Gwyneth Paltrow testifies in Utah ski crash trial

Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand Friday to testify in a ski accident trial at a Utah ski resort where a man claims the movie star’s recklessness on the slopes caused broken ribs, brain damage and permanent physical injuries.

Paltrow testified that the crash shocked her — and at one point she worried she’d been raped. “Two skis got between my skis, spreading my legs apart. And there was a body pressing against me and a very strange grunting noise. My brain was trying to figure out what was going on,” she said of the collision.

Paltrow and Terry Sanderson, the retired optometrist who is suing her, are expected to answer questions about the crash as their lawyers scramble to convince the eight-member jury which skier was positioned down and had the right of way. The actor-turned-lifestyle influencer said Sanderson was responsible for the crash.

Paltrow’s long-awaited testimony comes midway through the trial, and in the final afternoon, Sanderson’s lawyers may compel her to testify. Throughout the week in Utah, her attorneys requested special restrictions, including restricting photography both inside the courtroom and in the public parking lot outside — where a rope cordoned off Paltrow’s entrance and exit.

Her testimony could last more than an hour and is expected to echo what she has said in previous testimony about how she “froze” when the crash happened.

“We crashed together. This guy was behind me on the mountain,” she said in November 2020. “My knee — and our skis — were still kind of tangled up. Our bodies almost splashed and I quickly moved away. And my knee gave out and I was in shock.

Next week, Paltrow’s team is expected to call medical experts, ski instructors and her two children, Moses and Apple, to the stand.

The trial touches on topics ranging from skier etiquette to the power and burden of celebrity.

After the collision, Sanderson sent her daughters an email with the subject line: “I’m famous… At what cost?” One of the daughters replied, “I can’t believe this is all on a GoPro either.”

GoPro cameras are commonly carried by outdoor athletes and visitors to luxury ski resorts to film action sports.

Sanderson’s daughter, Shae Herat, testified Friday that she didn’t know the GoPro footage existed, despite her email. She said her father told her over the phone that he assumed there should be GoPro footage of the collision — from someone on a crowded run with a camera attached to their helmet.

“There was this loud, bloodcurdling scream. Someone was going to look,” Herath said, recalling the conversation with his father about how Paltrow screamed during their run-in.

While Sanderson’s lawyers focused on their client’s deteriorating health, Paltrow’s legal team engaged the jury with repeated questions about the mysterious, missing GoPro footage. No video footage has been discovered or entered into evidence since.

So far, the trial has shone a spotlight on Park City, Utah — the upscale ski town known for rolling out a red carpet for celebrities every January during the Sundance Film Festival — and only on the skiers Deer Valley Resort, where Paltrow and Sanderson clashed. The resort is among the most prestigious in North America, known for sunny slopes, après-ski champagne yurts and luxury lodges.

The proceedings have delved deep into the 76-year-old Sanderson’s medical history and personality changes, with lawyers questioning whether his failing health and estranged relationships stemmed from the collision or the natural aging process.

After a judge dismissed Sanderson’s earlier claim for $3.1 million, Sanderson sought damages of “more than $300,000.” Paltrow countersued for a token $1 and attorney’s fees. The amount of money at stake for both sides pales in comparison to the typical legal costs of years of litigation, private security, and an arduous trial with experts.

Paltrow’s lawyers spent much of Thursday raising questions about Sanderson’s reference to their client’s wealth and celebrity, as well as what they called his “obsession” with the case.

The first three days of the trial included testimony from medical experts, Sanderson’s personal physician, a ski chaperone and his daughter, who said she noticed post-concussion symptoms less than a year after the accident.

Her attorneys on Thursday asked Sanderson’s daughter if her father thought it was “cool” to run into a celebrity like Paltrow, the Oscar-winning star of “Shakespeare in Love” and founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Goop.

Paltrow’s lawyers cast doubt on Sanderson’s medical experts and suggested the lawsuit may be an attempt to exploit her fame and celebrity.

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