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Out of bounds skiers and avalanche risk: high-risk cohort identification and characterization.

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(Project) M.R.M.
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The popularity of out-of-bounds skiing and snowboarding has been growing steadily over the last decade despite the avalanche risk inherent to the activity. As a consequence, out-of-bounds skiers and snowboarders have become an important target audience for avalanche safety messages. The present research focuses on identifying and characterizing out-of-bounds skiers most at risk of involvement in an avalanche incident. An innovative multidimensional approach that integrates the three central dimensions of avalanche risk management (training and experience, risk mitigation practices and terrain choices) is used to assign a risk level to out-of-bounds skiers and snowboarders participating in an extensive online survey. Subsequently, high-risk and low-risk groups are compared with respect to motivations and attitudes, risk perception, sensations seeking, self-efficacy, and understanding of ski area out-of-bounds policies. The results of this study offer useful insights for the development of avalanche awareness messages specifically targeted at out-of-bounds skiers and snowboarders most at risk.
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