Former U.S. Ski Team member Ani Haas says she feels fortunate to have suffered just scratches to her left arm and chest when she encountered a black bear while running in western Montana.
The 24-year-old freestyle skier told NBC’s "Today" on Monday that she was on a trail near her home town of Missoula, Mont., on Friday morning when she saw some cubs scramble up a tree. The mother bear ran at her. Haas tried to run away, but was not fast enough. She turned around to face the bear and it lunged at her.
Haas hit the bear in the head and threw a rock at it before the bear attacked her again. Haas says she backed away and the bear eventually lost interest.
Haas says she was thinking about the preciousness and fragility of life shortly before the attack, in the wake of the suicide only a few days earlier of Jeret "Speedy’’ Peterson, her former U.S. ski teammate and friend. Haas was a member of the U.S. ski team up until 2010, but did not qualify for the Olympics because of an injury. She trained with Peterson for seven years and was his teammate for three years.
Officials said Peterson, a 29-year-old Park City resident, shot himself in the head in Lambs Canyon, east of Salt Lake City.
His body was discovered last week outside his car just off Interstate 80, police in Salt Lake County said, after Peterson left a suicide note and called police to tell them his location.
"My condolences go out to everybody who knew him,’’ Haas said. "He was an amazing human being and amazed so many people.’’
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