“Nickolay Dodov Foundation has busy year despite coronavirus” By Noah Berner, Calaveras Enterprise



“Organizations of all kinds have been hit hard by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and local nonprofits are no exception.
After shelter-in-place restrictions went into effect in mid-March, the Nickolay Dodov Foundation (NDF) had to cancel several events, including one of its main fundraisers.
Founded by Natalia and Alex Dodov, and named after their son who died in an avalanche in Alaska, the NDF is a leading provider of free avalanche awareness training in the Sierra. Over the past seven years, the NDF has worked to educate youth and all ages of mountain enthusiasts on how to stay safe in the mountains, teaching free avalanche safety presentations and workshops to more than 10,500 people.

The Dodovs hope to save lives through their work, and attend every event themselves. While the NDF had to cancel five presentations and three workshops due to COVID-19, they still had one of their busiest seasons so far.
“Before the pandemic started, NDF was able to present 18 free avalanche educational events to more than 2,500 ski and snowboard athletes, middle, high school and university students, coaches, teachers, parents and all-age mountain enthusiasts,” Natalia Dodov said. “All the events we had this winter were by request from the benefiting groups – ski and snowboard teams and schools, colleges and universities. There has been an increased number of organizations seeing the need for avalanche education and reaching out to NDF.”
The seventh annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle competition at Bear Valley was canceled this year following the closure of the downhill ski resort.
“We missed the opportunity to have a fundraiser during the Slopestyle,” Natalia Dodov said. “We are hoping the current situation will improve and people will continue to contribute in the future.”

Three additional avalanche educators joined the NDF this year, bringing the total to seven.
“We have been discussing with our avalanche educators different ways how to approach youth and all-ages mountain enthusiasts with online avalanche education,” Natalia Dodov said. “Even though we are hoping for normal times to return, as we are already planning many events for the next winter season.”
Natalia Dodov said that the work of the NDF has become even more important during the current crisis.
“Resort restrictions may unleash a flood of new users with no foundation of avalanche safety education and knowledge into the backcountry next winter,” she said. “The avalanche classes were already too expensive for many. Now, with the current economic situation, even more people won’t be able to afford them. Free avalanche education will be crucial.”
The NDF was founded to help winter sports enthusiasts safely enjoy the mountains, and that’s just what the Dodovs have been doing with their time off.
“In the last two months, living in Bear Valley, we have spent our time that otherwise we would volunteer towards avalanche safety presentations and workshops to backcountry ski and snowboard and oversee the safety around our backyard,” Natalia Dodov said. “So far this season we have had over 100 ski days – only about 20 days in the ski area – the rest were in the backcountry. With the high passes open there is more spring skiing to be had.”
Those interested in supporting the NDF’s work can send checks to Nickolay Dodov Foundation, PO Box 5035, Bear Valley, CA 95223, or donate through Paypal at nickolaydodovfoundation.com/donate. Donations are tax deductible, and contributors will receive an invoice for their records.



The Dodov Foundation… A ‘Beacon’ Of Positivity by Alex Silgalis, Local Freshies


“In today’s world, our own voice is the strongest it has EVER been. You can reach so many people through social media. Unfortunately, very few of us use this platform to do something bigger than ourselves. We post our opinions but don’t act upon them to make changes. And that’s where Natalia and Alex Dodov stray from the rest of us. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, they use their opportunities and energy to help kids learn about avalanche safety solutions.

Seeing The Dodov Foundation In Action

I’ve been good friends with the Dodov’s for quite a while, but it wasn’t until this week I came to the realization of what they are actually doing. I was given the privilege to step into a South Tahoe High School classroom and see their foundation in action. Looking around, I saw something that absolutely blew my mind. Attentive high school kids listening closely to an avalanche educator teaching them about avalanche safety solutions. The lyrics of the hip-hop group Jurassic 5 pounded in my head over and over again:

Are you part of the problem,

Or are you part of the solution.

Are you part of the problem,

Or are you part of the solution.

What’s your contribution to life?

Taking Something Tragic & Fueling A Mission

What would you do if your son, daughter, husband, or wife died doing something you love to do? Would you give up on that activity? Maybe sue the company or business? Well, a few years ago, Alex & Natalia lost their son in an avalanche during a heli-skiing excursion in Alaska. Instead of rage or seeking revenge, Natalia & Alex took a different route. They used their son’s tragic accident as a calling and created the Nickolay Dodov Foundation. Their goal is simple… to provide FREE avalanche courses to educate youth and all-age winter enthusiasts. While people living near the ocean need to worry about things like riptides, here in the mountains, the worry is avalanches.

Putting Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Alex and Natalia work hard all summer long from sun up to sun down. Instead of living the pampered life and chasing powder to ski wherever it snows, they take that money and put it into the Dodov Foundation. Not just money either. Like monks of the mountains, they travel across the state putting on avalanche seminars. From schools to children’s ski academies and everything in between, they are trying to teach the next generation on how to stay safe when playing in the mountains.

Help The Next Generation

Right now, they’re doing this 100% on their own with only a handful of sponsors. Their goal isn’t to become famous but rather continue to expand the amount of kids reached. If you know a class, school, or organization that wants a FREE class, reach out to Natalia. Or better yet, if you think what they’re doing is awesome and have a few bucks to spare, consider donating to the foundation. Every bit helps to reach just one more kid. Either way, Natalia will make sure she gives you “buckets of hugs” for helping.”

“Nickolay Dodov Foundation raises avalanche education for youth in Bear Valley” Calaveras Enterprise

By Noah Berner

While snow-covered slopes offer endless hours of fun for skiers and snowboarders, they can also pose a significant danger, especially to those untrained in avalanche safety.
But one local foundation is working to make sure that young winter sports enthusiasts have the skills necessary to stay safe.
On Feb. 8, the Nickolay Dodov Foundation (NDF) held its 7th annual free avalanche awareness presentation at Bear Valley Mountain Resort for members of the mountain’s youth ski and snowboard teams. The event was open to the public, and all ages attended.

The nonprofit NDF was formed by Bear Valley residents Alex and Natalia Dodov following the tragic loss of their son, Nickolay Dodov, to an avalanche in 2012. Since then, the NDF has been busy educating youth on how to stay safe in the mountains.
“In the last seven years, the NDF has reached out with free avalanche education, presenting the avalanche awareness program ‘Know Before You Go,’ and teaching avalanche workshops to more than 8,000 ski and snowboard athletes, middle, high school and university students, coaches, teachers, parents and all-age mountain enthusiasts,” the NDF website says.
The NDF has already held 10 educational events this winter, covering the state from Mammoth to Santa Cruz to Tahoe. In previous years, events have also been held in Nevada, Montana and Bulgaria.
The presentation was based on “Know Before You Go” (KBYG), a free avalanche awareness program developed by the Utah Avalanche Center, and available through its website at kbyg.org.
At 3 p.m., the Sun Room at the resort filled with children and adults, most still wearing snow gear after having spent the day on the slopes.
The presentation began with a short film that featured skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers riding through backcountry powder. Shots of riders and avalanches were interspersed with avalanche stories and information on avalanche safety.
Following the film, Bear Valley Ski Patroller Scott Madden gave tips for staying safe at the resort.
“I’m in here … to help you all be aware of the various avalanche dangers within our boundaries,” he said. “There has been, to my knowledge at least, three inbounds avalanches that have killed people (in the U.S. this year).”
Madden encouraged skiers and snowboarders to respect the boundaries of the resort because areas outside of the ropes are an uncontrolled environment unmonitored by ski patrol.
“There are areas outside of our boundaries, especially (on the lower mountain), that are very dangerous,” he said. “Personally, I’ve been caught twice in small avalanches, and it’s amazing how little snow it takes to get you moving along.”
While most avalanche fatalities occur in the backcountry, Madden recommended carrying safety gear even on powder days at the resort.
“Beacon, shovel, probe – get them; wear them; don’t ski alone,” he said.
A beacon is a radio transceiver that can be worn by skiers and snowboarders. In the event of an avalanche, it can be used to locate buried riders. A probe is a collapsible pole that can be easily carried in a backpack and used to precisely locate an avalanche victim. A lightweight shovel can then be used free the rider from the snow by digging horizontally from downslope.
Other avalanche safety gear includes inflatable packs that help riders stay on the surface during an avalanche; AvaLungs that pull air from the snowpack and deposit carbon dioxide away from the body; and Recco reflectors that send out directional signals to help rescue teams locate avalanche victims.
Madden said that he and other ski patrollers would be happy to help train riders on the use of the equipment, and that he planned on organizing a practice area for the purpose at the top of the mountain. For more information on avalanche safety, he advised visiting the website of NDF-sponsor Backcountry Access at backcountryaccess.com.
Avalanche Educator Paul Henrickson said that the best way to stay safe was to avoid dangerous terrain.

“With a little bit of education, a little knowledge, some common sense and some good decision-making, you can enjoy the backcountry for a lifetime safely, and that’s exactly what we are here to help you do,” he said.
Henrickson said that the most dangerous slopes were between 30- and 45-degrees, because avalanches tend to occur naturally on steeper slopes and more gradual angles don’t allow slabs of snow to cut loose and start sliding.
“Avalanche hazard in California is relatively easy; we have avalanche hazard mostly during storm events and shortly after storm events,” he said. “It’s a maritime snowpack. It’s wet; it’s heavy, and within 24 to 48 hours after a storm cycle the snowpack generally stabilizes.”
Henrickson recommended always checking current local conditions at sierraavalanchecenter.org before going into the backcountry.
“The forecast is the easiest way to find out what’s going on with the snow,” he said.
Because riders tend to avoid avalanche terrain when the forecast shows a high degree of danger, most avalanche fatalities occur when the forecast shows moderate or considerable danger, Henrickson said.
“It’s the moderate and considerable days that actually catch the most people,” he said. “Those are the days that are the hardest to figure out.”
It’s important to maintain awareness of your surroundings in the backcountry, Henrickson said.
“If you’re out in the backcountry and there is a hazard, you always want to look at where would you go if the snow cuts loose,” he said. “So, you want to avoid being above trees and cliffs, and you want to avoid being right in the middle of a potential slide path. The safe places to be are on ridges; the dangerous places to be are down in gullies or at the bottom of bowls.”
Henrickson said that even with all of the proper gear and training, those fully buried in an avalanche still have only a 50% chance of surviving.
“That’s terrible odds, so avoid getting caught in an avalanche, educate yourself, make good decisions and don’t get caught,” he said. “The gear only works if you get training and you practice, practice, practice.”
Those interested in riding in the backcountry and on powder days at the resort should take an avalanche safety class, Henrickson said.
“If you feel like you are going to be going into the backcountry or the sidecountry, or you just like skiing Griz on a powder day, take a class,” he said. “Learn how to assess snow; learn how weather is a contributing factor; learn how to travel safely; learn how to deal with group dynamics; and learn how proper rescue scenarios go down.”
There is a huge need for avalanche education for youth in California, Natalia Dodov said.
“We just go whenever no one else can go, and it’s a really great feeling,” she said. “Kids are very smart; they are like sponges; they really think. We really believe it will touch some of them.”
Natalia Dodov said that one of NDF’s avalanche educators, Michael McCarthy, had recently developed a five-hour avalanche workshop for youth to bridge the gap between the KBYG program and a Level 1 avalanche class.
The foundation is bringing the workshop to Bear Valley in March, and in April, the resort will host the 7th Annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle Competition, Natalia Dodov said. Several other events are already planned for February, and more are currently being scheduled for March.
Those interested in supporting NDF’s work can send checks to Nickolay Dodov Foundation, PO Box 5035, Bear Valley, CA 95223, or donate through Paypal at nickolaydodovfoundation.com/donate. Donations are tax deductible, and contributors will receive an invoice for their records.


“Nickolay Dodov Foundation reaches out with free avalanche education to youth” By Noah Berner, Calaveras Enterprise, Oct 25, 2019

In the winter of 2012, local resident Nickolay Dodov lost his life in an avalanche at age 26 while heli-boarding in Haines, Alaska.
Following this tragedy, Dodov’s parents, Natalia and Alex Dodov, started the Nickolay Dodov Foundation (NDF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth and all ages of winter sports enthusiasts on how to stay safe in the mountains.

Since then, the NDF has provided free avalanche education through presentations, workshops and classes to over 8,000 skiers, snowboarders, students, coaches, teachers and parents.
Nickolay Dodov was born in Bulgaria and began skiing with his parents shortly after taking his first steps. He soon switched to snowboarding and eventually joined the Bulgarian National Junior Team.
After moving with his family to the United States at age 12, Nickolay Dodov continued to compete in competitive snowboarding events, including the Junior World Cup, the Tahoe Snowboard Series, the U.S. National Championship and the U.S. Open.
As he grew older, Nickolay Dodov turned to freestyle, slopestyle and backcountry snowboarding. After graduating from Bret Harte High School, he spent much of the last seven years of his life as a sponsored snowboarder in Truckee, snowmobiling and splitboarding with friends in the Sierra backcountry.
“We mostly go to youth, but we go to everyone who asks us,” Natalia Dodov said.
Last year, the foundation organized 12 “Know Before You Go” (KBYG) avalanche awareness presentations and seven avalanche workshops for more than 2,000 athletes and students, and also put on the sixth annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle competition at Bear Valley.
While most events are held in California, the NDF has also presented in Nevada and Montana, and organizes events in the Dodovs’ home country of Bulgaria. The organization has even translated the KBYG program into the Bulgarian language

Eight avalanche instructors work to carry out the mission of the foundation. The Dodovs organize and attend all of the events themselves, with the exception of those in Bulgaria.
The presentations are designed to engage young athletes and students with quizzes, interactive tests and outdoor avalanche companion rescue practices.

NDF-sponsor Skullcandy provides free headphones to be awarded afterwards, and NDF-sponsor Backcountry Access provides free avalanche gear – beacons, shovels, and probes – for the avalanche workshops.
In addition, NDF Avalanche Educator and chemistry scholar Michael McCarthy recently developed a five-hour interactive avalanche educational workshop for youth to fill out the gap between the KBYG program and a Level 1 avalanche class.
The foundation works with various partners, including Sierra Avalanche Center, Utah Avalanche Center and National Avalanche Center, which all operate in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.
Karl Birkeland, director of National Avalanche Center, has been one of the foundation’s biggest supporters. Following the accident, the Dodovs reached out to him
“They were sort of searching to make sense of the accident … which was an unspeakably difficult and trying thing … and one of the things that they were wanting to do was to try and make a real positive influence on people, and especially kids and avalanche education,” Birkeland said.
Birkeland connected the Dodovs with the KBYG program, which is operated out of Utah Avalanche Center and geared towards educating youth on avalanche safety.

“The National Avalanche Center is the small avalanche center with the big name, because we just have two employees, so you can imagine that there is only so much that we can do,” Birkeland said. “We really rely on the private sector and nonprofits and other people in the avalanche community to do a lot of the avalanche education.”

Over the past six years, National Avalanche Center has provided resources to help the NDF carry out its mission.
“To have really committed people like Alex and Natalia and all of the educators that work with them out there providing this information to all these kids, I find it just incredible and super gratifying,” Birkeland said. “They’re great people and I think they’re doing really great work … They can be a really powerful voice for avalanche safety.”
In 2014, the NDF created the Schmidt Award in honor of Marty and Denali Schmidt, a local father and son who lost their lives in an avalanche while climbing K2 in 2013. The award is given out annually to individuals or organizations for providing snow safety awareness and avalanche education to the snowsports community.
Since the NDF began organizing presentations, the Dodovs have received an abundance of positive feedback.
“You are making an incredible impact for our snowsports world,” Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy Board Member Daron Rahlves said. “Thank you so much! Nick is with you every step of the way!”

This year’s series of NDF programs will kick off on Oct. 26 with a presentation at a Bear Valley Adventure Company event in Bear Valley, where the Dodovs have lived and skied for the past 20 years.
“We are already scheduling many avalanche educational presentations and workshops for the upcoming snow season,” Natalia Dodov said. “It looks like it will be another busy winter with avalanche education. We will encourage and teach as many as we can to play on the snow and be safe. We believe that by educating youth we will save lives.”
The NDF accepts donations through Paypal on its website, nickolaydodovfoundation.com. Checks can be addressed to PO Box 5035, Bear Valley, CA 95223. The Nickolay Dodov Foundation is a charitable 501c3 nonprofit organization (#46-3764229). All donations are tax deductible and supporters will receive an NDF invoice for their records.


6th Annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle in Bear Valley, Saturday, April 6th!!!



High in the Mountains with Buurna…and Nick

John Muir

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us”…. with the powerful feeling that Nick is right here with us…