Dan Egan dives into both the backcountry and the North Country in this week’s Fresh Tracks, streaming Friday and Sunday nights at 7.

Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps

As we enter into the heart of the winter season its important always to think about safety. In a new film, Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps captures the reality of avalanches and how they can seek up on you.

In this new film released by the Bryce and Ronnie Snow Safety Foundation (BRASS), emotions run high in the opening seconds as young athletes dig frantically in the snow searching for their two friends buried under meters of heavy, compacted snow. But it’s too late.

Avalanches are a powerful force of nature. The very mountains that bring such life to skiers and snowboarders can just as quickly take it away. Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps is a poignant reminder of that and a brilliant educational tool to help introduce skiers and snowboarders to basic steps to stay safe in the backcountry.

In January 2015, an avalanche in Sölden, Austria took the lives of two promising young stars of the U.S. Ski Team. They and their teammates were innocently enjoying the sport they loved when tragedy struck.

The BRASS Foundation, formed in 2016, was born out of the tragic avalanche deaths of Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle to create a legacy of changes in the culture of avalanche safety. Its mission is to lobby for the evolution of snow safety systems and to advocate for greater penetration of avalanche education.

Here in New England, you can log onto to the Mount Washington Avalanche Center for local forecast and condition updates or the AMC for the best backcountry trail conditions. Also, on February 6 there’s an avalanche presentation at REI in Boston.

Waterville Valley to host the The U.S. Revolution Tour Sunday, January 13

The Toyota Revolution Tour will return to Waterville Valley for slopestyle competitions for free skiing and snowboarding. The Revolution Tour has proved to be a progressive venue for today’s top junior riders to take the competitive stage in slopestyle. The tour is designed to serve as a stepping-stone for athletes making the transition from competing at the grassroots level to the elite level.

The series is focused on riders from 14-19 years old for HP and SS, and 13-19 years old for BA and SX. Top winners may earn an invite to be part of the U.S. Grand Prix, Junior Worlds, USASA Nationals, and to participate in Project Gold camps. The competition format may vary slightly at each stop, but athletes will always compete as an open class. Click here for more info and registration details.

Jackson Ski Touring

Jackson Ski Touring Foundation presents state-of-the-art grooming on trails designed to suit every taste and ability, whether you prefer quiet striding through old growth New England forest or all out skate skiing on an international race course. You can visit on-trail destinations like the warming cabin and Cocoa Café on the Ellis River Trail and numerous eateries and pubs and inns. All this is contained within a charming New England village that takes pride in its long established traditions of great skiing and warm hospitality.

Foundation trails also connect with AMC trails in Pinkham Notch and White Mountain National Forest backcountry adventure trails. The Foundation operates under a special-use permit with the White Mountain National Forest and with the cooperation of 76 private landowners and the town of Jackson. The Foundation maintains a courtesy patrol to assist you on the trails if needed and rescue service staff trained and certified with the National Ski Patrol System. Everyone using the trails must purchase a trail pass or be a season pass holder.

Educational programs include guided tours, technique workshops, children’s after school program, race volunteer workshops, use of sit-skis for disabled skiers, training for disabled skier guides, and waxing demonstrations.

Dominated by views of Mount Washington and the famous Presidential Ridge, the 150 km trail system spans three river valleys and 60 square miles of the splendid highlands of the White Mountains. Starting from the base lodge, skiers choose a tour to sunny open vistas, serene woodland terrain, challenging mountain descents or our world class race course areas. Jackson’s trails are designed and cut to offer optimum skiing conditions during the long winter season. For more info, click here.

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