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In January 2015, news spread around the world that two promising American ski racers, Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle, died in an avalanche in Sölden, Austria. The shocking news was picked up by major news broadcast services, and led to numerous questions about the events that led up to the tragedy.
During the years that followed the tragedy, the Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety Foundation, or BRASS, has taken the lead in introducing and educating ski racers about the basics of avalanche safety, both in Europe and wherever their training might take them. Working with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), the National Avalanche Center, regional avalanche forecasting services, and avalanche safety equipment manufacturer BCA, BRASS is getting every American who travels for training into an avalanche education course.
In a new video from BRASS, the organization is hoping to make a heavy impression on all who watch it and is working with U.S. Ski and Snowboard to make it mandatory viewing for athletes. While the video can be emotionally difficult to watch, the message is clear: avalanches are affecting more skiers than ever before, both in-bounds and out, on- and off-piste. Even if you’re a recreational resort skier, you can still gain the knowledge and skills to be avalanche aware, even if it means taking the time to review the Know Before You Go (KBYG) Videos from the Colorado and Utah Avalanche Forecast centers.
“Right from the time of Ronnie and Bryce’s accident it’s been the goal of the families to use the tragedy as an opportunity to educate others,” said BRASS Chairman Jamie Astle, father of Bryce, in a press release. “For that reason, we wanted to be very candid and forthcoming with the film to reach viewing audiences with a very simple yet poignant message.”
Check out BRASS’ Before You Go page for more info on the avalanche education resources near you.