FEBRUARY 15th, 2014
BEAR VALLEY MOUNTAIN SAFETY WEEK
NICKOLAY DODOV FOUNDATION Snow Sports Safety and Awareness Booth and Children Snow Sports Safety Talk
Stop by Nickolay Dodov Foundation booth at Bear Valley Mountain this Saturday the 15th. The foundation booth will be set up from 11am -8pm in the Sun Room. We will be sharing information to help educate people about snow sports safety and awareness!! We have stickers, shirts, handouts, a foundation safety DVD and more…. available for anyone looking to take home snow awareness goodies! Our safety video features safety tips from Professional Snowboarder John Jackson, Bear Valley Terrain Park Manager Mike Schimke and Bear Valley Ski Patrol Director Mattly Trent. It should be a great weekend on the mountain, with an awesome firework show in the evening!!!
MARCH 8th, 2014
DON’T MISS OUT THE SECOND ANNUAL NICKOLAY DODOV SLOPESTYLE MARCH 8TH! PLEASE SHARE! HELP SPREAD THE WORD! WE WANT LOTS OF ATHLETES SIGNING UP AND SHREDDING THE SICK COURSE WE ARE HELPING TO DESIGN, WITH THE BEAR VALLEY TERRAIN PARK MANAGER!! THIS EVENT WILL BE GOING OFF! WITH MUSIC FROM DJ FREEDOM FIGHTER SOUND, EPIC SLOPESTYLE PRIZES AND A SILENT AUCTION!!
If anyone would like to help us by becoming a sponsor, donating and or gathering items for the slopestyle prizes we would greatly appreciate it. If you would like to help us please send a message to email@example.com Thank you!
MARCH 10th, 2014
AVALANCHE LEVEL 1 CERTIFICATION COURSE
NICKOLAY DODOV FOUNDATION will participate in school and mountain-based educational programs focusing on snow sports safety and backcountry awareness. The Foundation would like to implement the program “KNOW BEFORE YOU GO” to middle and high schools in California and to have the program available to backcountry enthusiasts of all ages.
Know Before You Go
|Overview||Watch the video|
|Know Before You Go is a free avalanche awareness program. Not much science, no warnings to stay out of the mountains, no formulas to memorize. In 1 hour, you will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.The KBYG program was created for middle and high school students and can be presented in a 50 minute school assembly. The high energy video and the jaw-dropping slide show, along with the Q&A chat with an avalanche professional, takes the breath away from adults as well. Want to attend a free KBYG presentation? Check out the schedule here. Want to host a presentation for your school, scout troop, shop, employees, or community group? Contact us.||Think you know your stuff and want to test your knowledge online? Pass this quiz and receive a discount on BCA avalanche gear from our friends at Backcountry.com|
|The KBYG program has 3 parts, an 18 minute video, a slide show, and a Q&A session, all led by a local avalanche professional. The images are eye-catching and pack a punch. Viewers see the destructive power of avalanches, how people get in trouble, and the basics of how to avoid them, all through the eyes of avalanche professionals, pro athletes, accident victims and rescuers, and their peers. We don’t preach and we don’t tell skiers, snowboarders, and snowmobilers to stay home – we encourage them to get some education to get out and have fun safely.|
Participate in KBYG
If you would like us to present KBYG for your school class, scout troop, customers, or community in Utah, please contact us and we will arrange a free presentation. Do you have safety meetings for your employees? A KBYG talk is more exciting and engaging than talking paper cuts and ladder safety and helps keep your employees happy and safe. You provide a time and place and help us promote the event and we will do the rest. If you are outside Utah and would like to present the KBYG program, all the program materials are available free. Contact us for a free DVD copy of the video*, slide deck that you can modify to suit your local conditions, and some hints and advice on best practices. The KBYG program was developed with a series of grants on an open-source basis and the program has successfully been adopted in a number of other regions and by the National Ski Patrol.
*Copies of the video are for avalanche educators only and may be reproduced but not sold or used for any commercial purpose
We can also build custom avalanche awareness programs based on KBYG for your group. Example programs:
- An extended presentation in the snow, either in the mountains or in a snowy playground, in which students learn to use rescue gear and see snow layering
- KBYG talks modified to highlight the practical and exciting application of science
- Shop employee learning sessions to familiarize retail employees with local avalanche issues
Utah has the Greatest Snow on Earth. Utah also has some of the greatest avalanche danger in the world, within sight and only minutes away from where most of us live. Avalanches kill more people each year than any other natural event in Utah.
On December 26, 2003, a massive avalanche swept off Mt. Timponogos. 14 people out hiking and snowboarding the day after Christmas were caught up in the slide and 3 died. This didn’t have to happen – the danger signs were obvious to those who understood avalanche danger. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the Know Before You Go program was born.
Most of the avalanche fatalities in the U.S. and Canada occur to people who don’t know they are in avalanche danger and are unprepared to deal with an avalanche. Just as those in Hawaii learn about the dangers of rip tides and shore breaks at an early age, students in Utah need to learn about avalanches. What they learn can save their lives. The Know Before You Go program was created to teach Middle and High School students the basics of avalanches – how destructive they are, when and where avalanches happen, and what they can do to protect themselves.
KBYG was presented state-wide 126 times to about 15,000 people in winter 2011-12, About 2/3 of those presentations were for youth groups and the remainder open to the public. KBYG has been presented to over 160,000 people since inception in 2004. The Utah Board of Education has approved the KBYG program as a PE elective. Teachers are encouraged to utilize our on-line curriculum as well as the free, state-wide, assembly presentation.
“This assembly has made an everlasting impression in my mind. I will never forget the message that was put across. This assembly should be mandatory for all schools to see—6th through 12th grades, along with their parents, too. It can and will save people’s lives. The footage shown in the avalanche video is phenomenal! The educational value placed upon this assembly is priceless.”
–Raquel Fuller, Health/P.E./Dance Educator
MESSAGE FROM NICKOLAY DODOV FOUNDATION
Last season some of the top guides of Alaska Heliskiing, LLC left for good. The co-owners of Alaska Heliskiing LLC, Vicki Gardner and Sean Brownell, left Haines, Alaska. Now, they live in Canada. Vicki Gardner lives near Vancouver, BC. Sean Brownell lives in Carcross, Yukon. We have been told that on the fateful day of March 13/2012, the day when both a client and their guide were killed, it was just an accident. Why then did Vicki Gardner and Sean Brownell have to leave the country? What was their concern if this incident was only an accident?
The Alaska Heliskiing website is still open for business both to take clients out heli-skiing and to educate future guides. On what standards and regulations this company is allowed to certified heli-ski guides? Their top guides now are Tim Thomas and Gabe Gioffre.
After the deadly incident mentioned above, Tim Thomas has shared that the company was aware of the dangerous conditions the day of the accident. Gabe Gioffre was the guide in the helicopter at the scene of the avalanche. He didn’t start search and rescue until 35 minutes after the avalanche came to rest.
Alaska Heliskiing ignored the dangerous conditions (which included growing surface hoar, an overnight strong wind storm that overloaded the mountain bowls and the gullies with wind deposit snow, shooting cracks in the snow, snow stability check that showed dangerous snow conditions and Rob Liberman was guiding under influence of THC marijuana) that led to the death of a client, our son Nickolay Dodov, and the AH guide, Rob Liberman.
Who made the call to take three groups of clients to Alpine Bowl with rolling hills and multiple gullies with steepness of 25-40 degrees in such a dangerous conditions? Alaska Heliskiing was taking all the clients to ski the same hill. It was inevitable that someone would get in trouble that day.
|The Alaskan Way http://vimeo.com/skithehimalayas/the…|
CHILKAT VALLEY NEWS
SEABA agrees to pay $21K to BLM
by Tom Morphet
A Haines helicopter skiing company has agreed to pay more than $21,000 in fines and fees for flying on federal lands closed to the activity 54 times during 78 days of operation during the past two years.
Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures signed a plea agreement containing the allegations, which was filed recently in federal district court in Anchorage. The case stems from a federal investigation of the company triggered by the heli-skiing death of Christian Cabanilla March 3.
The company also agreed to a two-year probationary period. A federal court judge must still approve the plea deal.
“This investigation revealed that despite knowing that SEABA was not permitted for helicopter skiing on BLM-managed lands in this area, SEABA operated commercially on BLM-managed land on approximately 54 dates in 2012 and 2013 out of 78 total days of heli-ski operations in these two seasons,” the plea agreement says.
In a statement from attorney Tracey Knutson this week, SEABA described the encroachments as “minor, infrequent and inconsequential.”
“(A recent news article) intimating that 54 incursions over a 78-day period had occurred was misleading,” Knutson said. “In reality, a similar number of client ski day land boundary infractions occurred over a couple year period so that transit into federal lands was infrequent. The boundary intrusion most often was only for helicopter access with the actual ski runs occurring on state land,” Knutson said.
Cabanilla and four others were skiing on federal lands closed to commercial heli-skiing when the fatal accident occurred. Two of the other skiers were seriously injured. The trip in the Kicking Horse drainage was a non-commercial outing led by SEABA guides.
The accident occurred on a ski-run on BLM-managed land that the company had named for one of its frequent customers. It had been included on a map SEABA had submitted for a 2011 BLM permit that was not approved.
SEABA officials have previously complained that the BLM is holding up the company’s use of the land.
According to the plea agreement, the company had a permit for operating on BLM land from 2002 through 2006, then allowed the permit to expire. Following expiration of the permit, BLM closed the land to heli-skiing “pending an environmental study to determine the impact of increasing the amount of permitted heli-ski operations. SEABA applied for a new permit for these closed area in 2011. SEABA was informed of the closure and did not obtain a permit.”
According to the plea agreement, after the fatality the BLM initiated an investigation that involved interviews with SEABA employees, a review of the company’s log, maps and GPS flight data collected in accordance with its Haines Borough permit.
“Based on a percentage of SEABA’s gross revenue and the percentage of time SEABA operated commercially on BLM lands in 2012 and 2013, SEABA owes a minimum of $11,556 in user fees to BLM,” according to the plea agreement. Under the agreement, SEABA also agrees to pay a $10,000 fine and would be placed on two years’ probation during which it would be required to submit GPS data to the agency to prove compliance.
The plea agreement says SEABA could have been fined up to $200,000, with five years’ probation.
Former Haines Borough Assembly member Norm Smith, an industry critic, said this week that the borough should revoke SEABA’s permit. “Fifty-four times is not just an out of bounds issue. Shades of Dave Button,” he said.
Assembly member Jerry Lapp said he’d oppose such an idea. “I wish (SEABA) would watch themselves a little more closely, but I blame it on the BLM. They’ve taken way too long to do whatever they say they’re doing (in closed areas). Why are they closed? Why shouldn’t they be open to the public? If I had my way, it would all be open to heli-skiing except the critical habitat area for (mountain) goats.”
Lynn Canal Conservation president Eric Holle said the federal investigation “verifies what we’ve been saying for years. SEABA doesn’t pay attention to the regs. They operate as though they are above the law.”
“The significance for the borough, I would hope, is that they need to step up their monitoring for compliance. It was like pulling teeth to get Mark Earnest to do spot checks on these guys. Last year he only did two spot checks on SEABA and two on Alaska Heliskiing. Undoubted there were violations on state land (during the same time). The borough is in charge of that. They should look,” Holle said.
Interim borough manager Julie Cozzi said this week she’d include information about the plea agreement in information to assembly members, but said she was not planning at this time to make recommendations concerning borough management of the industry
We asked US Heliskiing Association if there are any safety standards set for all heliskiing companies in US.
OUR EMAILS WITH PAUL BUTLER, THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF US HELISKIING ASSOSIATION AND KEVIN QUINN, THE CURRENT PRESIDENT OF US HELISKIING ASSOSIATION
On Nov 10, 2012, at 7:17 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Natalia and Alex Dodov via heli-ski.com
Name: Natalia and Alex Dodov Email: email@example.com Phone: 209 753 2828 Message:
Hi Paul and Kevin,
My name is Natalia Dodova, I am mother of Nickolay Dodov, who was killed in the avalanche on Thankin Ridge, Haines, AK. With my husband, Alex Dodov, we are experienced ski mountaineers; our son was an experienced backcountry snowboarder. We have been investigating and we have a lot of information regarding the accident. Would you be interested to look at it and help us with your professional opinion? We would like to ask you if there are any safety and search and rescue standards that the heli companies in the US should operate under? Have you been working with the Alaska Heli Company, Haines? Is Alaska Heli Company member of the HSUS? Do you know who authorized Alaksa Heli Company to have a heli guiding school? Did you know that the autopsy finds THC higher than the background levels in the guide Rob Liberman’s blood? Where HSUS does stands in this matter regarding drugs?
Thank you very much Natalia and Alex Dodov
November 14, 2012
From Kevin Quinn
My deepest condolences to you and your family, truly!
I cannot comment on the operation in Haines as I have no real knowledge on them aside from the fact they are not part of HSUS.
Please look at the HSUS web site as we have our mission listed there. www.usheliskiing.com
I do know that Rob Liberman was a very good ski guide. The THC levels is not something I can comment on. All of this is very unfortunate.
Again, my deepest condolences to you and your family. I believe our President of Heli US will be in contact with you shortly.
North Cascade Heli (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From Paul Butler
Hi, Natalie and Alex: I am sorry about the loss of your son and extend you my deepest sympathy and condolences. I have a son myself, age 12, and I cannot begin to imagine how you both must feel. I would rather discuss this over the phone if you were okay with that. I am somewhat familiar with the incident. Would sometime tomorrow work for you? Please let me know. If we cannot talk over the phone then I will respond in more detail by email. As a member and current president of Heli Ski US, I am obliged to differentiate my personal opinion from that of representing the association. I hope this is understandable.
Again, I am truly saddened about your loss.
Hello, Natalia and Alex: I have been in contact with the members of Heli Ski US, and from our discussion we have crafted our association’s reply as seen below. I would still like to speak with either of you over the phone if you are still interested in doing so.
Paul Butler North Cascade Heli Mazama, WA http://www.heli-ski.com
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dodov,
On behalf of Heli-SkiUS, allow me to begin by telling you how sorry we are for the loss of your son, Nickolay. As members of the larger mountain community, I know that we all feel a sense of loss when one of our own is injured or killed in pursuit of the mountain lifestyles that are so central to our identities. I don’t know what words I can offer that might take away the pain of your loss. Having experienced the death of close friends in mountaineering, I have watched as survivors have chosen to return to the mountains again. I can only say that there is something compelling and healing in those places and I hope that you can find the opportunity take solace among mountains again.
In response to your questions, Alaska Heliskiing is not, and has never been, a member or our organization and I do not know of an organization that would have sanctioned its guide school program. Heli-Ski U.S. Association, Inc. represents approximately one-half of all helicopter skiing operators in the United States. While promoting safe operating practices is part of our program, membership in our organization is voluntary – those standards would not have been applicable to Alaska Heliskiing. Importantly, no set of standards, no matter how carefully conceived or implemented can eliminate all of the risks that are inherent in backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
Without in any way diminishing the gravity of your loss or own concern for safety in helicopter skiing, we do not believe that Heli-Ski U.S. would be serving the needs of our member companies or the industry by becoming involved in an investigation of your son’s accident. We must therefore, respectfully but firmly decline your request to become involved in this matter.
I wish you peace though what is undoubtedly a very difficult time.
From Paul Butler’s letter to Alex and Natalia Dodov and U.S. Senators
HELISKIING US ASSOSIATION
January 27, 2012
Alex & Natalia Dodov,
Bear Valley, CA
Re: Your letter to Congressman Young, Senators Murkowski & Begich, et. al.
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Dodov:
I write in response to your recent letter to Congressman Young, Senators Murkowski and Begich and to others. On behalf of Heli-Ski U.S. Association, Inc. (HSUS) and its member firms, I again offer my deepest condolences for the loss of your son, Nickolay. I am certain that your sense of loss is profound and your desire for answers is acute. While those feelings are understandable, I respectfully request that you be more circumspect in your communications, which unfairly paint our entire industry as lacking in competence, professionalism and integrity. I assure you, that is not the case.
I can not agree with your call for regulation of the helicopter skiing industry. First, I note that many recreational activities involve risk and are not regulated by government agencies, despite accidents that sometimes result in loss of life. For example, horseback riding, mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, scuba diving and parasailing all include significant risks, but none is regulated by government.
At the close of your letter, you note that you were unable to obtain a copy of our operating protocols and that you could not locate them on our website, suggesting that they do not exist. Given AH’s references to the apparently non-existent Alaska Helicopter Skiing Association, your cynicism is understandable, but incorrect. Our Heli-Skiing Safety & Operating Procedures (HSOP) guidelines are extensive and substantive. More important, the operations of our member firms are periodically audited for compliance and applicant firms must pass a thorough audit before they can become members. We do not publish or otherwise release the HSOP guidelines because, in our view, the impact of doing so would be precisely the opposite of our goal in creating them. Because of its level of detail, the HSOP could be used by persons wishing to enter the field to create a credible operating and safety plan, notwithstanding a lack of experience and technical resources. We would, in essence, be facilitating the creation of unqualified operations. We make the HSOP available to firms that have been in the field for at least two full years, provided they sign an agreement to be audited and pay a modest fee and the audit expenses. We believe that this is the best way for our organization to promote safety in the industry.
Your focus should be on the events of March 13, 2012 and those involved, not the rest of the industry. I want to be clear that no set operating guidelines, no matter how well drafted or rigorously implemented can remove all of the risks of helicopter skiing and snowboarding. These are inherently dangerous endeavors and the release and waiver forms that clients sign make this known to participants. Our organization will continue to work inside the industry to promote safety and professionalism and our goal will always be a zero accident rate. I am truly sorry that your son was lost in pursuit of the joy that riding and skiing in the backcountry can bring. I hope that you can find peace in this very difficult time
Very Truly Yours,
Paul Butler, President Heli Ski US
CHILKAT VALLEY NEWS
National Heli-Ski Group Focuses on Standards
by Karen Garcia
Dean Cummings, owner of Valdez-based H2O Guides for ; Dean belonged to HSUS for 12 years. Cummings helped craft the association’s safety document, but bowed out because of what he perceived as a “lack of direction” and the association’s failure to rotate leadership.
“I think they are doing okay. They’re more of an exclusive association where they handpick their members,” Cummings said.
Cummings also said that the association, while nationwide, “distances itself from Alaska.” The industry, he said, would benefit immensely from a similar statewide association that focuses solely on Alaskan heli-skiing, which he said is different than heli-skiing in the Lower 48.
“Fatal accidents like the one last spring only increase the volume of that clamor. But people need to remember”, Points North owner Kevin Quinn said, “heli-skiing is an inherently risky activity. And not even a litany of rules and regulations can guarantee that nothing will go wrong. Being a part of heliski US wouldn’t have saved those people,” Quinn said. “Not even kind of.”
HSUS’s critics point to the cost of membership, which can be prohibitive, and the association’s club-like exclusivity. According to Quinn, members pay a one-time $5,000 fee, plus $1,500-$2,500 in annual dues.
Here is a link to the full article
We have learned that the multimillion dollar heliski industry in United States is an unregulated commercial business without strict safety standards for every operator.
We have asked Karen Garsia and Devon O’Neil if they have seen the US Heliskiing Association Heliski Safety Operating Giddiness, both answers were “No”.
We haven’t seen the US Heliskiing Association Heliski Safety Operating Giddiness yet either. You can not find them on any website.
Our mission is to promote snow sport safety and awareness through fun, hands on educational programs and events. Our goal is to inspire children and enthusiasts of all ages to explore the beauty of the mountains and ocean, while maintaining a healthy and positive lifestyle.
The Nickolay Dodov Foundation is committed to carrying on Nick’s legacy and spirit with the hope of preventing future accidents.
The Nickolay Dodov Foundation is a registered 501 Non-Profit organization.
At age three, Nickolay Dodov started skiing. By six and a half, he could handle the runs of his home mountains by himself. At eight, he strapped on a snowboard and fell in love. Nick’s passion led to competition both in Bulgaria, where he was born and lived until age thirteen, and in the United States, after his family settled in the small, mountain community of Bear Valley, California. Eventually, Nick brought his passion and skills to the backcountry, sharing experiences, encouragement and the amazing outdoors with kindred spirits in stunning terrain.
In March of 2012, Nick was killed in an avalanche while snowboarding in Haines, Alaska.The loss of his life has borne the Nickolay Dodov Foundation and prompts us to look with great care and deliberation at snow sports industry safety standards, as well as “the human factor” in extreme sports. We believe that through continuing snow sports safety awareness education, an individual strengthens his or her ability to assess situational safety in snow sports activities.
Nickolay was a beloved son, athlete, teammate, artist and teacher. A shining light with a great passion for life, Nickolay lived with heart. We wish you the same and strive to help provide access to information and skills that will enable you to participate in activities equipped with outdoor readiness.
OUR UPCOMING EVENTS:
With your support, the Nickolay Dodov Foundation will participate in school and mountain-based educational programs focusing on snow sports safety and backcountry avalanche awareness.
*Check our website for additions & updates!
*Bear Valley Mountain Safety Week: January 18-24
Snow Sports Safety Talk & Information Booth
at Bear Valley Mountain’s Winter Explosion!
*Avalanche training with Mountain Adventure Seminars.
Tax-deductible donations accepted online or at the mailing address below!
Thank you for your support.
PO Box 5035
Bear Valley, CA 95223
We presented Nickolay Dodov Foundation at the Annual Winter Fest in Bear Valley Ski Resort, California the weekend of November 29th and 30th, 2013. Thank you to the great team of board members; Joel Barnett, Lauren Schimke, Stephanie Forbes, John Jackson, Cate Wallenfels and Mike Page! Thank you to John Jackson who was signing autographs in support of the Foundation and sharing his love for snowboarding. Great to share the Foundation with so many people and see so many kids’ smiling faces! Thank you for all the love and support! Keep sharing our mission! The Foundation is grateful for all the support!