Yes, interesting discussion, good to hear from you Brad.  My daughter raced in the USCSA as well, years ago.  The easternís are at my old stomping ground, West Mountain this year.

Itís hard to say without knowing all the facts.  I guess my feeling is Ďit dependsí.  If the kids had been warned, then itís probably more their fault, but I would have to know more to really blame the kids.  Iím more in Mattís camp, especially considering the age of the victims, they really are just kids.  Even though they have skied a lot, and were just tremendously super good skiers, I doubt they have a lot of avi experience they were racers. The fact that they were out skiing without beacons etc, sort of leaves me to believe they werenít warned, or supervised in a meaningful way.  These kids couldnít even drink legally here.

As I write this, and think about it, the fact that they didnít have avi gear is important.  I guess Iím more apt to be skeptical of the team also.  These kids probably were self-funded as well, weíve seen the kickstarted campaigns for kids who need money to race for the team.  I also think that if the team is asking parents and athletes to pay for the training that the team is more responsible as well, and obligated to provide a safe experience as possible considering itís ski racing.  I also wonder about the value of these trips, where it leads for the athletes.  I sort of understand the US Team thing, a long time ago I had that dream, but these days it is so different.  For most of these kids, stuff like this is just college prep, a way to get into a school with a scholarship that they might not have gotten into otherwise.  

I would like to think otherwise, but at the end of it, I tend to think the team, and the kids' coaches are at fault.  They were just kids, on the trip of their lives, to race in Europe for the US Team.  Itís just heart-breaking.


Life is worth living.

On Jan 20, 2015, at 12:06 PM, Brad McCusker <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

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.

--Matt K.

On Sat, Jan 10, 2015 at 10:08 PM, Skip King < [log in to unmask])" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]> wrote:
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:
[log in to unmask])" target="_blank">
yeah, my thoughts exactly.  The avi danger was considerable at the       time.  Someone really dropped the ball.  Really sad, they were       great kids.
On Jan 10, 2015, at 9:19 PM, Matthew Kulas < [log in to unmask])" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]>             wrote: [log in to unmask])" target="_blank">

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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