What We Asked Of The USST

From: Laura and Jamie Astle

To: US Ski Team (USST)

RE: Safety Guideline Requests

In response to the recent tragic avalanche deaths of our children and your team members, we are asking that safety guidelines be established by the USSA, and be followed by USSA program directors, coaches, and athletes.  These Guidelines will be followed on all training days, competition days, and on “days off” or “partial day off” if skiing is planned. These Guidelines will apply to all US Ski Team (USST) athletes and all those training with them.

  1. Require all USST coaches and athletes to complete the AIARE Level 1 avalanche safety course. http://avtraining.org/aiare-level-1/
  2. Supply all athletes and coaches with avalanche safety equipment and educational classes on how to use it. The equipment will include an avalanche airbag backpack, an avalanche transceiver, a collapsible probe, and a shovel.  There will be a picture of Bryce and Ronnie in each backpack, with a short synopsis of the circumstances which caused their deaths and potential hazards to watch out for. Approximately $1,000 per package.
  3. All US Ski Team outerwear clothing will be equipped with RECCO Rescue System Reflectors.
  4. Establish an educational process for how to interpret each numerical grade used in the local avalanche bulletin in the Country where the US Ski Team athletes and coaches are skiing.  Appropriate language translations of avalanche bulletins and safety warnings must be available daily to athletes and coaches regardless of what the skiing, training, or racing “plan” is for the day.
  5. Set a strict protocol that if avalanche warnings are above a level (2), to be set by avalanche specialists, which all athletes are committed to staying on groomed trails unless they have received AIARE Level 1 training or they are accompanied by a local certified guide and are equipped with full avalanche safety gear.
  6. The athletes must sign a contract that they will adhere to all safety protocol or face the possibility of being dismissed from the US Ski Team.
  7. The program directors and coaches must review safety conditions at every venue each day with each other and with the athletes.  They must also be aware of up-coming unsafe conditions, (Ask the mountain ski patrol about current conditions and precautions that should be taken).  Any concerns about weather or conditions must be communicated to the coaches and then to the athletes in their daily “Five Minute Morning Safety Meeting”.
  8. Designate a coach or USSA staff member, present with the athletes, to be responsible for the safety of all elite USSA athletes at all times they are not engaged in a training session or racing.