Published: 15 Feb 2013 11:56 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 15 Feb 2013 11:56 GMT+01:00
A 48-year-old Geneva man became the third avalanche victim in the Valais Alps in three days on Thursday when he died in a Sion hospital, underscoring concerns about the dangers of offe-piste skiing.
The man, identified by Valais cantonal police as a manager for SIG, Geneva’s public utility company, was the second person to die from a snow slide above Nendaz on Wednesday.
Another man is being treated for life-threatening injuries after an avalanche swept away six skiers, aged 15 to 55, who were walking with skis over their shoulders up a steep slope in the Bec des Etagnes area at the 3,100-metre level, according to police.
In a separate incident, a 20-year-old Swedish man died from another avalanche after being buried by snow while skiing off-piste in the Plan de Fou area of the sprawling Nendaz-Quatre Vallées ski resort.
The accidents followed the death of a 52-year-old Valais woman who was buried by an avalanche while skiing off-piste at Zinal, another ski area, on Tuesday.
Another skier remains missing following a snow slide at the Saint Luc resort, near Zinal, on February 4th.
The deaths underscore the dangers of skiing on steep, unpatrolled slopes, particularly after periods of heavy snow.
Despite the risks, enthusiasts in search of virgin powder snow are drawn to the thrills of what the Swiss call “freeriding”.
Skiing the “steep and deep” zones of Verbier’s sprawling mountain ski area is promoted by the town’s tourist office in a TV advert shown on RTS, the national broadcaster.
The commercial shows a lone freerider slaloming down a steep slope through untouched powder.
Daniel Menna, a spokesman for BPA, the accident prevention bureau, told 20 Minutes such advertising can be dangerous because it masks the dangers.
“We have safe itineraries for practising skiing off-piste,” Eric Balet, director of Téléverbier, the company that runs the Verbier-Quatre Vallées resort, told the newspaper.
“And we offer guides to accompany riders — it’s really one of our best attractions,” Balet said.
He said the accident prevention bureau is incensed about avalanches because they are an emotional phenomenon.
“I don’t get the impression that drownings get the same attention, yet they account for more victims every year.”
Every day, more than 5,000 people ski safely off-piste at Verbier “including my own daughter,” Balet told 20 Minutes.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Swedish skier Sverre Liliequist created quite a buzz when did a backflip ahead of an avalanche that he managed to ski away from at Zermatt.
The incident occurred during the Swatch Skiers Cup 2013.
Check the YouTube video:
After going undefeated throughout the world ice hockey championship tournament, Switzerland finally succumbed to home town favorite Sweden in the final, losing 5-1 in Stockholm on Sunday. READ () »
Switzerland will play hosts Sweden in the final of the world ice hockey championships on Sunday after each side registered a 3-0 semi-final victory over the United States and Finland respectively. READ () »
Jewellery worth more than $1 million made by Swiss luxury watchmaker and jeweller Chopard and due to be loaned to stars walking the red carpet at the Cannes film festival were stolen from a hotel, French police said on Friday. READ () »
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang embarks this weekend on his first foreign trip since taking office, with a stop in Switzerland on the itinerary and free trade talks between the two countries close to completion. READ () »
The Salvation Army band carrying Switzerland’s hopes into the Eurovision Song Contest was vanquished on Thursday night in Malmö, Sweden. READ () »
More than a third of Geneva’s active working population lives outside the canton, with the majority residing in neighbouring France and the rest largely in the canton of Vaud, according to a report issued on Thursday. READ () »
International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid can count on the support of the Swiss federation in his bid for re-election, the sport's global governing body said on Thursday. READ () »
Switzerland headed to the world ice hockey championship semifinals after a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic on Thursday in Stockholm. READ () »
The chairman of newborn mining and commodities giant Glencore Xstrata, John Bond, was on Thursday axed by its annual general meeting in Zug, just weeks after the Swiss-based group was created via a merger of two key players. READ () »
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has nominated former Kenyan minister and member of parliament Mukhisa Kituyi to lead the UN's Geneva-based trade and development body when the current chief steps down at the end of August. READ () »