About our magical life that has been lost forever after our son was killed in avalanche.

NickOur names are Natalia and Alex Dodov, we are the parents of Nickolay Dodov, who was killed in avalanche  on Thankin Ridge, Haines, Alaska on March 13, 2012 while heli snowboarding with Alaska Heliskiing Company.

It is very hard to find the words to describe our lost. Nickolay was not our only son, he was our best friend, our beast team made, our teacher in many ways. He was very special young man, his light was so bright, everyone who had the opportunity to know him, was amazed of his talents, wisdom, his big smile and huge heart, always ready to help everyone. It happens to be that when he need help the most he was left without any.

It is very hard to find words to describe our feelings after we received a phone call from our sheriff in the afternoon of March 13.

It is very hard to find words to describe our feelings seating in the hospital to the lifeless body of our son, who was one of the most beautiful boys inside and out.

It is very hard to find words to describe the whole tragedy, but it is even harder to describe what followed up.

It is very hard to find where in the sea of lies to start. It is very hard to navigate your way into the sea of lies, especially in the hardest moment of your life.

It is very hard to feel totally isolated and not being able to get a single answer in a moment when the life of the most precious to you was cut short.

We did what every parent will do in this very moment we started our own search for truth.

Nick’s father, Alex was a professional athlete in ski and snowboarding, rock climbing and mountaineering. We used to have a ski and snowboard school. We have a lifetime in the mountains. We put our son Nick on pair of skis when he was three and a half years old, at the age of eight he was competing in national ski races. After this he converted to snowboarding, and was a member of Bulgarian National team. He competed in the Junior World Cup in Telluride in 1999. After we moved to California, Nick competed in Tahoe Series, US National Series and US Open in slalom, boarder cross, slope style. In the last ten years Nick was exploring the backcountry with his friends, snowmobiling and split snowboarding. Nick was very well know as a very good snowboarder and the one always looking for the safety for himself and everybody else.

We live in a ski resort and ride the mountain every given day. We know snowboarding is extreme sport and we understand completely the inherit risk of the open mountain.

We have a story to tell behind this, a story about a reckless heliskiing company ignoring avalanche warnings in rush to make money. A story about a reckless heliskiing company not following its own permit requirerments and safety protocols, braking City and State laws. A story about heliskiing guides under influence of drugs while guiding clients. A story about a reckless heliskiing company misrepresenting its safety standards and activities on their website to attract clients. A story about a political borough with economic interest closing their eyes. A story about a medical clinic with no advance life support keeping our son for more than six hours and telling us that there is a hope for his life…..and on and on.

We have a story to tell; our story of losing not our only son, but our best friend, best team mate and our teacher in many ways.

We will continue to tell our story and to work our way out to make changes and like our son who was always looking for the safety of his friends, we will continue to seek for the safety of future heliskiing clients and guides. We live in the mountains, we love the mountains, we will always explore the mountains and encourage others to find the beauty of them.

Thank you for visiting our blog, thank you for reading our story. Please feel free to comment, or if you would prefer, email us at nataliadodova@hotmail.com. We would love to hear from you.

We have started a Foundation in the name of our son Nickolay Dodov Foundation. Our mission is; To promote snow sports safety and awareness through educational programs and events.  To encourage children and enthusiasts of all ages to safely explore the beauty of the mountains and to inspire a healthy and positive lifestyle in the light of Nickolay Dodov.

Our website;


……three of us wearing the same hat….Alex’s hat…..Nick, Natalia, Alex


Alex, Natalia, Nick


Nick was born free on February 15/1986 in Sofia, Bulgaria. He lived all his life free and he left this world free.


Every winter on Nick’s Birthday would always snow a lot. We were very young when we had Nick, Natalia was 17 and Alex was 22. Our life back in Bulgaria was spent between camping by the Black Sea every summer and skiing the mountains in the winter. At the beach Nick, being two and a half years old and butt naked was making friends with the whole campground.

At three and a half we put Nick on a pair of skis. By the age of six and half he was skiing by himself the whole mountains.

At the age of eight he converted to snowboarding and ever since he dedicated his life to snowboarding.

Three years ago after surgery to repair a torn ACL Nick, being in pain and grumpy said “what am I going to do in my life if I can’t snowboard”.

Nick’s snowboard racing career started on a hard plate binding board going around the gates. Then came snowboard cross, free style, slope style,

jibbing on every rail and obstacle that Nick could imagine. He would apply the art of snowboarding everywhere.

Later on he brought his free style moves to the backcountry and the open mountain, slashing the fresh powder and jumping from every cliff flying as high as he could get with his favorite trick “method grab”.

Nick was a member of the Bulgarian National Junior team and in 1999 he competed in a Junior World cup in Telluride, Co. After we moved to the USA, he was competing in Tahoe Snowboard Series, The U.S. National Championship and qualified for U.S. Open.

Nick loved skateboarding and windsurfing.

During the two summers living by the ocean in Santa Barbara, Nick met two boys from Brazil who inspired him to learn how to surf. Nick loved surfing and the ocean as much as he loved snowboarding and the mountains.

Nick was an artist in many ways. He loved drawing and painting on a canvas, seeing the world in bright colors, always happy with a big smile.


Nick graduated from high school and went to college for two years.

After this he said “Now is my window to explore the mountains”. Nick was good with numbers and mathematics and was planning to go back to school to study architectural design.

Nick touched many people and made many friends. He was a loving person, helping everyone. Nick with his good heart would have been a good father. Nick had a passion and love for snowboarding and life itself.

Nick was our son, our best friend, our best team mate, and our teacher.



18 thoughts on “About our magical life that has been lost forever after our son was killed in avalanche.

    • J. Spiker


      Submitted on 2013/05/01 at 2:31 am

      What you are doing is so important, to find truth.This isn’t a simple lifestyle blog so I don’t want to say “great job.” But, thank you for sharing your journey in a world and an industry that is full of fly by night experts. You don’t just give insight into the wrongs, you give good and honest operators a chance to learn and express their desire to work safe while standing up to the irresponsible and reckless people that threaten their livelihoods. Bravo.

  1. Pingback: About our magical life that has been lost forever after our son was killed in avalanche. | natalia

  2. As a mother of an only son, your words describing your pain strike right to my heart. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope changes are made by the industry to stop practices that allow anyone else to be put in danger. My heart goes out to you both, and I hope you will find peace.

  3. As a big mountain backcountry snowboarder, my heart goes out to you. I know that what Im about to say may not have any weight, but to be claimed by a mountain is an honor as a rider.Of course it is tried to be avoided, but in its own way is graceful… Your son is among the elite who have been claimed by such a mountain. Be VERY proud.

  4. SO very sorry to hear of your loss. I was at the competition in Telluride in 99, maybe i met your son somewhere in my journeys? I lost my brother two years ago, and I know nothing can replace him or your son. The one thing i have learned is to celebrate what my brother Scott gave me. He fell down his steps while sleepwalking and i spent years blaming everyone. He lived in a coma for 18 months before he passed. Somethings cannot be explained or justified they just are. Every day i would thank him for his time and the memories. When he left i knew it was for the better. He is closer to me now than ever before!!! Although It hurts so much to miss someone… but for me to remember him, and smile and trust all is well in the world and the realization that some things we cannot change was the best healing.

    Feel his spirit soaring and trust he is safe. Believe in the power of the world and relish in it’s beauty. Live in the moment each day as i am sure he would want you too. Remember the gift of love for the mountains you gave him and smile at the joys you were able to share. Celebrate his time here with joy and love!!


  5. So sorry for your loss … we too are a snow family and I understand the joy and the risk. Congratulations on your courage. I hope you find some peace.

  6. My heart goes out to you and your family. I am working to help increase safety in the mountains in Alaska and would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. If you would please contact me via email at dmcghan@alaskasnow.org or call 907-982-0332 I would greatly appreciate your help.

  7. What a tragedy, and what an amazing family you are to make meaning out of your loss, to help other families lessen the risk for the same outcome.
    I found your blog by doing research after my partner suffered tremendous and life-altering injuries after a heli-ski trauma March 2014. He was also in Alaska, also in the Chilkat mountains, but with a different company.
    When you have a moment, can you educate me about who these accidents are reported to? And thank you for the link to the Request for Stakeholder Input on the Heli-Ski industry. I live in the lower 48, but I will definitely be calling in to tell our story and help be the catalyst for change.
    Bless you two, and your family.

  8. Dear Natalia and Alex. I was so honored to be given the opportunity to read and view this wonderful testimonial of your family life. Your son Nick is gorgeous and I’m sure was just as darling in nature. His day of “crossing through the veil” gave me a greater understanding of his leaving this earth plane. It was a 13 day — the 13 is the number of “transformation,” and the full addition of that date, which is called the “destiny” number, is 3 [3+ 1+3 +2+0+1+2 = 12 and 1 + 2 = 3]. The 3 is the number of adventure, free spirit, and the number commonly referred to as “the Peter Pan syndrome,” and, interestingly, Nick’s “destiny” number from his own birth date was a 3! In my opinion, he therefore continued on with his inner spirit’s adventure-filled journey in another plane of existence. And one day in time, you will join him again.


    Sally Faubion

  9. Hello Natalia and Alex,
    My name is Michael Murphy. I recently acquired the Avalanche Lab iPhone app and website. Please go and check it out. I would love to chat with you about your project.

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