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Resort set to celebrate mountain activity and safety

National Ski and Snowboard Week coincides with Avalanche Awareness Days

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BC recorded a decrease of 33 per cent in skier visits in 2004-2005 mostly due to snowfall shortages.

The number of those who skied exclusively dropped 14.3 per cent this year over last nationally.

Chedore said it’s not just about enjoying skiing and snowboarding, the council wants people to simply get out and enjoy all winter activities.

"There is lots of research that says that people who are active and healthy in winter are active and healthy the rest of the year," he said.

This year will also see the launch of a new safety video during the NSSW, " A Little Respect: Thinkfirst." It is a collaborative effort of experts in the fields of injury prevention in skiing and snowboarding and is aimed at users from six to 12 years old.

This is the eighth year for Avalanche Awareness Days. This year the events are being organized by the Canadian Avalanche Centre, an organization put in place just over a year ago to centralize education on avalanche awareness.

Local events will be centralized on Blackcomb Mountain on Jan 14 and 15.

The activities will include avalanche rescue equipment display, backcountry travel safety, beacon demonstrations and beacon searches. On Saturday there will be an avalanche beacon searching contest open to the public. Donations to the CAC will be accepted for the entry fee. The start time will be 9 a.m. at the BCA Beacon Basin, behind the ski patrol building at the top of Solar Coaster. For more information go to www.bcaccess.com .

On average over the last 10 years 14 to 15 people have died in avalanches in Canada, said John Kelly, operations manager at the CAC.

"So getting the avalanche safety message out is critical," he said.

"In other places in the world they have been dealing with this for centuries…. We are just coming to grips with it and the role of Avalanche Awareness Days is to build that cultural awareness of avalanches."

This year’s main event will be at Big White Ski Resort. For more information go to www.bigwhite.com .

The activities will focus on youth – bringing avvy savvy messages to the next generation of backcountry users because more than ever young people are attracted by the lure of the backcountry. Known as "out-of-bounders" they are the fastest growing users of avalanche terrain in Canada. They are also the group that is most in need of the knowledge and skills that will allow them to use the backcountry safely.

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