Minister Angelkova discussed measures for increasing the safety and prevention in mountain winter sports

15 March 2015

The Ministry of Tourism will launch an information campaign for increasing the safety and prevention in mountain winter sports. This was discussed during a meeting between Minister Nikolina Angelkova and representatives of the mountain rescue service of the Bulgarian Red Cross, the Bulgarian Ski Federation, the Bulgarian Ski School Association, the Bulgarian Extreme and Freeride Association and the Bulgarian Climbing and Mountaineering Federation. The increased risk of avalanches was what initiated the meeting.

“You know that one of the first things we did as a ministry was to draft and adopt a resolution for enhancing the safety of the ski slopes and increasing the information concerning their condition”, said Minister Angelkova.  She noted that practicing winter sports without observing the rules is always a risky endeavor and that consistent efforts should be made to increase and improve the safety conditions.

The marking of the ski runs is one major warning against the risk of avalanches.  Metodi Todorov, director of the rescue service of the Bulgarian Red Cross noted that those who practice mountain winter sports fall into three groups – those who strictly observe the ski markings and stay on the ski runs, those who accidentally swerve away from the runs and those who purposefully search for adrenaline highs and extreme experiences.  The markings and the warning signs will keep tourists away from the dangerous zones. A proposal was made to create ski parks within the ski zones which will offer more extreme experiences for ski lovers but they will be located in avalanche-free zones.

“We will work actively to improve the information availability and will initiate meetings with the Ministry of Environment and Water, the local authorities and the winter resorts”, stressed Nikolina Angelkova. We will also initiate a meeting with the Ministry of Education to discuss possibilities to include mountain safety in the educational programme at the earliest possible stage, said Minister Angelkova.

Momchil Panayotov from the Bulgarian Extreme and Freeride Association noted that Bulgaria has substantial experience which must be used. He explained that statistics show that fewer avalanche accidents happen in Bulgaria compared to other countries – the average number is one accident per year while in many other European countries the number is much greater. One of the reasons for this is that relevant information and mountain training are provided at a very early stage, said Panayotov. The Association has also drafted a guide for skiers and snowboarders on avalanche safety and organizes trainings for those who practice winter sports.

The Chairman of the Bulgarian Ski School Association said that a classification of ski instructors should be introduced. Some of the instructors might organize guided tours outside the marked ski runs and provide additional training on avalanche safety.

Within days after the tragic avalanche accident which caused the death of three people, the Ministry of Tourism published a letter of appeal to those who practice winter sports to take responsibility not only for their lives and safety but also for the safety of the mountain rescue teams and other tourists. Meetings on enhancing the safety and prevention in mountain winter sports are set to continue and normative changes will be introduced if necessary.





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