Italy tightens the reins

10th February 2010, by Chris Gill

Are you flouting the warnings?

Are you flouting the warnings?

It is widely expected that Italy will impose even tougher fines on off-piste skiing and riding shortly, following recent avalanche deaths and their determination to clamp down on ‘reckless’ behaviour on the slopes.

According to reports, Italian ministers are pushing through new rules that would allow courts to administer much higher fines (almost £5000), even jail sentences, to anyone caught ignoring off-piste and avalanche warnings – or to have triggered an avalanche whilst venturing away from the marked slopes. And this legislation could be in place as early as next month.

The move follows a series of fatal avalanches in the Alps recently, including five separate incidents in the Italian mountains last weekend. More notably, it follows avalanches that sweep across ‘safe’ pistes – triggered in some cases by skiers or boarders riding just outside the boundaries when warnings declared areas unsafe.

Naturally, opinion is divided: some local experts say that stronger measures are needed to reduce the death toll from irresponsible behaviour, while others say that it will be too difficult to monitor/prove.

Italy made the headlines last season, when the Piedmont region introduced tighter local laws governing our off-piste adventures. But elsewhere in Italy the laws generally differ from region to region, so the position to visitors is often unclear.

However, these latest proposals would make Italian ski resorts the most strictly regulated in Europe.

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