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BRASS Foundation Spreads Avalanche Awareness

BRASS Foundation

The Bryce & Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety Foundation, or BRASS for short, is hosting a special screening of their film Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps Tuesday night and conducting a virtual panel discussion to spread avalanche awareness.


Six years ago Tuesday, the U.S. ski racing community lost two of its brightest rising stars. On January 5th, 2015, 19-year-old Bryce Astle and 20-year-old Ronnie Berlack were tragically killed in an avalanche while at a U.S. Ski Team training camp in the Austrian Alps.


The BRASS Foundation was founded in their honor in 2016 and aims to educate young skiers across the country about the dangers of avalanches -- no matter where they are on the mountain. 


Bryce and Ronnie were skiing in-bounds terrain when they lost their lives after heavy snowfall cancelled training. Their deaths might have been avoided if they had the proper education and understood the differences in avalanche reporting and snow safety practices in different countries.


January 5th has been declared Bryce & Ronnie Avalanche Safety Day by U.S. Ski and Snowboard and the foundation commemorates the inaugural event with a screening of the BRASS short film Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps.


U.S. Ski & Snowboard Communications Manager Lara Carlton says the screening is followed with a panel discussion including local Olympic Champion Ted Ligety.


“In honor of the inaugural day, there’s an online panel which features discussions with athletes and avalanche experts, including Park City area local Ted Ligety,” she said.


The film details the events leading up to the accident and includes education that could have prevented the tragedy. The film can also be viewed on the BRASS website. Viewer discretion is advised as it does contain a dramatic reenactment of the accident as well as actual images of the aftermath.


Since its founding, BRASS has educated hundreds of ski clubs across the country and has trained thousands through its free BRASS 101 introductory education program. In addition, BRASS scholarships have provided national team athletes and coaches with certified on-snow safety training each spring. Every adult member of U.S. Ski & Snowboard must also take an online introductory safety training course. BRASS has also successfully lobbied to add avalanche safety training to official coaching certification programs.


More information on the BRASS Foundation and Bryce & Ronnie Avalanche Safety Day can be found here.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.
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