“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.

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Nickolay Dodov Foundation Summary of Avalanche Education Events for the Winter 2018/2019

The Winter of 2018/2019 was an EPIC ONE …. We skied 150 days …75 in the backcountry….and very busy for the Nickolay Dodov Foundation bringing Free Avalanche Education to youth and all ages mountain enthusiasts! As Founders of the Foundation, we have been traveling across California and Nevada from December 1st until May 5th in stormy weather and bluebird powder days to be at every presentation and workshop!
NDF PRESENTED  12 KNOW BEFORE YOU GO AVALANCHE AWARENESS PRESENTATIONS AND 7 AVALANCHE WORKSHOPS TO MORE THAN 2000 ATHLETES, STUDENTS, COACHES, TEACHERS AND MOUNTAIN ENTHUSIASTS AND ORGANIZED THE 6TH ANNUAL NICKOLAY DODOV SLOPESTYLE!
The new five hours interactive avalanche educational workshop for youth developed by the NDF Avalanche educator Chemistry Scholar Michael McCarthy  was a big success that filled out the gap between KBYG and Level 1 class!
Special THANK YOU  to the NDF Avalanche Educators Paul Henrickson, Michael McCarthy, Richard Bothwell, Duncan Lee, Georgi Georgiev, Hristo Ivanov, Jordan Smolitchi, Milena Padalska, Stanislav and Georgi Penev  for their passion, support and commitment to bring avalanche education!
All of these was possible thank you to our donors who are passionate about winter sports and Avalanche education!
We are very thankful for the BCA avalanche safety gear and the Scullcandy headphones that played  an important role in our presentations and workshops!
We would like to project a Big Thank you to the National Avalanche Center, Utah Avalanche Center and Sierra Avalanche Center for the support and partnership !
Special Thank you to the Nickolay Dodov 2019 Slopestyle sponsors for the amazing prizes; Reba Sport Shop, Hydro Flask, Stinky Socks, Scullcandy, Be Inspired, Sierra Nevada Adventure Company, Shred Soles, Hwy Four Store, All Good, A Singletrack Mind, Boyle Macdonald Wines, PowE Snowboards, Thrive Snowboards, Earth and Ocean Boardshop, New Earth Logic, Tamarack Lodge…and HUGE Thank you to all the friends who came out to support Nick’s event!
 
Have a nice Summer!… We are looking forward to see you next Winter! 
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SUMMARY of Winter 2018/2019
December 2018 –
December 1st – One day Avalanche Workshop in Cabrillo College/Santa Cruz
December 3th  – KBYG Avalanche Awareness Presentations to the students of South Tahoe Middle School 
December 15th – KBYG Avalanche Awareness Presentations to the students of  Mammoth High School
January 2019-
January 4th – KBYG Avalanche Awareness Presentation to the ski and snowboard teams and public at Squaw Valley
January 5th -One day Avalanche Workshop to winter enthusiasts in Bear Valley
January 24th – 2 KBYG Avalanche Awareness Presentations to the students of Truckee Forest Charter School.
February 2019 –
February 24th -KBYG Avalanche Awareness Presentation to Yosemite Ski team and public
March 2019-
March 15th – 2 KBYG presentations to 7th and 8th grate students at Sonora Elementary School
March 16th and 17th Avalanche workshop in Borovets, Bulgaria
March 23th – Avalanche Workshop with inbound, soft boundary safety lecture and beacon search practice session to the Bear Valley Ski Teams
March 28th – 2 KBYG presentations to the students of South Tahoe High School
April 2019 –
April 11th – 3 KBYG Presentations to the students and ski team of George Whittell High School
April 20th – 6th Annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle in Bear Valley
April 27th – Motorizes Avalanche Workshop for the Sled fest in  Bear valley 
May 2019 –
May 4th – 5 hour Interactive Avalanche Educational Workshop for youth at Heavenly for Heavenly, South Tahoe High School and George Whittell High School ski and snowboard athletes! 
May 5th – 5 hour Interactive Avalanche Educational Workshop for youth to Sugar Bowl Academy free ride and race team athletes!
 
Some feedback for the NDF work
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Nickolay Dodov Foundation rock on! You are saving lives! It is a beautiful thing and I know that Nick is very proud of that remarkable accomplishment!
Craig Gordon
Utah Avalanche Center
Founder of KBYG Program

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You are making an incredible impact for our Snow sports world! Thank you so much! Nick is there with you every step of the way!
Daron Rahlves
Sugar Bowl Ski Team&Academy Board of Trustee

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You are rocking it! Thanks for all you do!
Karl Birkelnad
Director of National Avalanche Center
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Amazing people with an amazing mission! I am beyond proud to be a part of the Nickolay Dodov Foundation educators team! You two feel so many people with love and are helping the World to be a better place!
Duncan Lee
Professional Backcountry Snowmobiler
AIARE Avalanche Educator
Sierra Avalanche Center Adviser
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I look forward to the NDF Slopestyle event all year. Not only do I get to send it, but the people participating and hosting the event are the best. There are great friends and great vibes on the mountain. I cannot wait for next years event and also to attend some of the great NDF Avalanche presentations and workshops!

Geo Alber 13 years old – 2x Winner NDF 12 and under

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Thank you notes from coaches and teachers to the NDF

Natalia,

I just wanted to reach out and tell you how grateful I am for people like you and Alex!  Your enthusiasm and dedication to the education of our youngsters is unparalleled!  You’re literally the nicest people ever.  I thought Michael ran an excellent workshop that really kept kids engaged and willing to learn. I’ve been a part of many clinics and this was by far the best interaction within the class I’ve seen.
I really look forward to working with your foundation in the future and you can count on returning to Sugar Bowl Academy in the Fall/Winter to further our relationship and the kids educational opportunities with avalanche education!

I can’t thank you enough Natalia and Alex !

 
Sean Carey, Director of Freeride
 
Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy

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We would like to project a big gigantic thank you to the Nickolay Dodov Foundation.   I couldn’t believe it when Natalia reached out to me with her idea of coming to Mammoth to present their program to our student athletes.  From the very beginning their foundation made it so easy to organize the presentation by communicating with our school and providing posters for the event.  There is very little money in the California public school systems to pay for any “extra” programs especially in athletics.  Without the foundation, there would not had been this opportunity for the foundations’s all-important life education.  Our students live at 8,000 feet surrounded by mountains up to 14,000 feet.  The natural environment around us, pose a realistic threat to all of us.  The Nickolay Dodov Foundation presented the realistic hazards of our environment.  The kids were completely engaged, intrigued and moved by the presentation and it made a long lasting impact on their actions where the typical teenage behavior is not to think about consequences of their actions.  At this age, they  think they are invisible.   With the huge records amounts of snow we received this winter at Mammoth (we’ll be skiing on it until August and we are still susceptible to avalanches), our community was constantly presented with the fatal possibilities of avalanches.  It is impossible to measure how many lives the Nickolay Dodov Foundation has saved (probably many), but if it made just one person think before exposing themselves to a fatal circumstance, it was so so worth it.   From the bottom of our hearts THANK YOU Nickolay Dodov Foundation!  We hope they can return every year.
Connie Moyer
Mammoth High School Ski and Snowboard Team Director
CNISSF State Champions 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
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The Nickolay Dodov Foundation has brought hours of avalanche education and mountain inspiration to the students at South Tahoe High School in the last four years.  Each year their program touches lives, motivates athletes, and increases awareness in our growing mountain tribe.  Their educators are among the best and cater their lessons and presentations to fit the audience.  It is an honor to work with them in this necessary effort to educate our youth about safe backcountry travel.
Jillian Raymond
History department South Tahoe High School
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NDF is doing amazing things for our young snow sport athletes today. When I was younger, I never even considered how many variables there can be in backcountry riding. I knew about avalanches, but had very little knowledge about how to approach any backcountry work, and so I avoided it. I’m grateful to have been able to see the amazing NDF presentation with our ski and snowboard team. It inspired me to buy beacons for myself and my husband. We plan to take an Aiarie 1 course next fall so we can get even more educated on backcountry safety & reading/understanding snow conditions for those fun adventures! Thanks NDF!!!
Emma Rommo
Snowboard coach Mammoth High School
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Good Morning Natalia and Alex,
On behalf of everyone here, I thank you for making the journey to Yosemite to educate our ski team. As you guys know, it’s critical that we build our knowledge of snow science and potential hazards at the same time we are building our skiing/riding skills. Your avalanche presentation gave this team a lot to think about in regards to training, snow safety, and decision-making. It was well-presented, engaging, and perfectly customized for our youngest skiers. Definitely a winter highlight for this group and we look forward to working with you next year! Again, thank you for your dedication and energy and please give our best to Paul.
Happy skiing!
Kelsey and the Yosemite Ski Team

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Forest Charter School greatly appreciates the program offered to our school from Nickolay Dodov Foundation in January of 2019. Richard Bothwell, Natalia and Alex created a dynamic presentation which captivated our K-12 students. Through two educational and informative presentations, the students learned about snow safety, decision making, safety gear, slope management and backcountry travel. The students were enthusiastic and supported in asking questions, sharing experiences and learning throughout the day. We will continue to utilize the education provided in our snow safety awareness and student support. We greatly appreciate the opportunity and will continue to seek further collaboration with Nickolay Dodov Foundation in the future.
Mark Keim
5/6 Grade Teacher
Forest Charter School
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​The Nickolay Dodov Foundation presented to our South Tahoe Middle school ski team in the fall and our students loved it. The foundations avalanche educator Richard broke down the avalanche science extremely well for our students and kept them engaged the entire presentation. the ski team walked away with some practical knowledge of avalanche safety and some cool bonus gear too. We can’t wait to have the Nickolay Dodov Foundation back next year to spread the word about backcountry safety to even more students.

James Seider (Educator at South Tahoe Middle School in South Lake Tahoe)

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The Nikolay Dodov Foundation visited Whittell High School this winter to present their Know Before You Go Workshop to my 8th grade science classes and our Alpine Ski Team athletes. The workshop was incredibly engaging for my students, and they really saw the importance of education and proper skills when travelling in the back country. They loved the video, they loved learning about the snow science of avalanches, and they were very excited about receiving headphones as prizes. Our ski team athletes left the workshop with more awareness about the risks when skiing outside of the resort, and they can’t wait for the foundation to return next year and do an on-snow workshop.
I highly recommend the workshop for any ski team or classroom. They do a great job of adapting the workshop for the ages and interests of the students, so all students walk away with more awareness and the desire to keep learning.
Madeline Cronk
Science Teacher and Alpine Ski Team Coach at George Whittell High School

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The Foundation was able to come to Sonora Elementary School this past winter and share a hands on dynamic presentation. The student athletes were able to participate in critical discussions, see new material and equipment that was demonstrated by highly skilled and qualified individuals. The presentation is engaging and beautifully designed. The kids are now able to carry the lessons onto the slopes.

Josette Alomia-Brown. Physical Education 4-8th grade Sonora Elementary School

 

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

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253THE 6TH ANNUAL NICKOLAY DODOV SLOPESTYLE!!! …APRIL 6TH AT BEAR VALLEY RESORT!!!! ….SAVE THE DATE!!!!…9-10am registration in the Sun Room ….10-11am Practice ….11am Completion Starts ….3pm Awards on Sun Deck….. COME TO SHRED WITH US AND SHARE GOOOOD VIBES WITH NICK’S TRIBE!!!! …. GOODY BAGS FOR ALL THE COMPETITORS AND AMAZING PRIZES FOR THE WINNERS …. LIFE MUSIC WITH JANKTONES AND NEW EARTH LOGIC!!!!!……THE GOOD VIBE TRIBE WILL TROW A PARTY IN THE END OF THE DAY!!!…WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO HAVE YOU WITH US!!!

Video from the Second Annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle

Here is the video from the 2nd Annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle! Sponsored by Bear Valley Mountain and the Nickolay Dodov Foundation!! This was a great event!! We had so many people show up to ride, hangout, celebrate and remember NICKOLAY!!! Please share and let’s generate some energy for the 3rd Annual Nickolay Dodov Slopestyle!!