Friday, December 7, 2018

Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps

In January of 2015, two young skiers ventured off trail in the Alps. They were unaware of the difference between skiing in North America and in Europe. Off piste in Europe is essentially out-of-bounds and there was no avalanche mitigation.

Unfortunately, the two young men -- rising stars on the US Ski Team and Olympic hopefuls -- were caught in an avalanche...and both were killed...

The US Ski and Snowboard blog posted the following about the two skiers after the accident:

Killed in the avalanche were Ronnie Berlack, 20 (Franconia, NH and Burke Mountain, VT) and Bryce Astle, 19 (Sandy, UT).

“Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport – both on the race course and skiing the mountain,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them.”

Berlack grew up racing in New Hampshire and had been a student-athlete at Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy. He was named to the U.S. Ski Team’s Development Team following two top-20s at the 2013 U.S. Alpine Championships and a spring tryout camp.

Astle raced at Snowbird and was invited to train with the development team trip this season. He had posted strong early season results, including two top-10 NorAm Cup races last month in Canada.

The Brass Foundation is an organization that promotes avalanche awareness amongst ski racers and coaches. They have produced an excellent film about the accident that took these two ski racers lives, and educational material about avalanche avoidance. To see the video, click below.


To learn more about the Brass Foundation, click here.

--Jason D. Martin

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