVU became entangled with gears that drove the tow rope and lost her life.
Bob defended Snowshoe in the case of Hardin v. Ski Venture, Incorporated, d/b/a Snowshoe Resort in the early 1990s. Henry Hardin asserted that he skied through an area where snow was being made, it adhered to his goggles, and consequently, he collided with a tree. He severed his spinal cord and was thereafter a quadriplegic. The case was tried in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia before Judge Maxwell. The jury returned a defense verdict, which was upheld by the US Court of Appeals. This was a milestone case in West Virginia because it was apparent that as long as Bob was defending ski areas, the Plaintiffs would find it very difficult to win judgments.
Among ASDA lawyers, Bob is widely regarded as one of the leaders in the field of ski defense.
Bob is also a dedicated mountain climber. He summited 12 internationally recognized mountains - Rainier, Hood, Matterhorn, Mt Blanc, Grand Teton, Shasta, Kilimanjaro, and Elbrus.