Four days after an avalanche hit the Swiss ski resort of Crans-Montana, the president of the Valais Ski Lift Association denies there was economic pressure to keep the pistes open.
Interviewed on Saturday by Swiss Public Radio SRF, Berno Stoffel denied speculation that financial considerations overrode safety precautions and put skiers’ lives in danger. One person died and three were injured when the avalanche spanning 840 metres, including 400 metres of ski pistes, swept skiers away last Tuesday. The Valais Public Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation into the avalanche precautionary measures.
According to Stoffel, it is the piste managers that are responsible for closing the ski runs and they individually inspect each piste every morning to assess the impact of the previous night's weather on skiing conditions. The people responsible for this work are employed by the ski lift companies but remain independent.
"It is not the ski lift director's prerogative to supervise piste managers or question their judgment," said Stoffel.
He added that avalanches will increase in the future due to climate change and that more slopes will have to be closed.