The giant Italian Dolomiti Superski region is continuing to step up its safety campaign, ‘Safer ski!’ with the greatest onus on skier behaviour.
"The Dolomites Region does not generally have many avalanches and the lifts and cableways are among the safest in the world. Safety on the slopes usually depends on the skiers and their behaviour when coming downhill. Carelessness and high speed, as well as overestimation of their own capabilities are the most common causes of accidents", said a company spokeserson.
Each person who buys a ski pass receives a brochure with tips and instructions how to plan your ski day efficiently, how to choose the right equipment, together with information on well-balanced nutrition and the FIS-Rules for conduct of skiers and snowboarders.
However for the unconvinced, Italy has four different sets of safety personnel working on the slopes. The Alpini Group, which are part of the military, belong to the mountain infantry and are good skiers. They have additionally completed a medical training at the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and have knowledge in legal issues. The Carabienieri are another army unit, whilst the Polizia (police) and the Finance police are units of the Ministry of the Interior. All have the duty to guarantee security on the slopes and have the power to fine skiers and boarders who break behaviour and thus safety rules. Spot fines range from 30 euros for not stopping up to 92 euros for serious misbehaviour.
"The number of accidents is higher in good weather as people ski more carefully in bad weather", explains Fabio, who works at the Kronplatz. "The main cause is usually high speed. Alcohol generally is not the problem. If someone is just a little tipsy we don’t do anything. But if the people are really drunk then we react. Luckily this happens very seldom". Worst of all according to Fabio are those who ski in sites closed to the public. "When they set off an avalanche/snowslide, they risk their own lives, those of others and those of their rescuers". Some skiers and boarders try to out run the various piste police services. Fabio grins, "We are faster though. They bluster and we keep calm. Our main aim is to inform, not to punish".