This helmetcam footage shows the avalanche that crossed a liason on the Labirint run in the Roza Khutor ski area of Sochi the day after it opened to the public for the first time following the Olympic and Paraolympic competitions. The slide killed two skiers on Sunday. The avalanche was a purge from above the skiers, probably caused by the warm temperatures.
The slide buried two female skiers. Four others escaped unhurt. According to the TASS news agency the upper slopes at the resort were closed on Monday due to the ongoing avalanche risk. Avalanche maps were only made for the area in 2008 after Russia was awarded the games.
A 2012 report on the ski area highlighted that it “is a challenging zone with many large and steep slopes, This terrain is near the Black Sea and receives extreme precipitation that can lead to large and dangerous avalanche cycles." The resort has installed a network of 43 gax-ex avalanche control systems. However Russian officials have banned the ski patrol from using explosives to clear slopes, worried the munitions may fall into the hands of terrorists. French ski resort expert Jean-Louis Tuaillon who has been brought in to run the ski area said “With the philosophy of controlling them very often, we think we will not have a problem, I don’t think the danger is big.” Tuaillon also highlighted the challenge of working in an zone that was largely uninhabited before construction of the resort began, with little local knowledge of avalanches.
Avalanche expert Fanny Bourjaillat noted that “in Rosa Bowl, these upper slopes directly threaten ski runs below. Depending on temperature, cold slab or heavy and wet snow avalanches can initiate almost everywhere and run into the ski area. In Ober Khutor or East Bowl where many bowls overhang long steep slopes, huge avalanches are possible, entraining large snow volumes able to reach the lower altitudes”