Fallen U.S. Skiers to be Faces of Avalanche Safety Ahead of World Cup Opener

Fallen U.S. Skiers to be Faces of Avalanche Safety Ahead of World Cup Opener

Avalanche

Fallen U.S. Skiers to be Faces of Avalanche Safety Ahead of World Cup Opener

Solden, Austria | Photo: Leo-setä | Cover: US Ski and Snowboard

When skiers return to the hill for the start of the 2018/19 Audi FIS Ski World Cup races in Sölden, Austria this weekend, they’ll be met with snow safety reminders featuring the faces of two U.S. skiers who were killed in an avalanche back on January 5, 2015.

“Attention! High Alpine terrain. Leave marked runs at your own risk,” is how the English-language warning posted on Sölden lift buildings will read, according to the Associated Press.

Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack were killed when they triggered an avalanche while off-piste skiing in Sölden after heavy snows cancelled team training.

A comprehensive incident report, released yesterday by the Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety Foundation (BRASS) says a lack of English-language warnings at the European resort were at least partly to blame in the death of the two athletes.

“Clarity of avalanche warnings as well as lack of snow safety education and knowledge of the local ski environment by athletes and coaches were primary issues cited in a report detailing the 2015 avalanche deaths of two U.S. Ski Team athletes. The skiers had not seen avalanche warning reports so were unaware of the danger and unfamiliar with the nature of off-piste skiing at the European resort,” reads the report’s opening.

Differences in snow safety management between American and European resorts also played a part in the confusion that led to the dangerous circumstances, something the Brass Foundation hopes to raise awareness of.

Donate here: Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety Foundation

Off-piste trails at European resorts are referred to as an uncontrolled environment, “which may or may not have had avalanche control,” says the AP. North American resorts, on the other hand, tend to control for avalanches within their boundaries whether the run is groomed or not.

You can learn more about the Brass Foundation here, or read the complete the complete Sölden Avalanche Accident Report here.

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