USSA’s Responsibility for the Deaths of Bryce and Ronnie.
The US Ski Team made a fatal mistake and their shortcomings are the reason for this tragic accident. The only thing that could have saved the lives of Bryce and Ronnie was supervision. USSA’s snow safety ignorance was unfathomable and remains at that state to this day. US Ski Team coaches are still not required to have snow safety training.
Facts leading up to and the day of January 5th, 2015:
- Six boys headed out to go skiing at a ski resort just like they had done thousands of times before.
- The boys were skiing within the boundaries of the Soelden ski resort but had no idea they were skiing in an uncontrolled area of the resort.
- Off-Piste was not explained to the athletes. (In Europe anything off a groomed run is considered Off-Piste or an uncontrolled environment).
- USSA has nearly 100 years of experience skiing in Europe, the boys had little or in Bryce’s case none. No orientation was given to the kids regarding the dangers of skiing at a resort in Europe in comparison to skiing at a resort in North America.
- No posted signs of warning were in English.
- As of 1/5/15, the US Ski Team did not have any safety policies or procedures outside of a training or race course.
- Out of over 60 US Ski Team coaches, only a few had any snow safety training. None of which were with this group of kids.
- The area the boys skied had not received any avalanche control work that season.
- The US Ski Team home European mountain is Soelden. Soelden Management apparently told the US Ski team in the past that many areas at the resort do not receive avalanche control work and they should not allow their team athletes or coaches to ski any uncontrolled areas. This vital information was not given to this group of kids.
The USST and the US Olympic Committee had become complacent regarding the safety of the athletes. We do not believe that Bryce would have wanted us to litigate the USST. We have tried to work with the USST, but through the process it became clear that they are more concerned about their liability than the safety of the athletes. What we asked from the USST is to take ownership of the incident and fix the problem, unfortunately it has not happened.