Interesting little debate here between Skip and Matt. On the one hand, I agree 100% with Skip. However, as someone who has sent their kid off to strange lands to ski race train, I've trusted that the coaches and handlers are advising them of many things, including dangers. And if the coaches and handlers aren't providing appropriate regional advice, then I agree with Matt.
But I am sure this is not their first trip to Europe, nor their first off piste skiing in Europe. At their level, I am certain they've spent a lot of time in Europe and I would find it hard to believe skiing off piste and its dangers would be new to them. Hopefully Nate Vinton wasn't implying they got *wrong* advice.
I also agree it's a heartbreaking tragedy. I've been at a few USCSA races since this happened. Lots of kids with the "RIP RB and BA" and similar notes on their helmets (including my daughter's). Every time I'd see one, I'd get choked up knowing that many of those USCSA kids had raced with and against Ronnie and Bryce in their USSA/FIS days - but those two had made it to that next level (where many of them wanted to get to) and now they are gone in an instant. I can't imagine the anguish and pain the families are experiencing.
On Sat, Jan 10, 2015 at 10:47 PM, Matthew Kulas wrote:
You'll be surprised, Skip, to hear that I disagree with you, if they were not made aware of the risk of skiing off-piste in Europe. I think either their coaches and/or the senior USST staff failed them.
Yes, exactly, the Euros know about the off-piste risks, but kids who've grown up skiing--much of the time training/racing--I'd be pretty surprised if they did. And especially because they can/could ski just about anything phenomenally well, are teenagers (or a year past), and are in a foreign environment for perhaps the first time, they are especially susceptible to the risks.
And yes, I think it's the responsibility of the U.S. Ski Team, who would be their employer, but at this level, they're paying $10ks to be on the Team, to make sure they understand that risk.
Finally, it's not a damned shame about these kids, it's a heartbreaking tragedy. I cannot fathom the loss that the families of Ronnie Berlack & Bryce Astle are suffering.
The Euros know about the off-piste risks, and accept them. You die off-piste in France, for example, and the collective response is " tant pis ."
One might ask what it is about the American psyche that 1) demands that others explain to us why what we're thinking about doing isn't a good idea before we even do it, and 2) gives us license to blame others if our own actions produce a bad result.
Damned shame about these kids. But one ventures into avalanche terrain at one's own risk. And if you're an elite-level skier who doesn't recognize possible avalanche terrain when you see it, it ain't because your coaches failed you.
On 1/10/2015 9:51 PM, Michael Taub wrote:
yeah, my thoughts exactly. The avi danger was considerable at the time. Someone really dropped the ball. Really sad, they were great kids.
Nate Vinton, a ski writer that I have a lot of respect for, seems to imply that the skiers were not properly made aware of the dangers of skiing off-piste in Europe. If that is indeed true, it is a damning indictment of the U.S. Ski Team staff and/or organization. It would mean gross negligence on the part of the coaches present and/or the staff who developed the European training program for development skiers, and would demand serious repercussions, not the least of which should include job terminations.
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