Death of Gaspard Ulliel: fatal accidents on the ski slopes, extremely rare but difficult to prevent

Death of Gaspard Ulliel: fatal accidents on the ski slopes, extremely rare but difficult to prevent

Death of Gaspard Ulliel: fatal accidents on the ski slopes, extremely rare but difficult to prevent

“Two deaths in less than a week is very hard”, estimates Laurent Reynaud, the general delegate of Domaines Skiables de France (DSF), who recalls that the average accident rate on the ski slopes is each year “lower to ten deaths" for ten million practitioners. This thank you January 19, the French actor Gaspard Ulliel died after an accident in Savoie.

This season, DSF has launched in French resorts "Go easy", a major awareness campaign urging caution from snow sports enthusiasts, impatient at the idea of ​​returning to the slopes after a year of deprivation due to Covid-19. 19.

"Safety on the ski areas results from our work to secure the slopes, but also from the behavior of the skier. Skiing is a sport of free evolution and we are the first responsible for our safety and that of others", emphasizes Laurent Reynaud .

"The skier must be aware of his level"

"Today, the trend is to have well-prepared slopes which sometimes give the impression of mastering their skiing well, but this is not always the case. The skier must be aware of his level", abounds Claude Jay, President of the National Federation for Safety and Rescue in Ski Areas (FNSSDS).

"The equipment has evolved a lot and it's easier to ski faster. It's January with a little less people and good snow and good equipment. Sometimes people let themselves go a little. Often, they look a little too directly in front of their skis", confirms Sébastien Gaidet, technical director of the ESF in La Rosière (Savoie), where Gaspard Ulliel died on Tuesday.

A "softer" practice

In the French Ski Schools (ESF), where three million students pass each year, instructions have also been given to instructors to promote a "softer" practice, explains Jean-Marc Simon, its director. "But we are facing a large and diverse public in the way they practice this hobby".

For ten years, resorts have also been training their trackers-rescuers to challenge customers who do not behave appropriately in the area.

Prevention or penalties?

While some professionals believe that "ways for improvement" are still possible in terms of signage, markings and prevention panels, others point out that the ski areas are already sufficiently stocked with them.

"We can't go much further, except to gain more ground on the areas", slice Bernard-Pascal Mousselard, president of the National Association of slope directors and the safety of winter sports resorts (ADSP ).

If the death of a five-year-old girl on Saturday in Flaine (Haute-Savoie) is due to the excessive speed of the skier who hit her, that of Gaspard Ulliel on Tuesday does not seem to have been caused by reckless behavior. However, he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.

Poor stations

Subject to debate, the obligation to wear a helmet is not, for many players, the ultimate solution.

For Jean-Marc Simon, the practice of skiing must on the contrary remain outside the regulatory provisions. “We must above all empower people,” he insists.

"The helmet is part of the skier's outfit. It's a fashion effect beneficial to safety", judges Bernard-Pascal Mousselard on the contrary.

"But it will not prevent bad behavior and a perverse effect: with protection you feel indestructible. You then become a danger to yourself and to others," he argues.

"Helmets are compulsory in Italy until the age of 18. I would like it to become compulsory until the age of 18", pleads Sébastien Gaidet, of ESF La Rosière.

As for the establishment of sanctions against the offending skier, such as the withdrawal of the ski pass in the United States, it is not yet on the agenda in France. "In terms of sanctions, we are helpless", regrets Laurent Reynaud.